Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Conquering the O2 Arena!

After months of annoying everyone with posts about my fundraising (sorry guys!), on Saturday it was finally time for me to climb the O2 Arena in London.

In case you've missed my spam haha, here's a post I wrote in July about why I decided to climb the O2. In brief, 2015 marked the tenth anniversary of my grandad's passing so I wanted to do a fundraising event in his memory, raising money for Ty Bryngwyn Hospice and Pancreatic Cancer UK. I have a fear of heights so with my common sense out the window, I decided that climbing the O2 would be the perfect fundraising activity!!

Leading up to the day, I kept reading up on reviews, people's experiences and general facts about the climb.  I completely stressed myself out knowing that the climb surface felt like a bouncy castle, that a lot of people found it strenuous and that going down on the other side would be far worse than climbing up!!! (Note to self: it's good to be prepared but some things just don't need to be read beforehand).

Saturday came and I was an actual mess in the morning.  There were some tears in the hotel, I couldn't eat my breakfast and mum said that my face was so white that I resembled the dead (cheers mum!!). Luckily we had to move hotels in the morning and there were gig tickets to be bought so I had a few things to take my mind off the climb.

We arrived at the O2 well in advance and just looking at the building made me feel physically sick. It really isn't that high at all, mum kept reminding me that it wasn't Mount Everest but at the time it felt like it was. Soon after, Mim arrived with her sister and I felt a bit more at ease. She is the adrenaline junkie/daredevil in our friendship so it gave me the motivation to toughen up. It was also lovely to have Nicole and Laura there to cheer us on.

before the climb!

Fifteen minutes before the climb, we headed over to 'base camp' to check in. We were handed waiver forms to fill in (which I probably should have read but I didn't need an excuse to run away there and then) and at 11:30 we were ushered into the briefing room.  We were introduced to our guide (I cannot for the life of me tell you what her name was as my mind was running riot, but she was female) and were made to watch a safety video.  The video was hysterical, a man communicating with us from the 'north camp' who made the expedition feel just as big a deal as it was in my head! We were then shown how to wear the safety gear before moving into the next room to get ready.

We were given climb shoes, a harness and a jacket (I was grateful for the sunny weather which meant that we didn't have to wear a full space suit!) and a last minute chance to empty our bladders.  Once everyone was equipped, we headed out to begin our climb.  We had our picture taken by an official photographer then I looked over the edge to see mum and to my surprise, she was stood with Kais and Mazin! I was so shocked to see them but I just waved at them as I was so nervous, I couldn't comprehend what was happening!! After everyone had been papped, it was time to begin.

happy face to mask the fear !!!

Coming from the biggest scaredy cat/most unfit person ever, the climb was actually fine! The beginning of the climb was fairly steep, and the surface felt odd as it was bouncy.  I was super grateful that it was a dry day as the grip on the blue walkway was questionable in parts, so it would have been much tougher in rain! To be honest, one of the worst things about the climb was trying to align the latch along certain points of the wire! I found that difficult at times, but never needed to rush as the people behind us were much slower. The higher we climbed, the flatter the walkway became and within no time, we'd made it to the top.  

At the top, we were unclipped and allowed to roam the platform and look at the incredible views of London.  It was great to be able to see my favourite city from this height, it looked even more amazing than usual. Mim and I took plenty of selfies to mark the momentous occasion and our guide took a picture of us too.  I didn't find our guide particularly informative, however I was so overwhelmed at having made it to the top, that I probably wouldn't have registered any facts anyway.

made it!!

hold the front page, MBKR actually taking selfies haha!

on top of the woooooorld!

the picture doesn't do the view justice!

Soon enough it was time to come back down, the bit I was most dreading to be honest! It was definitely more steep than the upward climb and I was constantly worried about slipping or falling over, even though I was perfectly safe in the harness.  Mim and I were third and fourth to go down and we reached the bottom very quickly. It was only then that I could laugh at myself for being so scared beforehand.  It was actually really fun and I would most definitely do the climb again. I also felt a sense of pride for facing my fear and doing something worthwhile for charity.

we climbed, we conquered!

It was all over far too quickly but it was amazing to be able to do something different to fundraise. As it stands, I have raised £553.12 (£640 when you include Gift Aid) which is absolutely crazy!! I set an initial target of £250 which I thought I would struggle to reach - never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that people would be so kind.

I must give the biggest thank you's to the following: Mam, Emma, Rach, Paige, Caroline, Robert, Laura, Summer, Julia, Sam, Nat, Lynn, Justine, Liz, Kais and Mazin, Lisa, J.R & Min, Craig, Chuns, Dearbhla, Sarah, Helen and Rhiannon, Sheila, Shelby, Ceri, Jalisa, Lyn, Mr/Mrs Anonymous (it will forever bug me not knowing who you are!!!), Jo, Laura, Nic, Caryl, Liann, Charlotte, Dannii and Rachel. You are the reason why both charities are going to benefit as without you, there would be no donations. I will never forget your incredible generosity - not only have you helped to support two incredibly worthy charities, but you've helped me to do something amazing in memory of my grandad so THANK YOU xxx

Also I would like to thank every single person who sent me a good luck message.  Not everyone can/wants to donate money and I fully understand that, which is why the fact that so many people went to the effort of wishing me well meant just as much. The love I felt building up to the climb was just insane. I'm so fortunate to have the best group of friends in my life and I am so thankful for all the support as it gave me the determination to face my fear. I must once again thank Mam, Laura, Nic, Malika, Kais and Mazin for being cheerleaders on the day and also Mim for climbing with me and getting me through it. Without you, I would have struggled so much more - I didn't have time to dwell on the daunting prospect ahead of me as I needed to keep up with you haha!!!

My fundraising page will remain open for a little while as I know that some people still want to contribute now that I have climbed - you can donate here.

The 26th of September will forever be a special day to me. I hope that I managed to make my grandad proud and that all the money raised will help to make a difference to people's lives. Once again, thank you to everyone that supported me in one way or another, you are all stars.

Hwyl am y tro ✌️

There's Only One Direction...

On Thursday I went to see One Direction in the O2 Arena, London. This was the first show of the UK arena leg of the On The Road Again (OTRA) tour and my first time seeing them perform a full set. Having seen them perform a short set at Summertime Ball earlier this year, I was really excited about watching a full show from the world's most famous boyband.

The first thing that surprised me as we sat in our seats was the variety of people in the audience. Whilst I was greeted with screaming fangirls in abundance (which was totally expected) there was also older women, couples and quite a few men!

Before 1D came on stage, we were treated to a great support act in the form of Jamie Lawson. I didn't really know who he was beforehand, I'd never heard him sing and my knowledge of him only stretched to the fact that he's signed to Ed Sheeran's record label. I was pleasantly surprised, as it turned out that he was a fantastic singer-songwriter. Jamie performed his original songs and a crowd pleasing cover of 1D's More Than This.  I can see why Ed Sheeran has signed him - he reminded me so much of the Ed Sheeran I first saw live a few years ago, and no doubt that after this tour that Jamie will grow even further in confidence.  Whilst I thought he was really good, personally I would have chosen someone livelier as a support act. I think an audience like 1D's want to be hyped at all times, yet I found Jamie's songs too mellow to get incredibly excited over. I think Jamie would have shone even more as a support act for someone else.  Nevertheless, this tour is the most incredible opportunity for him and an excellent platform to showcase his fantastic music.

After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, it was finally time for 1D who burst onto the stage to perform No Control. As one of the most popular songs amongst Directioners, the boys most definitely chose the best opening to the show and in return, the crowd showed their appreciation by screaming, singing along loudly and dancing about.  Kiss You was next, one of my favourites from their earlier days and they put on a very energetic performance!

Fireproof was one of the first ballads performed which was made even more special by fans holding signs baring the words 'Nobody saves us the way you do'. These were handed out before the show began (the first of many different projects that the boys will see during their tour) and I thought it was a really cute idea.

One of my highlights was Stockholm Syndrome.  When I first heard Four, it instantly became my favourite song and I was so excited to hear it live. Despite Zayn being the main singer on the album track, the boys did a fab job and didn't disappoint! I definitely got a bit over excited during this song, no shame haha!

One of the most eventful songs was Night Changes. The poor souls had real difficulty as they were hearing something different in their ear pieces and had to attempt the song three times! In the end, with the help of the fans they were back on track and I must applaud them on dealing with the sound problems so well. To be honest, the fans didn't mind at all as it meant getting a short acoustic snippet of Infinity which excited the crowd even further and gave them an insight to what they can expect on their new album Made in the A.M. The banter between the boys was also hilarious, Harry was trying to get people to tell jokes which was funny in itself!

There was a good mix of different album tracks and well known songs on the setlist, including Little Things, Best Song Ever, Clouds, Diana and Little White Lies. It was nice to see Niall playing the guitar on several songs. The boys spoke a lot in between songs, mainly thanking the fans for all of their support over the last five years. I must also mention Harry starting a kiss cam which was funny - an older couple kissed on camera and in return they bagged Niall's plectrum as they had a sign asking for it.  They were completely over the moon at the whole thing haha.

1D finished the set with Steal My Girl, however knowing that there were some important songs missing, we knew that there would be an encore.  Several minutes of anticipation later and they boys reappeared on stage to perform Act My Age, What Makes You Beautiful and Drag Me Down. They most definitely saved the best song until last - Drag Me Down is such an anthemic song and it's even better live (once again, no shame in losing my shhhh whilst they performed haha).

Liam kept saying how the O2 was one of his favourite venues to perform at, so I'm glad that I got to see them at such an iconic venue.  Their two hour set was the epitome of energy at all times and you could see what a great relationship they had with each other. I can finally say that I've seen a whole One Direction set and it was definitely worth the wait :-)

Here's some pictures from the night, courtesy of mum as she had a better view than I did!

Niall and his guitar

Harry entertaining the crowd

with the girls

the boys

Hwyl am y tro ✌️

Friday, 18 September 2015

'London' - Britroyal album review

photo credit: Min Reid-Richards

This week the lovely Kais and Mazin, aka Britroyal finally released their debut album London! Having worked with Pledge Music to deliver the album, it is currently available exclusively to pledgers.  This means that if you missed out on pledging, you will have to wait until the iTunes release I'm afraid!!

I thought I would review the album in order to hopefully entice anyone to support the guys and their album once it is widely available.  London is a brilliant album, instantly memorable with catchy choruses and plenty of strings and guitar riffs.  If you are familiar with Kais and Mazin's music then you will recognise the trademark Britroyal sound throughout the album. However, on the whole it is a far more positive and upbeat record, full of inspirational messages delivered through anthemic tracks.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Stronger - what an epic beginning to the album! The opening chants are anthemic and there is a good, positive message to the song.  The song tells you that any pain you go through makes you stronger in the end.  You can imagine this song being played at a gig with everyone swaying their phone lights in the air!

2. Defiant - this song is more upbeat and carries another strong message, that you should never let anyone get you down - be defiant and fight for your dreams in life.

3. Change - I found this song to be almost countryesque!  The chorus is the winner here, simply telling you that 'it's never too late to change your life'. Whilst I love the message in the song, at the moment it is my least favourite track from the album.

4. Count on Me - there are woah oh's in abundance at the beginning of this song and it is extremely anthemic.  There is a good use of strings in the song too which adds to the great sound created by the guys.  Once again the lyrics are very positive, one of my favourites being 'I'll be the light in the dark when you can't see".  This song is a great way of telling someone that they can depend on you.

5. What Matters Most - this is one of my favourite tracks from the album. It is a beautiful and poignant ballad which, as with many of the album tracks, appears to have been influenced by personal experiences. Experiencing dark times can make you realise what's important in life.

6. Compromise - this is a more up-tempo ballad about keeping a relationship alive by compromising.  There is positivity within this song and it's most definitely a grower.

7. Head v Heart- cue one of the most trademark Britroyal songs on the album! As the title suggests, the song highlights the head and heart battle between staying and walking away. This will definitely be a good song to hear live. It is instantly catchy and the chorus is very easy to sing along to.

8. Tears - this is the surprise track on the album for me as it is the most far removed from the trademark Britroyal sound.  Nonetheless, between great guitar riffs and the fantastic vibe the song gives, it is one of my favourites by far.  The best line in the song for me is a lyric which almost sounds like a rap, which I find amusing considering how posh Kais and Mazin are haha, but the tongue-twisting lyric is 'and it's too heavy to hold under the weight of it all'. (It will make more sense to anyone when listening to it!).  

9. Love's Burning Out - this takes us back to the Britroyal style that we're used to. The song is definitely a grower and builds from the beginning into a strong chorus.

10. London Streets - the main album ends with another strong ballad.  Filled with woahs, drum beats and great lyrics, this is a great song to end a brilliant album with.

11/12/13. (Deluxe tracks) Wasted I Love You/Unfinished/Ordinary - Britroyal have added three of their previous EP tracks as bonus songs on the deluxe version of the album.  In my opinion these are the three best songs from their EP which you can download here. They are sing-a-long tracks, with Ordinary being the stand out track for me.

When I first heard their EP, it took me quite a while to get used to it however I was instantly hooked on this album within the first time of listening to it. I love how every song has a meaning behind it and how they've taken personal experiences and turned them into positive songs.  They have truly excelled themselves with this album and I'm so pleased that I pledged and got to own this superb album before a lot of other people! 

Hwyl am y tro ✌️

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Only The Young Tour

On Sunday night I went to Cardiff to see Concept support Only The Young on their 'Up Close and Personal' tour.  I was so excited to see them perform, especially as it was their first proper gig in Wales.  

We arrived in Cardiff ridiculously early as per, and after having food we decided to mooch around the shops to kill time.  One (crazy and very expensive) Primark haul later, we ended up having to rush over to the venue in order to make it in time for the doors to open haha.

Once we were let inside, we were greeted by lots of merchandise and I had a nice surprise to see Concept and Canary Swing personally selling their merch.  I bought one of Concept's new baseball tees (super comfy, may I add) and had a quick chat with Scott, Matt and Ben.  We then went to find a good spot.  I've never been to the Globe before but I really liked it as a venue as you had a clear view from wherever you stood, as it was very intimate.

The first support act was The Brooks, who opened with a Michael Jackson medley.  The twins were very good and got the crowd singing along to their cover of Four Five Seconds.  To finish their set they performed an original song called Cinderella.

Secondly were Canary Swing.  I absolutely love Canary Swing and became a fan after seeing them support Kingsland which feels like many moons ago now,  They are always so lively and get the crowd involved.  Whilst I'd grown accustomed to the old songs they used to perform, this time around they performed a few new originals, with Right Now being a personal favourite of mine.  You know that a song is good when you catch yourself singing along immediately despite not actually knowing the words!  They also did a great cover of Rita Ora's Poison before finishing the set with the classic Second Star to the Right.  I adore this song and it wouldn't be a Canary Swing show without it.

The last support act were the Basingstoke baes, Concept!  There aren't enough hours in the day in which I could fawn over them to you. They are genuinely some of the nicest people you could meet and they have talent in abundance.  They opened with an energetic performance of Uptown Funk which, with no question, was an enormous crowd pleaser.  Concept followed up with a cover of Nick Jonas' Jealous which was another hit with the audience.  I love it when they perform slower songs as it gives them the opportunity to fully show off their incredible voices - their original song Last Man Standing was a great example of this, gorgeous harmonies that complemented Ben's guitar skills. A big crowd favourite was their cover of Imagine Dragons' Radioactive - this is definitely my favourite cover from their set these days! I'd never heard the song before I first heard their cover but I fell in love with it.  They also make it their own with an insane rap by Karim and Matt.  They ended their set with another original called Young and Rebellious - and as the title suggests, it's all about having fun.  Every member of the crowd, young and young at heart were having the best time!  I could watch them perform all day - every time I've seen them, they step it up and improve even more than what you could think possible. I can't express how much of a joy it is to watch them!!! (end of fawning for now).

Last to perform was the headline act, Only The Young.  I've never seen them live before and only had their X Factor performances to compare to but they were full of fun and bounced onto the stage. They performed a lot of their XF songs, such as a medley of Jailhouse Rock/Twist'n'Shout, Blame it on the Boogie and Something About The Way You Look Tonight.  Amongst these were some great original songs, including my favourite Little White Lies.  Disaster stuck mid-set as Charlie fell ill but the remaining three did a great job of carrying on without him.  One of my favourite covers that they performed was Dancing in the Moonlight, which was a massive hit many years ago and a song that you forget about but as soon as you hear it again, your love for it is reignited haha. By the end, the trio were definitely missing Charlie's presence so invited Concept onto the stage to perform Shut Up and Dance with them - the atmosphere was electric! Everyone in the audience were singing and dancing along.  OTY ended their set with their debut single I Do which is incredibly catchy.

After the gig finished, we went outside to meet Concept.  They were incredibly lovely as per and we had quite long chats with all of the boys.  The typical Welsh weather was determined to ruin my selfies but hey ho, it was still a fantastic night and a pleasure to see them again as always.

first ever selfies with Nathan haha :)



funny selfies with Ben


love this group pic!

Hwyl am y tro ✌️

(P.S I've started writing occasionally for CelebMix and wrote a review about this gig which you can read here - note it is a lot more unbiased that what you've just read, but I think it's acceptable to fawn over my faves on my own blog, right?!)

Monday, 14 September 2015

Soccer Six Fest

At the start of the month I went to Soccer Six Fest in Mile End.  I'm going to try and keep this short but I wanted to write about meeting one of my long time faves for the first time!!! (More about that later on...).

We arrived at the football stadium to a smaller crowd than what I've seen at previous Soccer Sixes that I've attended.  However, the venue and layout was one of the best that I'd seen and along with glorious sunshine, it was a good omen for the day.  Unlike previous S6's, I wasn't intent on trying to hunt down Kingsland lol, so that in itself made the day more enjoyable.  The main person I wanted to meet this time was Ray Quinn, although I wasn't hopeful as every time I could have met him at S6 before, he'd had to pull out for various reasons.

We saw a group of girls fangirling in a corner outside a small building so we went to see what was going on.  I soon discovered that it was the area outside the players' dressing rooms so we saw quite a few people arriving.  It was then that I caught a glimpse of Ray, and just knowing that he was actually there made me feel so much happier!

We wandered around the pitch and I saw Jake Wood (Max Branning in Eastenders) and had a picture with him. He had a full on beard, which just made me think about how his character is currently in jail and that he looked as if he was on the run haha!

I also saw George from Gogglebox - I'd forgotten that he was going to be there, and being a Gogglebox fangirl, I was properly buzzing to meet him!  He was just as I'd expected him to be, he was so funny!  His mum was also with him and I regretted not going to meet her too!

There were so many people on the line up, between known, unknown and rock acts, so I found it a bit overwhelming and didn't really utlilise my time properly.  I was also a baby when it came to getting people's attention, I don't like shouting at people so missed out on a few people that I would have liked to meet.  If I was to go again I would definitely take someone bolshy with me that isn't scared to get noticed lol! My fear of being hit by a ball was also heightened but I had a lucky escape this time unlike last year haha!

Also I was pretty much intent on meeting Ray, and it was a struggle and a half!!! I came to within an inch of meeting him in the morning but I wasn't on the barrier so I felt awkward clambering over others for a picture.  Several failed attempts later and I finally caught him just as he was leaving!  I'm so glad that I did - I've been a fan since he was in Brookside, around 13 years now and have followed his career from X Factor, Dancing on Ice and beyond.  Some people have said that he isn't very nice in person but they couldn't be more wrong, I thought he was so lovely!

All in all, I had a really nice day.  I didn't stay for the musical performances this time as I was tired and had seen who I wanted to. I didn't have any expectations as I have been disappointed at S6's in the past but this one was one of the best ones that I've been to.  Players were very accessible and it was quite a relaxed day!

Hwyl am y tro ✌️

Friday, 4 September 2015

Fusion Fest 2015

Last weekend I went to Birmingham for its annual Fusion Festival.  Normally a two day event, this year they had 26 acts play over three days, with Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and McBusted being the headliners.  We decided to go on the Friday and Sunday, as those were the days with the lineups we most liked.

Friday's headliner was supposed to be Justin Bieber but he pulled out at the last minute.  I did doubt that Fusion would be able to get a good replacement at such short notice but my god, they pulled it out of the bag! Ed Sheeran was the most insane replacement, an incredible 90 minute set from one man and his guitar.  I've always liked Ed's music and I've seen him live a couple of times at Summertime Ball but never have I witnessed a full set from him, I'm so glad that I finally have!  His set was phenomenal from start to finish, I was in awe and several times I just stood gawping at what I was seeing and hearing.  One minute the atmosphere was electric, the next it was stunning with the whole crowd creating a sea of lights with their phones.  I'm still amazed at what Ed can do with his guitar, using it as a cajon in Bloodstream was one of the stand out moments for me.  To be perfectly honest, Fusion excelled themselves by signing up Ed - as much as I like Biebs, Ed really was superb.

Ed Sheeran

Another stand out act were Rixton. I haven't been a fan for long, but ever since they released Me and My Broken Heart, I fell in love with their music.  I've only seen them live a few times too but they keep on improving every time.  They had a great set, full of energy and crowd interaction.  I felt for Jake as he was losing his voice slightly but he still put on a fantastic performance.  He even jumped into the crowd, serenaded a fan and walked along the barrier to get to as many fans as possible.  They are a band that deserve so much more recognition in the UK!

Charley and Jake, Rixton

I must also mention Aston Merrygold!!  I was so excited to see him perform as a solo artist for the first time and he did not disappoint.  He showcased his original music, including his debut single Get Stupid which really got the crowd going.  The only complaint I had was that his set was far too short!! I wish he could have performed for longer but nonetheless he was exceptional and made me really proud.

Aston Merrygold

On the Sunday, we had VIP tickets which allowed us access to a special area with comfortable seating, posh toilets and the possibility of seeing some of the performers up close and personal.  We were given a free Vimto mocktail as we arrived (which was absolutely delicious) and we sheltered in the tent whilst the rain stopped.  Soon enough, I noticed a big group of girls making their way into the tent, surrounding Conor Maynard who wanted a go on the Playstation 4 that they had inside.  He was so lovely and spent ages meeting everyone!

Conor Maynard
Once the weather dried up, we hovered by the fences as you could see some of the performers going for interviews etc.  This is where I met 5/6 of new Irish boyband Hometown.  They were really nice lads too and spent a long time meeting the big crowd that had gathered along the fence.  I had a blast from the past when I saw their driver Darren, who used to drive for Kingsland last year!  We also bumped into Lukey who used to be in Times Red - it was so nice to have a catch up as we haven't seen him for so long,

Dayl, Dean, Cian, Josh and Brendan - Hometown

We went into the main arena later in the afternoon to watch Conor Maynard and Union J.  Conor performed a shorter version of his Thorpe Park set and I loved every minute!  He is so energetic and had the crowd singing along to every classic hit.  Union J were also marvellous.  They always put on a fantastic show and got the crowd hyped by encouraging them to swing an item of clothing around during one song.

Jaymi, Josh, George and JJ, Union J

We headed back to the VIP area and tried to get near the fence to meet some more acts. I was SO close to The Vamps but didn't meet them unfortunately.  However I did meet Union J for the first time and they were so nice!  I'm really excited to their 'audience with' events next month.  I also met Adam Lambert and Jess Glynne, both of whom were lovely too.

Adam Lambert

Jess Glynne

Sunday's headliner was supergroup McBusted, who were fantastic.  They were a bundle of energy from start to finish and belted out all of the big McFly/Busted hits including Obviously and Crashed The Wedding.  I haven't seen McBusted in a long time but they were such a great closing act for the night and the whole weekend.  It was also so cute to see the wives of the band members watching from in front of the stage, aside from Emma Willis who was the biggest fangirl of all, watching everything from the golden circle amongst all the fans, even getting on a man's shoulders for the finale! McBusted are not only brilliant performers, but they have great stage banter which entertained everyone.


I really enjoyed the weekend, and I would definitely encourage anyone to go next year and to also try the VIP option as it gives you a more comfortable festival atmosphere! Fusion is always really well organised and a super fun time :)

Hwyl am y tro ✌️