31 March 2017

Movie night

Turn down the lights, grab the popcorn and snuggle up with a cosy blanket - it’s movie night!

I love watching films. There’s nothing quite like transporting yourself somewhere else, meeting new characters and watching an exciting plot slowly unfold. Maybe there’s a toe-tappingly good soundtrack, an awe-inspiring colour palette (looking at you, Wes Anderson), or perhaps a mystery to solve? Maybe you understand or appreciate something you didn't before.

It recently occurred to me that I watch a film almost every day. That really adds up after a while, huh? So I thought I’d put my screen-gazing to good use and write a post about a few of my favourites. Here it is!

When Harry Met Sally 

I start getting a little bit twitchy when someone tells me they’ve never seen When Harry Met Sally. It makes me want to grab my well-watched DVD, march them to the nearest TV and show them what they've been missing all these years.

At the start of the film, Billy Crystal's character announces: 'Men and women can't be friends' . That's kind of the premise of the whole movie. Boy meets girl, boy acts like an arsehole, girl dislikes boy. They meet again years later and form an unlikely friendship. But can they just be friends? Well, you'll have to find out.

If I possessed enough talent to write a screenplay, I’d want it to be something like this. It’s charming, funny and warm - but it’s also got the sharp wit and pithy observations that come courtesy of the genius Nora Ephron. It’s stylish and it’s clever - sort of like a good Woody Allen flick but with only half the neuroticism. Oh, and it has a great soundtrack.

The Fundamentals of Caring 

Two words: Paul Rudd. Not enough? Well, that usually does it for me.

The Fundamentals of Caring is about a sarcastic, downbeat ex-writer (because that’s what Paul does best) who’s just started working as a caregiver. He's assigned to a wheelchair-bound teenager called Trevor, who's quite bitter, dark and has a beautifully twisted sense of humour. Trevor is kind of a douchebag at first, but he's ultimately really likeable. The two become friends and decide to take a road trip. A feel good narrative ensues. It’s one of those movies that’s sweet and happy but without being all bubble-gum and fluffy clouds. It’s sort of sharp and sardonic too. Yep, that’s why I like it.

I think it's still on Netflix, so catch it while you can.

A Hard Day's Night 

Confession: I don't generally find 'classic' comedy that funny. A joke cracked on screen before 1984 isn't likely to raise more than a grimace from me. I don't know why - maybe it's just that I've seen those same jokes repeated a million times since.

And yet, for some reason, A Hard Days Night is an exception to that rule. It's more than 50 years old and it's still hilarious. The premise might not sound too alluring unless you're a die-hard Beatles fan - John, George, Paul and Ringo cause havoc in a 'day in the life' style mockumentary - but trust me on this one, it's really worth a watch.

The best bit is, you get the feeling the Fab Four's funniest quips were genuine off-the-cuff comments rather than scripted lines. And who doesn't want to watch 90 minutes of band banter*?

*everyone taking the piss out of Ringo.

'Are you a mod or a rocker?
'Erm, no, I'm a mocker'

Roman Holiday 

Ann is a princess who wants to experience life outside of the castle walls. She escapes while sedated, meets an american journalist, cuts her hair off, rides a Vespa and smashes a guitar over someone's head (my personal highlight). It's a charming adventure from start to finish.

I love a feisty leading lady and Audrey Hepburn is absolutely dazzling as Princess Ann. This was her first starring role, and it won her an Oscar. Gregory Peck is just as wonderful and he makes a nice change from Audrey's future geriatric leading men (with the exception of Darling Fred in Breakfast at Tiffany's, of course).

Peck was an absolute babe in real life too - he told the producers to give Audrey top billing because he just knew she'd win an Oscar for the role. That, and his gorgeous face, was enough for him to earn a place in my heart forever.

Sorry about the bizarre trailer (although the voice-over is hilarious) - they do not do an excellent job of selling a film by today's standards.

Inside Out 

There had to be an animated movie here somewhere, right? Inside Out is probably my favourite Pixar movie. In case you missed it, it's about a girl called Riley and the five personified emotions that live in her head and control everything she does. It's not creepy, I swear.

There's joy, sadness, panic, anger and disgust. There's also Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. There were plenty of moments that made me laugh out loud (the parents! The dog! The cats!) and I very nearly cried twice. Obviously I didn't - there was just something in my eye.

Beauty and the Beast 

The 1991 version was pretty bloody brilliant, I'm not denying that. But there's something about this latest incarnation that has me utterly under its spell. Maybe it's Emma Watson? Maybe it's the hilarious dynamic of Josh Gad and Luke Evans as Gaston and Le Fou? Either way, I watched it with giant heart eyes, like a real-life emoji.

I had high hopes before seeing it - and I feel emotionally invested in the career of Emma Watson. I didn't want them to ruin one of my favourite Disney movies. Yep, I was a dash worried. But I needn't have been. This version brought my favourite scenes to life in the most spectacular fashion. It patched up a couple of holes in the original's storyline. And it gave me a much more palatable update on Belle's character - now she is precisely who you want your daughter to aspire to be: kind, brave and smart.

My inner child loved it as much as my outter twenty-something. And that's saying something.


I'd like to quickly tell you how much I've enjoyed Drive, Nightcrawler, An Education, Legally Blonde, Mrs Doubtfire, The Nice Guys, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hook, My Best Friend's Wedding, The Duff, La La Land, Sleepless in Seattle, The Graduate, Big, Amelie, Midnight in Paris, You've Got Mail and pretty much any other film starring Tom Hanks. Or Bill Murray. Or Robin Williams. All excellent films, but I couldn't write that many bios.

I'd like to know what your favourite films are! Maybe there's something I haven't seen yet. Drop me a message in the comments and give me your top 5 or tell me what you'll be watching next. 

4 March 2017

Inspirational Interviews: Cydney Helsdown

Meet Cydney. She's a mother, a blogger, a freelancer - and she's bloody amazing.  

We first met last January and I've basically been in awe of her ever since - I couldn't think of a more perfect candidate for my inspirational interviews series. We chatted about juggling work and life, break-ups, getting into blogging, keeping yourself organised, and holidays in Jamaica - take a look!

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your blog?

Ahh, my little slice of the internet. For the past 3 (coming up to 4) years, it's been an extension of me in so many ways. Most of the time completely unfiltered and raw.

I share everything from weekly photo updates, to motherhood musings and attempted fashion posts. I even wrote about my break up, which received an overwhelming amount of support and proved to me why my blog is so important, for my sanity, and as a platform.

And I'm so proud to finally have a .co.uk after my name! I feel so professional now! Earlier this year I re-branded my blog: I finally said goodbye to Blogger and went self-hosted using wordpress.org. It was a huge step for me to 'level up' my blog, to start taking it more seriously. I might even write a post about it.

How did you get into blogging in the first place? 

I started my blog when my son was about 6 months old. I was a young mother, with a lot of time on my hands. My partner at the time encouraged me to start one, and so I just went for it, not really knowing what I was getting into.

It was originally called Cydney Says and my posts mainly consisted of rants and ramblings. Then I discovered the blogging community and got inspired to introduce different categories and topics, like beauty posts. I then changed it to The Good Life, which stayed until my latest re-branding, where I decided that I was going to be the brand, so now it's just cydneyhelsdown.co.uk.

This blog has been the most consistent thing in my life for the last 3 years. I've had 3 different jobs and a failed relationship, yet it's still here. I usually get bored very easily, so this is quite an achievement for me.

I'm always in awe of your energy, you always seem to have a project on the go! How do you juggle work, blogging, parenting and general life stuff? 

Aww, thank you! That's because I still don't know what I'm doing with my life! I'm always trying new things/projects because I need to find the one thing that energises my soul and excites me enough to do it every day.

As I mentioned, I get bored easily, so I like to have different things on the go to keep me from getting uninspired and lazy. Juggling it all can be hard - anyone that works from home will understand the struggle of getting motivated and staying organised, especially with children in tow! But working flexibly from home is what I really want, so I'm determined to make it happen and build a sustainable lifestyle.

I'm very lucky to have a good support network around me, friends who I can look up to and family that are always on hand to help.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Inspiration strikes me at the most random times. I could be on the bus and suddenly 3 different blog posts ideas will hit me. Or I'll be in the bath and start thinking of the perfect opening line for my next post.

I can't just rely on these glorious moments though, so I seek inspiration from the people around me, fellow bloggers, conversations I have with friends, even magazines. It definitely helps to have a break from social media, and being in nature, travelling to different places or just experiencing something new is a great way to get inspired.

And as for outside of blogging, I think it's important to surround yourself with people who're about improving themselves and want to achieve great things. I want to be an inspiration to myself, that's what keeps me going.

Any tips for staying organised? 

I'm really not as organised as you might think, there are certain areas of my life I need to get better at (like replying to emails, texts and phone calls). Believe it or not, I'm more of a ‘leave everything to the last minute’ type of person. But what really helps me is writing lists. This frees up space in my mind to focus on other things.

Oh, and having a diary - I have one for blogging and one for general life stuff. I'm also a very neat and tidy person too, so things like paperwork tend to be in order and I categorise my emails. I'm always looking on Pinterest for tips on staying organised too!

I'm a huge fan of yours on Twitter and I know you're partial to empowering mantras! Do you have a favourite one at the moment? 

I love a good mantra! My favourite one at the moment is from @_YasElizabeth - you need to follow her on Twitter, she has set up a business called Pick Me Up Inc, which is all about self love and empowerment.

She was recently interviewed about life as a young single mum and said, about dating: 'Don't let your actions contradict your desires'. Just let that one sink in for a minute! It can be applied to anything in your life. Whatever it is you desire, your actions need to be in line with it. This helps me, especially when I find myself procrastinating.

What's been your biggest challenge so far? 

Going through a break-up was definitely my biggest challenge. For a lot of women in my situation it's really hard to, firstly, admit that you're not happy and then, secondly, to act upon that. I decided that being in an unhealthy relationship was not good for my psyche, and certainly not the right situation to be raising a child in. It was very overwhelming for me and sometimes still is.

For a long time, I didn't know if I had made the right choice and I was really struggling living in Bournemouth on my own as a newly single parent, but I'm so much happier now that I'm no longer in that situation and have become a much stronger person for it. I've moved back in with family so I'm having to start from scratch, but now I'm in complete control of the lifestyle I want to create and I’m working towards building the foundations and environment that's going to make me and my son thrive.

What one piece of advice would you give to other bloggers? 

Ahh, this is quite difficult because blogging has changed so much over the years and it seems everyone wants to start a blog for one reason or another these days. But my one piece of advice would be to have a goal. What is it you want to achieve from blogging? This will change as you grow and evolve but setting regular goals is really important, not only to keep you going, but to harness the potential of having a creative platform.

You've just returned from a few weeks in Jamaica - how was it? 

 I was there for 3 weeks and it was so beautiful and blissful! I'm really lucky to have family over there, staying with them meant that I got to discover Jamaica off the beaten track and away from the tourists. The people are so laid back (it's true), with such a rich culture. It was a real experience getting to discover my roots. I posted a photo diary of our first week and will be posting another one very soon!

If you had to list your five favourite blogs, what would they be? 

I actually recently wrote a post about this! I shared my current favourite ten bloggers and Instagram accounts, but my all time top five are: The Londoner, Gracie Francesca, Tigerlilly Quinn, A Beautiful Mess, and Inked in Colour as I've been following them for the longest time and enjoy their content the most.

And finally, what do you have planned next? 

Oooh, well, I haven't told anybody yet but I'll be opening an Etsy shop soon to sell some hand-crocheted blankets and soft furnishings I’ve been creating. I've always had an interest and passion for interior design and upcycling, so it makes sense to make something of it! I'll also be having a go at marbling and watercolours, so expect to see more of that later this year.

As for the blog, I really enjoy doing fashion/style posts and have plans to travel more, which will really spice up my blog content.

Thank you for the interview! 
You can catch up with Cydney by following her blogTwitter and Instagram.
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