Friday, 31 July 2015

Lifestyle // X+Y Film Review

I've got something a little bit different for you today at emsypickle - a film review! I'm a massive movie fan and love nothing more than going to the cinema or having a DVD night in. Last Sunday night my boyfriend and I combatted the back to work blues by watching X+Y* which has just been released on DVD: "A young maths genius sees logic thwarted by one truly baffling equation: love. Directed by Morgan Matthews, X+Y is the uplifting and inspiring story of a teenager's struggle to make sense of the world around him". Ohhhh I love a coming of age story!


I absolutely loved X+Y and the first thing I did when I finished watching it was text my parents and tell them they must watch it too! It was really nice to watch a comedy / drama which is inspired by a true story and focuses more on the characterisation and storyline than relying on dramatic special effects (unlike most of the films filling the cinemas this summer). X+Y tells the story of a teenage maths prodigy Nathan (played by Asa Butterfield) who was diagnosed at a young age as being on the autistic spectrum. During his quest to join the UK team of the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) we see Nathan find comfort in mathematics and solace in numbers whilst words often fail him. Whilst at an IMO training fortnight in Taiwan, Nathan finds himself out of his rigorously controlled comfort zone and learns to adapt with the help of female Chinese team member Zhang Mei (Jo Yang). With the help of Zhang Mei, Nathan learns to express himself and how to cope with his unfamiliar feelings towards his new friend and finally deal with the death of his father.


X+Y is such a heart warming film - I laughed out loud and cried several times throughout! The complications and struggles of dealing with autism - both from Nathan's perspective and his struggling single mum's (Sally Hawkins) are so well played and illustrated. 


Light relief comes from Nathan's maths teacher, Mr Humphreys (Rafe Spall) who was himself training to be part of the UK IMO team as a teenager but was also beginning his struggles with MS which put an end to his dreams. Doesn't sound like light relief I know, but Humphreys dry, self deprecating humour provides many funny moments, both on his own and in his interaction with Nathan, whose autism means he often doesn't understand Humphrey's sarcastic manner.



X+Y is shot beautifully and focusses heavily on the patterns of light and colour which Nathan is attracted to, making the audience feel more sympathetic and aligned with Nathan and glean more of an insight into his life with autism. 


I definitely recommend giving X+Y a watch. A coming of age story dealing with love, friendship, parenting, autism, bullying, jealousy, depression and death it's a complex ride and British independent film at its best. And who knew maths could be so fun?!


Have you seen X+Y? What did you think?


Let me know if you'd like to see more film reviews on 
emsypickle.co.uk



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*I was kindly given a copy of X+Y on DVD to review. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Lifestyle // A Weekend In York

My boyfriend and I are so busy this summer with lots of weddings and the accompanying stag / hen dos that we haven't yet found time for a summer holiday. We decided a little break from London would be nice in the meantime and went for a weekend staycation in York. Grab a slice of cake and a cup of tea - this is going to be a long post!

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We took the day off work on Friday and got the train from Kings Cross oop north which only took a couple of hours. When we got to York we jumped into a taxi to our hotel, the York Central Travelodge*. We couldn't believe how close the hotel was to the train station and centre of town, and were very excited to find it had a castle-like exterior and was located right on the river which was really pretty. Unfortunately we were a bit too early to check into our room but we left our bags in their luggage room and set off to get exploring!

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The York Central Travelodge is right next door to a Wetherspoons pub so we nipped in there to grab a drink and make a little plan of action whilst looking through some of the travel leaflets they had available. We realised we were right by the old city wall which runs around York and decided to make a start by walking that! It's a really lovely way to get your bearings in the city and get a feel for York's rich history. We followed the wall round half way and then stopped for a drink and wandered through the town centre taking in the quaint little shops whilst sharing some gelato (dark chocolate, pistachio and vanilla flavours - YUM!) Tony had read that The Golden Fleece was supposedly a great place for a pint in York so went in search of the pub. He failed to mention that it is also apparently the one of the UK's most haunted sites and has appeared in many ghost hunting TV shows. Yikes! It was a really nice old pub with two bars and lots of spooky memorabilia everywhere (including a skeleton propping up the back bar!) There's a lovely large beer garden and we decided to make a reservation to come back for dinner too as the weather was so nice we wanted to eat outside (and the food going past looked amazing!) It was now 3pm so we decided to head back to the hotel to check in and freshen up before coming back to The Fleece. We were very pleased to find that our hotel was only a five minute walk away - York Central is definitely the right name for this Travelodge - literally so close to everything! The only thing we found a bit odd with the hotel was that you only got half an hour of free wifi a day, though as we were out and about most the trip it didn't really matter.

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Travelodges are such good hotels for city breaks as you know you're always going to get a decent sized room which is clean and functional and good value for money. They're not the most fancy hotels ever but perfect for coming back to at the end of a long day exploring. The York Central Travelodge also has new upgraded rooms with a HUGE king size bed which was so so comfy! We also had a really beautiful view overlooking the river and the back of the Castle Museum

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After showers we headed back out to The Golden Fleece for an early dinner, though sadly the food was a bit average. I ordered a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausages and mash - when in York - and was pretty devastated when an Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire turned up instead of a lovingly handmade one! Never mind never mind, I still ate it all, obvs! We then walked down to the river to join The Original Ghost Walk of York which I had found online. I'm a right wuss but I do love a ghost tour and Tony and I end up doing one whenever we go away on a city break! It was absolutely brilliant and such a fun way to see the city and hear some of York's history (and legends) including taking us to Clifford's Tower, the Castle Museum and York St Mary's church / gallery.

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The next day we walked round the other half of the city walls and along the river then into the York Museum Gardens, which were so pretty. We then headed up to York Minster which was top of our To Do list. The Minster was absolutely stunning with lots to see, including an exhibit in the crypt. My dad had told me that when he visited York before I was born he lost his contact lense in the Minster and somehow managed to find it again, which we were pretty impressed with when we saw the size of the cathedral! 

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We'd worked up quite an appetite so went off in search of lunch, deciding on Ye Olde Starre Inn, which is York's oldest licensed inn. It was a really great pub with five beer gardens (perfect as it was a beautifully bright sunny day) and I had an amazing chicken, Chardonnay and pancetta pie. Feeling very full, we then wandered down the Shambles, an iconic York street with overhanging timber framed buildings which filled my Harry Potter obsessed heart with utter joy! We also came across the York Cocoa House which had the most incredible cafe with dozens of chocolate items and drinks on offer. Sadly we were too full from lunch to buy anything but this is the first place I'm going when I come back to York! After a lot more wandering we decided a cup of tea was in order and whilst Betty's, the famous Yorkshire tea room, was high on our hit list, the queues were huge and it was quite costly. Instead we decided to try out the Teddy Bear Tea Rooms which are above a gorgeous teddy bear shop (quite how I managed to persuade Tony to go here I'll never know!) It was absolutely adorable in a really old rickety building with the most sloping floor I've ever seen! We managed to get a table right by the window and loved people watching at the pretty street below (with me insisting a similar view would be had at Madam Puddifoot's Tea Room in Hogsmeade!)

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It was then time to head back to the hotel ready to freshen up for another evening exploring York's many pubs! We'd booked a table at Star Inn The City for dinner which is right on the river and by the Museum Gardens so has lovely views. We had a really nice meal with some of the best gammon I've ever eaten (and I like to think of myself as somewhat of a gammon connoisseur!) The restaurant setting is very beautiful, so I definitely recommend a visit if you're looking for a more special meal. We then embarked on a little bit of a pub crawl sampling the many craft beers on offer in York! Our fave places were Pivni which has a huge selection of beers, and the House of Trembling Madness which is an old medieval banqueting hall, complete with wooden beams and many pelts and animal heads lining the walls.

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On Sunday we had a few hours in York before getting our train home so we checked out and left our luggage in the secure luggage room again and then decided to go up Clifford's Tower, which was right by the hotel. It was fun to look out over the city and learn more about the Tower which was York's original castle, especially as we'd learnt some spooky tales about its history during Friday night's ghost walk. We then wandered back through town, enjoying the cute shops (and hilarious street signs!) in search of some lunch and after another unsuccessful go at getting into Betty's went back to our favourite Teddy Bear Tea Rooms where we had the most amazing brie and bacon toasted sandwiches and afternoon tea! I can't recommend this place enough if you're ever in York - it's so sweet, great value and delicious! Feeling like a couple of over stuffed teddies ourselves, we  went for one last wander through the Museum Gardens and found that there was dragon boat racing along the river which was fun to watch. It was then time to go home so we picked up our bags and walked the 15 minutes to the train station from the hotel, making plans to come back to York in a couple of years, next time at Christmas so we could buy everyone's presents at the York Cocoa House and enjoy seeing the Shambles in the snow! 

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As you may be able to tell, Tony and I absolutely LOVED York! It is a fantastic city and is well worth a trip. There's heaps to see and do and is so so pretty! We will definitely be back soon, and would absolutely use the York Central Travelodge as our base again!


Have you been to York before? 

What's your favourite thing to do there?


*Thank you so much York Central Travelodge for inviting us to stay. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer page.











Friday, 24 July 2015

Lifestyle // Appleyard London Flowers - Review & Discount Code

Is there anything more lovely than beautiful fresh flowers?! My little London flat doesn't have a garden so I like to bring the great outdoors inside with a vase or two of pretty blooms to jazz up my rooms and make them smell amazing. The other week the babes at Appleyard London sent me a stunning bouquet of luxury flowers* to brighten up my home AND gave me a 33% off discount code (given below) so you can enjoy them at a snip of the price too. Thanks guys! 

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There's something very special about being given flowers and my boyfriend is a real babe and usually brings me home a big bouquet on special occasions thanks Toto! I've never received a flower delivery though so it was very exciting when my Appleyard London delivery arrived. I was really impressed at the HUGE box they arrived in which kept them nice and secure and meant I could transport them home on the bus easily, without bashing them about or the wind getting to them.

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When I got them home I opened the box and was so excited to see all the different colours and flowers making up the Summer Coulis Bouquet - cerise germini, vibrant wow and tara roses with blue agapanthus and bright green foliage. Look how pretty! I took them out of the box and followed the instructions within, cutting about an inch off the stems, removing any leaves which would sit below the water line in the vase and mixed the plant food into the water before arranging my flowers.

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I really loved that whilst lots of my flowers had already bloomed, several had not, which my mum taught me is always the best thing to pick when buying flowers as they'll last longer and you get the pleasure of seeing your bouquet bloom over the next few days. It really was lovely to see the flowers open up and grow over the course of the week and it was such a treat to come home and see such bright colours in my living room everyday. I made sure to follow the instructions and changed the water in my vase as the week went on and continued to remove any leaves or flowers which had begun to die. My bouquet lasted about a week and a half which I thought was really good as often I've had flowers in the past which haven't lasted more than 5 days, and Appleyard London boasts a 7 day freshness guarantee.

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I would definitely recommend using Appleyard London for either buying yourself a beautiful bunch of flowers or if you're looking to send flowers to someone special. They have so much choice on their website including special seasonal bouquets and most come in three sizes to suit any taste and budget. You can also add on extras, such as vases and even decorative shabby chic jugs to have delivered with the flowers for that extra special touch (and oh so instsgrammable photo!) The service is really great and you can pick when you want your flowers delivered, knowing they'll arrive on time and in a safe secure box delivered right to the door. 


You can get 33% off your order at Appleyard London using the code BLOG33 - perfect for treating someone special (or yourself!)*


What type of flowers do you like best to brighten up your home?


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*Thanks so much to Appleyard London for sending me their beautiful Summer Coulis bouquet, and for offering me a 33% discount code to share with emsypickle readers. BLOG33 has no expiration date and is valid on all bouquets of flowers, excluding the "By Post" range, All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

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