Month: May 2014

Viva Las Vegas

So I recently released my second novel (hint hint, cheeky little insert here of the link to buy it – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00KO1KKW8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0 ). It’s a follow-up to the first novel I released a few months ago and originally I hadn’t planned to write a sequel.

Then I went to Vegas.

If you’ve read my first book then you’ll understand the Las Vegas link from the end of it.

On the flight over to Vegas, the whole story started to form in my head and so I felt like I couldn’t not write it. So while I was there enjoying my holiday, I was compiling the story at the same time, deciding which places I visited would be useful to mention in the book.

As a tie-in with my novel release, I am posting up my own personal top five things to do in Vegas. In no particular order:-

 

  1. Gambling.

Obviously. What else are you going to do in Las Vegas?

I was actually able to come back from Vegas and tick something off my bucket list – I came back with a profit (not on the whole but from the money I had set aside to gamble …it still counts!), all from my first attempt at the roulette wheel. Lucky number 27! If you read the book, that’s going to make a lot more sense.

Basically, you can’t turn the corner without being able to gamble on something and I am now completely aware of how people develop addictions. My sister was very close to doing so. The slots are pretty unintimidating and quite amusing if you can find one based on a favourite childhood game or TV show.

The tables on the other hand, require a bit more know-how.

Keep an eye out during the day to see if free lessons are being offered. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at craps, now would be the time, when there’s nothing to lose. Also, check the minimum bet for the table you’re heading to (they all differ) lest you sit down at one with a higher minimum than you wanted to spend but pay it anyway out of sheer embarrassment.

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  1. All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

This really is something else.

We did the breakfast buffet twice, the second time paying that little bit extra for the unlimited champagne brunch, but it’s worth it alone for the food. If I wasn’t eating at least four plates (one of the plates being dessert, of course) then I didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

They had pretty much every breakfast food you could possibly imagine, so there’s something for everyone, but also included was a salad bar, seafood station, nacho station and a whole area just for desserts.

You might not think you fancy prawns or ice-cream at ten in the morning, but Vegas runs on its own time and once you’re actually there, it is bliss.

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  1. Bellagio Fountains

Just before I start properly talking about these, note down that they don’t begin until 3PM and go off every half hour, until the evening when they then go off every quarter of an hour. This will stop you wasting time, loitering around at 1PM, waiting for them to start!

It’s worth catching these in both the day time and the evening just because of the different setting. In the evening, when they run every 15 minutes, it’s also worth staying for a few as there are a variety of different songs and therefore a different fountain sequence.

If you don’t know about the Bellagio fountains, basically there is a massive body of water in front of the hotel and they have an extravagant fountain show, where the water sprays, squirts and dances to a variety of well-known songs. It’s incredibly mesmerising and beautiful to watch. A proper Vegas must-see.

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  1. Cirque du Soleil

Las Vegas has great shows in abundance. There’s always some big name in residency at one of the hotels and a variety of performances to suit any taste wherever you turn. But I highly recommend splashing out on a ticket to watch one of the Cirque du Soleil shows.

When we went, there were four shows to choose from at four different hotels. We did a bit of research before we flew out, checking ticket prices because some of them were really through the roof. Doing it beforehand did help us get a better deal and the best prices.

We settled on the Love show at The Mirage (I am a massive Beatles fan). It was A-MAZ-ING. I’ve never seen anything like it but it was incredible. Whenever I listen to Revolution now, I just picture people somersaulting over red phone boxes.

Annoyingly, we’d been up since 6AM that morning to go to the Grand Canyon and were really feeling the effects of it by the evening. I had to force myself to stay awake during the show because I was really flagging. But the fact I didn’t showed how enthralling the performance actually was. I fought hard, stayed awake, and witnessed something spectacular which left me in a good mood for the rest of the trip.

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  1. Have a nose in all the other hotels.

The hotels want you to go in, even if you aren’t a guest there. They want you to spend money with them. So this means you can just waltz into any hotel and wander around to your hearts content. You can even use their pools – though you might have to pay for this privilege if you’re only a visitor.

The best thing about this is that you get to do so much. You don’t even really need to research what you want to do beforehand (although it does help for time management) because you’ll always find something to do.

We wandered into New York, New York to have a ride on their rollercoaster, we wanted into The Mirage to go see the dolphins, we wandered into Excalibur and got lost because it was so big and we wandered into the Bellagio, just because it’s the Bellagio.

Each hotel is trying to out-do the other so it’s definitely worth a look to witness the lengths they are going. It might even tempt you into going back again, just so you can stay there.

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With Las Vegas, there’s literally something to do, all the time. Those five things only just touch on what you can get up to while you’re there, but regardless of what you do, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Happy travels.

Megan

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dating Game – Second Update

I had expected to have a few more posts documenting my foray in the world of online dating, but it turns out that the novelty wore off very quickly for me. Maybe it is just because I am a romantic at heart, but I wasn’t sold on the whole system of it. Obviously this is a massive industry and has had a lot of success, so this are only my personal opinions on my own experience.

The whole concept is to scroll through people, judging them on a single picture then looking through their profile to see if they like the same things you do. If they don’t, then we may just disregard this person completely and “wink” at someone who likes the same films and music we do. The pitfall in this is, the person who might not have liked the same food we did would have actually be more compatible with us on every other level than the person who liked three of our top five films.

At the end of the day, compatibility is not always about liking exactly the same things, though I get that this is the most effective way for a website to try and connect people because, really, what else can they go on when it is essentially a website full of strangers? But a lot of couples I know are quite different. They share a couple of similar interests but if they were to be paired up on a website, they would not be classed as compatible at all. There’s always something nice about sharing something you love with someone you’re newly seeing and them, hopefully, liking it too. It’s the differences that make things interesting.

I think that was my main thing against the whole experience, aside from the scrolling through people, assessing profiles, reading summaries, looking at stats, blah blah blah. Meeting someone you’re attracted to is inherently a biological response. You can come up with as many logarithms, formulas and stats as you want, but if you’re around someone who might be completely different to you but still makes your stomach flutter and send tingles through your body just from the briefest touch, then obviously that is going to top all of that.
For the record, I did end up going on one date, a couple of days after setting up a profile, before I got a bit bored with the whole scrolling through profiles thing. First date went well and was very promising. We had a lot of things in common and liked a lot of the same music. Second date, things fizzled out very quickly. I found myself trying extra hard to evoke some kind of emotion from him, but he just didn’t seem to get excited or enthusiastic about anything, so things fell a little flat. When the evening ended, I think we both silently agreed that there wasn’t going to be a third date.

While I think it is a good idea for people in this new age who are very busy, we maybe shouldn’t be so willing to hand every aspect of our lives over to the internet (yes, I realise I’m making this point in a blog – hypocrite alert!). But in a world where people have a thousand Facebook friends, but would only talk to about two of them if they ever saw them on the street, maybe we should try to re-establish the basics of human contact. As successful as online dating can be for some, for me, nothing is ever going to beat the gut-instinct experience that comes from being in a crowded bar and someone asking if they can buy you a drink before you end up sitting in a corner with them all night, talking complete rubbish.
So if you do find that barista who serves you your daily coffee attractive, take the plunge and see how it goes. What’s the worst that could happen? You have to pick a different coffee shop in the mornings. What’s the best that can happen?

Oh, and just a point from the previous blog post update – friends who have online dated have advised that if someone messages you who you’re not interest in, protocol is just to not response to the message. Just in case you were wondering.

So good luck with whatever path you to choose. Whatever happens, happens. It’s time for this girl to delete her online dating account and take her own advice. 😉

Much love
Megan
xoxo

Today’s Inspirational Woman – Audrey Hepburn

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I worship at the altar of Audrey Hepburn. Never mind her taking Julie Andrews’ role in My Fair Lady, she should have taken Mary Poppins because she is practically perfect in every way. She is instantly recognisable across the world, she had her own style this is replicated even today, she was lifelong friends with Givenchy and she won an Oscar in her first staring role. There never was, and never will be, anyone like Audrey again.

Her life was so eventful that I’m afraid a simple blog post is only going to touch the subject of Audrey Hepburn so I literally am only going to skim the surface here. I highly recommend you go out and get a biography (I will recommend some books at the end) so you can read more about her life because some of the things she went through were truly amazing.

Born on 4th May 1929 to Baroness Ella von Heemstra and Joseph Hepburn-Rushton, she was of Dutch origin on her mother’s side but gained British Citizenship because of her British father. I’m not going to dwell on it too long because I could end up doing a blog post on just her father, but it’s worth looking into him in a little more depth – Audrey’s mother found him in bed with the family nanny and he was a Nazi sympathiser. So, back to Audrey, she grew up in England even after her parents divorced, being school in Kent. When England declared war on Germany in 1939, Audrey’s mother took her back to Arnhem in Holland.

This is a very interesting part of Audrey’s life and probably the part that shaped her into the woman she became with the hardness she had to endure and the terrors she saw and it is a testament to her as a person that she came out the other side with such a kind spirit.

During the years of the Nazi Occupation of Holland, Audrey’s mother changed her daughter’s name to Edda von Heemstra because she thought Audrey Hepburn sounded too English. The Occupation saw scarce food for everyone and Audrey resorted to making flour from tulip bulbs in order to bake. The malnutrition during her formative years would affect her metabolism, making it difficult for her to gain weight in later life. But she did find herself a role during this time. Having started ballet at age five, she wanted to be a ballerina, and during the war she would dance in secret to help raise money for the Dutch Resistance, apparently sometimes even carrying messages for them in her shoes. But towards the end of the war she became very ill and at the time of the liberation, Audrey was suffering from malnutrition, anaemia and oedema.

The years following the war, Audrey tried to realise her dream of becoming a ballerina, helped by her mother and they ended up in London. But when she was later informed that while she could be a good dancer, the years of missed training because of the war and her height of 5ft 7 meant she would never be a great dancer. Audrey was crushed that she would not be able to live out her dream but, not one to mope around when life knocked her back, she started as a chorus girl in the West End. This then grew into the odd, one-line role in a few British pictures. Fate, however, was on her side when she flew out to Monte Carlo for the film Monte Carlo Baby and she was seen by Colette who was looking for someone to play the title role in her Broadway production of Gigi. On seeing Audrey, Colette immediately knew she was perfect and Audrey got the gig.

This was the start of Audrey’s star’s ascent because she was then cast as the beautiful Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. The film is about a weary princess who sneaks out and spends the day in Rome with a handsome journalist (played by the handsome Gregory Peck). He knows she is the missing princess, she doesn’t know he’s actually a journalist and the story plays out in Rome – what’s not to love?

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Peck knew what talent he was working with and although she was a new-comer and he was the establish star, he demanded she share equal billing with him. What a gent! And he was right because she won the Oscar for Best Actress that year with her performance. It seemed Audrey couldn’t put a foot wrong. She followed this up with a role in Billy Wilder’s classic, Sabrina, co-staring Humphrey Bogart and William Holden (we’ll come back to him in a bit). This was where her friendship with Hubert de Givenchy began.

Audrey was sent to Paris to Givenchy’s atelier to meet with him and pick out some pieces she could wear for the film. Givenchy had been expecting a “Miss Hepburn” and automatically assumed Katherine was going to walk in. He had no idea who Audrey was (Roman Holiday hadn’t been released when filming for Sabrina started) and at first he was reluctant to help but she won him over, just by being Audrey, and a great friendship began.

She picked up three Givenchy pieces and they certainly were excellent choices. There was the suit she looking stunning in when she waited outside the station, running into the object of her affection, David Larrabee. There was the black dress she wore on her date with Linus Larrabee. And of course, there was the iconic ball gown she rocked when she found herself in the Larrabee tennis courts. Sheer perfection.

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Now I could wax poetic for many hours about Audrey’s films and the costumes she wore, but I really will not be able to stop so I’m just going to list off some of her classic films you should check out and why:-

Roman Holiday – as mentioned above.

Sabrina – also as mentioned above.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – obviously!

Charade – Audrey and Cary Grant, in the same picture!

My Fair Lady – It’s a bit long and they needlessly dubbed Audrey’s singing voice but definitely worth it for her performance.

Wait Until Dark – She gives a compelling performance, playing a blind woman terrorised in her own home.

Funny Face – Set in Paris and showcases Audrey’s dancing abilities. She even gets to dance with Fred Astaire.

And of course there are a whole host of others!

Now, onto another part of Audrey’s life. Her love life. Practically everyone she met fell in love with her almost immediately. But she didn’t quite have the love life she deserved.

One of the great loves of her life was William Holden and by the sounds of it, she was always his. But it never worked out. They met when he was still married but separated from his long-suffering wife on the set of Sabrina and began a passionate affair, but the deal breaker for Audrey was that Holden had had a vasectomy. Children were very important to her. She then announced her engagement to fellow actor Mel Ferrer. They were married for fourteen years but eventually divorced. Their son Sean, born in 1960 after two miscarriages, even thought Audrey stayed in the marriage longer than she should have. Many believed that Mel was quite controlling of Audrey and maybe always a bit jealous that she was the star and he never reached the heights she did.

She met Andrea Dotti, an Italian psychologist, not long after her divorce and married him in 1969, giving birth to a second son Luca the following year. Though they eventually divorced because of Dotti’s constant infidelity (idiot!), again, she stayed in her marriage longer than she should have because of the children.

But then there was Rob Wolden. They met a few months after the death of his wife and the end of her marriage to Dotti. A perfect companion to Audrey and very similar to her in temperament, they never married but stayed together until Audrey’s death. He was a constant in her life, assisting her with her humanitarian work for UNICEF and enjoying life with her.

When she gracefully bowed out of the acting work, Audrey began to work for UNICEF, raising awareness and money for some of the poorest countries in the world. Having experienced first hand the issues of hunger and war during the occupation of Holland, she could relate on a similar level to the people she was helping. This became an important part of her life that she was very proud of.

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She died on 20th January 1993 from appendiceal cancer at the age of 64. This was a relatively young age for her life to end at but her legacy is sure to go on forever. There was just something about Audrey Hepburn that you had to admire whether it was her acting talent, her beauty, her style or the kind nature she exuded.

Today, she would have been 85, so what better way to celebrate than by slipping on a little black dress, an oversized pair of shades and listening to Moon River.

 

More Information:-

Highly recommend reading an actual biography because there is A LOT more to Audrey that I’ve mentioned here. I really enjoyed the Donald Spoto biography Enchanted and one of my favourite books (not just Audrey books) is entitled What Would Audrey Do? by Pamela Keogh. It’s a guide on how you can live your life in Audrey style while still being a pretty thorough biography.

The internet is a great resource if you want any help recreating Audrey’s surprisingly attainable style. Polyvore is great for examples of the types of outfits you can put together and there are countless hair and make-up tutorials on Youtube.

And of course, finally, go watch her movies.

Summer is Coming…Kind of.

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It is that time of year again. Summer is so close, we can almost smell it (the fact I put the heating back on in the house for an hour today is completely irrelevant). Pick up any magazine at the moment and it will probably inform you that summer is on its way and it is time to prepare for dun-dun-duuun bikini season. Those two words that send shock waves through the female population.

I am actually super-organised this year and have already purchased my new bikini – a nice little red number from Boux Avenue. Highly recommend this as a place to buy your summer swimwear because their selection is gorgeous and they actually do bigger cup sizes in these designs. (Should we really have to choose between style and support? Come on.) Plus, it’s worth getting an order from Boux simply for the way it arrives in its lovely box and pretty tissue paper…

 

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The sad thing though is of the holidays I have booked this year, the one I actually require the bikini for is in Iceland in October. Terrible planning! Though I have agreed with my friends we will make a conscious effort this summer to drive to the beach as much as possible this year, even if it is only to Felixstowe.

For all things bikini based, there is a website called A Bikini a Day (http://abikiniaday.com/). Now when I first heard about this, I was incredibly wary of it because I assumed the people running it would just be taller, slimmer, blonder and more tanned than me. Turns out this is all true. But the website isn’t as pretentious as I thought it would be and I subscribed to their daily email because there are some good tips on there.

The main thing the magazines I mentioned above will probably be focusing on is summer diets. Can I just say now – please don’t diet! They do not work and they’re not good for you. Don’t force yourself to stop eating. You shouldn’t give up eating properly just because it’s summer, it should be a lifestyle change for a healthier you all year round. Cut back on the junk, obviously, but add in some good stuff and add in some exercise. Trust me, this a better way than sitting around counting the 500 calories you’re supposed to be eating for that day. There is no magic solution, just eat right and get moving and learn to love yourself! Granted, I still wish my stomach was flatter and my arms a bit more toned, but since making exercise a regular part of my life, I’m the happiest with my body I have ever been. I’m fit, strong and most importantly, not hungry!

I have just started to doing the Squat Challenge to work my bum a bit more for the bikini (you can google the plan and download a copy). I’m used to doing squats in the fitness classes I do but now I’m starting to hit the days where I’m feeling the word challenge! If anyone fancies giving it a go, download a copy and tweet me at the address in the side bar to let me know how you get on. J

So let’s start to stock up on the SPF and all join together in some kind of Sun Dance to make sure things go right this year and we all make the most of it. And remember, the best way to wear a bikini is with confidence!

Lots of Love

Megan

xoxo