Sunday, 28 December 2014

80. December Favourites

Hello everyone and welcome to my 50th and final post of 2014! Firstly, I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone reading, The Life of a Mancunian Sheep has had almost 4000 hits in 2014 which is incredible. I hope you've all had a great 2014 and would like to wish you the very best for 2015 and now it's time for my final favourites post of this year! There are 12 favourites as it is December so you're best off grabbing a hot beverage (good word, beverage isn't it?) and some leftover chocolates/ biscuits from Christmas because this is likely to be a long post.

1) Gogglebox- the first of my television favourites this month, December is always a good month for television don't you think? Every year around January exam season, I become addicted to a random television programme, last year it was Four in a Bed and this year it's Gogglebox. I love everyone on the show (except Reverend Kate who I for some unknown reason find irritating, sorry Kate) particularly Scarlett who I find hilarious. I think my favourite moment so far was when they were watching the programme about Tatler and the posh woman was really excited in Poundland and Scarlett said: "Just wait 'til she finds Aldi or Lidl, she'll have a heart attack her" - I was crying with laughter!

2) The Apprentice- my other television favourite. I loved this series and think it was the best for years. I was a bit disappointed that Roisin didn't make it to the final because she excelled in so many areas as shown by her great record in the weekly tasks but, I've noticed that the best candidates often don't have very good business plans like a guy in the Young Apprentice a few years ago called James who wanted to use the money to pay his tuition fees. I think anyone that watched this series has to agree that the best moment was Solomon's interview with Claude, it escalated so quickly! Also, I'm gutted that Nick is leaving because he has the best facial expressions. I do hope Claude isn't his replacement because he is the best interviewer. 

3) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- Apart from watching Gogglebox and The Apprentice, I read Me Before You this month which was fabulous. It is about Louisa who works in The Buttered Bun Cafe which is unfortunately shut down leaving her job hunting. She ends up becoming a carer for Will who used to work in the city but ends up quadriplegic after being hit by a motorbike. I highly recommend it to anyone but especially to other carers because it really makes you empathise with someone who has a long-term disability. What I really loved about the book was how realistic it was because it portrayed the demands of caring and how different each day can be extremely well.  For anyone that has read One Day, you'll end up thinking of Louisa and Will as two close friends like you did with Emma and Dex. Me Before You is much more than a romance novel as it covers so many issues including euthanasia, unemployment, relationships and teenage pregnancy. I really couldn't put it down once I got into it and read most of it in 5 hours. There is going be a film adaptation of it too starring Sam Claflin :D

Rating: 5/5 

4) The Mockingjay movie- I braved the cold today (I say that but wore my Me to You slipper socks to the cinema, shh don't tell anyone) and finally got round to seeing this with my lovely friend, Sammia. Apart from the part where I almost dropped my nachos because I jumped when Katniss slammed the table at the start, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Despite there being less action in the film compared to the first two, the storyline was still strong and set up the ending for the next film well. It was sad to lose Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this year because his performance in Mockingjay was outstanding. I also liked Effie without her wacky wigs as she looked much better and Haymitch was just as hilarious sober. It was adorable when Katniss asked President Coin to let Prim keep Buttercup and when Prim and Gale went to get Buttercup during the evacuation however, the scenes where we see Cinna's designs and Peeta strangling Katniss made me sad.

5) Desk planner- I went to my local Calendar Club store to buy our 2015 calendar and spotted this beauty. It has a whiteboard attached to the calendar which is exactly what I need for to-do lists during a very busy time like the final year of university! The best thing was it only cost £2.99 so was an absolute bargain. I love how a dry wipe pen was provided and the cute foxes are a nice touch too.

6) Sloth phone case- regular readers will know how much I adore sloths so this has to be one of my favourite purchases ever!

7) Local businesses- a slightly random favourite but I was thinking how The Life of a Mancunian Sheep should really include some more Mancunian based content which is something I intend to change in 2015 so watch this space! Anyway for now, we have had an absolute nightmare trying to find a reasonably priced handyman and gardener for months but I got lucky in December when I found both on the same day. The gardeners are based in Ashton-under-Lyne but do cover the Manchester area. They mowed the lawn, cleared the leaves and pruned the trees. They provide a free quote, are reasonably priced and take away the rubbish which won't fit in your green bin. Trevor and Jenny are very friendly and offer a range of services ranging from gutter cleaning to gardening. Here is a link to their website. The handyman was from MSK construction and they are again reasonably priced, provide a free quote and a variety of services. They repaired the hinge on my cupboard, sorted out my bedroom door which didn't close properly after being painted and also fixed a mirror back onto my Mum's wardrobe. Despite being stuck in traffic for 4 hours on the way back from Hale, they still turned up and cleared up after themselves! MSK Construction also cover the whole of Manchester.

8) Aurora- Tanya Burr Lip Gloss. I have been intending to try Tanya's products for months and this was worth the wait. Aurora smells delicious (like strawberry laces/ candy floss), has long-lasting pigmentation and is smooth not sticky. I don't wear a lot of lip gloss but the next one I do buy will definitely be one from Tanya's range.

9) Red or Dead Geography boots- Since buying these boots, I've worn them almost all day everyday because they are just so warm. Unlike other winter boots, they aren't heavy which makes them so comfortable. I like to think of them as "outdoor slippers". They go with everything and are also available in tan. 

10) Lego Cloud Cuckoo Palace- I re-watched The Lego Movie earlier this month when I bought it on DVD and it made me want to play with Lego. It has been more than a decade since I last played with Lego but I am proud of the construction skills I have retained, I am a master builder because I built the Cloud Cuckoo Palace in just over an hour of it being delivered by the postman (yes, I know I am a 20 year old child).

11) Ainsley Harriot Couscous- With my Mum in hospital, there isn't much point cooking large meals and because I've been busy with university, I've found couscous so convenient. The roasted vegetable and Moroccan Medley flavours are my favourites and others are available. All you do is add boiling water, stir and wait for 5 minutes. A serving contains less than 200 calories, who said fast food couldn't be healthy? I like to have mine with falafel, hummus and salad.

12) Roasted parsnips- my other food favourite this month is my favourite component of a Christmas meal. I love roasted parsnips so much and will definitely be having them more often as I prefer them to crisps.

Enjoy the last few days of 2014 and see you in 2015!

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Monday, 22 December 2014

79. Top Fives of 2014

Hello everyone, I did a top fives post in 2013 so thought I may as well make it an annual Mancunian Sheep tradition. The lists aren't ranked. Enjoy!

Moments/ Events - some of these lasted for months so couldn't exactly be classified as a moment.

1) Going to Wimbledon- 2014 was the year when I was lucky enough to witness some spectacular live tennis at the All England Club on the second Thursday of the championships. I don't mean to sound too cheesy but one of my dreams genuinely did come true. As regular readers know, I am a massive Andy Murray fan so was gutted when he was knocked out the day before but in hindsight, had I caught sight of Andy, I would have collapsed (as another spectator on court 1 did from the heat while I was there).

2) Passing my second year of university- I'd say only two people really know how much of my blood, sweat and tears went into second year - my Mum and my coursemate and thank you to them for helping me get through it too! After 6 hour labs, a dissertation, a field course, 8 exams and countless pieces of coursework- I made it through to final year. When I checked my results from the first semester of second year at some time around 3am, I woke my Mum up dancing to this (yes, I know I'm brilliant...and brave):

3) When Andy Murray tweeted me- I might not have been able to see him but I'll never forget his witty reply to my odd question. I'd like to see Andy with pink hair, probably not at his forthcoming nuptials however.

4) Summer internship- I couldn't believe that I managed to get the only summer internship I applied to especially when they contacted me to say I was successful within an hour of my interview. A week after my 20th birthday, the best 8 weeks of my time at university began. I met some wonderful people who have become dear friends, it boosted my confidence and enhanced many important skills including time management and prioritising tasks. If you're at university then I strongly recommend doing a summer/ graduate internship, what have you got to lose?

5) Seeing Miranda Hart live- Who wouldn't want to see the fantastic woman who came up with vegetapals and biscuit blizzard? I'll never forget the end of the show when Miranda came out as Beyonce in Crazy in Love, I will treasure that moment forever.


1) Sam Smith- Money On My Mind and pretty much all of his other songs. He is so talented, humble and has the voice of an angel. So proud of him and really hope he does an Adele at the Grammys in 2015.

2) Coldplay- Magic. The video for Coldplay's Paradise is my favorite of all time and I love the video for Magic too, it reminds me of The Great Gatsby. Coldplay are one of the greatest British bands ever, they're consistent and unique and I'm gutted that their next album will be their last.

3) Hozier- Take Me to Church. I listen to BBC Radio 1 quite a bit and thanks to Fearne Cotton who played this song a lot and made me fall in love with it. Hozier has such a powerful voice full of emotion giving me shudders every time. I'm really looking forward to hearing more from him in 2015.

4) Clean Bandit- Rather Be. This was the song of the summer, it was even more incredible when I heard it live in October. This is such a feel good song and Manchester, there really is no place that the Mancunian Sheep would rather be (I'm turning into Felipe from The Apprentice by talking about myself in the third person). I love Clean Bandit for bringing violins into mainstream music and not making them sound so depressing.

5)  Ed Sheeran - Sing. Ed Sheeran's dominated the music world in 2014, he is at the top of his game right now and is releasing hit after hit. I love his other stuff too but I like the more upbeat sound of this track which was perfect in summer!


Unfortunately due to how busy I was with university and my summer internship, I only managed to read 10 books in 2014 despite setting myself a Goodreads challenge to read 25. I was lucky because apart from a couple, the 10 I did manage to read are some of the best books I have ever read. I really hope I get to read more in the latter half of 2015 once university is over!

1) George Orwell- 1984. I remember attending a workshop at the university when I was in Year 9 and interviewing a student there at the time who told me that 1984 was his favourite book and boy, I now know why. When I watch/read the news (oh the irony) and witness the horrific events occurring across the world in places like Palestine and closer to home such as the VIP sex abuse ring, every word of Orwell's is true. 

2) Graeme Simsion- The Rosie Project. Don Tillman is one of my favourite characters of all time. He is a genetics professor who is looking for a wife so devises a very detailed questionnaire to find a compatible spouse. His best friend, Gene, is a psychology lecturer who is quite the ladies man and is married to Claudia. Gene, probably out of curiosity and mischief ends up setting Don up with Rosie who was the most incompatible partner for Don according to the data. There are many laugh out loud moments and anyone who thinks they're socially awkward will feel much better after reading this.

3) Lucy Clarke- A Single Breath. I did a review post for this book which you can find here.

4) John Williams- Stoner. Usually characters in books are praised for being different but Stoner isn't exceptional in any obvious way but it's the simplicity of this novel which makes it such a classic. Like its main character, this book has been overlooked. Stoner goes through what many people do- university, a marriage, having a child  and financial problems. Stoner really is an unsung hero. The level of detail and the quality of writing make the reader feel like they are reading the autobiography of a close friend.

5) Jojo Moyes- Me Before You. This is the most recent book that I've read and I actually spent most of last Saturday reading it (I read the last 300 and something pages in just over 5 hours). Regular readers will know that I care for my Mum who has Parkinson's but surprisingly, I've never read a book about a carer before. Louisa used to work in The Buttered Bun cafe but when it closed down, she ended up working for Will Traynor, who used to be a high flying city worker until he ended up quadriplegic after a motorbike knocked him over. This book has really made me empathise how frustrating it must be to live with a long-term, incurable physical disability like quadriplegia and Parkinson's. It made me realise how nobody plans to live with a long term disability and how irritating it must be to not have any control over most aspects of your life. It's made me realise that when my Mum is having a bad day, I shouldn't take it personally. What I loved most about this book is that it was so realistic, the ending is not obvious and it really is much more than a romance novel. It covers issues like unemployment, euthanasia and as mentioned above, disability and caring. After reading the book, I went to rate it on Goodreads and found out that it is being turned into a film with Sam Claflin starring as Will. I hope the film is just as good as the book. 

What was your favourite moment, book and song this year? I hope you enjoy the last week or so of 2014 and look out for my December Favourites post which will be the final post of this year! To those that celebrate Christmas, have a great day!

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

78. Childhood

The mind wanders during revision as many of you know and I started to think about my childhood. I am an only child but that doesn't mean I didn't lead an eventful and exciting childhood let me tell you now. For a start, being an only child somehow meant that my parents seemed to photograph me at every opportunity (they clearly had a lot of time on their hands with having only one angelic child haha). When VHS was still around, I used to re-watch our home videos, they were obligatory at every birthday and family day out (we still have our old camcorder for some odd reason). Childhood has many definitions- some consider it to be over at 16, others at 18 or even 21 but from what I've heard from parents that I know personally and fictional parents that I've read about in books, we always remain as children in our parents' eyes even if they're still around when we're grey haired and wrinkly. 

I was a weird child and most of you are probably thinking, you're still weird mate but then I ask you, what's normal? Everyone's unique and we all have our own little quirky traits and habits which makes us human and not robots. Some of my quirky habits when I was younger are as follows:

  • I used to collect stones from the garden. I also used to crush leaves using stones sometimes on the garden wall. I was trying to copy my Mum with the pestle and mortar but as to why I collected the stones, I have no idea. I used to give them to my Mum who politely accepted but deep down must have been thinking WTF?! I also used to collect conkers and pine cones and my Mum used to put them in glasses in the display cabinet in the lounge. 
  • I used to have a toy telephone and used to pretend to iron with it. My Mum then bought me a travel iron when I was about 12 to fulfil my ironing dreams (I hate ironing now).
  • My oldest and dearest friend, Peggy was named by my Mum after Peggy Patch from the show, Playdays despite the fact that Jenny looks much more like Peggy Patch (to be fair, I've had Peggy since I was 2 and Jenny since I was 7).

  • When the Teletubbies used to finish, I used to go up to the TV and climb onto the sofa to hug them goodbye as they jumped into their underground futuristic home. La-la was my favourite <3
  • Whenever a friend used to come over to our house to play, I always suggested that we played the crocodile game. I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with it but it's when you have to get from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor which is water and full of crocodiles. We used to use old catalogues or phone directories as stepping stones. Sometimes we used to live life on the edge (literally) when we only had one or two stepping stones to get across the room.
  • All of the stories mentioned above are from when I was very young but this one is from when I was in Year 8 and 9 in secondary school- I had a flexible ruler called Fredrick the Flexible A.K.A Fred. Fred and I had some great times during boring maths lessons and he provided lots of entertainment to everyone on my table (aw remember sitting together on tables in school and hating it when you were in a seating plan so couldn't be sat with your closest friends?). Fred's life came to a sudden end when he went missing in double Geography in Year 10. I seriously contemplated putting missing posters around the school. R.I.P. Fred, gone but never forgotten. 

I can't wait to have my own children (note the plural, there is no way I'm having just one after being an only child myself) one day God Willing. Childhood does go by so quickly and only now do I realise that adults were right when they used to say stuff like "enjoy school while it lasts". Children express themselves and they should be allowed to do so however they wish because it's what shapes the adult that they turn out to be which is why I'm against gender specific toys. The recent news that Lego has produced a female scientist edition made me love Lego even more. It's also important that everyone has the right to childhood. I'm talking about the children who died in the Peshawar school attack this week and those being tortured in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and other war-torn countries around the world. I'm talking about the increasing number of victims of sex predators coming forward. Not forgetting the thousands who are subject to child labour around the world and don't have access to education. It's often people with a scarred childhood that go onto do terrible things so it's a vicious circle that needs to stop.

I hope you've enjoyed a trip down memory lane.
Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Friday, 12 December 2014

77. 5 Things I Appreciate and Hate About Winter

Hello everyone! I hope you're all well and are managing to survive in this horrendously cold weather. I've been saying for months that this winter will be a particularly cold one because whenever we have a good summer, we then have a "good" winter like in 2010 when it snowed a lot. Us Brits are well known for talking about the weather- it's used as a conversation starter in awkward situations, any "extreme" weather is excessively reported as headline news and the country comes to a standstill whenever it snows. I am guilty of being obsessed with the weather, I have the local weather tweets delivered to my phone daily and have done so for at least the past 3 years. For anyone from Manchester, this is the account and it is far more accurate than the mainstream weather forecasts. Anyway, seeing as we are well and truly in winter, I thought I may as well do a wintry post on five things I like and five things I dislike about winter. We'll end on a positive so I shall do the dislikes first!!

  1. Not being able to see through the front door spy hole because it's steamed over. I know this is very specific but it is such a nuisance because if anyone knocks on the door after midday, I can't tell who it is most of the time.
  2. Having cold hands and feet most of the time regardless of socks, gloves and any other intervention.
  3. Turning into a penguin and gaining blubber. I do try and be healthy but when it's freezing, the last thing I want is a salad and a smoothie so end up having stodgy food and hot chocolate. Ah well, at least I'll lose it in summer (she hopes!).
  4. Walking home in the dark is bad enough as it is but then add in wet, slippery leaves covering the path and arctic winds and the walk home is something you dread after a long day at university/work. Also, it is so depressing leaving the house and returning home both in the dark. It makes me feel like I've not achieved much because once it gets dark, I feel like the day is a write-off. Similarly, car owners are faced with the morning frost on the windscreens and by the time the car warms up, you've usually arrived at your destination and have to get out of the car.
  5. The horror that is January exam season. Unlike May/June exams which are followed by a long "hot" summer, January exams are followed by more work yay! Also, while the rest of society is enjoying time off work/school due to Christmas and New Year, we're going wild and partying hard with revision

And now for what I enjoy in winter!

  1. Although I don't appreciate the shorter days, I do like seeing the sunrise and sunset. The sky is beautiful at these times and my Instagram has been full of friends' shots of a red and/or amber sky. It's just so relaxing to watch.
  2. Winter fashion. I do love wrapping up warm in jumpers, scarves and coats. Also, I have been loving faux shearling this year and last year. I love gold, burgundy and emerald green in winter- I'm basically a walking Christmas tree.
  3. Hot chocolate- after quitting tea and coffee this year (I have herbal teas now and again but coffee makes me all anxious now because I've not had it for so long), I'm loving hot chocolate. I went to visit my Mum in hospital last week and it was so cold in the evening so I treated myself to Costa's orange hot chocolate. It tastes and looks beautiful.
  4. The extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back is much appreciated.
  5. Christmas- tis the season to be jolly after all. Everyone just seems to be a lot happier around Christmas (a bit like during the London 2012 Olympics) unless you work in retail, then you're miserable as sin because of the prospect of working at the 6am Boxing Day sale. You've got to enjoy mince pies and cheesy Christmas songs whilst they're here.

What do you love and hate about winter?
Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

76. Delicate Necklaces

Hello everyone! Just a short and sweet mid-week post to share some recent purchases. Hopefully, this post will help with gift ideas or just a treat for yourself. I cannot remember the last time I bought a necklace, I don't even know which necklace it was! Although I wear a hijab when I'm out, I just wanted a little something to add some sparkle to my outfits when I'm at home. I decided to pop into good old Accessorize where they currently have a 3 for 2 offer on jewellery so I couldn't resist!

I love simple jewellery as it means it can work with most outfits. The initial adds a nice quirky touch. S is for sheep! :P

Although the leaves have disappeared from the trees, there'll be one around my neck. I just love the detail on this and just how versatile this piece is like the S necklace.

I love how this necklace can look like two different necklaces depending on the light. If ever there was a necklace to represent winter, it is this. It reminds me of a snowflake and the gold is just so apt for this time of year.

Accessorize have some lovely pieces in, there really is something for everyone.

Until next time, take care.

Mancunian Sheep x