A trip to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter.


Last week my pal Steph and I took a road trip down to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford for an afternoon of butterbeer and magic. This was my third trip to the tour but as there is plenty to see, and there had been the addition of The Forbidden Forest, I knew it would be another fun visit. And it was!

It's hard to pick a favourite part of the studios but I do really like the outside section with the houses and vehicles. Despite the cold weather, and me chomping on butterbeer icecream, we spent a good chunk of time outside taking photos and boomerangs. We are a couple of Instagrammers after all!

I also love the creatures section and the secrets behind how they come to life, even the freaky lil Voldemort baby behind the glass. You will know what I mean if you have been!

We spent a good few hours at the studios before our weary legs called us to our hotel. It's a long way from Leeds so we were ready for a rest. Our hotel was over by the Westfield shopping centre where we spent the following morning. Oh, also I spotted Pete from Towie in Wagamama's so I was chuffed with that. He is tiny like a small child.

Have you been to the studios? Or any plans to go? I hope I haven't spoiled too much of the magic if you haven't been yet but there really is so much to see that this is only a tiny snippet. I highly recommend a visit - and the butterbeer icecream is a winner!

5 simple routine changes I have made to improve my health (glandular fever / chronic fatigue syndrome / post viral fatigue).


Little swaps and changes here and there can add up to seeing big results over time so I thought I would share a few simple changes I have made over the last 18 months which have contributed to better physical and mental health. Obviously they have contributed to my recovery from glandular fever and CFS specifically, but they would benefit everybody. Also as a side note, I am definitely rubbish at sticking to things that I know are good for me so writing this will be a kick up the bum for me I am sure.

1) Write a to-do list the night before with realistic and achievable goals for the following day, then spread the tasks out throughout the full day. I have stopped trying to squeeze my whole week of tasks into one morning as this will, without fail, result in a crash later that day. This one is still a working progress as my personality type is to do everything all in one go, so it is taking some getting used to undoing this.

A good way of pacing myself through the day is to set a timer (the Pomodoro technique if you want to look into it further). So for 20 - 30 minutes I will focus on one task and try to avoid checking my phone or being distracted by my surroundings. For example I am writing this blog post and have a timer going and whether I finish it or not at the end of the timer, I will stop and take a break to have a cup of tea and stretch my legs. Then I repeat the timer technique throughout the day whether it's for housework, working on the laptop, or cross stitching. It keeps me focused and feeling like I am achieving things without pushing my body and brain too far.

2) Bed before 11pm.. I'm being generous there. Bed before 10 if manageable! I used to stay up so late playing on my phone or watching TV and then I would wake up early for a jog before work. This continuous lack of sleep and disjointed bedtime routine definitely contributed to my ill health as, when I got the glandular fever virus, I wasn't strong enough to fight it off as I wasn't ever getting proper rest.

One thing I struggle with is getting good quality sleep (my REM stage is far too high each night, hence why I wake feeling exhausted) but I know that going to bed at a decent time and having a proper chunk of sleep has done me good in the long run. 

3) Less reading rubbish, more reading self-help stuff. But not too much self-help stuff! If you have limited energy levels then you need to be more selective with the things you absorb into your brain. I have unfollowed a lot of social media accounts that make me feel bad about myself (fitspo, for example, as my lifestyle isn't aligned with that for the time being). Instead I try to make my social media time all about people discussing good self-care, healthy habits, and people who are honest about the ups and downs of their lives. But everything in moderation. Too many self-help books and social media scrolling, no matter how positive, can be truly draining. 

4) Practicing gratitude really does help. It is immensely difficult to stay positive when you have experienced long term pain and ill health, but something I find helpful, each evening when I get into bed, is to list everything I am grateful for from that day. Either out loud or just in my head. Sometimes this is easy if I have seen a friend or had a day of minimal symptoms but on other days putting a list together can feel nearly impossible. But if I dig deep and find things, even if it's just that I had a nice bath or made an excellent cup of tea, I feel better as I drift off to sleep

5) Ask myself a prompt question before or during activities such as "is this helpful?" If the answer is no, which it usually is when I'm lost in an Instagram binge or filling my shopping trolley with biscuits and stodge, I stop and move onto something that will be more beneficial. Having that phrase to throw at myself throughout the day makes me feel more present and helps me to stay on track. 

Free cross stitch pattern - I FORKING LOVE YOU.


To celebrate the re-opening of my Etsy shop I want to share a free pattern with you; something I aim to do regularly. I love cross stitching, and my new venture of designing patterns is bringing me a lot of happiness. As you may know, having a regular job is difficult for me right now due to my health problems. If I can make a teeny bit of a living from this I will be over the moon.

Below you will find the pattern for this hoop design. Feel free to use the colours of your choice, but for guidance I used the DMC colours below. This pattern uses mainly whole stitches with a couple of half stitches in there. If you're a complete beginner keep an eye on my new Instagram account (@threadordeadclub) as I'm going to share video tutorials on there to help get you started and I am also working on some kits to buy! Kits are a great option as they include everything you need to get going. Trust me, I know how expensive buying craft supplies individually can be!

As a guide, I used 14 count Aida fabric which is pretty much the standard fabric you will find in crafts shops like Hobbycraft. To get started find the centre of your fabric by folding it in half, then half again, and wiggle your needle through that centre hole so you can find it when you open your fabric back out again. Then start stitching from the centre of the pattern which is indicated by the red dot. 

Text - DMC 310
Fork - DMC E168 (or DMC 318 for a non metallic option)

I despise stitching with metallic thread as it is quite bitty and annoying, but you may have more patience than me. 

If you save the image below to your desktop you can then zoom in and out as you need to. It goes without saying not to sell my pattern or the finished hoop pieces without my prior permission. And finally if you use the pattern and want to help me with my new business venture there is a donate button in the sidebar.

10 things making me happy right now.


1) Taking the time to make proper coffee first thing in the morning in the cafetiere, with a dash of syrup.

2) Free hypnotherapy sessions every week. 

3) Flight of the Conchords songs. 

4) New credits on Audible. 

5) Cross stitching sweary words. 

6) Having a Fit Bit to track my steps and push me to move around a little more. 

7) My sweet and caring boyfriend. 

8) Lily being signed off from the vets for her poorly eye. 

9) The cookies I baked yesterday. 

10) Bath & Body Works candles - I've got a lavender marshmallow on its way to me as we speak. 

Recent favourite Etsy finds (U.K. edition).


I love browsing Etsy to find quirky gifts, and cross stitch patterns for myself, and I have a fair few items sitting in my "favourites" folder. I thought I would make this a regular series where I share awesome Etsy shops and some of my best finds. It's important to support small / local businesses - there is something so much more satisfying about buying something from a person working from their home / kitchen table (i.e. me) than going to a large store.

Every seller below is based in the UK so you can get your hands on anything you like the look of in super quick time. Next time I will include international sellers for anyone who reads my blog from further afield.

Is there anything you like the look of? Or any shops you can recommend for me to check out?

Life lately (hypnotherapy, harry potter studios, and having another go at Etsy).


Next week sees the official start of my hypnotherapy sessions after meeting my hypnotherapist last week and subsequently listening to a tape of her voice each evening, to get used to what she sounds like. This lady recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome and overcame severe anxiety with the help of hypnotherapy before deciding to train up herself (and I get to be her guinea pig for free!) so I am really hopeful for some positive results.

Just like buses, my therapy appointments all come along at once. I've also had a counselling session scheduled for next week which came along much quicker than the 3 - 4 month waiting list I was told about. I think it will be good to start the two therapies together. I have previously tried CBT counselling which wasn't suited to me, so I'm hoping plain old talking therapy will be better. 

I have my second cold of the year... I know, I sound like a broken record. My tonsils are swollen and I feel like I am swallowing shards of glass, and my head is fuzzy like it's full of mush. As of yesterday evening I can also add a streaming nose to my list of symptoms. I'm trying a couple of new supplements; A Vogel echinacea drops, and Sambucol which is strong zinc and vitamin C. At this point I will literally take any improvement, no matter how small!

February brings my 33rd birthday, as well as my boyfriend's birthday a few days after, and a trip to Manchester with an overnight stay (I'm hoping for a trip to The Principal - what a beauty of a hotel!) 

Then March sees a trip to Harry Potter Studios with one of my best pals and also I have tickets to see Flight of the Conchords at Leeds Arena so I'd say that's going to be a pretty amazing month. Inwill be praying to the immune system gods that my health holds up so I can enjoy it all! 

Lily hurt her eye a few days ago. I'm not sure how she did it but one minute she was fine, the next she wouldn't open her eye and it was swollen. As it's her only 'good' eye this rendered her unable to see much at all so off to the vets we went. She had managed to graze her entire eye ball and it was very sore indeed, but a course of medicine and drops has got her on the path to recovery. The graze is shrinking in size so hopefully by her next check-up it will be back to normal. 

I have reopened my Etsy shop with a new name as I plan to sell some cross stitch related things. Small hoops, badges, and PDF patterns. Maybe one day some kits too! It is very much in the early stages of development but I hope you will stop by and favourite my shop, if you can, to see when I add new things. I will of course update my Instagram accounts (@lilyloveslola and my new one @threadordeadclub) to let you know. 

That's all for now folks. Have a good weekend! 

33 facts about me.


As I approach my 33rd birthday I thought I would share 33 facts about myself, in case anyone is new around here or for those old-timers who want to get to know me a little better.

1 - My name is Victoria; not Lily or Lola which is a common mistake. Most PR emails I get are addressed to the dogs, rather than me. They are cuter though I guess. 

2 - I'm an Aquarius and regularly check my horoscope.

3 - I am obsessed with candles and like to have them burning in each room of the house most of the time.

4 - I have zero patience. It's actually a real problem. I should probably work on that.

5 - I grew up in Leeds near Meanwood and I love being back around these parts as it feels so familiar to me (and they have a Waitrose now so..)

6 - I once hired a personal trainer purely so I could ask him out on a date which is one of the bravest things I have ever done. I'm not sure where I got that courage from!

7 - I love looking at home decor inspiration on Pinterest even though right now I'm staying in my mum's spare room. Hopefully this is the year I move on and can decorate my own spaces.

8 - I adopted Lily and Lola from The Dogs Trust at the end of 2008. They already had those names and I decided not to change them as I felt they suited their personalities perfectly.

9 - Last year I got several tattoos in quick succession after not being brave enough to have one before that. And yes, my family hate them. 

10 - I have my nose pierced and three holes in each ear, which I'm hoping to add to. 

11 - I have had my driving licence for 15 years and have driven Smart cars for 14 of those. I dread the day I have to give them up for a more sensible option.

12 - My dream car is a Nissan Figaro but they aren't much more practical than a Smart car.

13 - I would like to have a family one day. I know I'm getting on a bit but I'm hoping I haven't missed the boat. I think I would be a pretty cool mum.

14 - I have an "all or nothing" personality. I can't ever just do something a little bit.

15 - My friend taught me how to cross stitch around seven years ago and I have loved it ever since.

16 - My dream is to somehow make a living from creating and selling crafty things, or writing. 

17 - In 2015 I was diagnosed with glandular fever which is similar to the flu. At one point I couldn't stand without someone supporting my body weight and I was very, very poorly for a long time. Two and a half years later and it's still lingering, which has resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS / ME) which affects my daily life quite a bit. 

18 - In my quest to get better I have tried alternative avenues such as acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional changes, EFT (emotional freedom technique) and massage. My next venture is hypnotherapy which I start very soon! 

19 - When I'm stressed I clean. 

20 - I'm a self-help book junkie.

21 - I met my boyfriend on Tinder.

22 - I went on quite a few dates using Match a couple of years ago and I could write a book about the funny stories. Dating a bunch of weirdos gives you a lot of good writing material that's for sure. 

23 - I sleep a lot. Like a lot lot. 

24 - My personality type according to the Myers-Briggs personality test is INFJ and I think it's pretty accurate. 

25 - I've been blonde for the majority of my life as I have always hated my natural brunette colour but I've embraced it once again and I quite like it now. Also it will save me a small fortune. 

26 - My favourite quote is from Shakespeare (Macbeth I believe) "come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day". 

27 - I'm a tea fiend and my tipple is Yorkshire Tea.

28 - I hope to study and re-train to get into a profession where I can help people with CFS. 

29 - My favourite flowers are gerbaras.

30 - In the last year I have tried to become as minimalist as possible, donating and selling about 70% of my belongings. However the one thing I can't stop buying / collecting are books. 

31 - I did a skydive a few years ago and I would do another in a heartbeat!

32 - I loved primary school but high school wasn't so kind to me.

33 - Writing this blog is my longest commitment to any hobby I've tried and it still astounds me that it's still alive and kicking after nearly nine years. 

A weekend under the stars [Northumberland].


Me and my new chap fancied a mini break a few weeks before Christmas where we could wrap up warm to explore, drink mulled wine, and get cosy on an evening with a log burner, so we turned to air bnb to find somewhere perfect. I mentioned to Oliver that I really wanted to do some star gazing and he thought Northumberland would be perfect, as it's known for its clear skies on an evening.

It could not have been a more perfect trip. We arrived at our cabin, which was small but perfectly formed, on a Friday evening and stayed until Sunday afternoon. After settling in upon our arrival (mainly laying on the bed consuming the chocolate cake and prosecco our hosts had left for us) we headed back outside to take in the view. It may have been something to do with my tipsy head but I was completely bowled over by the stars in the sky. They almost brought me to tears! We had a viewing area in the form of a mini treehouse where we lay for a while, taking in the different constellations.

The sky on the second evening wasn't as clear but it was still beautiful nonetheless. We went for a drive to a few star-spotting spots before heading back to our cabin to warm our cockles by a camp fire that Oliver got going (Bear Grylls eat your heart out).

Our daytime activities included a long stroll to see Dunstanburgh Castle and to watch the waves rolling in, a few hours in Bamburgh Castle taking in the history (and the Baileys lattes) and a jaunt to Alnwick Castle to see where Harry Potter was filmed only to find that it was closed. So we saw the outside of the castle from afar and ate chips which I suppose isn't a bad compromise.

I would have loved another evening to see the stars again. Seriously folk of Northumberland, how do you get anything done on an evening with those sights?! 

I hope to see you again soon Northumberland!