Monday, 30 May 2016

Reflections on leaving school... | LittleEllieMae

I started high school in 2009. I left a relatively small primary school to a grammar school, swarmed with unrecognisable faces in a sea of brown uniforms. Being the top school in the city and having a grammar school status, all of the students were very bright so I initially found it difficult to adjust from being the top of the class in everything, to being just as good as everyone else- "average" if you will. 

I went into high school as a very timid, shy young girl. I'd never really been pushed out of my comfort zone before so the step up to secondary school was a big one for me. 

Funnily enough I remember my first day at DHSG very well, albeit it being a long seven years ago now (time flies)! I remember sitting at the front of the hall for the first assembly, turning around and feeling massively overwhelmed at the backdrop of faces staring back. I used to look up at the balcony seats, being totally scared of the big Year 13 students who I thought were so mature and cool. 

I had adopted a couple friends who sat next to me in class but one memory that I will never ever forget is walking down 'Quality Street' (the nickname of a corridor in our school as it was the first with carpet...) and turning around to smile at a small, curly- haired girl with a colourful bandanna to ask if she wanted to have lunch with us on the field that day. She said yes, we played 'tag' all lunch time and literally stayed friends ever since- that would be my best friend in the whole world, Becca Jane. That's one of the main reasons why I've loved secondary school so so much- its provided me with the best group of friends I could ever ask for. 

I settled into school relatively quickly. Though my teachers continued to call me "quiet" in lessons, I began to excel in the social side of things. I made loads of friends and really began to come out of my shell. 

At the time the workload seemed a burden. Those pesky textiles collages and geography map drawings caused just as many sleepless nights as my A-Level exams do in present day. I would like to say to my former self to not worry about that kind of thing at all but I know that at the time it was important to me, and of course it shaped me as the hard working woman I am today. 

When I tell people that my school was an all-girls school, the automatic response is "oh my gosh, how did you cope?!" but it honestly didn't really affect me. If anything, it was a massive positive as it has taught me the importance of feminism, working alongside other girls to empower each other. Even our school song reflects that. It was overall a really positive and liberating place to be.

The obvious factor of school is the classes. I have studied a massive range of different subjects over the years, from English to Spanish, French, Latin, Textiles and even Critical Thinking(?!). Being a grammar school, we took a lot more GCSE subjects than other schools which could be seen as a complete burden (which I admit, it really was at the time. Taking 20+ exams was very difficult... but it all paid off!) but it also allowed me to experiment with different topics. I love learning, I really do- so being able to enrich my brain with so much 'stuff' is something I will treasure forever. To be plain, I am a top- grade student which is something I am really proud of but its because of the school's classes that I am engaged in topics and therefore do well. 

I guess what I'm trying to express here is just how much high school has shaped me as a person. I feel like a completely different person to the shy girl who cried at everything, seven years ago. I'm now confident, ambitious, determined and I really think its my experience at school that's been the catalyst for my personal development. Never in a million years would 11 year old me think I could be setting up my own business, creating a name for myself, putting myself out there. I'm really really happy. 

10 Things School Has Taught Me:

1.) Stand for what you believe in, even if you stand alone.
2.) Be kind to everyone you meet as everyone is fighting their own battle.
3.) Work hard, it will pay off in the end.
4.) Give yourself a break and treat yourself now and again. You deserve it.
5.) Try and make every situation fun. Humour goes a long way.
6.) Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on you. 
7.) Be ambitious and don't give up on that dream.
8.) Karma is real, so use it wisely. 
9.) Knowledge is the greatest quality to have. Enrich yourself in every way possible.
10.) Brown uniform will NEVER look good, quit trying to look stylish in school.

My last day at school was on Friday (27th May 2016) and it was an emotional one. For the past few years, we've all been waiting for the moment we leave those shiny school gates but when the moment arrived we all stood stone-cold.

"We're not ready to leave yet. I swear I'm still 12. How am I leaving to go into adulthood?"

We had the perfect last day of Leavers '16 celebrations, full of pranks, water fights, crying, nostalgic memories, laughs and more crying. Then lots of drinks and dancing at the after- party. My year group are just the most wonderful group of people ever- hilarious, kind, strong and united. The perfect community that I will miss dearly but I wish every individual luck for their futures as I know they all have amazing things ahead of them.

Its scary how quickly time passes. The past seven years have been a blur, but a blur of very happy memories. On Friday we had two assemblies where we all shared our fondest moments at DHSG. The montage (set to High School Musical music) of photos from across the years made me weep. Teachers presented us with farewell videos and every single pupil was given a hand-written good luck card from the staff. I'm going to miss the buildings, the staff, the lessons, the friends, the sports days, the assemblies, Marmalade the school cat. Its very very difficult to say goodbye to this wonderful place but I know its where I can always come home. It will always be a building of wonderful memories and sense of belonging. Though I cannot wait for the next exciting chapter of my life, I will miss everything about it and I'm so glad I can look back on it all with a smile. 

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."- Winnie The Pooh. 

Thanks DHSG x

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Drake Circus Fashion Live Event | LittleEllieMae

I was kindly invited along to the press launch night of Drake Circus (Plymouth) Fashion Live event last week!

Drake Circus is a shopping centre in Plymouth- home to over seventy of the UK's biggest brands and is a place where I spend a lot of my time. Recently, I must be visiting Drake Circus about three times a week to pop in to buy various bits and pieces as it offers such a massive range of products in different stores. 

So as you can imagine, I was very excited at the prospect of their new live fashion event!

The event spanned across two days, 27th and 28th May, and included live roaming catwalk shows presented by TV's Laura Naylor. Models strutted around routes through the shopping mall, showcasing different outfits from participating brands: M&S, Primark, River Island, New Look, Billabong, Fat Face, Next and Boux Avenue. 

At the press evening on Thursday, we had the chance to watch the first dress rehearsals of the catwalk shows which was so cool. Even though it was nearing closing time for the nearby shops, so many peoples' heads were turned by the show and stopped to take notice. The aim of the shows were to showcase the lovely clothes that are on offer in shops in Drake Circus, so when passer-bys saw something on the models that they liked, they can easily pop into the shop next door and buy the look for themselves! What a fantastic idea- I really really liked the whole concept.  

Not only were there some awesome shows at the weekend, shops also offered exclusive discounts from their stores and there were some exciting 'win the outfit' competitions to take part in too!

The evening that I attended was so much fun- we were treated exquisitely with yummy sushi from YoSushi, champagne chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, drinks from Costa and even an exclusive taste of KrispyKreme's new nutella doughnuts before the release day! 

We had a low-down on the gorgeous models taking part in the catwalk shows as well as talks from visual merchandisers from M&S and Cath Kidston which was very interesting. Mosaic Model Management agency even taught us how to strut like a catwalk model..! If you think you have what it takes to be a model, head down to Drake Circus on Monday 30th May as Mosaic Model Management will be looking for the next big model as they scout throughout the mall. Very exciting!

Thank you to Drake Circus for inviting me to this awesome event and for supplying us with incredible goody bags (keep an eye on my Twitter for a haul!). I had so much fun and thought the show was really fantastic. 

Make sure you get down to Drake Circus on Monday to be in with a chance of being scouted for Mosaic Modelling Management!

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: Drake Circus/ OnShore PR kindly invited me to this event but all opinions are my own, as always :) 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Plymouth Blog Meet Wonderland at The Orangery | LittleEllieMae

As many of you know, I've been organising events for bloggers in my hometown of Plymouth over the past year and with each event, more and more local bloggers have become interested in networking with others.

Check out my previous #PlymouthBlogMeet posts:
First event at RumpusCosy
Bloggers cupcake workshop:
Bloggers summer picnic:

I decided it was time to organise a much larger event to cater for the growing interest of lovely bloggers in the area. I based the event on something I'd personally like to attend- something informal and fun to easily be able to mingle and meet as many other bloggers as possible!

The lovely team over at The Orangery, Mount Edgcumbe got in touch with me last year and we started planning an event at their gorgeous venue which is located on the Cornish seafront, overlooking the Plymouth Sound.

I spent a good six months planning this event, as its the biggest yet (nearly 40 bloggers attended!) but it all payed off and the event was super successful, I am so pleased!

Owen Bush Photography
The theme of the event was 'Wonderland'- which perfectly suited the venue which was surrounded by gorgeous wonderland-esque gardens. I scoured the internet for cute Alice In Wonderland decorations which included floral napkins, paper straws, cardboard props, and pink confetti. I fully embraced the theme and even decorated the tables with teapots full of fresh flowers, decks of playing cards and mini wooden keys. 

Owen Bush Photography
Owen Bush Photography

Owen Bush Photography
After making a little welcome speech (public speaking...eek!), the afternoon officially kicked off with bloggers mingling around the tables. It made me so happy to see everyone talking, laughing and getting to know each other. People came up to me at the end of the event and tweeted me afterwards, thanking me for allowing them to make new friends- and that, is the reason I run these events. It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy, knowing I've helped bring people together and watch new friendships blossom. 

Owen Bush Photography

We were lucky enough to have Cloe from No.7 and Ellie from Origins join us at the event too! The lovely ladies bought along some fantastic brand displays and very exciting products to show the bloggers. They even bought along some goodies to give away too which was very nice of them and I know the bloggers (myself included!) can't wait to try them all out!

Owen Bush Photography

Owen Bush Photography

I just absolutely love meeting other bloggers. After speaking to them all online, its nice to finally put faces to blog names and profile pictures! The room buzzed with a warm atmosphere and everybody had smiles upon their faces all afternoon. Creativity oozed from blogger to blogger as they shared tips and tricks of the trade. There was a fantastic range of bloggers in attendance- fashion, beauty, lifestyle, parenting, advice, theatre, and even tea bloggers! Everybody came from various backgrounds and there were so many different personalities that all bonded over their shared passion of blogging. It really was amazing to see. 

Here's some posts from the lovely bloggers who attended, using the hashtag #PlymouthBlogMeet :

A photo posted by Evie (@whateviedid) on

A photo posted by Becca (@beccaheppolette) on

A photo posted by Evie (@whateviedid) on

Photo by Becca Jane

Photo by Becca Jane
I also hosted a giveaway raffle as a way to say thank you to the bloggers for attending! I created three hampers- 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes. The largest hamper consisted of some bloggers' essentials such as a notepad, 'Little Miss Blogger' mug and a selfie stick..! The other prizes included goody bags and nail kits. Names were chosen at random and three lucky ladies won the prizes- congratulations to those who won!

We had some amazing entertainment in the form of my two friends, Elena and Amelia, performing some songs! The bloggers loved them, and rightly so- such talent!

What I wore:
Dress- Henry Holland at Debenhams
Shoes- ASOS

I had a wash and blow dry on my hair that morning- my hairdresser is the Goddess of blow-dries, and my hair stayed voluminous and curly all day. 

I opted for my favourite makeup look: a pretty pink/blush look with shimmery pink eye makeup, pink lips and lots of highlighter! I also applied false lashes from Vintage Cosmetics- I had lots of lovely compliments on them (despite one of the pair deciding to fall off half way through the day... nobody noticed though, phew!)

I also treated myself and went and got my nails done for the first time! I visited the lovely Keri at Boutique Nails Plymouth who applied acrylics and did some lovely floral nail art to match my outfit- I was so pleased with them!

As I was saying my goodbyes to the bloggers after three hours of fun, the lovely Megan, approached me with this amazing hand-made card, signed by all of the bloggers! It was so lovely and I teared up at the gesture- how thoughtful! All of their words were so kind and definitely made the long and stressful process of event organising worth it! Thank you so so much. 

The event was such a success! I am super happy and actually proud at myself for pulling it off. Thank you to everyone involved- the bloggers, the brands, the venue and everyone who supported me along the way. I appreciate it so much!

Keep an eye out for my first ever published article in the next issue of Made In Plymouth magazine, all about #PlymouthBlogMeet!

I can't wait for the next event already!

Ellie Mae x