The One with the trip to Friends Fest

Oh. My. GOD!

*If you didn't just read that in the piercing voice of Janice, you may as well stop reading now.*

I was among the lucky ones who got to visit Friends Fest recently and it was seriously fantastic.  Like, kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic.

The five-day event at Harewood House, Leeds, was attended by fellow Friends fanatics from across the north.

With everything from Monica and Rachel's apartment, to Joey and Chandler's Barcalounger chairs, to Central Perk and Ross and Rachel's Vegas wedding chapel - it was every Friends fan's dream.

There was also Monica's Moondance Diner - where the waiting staff kept bursting into song and dance every time YMCA came on - and Phoebe's grandmother's cab. As well as the chance to recreate the opening title sequence, learn 'the routine' and try some 'mockolate'.

Could it BE anymore exciting?!

A big screen showing snippets from the iconic show took centre stage; and I have never felt more comfortable reciting all the words to each scene than I did when surrounded by fellow super fans.

I imagine this is what comic book fans feel like when they go to Comic-Con.

My family always joke that they could turn the volume off pretty much any episode and I would still be able to recite, word for word, the entire script.

Barely a day goes by when I don't compare some occurrence, event or happening to something in Friends.

"Ah, this is just like that time in Friends when..."

Whether it be blaming the humidity for big hair, like poor Monica when they go to Barbados.

It's the humidity!!!

Or when I know a secret, and someone else doesn't know that I know.

They don't know we know they know we know!

I can't ever hear the country 'Yemen' mentioned without thinking of 15 Yemen Road, Yemen and I always have to smile when I see a trifle (minus the beef, of course).

I couldn't even hazard a guess at how many times I have seen each episode of Friends.  I have had the box set since I went to uni, yet I still watch it on Comedy Central everyday.

It's like I have a sixth sense when Friends is on.  I'm like Ross with his 'unagi' - I'm always aware.

Ahhh, salmon skin roll.

The attention to detail on some of the sets was amazing, right down to the entertainment centre in Joey and Chandler's apartment blocking the bedroom doors and the black and white picture which hangs there.

There was also the wooden canoe, which famously is the only piece of furniture owned by Joey and Chandler after Joey's boo-boo when trying to sell the entertainment centre.

What did the insurance company say?
They said 'you don't have insurance here, so stop calling us!'

There was also the famous football table and, of course, the chick and the duck (in cushion form, unfortunately).

Wouldn't it be cool if a duck and a chick had a baby? It would be called a chuck.

Into Central Perk there was a Phoebe copycat singing all her hits - from Smelly Cat to Sticky Shoes and even the Shower Song.

Little black, little black, little black, little black, little black curly hair.

We got to pose out front, have our photo taken behind the famous counter, and have our photo taken on one of the most famous sofas in the world.

It was all such a blur.  I felt like I'd jumped into my TV.

Monica and Rachel's apartment was, of course, the star attraction.

For here, you had to book an individual time slot when booking your tickets to ensure it wasn't too over-crowded at any one time.

Again, the attention to detail was amazing.

Nestle Toulouse's cookie recipe was pinned to the fridge (aka Phoebe's grandmother's secret chocolate chip cookie recipe), there were binoculars on the desk to keep a watchful eye on Ugly Naked Guy and there was the famous photo that sits above the TV.

The only slightly disappointing thing was that things had to be glued down.  I'm not kidding.

The cookies, the teapot and the cups were all glued down to the kitchen table.  One of the staff members said this was because people were stealing them, which makes me really sad.

As much as I would love some exclusive memorabilia, I wouldn't take to stealing things.  Especially when things in the shop weren't that expensive.  I got a hoodie for £25 which I thought was really reasonable.  When I've been to some concerts and events I've paid that just for a rubbish programme filled with posey pictures.  Any clothing items are usually well north of £40.

One of my favourite moments inside Monica and Rachel's apartment is when Monica is teaching Chandler about the seven erogenous zones.

Seven, seven, seven, seven, seven..!

When we had our photo taken on the sofa, I held up seven fingers like Monica does in the end of that scene.  Tom, bless him, was unsure of what I was doing so the picture didn't really work out.

Unfortunately, my Friends nerdy-ness just proved too much for him on that occasion.

Although, saying that, Tom demonstrated some Friends geekiness of his own.

Just as we were about to leave home to go he shot off upstairs to get changed.

"I'm dressing as my favourite Friends character from my favourite episode," he shouted down to me.

Being the dutiful, knowledgeable fiancee that I am, I straight away knew what this was.

His favourite Friends episode is The one with the Rumor (rumour, if you're British) - aka the Brad Pitt episode.

I wondered how he was going to suddenly transform himself into Brad Pitt, but he had it all under control.  He'd googled Brad Pitt in that episode and had found an outfit which was almost identical to Brad's.

It was then a case of, when in Monica and Rachel's apartment, recreating a moment from that episode.  Tom chose the bit where he is leaning near the fridge giving evils to Rachel across the apartment.

Come on Will, just take off your shirt and tell us!

So, here it is:

The only thing missing for me was Ross' apartment, I would've loved to have recreated his 'I'm fine' breakdown.

Eeeeee, is for how extremely normal I find it that you two are together.

Of course the sets weren't all the 'real thing', which was a bit disappointing.  I'm not even sure if they will still exist, to be honest.  If they do, I doubt they would fly them over to the UK from America, then take them on tour around the country.  They were a very close copy and it was so exciting to have my photo taken in some of the most famous fictional locations ever.

The whole event was really well organised, I have to say.

By every possible photo opportunity was a member of staff poised and ready to take your photo.  When recreating the opening title sequence the staff were happy to take photos on your own phones/cameras.  At many places there would be 'professional' photographers taking photos and charging you an arm and a leg for a copy; with no option to take your own.  So I thought this was really good.

Ross and Rachel's Vegas wedding chapel was fabulous, with the wedding dresses and Joey's Viking hat.

We got a dry-run at our post-wedding photos as we dressed up.  I think you'll agree from the photos we still need a bit of practice.


The 100 day countdown is on until the most wonderful time of the year

It's 100 days until the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas!

The Christmas period starts long before December 25, but the big day itself is now just 100 days away. It doesn't feel like five minutes since last Christmas; a scary yet exciting thought.

Mince pies, tubs of Celebrations and advent calendars are already sneaking their way onto the supermarket shelves; and it won't be long before festive adverts start being slipped in between Corrie.

I love Christmas. I love spending quality time with family and friends but, most of all, I love giving people presents. I love spending time thinking about what to buy, choosing the perfect gift, and then the excitement of handing it over. I'm literally like that little kid on the John Lewis advert from a few years ago.

I love when the nights draw in and you can get snuggled at home with candles lit. I love the smell that fills the house when you dig all the Christmas decorations out. I love that big tins of chocolates are an essential part of the furniture throughout December. And I love pigs in blankets. I'm literally like Buddy the Elf - I LOVE Christmas.

When X Factor started last month, I felt that warm Christmassy feeling in my tummy when the theme tune started. As Christmas draws closer, the X Factor always steps up so the theme tune is just like a Christmas song.

Last year we were super keen and committed, in my eyes, a cardinal sin when we put our trees and decorations up before December. Only by one day, I may add, but I've always maintained that Christmas can't start until December 1st.

I start getting excited for Christmas as soon as autumn hits, but I always hold out on unleashing full festivity until December 1st. Usually...

As soon as December is underway, and the advent calendar is out, so too can come the tree, decorations, and Christmas songs. It becomes acceptable to watch Elf, The Polar Express, The Grinch and all the other fun, festive films. This year we'll (try) and stick it out until he first weekend in December - which is when I'd always put the decorations up when I was at mum & dad's.

But that doesn't stop me getting excited about it before December.

We're coming into my favourite time of year now - the leaves turning orange, the air getting cooler, her nights getting darker. Snuggly, knitted jumpers; hot chocolate; roaring fires; boots; bonfire night... I just love it.

It helps that autumn is also birthday season: my best friend, my mum, my brother, my dad and mine. All in an eight week period. SO much cake!

Then we get my favourite night of the year - bonfire night. And before you know it, the Christmas lights are being switched on in town and Father Christmas is taking up his weekend spot in Wetherells. (If you're not from Selby, Wetherells is our local department store where Santa has a grotto throughout December.)

Everyone will start dreaming of snow, and refuse to face the realisation that a white Christmas is never going to happen; Mariah will be blasted out in department stores; shopping centres will become like no man's land on a weekend; and men will still leave their shopping until Christmas Eve.

Every year I say I am going to be organised with my Christmas shopping and start it early.  But, every year, I still do it all in one go on my annual Christmas shopping trip with my best friend.  Spreading the cost always seems like such a good idea, but then I end up spending twice as much because I forget what I have bought.

This year's Christmas is made even more special as it's my last as a Derham. My last Christmas before I become a married woman. And, once Christmas is out of the way, the countdown to the wedding will well and truly be on.

Yep, 100 days until the world wakes up wondering if 'he's been'. 99 days until we all gaze up at the sky, still hoping that the magic of Christmas will shine through and we'll see Father Christmas and his reindeer flying above.

100 days until we all gather round the table with our loved ones and reflect on the year gone by and all the exciting things to come. Pulling crackers, eating turkey and drinking mulled wine.

I noticed earlier this month that Morrisons had already started selling mince pies, for those who want to be really organised. The downside? They went out of date long before Christmas. Now, I love a mince pie, but with the weather we've been having this week it wouldn't feel right eating one while sitting sweating my C-cups off.

If only there was an advent calendar to count down these 100 days, rather than 24. I would definitely be on board with purchasing one of those!


I'm going to look like a disco ball at every possible opportunity

I planned on writing this post a few weeks ago after I had actually been shopping but a serious kidney infection got in the way & I ended up in hospital. Thanks to that little stay, though, everything still has the tags on and is brand new, so my attempt at a 'fashion' blog post can continue.

A trip to Meadowhall for some window shopping (lol) saw me leave with all things metallic.

I didn't realise I was so obsessed until I did typical home from shopping photo with everything laid out on my bed. I say 'everything', my shiny/metallic haul was two tops and a pair of heels, but for someone who wasn't even going to buy anything while shopping, that's plenty.

Working our way round Meadowhall we started in River Island and worked our way to Primark.

I learnt the hard way to not buy the first thing I see in River Island until I've seen if Primark do a similar piece. And that's what happened this time.

This pretty pink top had a twin in RI, at a much steeper price than the £8 I paid. I also got some smart jeans to wear with it, so it can be dressed up or just worn with leggings.

Continuing my shiny/metallic obsession, and also my impressive Primark haul, was these absolute beauties.

At just £12 they're an absolute bargain!!! When I came out of hospital I just laid in bed wearing them - it's amazing how much better they made me feel.

I can't wait for their first outing!

I also got a 'very me' top, which would go perfectly with the beaut shoes.

It was a Zara buy and is perfect for all those nights out I never go on anymore... Ha! It will be my go-to top the next one, whenever that is, that's for sure.

It was my most expensive buy of the whole day - in which I only spent £50 - but it's just so pretty.

Before the other weekend I hadn't bought new clothes in aaaages. Saving for a wedding has cutdown my shopping habits dramatically. So it was beaut to get some shiny (literally) new purchases ahead of my favourite season in the year - Autumn!!

Our big fat Yorkshire wedding

I haven't mentioned the 'w' word for a while, in fact, I haven't really indulged in much wedding-related activities since I got my wedding dress at the start of the summer.

Since going wedding dress shopping and choosing my wedding dress - and after a recommendation by my best friend - I've become obsessed with Say Yes to the Dress UK. I'd watched the American one before going dress shopping but I wasn't totally sold on it.

The UK one, though, I love.

After seeing my dress on a recent episode, I was so SO excited. Not as excited, though, as I would be if I were Greek.

Yep, another recent ep of Say Yes to the Dress UK featured a Greek woman, who was having a big, traditional Greek wedding.

She wanted a huge princess style dress with a massive skirt. Not because she wanted to feel like Cinderella, but because of the Greek traditional money dance.

They had me at money dance.

Apparently, it's tradition at Greek weddings to pin money on the newlyweds. That's right, it's a literal money dance. And the bride wanted such a big skirt because the bigger the skirt, the more money they can fit on it.


I googled this, to see if it was in fact true, and oh my lord it was amazing.

The woman on Say Yes to the Dress UK said with a big dress, they could get tens of thousands of pounds pinned on it. That could pay for the wedding, the honeymoon and a new wardrobe of clothes for said honeymoon. Probably still with some change.

It was with this in mind that I started looking into mine & Tom's heritage, just incase either of our ancestors were Greek. Unfortunately the nearest we could get is family holidays to Greece/the Greek islands. We're looking at more of a Big Fat Yorkshire Wedding, rather than a Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I have to say, though, I'm not sure I'd be happy with people sticking pins in my wedding dress. I get angry when the cat snags my Primark top, never mind if someone pin-pricked my wedding dress! I'm also not sure I'd feel entirely comfortable dancing and people throwing money at me.

I say all of this but if anyone does want to toss any notes our way during our first dance, do feel free.

I knew I'd always loved the Greek people and Greek culture.


I've been M.I.A recently, but I'm back!

I've been saying for months now how much I need a holiday, but an all inclusive mini break in York Hospital is not exactly what I had in mind. You've probably not noticed I've been absent from blogging but, if you have, that's why.

Yep, unfortunately I've been a bit under the weather recently.  After being hit with a severe kidney infection I ended up being admitted as an emergency to York Hospital last Friday. Not exactly the chilled bank holiday weekend that Tom and I had in mind.

A six-hour wait to be admitted/seen didn't do a lot to help my situation, but that was not the fault of the doctors and nurses who were working their little legs off to see to us. Sixteen new admissions came onto the ward I was on last Friday, it was so busy.

Nurses who weren't even supposed to be working were called in to help. They were frantic, despite feeling like death warmed up I still felt so sorry for them being so stretched.

By the time I was finally seen, my temperature was nearly 40 degrees and I was not at all well. Suddenly two doctors and four nurses rushed to my bedside and were poking and prodding me, doing tests, and the works.

I was rushed off for middle of the night x-rays and felt they were waiting for me to fall asleep so they could wake me up to change my IV or test something else.

After my consultant expressed worries about my appendix, a CT scan revealed that was all ok and it was just my right kidney that was swollen and inflamed. He said the kidney was trying to resist the treatment and the antibiotics, so they needed to keep me on the drip and keep them really strong to attack it.

I don't really have too much luck with infections.

Five years ago I was admitted to hospital after my doctors missed a chest infection and I ended up getting pneumonia. Again, that was concentrated to my right side.  I have a lovely scar on my back from where they had to operate to drain fluid from my lungs and reinflate it.

I also had a bone tumour removed from my right knee in 2007.

My right side doesn't have all too much luck, really...

After a five day stay, some questionable meals, and one really noisy lady in the bed opposite, I was finally allowed home. Due to the lack of sleep when in hospital, it felt like I'd been in there for weeks.

The only positive to my stay was the inevitable weight loss. Although, I've perhaps lost more weight than I would have liked. I'm now almost half a stone below my Slimming World target weight!!

Tom was an absolute diamond while I was in, and has been even more amazing since I've come out. I still feel a bit groggy and get really tired really easy, but Tom has just taken care of everything.

He's been cooking, cleaning, washing - the works. He won't even let me feed the cats! I've also had lovely messages/cards from my wonderful family and friends. My living room smells amazing from all the beautiful flowers I've received.

Hopefully that's me done with illnesses and hospitals now. I have the next week off work and, since I can't seem to do a right lot without needing a nap, I'm hoping to put my time to good use and write some blogs.

So watch this space you lovely lot!