A weekend in Leeds

Since moving to London, every visit home feels like it’s own mini stay-cation. Even more so when everything seems to be changing and developing in Yorkshire. This weekend we was back visiting Leeds/Wakefield and this is what we got up to.

Friday

Most of our visits seem to be flying visits with only a day or two to spare so we endured to make the most of having an extra day home. The main reason we travelled this weekend was in the hope of getting tickets to a local football derby. As that was unsuccessful we opted to head into Leeds to Shooters Sports Bar. I also combined this with seeing my girls so managed to grab a few drinks in the slug and lettuce first.

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Enjoying my 2-4-1 Pink Gin Spritz!

As we had reserved our table for Shooters we had a set menu to choose from. Our choice, priced at £20 per head included 2 cans of either cider or beer and a burger and fries. From there we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the match on sofas in front of the huge screen.

After the match we even stayed back a little bit to have a go on the shuffleboard table. Needless to say I made up part of the winning team!

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Shuffleboard champions

Saturday

As it’s Tom’s birthday next week I also decided to treat him to an early birthday present. For years I’ve wanted to visit the Kitty Cafe in Nottingham so the second I saw that they had opened one in Leeds I booked us in for this weekend.

We decided to head into town a little early as I also wanted to take Tom to George’s British Kitchen. I had first come across this bar on Facebook, paid it a visit when I was in Leeds last May and instantly fell in love. They offer so many incredible amazing cocktails, 5 of which are themed after classic sweets. Some of their cocktails come garnished with candy floss and they have 4 pages of gins to their menu!

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Enjoying a refresher cocktail at George’s

After this we headed up to the Kitty Cafe. Upon entry we were given a set of rules to read and adhere to and we payed the £6 welfare fee per person. All the cats/kittens in the cafe are rescue and available for adoption. The £6 helps to ensure that they are thoroughly looked after, micro-chipped, neutered etc. as they charge nothing for adoption.

We were then shown to our table, given the menus and given a few moments to choose the food. For a venue that isn’t technically all about food the menu is impressive. With over 12 cakes to choose from, gluten free and vegan options and food such as pizza, panninis and baked potatoes, the options are a-plenty. Once you’ve placed your order you’re free to roam the cafe as you wish.

The space has been kitted out impeccably. There’s so much for the kittens to get up to. The staff are always on hand to point out who is who as well as tell you loads of information about the place. Just from talking to one of the waitresses we were able to find out that the cats have a special “quiet zone” they can go to if it gets too much where they have specialist trained cat handlers. This is also the space they go to eat/sleep so if you see any of them disappearing to the back this is where they are headed. Pumpkin was our personal favourite, a tiny ginger kitten who had a particular penchant for Tom’s shoe laces!

Kitten chaos in the Kitty Cafe

Do you have any favourite places in Leeds or you home town?

NG x

Shooters Sports Bar

George’s British Kitchen

The Kitty Cafe

Finding my personality in my underwear?*

If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering new brands and supporting them. So when Scrumpies of Mayfair offered me the chance to sample their product I was delighted. Even more so for the fact that they are a local (London) based brand.

About the brand

A life long dream of a husband and wife Ian and Vicki, they retired from their work as corporate lawyers to live out their dream, creating unique and truly stunning underwear designed to be more like works of art. The name is derived from “to scrump” the mischievous British tradition of stealing apples from the orchard – as if you even needed more proof of their British heritage. That isn’t where the apple reference ends. Each pair of Scrumpies is named after a brand of apple; pink lady, gala, golden delicious, well you get the idea. Each pair also has it’s own “personality” to help you choose your best fit.

The packaging

Each pair of Scrumpies comes in the most beautiful box in a shade of blue that can only be compared to a well known jewellery brand. Luxurious indeed. Perhaps one of the even more unique features of your Scrumpies is the adorable apple charm that comes with it. The charm can be worn on the underwear themselves or you could perhaps even add it to your key ring. This combined with the luxury packaging and included invitation really help make you feel like you’re part of an exclusive club. Which is exactly what you are – you’re now a Scrumpies Girl.

The underwear

I personally went for the Northern Lights design. Iceland is the top of my travel list so naturally these jumped out at me. They’re a french kicker style which I love and the blending blue and green colours are simply captivating. They’re made with a silk chiffon and have three crystal buttons as an opening on the side. They feel incredible to the touch and the tiny crystals on them simply add to the mystical magic – perfectly suiting the northern lights theme. The accompanying charm is made from sparkling Czech crystals in a beautiful blue sapphire. I opted for these simply for my Iceland travel goals but I could have happily chosen any of the pairs on offer! They have an extensive sizing guide on the website to ensure you get the perfect fit for you.

A proud Scrumpies Girl with my charm on my keys

 

It’s needless to say, Ian and Vicki have excelled at creating exactly what they set out to do. Every pair of Scrumpies is a true work of art and feel so unique. It feels great to be a Scrumpies Girl! Whether you’re like me and dream of Iceland or you want some new underwear with a personality to match yours, Scrumpies of Mayfair have you covered.

You can also follow their social media @ScrumpiesLDN

NG x

*The item in this post was gifted to me for free in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. 

6 places to get in the Christmas spirit in London

The first snowflake has officially fallen and the advent calendar windows are starting to be opened but if after all of that you’re still missing some Christmas magic, here are some of my favourite FREE places in London to help get you in the Christmas spirit:

Regent Street

Once again Regent Street have their beautiful angel Christmas lights that sparkle and glow magnificently. Nothing makes me feel more in the Christmas spirit. For true Christmas magic  follow the angels all the way to Hamleys and tap into your inner child (it is Christmas after all).

Carnaby Street

Just tucked behind Regent Street is the magnificent Carnaby Street where you can experience a different kind of Christmas. This year they have opted for a Christmas carnival theme. With birds of paradise and all the bright colours you could imagine. Pay the spectacular Choccy Woccy Doo-Dah a visit and get some Christmas chocolate inspiration. Or if beauty is your thing, get lost in the likes of Benefit, Urban Decay, Mac and Too Faced for all your Christmas wish-list dreams.

 

Liberty London

Also just off Carnaby street is Liberty London. Founded over 142 years ago it is one of the oldest and most spectacular department stores in the country. With its mock-Tudor exterior and dramatic window display it’s enough to get that warm fuzzy feeling and that’s before you’ve even visited the 4th floor. Take the lift to their Christmas shop for unique Liberty gifts and stunning tree decorations. They have everything. Think personalised baubles for your pet to stunning peacock tree decorations. It’s near impossible to resist them all.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Whilst it may not be the largest Christmas market in London, year on year it becomes one of my favourites. At any time of year there is something special about Leicester square, so add some Christmas magic and you have a truly beautiful mix. Be sure to check out the craft stalls and the mini pancakes to feel truly Christmassy.

 

 

WinterVille – Clapham junction

Think of it as almost a mini winter wonderland. Whilst not as spectacular, it’s certainly cheaper and far less crowded. With a bouncing beer tent, ice skating and alcoholic hot chocolate on offer it is certainly not one to be missed.

And finally…

Oxford Street

For me, it’s the epitome of Christmas in London. There is no greater feeling than stepping off the tube at Bond street station and seeing beautiful lights wherever you look. Year on year the window displays set it apart from your normal London shopping street. Be sure to check out “Moz” in John Lewis and the neon “with love” at Selfridges for a true feeling of Christmas.

10 Things I’ve learnt after a year in London

  1. Cheesy chips and gravy? Not a thing. *GASP* I know. Chips and gravy can be a struggle and cheesy chips are still a novelty in some places. Save this for home/returning to the North – especially if you’re aware of The Pie Shop.
  2. That bag you’re seeing EVERYWHERE? It’s a Longchamp tote.
  3. There will never be a good time to shop on Oxford Street so don’t try it. Try one of the Westfield centres instead or even better, the shopping centre at Canary Wharf – bliss.
  4. Build up your alcohol tolerance as you’ll need it. Get used to weekend day drinking starting with boozy brunches, weekend evening drinking, mid-week drinks, Prosecco Thursdays. That no drinking on a school night idea? Gone by week 2.

    Less than a week living in LDN and already exploring bars

  5. Tiger is the greatest shop on earth.
  6. Become a RTC (reduced to clear) ninja so you can pounce at the supermarket. Get to know the RTC staff if you have to so you know when the good stuff goes out or you’ll be left with a single yoghurt and some flavoured cottage cheese.
  7. Learn to pronounce stations. There’s nothing worse than a Londoner looking down on you ’cause you say Hol-Born.
  8. The number of Prets outweigh Greggs 2:1 so savour your sausage rolls when you do find them.
  9. You’ll flock to fellow northerners like a homing beacon – getting exceptionally excited when you hear another northern accent.
  10. As much as The North seems miles away, you wouldn’t trade living in The City.

        A beautiful view from Greenwich Hill

NG x

Northern Girl on… my body image story – Update 4

It’s that time again! Another whole month since I last updated you on my body positivity and my mental health. 

So what’s new since my last update 

1. I’ve started an exercise plan that I’m sticking to and enjoying.

2. I’ve started tracking meals which is forcing me to make conscious decisions about my food (and also saying f*ck it occasionally since it’s allowed).

3. I’ve started a nutrition and health qualification which has helped me understand what my body needs.

4. I invested in the skinny coffee club – Don’t judge. I had my reasons.

5. I’ve turned pescatarian.

But it hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. It’s been another up and down month. As part of my new exercise programme I decided to treat myself to some new exercise leggings and cropped top. I was on such a high when I bought a size 8 bottom and they actually felt baggy! I’d gotten so used to buying size 10 jeans that this was huge. Then in the same moment I’d be mid HIIT workout disgusted at the fat rolls that would appear mid v-sit or that would hang during other exercises.

New gym gear that I love

I wore a crop top to work and felt great. Then I saw my reflection in a dlr train and literally hated myself. I spent the 10 minute walk home cursing myself for thinking I could do such a thing. All I could think about was how many people must have seen me and thought to themselves “she shouldn’t be wearing a crop top.” Would I have thought the same if I’d seen me? The chances are that nobody thought that, but I couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t wait to get out of these clothes and put on a baggy t-shirt and escape those horrible thoughts.

Generally I’ve definitely spent more of this month feeling low about my body and I definitely can’t really recall many highs. It’s been exhausting but I have to say in a lot of other aspects I’ve been on a high. I’m probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time. My health is in the best place it’s been in a while thanks to going back pescatarian and I’m finally having regular scans to get the diagnosis I need. Here’s to hoping I can just work on the body positivity a bit more.

Post HIIT home work out. Taking my fitness seriously 

Until next month! Ng x

Northern Girl on… The Barbican Conservatory

One of London’s more secret attractions, not many people know that The Barbican centre has a conservatory that is open to the public and free to visit. Located on the third floor, the conservatory is home to some of the most amazing plants, fish and even turtles.

The plants wind through the conservatory past the fish ponds where you can take in all the varieties from pepper trees to banana plants and even the papaya plant. It then takes you up the stairs for beautiful views of the whole conservatory where you get to see the two varieties of turtles en route to the cactus room. 

If you get chance afternoon tea is a must. The food looked absolutely amazing and you’ll be hard pressed to find afternoon tea in a more picturesque and unique environment. 

Or if you’re on a budget, pack your own sandwiches and take them out to the stunning ground floor courtyard where you can sit by the water and soak up the sunshine.

The conservatory is open every Sunday 12pm-5pm (last entry 4:30) until the end of September with the exception of the 20th August and 10th September where it is closed for private events. Full information and afternoon tea booking can be found at www.barbican.org/visitor-information/conservatory

NG x

 

Northern Girl on… Ways to make more money (without getting a second job)

Adulting is hard. No matter what you do for a living you never seem to have enough money. Even if its just to keep up the clothes/beauty/Starbucks addiction the paycheck never seems to quite make it and even more so in London! Luckily I’ve found a few ways of making a bit of extra cash even while working full time.

One of those ways is market research. Since moving to London I’ve made a little extra cash in various market research projects. So how do you get involved?

There are various companies who offer market research projects:

Podengo – This is where I’ve probably had most of my market research projects come from. You can find out their projects from their Facebook page and by joining their mailing list. They have projects all over the country and there really is something for everyone. The projects vary and can include online communities, uploading pictures/videos or attending group discussions. Some will be paid with money and others might be rewarded in Amazon vouchers. You have to sign up for each project individually but if you meet the criteria they’ll call you to book you in on one of the sessions.

Angelfish – Similar to podengo they have a wide range of projects all over the country. Each project has its own register questionnaire so unlike podengo you know straight away if you haven’t quite made the criteria. They also offer a refer a friend scheme so if you don’t make the selection but you recommend someone who does you’ll receive an amazon voucher as a thank you. You can access their projects from their Facebook page and by email referrals.

A recent project involved blind tasting 6 alcoholic beverages

Market force – probably the smallest monetary value for market research but they have a lot of projects in shops/restaurants where they will reimburse you the value of the purchase and pay you a bit more for completing the task. Its probably the easiest form to complete to sign up as you often just have to read the assignment notes and answer a few questions but some will require you to watch videos. Once you’ve completed the visit you often have to complete a short questionnaire and photograph your receipt but that’s it. It pays to provide high quality information though as you get a point score. The higher the score, the more projects you get access to. They also have a great feature where you can tell them when you’ll be travelling as they have a lot of projects in airports that require you to be airside in order to complete them.

Brainsights – Originally Canadian based, this company have branched out to London. It’s a little bit more secretive than other projects as I’m still not entirely sure where the data goes but you can get paid for attending a central London location and watching 45 minutes of content whilst wearing a brain scanner it really is that easy! They regularly run the sessions so once you’re registered with them they’ll email you inviting you to more sessions.

Universities – A lot of the universities offer small incentives to go in and test out a product or feature. Yet to carry this out myself, I’ve heard of stories of being paid £10 for going in and tasting a chocolate and writing what you thought about it. Most of the universities use the same SONA system so just search SONA + your local university.

Fiverr / Fivesquid – perfect for those who are really good with tech etc. Its basically a “service” selling website for pretty much anything. Excellent Donald Trump impersonator? You can make money from that. SEO whizz? You can make money from that. Nutrition expert? Well you get the picture. You’re responsible for setting your own budget and you grow your profile through reviews from people who have used your services. Again not something I’ve actually tried out myself but I’m certainly hoping to in the not so distant future. 

YouGov – I actually only discovered this recently following a post published on the 10  ways Facebook page (check out the post here on why they’re a Facebook timeline staple) but YouGov conduct surveys on various topics such as politics, entertainment, public figures etc. The info is usually used on shows where they’ve asked a sample of people. You get survey requests emailed to you and they take around 10 minutes to complete. For each survey you get points until you have enough for £50. It’s been known to take quite a long time to earn enough points for the money but if you don’t mind the time it’s a very easy way to make £50.

UK Transcription – If you fancy yourself as a dab hand at transcribing you could get involved in UK transcription. They’re the go to place for people wanting their audio files transcribed. You’ll be put through a couple of tests and trials to ensure you’re up to scratch but once you’re through you’ll be able to select work that works around you. Just head to the transcription jobs page on their website.

Do you have any tips for making some extra cash? Leave me a comment and let me know NG x

Northern Girl on… Weekly food/exercise diary 

With a holiday to Cyprus and bikini wearing looming I recently signed up to a weekly hiit class and ran a Twitter poll asking if I should document week 1 of my (hopefully) reformed healthy lifestyle and you guys voted yes! So here it is… 

Monday:

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs and tomato, yoghurt granola pot.
  • Lunch: jerk chicken salad with itsu chilli prawn crackers
  • Snack – grenade carb killer protein flapjack (before tennis)
  • Dinner: protein chicken singapore noodles with added sweetcorn
  • Water: 4 litre
  • 1 x black coffee

Exercise:

  • 200 squats
  • 1 hour of tennis
  • 10 squat jumps 
  • 22,386 steps 

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: scrambled egg and cherry tomatoes
  • Lunch: Jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad
  • Dinner: 2 x grilled chicken breasts with greens and cajun seasoning 
  • Dark chocolate choc ice
  • 3 x black coffee
  • 2 litre water 
  • 1 x gin and slimline tonic

Exercise

  • 200 squats
  • 7200 steps 

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: 2 plain croissants and tropical fruit pot
  • Lunch: jacket potato with low fat cheddar and spinach side salad
  • 1 x pack Ritz crisp and thins
  • Dinner: 2x tortilla wrap pizzas with low fat cheese
  • 2 x black coffee
  • 2l water
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 x gin and tonic 

Exercise:

  • 200 squats
  • 16,300 steps

    Thursday: 

    • Breakfast: Myprotein chocolate pancakes with mixed berries and sweet freedom choc shot syrup
    • Lunch: jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad
    • Dinner: nachos with guacamole
    • 1 x Cadbury hot chocolate
    • 2 x black coffee
    • 2l water

    Exercise 

    • 200 squats
    • 7500 steps

      Friday:

      • Breakfast: myprotein chocolate protein pancakes with chopped strawberries and sweet freedom choc syrup
      • Lunch: jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad 
      • Dinner: Wahaca street food and churros
      • 1 x black coffee 
      • 2l water
      • 1 x corona
      • 1 x G&T
      • 1 x red bull speedboat cocktail

        Exercise 

        • 120 squats
        • 12,000 steps 

          Saturday:

          • Breakfast: 2 x slices of cheese on toast
          • Lunch: gluten free sausage rolls with side salad
          • Dinner: gluten free lasagne with curley fries 
          • Grapes 
          • Handful of dark chocolate chips
          • 1 x black coffee
          • 2l water

          Exercise 

          • 1 x hour yoga
          • 2km run
          • 8000 steps 

          Sunday:

          • Breakfast: protein pancakes with dark chocolate chips and strawberries 
          • Lunch: broccoli and cheese quiche with salad
          • Dinner: homemade fajitas
          • 1 x black coffee 
          • 2l water 

            Exercise:

            • 3km run
            • 30 mins yoga
            • 7000 steps 

            The Northern girl’s money diaries – week 8 with Abbey!

            Hi! My name is Abbey, I’m a 22 year old student and blogger over at www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk. My blog is a real mix of everything – from books and beauty to fashion and days out! I’ve just finished my Masters degree but I’m not completely done with education yet, as I’m starting my PHD in September. I’m very used to living on a student budget after all this time, so I was very excited to be offered the chance to feature in Chloe’s money series. Keep reading to find out where I splash (and save!) my cash…


            MONTHLY EXPENDITURE:
            Rent:
             £558

            Bills / Utilities: Included with my rent

            Loans: I’m not paying back my student loan yet as I’m not earning regularly

            Memberships / Subscriptions: N/A

            Socialising / Leisure: Average £80

            Food: Average £80

            QUESTIONS:
            1. What does a typical week look like for you? I have just finished my Masters Degree and I’m currently still living in my uni accommodation as my rent is paid until the end of July. A typical week for me during my degree would include the regular mix of studying, attending lectures, writing essays, and that all important down-time. Thankfully, I don’t have any day-to-day travel expenses as I walk everywhere (Oxford is quite a small city!). My hobbies include reading, going out with friends, and blogging – most of which aren’t that expensive! However, if I go away to visit friends or to attend blogger events, transport can get pricey as I’m reliant on bus / train travel – but thankfully the coach into London is only £14 for a student ticket, which really isn’t that bad!

            2. What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over? I used to be a massive clothes shopper but I’ve grown out of that a bit now! Gone are the times when I’d regularly splurge all my pocket money in Primark! These days, food is probably by guilty spend! I really enjoy going out for breakfast (there’s an amazing breakfast place just a 15 minute walk away from me in Oxford and their pancakes are to die for!), and there’s always the temptation of a packet of chocolate biccies in the supermarket as well! But hey, eating is essential, right?!

            3. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? 
            My recent expensive purchase has actually been a holiday! In August, I’m off to Portugal on a yoga retreat as a solo vacation, which I’m really looking forward to! Thankfully I have a job in September which should cover most of the costs (hooray for something above minimum wage!!) which is a relief. The holiday has set me back about £700 so far but I’m determined not to let costs creep above £1k. As I’ve paid for the holiday itself and the flights already, that shouldn’t be a problem unless I go CRAZY when shopping for new bikinis! 😉

            4. Are you saving for anything in particular at the moment?  Does saving for a rainy day count? I don’t really save for particular things, my usual motivation is just seeing the figure in my savings account rise and rise, I find it really satisfying! 

            5. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would go out and buy?  I would most definitely buy a nice house for my Mum and Dad – they have worked so hard in their lives to ensure that for me and my siblings, nothing was wanting. My Dad has built up the family business from practically nothing to an amazing success, and I can’t thank him enough for it! My Mum is also a fantastic businesswoman and she is so savvy, always coming up with new ideas and advertising campaigns, so she really deserves a treat too!

            6. If money was no object what would be your dream travel destination?  I have been studying Classical Archaeology (the material culture of ancient Greece and Rome) for four years now, so I would love to go on a full tour of the Mediterranean! I’ve visited Athens twice and loved it, but I’ve yet to explore the city of Rome properly, so that would definitely be the top of my list! It would be amazing to visit the places I’ve read about in books for so long and properly get an understanding of how ancient peoples once lived there! It’s a totally nerdy answer but hey, that’s me!

            7. What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve ever received? My Dad always told me that although a new pair of shoes or another equally frivolous purchase might seem like all I want now, when it came to later life and I was wanting to buy something big like a house or a car, I’d be really thankful that my younger self had put some money away to help me achieve those things! And guess what – he was right!

            Thanks Abbey for taking part! If you’d like to be involved in my money diaries series drop me a comment! NG x

            Northern Girl reviews… Skinny Living

            On Wednesday me and Tom had managed to secure ourselves tickets to see Skinny Living live at an event – we would eventually discover – put on by Sony music. The gig was held in an intimate, basement venue in town just off Tottenham Court Road and with free drinks and canapes we were set for a dream evening out. The venue honestly couldn’t have been more perfect with sporadic glass tables and candles and the stage protruding into the audience it felt like it was made for such an event and I hope I get to return! 

            Free drinks and sliders!

            So I’ll swiftly move on to the band. If you haven’t heard of them already then shame on you. If you were at #BSTHydePark when Bieber was there then they may sound familiar (they were a support act after all) but if not they’ve featured more recently on BBC Radio 1 as well as being featured in Spotify’s viral top 50. I’ll hold my hands up and admit apart from hearing “Why” on Spotify and their beautiful acoustic video from their time in Hyde park, I was relatively new to their work but I know a lot of people back home who are huge fans and I trusted their judgement entirely.

            So onto the music itself. I was already pretty familiar with why so it was no surprise this was their opener but I was blown away actually seeing it performed live and the lyrics resonate around the room so much more. 

            Their next was a funky, acoustic vibe and then we got into fade. The band worked the crowd and got us to sing along. By this point in the gig I hadn’t stopped dancing and I was grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know if it’s the Irish lilt of the lead singer but fade almost reminded me of The Script in their early days. It’s perfect, bounce-along pop with amazing instruments thrown in and my inner indie girl from my teens fell in love with the band. 

            The next song was an emotional one and I enjoyed it just as much. Messiah is a truly beautiful song with the most beautiful lyrics and story and the perfect balance to fade.

            There is literally nothing not to love about Skinny Loving. You only have to spend 5 minutes listening to the lead singer talk about the band to know how much it truly means to them and yet there’s almost that air of disbelief that all of this is happening to them (they quite clearly deserve every inch of success). They have an insane amount of talent and yet seem like this band is where they are meant to be.

            So what’s next from the band?

            Well from what I can gather from speaking to the band, they have a string of festivals in the summer, an EP imminent and an album on its way which I quite simply can’t wait for. There wasn’t a single fault I could pick with any of the songs I heard and I have no doubt that their album will become one of those where you literally listen to it from start to finish – no skipping required, the sign of a truly good album. I’ve been to a string of gigs recently but it has been so long since I last saw something where I literally couldn’t stop grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way through. The music is refreshing whilst familiar all at the same time and it is something the charts are so desperate for right now.

            You can find the band on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Spotify.

            NG x