Saturday, 21 September 2019

Victorious Festival 2019 | AD*

Credit: Connor Cleary
It felt good to be back at Victorious again this year, it's starting to feel like my home away from home! We had such perfect weather this bank holiday weekend - especially compared to last years drenching. I had access to a press pass again this year which meant I could chill in the VIP area and press tent. Not much had changed here except more seating and a few different vendors and stalls. I actually barely got to use the area this year, except for the nicer toilets!

Credit: Connor Cleary
Credit: Connor Cleary

Once myself and my boyfriend (Connor Cleary) met up with one of our friends we had a walk around the main stage area, and were delighted to see the Strongbow arena again. This is always the best place to go and chill and listen to music, there's a handy little bar there too. When we arrived there was a piano duo who just started a set where they play nothing but festival-goers requests, which is quite impressive. They started with Freed From Desire and continued with requests like Don't You Want Me and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - quite diverse! It's an all out party throughout the day and is definitely a good place to hit up at the end of the day to have a little boogie and let loose.

As always on the Friday access is limited until Saturday, but you still have the Beats and Swing tent which has similar vibes to Strongbow but I specifically recall one man purely beatboxing tunes from there which sounded incredible. You'll always see plenty of people bundled in there having the time of their lives.

Credit: Connor Cleary
There were still plenty of food vendors to buy grub from and replacing the Coca Cola team from last year there was Fuze Tea (of which Coca Cola is a parent company) handing out free cans of iced tea in green tea and mango flavours and again they were encouraging people to recycle their cans at their stations. There were also representatives from Rowntree's Randoms with a fancy dress/photo booth opportunity giving out free sweets.

When I actually look back over the weekend I didn't see that many bands. Between trying to get content for the festival and doing what your friends want to (so that you don't get lost as on the Saturday there was basically no phone signal or 3G) I only saw a handful of acts.

Credit: Becca Egerstrom
Credit: Becca Egerstrom

 But, the one's I did get to see I really enjoyed. I would say my favourite performances were by Lewis Capaldi and Professor Green. I wasn't a huge fan of Pro Green before Victorious but where I dip in and out of pop music I've heard some of his songs. I just loved the vibe the audience gave off when they were raving to his songs, it makes you compelled to join in even if you don't know the words! Professor Green posted a photo from the Castle Stage on his Instagram and wrote "The gig of my career thus far. Do not have the words. You keep me going, thank you" which I had to do a double take for! Little ol' Portsmouth aye?

And need I say anything on Lewis Capaldi? His set was everything I hoped for. My favourite songs at the moment are (in no particular order because I love them all) Bruises, Hold Me While You Wait, Someone You Loved and Grace. He just has this charisma that makes him entertaining but he's also talented; a good combo. Lewis mentioned something about writing a song in Gosport, which instantly had many boos and a few cheers from the audience - I'm not sure what that was about, but if he did by chance write a song in Gosport while he was over here for Isle of Wight Festival that will be very interesting to find out what it's about...

Credit: Tom Langford
You may have read my recent post regarding mental health at gigs, and specifically my experience at Isle of Wight Festival in 2014. I talk a bit about The Special's set from Victorious, I have a special place in my heart for The Specials and ska music. I love that it can go from being so chilled and the next minute everyone's got their elbows and knees up in the air having a whale of a time. I was so grateful that I got to experience them again, and this time with no mental health hiccup! The only thing I was gutted about was them not including 'Ghost Town' in their set, which is one of my favourites.

Credit: Tom Langford
Credit: Tom Langford
It was also great to see New Order on the Sunday from basically the front row. I always love going to see old school popular bands like The Cure and The Human League (of which myself and Connor were front row for at Bestival 2016), you never know when they are going to stop performing so it's great to be able to experience them. What was even more great was they threw in some Joy Division songs so you had the whole package during their set. I'll admit that after 15 minutes I left the near-front-row to go and chill at the back of the common stage, grabbed a paella and a crepe and bopped along to the music. I do love to just relax at festivals, it doesn't always have to be a full out party.

Credit: Connor Cleary
Credit: Connor Cleary
I'm sad that most of the weekend had a lot of running around and not much of seeing actual artists like the previous years I'd been to, but I saw the ones I wanted to see which is what mattered! It was also the first year I had met up with a lot of friends, and trying to orchestrate where we were all going and trying to meet up throughout the day was a challenge when you all have different agendas!

I have loved reading about all of the positives that Victorious Festival brings to Portsmouth's economy. According to The News - Portsmouth, last year it brought in £9 million to the city. That just amazes me, at how much this festival can do for all of the businesses on the island. So far over the years the festival has raised £182,000 for charities as well. As I was born in Portsmouth and have lived on and around the island, I'm really proud of what the city can do. I can't wait to see this fantastic festival grow and benefit thousands more people just from the joy of music.

*I have disclosed this post as an AD, as I was given a free press pass to the festival of which I applied for. All opinions are my own and I wan't paid anything to write or make content for the festival.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Ghost Tour & Screening of 'IT Chapter 2' | AD*

Not your ordinary tour of old Portsmouth, we encountered characters created by Dark Encounters. This made the historic tour all the more entertaining and light hearted. 

Outside Vue Portsmouth, Gunwharf Quays
Through the lovely local Pompey Bloggers group I came across the opportunity to pop along to a ghost tour and screening of 'IT Chapter 2' at Vue in Portsmouth. I'm not usually one to jump at the chance of scary things, as I am very much a scaredy cat! I spook so easy. The first 'IT' I watched mostly through my fingers, of which my boyfriend will not let me live down. I am also the person who had to temporarily leave The Woman in Black screening because there were so many jump scares I thought I were going to be sick!

Outside The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
I went to this experience with an open mind and tried to stay as calm as possible throughout and hope that I wouldn't need to make an exit at any point!

We met with a character outside Square Tower in Old Portsmouth, he was pacing up and down in a costume suited to the old landscape of the area. It was clear this was not going to be some ordinary tour I thought it was going to be. Our extravagant guide informed us of the evenings task; to become his agents to find out about any shipments and odd goings on. As he was leading us around we would be interrupted by two more characters; one being an older gentleman being a "Hampshire Agent". This guy was hilarious, he would tell us historical stories about buildings in the area but he added elements of humour to his part of the tour which had us all giggling. The second; being from "The Family" a pick pocketer and a right wrong'un. Dressed in shabby clothes and fingerless gloves, he moved around our group making us feel unsettled telling us his plans. He needed a "Ladybird", someone to source prostitutes (yes, ladies or gentlemen of the night), or find people that they could sell and make some good money. This got a lot of funny awkward looks, and unfortunately one of the ladies in the group made a bit of an impression on said pick pocketer; Mr Horley and he chose her as the Ladybird to find within the group decent bodies to sell.

It's safe to say I was not expecting audience participation in this tour, I wasn't expecting a lot and I was happily surprised with the mixture of historic and comedic elements. As we were a relatively small group it felt like we were going through this together, and we all had no clue what was going to happen.

When the tour and our quest had finished we ended up at the pedestrian entrance of Gunwharf Quays and made our way to Vue. The thing I've always loved about Vue Portsmouth is how BIG it is! It has 14 screens with a total of 3,100 seats. Vue offers stadium seating and VIP seats alongside a range of content, in addition to highly anticipated blockbusters. As I've always been a somewhat local to Portsmouth, I've had so many memories in this cinema. From mine and my other half's (sort of) first date, and watching old school James Bond films with my dad scoffing down ice cream hand picked from the sweets corner of the foyer. I love that the pick n mix and ice cream counter is separate from the popcorn, hot dog and drinks cashiers, especially if you decide in the middle of the trailers that you fancy a mean Ben and Jerry's. This evening we opted for a large combo with Diet Coke and sweet and salted popcorn; our personal favourite.

As we went the day of IT Chapter 2's release there were HUGE queues just to get into the screens. I honestly hadn't seen that before! It was so nice to see so many people passionate about watching films eager to get in. We were in such a big screen for the film, which made me a bit worried to see all of the gore and jump scares up close! There's plenty of foot room and space to wiggle in your seat. The screen itself and the sound quality were amazing, I felt fully immersed in the film. I actually watched maybe 97% of the film with no hands in front of my face! I did squirm at bit at some parts which were gross but also let out some terrified giggles! All in all I was so proud that I sat and watched the scary parts and nothing bad happened to me. I really enjoyed the film, I love that the forefront of the story is the Losers getting together and the coming of age feel (even if they are all grown up now), and the horror and gore is in the background with relaxed comedic elements throughout.

The view by the Square Tower
In summary, I had a lovely evening taking part in a thoroughly interesting and entertaining ghost tour of Old Portsmouth before a screening of IT Chapter 2 at Vue. It was also so nice to see fellow blogger Mike at the event, another friendly face! I definitely wasn’t expecting a fully immersive experience with characters showing us around. The whole evening was amazing and Vue Portsmouth made the experience very enjoyable with great seats, amazing sound quality and fantastic service. Thank you Vue for organising such a great evening. Also a thank you to the three chaps with Dark Encounters for helping make it such an entertaining evening!

*This opportunity was gifted through Vue Portsmouth, although this is a sponsored post all words and views are my own.


Thursday, 29 August 2019

Throwback to Isle of Wight Festival 2014

I wasn’t sure whether to talk about this or not, but I’m actually quite proud of how far I have come. I was going to post this on my social media channels but once I had finished writing this I realised I had accidentally written a blog post, so here you go!

Over five years ago I went to my first festival; Isle of Wight Festival 2014 with my boyfriend and one of our friends. We were all really excited as the line up was incredible! Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Biffy Clyro and Kings of Leon were the headliners and then the likes of The Pretty Reckless (who I was mad about at the time!) Nina Nesbit, John Newman and Rudimental to name a few. And of course the Ska legends; The Specials. I grew up hearing them on the radio on various car journeys with my dad and hearing Ghost Town on a Halloween radio station. We just so happened to have stayed at the front of the main stage ALL DAY. Pure accident and unplanned, we weren’t hungry or thirsty and didn’t need the loo, so we thought “why not try and stay here until Red Hot Chili’s?”. That would be an amazing memory. All was going well, that year there was a big football game on (can’t remember off the top of my head, not really a huge football fanatic so don’t shoot me) and I remember a lot of people getting more drunk and rowdy because of it and acting a bit “hooligany". As the day went on it got really hot and humid and more and more crowded, but we soldiered on. Right, The Specials started their set. The atmosphere was incredible! Everyone getting a bit of a dance on, getting whacked on the head by guys behind me (short person problem) but it’s fine carry on! And then pushing and shoving and more invasion of my personal space occurred. I remember being irate that a woman next to me was wearing this fluffy woollen jumper (a texture that makes me cringe and repulse) and because of the lack of space the texture was constantly touching my skin in some way. After a few more pushes and shoves I decided I couldn't hack it anymore, my friend felt the same, being that she was smaller than me it must’ve been worse for her. We left my boyfriend and I started to confidently make my way through the crowd heading backwards. Getting past the first few rows was fine as people were eager to get us out so they could get closer, and then it was like hitting a brick wall made of people. No one was letting us through any further and all these people were looking at us and I couldn’t see a way out, we were just smack in the middle of a crowd. A lady saw me and said "you can't go any further".

That’s when I lost it. I didn’t see it coming. I fell apart as a human being. A full blown panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and my eyes were streaming with tears. All I remember was my friend walloping people out of the way to get back to the front to seek medical assistance whilst she also was having a panic attack. I don’t even recall how I got carried over the gates I literally lost my sight for at least five minutes and then once I was out of that environment and the welfare team sat us down with water I started to reappear. 

It was such a strange experience. That had never happened to me before or at least not on that scale. This was years before being diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression and mental health wasn’t in the media at all so I didn’t know what had hit me. For the rest of the festival I didn’t get back in the crowds for fear the same thing would happen again. I didn’t really get to fully experience The Specials and only saw the Red Hot Chilli Peppers from way back by the Ferris wheel and it didn’t sound great and couldn’t even see the stage. 

So, the point of this post. Last weekend The Specials played at Victorious and I was so excited to try and see them again. This time though, I’ve experienced far more mental health problems (than one person probably should) and kind of know how to handle it most days and I’ve been to gigs and festivals since where I’ve been at the front and not had a panic attack. I finally got the see The Specials at a fairly decent distance and relax with fellow Ska lovers. Not a panic attack or anxious feeling in sight. I even lost my friends several times over the weekend and there was no signal or internet, I guess due to the amount of people there the companies couldn’t keep up with the demand. I just found myself on my own in big crowds of people with no way to find my own people until my signal came back. And you know what? I coped. I made my own plan of action and even enjoyed just roaming around on my own, getting a drink, having a peek at other stages. Of course I know that last weekend could’ve gone the other way if I had let it. But I am mentally stronger (sometimes) and I try to keep that pesky anxious voice out of my head. 

All in all it was a lovely weekend, except losing everyone constantly and the heat was just a bit much at times especially in the crowds, we were quite lucky that most of the other festival-goers were quite friendly and lighthearted. My Victorious round up will be up soon!


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Grosvenor Casino | AD

A while ago I was invited to go down to Grosvenor Casino in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth to review their new menu. They also said I'd get to have a training session of a casino game of my choice.

I have never actually been to a casino before, I went to one once but only for a drink for an after party. I had never really thought about Casinos being my *vibe* and none of my friends seem to have an interest - except when one of us will be getting married and we're going to go to Vegas, duh.

When I told my lovely best friend Lily about the opportunity we decided to seize the chance at a glam makeover for the occasion. I love makeup but I'm not totally savvy about it, and Lily is a glam goddess!

The finished look, I've never had such glamorous eyeshadow before, thank you so much Lily!
When myself and my boyfriend arrived at the Casino they had quite high tech security, as you need a guest pass or a membership card to enter the premises. I also suggested to my boyfriend if anyone's been banned it'll flag up on their system, and a health and safety standpoint as well.

We were greeted by Jayne who was the Manager of this Casino, she was very friendly and helpful. We were shown around the different areas; roulette tables, slot machines, and the poker room.

You can attend Casino's just for their bar and restaurant area, they screen various sports on their televisions so you can socialise with your friends - and you don't have to use the Casino if you don't want to. Jayne also said it's a very safe environment, they advocate safe use of gambling and they are part of Keep It Fun with lots of advice on how to stay responsible with gambling. Also, she said that sometimes women who have been on night's out or perhaps dates in Gunwharf go to the Casino as a safe waiting place before getting transport home.

I had such a misconception of casinos, I thought they were going to be a seedy greedy place wanting to take all of your money. But, it's actually a place of leisure, a place to hang out with your friends or celebrate an occasion. There were such a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, and at the tables, complete strangers were chatting with each other and having fun.

Before we got stuck into playing on some of the tables, we were shown over to the restaurant area for dinner.

One of my favourite meals is steak, and Connor and I love going out for a good steak! I loved how it came out with a selection of sides, and a decent amount too. Admittedly, my cut of steak wasn't exactly how I like it, but the waiter was very friendly and understanding and I very quickly was brought another piece and it was perfect!

For pudding, we both got waffles with ice cream and a selection of sauces (chocolate, salted caramel and maple syrup) and it was delicious, I loved having all of the sauces!

Grosvenor Casino had quite the selection of alcoholic beverages, but I decided to go all out with a piƱa colada as I wanted to feel fancy. It did not disappoint as you can see from the smile on my face.

We were both given a lucky number to use on a game of roulette as it was our first time at that casino, unfortunately, my number didn't come up, but it's a lovely idea that you could win £10 from a free spin.

After we enjoyed our dinner we were taken over to a private table where we were shown how to play roulette. I haven't really ever played any casino games so it was all new to me. We were given some chips just to play with whilst we learned all of the tips and how much you can gain by placing chips in particular areas.

The basics are the roulette gets spun and you place your chips on what numbers and colours you think the ball in the roulette might land on, but as you can see in the photo above you can also just choose colours and specific number sections if you don't want to do a straight up bet. The more you bet on a number, or numbers the more you can win back if you bet on the correct number.

Once we felt confident enough to take on the other punters in the casino, we went to a live table. I've got to say because I'm an awkward person there wasn't much room around the table and I ended up being on an edge and unable to put some chips down and was too nervous to keep asking the dealer where I wanted them. But it was all for fun, we set ourselves a budget of how much we wanted to buy into the game for chips (smart move).

Connor was a natural at conserving his chips and trying to get the most winnings by placing his chips on singular numbers. I was trying a different approach by trying to cover several numbers to try and get a big payout. This didn't work very well, but Connor helped me win some back so we both left in profit. It's amazing how quick everything is in roulette, the dealers have crazy maths skills and I wasn't expecting the tables to be so high tech. You can see on screens surrounding the tables what numbers and colours had come up recently to try and "guess" what might come up next.

I was honestly a bit apprehensive and excited for my first official time in a casino, but we both had so much fun. It was a different kind of night out and you can have a nice bit of banter, and hopefully, you'll go home with some extra pennies in your pocket or at least a full belly from a lovely meal.

We decided to become members of Grosvenor Casino, this is at no cost all at it just sets up a card so you can get easy access in and out of the casino. You set yourself up an online account as well, as you can play live online games - I have since done this and it's very strange having a real person talk to you when you're playing behind a screen. 

I would definitely recommend going to a casino for the experience, even if you just want to go grab some food and drink and socialise with your friends. If you feel responsible enough, do try playing some games, and the casino has steps in place if you do have trouble gambling, or if you think you might be susceptible to a gambling addiction. All you have to do is talk to a staff member and they will help you out. The message I interpreted from this casino is that you should have fun, but definitely don't gamble or play if you're going to put yourself in a sticky situation with rent, debt etc. I hate to be that person who says this but it's true when the fun stops - stop.

Connor and I will definitely come back here again for a night out, it was such a nice change of pace and environment, and it's completely abolished my misconceptions - I feel so embarrassed!

For more information about managing gambling addiction click here.

Let me know if you've been to casinos and what your experience was like below.

Love Saffron x

*This was a complimentary experience through the lovely ladies at Publicasity with the wonderful staff at Grosvenor Casino, all opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review.

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