Giants of Rock | Minehead

Giants of Rock – sounds great already, right? – is an annual adults-only rock festival hosted by the one and only Butlins. I promise, this is not a joke post. Butlins really does host a rock weekend.

You think of Butlins and, like me, you probably think of the seaside, family holidays, cheesy music and a place as far away as humanly possible from several thousand rockers. You’d be right, because Butlins is an awesome place for a family holiday, but did you know they also regularly hold live music weekends just for us grown-ups? And they’re incredible.

At the end of January, Matthew and I, alongside Mark and Kat – also known as Matt’s brother & brother’s girlfriend, good friends, best man & maid of honour, which ever tickles your fancy – jumped into the car for a 5 hour car-ride down to Minehead. We booked this weekend away so long ago, on a bit of a whim really, after visiting Matt’s mum and her foster children during on of their family holidays at Butlins. All four of us are child-free and loving it, so whilst Butlins (and the prospects of music, drinks and swimming) is forever enticing, the idea of spending a long weekend around many, many children is not. All they had to do was throw in “adults-only” and “rock music” and we were sold.

The music was, obviously, the highlight of the entire weekend. Surprisingly, though, the surrounding area came a very, very close second and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Minehead Butlins Beach Sunset

The Butlins resort we stayed in was in Minehead – almost 300 miles from our home city. It’s down in Somerset (which is also kind of near Wales), so even the car ride was a thing of beauty. I’m a bit dramatic when it comes to nature, I guess you’d say. I can’t quite control my excitement with how overwhelmingly and sincerely beautiful I find everything. It still baffles me how people can pass rolling hills and not look at them in awe, but that’s a story for another day. So, when we rocked up at the resort and head down to the nearby beach, I was blown away.

The beach seemed to start right at the base of a huge cliff, before winding all the way over mounds of huge rocks, around the bright green fields of a nearby golf course and into rolling hills in the distance. It went on forever.

Minehead Butlins Beach SunsetMinehead Butlins Beach Sunset

We went for two walks on the beach. One walk was full of fog and an orange sun that made the whole place look warm (even though it wasn’t). Even in the fog, it was incredible. During the second walk, we caught the sunset before almost being caught in the high tide. You bet we practically ran back to safety.  I could have walked up and down that beach for days… but only minutes away was the Butlins resort calling us back with an itinerary full of rock music and how could we turn that down?

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Have you ever been to Minehead or Somerset? I wish we could have explored a little more but, this time, we paid for the music and not for the nature!

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

Matt Asks Me Weird Things

You know what’s a really incredible thing? Loving and living with your absolute best friend in the world.

After 5 and a half years – or, almost 2000 days (I don’t know why I Googled that) – being asked weird questions by my better half, Matthew, has become the norm. We have the strangest conversations, like everyone else, but Matt in particular comes up with the most ridiculous things. Tonight, I was thinking about this one particular memory, and I suddenly remembered that I noted down a few of the weird questions he asked me, just for, I don’t know, future notice, I guess.  We went on a summer hike in the middle of nowhere, and periodically throughout the walk, he’d turn to me and ask a question. As if the beautiful walk, rolling hills, and blazing sunshine wasn’t enough, this made for a super special memory.

For all you lucky people that do live with your best friend, especially if that best friend of yours is a massive, random weirdo, you’re probably gonna relate with me a little here! If not, admire a few of the weird and wonderful things that Matthew thought to ask me throughout the duration of one hour.

Green Landscape Trees

If you had a horse, what would you name him?

Frasier, Dougie, Ezekiel, Felix. I think I love Ezekiel the most, but I can imagine my fictional, beautiful, shiny stallion with all of the above names.

What mythical animal would you most love to find in the wild?

To clarify, he also meant “to find and have as a per”. This was easy for me. I’d want to find a domesticated unicorn or Pegasus or Rapidash (do Pokémon count?). As you probably already guessed, I’m pretty obsessed with horses – but, alas, I do not own a horse. I did also consider a Phoenix because 1) it’s beautiful, 2) you won’t be sad when it dies, because it will come back to life 3) they have the ability to heal with their tears.

Would you chop off your own arm if you could replace it with a mechanical one?

Basically, no. We debated this one for a while because, yes, the mechanical arm has countless advantages but I can’t imagine any of those advantages outweighing the unimaginable pain of having to cut your own arm off. I also like the idea of, at least for now, being completely human. If you were offering a deal more like “would you chop of your pinkie to become a bionic human, or human 2.0, with massively improved cognitive functions?” then I might say yes.

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What do you think?

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My Year in Review #2/3 | Books and Films

Last year, during my first installment of ‘my year in review’, I was going through a huge book dragon phase. I spent a lot of free time with a book in hand, a cup of tea in the other and a kitten on my lap – as you can imagine, those were delightful months.

This year, I only read 5 books… I know I shouldn’t be, because I had way more important things going on, but I’m pretty embarrassed about it! I absolutely love reading and I would consider myself pretty well read, but 5 books!? Outrageous (okay, not that far, but you catch my drift). So, instead of simply having a look back on what I read, I’m going to briefly review my year through film and books.

My Year in Review 2016 TV Film and Books

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Books:

What books did I read in 2016?

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • Fear of Falling by S.L. Jennings
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs

My favourite read:

This is really tough. On my Goodreads, I gave The Sense of an Ending, The Girl with all the Gifts and Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children all 5/5 stars. They were absolutely incredible, completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

The Sense of an Ending left me speechless for a very long time. It made me think about life, time and mostly about memory – it’s not something you consider a lot, but our memories are very fragile and can quite easily be manipulated by time. The Girl with all the Gifts was one of the best books I’ve ever read and it left me completely in awe of the author’s talent. It was ridiculously clever – a lot of real-life science was kind of flipped on it’s side to create the whole “what if?” With a completely unexpected final twist, I would read this again in a heartbeat. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was really wonderful too. It was on my to-read list for a very long time and it did not disappoint. The characters and the use of time were definitely highlights for me. I didn’t actually know it was part of a series, but there you go! I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Fear of Falling was a bit of fun, a bit of trashy writing but enjoyable. You know the type. However, I was a little disappointment with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I think I read it when I was very, very young so I counted my recent read of the book as my first time. It was not how I remembered it at all. I’m completely invested and in love with Lewis Carroll’s universe and everything Alice related will be forever loved, but the book itself left me a little deflated. Of course, Carroll’s writing and whimsy is absolutely beautiful, I just wanted more.

Full book reviews: 

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Film:

Total number of new films watched: 26 (half of which were watched over the Christmas period!)

Highest rated films: 

  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  • Skyfall (2012)

Lowest rated films: 

Sausage Party (2016) – This was one of the worst films that I have ever seen. It was stupid and not remotely funny. I kid you not there was a full on animated food orgy to end this disaster of a film. Just… what…

Suicide Squad (2016) – So much potential, yet such a disappointment. The director could quite easily have been replaced with an A-level film student with a handout of $175,000,000 and the differences would be minimal.

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Special mention: HBO’s Westworld (2016) was one of the most extraordinary pieces of television I’ve ever seen. I’m finding it hard to put the series into words, so I highly recommend any sci-fi fans to just watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Considering the year I had, that’s a pretty good haul of books and films! I read some absolutely incredible novels and I even reignited my huge (and pretty sentimental) love for film. That sounds like a good thing to me.

What was the best book you read this year? Did you watch any great films?

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Getting Festive in the Studio

Can you believe that it’s the first of December? I still don’t have my Christmas decorations up and I don’t actually see it happening any time soon. For someone who normally has their Christmas decorations up in the first week of November, this is a bit of a big deal!

Despite the lack of festivities in my personal life, my photography studio been been regularly bringing a snippet of Christmas Day into my home.

Recently, I had the sweetest little elf visit for a Christmas photo-shoot, and once you see his little smile, you won’t blame me for wanting to share these with you. With his little pointy ears, his festive cheer and his childish wonder, he brightened up my home. I admit, I did feel a festive twinkle whilst photographing this beautiful baby in his little elf outfit. I’m only human!

The Rose Quartz Photography Christmas PhotoshootThe Rose Quartz Photography Christmas Photoshoot

Once he left and the Christmas props had been packed away, however, all signs of Christmas cheer vanished into thin air and the reminder that Christmas is almost upon us made me cringe. I promise, I’m not always this much of a Grinch. This year has been tough – really, unforgettably tough – so mustering up a bit of happiness for something that 2016 has to offer me is proving a lot harder than I thought it would!

The solution: lots of Christmas photo-shoots!

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If you’d like to have a look at my photography page on Facebook, you have find me here.

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

4 Subscription Boxes I’d Love To Try

I have this weird fascination with subscription boxes, yet I’ve never actually ordered one! They’re always so full of wonderful things. I don’t often find the time to buy myself little gifts so having somebody else send you a selection of goodies in the post each month is just so appealing.

When I do decide to take the plunge and fork out a bit of money each month, here are the 5 subscription boxes that are just calling for me to own them:


Bloom and Wild:

Bloom and Wild Subscription Box

Having fresh flowers dotted around the home is one of my favourite things. These ‘letterbox flowers’ are carefully delivered in the post each month for around £15 a month (depending on the subscription you choose). There is also an option to send these as a one-off, which would be a perfect gift idea!

OwlCrate:

OwlCrate Subscription Box

Each month, the lovely folks at OwlCrate round up a themed bunch of goodies and pack them into a box fit for a queen bookworm. This was the first subscription box that I ever happened upon – in fact, I found this company back on Instagram a while ago, when they were a tiny little thing, packing boxes in their living room. Filled to the brim with bookish goodies, these subscription boxes are £25 per month.

Loot Crate:

LootCrate Subscription Box

Loot Crate is the ultimate geeky subscription box. Every month has a different theme with some past crates being ‘invasion’, ‘dead’, ‘futuristic’ and ‘dystopia’. It’s pretty hard to describe the contents of these subscription boxes as they vary so much month to month – generally, they include a Pop Funko and a geeky t-shirt! On a monthly contract, you can get these geeky boxes from £21 a month!

CatLadyBox:

CatLadyBox Subscription Box

I am a massive cat lady so, no surprise, this is my dream subscription box! Anything kitty related is just my best friend. The box is full of goodies for you and your furry friend, including items of clothing, jewellery, home-ware or treats for your cats, all for £32 a month.

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Are you subscribed to any boxes? Which one’s would you like to try?

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How I’m Improving My Sleep Hygiene

Me and sleep aren’t friends. We haven’t had the best relationship for around 6 years now but, as I’m getting older, I’m becoming less and less able to bounce out of bed in a morning on 3 (or sadly, sometimes way less) hours sleep. To try and improve this, me and Matt have been making a real effort to manage our sleep hygiene – and no, that’s not whether or not you’ve had a bath before bed! Your sleep hygiene is the habits and patterns you practice nightly, that are helpful towards improving your night’s sleep.

Improving Sleep Hygiene

I’m grouchy in the mornings (you probably already guessed that I’m definitely not a morning person!) but, when I’ve had no sleep, I’m a completely different person. Working on improving my sleep hygiene has been absolutely vital to my sanity, my relationships with everyone around me and my health – you’d be surprised what insomnia can do to your skin and hair!

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So, how am I trying to improve my own sleep hygiene? Here are my five tried and tested tips for a good night’s sleep:

Make your bedroom an irresistible sleepy kingdom: Black out curtains, shut your bedroom door, fresh bedding, your favourite ‘bedtime’ scent – think lavender mist or, my favourite, Lush’s fairy dust. These are all going to help make your bed seem inviting, even on the worst nights when you just know you’re not going to get any sleep.

Maintain a regular bed time: Try and trick your body’s “internal clock” into thinking that you have your shit together. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends!) is going to really help create a consistent sleep schedule.

Don’t eat too late: However tempting it may be to cook yourself some chips at midnight, they aren’t going to settle in time for you to comfortably go to sleep.

Associate your bed with sleeping (and sex): I used to read in bed, watch films in bed and just chill out in bed on my phone. I got used to being cosy, without the prospect of sleep. Avoiding all of the above has helped associate the act of getting into bed with going to sleep.

Avoid naps or nap early: I confess, I’m a napper. For the worst part of a year, the only sleep I had was during a nap in the afternoon! After that, I kind of got into the habit of napping… They’re definitely a bad idea if you’re trying to start up a sleeping pattern!

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These tips have massively helped me improve my own sleeping pattern, so if you’re having difficulties of your own, I do hope they help you out!

Do you have any other tips?

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

I’m Getting Married!

Our engagement story is a sweet one. Despite months of hypothetically talking about it, the whole thing was actually a massive surprise to me.

After spending the afternoon of my birthday being pampered with my mum – we both had a massage and our nails done at a salon – I head home to spend the rest of the day and night with Matthew. He met me at the car (with an umbrella because it was raining) and he was dressed up in his fanciest shirt, but I still didn’t realise anything was different. He’s always pretty well dressed anyway.

When I walked into our living room, “our song” was already playing and the cats looked a bit coy – they had new, light purple collars on with bells. Matt didn’t like the idea of dressing himself up without dressing up our girls. I presumed, at this point, that this was just an extra special birthday treat. He handed me a birthday gift, which I opened. It was a beautifully bound, golden edged collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales and poems. As you can imagine, I loved that.

He then passed me another gift. So, I’m sat there thinking ah, no, stop spoiling me! I’m already cooing to the max about “our song” playing in the background. I open up this second present, and it’s a collection of love poems. How adorable… Matthew tells me to flick to a particular page and there, cut open in the centre of the book, is the message “will you marry me?”

I couldn’t believe it. I transformed into ultimate girl-mode and just stared at him – wide-eyed – for an unreasonable amount of time. Honestly, I thought it was a weird joke. We’re a pretty progressive couple, in the scheme of things, and I just presumed we’d one day say to each other “so, we’re gonna get married soon, right?” We were already practically married anyway. This, though, wow. It was honestly one of the most romantic, memorable moments of my life. He put so much thought and effort and secrecy into the whole thing. I knew he loved me anyway, but understanding the time that someone puts into something is beautiful.

I'm Getting Married Engagement News

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After a lot of hypothetical plans and dreams (and two years later!), we recently and finally booked our dream wedding venue. Dream wedding venue isn’t even an over-exaggeration – when we visited, a very long time ago, we didn’t think we’d ever be able to book this place in time for our own wedding. It’s a beautiful country house, a little on the outskirts of our home city. It really is something special.

I'm Getting Married Engagement News

So, it’s official! Me and Matthew will be getting married on the 26th November 2017. I honestly cannot control my excitement and I’ll be talking about this for the whole year.

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Obviously, we’re both so excited! We’ve been planning this for ages and for it to finally be happening is just fantastic. 

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills