I was kindly invited to the eShores USA travel event in Leeds, to learn more about their multi centre holiday experiences and to sample some American-themed delights.


Starting with swish, San Francisco inspired cocktails courtesy of Mix & Twist, I had my fill of the Californian Ginjito and got to mingle with some lovely local bloggers.

We headed downstairs to sample the fantastic menu, including Hawaiian Tuna Poke for starters, followed by the Abigaile Fried Chicken Sandwich (and the addition of maple syrup sage biscuits) and finally, a Vegas Greek Yoghurt Martini. Each course of the meal - all based around Los Angeles restaurants and made by Bears Pantry - was paired with a yummy, complementary wine.

My family are about to start planning a big Las Vegas trip for my dad's 60th birthday next year, so this couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Having now found out more about the eShores multi-centre travel packages, we're looking to turn the visit into a longer experience. Their itinerary features 4 nights in Las Vegas, 3 nights in San Francisco and 3 nights in Los Angeles - including all flights and accommodation!

Having the opportunity to experience the delights of San Fran and LA - after the big city lights of Vegas - would make the holiday even more spectacular.

We'd love to visit the Grand Canyon, Venice Beach and see a Vegas show on this trip... Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace, anyone? I also think my dad would be fascinated to visit Alcatraz whilst in San Francisco. Of course no matter where we visit, we'll have to experience plenty of tasty American food on the way.

A lot of other companies may offer an American tour, however I've found that few of them include flights from the UK, as the eShores trips do. They also ensure you get a dedicated travel agent who you can chat to directly, meaning they are able to tailor a perfect trip for you and your family.

The personal touch is so important for me when it comes to spending money on a big holiday, so I definitely feel more comfortable knowing an eShores rep will understand my requirements and help in any way they can. This might mean including some time for driving between locations and experiencing Highway One, or even adding a flying visit to Yosemite National Park or Death Valley.  As much as I love to plan a shorter getaway for myself, it makes life so much easier when eShores can plan a fun fortnight in America for everyone.

Lastly, at the Leeds event we were treated to a show by Sebastian Walton and I'm an absolute sucker for a magician. It definitely left me in awe, and inspired to add 'see a magic act in Vegas' to my personal itinerary!

I've perused a lot of the eShores website now (including some Australia 2020 inspiration...) and if you're looking to book a multi-centre holiday, in any location, it's worth taking a look at the itineraries that eShores can offer.

Where's next on your bucket list?



- All photos kindly provided by Elouisa. -


I wrote a post with podcast suggestions around this time last year (read those ones here!) so we are well overdue some juicy, new ones. I have a few more TOP NOTCH podcast series that I would highly recommend below.

Here are the podcasts to listen to...

If you want to feel inspired...

David Speed & Adam Brazier

This is a podcast by two very talented, creative individuals. There are an awful lot of notable episodes in this series to choose from so there's definitely something for everyone; I find it motivating and the perfect 'get up and go' kick I need sometimes. 

Although many of the episodes revolve around the creative industries there's a lot of information for anyone wanting to start a business, from getting the most out of technology for a business to improving their networking skills. The guests and hosts alike continue to inspire me to be creative and crack on with any and all side hustles.

Notable Episode: 'Quitting the 9-5' with Manon Lagreve (the wonderful French contestant from GBBO 2018)

If you're interested in the acting world...

David Tennant

As I mentioned in my last suggestions list, I love a typical interview-style podcast. Having one of the most well known actors - and his soothing Scottish accent - speak to others in the field about how they got to where they are is the perfect blend.

You don't need to be a TV or film buff to get something out of these conversations (I certainly am neither) but I'd say it would be particularly great for aspiring actors.

Notable episodes: Catherine Tate / Jennifer Garner

If you need some morning motivation...

Adrienne Herbert

I've struggled to find a fitness themed podcast that strikes a chord with me as the topic of fitness is so vast and subjective, with different aspects appealing to different people. This is a great podcast that only touches on people's fitness routines (or often their career in sport) but primarily focusses on how they use their time effectively.

Adrienne has a wonderful interview method and I find it really easy to listen to - perfect to listen to on a run!

Notable episode: Keri-Anne Payne

If you want A LOT of laughs...

Chris & Rosie Ramsey

So I listened to this hilarious couple for the first time on Giovanna Fletcher's podcast (Happy Mum, Happy Baby) and cried laughing at least three times, therefore I thought I'd download a couple of episodes from their own podcast.

It's safe to say I'm now almost up to date within a week and I have had to laugh out loud multiple times in public. They have segments of the show including 'What's your beef?' which covers their grievances with each other, as a married couple. All of this combined with self-made jingles is everything you need from a light-hearted podcast series.

Notable episode: Episode Three, Take Two

Let me know over on Twitter if you have any other recommendations!




So I've been blogging inconsistently for over five years now and I thought it would only be right to introduce my new business here.

I'm a graphic designer (by trade, as they say) and it's taken me a long time to find a style and niche in design that I love outside of my day job. I remember doing this face-less style of art in college and loved the technique used and the outcome and honestly, I'm now thinking how ridiculous it is that it took me so long to do this 'properly' and sell my designs.

A few times I searched online for bespoke cards for friends, featuring certain music artists or themes and couldn't find anything that I'd like to gift them. At this point I thought: why not design them myself? And so 'Design Strikes' and my first card (Dolly Parton, herself) was born.

Since introducing my Etsy across social media to friends and family, I've had so much support from my real ones. It really shows which of the people you know are your true, wonderful, supportive friends; sharing across their stories, retweeting or liking a page on Facebook takes a few seconds but means a lot to a small business.

I've had the chance to do some custom designs for some people already which has been a great opportunity to add to my collections, as well as help out a pal in need.

Shopping small is something I already love to do, particularly for gifts, as small businesses are more likely to have a niche in what you're after for that special someone. Already it's been a new experience for me to set up a shop on Etsy, have to work with suppliers (for my own work, and not for a client!) and ensure my finances are viable.

There's a saying somewhere about the owner of a small biz doing a 'happy dance' every time someone supports their work and I can't express how true that has been for me over the past two weeks! I've been happy dancing quite a lot and ultimately, really enjoying putting my time and effort into Design Strikes.

Thanks for reading, if indeed you made it this far. Please share the love if this is something that makes you smile. Liking a post, following my Instagram account or favouriting my Etsy shop would mean the world.

If you would like to get in touch about any custom design projects, whether in card form or for something a little different, get in touch at

Thank you!




What is Parkrun?

This question can be answered in a well informed manner over on their website but here I am to give you a brief, less eloquent summary, as well as my own short experience.

There are lots of parks around the UK (and in fact, globally) that host a free, weekly timed 5k every Saturday morning. Each area has a route which has been measured accurately and every week the event is hosted entirely by volunteers. You simply register online, print your own unique barcode off and bring it to every event with you, where it will be scanned once you finish the 5k. Later that day you'll be sent an email with your official time, meaning you get to race to your own personal best or even better, just run for the hell of it.

If you needed any further inspiration to join your local Parkrun, here are some reasons to go to one (even if you're not a runner):

For the community

I've always felt hugely welcome at the few events I've been to and from the reports of others, it seems the atmosphere is the same around the country (and world!).

You will have the opportunity to make friends if you are new to an area. There are chances to chat to others before and after (or during, if you're able to...) and often some groups go for coffee/cake afterwards at a local cafe where available. I've found all my local Parkrun groups have a Facebook page, which is another way to keep in contact with people and special events that might be taking place near you.

They have a briefing beforehand at every Parkrun so if you are nervous or want to meet those in charge, you can find out about the route, any special considerations and get an overview of what to expect.

It's free!

Completely free. There's no cost to get involved in a Parkrun and there never will be due to the support of it's partners, and everyone who gives up their land, time and donations to the cause.

If you're looking for something to do with friends or family (or even your dog) on a weekend that is sociable, inexpensive and keeps you fit, then this is absolutely perfect.

The motivation

Another great thing about Parkrun is that it occurs all year round. When you start to feel demotivated or at a loss of what to do with your weekends, there will be a local run somewhere to help kickstart that habit.

I find it really hard to get out and about in the winter when it's dark and cold, however, knowing I can fit in this 5k every Saturday gives me the confidence to get up earlier on a weekend. It's also a brilliant addition to any race training you might already be doing (at the moment, it is the only reason I might be able to stay upright throughout a half marathon!)

Brownie points

Okay so you won't get a shiny gold star but even if you aren't able to walk or run a 5k, you can still help out as a volunteer. From time-keeping to token sorting, there's a role you can take on that not only helps out the Parkrun community hugely, but you get that warm fuzzy feeling of helping out and generally being a good egg.

If you're speedy, you could even complete your run then volunteer afterwards for twice the community spirit.

So you're thinking about doing your first Parkrun, I hope? There are a couple of other sources below I want to direct you to just in case you're not quite sold on the event and what it stands for...

- The unofficial Parkrun podcast 'Free, Weekly, Timed'
- This inspiring story, if you're worried about finishing last
- This video on The Running Channel of first timers at an event
- Contra, an ethical clothing brand created by the Parkrun founder


DRESSING FOR SPRING // in collaboration with ANGELEYE

Vintage style room and crop of girl wearing floral maxi dress and black jumper

The sun has been shining recently (interrupted rudely by the real winter weather) and it's got me FULL ON excited for spring and summer.

ANGELEYE fashion kindly gifted me some gorgeous dresses which are perfect for this changing season and any season, for that matter. Dresses are something I try to incorporate more into my wardrobe and I particularly love them to have long sleeves at this time of year.

Full length shot of long sleeved maxi dress in floral print

Vintage blurry shot of maxi dress and buckled black boots

The first item to catch my eye is this floral maxi dress. I've been loving midi and maxi length skirts throughout autumn/winter and this trend is definitely coming all the way through 2019 with me too.

It's the perfect outfit to dress up or down. I pair mine, particularly on chillier days, with a knitted black jumper and some black, buckled boots for a grungier look.  Florals are a pretty versatile print and as this is predominantly black, I'm finding myself more than happy to reach for it as part of my work and play wardrobe - despite my usual aversion to colour!

Crop of floral dress and close up of black boots with buckles

Vintage style room and crop of girl wearing floral maxi dress pulling black jumper

Shot from above, black jumper, maxi dress and shoes on wooden floor

The second number is this gorgeous polka dot dress, which is a much shorter length and something I'm definitely more inclined to wear when the temperatures get a bit higher. The navy blue with white spots makes it pretty much perfect for spring.

I actually love both dresses as they can be part of my weekday work wardrobe, however I can definitely see myself grabbing the polka dot dress for a day in the office followed by some dinner/drinks/activity in the evening. It's the epitome of a 'day-to-night' outfit. This would also look cute with some white high-tops for a spring walk, which is how I'll be wearing it next!

Girl in navy blue polka dot dress sat on a footstool

Smiling blogger in polka dot navy dress

Pose on a footstool in long sleeved dress, turning towards the window

Blogger standing in spotty dress, blurred picture in movement

Swishing dress to the side, blurry vintage style picture

At the moment, my wardrobe does not include any sort of embellished dress thanks to a huge January declutter of old items, however it is safe to say that these items have resolved that for me. I've worn the floral dress SO many times already.

What do you prefer? Short or maxi length dress? Floral or polka dots? Let me know over on Instagram where you can find more fashion (and lifestyle) features.



DISCLAIMER: I was gifted items featured in this post in exchange for a blog review.
All opinions are honest and my own.


We've all seen the classic beige jumper circulating on Instagram and I adore the simplicity and diversity of this item. It's definitely something I wanted to add to my wardrobe at the end of last year and I've been able to really get the most out of mine (head to Instagram to see mine).

I opted for a woollen blend purely on history of other jumpers I've had, I've noticed a blend item washes better and is easy to hang dry as well as being much more budget-friendly than a 100% woollen version. It's also kept me super cosy and I'll definitely be repurchasing something similar, in other colours, next Autumn.

Collection of beige coloured jumpers hanging next to each other

I've pulled together a round-up of all my favourite high-street, woollen options I've found (not including the Mango jumper I actually ended up purchasing unfortunately as it is no longer in stock, but there are some similar options in price and wool blend percentage!)

Pieces Jane wool blend high neck jumper - ASOS now on sale for £15
Wool Blend Turtleneck Sweater - And Other Stories £79
Wool Blend Textured V-Neck Jumper - Marks and Spencer £59 
Oversized Alpaca Blend Sweater - And Other Stories £69
Lara Sweater - Weekday now on sale for £30



All prices correct at time of writing (9th February 2019)

STAY COSY IN WINTER // in collaboration with FEMME LUXE FINERY

Low back of black knitted jumper dress

The annual 'decluttering' time of the year came and went with January and it's safe to say, like a lot of you, I was able to condense my wardrobe a bit. I won't be the first person to be trying to make a more conscious effort this year to only own clothes I absolutely adore and 'spark joy' as our good pal Marie Kondo would say.

I was gifted some gorgeous items from Femme Luxe Finery last month and they are ideal additions for my winter/spring wardrobe. I've pretty much lived in some of these outfits since receiving them which you'll see across my social media channels if you are following!

Blogger wearing khaki loungewear co-ord set

Holding a cup of tea, wearing comfy khaki loungewear set

Firstly, there's absolutely nothing better than swapping your work outfit into something comfortable as soon as you get home. This khaki lounge set was the ideal choice for me. Stacey Dooley has become the style inspiration I've been looking for my whole adult life and as her usual choice is a slouchy co-ord, I feel this outfit is definitely a winner.

It is a much more fashionable option for a 'home-y day' than old, mismatching pyjamas and I've been loving the bra-free experience without the risk of them falling out (lol jk, mine aren't big enough) or being exposed. I've even nipped out to the shops in this because it's acceptable as a day outfit, which my mismatched pyjamas worn previous to this would most definitely NOT be.

I don't actually own anything else of this colour in my wardrobe and I absolutely love it. Overall it's a great winter set, so I'm happy it's become an addition to my loungewear.

Vintage theme image of girl wearing black jumper dress

Girl in black dress with leg tattoo, sitting on edge of sofa

This knitted jumper dress is a great item, as it's versatile enough for casual wear but can also be dressed up with heels or boots. It has a tie around the waist to give it some shape but I love the ease of throwing it on with a headscarf, a pair of trainers and being ready to go.

I really like the low back too and although it is knitted, it's not too heavy. Ideal as we're coming into spring. This piece will definitely be a staple throughout the year for me.

Wearing grey oversized roll neck jumper

Selfie whilst wearing roll neck jumper

Roll neck jumper of dreams. The majority of my wardrobe, all year round, is jumpers and I'll take any excuse to add a new cosy option to it.  This was the perfect fit; it's got that oversized look and feel thanks to the chunky neck, as well as being super toasty.

I have a lot of jumper dresses so this filled the hole of a roll neck that's perfect to wear with jeans. Usually I'll opt for a skinny black pair and some black boots as a brunch outfit, or to head out for casual dinner on an evening.

One of my big problems - is it a problem? - is that the majority of my clothes are simple black and grey items. Although it would be nice to add a pop of colour, often a classic grey jumper is EXACTLY what I want to reach for. On the website I noticed this jumper comes in neon pink and green too (which seem to be a big trend at the moment!) which is ideal if you fancy something a little more eye-catching. I know this lovely number has become my go-to layer in the past few weeks, so I'm more than happy to stick with my monochrome wardrobe... for now.

I have to say, for the low price point I wasn't expecting the quality to be as good as they actually are. Honestly, I've been bowled over by how much I enjoy the items - they really are lovely. The grey roll neck jumper has to be my ultimate favourite but the khaki lounge set have really gotten me through the dark, cold nights recently!

Have you ever ordered from here before, or would you contemplate doing so? Let me know over on Twitter, or head to Instagram to check out some of my OOTD featuring these items.




I personally love a chatty update vlog or blog post, so I thought I'd wrap up a pretty boring but productive month with the latter. I'm glad to see the back of January - as I know a lot of people will be - and that pay day took FAR too long to come around, but here's what I got up to in the first month of 2019.

Ticker tape at the end of a music gig, with silhouette hands in the air


Overall January has been a sour month, mainly due to my health. So many people have struggled through this Winter particular with incessant illnesses and I, unfortunately, was no different. From not being able to hear properly for almost a week and spending a day in tears, to a constant feeling of knives in the back of my throat, it has been really difficult. Despite not being the kind of person to let being ill get me down usually, it did get a little unbearable.

One of the biggest issues was the lack of exercise I was able to do, through both physical exhaustion and mentally struggling with the situation. I've persisted however - which I'm aware probably hasn't helped - in going to work every day, seeing friends, still getting out and about in order to keep spirits up and I think I'm finally on the mend, fingers crossed. I actually went for my second run of the year today and that's definitely progress!


So although it's been a difficult one, the busy schedule doesn't stop and it happened to include the first few gigs of the season! First up, The 1975 in Manchester, and what a bloody brilliant show. Not only were their new songs (from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships) as great live as I'd expected they'd be, the visuals in particular were incredible. Everything we've come to love about the band is on display in this tour (although self-proclaimed band of the decade? Alex Turner and I would still have to disagree) summed up with cool narcissism, charisma and a strong smattering of weird.

A couple of days later I headed to Leeds' First Direct Arena for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, supported (yes, I said supported) by Jimmy Eat World. It wasn't as busy as I had expected for the support, to say the tickets were not overly expensive, however for huge fans of Jimmy Eat World it was a prime opportunity to get to the front of the crowd with ease. Frank Turner is always a friendly riot and I really enjoyed the setlist, despite the fact it must be getting more difficult every time to pick from his back catalogue of music. 1933 has become an all time favourite.

Finally, Manchester welcomed us back for Don Broco and Neck Deep. This was a good gig, in a great venue (I am such a fan of Victoria Warehouse) but I didn't have my heart in it. Don Broco's new album hasn't been on my radar until very recently, however I will admit, the ace opening to 'Come Out to LA' and heartfelt performance of 'Got To Be You' swung the night for me.

They had an entertaining show - as always - and let's be honest, who wouldn't enjoy a crowdsurfing cake and a dancing cowboy?


Now, let's talk about New Year's Resolutions. I have a few I'm working towards (lifestyle and fitness related) and a personal resolution myself and David have between us is to eat less meat. I've seriously cut down the amount of milk in my diet too,  partly for fitness reasons but also to see if there's a lactose issue making my illnesses much worse when they strike. We've only cooked meat twice since the beginning of the year which is a huge improvement to our normal food shopping and meal prep routine. My diet for the past couple of years hasn't been very meat heavy, particularly when it came to red meat, but there's always more effort each of us can put into being aware of what we absorb into our bodies and how it affects more than us as individuals.

We actually tried our first Gousto box this month and LOVED the recipes and the meals we were able to make. I'll be straight with you: I am a lazy cook. This means that having a box come to my house with tasty food and instructions on exactly what to do with it all is a dream. My puttanesca was a delight and some might say I would say restaurant standard. David also thought the butter chicken dish was amazing. Despite it being a great experience and it introduced us to some new recipes, it is pretty expensive to get on a regular basis, so we'll be grabbing our own ingredients this month.

I'd love to find some more vegetarian, slow cooker dishes to try out this month to continue the good work (and a one-pot dish is great for people like me!) I usually sweep Pinterest for some veggie inspiration. A meal I do want to attempt is a veggie lasagne because it's one of my favourite classic meals - hook me up if you have a good 'un.

I'm very much looking forward to the month ahead although it's only a short one. I hope you have a wonderful month, too!




I feel like last year sparked a huge increase in my fitness, in a few different ways.

In 2018 I...

- Ran my first Parkrun

- Completed my first ever 10K race

- Got actual visible abs for the first time in my life through HIIT

- Went to more hoop classes than ever before

- Tried aerial yoga trapeze

- Tried aerial sling

- Found my abs!

- Practiced yoga on more than an occasional basis

- Ran 6k by myself and didn't hate it

... and the list goes on.

This year I want to be a bigger and better one in terms of keeping fit. I'm not promising the gym every day because frankly, that doesn't float my boat. However I do want to incorporate going to the gym more often in an effort to improve general fitness and the conditioning needed to complete my actual goals.

I've got a few specific targets in mind to complete before the end of the year, so I'll be trying my hardest to ensure they happen.

Be able to hold a handstand

This was on my list for the latter part of 2018 but I'm still struggling to hold a freestanding handstand. The plus side however, is that I now feel much more confident in kicking up into the shape both against and away from the wall.

I have a few conditioning tips I've picked up over the last six months I want to put into practice and continue with the Cloud Aerial Arts #365handstandchallenge on Instagram (check out my efforts on Instagram @leannemariefitness)

Aerial hoop goals

I love hoop more than ever and hope to continue training with Leeds Aerial Arts this year.

There are some things I want to complete including a Russian Mount (this has evaded me for years!), hold a Planche in the hoop, take part in more doubles hoop, take part in an aerial photoshoot so I can have some professional progress photos and finally, Walking Man with pointed toes!


I can definitely practice enough to do the splits, I'm always just too lazy. Hopefully this will coincide with my hoop and handstand goals and I can combine them to make moves super impressive.

Run a half marathon

So as you can see, running became 'a thing' for me last year and I really want to keep it up. I'm doing Parkrun fairly often - not every week, granted - which I think is a great way of reminding me to run by myself at other times in the week too. 

Right now I'll be honest and say that the dark mornings and evenings are really affecting my running and motivation for it at the moment. I'm hoping as the days get longer I'll get the spark for it back again. Any tips would be appreciated!




Ice skating in Amsterdam Museumplein

My best friend has managed to bag himself a fantastic six-month contract in Amsterdam, so naturally, we just had to go visit him and celebrate an early Christmas together.

We landed on Thursday night and left on the Saturday so despite it being a fleeting visit, we managed to cram in various fun-filled activities (including a night out with the 'Dam's number one drag queen) which was everything we could have wished for, to be honest!

Close up of a breakfast burrito

Our first day breakfast began at Coffee & Coconuts, where we had an incredible breakfast burrito (yes, that's an omelette WITHIN a burrito). There seems to be a running theme of 'instagrammable' food places in Amsterdam, as our meal the night before was also in a bar surrounded by foliage aptly named Bar Botanique.

Best friends stood in front of Amsterdam ice rink

Me skating with a wooden chair

We headed to Museumplein to a huge ice rink they have in the city. As you can see, I am not the most professional of skaters and they have chairs you can use to assist you which is rather helpful. By the end of the session I did manage to skate freely by myself and we got to enjoy a pint or two between rounds. Beside the ice rink were also lots of Christmas market huts, selling more beer, bratwurst and pea soup than you could ever need.

At the moment the Moco Museum in this are also has a Banksy exhibition which would be an interesting visit if you're staying long enough. What put me off however, was that the exhibition isn't actually authorised by Banksy himself. Sort of goes against his message, doesn't it? I wouldn't judge you for visiting regardless, I'm sort of tempted to go back and check it out..

Best friends enjoying a beer in Amsterdam

Our 'big night out' consisted of a visit to The Queen's Head which gave us a fantastic night to be completely honest. I'd definitely recommend here if you want to venture to a friendly, gay bar with music to dance to and although we were too late to catch it, they have a regular drag show in the evening too.

We did however, manage to bump into the Queen herself Miss Diva Mayday who joined us for the night which was one of our trip highlights. The place itself is quite small so ideal for couples or small parties, but there are plenty of bars and clubs in the city to choose from if you have a large group.

Group photo before going outHuge Christmas tree in Amsterdam Dam Square

One great thing about Amsterdam is that the flights can be pretty cheap from UK airports, and getting from Schiphol to the city is really easy. A taxi takes around 20 minutes at about €20 euros, or there's a train and metro service to save some pennies. It's an ideal short city break.

I'm hoping to head back to the city in the next few months to revisit my BFF and explore a little more, so I will do my best to take more pictures!

Let me know on Twitter if you have any recommendations on things to do, or places to visit next time.




Curtains closed before a performance at The Grand Theatre

Having seen Casanova and The Little Mermaid of previous years, I was thrilled to be invited by Northern Ballet to see the Christmas performance of The Nutcracker. Even those who have never been to the ballet are likely to have heard of this story being performed worldwide, and it's almost certain you'll have come across the famous music from 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'

Here's a summarised storyline of 'The Nutcracker' if you have never read/heard/seen it before:

"The Edwards family Christmas party is always wonderful, and as they prepare for this year, the children tease other and get ready for the most magical of nights. As the party comes to life, Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives and with him brings incredible presents, including the nutcracker doll for the youngest daughter of the family - Clara.

After the party, Clara leaves her present beside the Christmas tree. Following further fantastical tricks from Dosselmeyer, the wooden figure grows into a life-sized doll. When Clara awakes during the night, she heads downstairs to find that not only the room and the china cabinet are grown but also the mice! The Nutcracker appears and fights off the Mouse King and his minions, with the help of Clara's distraction.

The Nutcracker is then turned into a handsome prince, thanks to another of Dosselmeyer's magical interventions. Clara and her Prince begin a sparkling adventure on a sleigh, heading towards the man in the moon and a whole host of exciting, dancing characters. Clara is soon dancing herself and only stops to witness the most beautiful of all dances by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Clara suddenly awakes in her father's arms, with no sight of sound of the magical entertainment she had witnessed only that night. She is upset. Surely this was not only a dream? With a wink and a nod, Dosselmeyer and the Prince are spotted as Clara is whisked back to bed to dream of fairies, princesses and ballet dancers..."

Tchaikovsky's score, choreography by David Nixon OBE and the incredibly talented dancers made for a very impressive show. The amazing costumes and set design were appropriately festive and the huge, oversized Christmas tree with gingerbread men decorations was a personal favourite.

Although the whole performance brings a magical atmosphere, Act II in particular brings so many detailed sequences and fascinating characters that it's difficult to not fall in love with the dancing.

I've visited the ballet ever since attending dance classes when I was younger and it's genuinely one of my favourite experiences that Leeds offers. Thanks to us having such a vibrant dance community, it's becoming far easier for everyone to get a chance to either partake in dance classes themselves or be able to experience a professional ballet show.

Northern Ballet have various performances coming up in 2019, including Dracula, The Great Gatsby, and the world premiere of Victoria. If you're interested in getting tickets for any of the performances or for further information, visit their website here.

I'm very excited to see what they bring to these stories, particularly ahead of the company's 50th anniversary next year!



I'm a big believer in putting things out to the universe in the hope they will happen. When making 2019 resolutions, it also means it is more likely to hold me accountable!

I don't have an issue with waiting till the New Year to change things about your life, or self. It's a great motivator and yes although you can change any day of the year, 1st January has a huge 'we're all in this together' feel, yanno? Anyway, here are my goals for this year. I've gone for a generic approach with smaller ultimate goals for each that I know are achievable.

Be the BEST friend

I don't think my friends would say I'm a bad friend but I feel personally I could put in more effort. This year I really want to make an effort to do more of the little, thoughtful things that a lot of my friends have done before for me. Life tends to get in the way A LOT as we all get older but it should never be at the expense of a friendship. Particularly if they're absolute real ones who I love to bits.

Ultimate goal: Get everyone's addresses written down for card-sending and throw someone a surprise party

Adult (a bit more)

This covers a few things including getting out of debt, saving for a house and in general being a bit better at adulting. This past year has been very different for me, as working part time naturally comes with a financial loss and it has meant putting a hold on big, future purchases like a house. That being said, I have loved every minute of it but in 2019 I want to adjust my focus and goals.

Ultimate goal: Save a chunk of money for a house deposit and pay off my credit cards

Focus on design

Although I love design, I never seem to put it to the forefront of my time - aside from as a job. I want to utilise my free time more to involve designing for me and the things I want to create. Not only will this give me another creative outlet but I think it will massively help me broaden my skills and knowledge in my career.

Ultimate goals: Take part in a design competition and open an online design shop

Hobbying along

I am fortunate to have a few hobbies I've found over the years that give me genuine enjoyment. Blogging, aerial arts, music gigs and reading are all things I love but some I don't always put time aside for. This year I really want to make sure I create free time in order to try new things, as well as keep up with with my current hobbies.

Ultimate goal: Move blog over to Wordpress and take part in an aerial photoshoot

Living that ECO life

I feel over the past couple of years I've been much more aware of the importance of living sustainably and having an eco-friendly approach to things. That being said there's a lot more I can do to reduce my impact on our environment, such as eating less meat and dairy, reducing my plastic waste day-to-day and clothes shopping less.

Ultimate goal: Change all makeup and toiletries to cruelty-free and host a clothes swap event

Wishing you all the happiest of years, and best of luck whether you've made some resolutions or not!

leanne x