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Four Months Later.

Its four months since I graduated and according to my student friends, I’m now a proper adult. Which I disagree with, but seeing as I do pay council tax now, I suppose to an outsider I do look like a proper adult.

It means university can feel like a very long time ago, even though less than six months ago I was still frantically writing my dissertation, hoping that my supervisor was a fan of Harry Potter. Everyone told me I would miss university, and that if I didn’t miss it as soon as I left, I would miss it come October when my Facebook newsfeed was once more full of people moaning about lectures.

As it turns out, I don’t really miss university. I’m surprised as much as you are, seeing how much I did enjoy university. But I can’t express how happy I am to not be in lectures anymore. Don’t get me wrong, learning about cool and interesting things is awesome. But I never have to write an essay about Hitler again and I am so thankful. While starting work was a learning curve, it had practical applications to my life aka being able to do my job and getting paid. I enjoyed so much of what I learnt about at university but unless I was planning to go into academia, it didn’t have any real uses. Except for being boss at German history trivial pursuit.

I do miss having my friends so close, but it appears as if Birmingham’s emitting a siren call and some of my best friends have now moved here. Which works out excellently for me. Though I should probably stop being so busy at weekends to take full advantage of this fact.

I miss how easy it was to go to dancing several times a week, because if it was exhausting, I didn’t have to be up the next day. The whole you must be at work every day thing can be a real drag sometimes. And getting to and from places can be difficult. I’ve not made it to any swing dance classes or socials in Birmingham yet because of, well, various reasons, but not being able to walk from my house is one of the big ones.

So yes, university was great, and there were some perks to it that you just can’t get when you’re not at uni. But being a proper adult is shaping up to be pretty great too.

4

Surprise Post

As an adult, I get to spend my money as I want, whether that’s on dinosaur sheets or all the Christmas decorations I can carry. After rent, food and bills, obvs. Which means I can pay for post. And I do love post.

My Little Box is a French based company, who each month send out boxes filled with goodies in the fashion, lifestyle and beauty vein. Facebook kept advertising them to me, particularly the fact that with the code FIRSTBOX it would only cost £11. So I figured it would be worth buying at least one.

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Bam – surprise post.

To be honest, because it was over a week before it arrived, I’d kind of forgotten about it, and so was SUPER excited to get post. And the excitement didn’t stop when I opened it. The November box was the My Little Sweet box and so it was decorated with cooking illustrations and is super cute.

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So cute.

But of course, what really matters is what’s inside it. Well, there’s an adorable apron, semi witty decals for kitchenware, a mini magazine, 5 ml of perfume, beauty oil and a hand cream. The decals are my favourite, because I’m a sucker for amusing stickers. The apron’s pretty great too. I feel super cute in it and it saves my jeans from me wiping floury hands on them.

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All of the things.

The perfume is really nice – I’ve been wearing it all since I opened the box. The hand cream’s alright, but I think it’s meant to be more about the smell than its moisturising capabilities. Which I don’t think it usually the point of hand cream. And as for the beauty oil, I have no idea what you’re meant to use that for. The packaging says that it’s a “nourishing oil for your face, body and hair.” … Right. If anyone knows what that means, let me know.

According to various pieces of paper in the box, the whole thing is worth around £50 and considering I paid £11, that seems pretty good. Course, it’s only worth it if you use and like the things you get in the box. Happily, I like everything bar the oil, and that’s mostly because I haven’t got a clue what it’s meant to do.

So was it worth it? Yeah. I think so. Especially when you factor in the greatness of surprise post. If you want to know more about My Little Box, you can find their website here. As Facebook is still advertising FIRSTBOX as a promo, I’m guessing you can still use it and get a box for £11. And then you can always cancel your subscription, if £15 a month seems too steep after the first one. Even if you don’t subscribe, you should check out their website because it is the most adorable. And if you do subscribe, let me know what you think.

[Note: This is not a sponsored post. My Little Box didn’t ask me to write this. I signed up and thought the box was awesome – hence the post.]

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Christmassing it Up

So there was no blog post last week. This was due to the fact that I was in Budapest, which means by rights you should be hearing about my trip this week. That is a blogging law, but I’m going to break it. Mostly because yesterday I went to the Birmingham Christmas Market and I’m feeling so Christmassy, I can’t not blog about it. But if you’re desperate to hear about Budapest, you can read my blog post from last time I was there, and if anyone’s super desperate to hear about this trip, drop me a comment and I’ll write about it for next week.

So. The Birmingham German Christmas Market opened this week. It’s open from 10am-9pm every day between now and 22nd December. It’s been a tradition for over a decade and is comprised of the Frankfurt Christmas Market and the Craft Market. Sprawling down New Street, through Victoria Square and taking over Centenary Square, it’s huge. And as the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK, it is always busy.

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Genuine German market in Birmingham = huge success

I’ve always loved the German Christmas market, and since living in Germany, it’s a really great way to stock up on the things that I miss. Like Glühwein and German gingerbread and dark beer. Drink features prominently with several stalls selling beer, apfelwein and alcoholic hot chocolate. And then you’ve got all the stalls selling food. Some sell gingerbread hearts and nuts, others sell cake and bread. Still others have hot chestnuts, pretzels and chocolate covered marshmallows. And that’s before you even get to the amount of Stollen, Berliners and sausages. Basically, if you want German food, it’s the place to go.

20151114_171542All of the Christmas lights. All of them. 

Amongst all the food, there’s plenty of stuff to buy to take home. From hand carved, wooden decorations to toys to ceramics, there’s so much to see and marvel at, even if you end up not buying it. It’s a great place to pick up interesting Christmas presents. There’s also a carousel and music pumping out. The atmosphere is great, and I can’t recommend it enough. And that’s even before you get round to the craft market.

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The carousel is slightly obscured by the Floozy. But it is there.

The craft market tends to be more UK based, though with ostrich and reindeer burgers available, it’s probably easier to say it’s not German focused. There’s a fair few cheese stalls, and various artisan food stalls. Most importantly, you can get a pork and stuffing roll, which is definitely the food of this time of year. There’s also a ferris wheel and an ice rink. Seriously, what more could you want?

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If you go into the library you get a great view.

I do really love the Christmas market in Birmingham, and now that I work in the city centre, I can walk through it every day if I want. I will have eaten so much Stollen by the time December 25th comes round, and it will be glorious.

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Halloween at Hogwarts

I hope everyone has had an excellent Halloween, whether that means you dressed up and partied or if you curled up in front of some festival appropriate films or if you had a completely ordinary night. Mine was petty good. It started with some lovely ladies on the train giving me a flower and a grandmother tell me I looked good in skull make up. From there I went to a Halloween/Day of the Dead party thrown by a friend from work, who has the most adorable son. Between paella and eyeball cupcakes, it was pretty great. And then I headed to Beth’s to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show and then fell asleep halfway through The Addams Family.

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I think I over did the eyeliner.

So yes, pretty good Halloween all round. But I’d like to tell you about the stuff I did for Halloween last weekend. Because who doesn’t want to hear about Halloween at Hogwarts?

I was down in London, once again visiting Maddie. For graduation, my Dad bought me a ticket to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford, and Maddie agreed to go with me. And we booked to go during their Halloween extravaganza.

Suitably dressed, we made our way to Watford Junction by train, before boarding the shuttle buses that run to the studio tour. The people who were most excited were the kids and the twenty year olds. Not the parents.

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Image is grainy becaUSE IT WAS TAKEN IN THE MIRROR OF ERISED.

Our tickets were booked for 6.30pm so thanks to Maddie being super clever, we got there for 5, giving us time to buy food and spend about an hour in the gift shop. The gift shop is a treasure trove of temptation. Expensive temptation. I now have many items of Harry Potter themed merchandise, including a Chudley Cannons pennant.

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I need there to be a Quidditch team in Dudley called the Dudley Cannons.

Finally we got to go in. I’ve been to the studio tour before and the beginning is very cool. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t been yet, so I’m gonna skim over that.

The Great Hall was decorated for Halloween, naturally, and it was very cool to see the sweets and goodies on display, getting us into the Halloween mood. But round the corner a bigger surprise was waiting. Death eaters.

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Literally the best photo I have ever taken.

This scary fellow snuck up to me while I was reading about the makeup and stared at me, until I noticed him. And, in what is my most British reaction ever, I said hello in the polite manner reserved for vicars and head teachers. He later got into a staring match with Maddie. He was disappointed that we didn’t scream and run away like the preteens did when he drew his wand and went into a duelling stance.

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Standard night out.

The Studio Tour, for those who don’t know, is a collection of props, sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films, laid out so fans can come and be part of the magic. It’s well worth a visit if you loved the films. They explain how things were made, how spells were filmed – all sorts. And they have hundreds of props that you will spend hours wondering where they were in the film. My favourite is a knitted Hippogriff.

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I want one so bad. 

There’s also opportunities to ride a broom, take part in a wizard duel and even go on the Hogwarts Express. You can also buy butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream, see the Knight Bus and loiter outside 4 Privet Drive. There’s a section about the models and puppetry behind the magical creatures, a slew of graphics, architecture models and concept art, as well as the fact that you can walk down Diagon Alley.

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All London buses should be purple and three storeys high.

Having been before, I had seen most of it, but it was great to see deatheaters wandering around. The woman was so scary as Bellatrix me and Maddie were too scared to go and get a photo with her. I also got to try butterbeer for the first time and generally mess around at Hogwarts with one of my best friends. All in all, it was pretty darn great.

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Such Halloween.

Indeed, I talked about it so much at work that someone I work with is going in January. How’s that for word of mouth advertising? Of course, going in January, she’ll get to see Hogwarts in the snow. Whereas I love a good Jack-o-lantern.