Tuesday 31 December 2019

What I'm Thankful For This Year

I was thinking of doing a 2019 roundup post, or even thinking of a "highs and lows" of the year but in the end I didn't feel like it. I didn't want to pay too much attention to the darker patches of the year, so instead I thought I'd write about what I'm thankful for this past year. I'd rather try and look at the positives and write about what I'm grateful for.

by Connor Cleary
My parents

My family isn't very big so the fact that I'm really close to my Mum, Dad and Step Mum is amazing. Whenever I need advice or I'm struggling I turn to my parent panel for their verdict, and they always give their honest and supportive opinions. This past year hasn't been great for me in a lot of ways, but I'm so thankful to have my parents to guide me and just be there for me even if it's just to listen. I've been trying to be more open to my parents when I am having a bad turn. For example, as I don't live with my parents anymore I've stopped just responding to texts with "yeah I'm ok" or "not bad", I'll tell them I'm not doing well and this might prompt a nice little phone call to get me through until I next see them.


Music can be a big part of a lot of people's lives, but I've found in recent years since I learned to drive that having great music to listen to on drives can be essential. Time can go by quicker and you don't feel so ragey whilst sitting in traffic. I'm thankful for discovering Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Lizzo's music this year. I have had many loud singing sessions which have gotten me through a total of an hour and a half commute each day with motorway works thrown in. I was so happy to have seen Lewis at Victorious and sing at the top of my lungs with the thousands and thousands of people who flocked to Castle Stage (I had never seen that field SO full with people before). Also my lovely friend Charis recommended a true crime podcast; My Favorite Murder. I hadn't quite gotten into podcasts except when my boyfriend would listen to Harmon Town on long drives, but kept meaning to. I'm able to listen to podcasts at work and have been binge listening to MFM and I love it so much. It's such an engaging subject that keeps me alert whether I'm working or driving and the two women who created it; Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff are incredibly funny and down to earth. I love hearing about how listeners have taken on board their advice to "stay sexy and don't get murdered" which is the catch phrase for the end of each episode.

Let's Talk About Progress

This year has been more about progress than anything else in hindsight. I haven't really had many major career moves, a few films here and there and I've loved those experiences but I still don't have enough for it to be my regular income. On the sidelines I have upped my game with fitness and my weight loss, I didn't really realise until recently how much further I had come since the beginning of the year until I actually looked back (another post to come about this topic). I conquered running this year through the Couch to 5k app and even when I used to run back at school, I have exceeded my progress as I have a much healthier mindset now.

My Friends

Even though I have missed out on a few social functions this year due to all kinds of work, I really appreciate that they are still there when I need them, and the times we do get together. I don't think we really realised when we left school and college and became little adults how much it'd affect how much we'd see each other. I'm lucky that I have two groups of friends and then a handful of singular friends as well, and that most of these friendships have stuck since the beginning of secondary school.

My Boyfriend

I can't talk about this year and not mention Connor, throughout this years struggles he's always there (sort of) patiently listening, but he'll also tell me straight up how it is and his opinions. Although sometimes I hate this, it actually really helps when you want another perspective. Now that we're both trying to become official adults it's nice that we are there supporting each other as a team, being that we've nearly been together for ten years we've grown with each other in that time.

I hope you enjoyed a slightly different end of year post, I just didn't feel quite right doing the usual piece being that this past year has been so different and at times quite difficult.

Comment below the things or people you've been thankful for this year, I'd love to know!

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Why I haven't done christmas this year

You may have guessed what this post is about from the title. You read right, I'm not doing Christmas this year for the first time since I can remember.

I made the hard decision that I wasn't going to buy presents for anyone this year early October, because I just don't physically have the money. If you've read my recent post you'll have read that I've struggled with money since I had my first job at 17. I've tried budgeting for Christmas and failed. No matter how small the budget I simply can't afford to spend money I don't have. I went round and spoke to my family members and apologetically said I can't buy any presents; and I don't want or need any either. As well as trying to get myself out of debt I don't want my friends and family to do the same, and I genuinely don't need anything except to spend Christmas with the people I love and eat hella lot of food.

As also mentioned in my last post I am grabbing every penny I can earn as humanely possible so I'll be missing out on a lot of festive activities to stay on track to get out of my overdraft by the end of January. I've been having to get used to saying "no" and turning down invitations which has triggered my FOMO big time. Luckily I'm not the only one of my friends in a similar situation which makes me feel less alone and ashamed. It's nice to have that sense of camaraderie when you're in a bad place.

Since having my revelation about my spending habits it's proved really difficult to not spend money in a variety of situations. Whether it's buying some lunch or dinner and getting carried away with sides and extras, or receiving emails and notifications of deals/discounts and only having a "quick" look and before you know it I've created a £170 basket of stuff I just don't need. If I walk anywhere near a shop it's like I can hear it calling me. I have to physically not even look at shops, or if I'm out with friends or family I'll say to them "don't let me buy anything, I don't need it" and generally it's worked. They'll help me talk myself out of a purchase which is so helpful because I can actually talk about it out loud, whereas on my own it's a bit harder to do that.

It sounds easy, to just not spend money but actually the world revolves around it. The constant incessant adverts drawing you in and telling you what you have to buy, scrolling through social media and seeing what your peers can afford and comparing yourself to them. I think that's been part of the turning point, seeing what others have and what I don't. I want to be able to share the good news of getting my own place with my other half and going on nice holidays to have quality time together (instead of over working just to get by).

I can't say that getting through this festive season not buying anything has been easy, it's been nice for my bank balance but so hard not to get anything for anyone. I have this permanent guilt that I can't give back to all of my friends and family, and especially since everyone has said they are getting me things, despite me clearly saying I really don't want anything. I appreciate that they want to get me presents, but I really don't need anything. I'm happy with nothing, especially struggling with squeezing into my boyfriends bedroom with all of the things I've already bought over the years. I really hate feeling claustrophobic by the things I own, I keep trying to have clear outs to feel less like I'm drowning in belongings - and I'm sure Connor would appreciate me being more minimalist as well!

By not getting involved in Christmas shopping it really has made me think about the season in a less commercial way, and I'm purely excited to just spend the day with my family and Connor's. I'm going to try and start saving for next Christmas so that it's less taxing on my bank account. I hope that wherever you are at in life that you don't feel like you have to get in debt to show your friends and family that you love them.

Merry Christmas x

My Addiction

Before I get right into this, I just want to say I'm not an addict in the traditional drug or alcohol using sense. I mean I probably have potential that it could go that way, but thank goodness it never has.

photo by Connor Cleary
I believe I have an addictive personality or can be a very addictive person, I can get easily hooked on the slightest thing. I've been trying to trace back what it is that makes me want to fill this void. I didn't have much growing up, my parents worked really hard to keep a roof over my head but we didn't have a lot of luxuries (I mean compared to their childhood I had a lot more, but not on the same level as some of my peers, y'know living in big houses, parents had nice cars, holidays galore and of course just your usual luxury toys...or even having the trendiest item when it wasn't their birthday or Christmas).

If there were things I wanted they were birthday and Christmas presents, and I really appreciated them when the time came. I would only get new clothes when I grew out of them - I occasionally had "ankle swingers" at school, where you'd grown and the hem of my trousers sat above my ankles. I'm in no way knocking my parents, as previously mentioned I'm so grateful for what my parents did for me. They fought for the best childhood they could give me. This is an account of what I remember, and again a comparison of what I felt my peers had.

I think in light of not having much "stuff" when I was younger, it turned me into somewhat of a hoarder. We would go to army and navy shows and I would go to all of the stalls collecting pointless freebies just so I had things. I wasn't very good at throwing things away and often kept a very messy room (I'm still to this day trying to learn to be a tidier person). I had some pocket money each week, about £2 a week which allowed me to get my favourite magazine of which I'd usually read by the time we had done the weekly shopping. I never saved that money or had any goals to save up for things (boy do I wish I had saved it) I think I was so happy to choose what I could buy and I just wanted to spend it. I liked the feeling of spending money.

When I got my first job delivering leaflets for a supermarket, it felt so good to be able to fund my travels to see my friends and boyfriend who lived a bus and train journey away. I had begun to save up any pennies left over from public transport.

Then at 17 I got my first proper part-time job. I worked a lot of overtime to learn the protocols and how the place runs. I started saving half of my wages into a separate account - all was going swimmingly well. That is until I started to go shopping. I realised I could buy my own clothes and I always loved fashion and began making regular trips to New Look (other retailers are available). After all what's a little purchase here and there? Well, it's how my £700 savings disappeared with not much to show for where it went.

This way of life continued when I went to university, I'll also have to admit that the summer before this I was having to borrow money secretly from a close friend to get by and couldn't pay the deposit for my student house so my parents helped there. I have a lot of pride and it's very hard for me to admit when I'm struggling, because you feel like a failure when you can't look after your own money. Throughout uni I would borrow money from my parents but I'd always pay it back - this was always important to me. I needed to fulfil the illusion of being an independent young adult. Even with maintenance loans and grants it was just more money to play with. More money for going out with friends, for Primark hauls, holidays and fancy new gadgets. It really didn't take much for me to spend £50 - £100 in one sitting...multiple times.

I really took the term "retail therapy" too literally. I know that when I was younger I had underlying mental health issues that hadn't been addressed or treated and these started to get worse when I started University, sometimes living in an unstable and sometimes volatile house. In my second year I believe my spending truly peaked. I had gotten a student overdraft "just in case"...well just in case turned into everyday. Going on Amazon and ordering lots of books I'd never read, attempting to get into make up and therefor buying lots of different bits to try, becoming obsessed with Bloggers and Youtubers and buying things they recommended or buying their merchandise and products they released. I wish I had an intervention, although I know I can get extremely defensive when loved ones try and interfere sometimes, so maybe it might not have worked anyway. Maybe this was something I had to find out on my own.

I hate to admit that in the worst of my anxiety and depression before it was diagnosed and somewhat treated, I turned to playing mobile games. It started with just regular games, then it turned to story type games where you could do better and improve by doing in app purchases. I used these games as a form of escapism, and probably didn't even think that much about what I was spending on something that holds no value in real life (I mean, pick up a book if you want escapism).

I would say that 2015 and 2016 were probably the worst two years of my life. I was trying to keep up various pretences and juggling work, university work, housemates, social life, family life, both of my grandmothers passing away,  and a long term relationship...oh and not forgetting the spiralling Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression, with both of those in the mix I was a permanent ticking time bomb. That is a reason why I would shop for "retail therapy" on a daily basis.

In total I believe I've gotten out of debt about three times since having my overdraft, once I even put myself on a spending ban but somehow always slid back in whether it was something like car trouble that I couldn't help, or not being able to resist my shopping habits. One significant event was when my bedroom caught fire and I lost the majority of my belongings. I was trying to fix things and buy replacements for the things I'd lost. I was moving back to my mum's anyway for my third year and it felt so empty. I've never liked the feeling of emptiness and I think this made some of my shopping sky rocket, plus I really needed that dopamine hit.

I started to write this post at the beginning of the year, as I had sort of an epiphany about my behaviour - remember how earlier I was sort of in denial and wanted an intervention but wasn't sure how that would go down? Coming to terms with my spending all by myself was like the clouds clearing to reveal a clear blue sky. I couldn't believe it, it feels like you're in a trance that you can't snap out of. I was aware that I was going to be made redundant in April and I wasn't sure what I was going to do work wise so I needed to start thinking sensibly and store away money to pay for my bills and rent. I have found that I've always had enough money for my bills, so at the core I know what's important.

Of course this past year I've faltered on occasion, but I quickly came to and realised my actions. I'm not getting any younger and I need to change my spending to cater for the priorities in my life, like saving for a house, going on holidays with my boyfriend; Connor (we've not been able to go on a proper holiday together in the nearly ten years we've been together), I've got friends weddings and hen do's coming up next year and I don't want to miss out on important events like that or feel guilty spending money to go to those events.

I started a new job in October which I could have more hours than my previous job, meaning more money to sort out my financial situation. The main message that I've been trying to get into my pea sized brain is to get my head down and work hard to sort my life out. If my plan works I'll be out of debt by the end of January next year, and hopefully out of debt to my mum by the end of March for buying my car last year. I just want to wipe clean my debts and start over, so if I need work done to my car I can pay for it, and by the end of 2020 I want to have a decent sized starter pot for a house. I know it'll take a few years for this pot to grow into a substantial amount but patience is a virtue. When Connor and I get our own place it'll all be worth it and I will cherish every single room.

In essence I've realised all of the different branches of what an addiction can be. I first started to cotton on to my issues when I read a leaflet I picked up during my complimentary visit to Grosvenor Casino about gambling addictions; I never thought I'd be on the same level as someone gambling money but I really related to the points in that leaflet and it was scary. I'm trying to conquer the "oh just in case", "that's a bargain" and "why not treat yourself". I'm sorry, but I can't treat myself every single day when I've done nothing to receive a reward. I loved this post by Beth Sandland about the "treat yourself" mentality way back and definitely recommend giving it a read.

I am so close to developing the tools I need to actually grow up and be sensible with my money, and finally be out of debt for good I hope! I've even been contemplating seeking out a therapist to see every once in a while to help keep my mental health in check.

This post has been in progress for a long time and I'm so happy to finally have it out in the world, I think a lot of us can relate and probably should learn how to be more careful with money. I'm not saying to can't spend a penny at all, but we shouldn't buy things purely to be the key of our happiness.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you for reading,

Saffron x

Saturday 21 September 2019

Victorious Festival 2019 | AD*

Credit: Connor Cleary
It felt good to be back at Victorious again this year, it's starting to feel like my home away from home! We had such perfect weather this bank holiday weekend - especially compared to last years drenching. I had access to a press pass again this year which meant I could chill in the VIP area and press tent. Not much had changed here except more seating and a few different vendors and stalls. I actually barely got to use the area this year, except for the nicer toilets!

Credit: Connor Cleary
Credit: Connor Cleary

Once myself and my boyfriend (Connor Cleary) met up with one of our friends we had a walk around the main stage area, and were delighted to see the Strongbow arena again. This is always the best place to go and chill and listen to music, there's a handy little bar there too. When we arrived there was a piano duo who just started a set where they play nothing but festival-goers requests, which is quite impressive. They started with Freed From Desire and continued with requests like Don't You Want Me and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - quite diverse! It's an all out party throughout the day and is definitely a good place to hit up at the end of the day to have a little boogie and let loose.

As always on the Friday access is limited until Saturday, but you still have the Beats and Swing tent which has similar vibes to Strongbow but I specifically recall one man purely beatboxing tunes from there which sounded incredible. You'll always see plenty of people bundled in there having the time of their lives.

Credit: Connor Cleary
There were still plenty of food vendors to buy grub from and replacing the Coca Cola team from last year there was Fuze Tea (of which Coca Cola is a parent company) handing out free cans of iced tea in green tea and mango flavours and again they were encouraging people to recycle their cans at their stations. There were also representatives from Rowntree's Randoms with a fancy dress/photo booth opportunity giving out free sweets.

When I actually look back over the weekend I didn't see that many bands. Between trying to get content for the festival and doing what your friends want to (so that you don't get lost as on the Saturday there was basically no phone signal or 3G) I only saw a handful of acts.

Credit: Becca Egerstrom
Credit: Becca Egerstrom

 But, the one's I did get to see I really enjoyed. I would say my favourite performances were by Lewis Capaldi and Professor Green. I wasn't a huge fan of Pro Green before Victorious but where I dip in and out of pop music I've heard some of his songs. I just loved the vibe the audience gave off when they were raving to his songs, it makes you compelled to join in even if you don't know the words! Professor Green posted a photo from the Castle Stage on his Instagram and wrote "The gig of my career thus far. Do not have the words. You keep me going, thank you" which I had to do a double take for! Little ol' Portsmouth aye?

And need I say anything on Lewis Capaldi? His set was everything I hoped for. My favourite songs at the moment are (in no particular order because I love them all) Bruises, Hold Me While You Wait, Someone You Loved and Grace. He just has this charisma that makes him entertaining but he's also talented; a good combo. Lewis mentioned something about writing a song in Gosport, which instantly had many boos and a few cheers from the audience - I'm not sure what that was about, but if he did by chance write a song in Gosport while he was over here for Isle of Wight Festival that will be very interesting to find out what it's about...

Credit: Tom Langford
You may have read my recent post regarding mental health at gigs, and specifically my experience at Isle of Wight Festival in 2014. I talk a bit about The Special's set from Victorious, I have a special place in my heart for The Specials and ska music. I love that it can go from being so chilled and the next minute everyone's got their elbows and knees up in the air having a whale of a time. I was so grateful that I got to experience them again, and this time with no mental health hiccup! The only thing I was gutted about was them not including 'Ghost Town' in their set, which is one of my favourites.

Credit: Tom Langford
Credit: Tom Langford
It was also great to see New Order on the Sunday from basically the front row. I always love going to see old school popular bands like The Cure and The Human League (of which myself and Connor were front row for at Bestival 2016), you never know when they are going to stop performing so it's great to be able to experience them. What was even more great was they threw in some Joy Division songs so you had the whole package during their set. I'll admit that after 15 minutes I left the near-front-row to go and chill at the back of the common stage, grabbed a paella and a crepe and bopped along to the music. I do love to just relax at festivals, it doesn't always have to be a full out party.

Credit: Connor Cleary
Credit: Connor Cleary
I'm sad that most of the weekend had a lot of running around and not much of seeing actual artists like the previous years I'd been to, but I saw the ones I wanted to see which is what mattered! It was also the first year I had met up with a lot of friends, and trying to orchestrate where we were all going and trying to meet up throughout the day was a challenge when you all have different agendas!

I have loved reading about all of the positives that Victorious Festival brings to Portsmouth's economy. According to The News - Portsmouth, last year it brought in £9 million to the city. That just amazes me, at how much this festival can do for all of the businesses on the island. So far over the years the festival has raised £182,000 for charities as well. As I was born in Portsmouth and have lived on and around the island, I'm really proud of what the city can do. I can't wait to see this fantastic festival grow and benefit thousands more people just from the joy of music.

*I have disclosed this post as an AD, as I was given a free press pass to the festival of which I applied for. All opinions are my own and I wan't paid anything to write or make content for the festival.

Monday 16 September 2019

Ghost Tour & Screening of 'IT Chapter 2' | AD*

Not your ordinary tour of old Portsmouth, we encountered characters created by Dark Encounters. This made the historic tour all the more entertaining and light hearted. 

Outside Vue Portsmouth, Gunwharf Quays
Through the lovely local Pompey Bloggers group I came across the opportunity to pop along to a ghost tour and screening of 'IT Chapter 2' at Vue in Portsmouth. I'm not usually one to jump at the chance of scary things, as I am very much a scaredy cat! I spook so easy. The first 'IT' I watched mostly through my fingers, of which my boyfriend will not let me live down. I am also the person who had to temporarily leave The Woman in Black screening because there were so many jump scares I thought I were going to be sick!

Outside The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
I went to this experience with an open mind and tried to stay as calm as possible throughout and hope that I wouldn't need to make an exit at any point!

We met with a character outside Square Tower in Old Portsmouth, he was pacing up and down in a costume suited to the old landscape of the area. It was clear this was not going to be some ordinary tour I thought it was going to be. Our extravagant guide informed us of the evenings task; to become his agents to find out about any shipments and odd goings on. As he was leading us around we would be interrupted by two more characters; one being an older gentleman being a "Hampshire Agent". This guy was hilarious, he would tell us historical stories about buildings in the area but he added elements of humour to his part of the tour which had us all giggling. The second; being from "The Family" a pick pocketer and a right wrong'un. Dressed in shabby clothes and fingerless gloves, he moved around our group making us feel unsettled telling us his plans. He needed a "Ladybird", someone to source prostitutes (yes, ladies or gentlemen of the night), or find people that they could sell and make some good money. This got a lot of funny awkward looks, and unfortunately one of the ladies in the group made a bit of an impression on said pick pocketer; Mr Horley and he chose her as the Ladybird to find within the group decent bodies to sell.

It's safe to say I was not expecting audience participation in this tour, I wasn't expecting a lot and I was happily surprised with the mixture of historic and comedic elements. As we were a relatively small group it felt like we were going through this together, and we all had no clue what was going to happen.

When the tour and our quest had finished we ended up at the pedestrian entrance of Gunwharf Quays and made our way to Vue. The thing I've always loved about Vue Portsmouth is how BIG it is! It has 14 screens with a total of 3,100 seats. Vue offers stadium seating and VIP seats alongside a range of content, in addition to highly anticipated blockbusters. As I've always been a somewhat local to Portsmouth, I've had so many memories in this cinema. From mine and my other half's (sort of) first date, and watching old school James Bond films with my dad scoffing down ice cream hand picked from the sweets corner of the foyer. I love that the pick n mix and ice cream counter is separate from the popcorn, hot dog and drinks cashiers, especially if you decide in the middle of the trailers that you fancy a mean Ben and Jerry's. This evening we opted for a large combo with Diet Coke and sweet and salted popcorn; our personal favourite.

As we went the day of IT Chapter 2's release there were HUGE queues just to get into the screens. I honestly hadn't seen that before! It was so nice to see so many people passionate about watching films eager to get in. We were in such a big screen for the film, which made me a bit worried to see all of the gore and jump scares up close! There's plenty of foot room and space to wiggle in your seat. The screen itself and the sound quality were amazing, I felt fully immersed in the film. I actually watched maybe 97% of the film with no hands in front of my face! I did squirm at bit at some parts which were gross but also let out some terrified giggles! All in all I was so proud that I sat and watched the scary parts and nothing bad happened to me. I really enjoyed the film, I love that the forefront of the story is the Losers getting together and the coming of age feel (even if they are all grown up now), and the horror and gore is in the background with relaxed comedic elements throughout.

The view by the Square Tower
In summary, I had a lovely evening taking part in a thoroughly interesting and entertaining ghost tour of Old Portsmouth before a screening of IT Chapter 2 at Vue. It was also so nice to see fellow blogger Mike at the event, another friendly face! I definitely wasn’t expecting a fully immersive experience with characters showing us around. The whole evening was amazing and Vue Portsmouth made the experience very enjoyable with great seats, amazing sound quality and fantastic service. Thank you Vue for organising such a great evening. Also a thank you to the three chaps with Dark Encounters for helping make it such an entertaining evening!

*This opportunity was gifted through Vue Portsmouth, although this is a sponsored post all words and views are my own.


Thursday 29 August 2019

Throwback to Isle of Wight Festival 2014

I wasn’t sure whether to talk about this or not, but I’m actually quite proud of how far I have come. I was going to post this on my social media channels but once I had finished writing this I realised I had accidentally written a blog post, so here you go!

Over five years ago I went to my first festival; Isle of Wight Festival 2014 with my boyfriend and one of our friends. We were all really excited as the line up was incredible! Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Biffy Clyro and Kings of Leon were the headliners and then the likes of The Pretty Reckless (who I was mad about at the time!) Nina Nesbit, John Newman and Rudimental to name a few. And of course the Ska legends; The Specials. I grew up hearing them on the radio on various car journeys with my dad and hearing Ghost Town on a Halloween radio station. We just so happened to have stayed at the front of the main stage ALL DAY. Pure accident and unplanned, we weren’t hungry or thirsty and didn’t need the loo, so we thought “why not try and stay here until Red Hot Chili’s?”. That would be an amazing memory. All was going well, that year there was a big football game on (can’t remember off the top of my head, not really a huge football fanatic so don’t shoot me) and I remember a lot of people getting more drunk and rowdy because of it and acting a bit “hooligany". As the day went on it got really hot and humid and more and more crowded, but we soldiered on. Right, The Specials started their set. The atmosphere was incredible! Everyone getting a bit of a dance on, getting whacked on the head by guys behind me (short person problem) but it’s fine carry on! And then pushing and shoving and more invasion of my personal space occurred. I remember being irate that a woman next to me was wearing this fluffy woollen jumper (a texture that makes me cringe and repulse) and because of the lack of space the texture was constantly touching my skin in some way. After a few more pushes and shoves I decided I couldn't hack it anymore, my friend felt the same, being that she was smaller than me it must’ve been worse for her. We left my boyfriend and I started to confidently make my way through the crowd heading backwards. Getting past the first few rows was fine as people were eager to get us out so they could get closer, and then it was like hitting a brick wall made of people. No one was letting us through any further and all these people were looking at us and I couldn’t see a way out, we were just smack in the middle of a crowd. A lady saw me and said "you can't go any further".

That’s when I lost it. I didn’t see it coming. I fell apart as a human being. A full blown panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and my eyes were streaming with tears. All I remember was my friend walloping people out of the way to get back to the front to seek medical assistance whilst she also was having a panic attack. I don’t even recall how I got carried over the gates I literally lost my sight for at least five minutes and then once I was out of that environment and the welfare team sat us down with water I started to reappear. 

It was such a strange experience. That had never happened to me before or at least not on that scale. This was years before being diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression and mental health wasn’t in the media at all so I didn’t know what had hit me. For the rest of the festival I didn’t get back in the crowds for fear the same thing would happen again. I didn’t really get to fully experience The Specials and only saw the Red Hot Chilli Peppers from way back by the Ferris wheel and it didn’t sound great and couldn’t even see the stage. 

So, the point of this post. Last weekend The Specials played at Victorious and I was so excited to try and see them again. This time though, I’ve experienced far more mental health problems (than one person probably should) and kind of know how to handle it most days and I’ve been to gigs and festivals since where I’ve been at the front and not had a panic attack. I finally got the see The Specials at a fairly decent distance and relax with fellow Ska lovers. Not a panic attack or anxious feeling in sight. I even lost my friends several times over the weekend and there was no signal or internet, I guess due to the amount of people there the companies couldn’t keep up with the demand. I just found myself on my own in big crowds of people with no way to find my own people until my signal came back. And you know what? I coped. I made my own plan of action and even enjoyed just roaming around on my own, getting a drink, having a peek at other stages. Of course I know that last weekend could’ve gone the other way if I had let it. But I am mentally stronger (sometimes) and I try to keep that pesky anxious voice out of my head. 

All in all it was a lovely weekend, except losing everyone constantly and the heat was just a bit much at times especially in the crowds, we were quite lucky that most of the other festival-goers were quite friendly and lighthearted. My Victorious round up will be up soon!


Wednesday 10 April 2019

Grosvenor Casino | AD

A while ago I was invited to go down to Grosvenor Casino in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth to review their new menu. They also said I'd get to have a training session of a casino game of my choice.

I have never actually been to a casino before, I went to one once but only for a drink for an after party. I had never really thought about Casinos being my *vibe* and none of my friends seem to have an interest - except when one of us will be getting married and we're going to go to Vegas, duh.

When I told my lovely best friend Lily about the opportunity we decided to seize the chance at a glam makeover for the occasion. I love makeup but I'm not totally savvy about it, and Lily is a glam goddess!

The finished look, I've never had such glamorous eyeshadow before, thank you so much Lily!
When myself and my boyfriend arrived at the Casino they had quite high tech security, as you need a guest pass or a membership card to enter the premises. I also suggested to my boyfriend if anyone's been banned it'll flag up on their system, and a health and safety standpoint as well.

We were greeted by Jayne who was the Manager of this Casino, she was very friendly and helpful. We were shown around the different areas; roulette tables, slot machines, and the poker room.

You can attend Casino's just for their bar and restaurant area, they screen various sports on their televisions so you can socialise with your friends - and you don't have to use the Casino if you don't want to. Jayne also said it's a very safe environment, they advocate safe use of gambling and they are part of Keep It Fun with lots of advice on how to stay responsible with gambling. Also, she said that sometimes women who have been on night's out or perhaps dates in Gunwharf go to the Casino as a safe waiting place before getting transport home.

I had such a misconception of casinos, I thought they were going to be a seedy greedy place wanting to take all of your money. But, it's actually a place of leisure, a place to hang out with your friends or celebrate an occasion. There were such a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, and at the tables, complete strangers were chatting with each other and having fun.

Before we got stuck into playing on some of the tables, we were shown over to the restaurant area for dinner.

One of my favourite meals is steak, and Connor and I love going out for a good steak! I loved how it came out with a selection of sides, and a decent amount too. Admittedly, my cut of steak wasn't exactly how I like it, but the waiter was very friendly and understanding and I very quickly was brought another piece and it was perfect!

For pudding, we both got waffles with ice cream and a selection of sauces (chocolate, salted caramel and maple syrup) and it was delicious, I loved having all of the sauces!

Grosvenor Casino had quite the selection of alcoholic beverages, but I decided to go all out with a piña colada as I wanted to feel fancy. It did not disappoint as you can see from the smile on my face.

We were both given a lucky number to use on a game of roulette as it was our first time at that casino, unfortunately, my number didn't come up, but it's a lovely idea that you could win £10 from a free spin.

After we enjoyed our dinner we were taken over to a private table where we were shown how to play roulette. I haven't really ever played any casino games so it was all new to me. We were given some chips just to play with whilst we learned all of the tips and how much you can gain by placing chips in particular areas.

The basics are the roulette gets spun and you place your chips on what numbers and colours you think the ball in the roulette might land on, but as you can see in the photo above you can also just choose colours and specific number sections if you don't want to do a straight up bet. The more you bet on a number, or numbers the more you can win back if you bet on the correct number.

Once we felt confident enough to take on the other punters in the casino, we went to a live table. I've got to say because I'm an awkward person there wasn't much room around the table and I ended up being on an edge and unable to put some chips down and was too nervous to keep asking the dealer where I wanted them. But it was all for fun, we set ourselves a budget of how much we wanted to buy into the game for chips (smart move).

Connor was a natural at conserving his chips and trying to get the most winnings by placing his chips on singular numbers. I was trying a different approach by trying to cover several numbers to try and get a big payout. This didn't work very well, but Connor helped me win some back so we both left in profit. It's amazing how quick everything is in roulette, the dealers have crazy maths skills and I wasn't expecting the tables to be so high tech. You can see on screens surrounding the tables what numbers and colours had come up recently to try and "guess" what might come up next.

I was honestly a bit apprehensive and excited for my first official time in a casino, but we both had so much fun. It was a different kind of night out and you can have a nice bit of banter, and hopefully, you'll go home with some extra pennies in your pocket or at least a full belly from a lovely meal.

We decided to become members of Grosvenor Casino, this is at no cost all at it just sets up a card so you can get easy access in and out of the casino. You set yourself up an online account as well, as you can play live online games - I have since done this and it's very strange having a real person talk to you when you're playing behind a screen. 

I would definitely recommend going to a casino for the experience, even if you just want to go grab some food and drink and socialise with your friends. If you feel responsible enough, do try playing some games, and the casino has steps in place if you do have trouble gambling, or if you think you might be susceptible to a gambling addiction. All you have to do is talk to a staff member and they will help you out. The message I interpreted from this casino is that you should have fun, but definitely don't gamble or play if you're going to put yourself in a sticky situation with rent, debt etc. I hate to be that person who says this but it's true when the fun stops - stop.

Connor and I will definitely come back here again for a night out, it was such a nice change of pace and environment, and it's completely abolished my misconceptions - I feel so embarrassed!

For more information about managing gambling addiction click here.

Let me know if you've been to casinos and what your experience was like below.

Love Saffron x

*This was a complimentary experience through the lovely ladies at Publicasity with the wonderful staff at Grosvenor Casino, all opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review.

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