The Old School Yard
I bought the package for this on Groupon for £30, advertised at original value of £270 (although you have to always take the original value advertised on Groupon with a pinch of salt, they'll do anything to make a sale).
I went with my lot from work and three of my friends from my Masters, making eight of us in total. The place was relatively easy to find, just a quick walk from Borough tube station. The room we were given was a very generous size, so everyone had place to sit down, dump their bags, with there still being plenty of space left over. Included in the deal was a pizza, which was of mediocre quality but definitely edible, as well as a pitcher of punch which I enjoyed a lot, but was an acquired tasted because one of the boys didn't. Our session (6pm) fell at Happy Hour, so cocktails were reasonably priced as well, though I opted for two Becks for a fiver.
So far, so promising. However, my main aim of going to karaoke is to sing, and that is where this place fell horrendously short. Its song list was WOEFUL. There is no polite way of describing an outdated song set that didn't have any One Direction, Lana del Rey or Kanye West, and, not only that, doesn't allow you to search for the songs on the system. Instead, you have to manually sift through a dog-eared booklet and hit and hope when you key the song code in, as, for many of them, the numbers presented did not correspond to the right song on the system.
Add in the fact that the men working at The Old School Yard were extremely surly and unhelpful, and had to be prompted FOUR times to bring the pizza and punch. I think they were hoping that if they left it until after our time was up, I'd forget. Not on my watch, sweetheart. Just like not on my watch I'd visit a karaoke joint as dire as this without letting the rest of the world know what they were getting themselves in for.
Grade: D Bloomsbury Bowling Lane
I went here for my 24th birthday, back in April. The price was a lot steeper: it was a Good Friday and we went during the day, thus at off-peaks hours. This time it was for three hours rather than two, but with no online deal, the price came to a whopping £150 (albeit for 15 of us). Given the money paid, the size of the room was pretty miserly: about half of the size of the room in the place reviewed above, which definitely led to some cramping given the large party.
Where this place won hands down, though, was in its song selection. The song list it had online was cool enough, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover on the day they had modern songs on the system that weren't on the online song list! Songs such as Timber, Wrecking Ball, and pretty much every One Direction song I could dream of singing. Me and my brother had a wicked time rocking out to What Makes You Beautiful (we also did Umbrella, with him as Rihanna and me as Jay-Z. Obviously. #swag). Being there for three hours, I also did Something Kinda Ooh (my all-time go-to karaoke song, again, not offered at the place above), You Sexy Thing, Goldigger, as well as rapped Homecoming by Kanye West rather awesomely.
Unfortunately, there were other shortcomings to this place in addition to its steep price. The quality of the karaoke equipment was not great, and I had to ask to have the batteries on one of the microphones switched no less than three times. They were, however, very obliging when we asked for more glasses (I'd sneaked in a cheeky bottle of wine, ehehe). Overall, I had a good time here, but for the high prices we were paying, they really should have done more to make sure everything went swimmingly.
As I love karaoke, I enjoyed my experiences at both experiences. However, I'm not a fan of getting swindled, and I'm certain I can have a good time singing craply without breaking the bank. The search for London's best karaoke joint continues.
Having worked at my firm for a year now, I've developed a particular style during the Spring/Summer months: skirts and dresses, usually paired with a waist belt and a funky pair of tights/stockings. Here are a couple of the pairs I've been rocking in recent weeks, and my thoughts on them.
Below: all from Primark
Sadly the middle pair is with me no more, as, just after two wears + washes, it had too many rips and ladders, which says it all about the durability really. However, I loved the elastic gusset top of the hold-up, and generally prefer wearing hold-ups as it puts less pressure on my stomach and means I can get away with eating a carbier lunch. The only thing you have to be careful with when wearing hold-ups is for the skirt not to be too short, otherwise you'll constantly feel self-conscious.
In terms of longevity, the floral wool tights on the left have lasted the best, and the Mickey Mouse fashion tights on the far right, as you can see, haven't fared quite so well, being made from much flimsier material.
Below: all from Marks and Spencer
The 2 pairs for £5 hold-ups are pretty crappy quality, and the elastic gusset top's hold isn't firm enough for my liking either. The hold ups in the middle are a dream! here they are on:
The colour is a great compromise between nude and black, and so far they are yet to ladder or tear.
Below: from TK Maxx
Despite the lady on the cover, these are actually nude coloured stockings. The quality of the stocking itself is fine, however the elastic part at the top tore a hole in itself which is frustrating, but not the end of the world, as this part is covered by the hem of the skirt.
Below: from Primark
The floral fishnets look kinda tacky on the packaging, but I absolutely love them on!
Stylish and sexy, you also don't have to worry about laddering due to the way the tights are made. The thick wool tights last long, but give a bit too much coverage on warmer days.
How is it June already? Somehow, 5 months of the year have already passed by. For me, it's been lost in a flurry of deadlines, work, and countless boozing.
Now, I like to mark my #seasonsoflove with songs to associate certain memories with. So, here are some songs I've been listening to religiously in the past month (mostly whilst dithering about with coursework).
Problem (Ariana Grande ft Iggy Azalea)
Most RnB songs have a girl singing the lyrics and a male doing the rapping. In "Problem", we have girls on both. I love the playful spirit and sax loop of this song, and Iggy's Jay-Z reference in her verse makes my life.
Too Much (Spice Girls)
Not my favourite all-time Spice Girls song (that changes between "Say You'll Be There" and "Stop" depending on my mood), but, lyrics-wise, this resonated with me perfectly in the month of May. Much in the same vein as "Problem", it's got the whole I wish I knew how to quit you thing going on. Which I definitely feel for certain fellas.
Can't Remember to Forget You (Shakira ft Rihanna)
I'm not sure as to the veracity of this rumour, but I heard jealous hubby Gerard Pique put a ban on his missus having males in her music videos? As such, we have more girl/girl duets from her, rendering this the third song on my list about wanting to give up a bloke, no mata how difficult (sensing a theme here?) On her album, Shakira also covers this song in Spanish, which I like to listen to to practice my linguistic skills. #multitaskingBITCH
Timber (Pitbull ft Ke$ha)
Hurrah, a song not about men!! I'm not actually too sure what this song is about, mind, but it has an annoyingly infectious beat that makes up for its nonsensical lyrics ("face down, booty up", poetry, that). I also happened to duet on this on my birthday karaoke, singing the Ke$ha bit. I did not do the high notes any justice, really.
Fancy (Iggy Azalea ft Charli XCX)
TUNE. If there's one song I'm going to remember Summer 2014 by, it's going to be this insanely swaggerous, effortlessly cool from Iggy and our very own Charli XCX. The song is an ode to the high life, so whilst it's how the other 5% do live, and thus not something I'd be particularly knowledgeable about, you have a hell of a good time singing along about it. Hertfordshire-born Charli XCX is my new girl crush, she just has Je ne sais quoin, and the Clueless-inspired music video is great fun. The chorus is catchy as hell, and the machine-gun-rapping by Iggy Azalea is too ace. Champagne spilling, you should taste that.
Right, that's five. For June, in the theme of numbers, I shall list the six songs I was obsessed with this month. Plot spoiler: Fancy will probably still be on there.