A Blonde In Barcelona.

Barcelona is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and after being fortunate enough to visit it last week, I can most definitely agree with that statement! Best known for being the home to Gaudí’s incredible creations, Barcelona is an architectural enthusiasts dream and definitely worthy of the term aesthetically pleasing!

Personally, if I’m lucky enough to be able to visit a new City or Country, I like to make the most of each day and see as much as I possibly can. I think it’s safe to say I am the definition of a sight seeing lover of all things tourist related. Europe is probably my favourite place to visit and explore, so discovering Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was an absolute dream!

The first day of my visit was spent seeing the beautiful city itself and what is the best way to do that? A Sight Seeing Tour Bus! I honestly think this is such a wonderful invention and whoever came up with this idea – thank you. This is a great way to discover all the wonders of any place you’re visiting and learning which are the best spots to experience. Plus, as I was only there for four nights, it was wonderful to be able to see places I sadly wouldn’t have the time to visit, such as the incredible Park Güell. A week has gone by and I’m still upset that I missed out on visiting this masterpiece! After familiarizing ourselves with the wonders that Barcelona has to offer, we stopped for some lunch in Barcelona’s Hard Rock Cafe, a restaurant truly like no other!

Continuing my adventures in Barcelona, Saturday was spent visiting without doubt, the main attraction and one of the most famous buildings on Earth; La Sagrada Familia. Gaudí’s most famous work began development in 1882 and encase you’re not aware, (I wasn’t..) is still being built! Funnily enough, as soon as I spotted the towers through the trees, I noticed the construction scaffolding and thought to myself, “Great, the one time I get to see one of the most amazing buildings on earth, it’s being renovated.” Little did I know construction is not going to be complete until 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudí’s passing.

Just being able to view this masterpiece in reality was without doubt an experience like no other, the intricate details and unique design leaves you in absolute awe. Gaudí devoted 43 years of his life to creating La Sagrada Familia, he even went so far as moving into the building! Now that is what I call dedication. Each piece of the Minor Basilica has a story to tell, with the front depicting the Crucifixion of Christ and the back showing the Birth of Christ, with each part of the monument displaying the moments which lead to these life changing moments.

The interior of La Sagrada Familia was inspired by nature, with each of the columns representing trees and branches. The ceiling is designed with geometric shapes and the four evangelists are pictured on the columns in the centre of the Church. Each detail has been intricately thought out and designed by Gaudí and the time and effort put in to creating this masterpiece is truly incredible. It’s poignant to think by the time of Gaudí’s death less than a quarter of his creation had been constructed.

Ultimately, it’s wonderful to see Gaudí’s incredible work all around Barcelona, my favourite building of his being the absolutely beautiful Caso Batlló. It’s something truly unique and the pastel colours which dominate the overall detail is just spectacular! If I’m ever fortunate enough to return to Barcelona, I hope to go inside the building and spend some quality time viewing it.

Barcelona is filled with so much incredible aestheticism, even the simplest building look like works of art, it has to be one of the most photo worthy places on earth and in all honesty, my photos don’t do it justice!

Where are your special places to visit? Do you have a favourite Gaudí creation?

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Time Spent With Cats Is Never Wasted.

As I’ve been a huge cat lover my whole life, what better words by Sigmund Freud could be used to start this post?

I had the lovely opportunity of visiting my girl Jasmine in Manchester on Thursday and not only was it my first time seeing the city, it was also my first experience visiting a, (wait for it) Cat Cafe! As you can probably guess, this is pretty much every cat lovers dream and finally it is reality!

I first heard about Manchester opening a Cat Cafe a few months ago and Thursday was finally the day Jasmine and I would venture in and see what all the hype was about. Was it everything we hoped for and more? I think I can safely say a huge yes from the both of us!

The cafe itself is not like any one I’ve ever been to before as it is truly ruled by the cats, after all, not only is it where they spend their afternoons – they also live there! Each cat is full of individual quirks, have amazing personalities and they are all pedigrees, making them even more majestic than your every day cat. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore all species of cats but some of the ones in the cafe are truly stunning! Before I visited I did a bit of reading on the website and read that pedigree cats adapt to living inside and are well suited to a cafe environment.

When you first arrive in the cafe you enter the building from the back, so you can’t actually see any of the cats or the room itself which makes it even more exciting. Once you enter the room itself it is truly every cat lovers dream! The cafe is specifically designed for the cats and there are many things for them to play with and sleep in, including a huge large ceiling sky run where you’ll happily see multiple felines roaming and sleeping up there! They even have their own bunk beds attached to the walls with each name printed on each bed – could this be anymore adorable?

What’s great about the cafe is not only do the cats have the option of being in the human environment, but if they want their own space they have a room just for themselves. If you can distract yourself from the cats for a few seconds, (trust me – it’s not an easy task), then you’re allowed free drinks for as long as you’re there and there’s also lots of yummy cakes and cookies to buy. 

Not only is The Cat Cafe full of amazing felines that live there, lots of others are up for adoption and roam around also! It is so wonderful to see all of the cats happy and content, they are treated like the royalty and are absolutely adored by visitors and staff members. If they want to sleep, they sleep and if they want to play, they play – it’s all their choice and that’s how it should be.

I can’t recommend this place enough and I will definitely be visiting again, the more cat cafes the better!

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Marilyn Monroe Design Centre Chelsea & ONGallery Exhibits.

I have just returned home from London after spending a wonderful three nights there to see the temporary Marilyn Exhibition held at the Chelsea Design Centre. Marilyn Collector David Gainsborough Roberts has announced he will be selling his large collection of costumes and personal items at Julien’s in November. Before then, they will be displayed all over the world with London being the first stop until 20th June. Also being sold are personal items of owned by The Estate of Lee Strasberg, who Marilyn left 75% of her belongings to when she passed in 1962.

I’m very lucky to be able to say I’ve seen quite a lot of Marilyn’s items since I discovered her in October 2010. I previously saw a fair amount of David’s Marilyn Collection in March 2012 and as soon as I heard about him selling all of his items in November 2016 I knew I had to see them one more time, as well as Lee Strasberg’s which are also being sold. Marilyn fans are very fortunate that a lot of private collectors such as, Scott Fortner and Ted Stampfer kindly continue to share their Marilyn owned items with us. However, so many of her items get sold and tragically are never seen again which is incredibly upsetting as I always like to think if Marilyn belonged to anyone, it was to the public who loved her so much.

It was so lovely to see how beautifully displayed Marilyn’s items were at the Design Centre in Chelsea, as soon as myself and my mum arrived the staff asked if I was here for the Exhibition, I guess I don’t hide my excitement very well! As soon as you enter the building you are surrounded by beautiful portraits of Marilyn that are displayed from ceiling to floor. It gets even better when you walk through the doors and sense what’s to be seen in only a matter of seconds!

The first collection that you witness is Lee Strasberg’s Marilyn items, so everything from make up, jewelry, letters, shoes and sketches! I had not seen any of these personal belongings before and was truly amazed at what was just a few inches in front of me. Of course I am slightly biased, but everything really was truly stunning and ever so special. I think one of my favourite items would have to be Marilyn’s sketches, in particular one called, “Lover watching his lover sleep.”  I instantly thought of Marilyn sleeping whilst Arthur gazed at his beautiful wife.

The collection of jewelry was effortlessly glamourous. Most Marilyn fans will know that Marilyn did not think Diamond’s were a girls best friend and was much more interested in books than the perfect ring. Therefore, because of this I think the items that were on display were extra special, as any items Marilyn owned must have had some special personal attachment or value. I absolutely adored the Revlon Lipstick, I think if I could own anything from that part of the collection this would be it. Of course, red lipstick is forever linked to Marilyn’s image, but I just loved the vintage display of it, so effortlessly glamourous. I actually tweeted Revlon telling them that they should re-release this shade to coincide with the auction and they liked my tweet so, I shall keep my fingers crossed!

For me, what I found most special in Lee Strasberg’s owned items were all of Marilyn’s personal letters and stationary. I recognized a lot of the writings as it is featured in the amazing book Fragments – a must for any Marilyn fan! Of course a lot of it was very sad to read as Marilyn suffered so much with her anxieties, but what warmed my heart were the beautiful inspiring sayings she would write to herself, “Dare not to worry” being a favourite.

Part of me feels reading the items is an invasion of Marilyn’s privacy and to an extent it is as I’m sure if Marilyn was still alive we probably wouldn’t be reading them. However, reading these items shows a lot of the true Marilyn which is sadly so often hidden by conspiracies and inaccuracies. These writings so a talented artist who forever wanted to learn and improve and a beautiful, vulnerable soul who ultimately just wanted to be happy. I’m sure after reading these a lot of people would have more respect and admiration for Marilyn and I’m sure that would mean a lot to the wonderful lady herself.

After experiencing this amazing collection I then walked through to the final part of the exhibit; Marilyn’s film costumes and clothes owned by David Gainsborough Roberts. The display lay out was absolutely stunning, all clothes where shown on a circular display with two levels, and four huge posters of Marilyn wearing the clothes hung at the top of the ceiling. Some of the costumes even had blu-ray footage of Marilyn wearing the clothes which was a wonderful addition.

It was fascinating to see the age range of people visiting the exhibition, it just further emphasizes the impact Marilyn has on everyone, she truly is loved by people of all ages. I think if I could choose one item from David’s collection to own it would have to be the Green Leotard Marilyn wears in Bus Stop (1956) to sing, “That Old Black Magic” I just adore it. Everyone who viewed the items kept saying how tiny Marilyn was, I still find it fascinating that people are shocked by this when her measurements were 35-22-35.

The exhibit was truly beautiful and a must see for any Marilyn fan or lover of Old Hollywood. The only thing that was sad to see was The Prince and The Showgirl dress was now displayed on a directors chair instead of a mannequin compared to the last time I saw it. I guess it’s become extremely fragile now, if only sixty years ago people realized how important these costumes would be! I also wished that all of the clothes had photos of Marilyn wearing them, I have seen her in all but three of the items so it shouldn’t have been to hard to find. One of my favourites, the costume Marilyn wears for, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” when she sings “After You Get What  You Want, You Don’t Want it” was displayed on the upper level. I found this to be a shame as it would have been lovely to be able to have seen the dress with clips from the film of her wearing it like some of the other costumes.

I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibition twice during my stay in London and when leaving for the final time I felt pretty sad that the majority of the items I will probably never be able to see again. However, I realize how fortunate I am to have had this opportunity and the memories will stay in my heart forever.

I also managed to visit the ONGallery which is currently displaying the Happy Birthday Miss Monroe exhibit until 30th June. As soon as I walked a lovely staff member named Keith said I was looking very, “Marilynesque” which made my whole day! He realized I was a huge Marilyn fan and he was wonderful to talk to, loved photography and you could tell he appreciated Marilyn as an artist which was very refreshing. It was so wonderful to see photographs from all of Marilyn’s career, beginning in 1946 and ending in 1962.

While I was there I noticed two older men who had been fans since Marilyn was alive and they were very sweet. I was looking through a portfolio of vintage photos and noticed one of them was taking pictures of me! I looked up and he asked me if I was a Marilyn lookalike and I told him that was very sweet but no I wasn’t. He then said that I was absolutely gorgeous and he used to be a portrait photographer so wanted to take my picture. I almost teared up, I’ve rarely had such sweet things said to me face to face. I then heard them asking about a picture that I was looking at from 1952 and I helped identify the event for them, I don’t know why but they reminded me of my Grandad and it really was a lovely moment.

I continued to talk a lot with Keith, especially about the Frank Worth photos of Marilyn from 1953 and 1954 which are pretty rare. I told him how I had sent off for the free Marilyn print they offered in the Daily Express for Marilyn’s 90th Birthday and I mentioned an image Worth had taken of Marilyn and Sammy Davis Jr. which was pretty rare. Keith then told me that the image I was talking about was actually offered previously and he would give me a print, I couldn’t believe it!

I had such a wonderful time in London and truly recommend both exhibits to all Marilyn fans, actually, I recommend them to everyone! Admissions are free for both events and they are extremely special and simply a must see.

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The Secret Illness.

Although most of my blog posts here on meganmonroes are about make up and vintage fashion styles, other topics such as Mental Health Awareness are incredibly important and close to my heart.

Over the past few years I’ve spoken quite a few times about my struggles and through being so open and honest, I have met a lot of other people in the same position as well. With a physical illness, you heal the injury and most of the time move on from it, with a mental illness it’s not always so easy. Please don’t get me wrong, as someone who has had a serious operation during their life, I know that physical injury is incredibly debilitating and painful. However, I know if I could choose to have a physical or mental illness, I’d choose physical every time.

Therefore, as someone who has improved a lot in the past four years, I still have my good days and bad days and it was down to one simple tweet that I am able to make this post. I suffer pretty severely with Intrusive Thoughts, which are a type of OCD called, “Pure O”, 99% of the population have intrusive thoughts, but 25% of the population obsess over them, sadly I am in that 25%. Ever since finishing my recent Therapy, I’ve gone slightly downhill with being able to manage my intrusive thoughts as it can be a lot harder trying to get better by yourself, even when you have all the knowledge and advice. It was because of this that I decided to tweet a message asking if anyone had advice for managing intrusive thoughts, with the hashtag #pureo. After clicking on this tag I came across an amazing website called, The Secret Illness and watched the short film, “This Old Ghost” which I found incredibly powerful and moving.

Through watching this film I learnt that the basis of the story is from a poem by an OCD Sufferer, James Lloyd who has kindly shared his story to bring awareness and attention to this serious mental illness. I decided to check The Secret Illness on Facebook and to my astonishment saw that Ashton Kutcher himself has posted about the project! He added the caption, “Never judge someone else’s story until you’ve lived in their shoes.” As OCD is so often trivialized and even made fun of by the media, it’s an incredible step for Mental Health that someone as successful as Ashton is bringing awareness to such an important topic.

Sometimes it can be hard to do the littlest thing as the mind bully, (that’s what I call it) can be so controlling, I’ve often cried and felt so low and frustrated with myself that I let the thoughts get to me so much. The mind bully would be happy  if I sat in a corner and cried to myself all day, but I’m not going to let it beat me or keep control. It’s not surprising that if you suffer with one mental illness you often suffer with another, the intrusive thoughts always increase my depression and fill with me anxiety. Through finding The Secret Illness I know that there are many sufferers like me and that I’m not alone, which is what the mind bully wants. Through speaking out and being honest and open I hope I can help raise importance about the seriousness of Mental Health and help people realize that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

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It Started In Naples.

For the last week, I have had the privilege of spending my time in the beautiful Sorrento, which is located in the south of Italy. I haven’t been abroad since 2012 so it was very surreal when May the 4th (be with you) arrived and my family and I were off to the airport! As someone who adores Italian food and a certain brunette bombshell I was full of anticipation and excitement when we landed in Naples. Therefore, I thought what could be a more fitting title for this blog post then a Sophia film which was exactly how my Italian adventure was to begin?

As we were only there for seven days, there was definitely no time for resting, which is fine by me as when I go on holiday I want to visit the country and see all of the beautiful places.  However, that meant getting up as early as five in the morning and as late a six thirty – what a lovely lie in!

After spending the Wednesday walking around Sorrento and booking the tours, we traveled to the wonderful Naples the next day. I was extremely excited to visit Napoli, of course because it is the birth place of my favourite food – Pizza, but Sophia Loren also spent a lot of her childhood here. From Sorrento is takes about one hours drive which is completely fine by me as the scenery in Italy is absolutely incredible!

As soon as we arrived in Naples we visited the Cathedral and I was in absolute awe of it’s beauty. I adore Italy’s architecture and it was even more outstanding in this stunning building, it was incredible to think about the amount of time and effort that went into producing such a beautiful place. I was also amazed to hear from our lovely tour guide Florentina that there are over 400 churches in Naples – each one we walked past was so lovely! We visited the famous market stalls where the Christmas markets are held, the streets in Italy are so narrow compared to England yet so full of traffic, it’s incredible. I saw some beautiful tambourines with Sophia painted on them and when looking in the store I noticed an actual photo of her visiting the store! It’s so wonderful how proud of her country she is and the feeling is definitely mutual.

After walking around the heart of Naples we finished the morning with a pizza, after all, where best to have my favourite food then where it was invented? I’m not ashamed to say that I had Pizza every night in Italy and it was absolutely wonderful! I also have to say that the dessert I had in Italy was truly out of this world, I looked forward to meal time every day!

The next day we visited the absolutely beautiful Anacapri and Capri. I was extremely looking forward to this day after my mum told me that Brigitte Bardot’s Contempt  (1963) was filmed there. To get to Capri we had to take a twenty minute boat drive as it is a small island. It was such a beautiful way to travel and such wonderful scenery, I’ve truly never seen such stunning sea water, it was almost a turquoise colour. Once we arrived in Capri we drove up to Anacapri, which is the smaller village and the one above.

We walked through both villages and it was truly paradise. The views were absolutely incredible and I even saw three beautiful cats, one was casually watching a lizard, an amazing animal I couldn’t believe I was seeing. Capri is famous for it’s beautiful perfumes and I could definitely tell why! Sadly I didn’t buy any but when leaving Italy I visited a perfume store in the airport an saw the island wasn’t just popular with tourists, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin had also visited!

On Saturday we travelled through the Amalfi Coast and it truly was a journey like no other! With only one road in and one road out you can imagine how busy the traffic can get but as the tourist season has just started it didn’t really affect us. We first stopped in a small village called Positano and visited a large store that sold hand made ceramics, in Italy this item is very popular and I could definitely see why. There were so many different items and all we’re so intricate and beautiful! Outside the store there was a sign placed opposite that showed a Roberto Rossellini film, La Macchina Ammazzacattiv (1952) was shot entirely on the Amalfi Coast!

Once we arrived in Amalfi we took a boat trip along the sea and our lovely tour guide Melanie pointed out to us two very important houses owned by Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida! I was completely overwhelmed with excitement and that truly made my whole day. I also found out on the Tuesday I arrived home that Sophia was actually in Italy when I was visiting! She was in Rome, which was too far from Sorrento but it made me very happy to see after all these years Italy will always have a special place in her heart.

Our last stop in Amalfi was visiting Ravello and the gardens in Villa Rufolo which were incredibly beautiful. I was in at awe seeing such stunning historical scenery. Driving up to Ravello was quite scary, our driver was wonderful thankfully but I couldn’t believe how high up we were going! In Southern Italy the land is filled with mountains and it truly is amazing to see all of these houses and buildings built on there.

On Sunday we visited the incredible Pompeii and Herculaneum and our wonderful tour guide Sonia shared so much information on the history of these villages. Although Pompeii is a lot bigger and arguably more famous than Herculaneum, it is definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as the latter. It was fascinating to learn how the people in Pompeii lived, we learnt about their shockingly lack of hygiene and what kind of foods they ate – thankfully we are a lot more fortunate now.

The village of Herculaneum is a lot closer so it was incredible to be able to see Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that caused all of the tragedies to these two places. I was also fascinated by how low down the in the ground the village was, we had to go down a lot of steps through  tunnel to visit the actual village. As soon as we arrived there you could tell that Herculaneum was the wealthy village, they even had their own private beach. Although what I found very upsetting was seeing all the skeletons of the people that had obviously been going down there when the Vesuvius erupted and were instantly killed. Some of the other tourists were actually taking pictures of the skeletons which I personally found incredibly disrespectful and morbid.

What was incredible about Herculaneum was the amount of architecture that was still intact, some of the expensive houses still had colour on the walls and portraits. There were also bath and changing rooms. Our tour guide informed us that it is unknown how much land there is that has still yet to be uncovered of Herculaneum which is absolutely fascinating. Archaeologists are constantly researching both villages and finding new artifacts and information, who knows what will be discovered in the many years to come?

Visiting both of these villages was an absolutely fascinating experience but I couldn’t help find the tourism very ironic and poignant, although both are filled with incredible history, so many people tragically lost their lives there.

On our finally day we visited the Volcano that caused so much tragedy in Italy, Mount Vesuvius. Although I was looking forward to seeing this incredible volcano, I was pretty apprehensive as it’s still active! Knowing that it could erupt any time was quite intimidating but I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Once we had driven to Vesuvius we had to walk all the way up to get to the top – which was definitely not an easy task! The paths were so uneven and my poor feet were absolutely throbbing, so I’ll admit, I wasn’t the quickest walker – but I got there in the end. It was hard to comprehend how incredibly high we were when at the top of the volcano, but the views up there were so worth it. Looking into the volcano it was fascinating but very uncomfortable to think that this volcanic rock had created so much damage to such a beautiful country. What amazed me was that you could actually go the whole way around Vesuvius, I don’t know how or where the tourists got the energy but you  could actually see some people on the opposite side.

I can definitely say that my week in Italy was an incredible experience and one of my favourite vacations I have ever been fortunate to go on. It still feels pretty surreal to be back home and no longer hearing the beautiful language or seeing the incredible scenery. I feel so lucky to have been able to see so many incredible places in such a short time and the memories I have will truly be treasured.

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Happy 1st Birthday MEGANMONROES!

On the 12th April 2016, my little blog meganmonroes officially turned a year old! I can’t believe that it’s been a whole 365 days since I wrote my first post which started my blog, well credit to my amazing friends Laura and Paul for setting it all up! I’ve been blogging on Tumblr for almost five years and I’d always wanted to take the plunge and become a Blogger and thanks to lovely Laura inspiring me, I finally had the courage! 

It’s amazing to look back and see how much has changed in one whole year, I wouldn’t say it’s been all that pleasant but I’ve definitely learnt and grown from the changes that have happened. Of course, it’s not all been that bad, but as I’m my worst critic I can sadly make things a lot harder for myself – I really need to work on that.

I know I’ve been an awful Blogger lately, I just sadly haven’t had much inspiration, but I really hope I can continue to be creative and have an even more successful year with meganmonroes! There’s a few products I’m dreaming of reviewing and hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on them as soon as possible:

If anyone has tried these products before than please let me know what you thought of them, I’d love to hear your opinions!

I also thought I’d write about things I’m especially loving at the moment, it’s important to remember the things that can put a smile on your face:

  • Rewatching Game of Thrones – I’m currently on Season 3 Episode 3, I thought it would be a good idea to refresh my memory before Season 6 arrives! Daenerys and Tyrion are still my favourite characters, that hasn’t changed.
  • A Cup of tea – sometimes that’s all you need to cheer you up.
  • Reality TV – yes I know a lot of it’s trashy but it’s so addictive! Plus it’s nice to forget about your own troubles and switch off every now and then.
  • Em aka mypaleskinblog – It’s safe to say I look forward to Em’s videos every Wednesday, she’s so beautiful inside and out and is truly an inspiration to me as a Blogger and more importantly as a person. Love you Em!
  • Reading – I absolutely adore a good book, there’s something so satisfying about completing a book and starting a new one.
  • Margot Robbie – Although I’m a Vintage Girl at heart, Margot is my favourite actress of today, I’m so excited for Suicide Squad and before then we have Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and The Legend of Tarzan to look forward to!
  • Ebay – I’m absolutely obsessed with doing my regular searches each day, (Marilyn is my main one of course) and finding a bargain, (anything under £5) is my current way of controlling the spending and being frugal.
  • Snapchat – You can find me there by meganmonroes, I look forward to seeing the new filters each day and will never get tired of face swapping with Marilyn or today, Grace Kelly!

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Mental Health Awareness: My Story.

When most people think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, they often think of it as a trivial issue. Possibly think of Monica in Friends, a bit of a neat freak and someone who likes things in place. I place emphasis on the word, “like”, as any sufferer will know – all the repetitions, thoughts and  compulsions are the opposite of enjoyable. However, as someone who has suffered with this form of mental illness for at least ten years, you can see how I would find that offensive. 

Without going into details, in 2011 I basically suffered a Nervous Breakdown and had to leave Sixth Form, I self taught myself for the latter part of the first year but by the second I could no longer continue with education. I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person, maybe that’s just me, but after being off school for a week with the Flu, I began to suffer with Panic Attacks. I would try and solider on into school each day and I simply couldn’t stay, it was all too much and I can’t even count the amount of things that I missed out on. My life became so bad that I was on the verge of becoming agoraphobic, stepping outside of the house was a herculean task and I rarely did. It became so  bad that I didn’t want to be here anymore.

However, fast forward to 2016 and I’m proud of to say with support, therapy and medication I’ve came along way! I’m not afraid to be honest and talk about mental health anymore, I used to be ashamed and wish I could just be one of the, “normal” people. But when I think about it, what really is normal? 

I suffer with a particular form of OCD which is commonly known as Intrusive/Obsessive Thoughts, every single person in the world has these, however for some reason I attach importance to them and feel if I don’t “neutralize” the thought e.g. repeat it mentally then I hold responsibility for what happens. Sounds crazy right? I know, just typing it and even talking about it I realize how absurd it  seems. However, the power of the mind can be a pretty strong thing, the compulsions almost become a coping mechanism and years of repetition can mean it’s incredibly hard to just shake off.

Mental Illnesses can be incredibly exhausting, I feel tired most days and often have to have a nap. The mind of an OCD sufferer is always analyzing mentally or physically, wanting reassurance and neutralizing, there are many more coping mechanisms but ultimately none of them work, they just help to continue the problem.

Through suffering with Anxiety, Depression, OCD and PTSD – although I’m a lot better with the latter now, my life hasn’t gone the average way a 22 year olds would usually go. I’ve not had a professional job, I didn’t go to University or finish Sixth Form, I’m not very independent and have quite a lot of catching up to do with other people my age. However,  I’d much rather get myself better mentally then be successful academically, from speaking out and being open about my own issues I’ve met and even helped quite a few people which I still find hard to believe.

The irony is, with any form of Mental Health Issue, you feel so alone, there is so much stigma attached to an illness which people can’t see, if you’re feeling good one day you can even feel guilty for feeling happy! However, the statistics for Mental Health are sky high and without talking about it more people will suffer in silence and that can have massive consequences.
I just wanted to write this post because today I’ve had a bit of a down day, I’ve felt down on myself for falling back into some compulsions and listening to ,”The Mind Bully” which is what I call my OCD/Depression/Anxiety. I know if someone else was telling me what I’ve been through I wouldn’t treat them the way I treat myself, for some reason I’m very hard on myself and I don’t want to be anymore, I want to be kind to myself. Mental Health Disorders are not a choice, they are both genetic and/or environmental and the sufferer should be understood and supported towards the road to recovery.

I need to keep telling myself that an Intrusive Thought is simply that – just a thought and it has no relevance or substance to whatever the future may bring. My anxiety can be incredibly debilitating but with battling through each hard task I will realize that the only thing to fear is fear itself and Depression may feel like a endless black hole but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t have to suffer in the dark. 

I hope this helps more people understand and support sufferers, at the end of the day we are just normal people who for whatever reason are going through a tough time. Please remember, just because a person may look okay – doesn’t mean they are okay.

Lana Del Rey Honeymoon Box set.

Although most of the things I adore are related to Old Hollywood, one of my favourite loves from the modern day has to be, Lana Del Rey! I fell in love with her when she released Video Games in 2011 and became a worldwide sensation and I’ve followed her career ever since. For some reason, I don’t listen to much current music any more that is except for Lana, I’ve loved every one of her albums since Born To Die (2012) and now with her latest release, Honeymoon (2015) I can say I love her just as much, or even more!

Therefore, after missing out on the Box Sets for both Born To Die: The Paradise Edition (2012) and Ultraviolence (2014), I was determined to buy this one! Although I had to wait for over a month for it to arrive, due to design issues, it was definitely worth the wait! It is a must have for all Lana fans and a pretty good price for only £35.99! Here’s what you get in the special edition bundle:

  • Honeymoon Artwork Box
  • Hardbound Photo Book
  • 10 Exclusive Lithograph Prints
  • Honeymoon CD
  • Honeymoon Digital Copy 

If I had to choose my favourite item from the box set, it would have to be the lithograph prints, I’ve not seen anything like them before! Plus, they are the perfect size and I think the Honeymoon Photos are without doubt my favourite of Lana. I love how she captures the Golden Age Of Hollywood, she oozes classic glamour and allure! There’s definitely no one in the music industry like Lana, she’s truly one of a kind.

Top 4 Favourite Songs From Honeymoon:

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Blonde Sinner – Diana Dors In The 1950s Exhibit.

As most of you will know by now, not only do I adore Old Hollywood but I especially love the incredible Blonde Bombshells of that era. I love to learn about their talent and lives, sadly so many just see them as pretty faces – when they are so much more than that!

Last week on at FACT for their Vintage Sundays was one of Diana’s films, Tread Softly Stranger (1958) and it was shown in collaboration with the Diana Dors Exhibit being held at The Gallery in Liverpool. It was also in association with Pride as Diana is often associated as an icon for the LGBT Community, so that was wonderful.

Since discovering Marilyn in October 2010 and thus learning about Old Hollywood, I’ve known about Diana for a number of years. She was known as Britain’s Version of Marilyn Monroe and although she embraced the nickname, she ironically said,

“I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain’s naughty seaside postcards. When Marilyn Monroe’s first film was shown here [The Asphalt Jungle (1950)], a columnist actually wrote, “How much like our Diana Dors she is.”.

After becoming a huge star in the UK and Europe in the 1950s, Diana ventured out to America and was offered a three picture contract with RKO Pictures in 1956. Ironically, when Diana came to America, Marilyn went to England to film The Prince and The Showgirl with Laurence Olivier and the two never met.

The Exhibit which is being shown at The Gallery until mid December, is a beautiful collection of Diana in her heyday – the 1950s. The room is filled with stunning vintage movie posters and magazines, as well as a lot of rare photos. I was even more thrilled when I learn that I was allowed to take pictures, which of course I will be sharing with you all! The Guide who showed us around the exhibit kindly showed us some more of the collection which was not on display. I asked about the Collector and how he discovered Diana and was told that he first bought a Diana Vintage Poster, (Tread Softly Stranger) when he was just 14 years old and 34 years on he’s still collecting!

Although I don’t have any vintage movie posters as they are sadly too expensive for me, over the years I’ve collected a good amount of vintage magazines and movie stills – especially of Marilyn. I would absolutely love to show my collection some day, it’s such a wonderful idea to have it all on display and shared with other fans. Before I left I purchased my own print of Diana, although it was £35 it is without doubt worth the money. It’s such a unique item for my collection and rare and beautiful picture.

Out of all of the amazing peices in the exhibit, my favourite would have to be a group of photos from Diana’s personal collection. I was told the top right is her as Marilyn and bottom right as Mae West. I’m guessing the top left is Marlene Dietrich and bottom left Clara Bow, very similar to Marilyn’s 1958 photos by Richard Avedon! I also adored the candid rare photos from the 1950s.

I know that a lot of you may not be able to see the exhibit, therefore I hope you enjoy the photos I took and I really hope the exhibit will be displayed in other galleries!

Diana Films I’d Recommend:

Diana Books I’d Recommend:

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The Magical Mystery Tour.

Without a doubt, The Beatles are one of my favourite bands of all time, it may be a cliché I know, but how can you not adore them? They truly revolutionized music and are incredibly important in Music History. Therefore, it’s quite embarrassing to say that in all of  my 22 years in Liverpool, I’ve not once gone on The Magical Mystery Tour Bus! However, on Wednesday 25th of November that was all about to change!

My wonderful Cousin Liz was coming to stay from Wales and as another lover of The Beatles, really wanted to go on the tour. Arriving at the Bus, it was so nice to see such a mix of age groups there, it just goes to show how influential The Beatles are and made me very proud of my city. The Tour Guide was absolutely wonderful, it turned out he was the brother of the lead singer from Frankie Goes To Hollywood, I was very impressed!

During the two hour tour I learnt so much about The Beatles, it was great to have a Tour Guide that was genuinely interested in their subject. He was born and bread in Liverpool too and actually told us that he went to the same schools that John Lennon attended! Not only did we get to see a lot of special places, some that I’m very fortunate to say I have already seen, we got to stop off and take photos.

The four places we stopped at for photo opportunities were; George Harrison’s house, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and Paul McCartney’s house.

I’d never visited George or Paul’s houses before so I was most excited for that experiences and the photo opportunities. I was so surprised to see that George’s road was Unadopted, meaning that the city does not look after it’s upkeep. The house itself has been owned by the same woman for the last fifty years and luckily she was very accommodating to us all.

As for Paul’s house it’s owned by The National Trust like John Lennon’s so it’s not lived in. It was so surreal to see and almost hard to comprehend that the world’s most famous group grew up here. As both houses are owned by The National Trust, I think you can attend a separate tour and visit the inside of them too, something I’d definitely like to do in the future!

Throughout the tour, as well as hearing wonderful anecdotes, the bus was filled with music from The Fab Four and it was nice to hear a variety of songs too, not just the classics. It created such a lovely atmosphere on the bus and I’m happy to say I wasn’t the only one singing along!

I definitely recommend this wonderful experience to everyone, even if (for some absurd reason) you’re not much a fan of The Beatles, its such a fascinating day and you’ll come back with a lot of knowledge!

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