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Sometimes a notebook is so special you just have to take your time deciding what you want to use it for.

When my friend, Liz, told me that she had undertaken a new venture - Hope House Press - I squealed with delight even thought I felt slightly jealous that she now owned a stationery-related company. It's a huge leap of faith for her and the family and they are working day and night to make this a success. Whilst it is a learning curve for them all, it's also wonderful (and a bit nervewracking) to hear all the behind-the-scenes news.

Essentially, Hope House Press make personalised and bespoke leather notebooks which can be used as diaries or journals to document those important (and not so important) moments in your life. It's also probably the best present you can gift to any stationery lover or someone starting a new venture that needs documenting to look back over at a later date! My own leather notebook is caramel in colour (although I am also drooling over the British racing green) with black inking. 

My B.O.A.T. (Book Of All Things) is an important part of my life as it acts as a diary, a bullet journal, a brain dump, a mind map, an ongoing bucket list... it's literally my life wrapped in a leather cover. I've not written in this notebook yet though, simply because I'm haven't found planner happiness this year.  It's April and I've already attempted four systems!!! I'm a one-notebook kinda girl and when I settle in to something then that's IT! Once I do find that happy place (and I seriously think there isn't a printed planner out there to suit my needs, hence my obsession with notebooks and journals) then I will use this notebook. I know... I'm fussy but if you had a notebook this lovely, you'd want to make sure that it was fit for purpose, wouldn't you?

Anyway, I'm all about supporting small UK businesses and products from the Hope House Press shop are at the top of my shopping list for at least three or four people for their birthday or Christmas this year.  If you've got something specific in mind for a friend, why don't you have a chat with them to see if they can help out?

Hope House Press : Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram

*Hope House Press did send me this notebook as a gift as they were trying out new techniques for the journals and their cover printing but I wanted to show them some support too.  I truly believe in supporting home-grown small businesses, especially with stationery. The fact that I've got a glorious new leather notebook is a bonus*
Many times I have wondered how people can find themselves so emotionally involved with a 'celebrity' that they participate in public grieving on social media channels.  I often think it is so that they can 'be seen to care' or to join in with a trend.  I usually comment on the passing, sometimes share a relevant news article and then wait until the next Deadpool newsletter.

Victoria Wood - beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly

Hearing about the sudden and shocking passing of Victoria Wood was different.  I immediately understood why people feel the need to communicate their grief. And why they feel so completely and utterly bereft.

Victoria Wood is someone who's comedic genius I have grown up with. Even before I was old enough to understand her observational humour, I remember her appearing on our family television. Then slowly, and surely, some of the jokes felt as though they made sense - the Northern intention, the strong women used in her sketches... but just the way in which she managed to cover almost every single subject using music and humour and very little swearing.  My mum used to email me Victoria Wood clips and quotes and scripts to cheer me up when she knew I was having a bit of rough week.

I can't pick an absolute favourite sketch or song as there are so many to choose from. Acorn Antiques will always be one of the most ingenious "continuing drama series" that has ever been created and everyone loves The Ballad Of Barry And Freda. I occasionally revisit her sketch series, As Seen On TV and dinnerladies has one of the most connected scripts I've ever seen on a "comedy drama". I never tire of watching any of her stand-up shows whether they are as old as An Audience With... or something more recent such as Victoria Wood, Live At The Albert Hall. However, this is one small sketch that has been attributed to the way in which I deliver a stretch session after I've taken my running group out.  The first time someone mentioned it, I cringed but, seriously, it's an honour to even have that accolade.

I have no idea why I felt compelled to write this - there are far better tributes out there - but 2016 feels like the year that the best of the best started depleting and this just tipped me over the edge. 

Whilst looking for clothes for my impending holiday, I came across this great website - Eles Clothing. They are a wholesale clothing company stocking ex-chain store items at rock bottom prices with all garments being guaranteed at brand new Grade A perfect stock (unless otherwise noted).

I've been in touch with Eles Clothing and they've happily agree to give one lucky reader from the Typecast blog a dress from their new arrivals section which changes on a daily basis.  It's really easy to enter - you just have to follow their Twitter account - @elesclothing - and let me know that you've done it via the Rafflecopter widget below.  I've also included some additional entries to make it a bit more fun! 

Good luck!!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS * This giveaway will begin at 00:01 on 21st April 2016 and will close at 23:59 on 29th May 2016 * This giveaway is open to any of my readers aged 18 or above who reside in the UK. * There is no cash alternative to the giveaway * There is one compulsory entry which asks the entrant to follow the Eles Clothing Twitter account. You can gain additional entries using the options in the Rafflecopter widget * There is one (1) prize in total * The prize has been provided by Eles Clothing * The prize winner will be asked to provide their email address so that contact can be made to arrange prize delivery * Entries will only be accepted as instructed and any entrant that does not complete the qualifying requirements will be disqualified * The winner will be chosen by using a random number generator built into the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted direct on the email address provided within five (5) days of the draw.
My previous YouTube recommendation post was a HUGE hit, which was a bit of a surprise. The theme was picked up on by Kirsty who is also sharing her fab five each month now. It's always intriguing to see what type of content other people watch, whether they actually subscribe to receive regular updates from one particular content creator and how much time they spend watching their chosen content.

It's also interesting to see how YouTube take your viewing history and recommend more videos for you to watch. I've tried it with a few themes and the endorsed content is always from highly-subscribed channels and/or videos that already have a huge number of views - especially where they are all connected to a specific 'keyword' (i.e. What's In My Bag, The Best Friend Tag, My Boyfriend Does My Make-Up... meh). Where is the support for the channels looking to grow or those that cannot seem to break through this type of crap? Leading on from this, there is a fascinating realisation from a handful of highly-subscribed channel owners that regular content is becoming static and there are fluctuating trends for certain styles.

I don't know what the fix is - or if, indeed, there is one. It feels as though more people are producing video content these days and expecting to make an income from it. I truly believe that, just like in television or film, there are a few people who are engaging and know how to retain audience attention and there are others who don't. So, on that note, here are the five YouTube channels I think you should be watching in April.

5 YouTube Channels You Should Be Watching In April

The Stomach Churner

There's parkour and urban climbing and then there's James Kingston. His style of video production and communication with his audience has improved dramatically over the past 12 months or so and it's one of the best uses of a GoPro on YouTube at the moment.

The Travel Vlogger

I can't remember how I discovered Christian le Blanc's channel (it definitely wasn't his elephant selfie that went viral because I've literally only just seen that) but he has done something that most of us only dream of - given up his corporate life to travel the world.  His channel is woefully under-subscribed for the experiences that he shares and for the really useful "How To..." travel-related videos

The Teacher

When I picked up a ukulele for the first time last year, this was the first channel that can up in a search when I was looking for instructions on how to play a certain song.  The Ukulele Teacher makes learning really easy with demonstrations and annotations and I love that he's not the best singer (I hope he doesn't mind me saying that...) but has a go anyway!

The Over-40 Female Vlogger

Dominique Sachse is a newscaster from Houston, Texas and shares a lot of lifestyle tips for women who are a similar age to her. She's obviously learnt a lot from the professional studio stylists over the years and is extremely adept at styling her own hair and make-up application. There's also some great advice videos on topics such as public speaking, fitness and looking good in photographs.

The Gore

There were a few shocked faces last month when I didn't recommend Dr Pimple Popper but I thought it was a bit too obvious, what with my obsession with cysts!  Anyway, due to popular demand, here is the best channel out there for all things filled with pus - no dodgy camerawork and profession-led explanations about the procedures. I still wish I hadn't bottled it when I had my pyogenic granuloma removed last month - I really should have filmed the whole operation!

Your Turn

It's time to recommend me some new content to watch. I don't care what it is but it should be something that really engages you and, as I said last month, the more random, the better!

You can also subscribe to me on YouTube too if you like...

Exciting times as I'm off on my holidays soon and one thing I pride myself on is packing a good travel bag. 

What's In My Travel Bag - inc. Mia Tui, Lumsing, 1byone

This year's travel bag is the Mia Tui Emma in Tan. It's such a fabulous size (it is cabin size compliant) and a gorgeous tan shade which, I think, is a timeless and classic colour (it also matches my shoes and is the colour I hope to be on my return...).  I have talked previously about how much I love the concept of the Mia Tui bags, especially the coordinating accessories that are included.  So let's see what I'm going to put in it.

First in (and out) of the bag is my Filofax Flex.  I was never too enamoured with this as a notebook system however it makes the perfect travel document case. In here we keep our passports, all our travel documents, the airport parking information, our travel insurance and our EHIC (Eurpean Health Insurance Cards).  I always keep a pocket notebook in here too with emergency contact details jotted down and a pen.

Next is my tablet which I have loaded up with music and podcasts to keep me entertained whilst travelling.  Our flight this year is under three hours but you never know if there is going to be a delay, do you?  And, of course, I have my headphones too.  The ones I'm taking this ear are bluetooth headphones from 1byone on Amazon and take up next to no room at all.

I also take my Kindle with me. I know I could use the Kindle app on the tablet but I prefer the compactness of the Kindle - it's something I've got used to over the years.  You'll notice that I'm still using a 4th Gen Kindle - it works perfectly and is usually to hand wherever I am anyway.  If you've got a book to recommend to me before I go, let me know!

I'm not keen on taking a coat onto the airport - I sometimes carry a lightweight jacket - but a scarf/pashmina style wrap is always a great addition to my hand luggage. I can use it to cover up to keep warm or as a neck cushion on the plane. 

Because of all the gadgets, I've obviously got to carry a few chargers with me.  I champion Lumsing because they make great products so from their Cube series we are taking a 2-port wall-charger which is super-lightweight. I've also got my trusty Lumsing powerbank with me to give the mobile phone a bit of a boost if I've been using it in the flight lounge.

This year I was torn about taking my big camera with me as the majority of my photographs are taken on my mobile phone but, at the end of the day, there are some shots that just need a better camera - and I've packed my tripod so I might be able to get some time-lapse shots too.  #channellingCaseyNeistat

We are going somewhere with a fair bit of sun so sunglasses are a must for when I get off the plane and I tend to have a little bag of personal essentials which include everything to freshen up. Go-to items are my Tangle Tease hairbrush, a small amount of make-up, some deodorant, lip balm and anti-bacterial handwash (or wet wipes). My toothbrush and some toothpaste is always in this section of the bag too. The last thing that I've got in there is a spare pair of glasses and some contact lens solution.

Finally, I have my purse (which I trim down to take just the essentials like my driving licence, identification, bank/credit card and some local currency), my keys, my mobile phone and a pack of mints!

Have a look at everything in my video too. Am I missing anything? What are your travel essentials - let me know in the comments.

MoneySupermarket - #EPICDANCEOFF

We all know I'm a bit of a reality TV show junkie so when MoneySupermarket invited me to gather the family, have a bit of a party and view their latest advert during the first episode of the new series of Britain's Got Talent, I didn't hesitate. If you haven't already seen it then watch it here... 

Twitter went a bit mental over the #EPICDANCEOFF - and quite rightly so. We saw high-kicking Dave battling it out with pole-dancing Colin with a bit of body-popping Gary thrown in for extra awesome-sauce!

The whole idea behind the advert is to show you how epic saving money can make you feel (I'm not sure it can make *me* walk in heels that high or do the splits after all these years) and you can vote for your favourite dancer on the MoneySupermarket website.

Let me know who you vote for!

This post is in collaboration with MoneySuperMarket, but all thoughts are my own.
Please view my disclosure policy for more details.