How to ‘do’ Brussels on a budget (ish)

I’m a journalist in my mid 20s who lives in London. Not a combination which traditionally implies lots of disposable income!

Yet everyone needs a holiday sometimes, so my boyfriend Frazer and I whizzed away to Brussels for three nights at the end of September.

We got (I think) fairly good prices for our travel and accommodation, and spent less than €150 when we were out there, which could easily have been reduced further if we’d not brought back gifts for our catsitters or sampled plenty of beer.

In fact, we loved Brussels even more than Paris, which for many UK travellers seems to be the pinnacle of European city breaks.

Here are a few tips on how to enjoy Brussels without spending half your savings.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a gif review

The most hyped up show in London’s West End at the moment is undoubtedly Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.

Tickets have been booked up more than a year in advance. There’s a script book for Potter fans so those who can’t make it into London can get stuck into the story too. There’s a #keepthesecrets campaign to stop spoilers spreading uncontained across the internet.

But does the play actually live up to expectations?

I went to see it on Sunday October 15, 2017 after booking tickets in August 2016 and I have quite mixed feelings. Here they are, represented mostly in gif form.

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Why we can’t let the terrorists win in London, Brussels, and around Europe

I live in London and I’m going on a city break to Brussels this month.

I got thinking about this after two police officers outside Buckingham Palace in London were injured by a man with a large knife on the same night (August 25) that soldiers on patrol in Brussels were attacked, also by a knifeman.

Both incidents are being treated as suspected acts of terrorism.

These events follow horrific incidents in recent months and years throughout Europe, in places that feel very close to home. London, Brussels, Manchester, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Stockholm and Berlin have all been targeted.

Brussels_after_the_attacks_(4)
Tributes in Brussels after terrorist attacks in March 2016

But we can’t let the terrorists change our way of lives; that’s what they want. We must keep doing what we want to do in our home cities and go on holidays, supporting our fellow Europeans and their cultures and economies.

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Yes, the new Taylor Swift song sounds bitter as hell – so what?

Anyone with internet access has probably noticed that Taylor Swift dropped the first single off her first album in three years this week – Look What You Made Me Do.

Response to it, from what I’ve seen on Twitter and various news sites, has been extremely mixed.

It’s thought to be an obvious revenge track aimed at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian after their much-documented feud (and possibly also at Katy Perry too, thanks to all their ‘Bad Blood’).

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Yes, journalists do still use shorthand – and here’s why

I’m a huge fan of McFly but Tom Fletcher, singer and guitarist, has annoyed me today.

It’s all because of this story about a disabled student who’s been told he would not be able to pass a Scottish journalism qualification as he is unable to do shorthand.

I get the uproar about this. I think that Kyle should be able to get a qualification – just perhaps with the caveat on it that it does not include shorthand, since employers will otherwise assume that his certificate will encompass that too.

He’s a teenager with cerebal palsy and journalism desperately needs more diversity, not less, so give him a chance to cut his reporting chops and get a slightly altered qualification. We don’t want to keep a good journalist out of the field just because of shorthand.

But that’s not what’s spurred me on to write this blog. Tom Fletcher chipped in with this:

“I can’t even remember the last time I saw a journalist use shorthand,” he said.

Well that’s probably because you haven’t been to a court hearing or a council meeting recently.

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Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks tour – 10 years on from teenage fandom

Kate Nash’s debut album, Made of Bricks, was definitely one of the big albums of my formative years, having been released when I was the tender yet crucial age of 15.

Almost three years later, her second album, My Best Friend is You, was released just a few months after I passed my driving test and I remember driving round listening to Paris and Do-Wah-Doo in the sun.

But of course it’s Foundations, and the more twee Mouthwash and Birds, that captivated me first. We Get On was great teenage crush fodder, and every single song on that album had something to connect to.

So when Kate announced a 10th anniversary tour for Made of Bricks this summer, playing the whole album, I just had to go – even though I’d seen her during a more shouty phase in York in 2013 and hadn’t been quite so enamoured. (I still thought she was awesome and girl power-y though).

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International Cat Day and why I love my job

Not every job would let you go and pet cats at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor on a Tuesday afternoon!

International Cat Day was the perfect opportunity to organise this – the day was trending on social media all day and we had incredible success earlier in the day asking people to send in photos of their cats on the Get Surrey Facebook page. I’m sure the fact I put a photo of my beautiful cat, Shanti, on the post made it all the more attractive to readers 😉

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