Thursday, 19 October 2017

Beginners Guide to Thomson Cruises

If you follow me on Instagram (or if you don't, get your ass over there) you might have seen that at the beginning of October I went on a cruise around the Mediterranean. It's not something that I had ever considered doing, but it was a special occasion and our original plans to go to Italy by train were kind of blown into the wind, so I just thought "what the heck", booked it and then didn't really know what to expect.
The Thomson Majesty harboured in Ajaccio, Corsica
When we got there, there were quite a few things that I kind of wish I had known about before we got there. Not necessarily because they were bad, but so that we could have been prepared for them.

1. The Cruise operates a cashless system

Note: Everything is sold in Pounds Sterling (£)

Your room card acts as your ticket on and off the ship, and you must show it everytime you want to spend money. There are two options to keep your card loaded with money:

  • You connect your debit or credit account to your card at check-in, and anything you spend will be charged to your card twice; once whilst you are away and anything remaining will be charged at the end of the holiday. Be careful that you don't overspend.
  • Or, you can pay cash up front (a minimum of £200 per cabin) that you can spend. When you run out of money, you just top it up with cash. This option is great if you are holidaying on a budget. Also, be aware that if you have any money left on your card at the end of your holiday (even if it is a matter a pence), you will not be able to leave the ship until it is settled. We had something like £3.20 left and opted to donate it to charity.
There are a few pros and cons for the cashless system. It was nice not having to carry money around, but it was also a pain because when you're on a budget, it can be hard to keep on top of how much you spend.

No matter which method you choose (card or cash), I definitely recommend either making a note every time you purchase something or head to Reception regularly to get an up-to-date print out.

2. Cruises are Expensive

This probably isn't a shock to anyone, whether you have done a cruise or not. However, although I was aware that the price of the cruise itself was expensive, I don't think I realised how expensive it was going to be, on top of all that.

Almost all of the staff will try to sell you something, whether it's encouraging you to buy their on-sale perfume, or lottery tickets, or products in the spa, or expensive hair accessories or trying to get you to attend a wine tasting that they won't tell you need to pay for.

The biggest expense, however, was the Drinks Packages, which brings me to the next one...

3. The Drinks Packages aren't what they seem

 I can imagine that most people booking a cruise will add a drinks package, thinking - as we did - "great that'll be one less thing to think about, right?".

Wrong.

The drinks available come in three levels:

1. Everything has a base price, which is generally expensive

2. If you pay for the initial Drinks Package, a few of these drinks are then free (although not many)
and the rest are available at a "reduced rate", so for the majority of drinks you will still have to pay something, which is generally around £1 - £2, which isn't a great deal but it adds up

3. You can upgrade your Drinks Package for £70 (£10 a day), which gives you everything for free except a few of the pricier options such as champagne and wine.

The Thomson Majesty harboured in Barcelona


4. Housekeeping Staff will enter your Room A LOT

I really don't know how Housekeeping on this cruise worked but they seemed to come in literally all throughout the day.

  • They make the beds in the morning
  • They also turn your bed down in the evening (this usually included a chocolate on the pillow)
  • They will come in to leave any communications with you
  • They will come in with a daily "Cruise News"
  • They may also come in to bring you towels....at 9:30pm...this one is no joke, it genuinely happened to us.

I think my biggest piece of advice if you go to your room to change or fancy an early night, is to make sure you hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door, and only take it off when you leave the room. It sounds overkill, but it saves a lot of hassle.

5. There is nothing more exciting than waking up each morning in a new location

I don't think this one needs too much of an explanation. But some pictures will show you what I mean...


Marseilles, France

Villefrance, France
 
Ajaccio, Corsica

Have you ever been on a cruise? What do you wish you had known? 

Or are you considering going on one, but have questions before you book?

Drop your thoughts, opinions and worries below :)
SHARE:

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Let's Talk About Harry Styles

I very nearly didn't put up this blog post, but I've decided to grow some balls and put up despite my anxiety about it. At the end of the day, we're all entitled to our opinions and these are mine :)

I want you to take a look at this picture...


Let's be honest. You might not recognise the guy in the above picture, but the chances that you know his name are pretty high. He is, of course - because it's in the title of this blog post-Harry Styles.

I'll be frank, I don't entirely "get" One Direction. As a woman in my early to mid-thirties, it's fair to say that I am not and have probably never been the target audience for the group. Their sound was never really my cup of tea and I can't lie - I find the fan base to be a little....crazy! Now that's not to say I mean to offend any fans, because I know that if 13 year old me had existed in the age of the internet, I would probably have been the same. I mean I wrote actual fan fiction about groups like Hanson and the Backstreet Boys for christs sake.

So no, I have never really been a fan of One Direction, and over the past few years, I've got a bit bored of reading about their personal lives.

But then, he was cast in Christopher Nolan's film; Dunkirk.


I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed with the casting of the "pretty boy", and I got really sick of the obsessive fangirls cropping up on every single thing to do with the film bleating on about their "bae" (like, seriously?) because c'mon, the film was always going to be about so much more than just one person. However, I trusted Nolan's casting, because I know that he has a fantastic eye for seeing what many others don't (do I need to remind anyone about the uproar when Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker!?). And, Harry Styles proved yet again that Nolan knows what he's doing, as he proved himself to be an amazing actor (in my opinion at least).

But not content with stopping there, Harry Styles then released this:


If you haven't heard this song, then I fully recommend you check it out (go on, do it now....I can wait.....).

All I want to know is: WHERE THE HECK HAS HARRY STYLES BEEN HIDING THOSE VOCALS??

Simon Cowell insisted that these five young guys weren't strong enough solo, so pushed them into a manufactured band that should never have been put together in the first place, and this song (alongside a few of Zayn Malik's singles) proves it.

Harry Styles - again like Zayn - is just so much stronger as a solo artist, and I don't mean any disrespect to fans of the band, but his vocals on this song are flipping amazing.

I personally think that this song proves that Simon Cowell was wrong. To say that they weren't strong enough vocally is just flippin' ridiculous.

What is your opinion of Harry Styles? 
Better as part of One Direction or solo? 
Maybe you would rather he disappeared off the face of the planet? 
SHARE:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Six Bingeworthy Box Sets

September is here already, and that can mean only one thing - Autumn is on its way. I love Autumn, after Spring it is my second favourite season of the year and I think we'll all agree that Autumn is the time of year when the idea of settling down in front of the telly is so much more tempting as the days get shorter and cooler.

I have teamed up with Panasonic to celebrate the launch of the new UHD TV Panasonic, which lets be honest is a pretty sexy TV. What better way than with a Top Six list of my favourite binge-worthy box sets, right? I'm not going to lie, box sets are a huge part of my existence and I currently subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime. I also theoretically have Now TV but I only really use that when The Walking Dead is on. So, all of my Top Six choices are currently available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime (in the UK).

Six. Jane The Virgin


Synopsis: When sweet and wholly innocent Jane accidentally falls asleep at her routine smear test, what she doesn't expect is to wake up pregnant; accidentally impregnated by the sister of whom the sperm belonged to, who also just happens to be Jane's boss, who she just happened to share a kiss with in the past...

Reasons To Watch: As you might guess from the synopsis, Jane The Virgin verges on the absolutely absurd, as it beautifully spoofs the popular telenovela. One way that differs from traditional telenovela's is that whilst it is generally quite bonkers and "as if" in its storylines, I always feel like the situations are made to feel a little more believable, as I genuinely feel the emotion of what the characters are dealing with and their bad decisions....well, sometimes you can actually imagine people in the real world making them too...in fact, at times it does feel like one really long episode of Jeremy Kyle...although maybe a little bit classier.

The reason Jane the Virgin is so addictive is for the exact same reason as telenovelas: cliffhangers and ridiculous storylines that leave you needing to find out what happens next - it's corny, but my god, it does actually work.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Five. Jessica Jones


Synopsis: Ex-superhero Jessica Jones is trying hard to live an ordinary life, working as a private investigator. However, with her past coming back to haunt her in the shape of a brilliantly twisted David Tennant, you know that isn't going to happen.

In my opinion: Over the past few years, I've grown tired of the Marvel universe. In terms of films, I only really enjoy The Guardians of the Galaxy films, and in terms of TV Shows, Jessica Jones is the only one that I have actually managed to finish.

Reasons to Watch: Jessica Jones is a brilliant anti-hero and this never really felt like a Marvel show. Instead, it felt like so much more, with so much intrigue about what happened in her past.

David Tennant: It's no real shock that David Tennant was an absolutely brilliantly creepy bad guy.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Four. Shameless (USA)


Synopsis: Fiona Gallagher is the eldest of the Gallagher clan, forced to raise her younger siblings alone as her useless parents are too busy getting drunk/high/basically doing everything that is probably illegal.

In my opinion: I put off watching the American incarnation of Shameless because I was such a huge fan of the original series. Of course, it started out with the same storylines (in fact, I'm pretty certain that the first episodes, if not the entire first series were almost exactly the same), however, as the show has progressed it has taken itself down its own patch and created a show that deserves credit in its own rights. I'm not generally a fan of American remakes of British TV shows, but this one is definitely worth a look.

Reasons to Watch: Carl. I  absolutely adore Carl, of course, he's done some messed up stuff (as have all of his siblings), but he's a character that I can really see growing into a responsible youngster. There is so much potential for him, and you can tell that he is going to become a really interesting character.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Three. Parks and Recreation


Synopsis: Leslie Knope has big dreams to become the first female President of the United States; in the mean-time, she's in charge of the quirky Parks and Recreation department in a small town called Pawnee.

In my Opinion: It initially took me a while to get into Parks and Recreation, however, it is such a brilliant concept that kind of shouldn't work. As you can imagine, it's a fairly easy background watch that never takes itself too seriously, in fact, it doesn't take itself seriously at all.

Reasons to Watch: Ron. Ron is comedy genius - he's the typical grumpy middle-aged guy with an anti-social, people-hating personality and oh boy, do I love him because Nick Offerman plays him so well.

Chris Pratt. I feel like I've watched Chris Pratt grow up, right back from his early days in TV shows like The OC and Everwood, up to his starring roles in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy. In everything I've seen him in, he's always been so completely different, and this is no exception. It's nice to see how much he has grown. His chemistry with Aubrey Plaza is brilliant and as an on-screen couple, I adore them.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Two. Orphan Black


Synopsis: When petty crook Sarah Manning witnesses a young woman who looks exactly like her commit suicide, she jumps on the chance to steal her life and start afresh. What she doesn't expect is to discover that the woman (Beth) was, like herself and several other women, the result of an experiment. Sarah finds herself thrown into the midsts of a mind-blowing mystery to their existence as clones.

In my opinion: Orphan Black is one of the greatest science fiction TV shows of the past ten years. It is intelligent, quirky, intriguing and has some interesting characters. The only reason I am putting this at number two, rather than number on is because I felt like it got a little too into itself in the last season and a half.

Reasons To WatchTatiana Maslany plays five major characters and a variety of other clones throughout the series. This in itself is nothing new, but she plays them all so well and so differently that it's easy to forget that they are in fact all the same person.

Felix; played by Jordan Gavaris, Felix is a brilliant breath of fresh air, he's funny, empathetic and a permanent rock of support, not only for adoptive sister Sarah, but also for the other clones, particularly Alison and Cosima.

Helena; a wild-haired, Russian clone (of course played by Maslany), Helena is my favourite of all the clones. She has so much depth, and even when she's absolutely crazy, you really feel sympathy for everything that life has thrown at her. Of all the clones, I found myself wishing her to get a happy ending more than anyone else.

Where to watch: Netflix

One. Orange is the New Black


Synopsis: It started out as the story of a priviliged white girl finds herself going to prison for a crime she commited years ago, based on real events. However over the years, Piper has kind of moved into the background (thank god!) and it has become more about the friendships and hardships of the women in the prison, as a whole.

In my opinion: Every summer a new season of OITNB comes out and every summer I binge watch it in a single weekend. That reason alone is the reason why I have pushed this to number one.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that I love so much about this show. I think a major factor is the sheer amount of amazing, three-dimensional characters that the show has, supported by some bloody amazing acting skills.

Essentially, its a TV show that touches on some serious subjects, as well as light-hearted ones and blends them together nicely.

Where to Watch: Netflix

What TV shows do you love to binge on, and could go back to time and time again?
SHARE:

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Dear August: I Don't Care What The Weatherman Says


Dear August,

I am starting to think that you are a little bit confused about what part of the year you live in. So, just to catch you up August - you are in the summer. Not spring, not autumn, definitely not winter but summer. And yet, today alone we have had sweltering heat, downpours, thunder, strong winds and hailstones.

We also need to talk about the leaves August, why are they changing colour already? Autumn is still so far away and as much as I love autumn, I'm not ready for it just yet. I want to cling on to your warmth for as long as I can. I want you to wrap me up in your great snuggly arms until my skin turns brown.

But then, this is the thing August.

We Brits are pretty renowned for moaning about the weather, and it is completely understandable when I don't even think you know what you're doing half the time. But, you know what? I wouldn't have you any other way.

I like that we don't just have 90 days of hard-core sunshine. I like summer rain. In fact, my fondest childhood memories are of being on holiday in Snowdonia in the drizzly rain (or what our family calls "Welsh Rain"). As an adult, it doesn't feel like a proper Welsh holiday unless we have experienced a full day of drizzly rain, and there is nothing more awesome than going waterfall hunting the day after some heavy rainfall.

So, let us clarify, that yes I do moan about the weather - particularly during you August - but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Love you, no matter what the weather,

Kat xx


SHARE:

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dear August: Whirlwinds and Chester Bennington

Dear August,

I honestly cannot believe that it is that time of year when I can write to you again. I have missed you old friend. The past twelve months, since our paths last crossed, have been a bit of a whirlwind. Life has been so busy and I don't know if I have really stopped long enough to completely catch my breath.

Don't get me wrong August, I adore being busy, but sometimes it kind of catches up with me and I realise how exhausted I am from constantly doing stuff. Sometimes it is nice to just sit down and reflect on how far I have come since we last met.

But that's not what I want to talk about August, because I feel that we need to talk about Chester Bennington, but I don't think that there is anything that I can possibly write that hasn't already been said by so many of the amazing people who have shared their feelings about the passing of a man who brought so much happiness to my life. In the face of such tragedy, I personally have found the amount of love and support across the internet to be so incredibly overwhelming.

For some time now, Linkin Park has been the target of a great deal of negativity, generally because of their change of overall sound, so to see so much positivity following his absolutely awful and premature death has been nice to see.

Over the fourteen years that I have been a fan of the band, I have seen them live three times and met them at a Meet and Greet once. I've never really known what it was about their songs that I felt so connected to, but I think I have figured it out.

It is that their songs are about being human, being broken, picking yourself up and dealing with life.

In fact, I think the letter Linkin Park themselves wrote to Chester sums up how I feel better than I can:
"We're trying to remind ourselves that the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal. After all, it was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display, and in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human."

I don't think the death of someone I don't actually know has affected me this much since Heath Ledger died. It feels so weird, because even though I did meet Chester, it was one time and I didn't even have a conversation with him, it was just a case of getting him to sign my Hybrid Theory album cover and moving on to the next person.

The most important thing for me, that has come out of Chester's death has been that it has forced people to talk about mental health, and most importantly - suicide. This is the problem, there is so much stigma about mental health and people are too scared to talk about it, so if nothing else good happens, I hope that it will encourage more people to open up and together we can change the way mental health is dealt with on a personal and wider scale.

Needless to say August, July hasn't been the best of months, but I am ready to put that behind me and face you head on this year. I have so many plans and so many experiences to share with you.

Let's do this.

Love, Kat xx


Dear August is a series of posts that I started writing back in 2013, inspired by a Letters to July series a YouTuber used to run. I like to check in with them every year and see how far I have come. If you want an insight into why I chose August, you should check out my original Dear August: Why I Love and Hate You.

SHARE:
© Barefoot Girl. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig