the album I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about

I’ve had a few ideas for blog posts tumbling around in my head lately, and although this wasn’t the first one I came up with – that was some top tips for doing the IB, but given my current stress level it may be best to leave that until after my exams – this album has been on repeat in my head for the last few days and is a completely unexpected new favourite of mine. Partly unexpected because its very, very rare for me to listen to a full album (even more so for me to like everything on it) and partly because…well, it’s Harry Styles, of One Direction fame. I never loved One Direction – though equally I didn’t understand the depths with which some people hated them – and didn’t pay much attention to any of their debut stuff when it first came up. A couple of their solo singles made it onto my Spotify playlists, but I made no effort to go and listen to full albums or anything.

This began to change the other week, when I rewatched Dunkirk with some friends and remembered Harry Styles’ existence. In true procrastinating student fashion I then ended up watching his Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which is pretty great (highlights include their rendition of Hey Ya! and recreation of Titanic). After watching that I ended up listening to all of his album and, completely unexpectedly, I loved it. It’s been in my head so much the last few days that I figured I’d write a blog post about it, breaking it down into each track and my thoughts, in the hope it’ll finally get it out of my head…

Meet Me in the Hallway

This is quite a chilled, laidback start to the album and wasn’t a track I particularly paid attention to start with but, though it’s not one of my favourites, has grown on me a lot. It’s easy to listen to and relaxing and I love the chorus – I think it does a really good job of livening the track up a bit without losing the dreamy feeling of the rest of it. It also opens up the album immediately showing that this is not going to be a One Direction clone, which is nice.

Sign of the Times

This song is probably what actually stopped me from bothering to look into his music before because I was profoundly unbothered by it when it first came out as his debut single. It was OK, a bit different from One Direction but nothing drastic. Listening to it now I definitely like it more than I did then but it’s probably one of my least favourites on the album. The dramatic strings from 1:33 onwards get a shoutout though, and I discovered that it is actually him being suspended from a helicopter in the music video, not a stunt double, which is pretty incredible.

Carolina

Carolina’s the third track on the album and from its opening notes its showing a different side to ‘solo Harry’ – a bit funkier, a bit livelier, a bit less restrained. The opening riff’s the kinda thing you can’t listen to without letting your head bop along (bop is a fantastic verb and this song is very deserving of its use) and as the layers start to build it just gets funkier (I especially love the little ‘oh yeah’s). The vocals start off pretty laidback but quickly ramp up at the chorus, giving it more of a rock-y vibe than the first few tracks. Then the brilliant ‘la la las’ start up, giving the song a really fun vibe – Harry said in an interview that this was the last song written for the album and gave it a kinda missing piece of fun, which is definitely how it feels. The layers keep building up and, in my entirely objective opinion, the song just gets better and better – it definitely cheers me up in the middle of revision, anyway! Also, love the guitar on this.

Two Ghosts

If you’ve heard of this song, you likely know it as ‘the one about Taylor Swift’. This is another one I really like, and I can personally really relate to the lyrics. Musically, the little guitar riff throughout is beautiful, and the return to the more laidback vibe provides a really nice contrast to Carolina. I’d definitely say it’s more pop-y, more along the lines of some of One Direction’s stuff, but that’s absolutely not a bad thing.

Sweet Creature

Sweet Creature‘s another more chilled one, but a little more folk-y? (I’m not very good at identifying musical genres so feel free to tell me there is absolutely nothing folk-like about it at all haha) It’s similar-ish to Two Ghosts and just a really nice, laidback song for a Sunday evening, and I especially like all the backing vocal bits around 2:30.

Only Angel

So the opening to this track is pretty misleading about the overall vibe of it, as it quickly changes into being much more rock-like. This is one that kinda escaped my notice at first, but now I absolutely love it – it’s great for yelling along to in the kitchen while baking cookies (absolutely not that I was doing that ten minutes ago…). It’s veryyyy different to One Direction and more along the lines of Carolina, once again with great backing vocals and clapping bits, and the little instrumental bit around 3:15 is one of my favourite things in the world right now.

Kiwi

This is one of my absolute favourite songs at the moment, and it’s the most non-One-Direction like one on the album – Harry said himself that it started out as a joke but ended up as one of his favourite songs, which kinda explains the lyrics a bit! Similarly to Only Angel it’s great for just yelling along to (very handy stress reliever for a currently very stressed student with exams in three days) and has kinda become my personal hype song? I don’t know how either, but I’m not disappointed. For the optimum first listening experience, I recommend playing it as loud as you can. Side note – I really love the bridge.

Ever Since New York

I wouldn’t say this is one of the stand-out memorable tracks on the album, but its got a lot of good stuff going on (even if the very opening does remind me of the music they use at the start of lots of programmes about schools on TV – just me?!) It’s apparently thought to be about his stepdad’s cancer diagnosis which adds a whole different level of poignancy to the lyrics – my favourite is probably ‘There’s no water in this swimming pool’ (I always love a good water metaphor). It’s obviously quite a sad song, but in a way that feels chilled out rather than full-on make-you-cry, which is nice.

Woman

Woman perks the album up a bit again, going back to the heavier sound of Only Angel and Kiwi, but a bit more chilled out. It starts with a nice bit of piano and guitar, soon followed by some duck-style sound effects (don’t sound as bad as you think they would). Yeah, not sure what else to say except I like it…

From The Dining Table

First things first – I LOVE the opening guitar motif. I know I’ve said that about basically every track on the album but its all true, okay?!? This is definitely one of my favourites, and like Two Ghosts, I can really relate to the theme of the song. This is definitely not one to cheer you up, but its the kinda song that makes me really think and gets me in the feels, as the ~youth~ say. I also love the change in melody around ‘maybe one day you’ll call me and tell me that you’re sorry too’ – there’s just something about it that I really love, as well as the poignancy with ‘but you, you never do’. I just think the whole song does a really good job of capturing heartbreak without trivialising it or being clichéd.

A Few Final Notes (Musical Pun Absolutely Intended, sorrynotsorry)

I feel like you can split this album fairly easily into ‘chilled out, a bit sad’ and ‘jump around and sing along’, though somehow it still manages to feel pretty cohesive. I just really like it to be honest, hence the fact its got a whole blog post to itself, especially as I never thought I’d be such a Harry Styles fan. I’m also impressed by how true to thestudio versions all his live versions sound – I never realised he could actually sing so well. I also now firmly believe pretty much everything he sings ends up golden – see his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts (which I don’t even like the original of) and One Direction’s Stockholm Syndrome for proof…

What are your thoughts on Harry Styles’ solo music?

Music of the Month: July

For me, the summer so far has been filled with an odd but interesting mix of jazz, pop and things in between. I’ve been to a few festivlas in the last couple of months – one with the Kaiser Chiefs and Scouting for Girls headlining, and a couple of jazz festivals in France and Switzerland, all of which have had an influence on July’s Music of the Month, as well as my friend’s trip to Lollapalooza in Paris and her subsequent insistence of playing half the line up to me…

Anyway, here’s my picks for the last month and a bit, brought to you from a sunny-ish balcony overlooking the Cornish sea…

Tired – Kygo Remix Alan Walker, Gavin James

Here Come The Girls Trombone Shorty

Strip That Down Liam Payne, Quavo

Debora T. Rex

Harlem Shuffle Bob & Earl

Feels Calvin Harris & co.

There For You Martin Garrix, Troye Sivan (shoutout to Troye Sivan for being lovely and liking our British accents when I met him at JFK on the way back from New York woop)

Hole In My Soul Kaiser Chiefs

Dancing In The Breeze Gentleman’s Dub Club

Came Here For Love Sigala, Ella Eyre

Wild Horses – Sam Feldt remix Birdy

Your Song Rita Ora

Perfect Places Lorde

Shape of You – Stormzy Remix Ed Sheeran (guess who’s seeing him live next year wahey ITS A ME, MARIOOO)

Know No Better (feat. Quavo) Major Lazer, Travis Scott

Call Me Over Dusky Grey

Silence Grace Carter

Praying Kesha

Glorious (ft. Skylar Grey) Macklemore

Concrete Tom Odell

As per usual, that playlist got a bit longer than I meant, but if you only could listen to three of those songs, make it Glorious, Call Me Over and Came Here For Love. And Harlem Shuffle because I’ve already proven I can’t stick to short lists. What’ve you been listening to this summer?

Welcoming In The New Era Of Aquilina {collab review}

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A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Eve (who blogs over at Twist In The Taile and is a fellow Lauren Aquilina fangirl, yay) and I got together (well, opened a shared Google Doc) to discuss/flail over newish Lauren Aquilina songs in the name of reviewing them. Yay. We both love Lauren’s old and new stuff (or as we christened them, Old Aquilina and New Aquilina) and so just listening to her music and talking about it together was basically a dream come true. Our fangirling skills were so great that they even extended to technology (“*FLAILS* *REALISES IS FANGIRLING OVER COMPUTER* *REALISES FORGOT TO TAKE CAPS LOCK OFF*” is just one example).
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 And now, amazingly not even that much later given how distracted we got by her other, non-sufficiently-new songs and thinking up questions for her Kicks Twitter Q&A and then flailing wildly when she replied, here are the results of our many hours of hard fangirling…

Ocean

OK, first up was Ocean, which was released way back in October last year. Here are our thoughts on the video…(I’m just gonna copy and paste this pretty much direct so you can get the full effect so sorry if it’s a lil’ jumbled up…)

ME: So…at first i was like wut is this where is she it looks like the blinds are moving but THEN I was like “yass dem cgi skills though” and I LOVED LOVED LOVED the bit when right at the same time as like loads more instruments come in a massive wave comes in (1:51 if you’re interested). YASS THAT TIMING! Also, as usual, I have a massive style crush on her hair. But yeah, generally kinda ethereal vibes and I like the ocean reflection in the mirror near the end. It’s also nice that it links to the lyrics but gives you space to appreciate the song.

EVE: a+ ocean aesthetic. (aah okay wait excitement about fools SAME I just literally love all her songs so much????)  I mean, mostly Lauren’s videos don’t have like massive stories? BUT I LIKE IT LETS ME FOCUS ON THE SONG. And I like the ocean layering, although at the start I thought it was just terrible graphic effects. Like, trying to actually look like they were filling the room with water.

And now song thoughts…

EVE: At first I was a bit worried about WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO LAUREN?? Electronic wow? And I thought it was a bit repetitive. But NOW. Well. *coughs* I loove Ocean; it’s one of my favs! It’s a different style to her old music for sure — like, there’s less of a clearly defined structure I feel? But OCEAN IMAGERY and ‘i lost my head/somewhere between teh surface and the seabed’ eep. It’s super catchy aah.

ME: OK i have a tiny confession…at first I didn’t like this song. Like I listened to it a couple of times then kinda forgot about it because I wasn’t that keen on it. Like you said, it’s very different to her other stuff. BUT NOW, after listening to it again, I like it! JUST LIKE YOU SAID I love “i lost my head somewhere between the surface and the seabed” and also “they call it freedom but how can it be when I live in a time zone unsuited to me”. I feel kinda attached to that lyric because I think she shared it before the whole song??

Anyway I also really like how it kinda starts bare and then the texture builds up and then fades out again? (sorry that’s like classic GCSE music stuff ahaha) but YES NOW I LIKE IT!

EVE: Ah yes that is an excellent point! And one more thing from me ahaha: like I feel like it’s more abstract than such a clear storyline? But yeah more an emotion of the song idek what I’m trying to say haha. And YES  like it

Our rating: 4/5 (but A* for awesome metaphorical lyrics)

Low (also released October 2015)

EVE: Um, I sort of…didn’t like Low AT ALL when I first heard it. It’s probably still my least favourite of like the New Aquilina songs? I just didn’t really like the production that much haha. But, having said that: STILL MEANS I LIKE IT BECAUSE Y’KNOW IT’S COOL And the lyrics are amaazing.I think I agree the video was a bit abstract tho. (Although one take woah.) YES that is a great line eep.

ME: Asdfghjjkl i forgot how much i love this song i haven’t listened to it in too long…I LOVE the like double vocals? Idk what to call it but they’re awesome.Video wise I like that it’s simple and one take and it *kinda* fits with the lyrics but not that much? It’s maybe a bit too abstract though?

Our rating: 4/5

Out Of Our Depth (released in, you guessed it, October 2o15)

ME: OK writing as i think i like the is it guitar? Different instrumentation anyway…I like the chorus but feel like its maybe a bit anticlimactic?  I also like that this is about a relationship but feels like it could also be applied to other stuff (same with kicks tbh).

EVE: I actually love this one so much! I mean it’s not like a ‘main’ single but asdfjkl I think it’s gorgeous okay I need to stop with the superlatives for a bit. OKAY but yeah I think it is less of a big chorus? Hmm I don’t know I do like it though. And yeah, the lyrics are awesome + I think there are a lot of interpretations! I particularly like the kinda echoey piano thing?? Idk what instrument it actually is but yeah. And the drums at the chorus mmm EXCELLENT (oh yes I see what you mean by the guitar! I AM HEARING THAT.) yeah I think that’s it — this is probably like…more of a favourite for me? I mean, I’m saying that but realising I don’t actually know how I’d rate them in terms of fav-> least fav.

Our rating: 4.5/5

Echoes (released December 2015)

(first off we just fangirled excitedly over the bit at the start)

IDK THE INSTRUMENT BUT THE BIT AT THE START

THE LITTLE LIKE UP AND DOWN BIT?

YESSS YES SO GOOD AHHH

I LOVE THAT SO MUCH (*switches onto caps lock*) & I love how it continues throughout + slightly changes!

And then the rest…

Argh I do love echoes soo much. Probably the song I had the best first impression of + then continued to love! Overall I just love echoes a LOT and I think it’s v strong asdfjkl (although like it is upbeat and it took me a while to realise the lyrics haha) same basically haha. I mean I think some songs rely more on lyrics + some on melody? I think Old Aquilina was maybe more lyrics based but I am loving the new era if it’s like echoes asdfjkl.

5/5??? I literally can’t find any faults ahaha i haven’t even thought that much about the lyrics…I think new era is kinda more abstract and metaphorical lyrics?? 

Our rating: 5/5

And then the Tate x Elle session:

I just love that its at the Tate and this version seems to be more focus on the vocals?? I like it it feels kinda calmer…and I love the aesthetics. 

Ooh this version has more audible piano. Yeah I think so too, it’s lovely to hear vocals live. And I feel like maybe less of the ‘background’ vocals if you get me? Very fitting with the black + white Tate aesthetic is what I’m getting haha.

Echoes {Edeema remix}

My thoughts: loving the instrument at the beginning. I mean, it slightly makes me laugh but yeah. & also I like how there isn’t as a much of a buildup to the chorus I guess? It’s just a bit more chill + relaxed. I do kinda miss the little electronic-y bit at the start? But it’s DIFFERENT and COOL. and yeah overall an excellent remix.

I love this, I love the slightly different instrumentation and generally the laid back vibe. I just love it! Yeah I feel like the instrument thing at the start is kinda a nod to that but you’re right, it’s not the same!

Kicks (released April 2016)

[after watching video] *flails* I FEEL SO PUMPED NOW. yesss upbeat video and awesome song. Kicks is definitely more pop-y & the lyrics are less kinda…lyrical ahaha from old aquilina but IT’S POP PERFECTION. Arghhh amazingness. I liked it less on first try (haha sorry I’m just rambling here) but like NOW YAY & THE VIDEOOOOOO

Okay right I love this! YES THE VIDEO IS GREAT and I love that she included fans, only thing is I can see why she made it all girls but idk it feels maybe a little bit unfair to boys,. Makes it less relatable? But i do get that she’s going for the female empowerment thing…also the Asian girl with the plaits is like ultimate hair goals. Yeah this feels really different to all her other music, way more poppy and upbeat…in terms of lyrics i get what you mean but i do love the line i’m done being down about this…positivity yeah!

Idk yeah that was basically my thing. But I guess it’s a girl power message? Oh my god yeah. AMAZING PLAITS. She was very awesome. Yeah there are some awesome lyrics! It’s just like more succinct rather than poetic I suppose?

Yeah I also like the opening instrumental bit but i wasn’t so sure about the slow bit to start with, I think because all the teasers focused on the upbeat chorussy bit?? But overall me gusta mucho, including the vid and album artwork! And i like (this sounds so geeky omg) the perfect videography (idek if that’s the right word) with the timing of some of the punches haha. And I just realised this is one of the first songs that doesn’t have ocean-y artwork! Yep I feel like this is a hint for how some of her new style stuff is gonna be…

I…can’t actually remember if I listened to the teasers? I think I might have got 1 but I don’t have snapchat haha. YES THE ALBUM ARTWORK IS AWEESOME I’m loving the transition from usual kinda face + name + song title ugh helvetica-y fonts yess. & agreed the timing of some of those shots were great!! Oh that’s true — a lot of her previous kinda header singles have had very oceany stuff as well. Overall I think it’s definitely a transition + more upbeat, but it’s an AWESOME upbeat empowerment song.

Our rating: 4.5 or 5/5 with the video

And so I guess that’s it! Big thanks to Eve for joining me for this, it was so much fun 🙂 – you can read her review on her blog here!

Are you a Lauren Aquilina fan? What are your thoughts on our thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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Tracklisting Thursday // Ella Eyre, Ballad-Style

As some of you may know, last Thursday (Bonfire Night, woo!) I went with a friend to see Ella Eyre in a sold out show at Bristol O2 Academy as part of her ‘Feline’ tour. This was my second time seeing her live (the first time being just over a year ago with a different friend, but at the same place), and it was brilliant. I won’t go into too much detail now as I’m planning a full gig review, but rest assured it was awesome!

Ella Eyre live in Bristol, October 2014

Ella Eyre live in Bristol, October 2014

Anyway, as well as playing lots of her typically upbeat songs, Ella also sang a couple of more gentle songs accompanied only by keyboard, which I really enjoyed. I’ve had a couple of them (especially Even If!) stuck in my head ever since, so I thought I’d share those and a few of my other favourites of hers for today’s Tracklisting Thursday!

Even If

Fall Down

Two

Typical Me

Alone Too

Best Of My Love

Home

What’s your favourite Ella Eyre song? Have you seen any artists live recently? Let me know in the comments! 

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Tracklisting Tuesday: Lost Frequencies

I’m afraid this is just a quick post as I’m pretty busy, but I’m just going to flag up a song which I’ve recently become addicted to – Are You With Me, by Lost Frequencies. It’s been on the radio recently, and I LOVE it! I originally thought the artist’s name was ‘Los Frequencies’, which I would almost have preferred – it has a tropical vibe which I like. Anyway, enjoy!

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Tracklisting Tuesday: Together // Ella Eyre

Tracklisting

About two weeks ago, confirmed favourite singer of mine Ella Eyre premiered her next single on BBC Radio 1Xtra with MistaJam, accompanied by a video of collated snippets from her Camden Roundhouse performance last month. As she says in that video, the song is about unity, and how we’re better off together than alone. The official video, filmed in Spain, premiered a couple of hours ago, and features Ella and friends on a road trip. I absolutely love the song and the video’s vibe, and her Roundhouse performance is pretty stunning too! Her energy whilst performing live is just incredible.

What are you favourite new releases? What do you think of ‘Together’ and the accompanying video?

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A-Z: An Inventory Of My Music Library

A-Z- INVENTORY OF MUSIC LIBRARY

For this week’s not-quite-Tuesday Tracklisting Tuesday’s post, I had a dig around in my drafts archives and found a post entitled A-Z of my Music Library. I clearly remember that this post was inspired by someone else’s post I enjoyed, but as this draft was about four months old, I’m afraid I don’t know who’s post it was 😦 (if this may have been your post, do let me know!) UPDATE: I think this was my inspiration 🙂 Thanks to BearNextDoor for letting me use it! As I have so.many.songs on my phone, if I’m faced with a choice, I will probably go for one I haven’t already mentioned on this blog, just for a bit of variety…Also, for the sake of your attention span, I’ll keep this list to songs that I actually own, rather than ones I love-but-am-too-broke-to-buy.

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Ella Eyre: Live In Bristol

So, two weeks and a day ago (I can’t believe it was that long ago!), I went with my friend and dad to see Ella Eyre on tour at the Bristol O2 Academy. Back in August, I had discovered her song ‘Comeback’ and fallen in love with the video, before discovering she was taking her solo tour to Bristol, the closest it was going to get to where I live. I suggested it to my friend and persuaded my dad that he wanted nothing more than to take me to this concert, and a week later the tickets were booked.

We missed her first support act, Joel Baker, as we were paying a visit to a nearby Burger King (I don’t normally go to Burger King, but I’ve now discovered I really like it!) but caught the second one, Seinabo Sey. Seinabo had a rich, powerful voice that certainly had similarities with Ella’s, though I don’t think her songs were as pop-like as Ella’s were. She wasn’t chatty, saying she would ‘let her songs do the talking’. She kept singing through a powercut, even when some audience members yelled that they couldn’t hear her – it’s not like she could do much about it! I probably would have preferred it if she spoke about herself/her music a bit more, but despite being shy I enjoyed some of her music. Here is one of her songs that I enjoyed most and that I can still partially remember! I personally feel that the electronic elements in this song had a smoother transition when played live, but I think that most of the time they meld into the background well.

The venue itself was actually really interesting – there was the ground floor, and then there were stairs up to a balcony, where there was a smaller raised platform at the back. We managed to get in on the second-floor balcony behind some student-age couples, the males of which actively danced along and knew the words to every single song, whilst at times their girlfriends appeared to act as if they’d forgotten they knew them! The venue was fairly full – the ground floor was pretty packed, and although there was space on the second floor, there were points around the balcony where it was two deep.

Ella Eyre then came onstage at 9:15, in an interesting outfit – some kind of leopard print, barely opaque all-in-one jumpsuit thing. She was full of energy, although I feel the start of her set may have been better if she started with a couple more well known songs. As well as performing most of her own songs, she did a cover of Sigma and Paloma Faith’s ‘Changing’, which she actually wrote, and a cover of Jermaine Stewart’s ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’. Songs she performed included ‘Deeper’, ‘Waiting All Night’, ‘Home’, ‘If I Go’, ‘All About You’ and to close the show, ‘Comeback’.

After walking off, she reappeared and asked the crowd if we wanted another song. When a reply came strongly in the affirmative, she announced that she actually had two songs left for us! I can’t remember the first of those two but she finished on ‘Comeback’, which she introduced by saying “Now everyone sing along, because after this one we’re all going home!” – it certainly was satisfying to yell along to!

She was a great performer, and gave us a taste of what’s going to appear on her debut album as well as her previous hits. I ended the night by buying/getting my dad to buy me an incredibly soft-if-big T-shirt, and the arrival back home at gone midnight was well worth it, as was the ticket price taken out of my pocket money. I can’t wait for her album now, and am just as in love with her hair as I was before!

Here are a few videos people near the front put:

‘Changing’:

‘Comeback’ *this one’s explicit*:

‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’:

I actually think the guy that filmed this one was just in front/next to me and my friend…

‘Waiting All Night/Changing’ *yeah, this one’s explicit too*:

This was actually from her Bournemouth show, but replicates pretty clearly her Bristol show.

The only down point of the evening was when we waited outside at the end, but she got immediately put into a car to ‘drive back to London’, apparently – although she had announced that night on Twitter she was going to be meeting people before the show by the merch stand, but that was when the doors opened and we needed to eat something and park first!

My dad, who I’m very grateful to for taking us, was pretty funny – he took his iPad, and whenever we looked up to the platform where he was stood, he was on his iPad or looked to be asleep! Haha 🙂 Thanks dad!

Have you seen anybody live, and have you visited the O2 Academy in Bristol?

An Overthinking Teenager

100 Days of Happiness {day 68} – Jazzing It Up

I had my monthly meeting day for my jazz orchestra yesterday. It was fun! I was a bit nervous, but it was even better than I expected 🙂 The improvisation we did was really fun, and I got on really well with another girl who’s two years older than me. I had two very nice cookies and a biscuit, and one of my all-time favourite lunches, a Waitrose chicken caesar salad.

I was then home alone, so painted my nails and watched four back-to-back episodes of Bad Education (new favourite right over here) and Hannah Montana. Oh yeah 🙂

Mum also finally  allowed me to get Spotify, and in the words of Ronald McDonald, I’m Lovin It 😉

I had a fun day 🙂

An Overthinking Teenager