Stumbling onto the Set of ITV’s Victoria!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that last week, I went down to Falkner Square in the Georgian Quarter of Liverpool with the aim of taking some photos, having come across the square while rushing to a flat viewing a few months prior. What I didn’t expect to find, however, was that the square was being set up for the filming of ITV’s Victoria!

They weren’t filming on the day I wanted to take photos, which sort of worked out for the best for me, because it meant I still got some good, non-Victoria-set shots. But we found out that they would be filming on Monday and Tuesday just gone! We didn’t end up seeing any of the shoots on Monday, when Jenna Coleman was there, because we’d already decided to visit Formby Beach, so on Tuesday we toddled off down to see what was happening. ‘Toddled’ being the appropriate word for me, because I had very sunburned feet from the beach and my shoes were still full of sand.

I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but what we found did not disappoint. Lots of extras in Victorian dress, an abundance of beautiful horses, and Prince Albert himself, Tom Hughes!

The first scene we saw being shot involved what looked like a war scene… We spent a while trying to guess what it could have been, but we saw a few takes of Tom Hughes and a soldier having a chat while the others bustled around them.

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As someone who one day would really love to work on sets like this, it was fascinating to me to watch what happened between shoots. As soon as they’d finished with that first scene, everyone behind the cameras jumped into action to prepare for the next. A fire engine had been parked nearby, and it moved up so they could use the hose to make the roads, which had been packed with a muddy-looking substance over the usual tarmac, look like it had been raining (something that surprisingly hadn’t happened in about a week).

A woman was busy telling all the extras where to stand, what to do, and when to do it. Horse-drawn carriages which had been parked up and down the roads started moving into place. Camera equipment was shimmied around. Tom Hughes stood in a doorway having a chat.

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It was amazing to see the landscape transform before our eyes, that’s for sure. And seeing carriages and people in Victorian dress standing next to huge light boxes and a modern fire engine was a bit of a trip!

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They took a few shots of some carriages driving by each other, the extras bustling along on the pavements. It was fun watching the horses – I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved them.

After the street shoots, everything died down pretty quick – we assume for a lunch break, because we wandered down the street to find a string of people in Victorian dress queuing outside a building where everyone was coming out with cake. (It looked like good cake.) But we did notice Tom Hughes run over to the kid crouched in the photo above to give him a high five before everyone went off for food, which was just really cute.

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When the filming looked like it had finished, we got the opportunity to walk across the set for a bit – I mean, nobody told us we could, but nobody stopped us either… We were just curious! But it was pretty cool.

This is one thing I love about living in a city like this, especially because a lot of filming happens in Liverpool because it can easily be made to look like both London and New York. James Corden and Paul McCartney were actually wandering around together the other day in the city centre and by Smithdown, filming Carpool Karaoke!

Until next time…

10 Tips to be Kind to the Earth this Summer

Our environment is screaming for help at the moment, and it’s within our power to help it. I want to help, and so should you.

I’ve seen so much on the news over the last few months about how our actions are destroying the environment we depend upon, and there have been some positive reactions – Iceland is going to stop putting palm oil in its own brand products, Tesco is banning non-recyclable plastic packaging – but none of that will be enough if we as individuals don’t do something to help, too.

With recent reports including stories of seals with plastic in its stomach and a whale with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, it is far past time to make some lifestyle changes.

Here are some of mine.

1) Stainless steel bottle

Okay, so this is a brilliant thing to own, because not only is it environmentally friendly but it keeps your water cold! I’m one of those people who’s never been the greatest water-drinker, but I’ve been making way more of an effort in recent years. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that cold water is millions of miles better than warm water. I have a few reusable bottles, to tell the truth: a gym bottle that lives in my gym bag, my stainless steel one for daily use, a litre filter bottle, and two others. You never know if a friend will need one, right? But the point is, I haven’t bought disposable bottles of any drink in months.

2) Stainless steel straw

This is a fairly recent acquirement on my part – I’m fine living a life without straws on the whole. I don’t see them as a necessity. But every now and again, you just… fancy one, y’know? I grew up with plastic reusable ones in my own house, so the idea is old hat by now. But the grand thing with these is they don’t squish when you gnaw on them. (Don’t lie, we all bite straws!) And they’re easy to wash – most come with a little pipe-cleaner brush, to get any remnants of smoothie out. Personally, I think all restaurants should invest in these – it’s surely no different to using stainless steel cutlery.

3) Spork

Who doesn’t love a spork? The fork/knife/spoon combo that looks oh-so-dorky but is oh-so-good. I’ve had a spork for years, I used to take it to school on occasion and it’s just so easy to shove in your bag, maybe in a little pouch so it doesn’t get dirty. But if you suspect you’ll be grabbing some food while out that would usually come with plastic cutlery, just whack that in your bag and you’re all set. Guilt-free munching is the best type of munching, after all.

4) Lunch boxes

We all ought to be familiar with this one. Who didn’t walk to primary/secondary school, lunch bag swinging in the wind? or tucked in your backpack? If you didn’t personally, I’m certain you had friends who did. But lunch boxes are the best way to avoid wrapping sandwiches etc. in foil or cling film, particularly if they’re partitioned. Just pack it tightly enough and nothing will go rolling around!

5) Flannels

The most popular methods of taking makeup off, at least that I’ve encountered, are with cotton pads or wet wipes. Both of these produce tonnes of unnecessary waste for something that can be achieved so easily with flannels. I personally use the Garnier Micellar Gel face wash with a wet flannel to remove my makeup every day – just chuck ’em in a bowl until you get a chance to wash them with your regular towels (the makeup comes out with no extra effort, though add stain remover if you wear liquid lipstick a lot!). But this is both cheaper, because I rarely need to buy cotton pads, and more environmentally friendly. Plus, the flannel gives you a bit of an exfoliation while you’re there.

6) Bags for Life

You’ll have heard about these to no end over the last year or so if you live in the UK, ever since the government introduced the 5p charge for disposable plastic bags. But I’m gonna go into it anyway! I have a variety of these types of bags – from totes, to hessian, to some indescribable fabric and more. And it’s so easy to fold up a tote bag or another bag of thin fabric into your handbag (or pocket, if you’re a dude). Just keep one there. Permanently. If you take it out and use it, put it back as soon as you’ve emptied it. Be like me and my lip balms – have one on hand 24/7! Even if you don’t need it during the day, a friend might. And it’s worth lending it to them if it means one less animal accidentally swallowing a disposable one, right?

7) Sign petitions!

If you sign one, you’ll get emailed about more. That’s the general rule with petitions, as far as I’ve found – I reliably sign Greenpeace ones, which pop into my inbox every now and again, but if I stumble across any on social media I’ll usually pop my name on those too. But recently it stopped Holland and Barrett selling krill, which is whales’ main food source and vital for ocean health, so they do work if enough people pay attention! And you can easily share them around, as me and a friend frequently do to each other.

8) Reusable baking sheets

It’s beyond easy to just wrap something in foil and shove it in the oven, but in many instances, it’s just as easy to use a reusable baking sheet. Just give it a good scrub each side between uses and you’re good to go.

9) Go for glasses and cans

When you’re doing your weekly shopping, or just decide you need some drinks in, try to go for the ones that come in cans or glass bottles, rather than the ones in plastic bottles – they’re easier to recycle and won’t contribute to the plastic-in-the-ocean problem. This works for things like coke, lemonade, tonic and other juicy drinks. It’s not always possible (you rarely find water in glass bottles, but that’s what tip 1 is for), but it is a lot of the time.

10) Watch out for palm oil products

The tips I’ve given so far are pretty quick and simple, I should think, but this one can be trickier. So many products on our supermarket shelves include palm oil, and I try my best to stay away from as many of them as possible. Take peanut butter, for example – this is something that definitely doesn’t need palm oil in it, and there are some brands I can tell you are 100% palm oil free: Sunpat, Tesco’s own (a new range that I am thrilled about!! they now do a variety of nut butters which only contain the nut, nothing else), and Meridian (more expensive). If you’re unaware about the problems with palm oil, click here for an overview.

So there we go! 10 easy ways to start being a little kinder to the earth this summer. Why not switch it up?

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I Know What I Want

This feels like an odd post to write, but it’s definitely something that’s on my mind a lot. A lot of people around my age don’t know what they want to do with their lives, or what they want out of them, and they don’t know what sort of people they want in their lives. And the thing is, I do.

And that can be quite isolating.

I know that I want a career, and I know what I want that career to be centred around. I know which sort of people I want in my life, and which I don’t – and I find it easy to read people, so it doesn’t take me long to realise if someone I meet is somebody I want to be around.

I know that I’m okay with working hard for the things that I want – I actually like working hard to achieve my goals. I know I’m not a party animal, and that I don’t have to be. I know that I don’t want to use Tinder, as much as it often feels like I’m the only person my age who feels that way.

The only issue, I find, is that most of the people I see in my day-to-day life don’t feel the same way. From my experience, at university, the guys I meet are far more likely to just be boasting about their drunken conquests, with no direction and no aims. Often, the girls aren’t much different. Pretty much everyone looks at you like you’re a weirdo when they find out you don’t drink alcohol. And a significant portion of people are reluctant to do the work necessary to achieve their goals – if they have any.

It’s a laugh for many people I see if they only turn up to one hour of lectures in a week, because they only came to experience the ‘student life’, whereas I came to university because I wanted to study. I wanted to learn about things I didn’t know about before, and build my knowledge base. Lectures and seminars and reading are the reasons I came to university, not the nightlife. I came so I could experience living somewhere else and meeting new people – but even meeting new people is hard after everyone’s settled in in first year.

You get people wondering and asking why you don’t have a relationship yet. Some people thrust Tinder and a billion other dating apps in your face. They talk about how they met their partners after six beers in a bar in the early hours. And for someone who doesn’t want to meet somebody that way, that idea doesn’t particularly appeal. I know people whose relationships have only ever started in a state of inebriation, and I can’t help but feel a little sad about the idea that people are so reluctant to speak to people if it’s not online or if they’re not drunk first.

I think many people I’ve met seem to be waiting for the dream to come to them, waiting for the solution to just walk into the room. And I’m not sure that’s the way to go about it. I’m not saying that it’s not okay if you simply haven’t figured out a direction for your life yet, because it is. But I do think it’s good to take time to figure out what it is you do or don’t want, however you want to go about it, because it allows you to make more valuable use of your time.