Choosing your Venue…

And questions you might want to ask 

Choosing your venue can be hard. We have just put our deposit and signed the contract for the venue.

You want to ensure the venue has everything you want, as we like to keep things simple the venue we picked is perfect for us. Other venues might offer frills and glitter but do you really need the exquisite giant swan napkins on each table that adds a 20% charge to the final bill.

How we picked out venue was to contact as many hotels and halls as possible. We made a rough guest list and provided that for a quote.

Once we had all the quotes we wanted we went through a mini checklist:

  • Does the place look nice
  • Easy access
  • Hotels nearby
  • Accommodation on site
  • Timings
  • Extra costs
  • Do we need this

This check list helped us narrow our list down and helped us pick the hotel we booked – Mercure Whately Hall Hotel in Banbury.

We then double checked with the coordinator and asked if this was the best price and questions like that – you never know unless you ask.

We then arranged a visit and was shown round by the day manager for the events. After we emailed the coordinator and asked for the contract.

The brilliant thing we like about the hotel we picked was that we could decide if we wanted chair covers (we chose not), the only major “glam” was the red carpet (fine with me) and there is no fuss.

We can arrange our own center pieces (or lack of) as well as the menu being a set menu and no options (unless you have requirements).

The things that I have asked and which to ask are the following:

  • Any discounts, some times Sunday weddings might be cheaper – ours has a 10% discount.
  • Any extras or if the quote the final one
  • Do you need to arrange the registrar? – this is one I am going to confirm with our wedding coordinator
  •  Do you have a DJ
  • Do you have a Master of Ceremonies
  • Can you arrange a photographer
  • Do you do catering – is there a discount if we arrange a cater from your approved list
  • Is there room booking
  • How do I pay the deposit (might seem stupid but a very important question)

Please comment below if you have any hints and tips for booking your venue.

 

 

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New York – My First Solo Trip – Part 4

Part 4 – Tips for New York

Here I list my main times for spending 2 weeks in New York. When I went the weather was still hot – at 26 + degrees in the day and 17-ish in the evening.

If you have any tips you would like the share please leave a comment below.
The Tips

  • Always bring a portable phone charger or your UBS cable – New York offers free WIFI around the city so you might find that your battery does not last as long as it normally does. There are places in shopping malls as fast food places to charge your phone but if your taking a trip to Liberty Island then a portable charger is best.
  • Save on travel with a Metro Card and PATH card.
  • Book the UN HQ online and try to arrive there early, you will be able to grab a coffee or have a look at the gift stores before your tour.
  • When travelling the metro remember Downtown is heading towards 34th street and wall street and Uptown to the Bronx.
  • Try to walk instead of getting the metro.
  • Don’t forget to Tip.
  • Important Tip: Wear comfy trainers – there is a lot of walking to do in New York – comfort is key. The New Yorks now this and you will see businesswomen working to work in dresses and trainers. I found that sketchers were the comfiest.
  • Don’t sit in a carriage where there is no one else …there is a reason no one is there
  • Try to avoid the morning rush around 8-11 am for the metro
  • Chick-fil-a offers an order service where they take your order while you queue.
  • Visit Macey’s information counter for your 10% off voucher
  • Don’t forget that they add the tax on at the checkout. This can be a bit of a culture shock as in the UK all charges are included in the price.
  • Don’t forget suncream and bug repellent
  • Don’t forget a hat.
  • Enjoy yourself

New York – My Frist Solo Trip Part 3

Part 3 – The hell of a return

Part 1 can be read here

Part 2 can be read here 

After an amazing 2 weeks in New York, I had to return to reality.

The good thing about staying with family is that you do not have a check out time. I caught an Uber at 4pm -ish. It was a strange journey to the Newark Airport where the driver took the wrong turn and we almost missed the entrance.  I made it to the airport and made my way to the check-in hall.

Checking in was a very easy process, you can check in automatically and self-weight your luggage and tag it yourself. Once checked in I made my way to security, this was a bit of a confusing process as you had different entrances you can go into depending on what type of citizen you were. Security was so quick and easy – the best thing was that I did not have to take out all my electronics.

Once I passed through I spent 3 hours wandering around, looking for somewhere to eat and updating my family.

The best thing about Newark is the fact they have iPads where you can play games and win treats brought to you.

I went to the duty-free and about $XX amount of product, this is very relevant to this blog post. I bought: a closed box bottle of XO Plantation Rum, Skyy Vodka and Baileys. I half-joked with the cashier about the limit I was allowed and she sealed the booze in a clear plastic bag with the receipt clearly shown on the front – this receipt clearly stated ***CONNECTING FLIGHT**** and included the flight details and the bag had the statement “Do not open until final destination”.  Again this is important.

I board my flight; I was flying Newark to Edinburgh, then Edinburgh on to Birmingham. This should be easy and carefree. I had about 50 minutes for my transfer which should be more than enough.

I exit the plane at Edinburgh and meet my first blocker, do I have to collect my luggage. After confirming with a worker at the airport that it will be transferred, I found myself Landside….Not good!

Landside – This is the side where you check-in to the airport

Airside – Is the side with the planes and duty-free 😀

I had to re-enter security, here I was greeted by a short and unhappy guard. I place my items to be scanned and when I went to collect my items, I realised that the duty-free I brought airside was not ready for collection. This guard had taken the bag away, rescanned it and ripped open the packaging. Apparently, the rum bottle had set the alarm off. After 10 minutes of uncertainty, I was handed the bag back with no reason or explanation. Even the airhostess for United Airlines was concerned about the action taken. Remember how I described the bag further up, well the bag was now open and I was not at my final destination.

I made my way crying and anxious about the time to the Duty-free area in pursuit of a new bag. Thankfully the cashier was nice and provided me with a world duty-free bag. I ran to my gate as my connection was now boarding. I did not have a chance to go to the toilet.

I arrive in Birmingham, upset, tired and needing the toilet. As I landed in the domestic area the luggage collection was small but also slow, with about a 30-minute wait for the flights that just landed.

After 10 minutes I realise I could not hold the basic want of needing a toilet. I spot a sign just behind the door from the area we had just entered in the luggage hall. I head towards it. I am stopped by a short security guard who asks where I am going. I explain the delay with the luggage and that I really needed the toilet. We have a mini “argument” about the duty-free bag and my handbag. I explain to him that I am taking my handbag with me for “Feminine” reasons and I was told to leave my duty-free bag. THIS IS A SECURITY RISK!!! You are always told “do not leave your luggage” yet I had to.

After a horrible ordeal, I managed to get home.

I have written to both airports but neither could justify their actions.

The security Manager at Edinburgh could not justify the actions that he’s colleague took for a passenger who brought duty-free with the receipt and a bag you can only get airside. I felt embarrassed by the event as well as guilt and harassed. I felt like I had been picked on for a range of things – my race & gender mainly.

At Birmingham, I felt embarrassed that as a grown woman I had to ask permission to use a toilet that was on the airside part of the airport.

This concludes my main posts about my solo trip. As much as I love travelling the return trip was a nightmare and scared me so much that I am put off flying solo again. As a passenger who paid money for a service, I should not have been treated the way I was, especially when I have done nothing wrong.

Below are the pictures I sent to Edinburgh Airport – as you can see there is nothing wrong with the content of the duty-free.

Up next Part 4 – Tips for New York

 

 

 

New York – My First Solo Trip – Part 2

Part 2 – arrival and my time in NYC

Part 1 can be read here

The flight I caught was the 9 AM flight from Birmingham International Airport which landed at Newark Airport at 12 midday. This route is no longer available as the Airline no longer flies from Birmingham.

The Airline I flew with was United Airline – the flight was pleasant I made friends with an elder couple who was on their about 8th time to the US. The food was normal airline food nothing special, I would have killed for a hamburger or something.

When coming into land at Newark the views of the American land was amazing. It was a familiar view in terms of the industrial city feel but it was so new and refreshing at the same time.

When I arrived in the arrival hall the first thing I did was to check my social media. I messaged my boyfriend who was still in London, my parents and my Auntie to let them know I landed.

I collected my baggage without any issues and meet my family in the arrival hall.

My first day I was shown around the city briefly, I went to Manhatten and had a walk in a park. There was so much activity, street performers, people chilling in the park and food vendors. The heat as well a nice change from the UK.

I had planned a day by day plan of what I wanted to do and see in New York.

Places visited 

Museums and culture

  • Natural History Museum – they have exhibits ranging from animals, dinosaurs, cultural history and space
  • Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty – the views from both islands are amazing
  • Museum of New York City – this is a 3 story museum on the museum mile. There are exhibits about diversity and city living, world war 2 propaganda, Black Lives Matter and history of black culture, salsa exhibit and a silverware exhibit.
  • Memorial to 9/11 – Such a moving and emotional memorial.
  • Empire State Building – This is pack but it is amazing. The whole of Manhatten is visible.
  • UN NY Headquarters – this is on foreign soil so don’t forget your passport.
  • Aircraft and space museum

 

Out and about – greenery of New York City

  • Central Park Zoo – The seals are very photogenic and they have red pandas.
  • Central Park in general – such an amazing day out, make sure you pack a lunch, drinks and bug repellent.
  •  Coney Island and the surrounding areas
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Roosevelt Island – take the Tramway to the island. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the park and there are shuttle services too as well as a metro station.
  • Times Square

Architecture 

  • Grand Central
  • Crysler Building
  • Courts and law area
  • Rockafeller centre

Shopping

  • Macey’s on 34th Street
  • Nintendo Store – this is amazing
  • JC Penny
  • Newport Shopping Centre in New Jersey

 

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Hamilton

 

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NYC from Empire State

 

 

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Manhatten

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Up next-

Part 3 the hell of a return

Part 4 Bec’s tips for New York

 

New York – First Solo Trip

Part 1 – The arrangements

This is going to be a 4 part blog about my trip to New York.

The first part is making travel arrangements.

I was having a conversation with my mum about what to do with the 2 weeks I booked off work.

I debated about cancelling them, about doing mini trips and about going on holiday with my mum.

My mum suggested I spoke with my Auntie who is currently living in New Jersey.

I spent 3 days thinking about the politest way I could ask if I could come visit.

In my message to her, I told her what had happened with my ex and that I would love to come visit. She said yes to me visiting.

The hardest part was trying to find flights. This would have been twice as hard if I had to get a hotel too.

I managed to find a flight on Travel Junction. I hadn’t used this site before and read some poor reviews but the flights were perfect and at a reasonable price – around £300 for a return. I put my faith in the company and I was surprised but how quickly I got my ticket reference.

The day I booked the flights, I emailed them asking when I would get my reference number, I was promised next day and I got it next day.

The flights were direct from Birmingham going to Newark. Coming back I had to go via Edinburgh (an experience I will detail later).

With the flights booked I let my Auntie know and I ordered my money.

I always seem to get my money from FairFX. They do the best exchange rates and have a quick turn around. For security reasons, I had to call them to clarify but my money came the next day.

Next was travel insurance, again my go-to company is Alpha Insurance. Travel insurance to USA is expensive but with Alpha insurance, I spent about £40. They normally do good deals if you want £0-£50 excess.

Second to last was the Visa. This application is quick and simple. Simply fill out the details and pay a £14 fee. You will need to know the address and phone number of your final destination so I would suggest do this once the hotel is booked.

Lastly was to pack. The weather in September is still in the high 20’s so I packed shorts and t-shirts. Items like sunscreen, bug repellent and itch cream I didn’t pack as I knew I could buy it there. Remember to pack comfy shoes! New York requires a lot of walking, It’s one of the quickest ways to get about. Even if you are wearing a cute dress no one will judge if you throw on a pair of sketchers run 400’s (so comfy) because everyone is in the same boat.

Coming up :

Part 2 arrival and my time in NYC

Part 3 the hell of a return

Part 4 Bec’s tips for New York

2017 so far

Hi all,

Sorry I haven’t been active for a while, it’s been a bit of a crazy few months.

In February I got a new job, working with technology I’ve heard of but never used. I managed to pass my probation and I absolutely love what I am doing.

In March I decided that the relationship I was in (4 years) had too many issues and ended it. It was heartbreaking at the time but it’s true what they say life does go on. Even though it seemed like it was over something stupid looking back it was the right thing to do.

Don’t settle for feeling like your second best girls!!

In May after just looking for a random person to chat to I discovered this really weird kinda dating site. I got chatting to a guy down in the Kent area.

It’s amazing to think that 4 months ago I meet the most perfect guy. We like the same music, same kinda of TV shows and movies. We like to go to museums and go exploring.

He comes up almost every week. We talk on the phone every day. He genuinely is the most caring and loving person in the world.

In September it was my birthday 😊 happy 24th to me and I had 2 weeks off work booked so I decided to go traveling by myself…..

So there we have it, I’ll be posting a new blog shortly about my travels

Got my ear pierced

So yesterday (20/05) I went into my town centre and visited a shop called Blue Banana.

For those of you who don’t know what Blue Banana is, they are an alternative clothing, piercing specialist, and tattoo shop.

I’ve been to them in the past for my seconds and thirds and they took really good care. When I had these done, you use to have to pay for the aftercare kit which was a shame.

When I went in yesterday I spoke to a lovely lady on the counter, she walked me through the kind of metal I should get as I have sensitive skin when it comes to piercings. I filled out a form on a tablet, which is something new, as in the past it was paper based.

I was told to, if I wanted to wait, go to the basement and put the piercing in the tray, the waiting was the bit that took forever. However I don’t blame Blue Banana for that. The music was repetitive but the piercers were that busy they didn’t have time to change the track.

Once I was finally seen, the piercer got straight to work marking up my ear for the perfect placement. She clamped my ear and then told me to take a deep breath. She then used a needle to pierce my ear, the pain lasted for about a second. Another deep breath and she popped the earring in. It was over just like that.

She walked through the aftercare with me, and I was on my way. Best thing was they gave you a little pouch with some salt and tea tree oil for free.

Below is the result, the little piercing in my helix.

Ear

Review: Huion Tablet and accessories

In May I was given a Huion graphics tablet as a graduation present. This is one of the latest in their lines the WH1409. After reading reviews that said this tablet was like a cheaper Wacom I thought I had to have it.

I’ve used this graphics tablet on both of my laptops and my new PC and I can’t really fault it. The tablet is big enough to comfortably fit on my lap and to give me a good work surface. The pen is lightweight and doesn’t hurt your hand when using it for a long period.

The tablet has 12 buttons which you can customize and which I am still getting use to as well as led lights to let you know the status of the battery on both the pen and the tablet itself.

Although I said I can’t fault the tablet, the one tiny bit that annoys me is the USB receiver. It is about the size of an average USB stick and when I am working on my laptop it can be a bit of a pain. However now I have built my PC i just leave it in the back USB sockets.

Overall for a tablet that is  like a wacom but not a wacom, it is a brilliant buy!!

I was also provided with a glove and some extra nibs. The nibs are easy to remove in the pen and stay in place once clipped in. The glove provides a bit of a support to your hand and stops you from getting tablet burnt – a term which here mean a carpet burn but on a tablet.

The packaging itself 

The graphics tablet came in an amazon box and a Huion branded box. The Huion box has enough support and structure that if you wanted to you could keep the tablet in there. (Plus it smells really nice).

In the box you get:

1 Tablet charger

1 Pen charger

4 Nibs

1 Pen and Nib holder

Documentation

and a cute note from Huion to say thanks for the  purchase.

 

Conclusion 

If I needed to I would buy again.

Bec’ rating : 5/5

 

 

Be…by bubzbeauty review 

If your fans of Lindy Tsang aka Bubzbeauty then you will know that she has recently released an eye shadow palette. This eyeshadow palette is available from BH cosmetics (at time of review I think they are sold out). 

So first things first price….as this palette comes from America the prices might have seemed a lot – $12 plus $5 for delivery. But when you work it out it’s only £14 which in my mind is a decent price for a decent product. 

The product arrived in a brown jiffy bag with cardboard inside to prevent it smashing ect. The palette was wraped in a plastic sleeve and my first thoughts was “omg this is so beautiful”. 

The package of the palette itself is pink with a delicate lace effect and lovely gold lettering. My palette had a wee dent but I dont mind. 

When you open the palette up you are presented with 12 shades all with a different name. The name of these shades truely reflect Bubz and the message she shares with her fans. Inside there is a mirror with a lovely quote on the top that reads “be whatever you want to be.” 

I did a light swatch on my skin and the colours feel very smooth and velvet like. The shimmery colours aren’t rough and provide a really nice subtle shimmer. This is something I find some products don’t have. The product is very light and I can barely tell I have any on my hands. 

The wait was worth it and I can’t wait to actually wear the product. 

Thank you Lindy for this amazing message that fans can relate to and for being an inspiring role model.