37 Things I hated about working in retail.

If I was Prime Minister or Queen or Emperor of the World or whatever I shall be called, one of the first things I’d do is banish those ridiculous false eyelashes people stick on their headlights on cars. In what world is that a good look? I’d also add in way, waaaaay more bank holidays and maybe have one bank holiday Friday cos that sounds like a treat and a half. But more importantly, I would make sure everyone would work in retail or the service industry or just maybe deal with the general public for a couple weeks at least. It would be like jury service except that I’d just stick you on a till in Boots for a fortnight. I’ve worked in retail since the age of 16 and good God does it make you lose complete faith in humanity. You can always tell who’s worked in an industry like that and who hasn’t in the way in which they treat those that do.

1.With customers you can get The Good, The bad and The rude. With less cowboys and more buttheads than you can shake a stick at. Some people you can just tell have never been the other side of the counter before so think nothing of speaking to you like you’re an actual sewer rat. You notice that people will complain about just about anything, making you want to take a step back and actually reevaulate all the actual problems in the world because Steve wants to return his Pick N Mix because it didn’t have a very good mix of things in it. ERM. I have no words for this Steve. You picked it N you mixed it so don’t blame me for you being a dummyhead. Also totally a true story. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had customers speak down to me or snap at me or shout. For instance one man told me I had single handedly ruined his Christmas because we didn’t sell gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Good job I’m not bitter about it and moaning still 2 years on…👀.

2. We don’t often get that Friday Feeling you humble braggers post all over your Insta Story. Cos We have to work weekends. But we do often get the joy of a midweek day off which is just great. Unless you want to see your friends who are busy. Working their 9-5 jobs and are free at the weekend. When you’re back at work. K Den.

3. When people assume that you, the 10 hour weekend sales assistant frankly give a toss about the store pricings or the layout or the fact that Susan can’t find the jumpers which were right by the door last time she came in but now there are flip flops and kaftans there yet we only had a 36 hour heatwave in the UK?!?!

4. Promo Change. URGH. 2 words that will fill a retail worker with utter contempt. I used to hate doing promotion changeovers in my store. Baring in mind, I was a manager of a store that has almost as many different sales, promotions and in store events as it had staff coming and going. I would have rather covered my face in honey and stuck it in a bees nest.

5. Actually scrap that. There’s so many different jargon phrases and words that are often flung about; that outside of the retail world I don’t think actually means anything. Promo change, audits, blipbays, planograms, SKUs, ASMs, RSMs, ACT, IPB. It sounds like I’m singing the lyrics to ABC by the Jackson 5 really badly.

6. Working with people who use way too much corporate slang. I worked with a guy who basically developed his own I-only-speak-business-speak-cos-I’m-a-massive-bumhole language. Rather than telling the rest of his team something he would “cascade that information down to his field management team”. Or he’d call you boss or champ. He’d act like he was the wolf of wall street trying to pump you up by screaming down the phone buzzwords at quarter to 8 on a Tuesday morning. Basically he belongs in middle of the sea. On his own. For a very long time.

7. Working weekends or bank holidays. Like I get that this is kinda part and parcel of working within this sector but one Christmas time the only day I had off was Christmas Day and that was just because my shop was closed.

8. It felt like a slow torture method how many times over Christmas I heard Mariah Carey.

9. My store had an instore music system that would play the same songs, the same adverts at the same time everyday. I was in a real life Groundhog day but with more Sugababes.

10. Although one of my secret joys was seeing people, usually blokes, panic on Christmas Eve. I feel sorry for whoever had to open a jar of Cod Liver Oil as a christmas present from their terrible husband one year. I did try and suggest the hand and nail cream set instead, honest!

11. Wearing full uniform and customers still ask if you work here. Nah I’m just a huge fan of this place love! Just like football fans dress up as their fav players I’ve come into town dressed as my favourite shop assistant today. GO TEAM.

12. When you ask a customer if they’d like a bag and they point to their wife saying she’s over there.

13. Serving customers and they’re on the phone is a controversial one. I’ve been in a cafe where I put my phone on mute and to the side of the counter and the woman still refused to serve me until my conversation was officially over. SHOUTOUT TO PUMPKIN RAILWAY CAFE’S. I swear they’re all a load of poop. But I’m not overly bothered or I wouldn’t kick off if someone used their mobile really quick, I don’t really want to make small talk with you anyway but pls just pay with your card and go and don’t make me wait til you’ve finished chatting with your pal to acknowledge me, cos that’s just rude.

14. Customers who want to complain to the manager and PLOT TWIST it’s you. I went from sales advisor to manager in the store I’d been working in for two years previous in the space of about a month. So I could kinda understand how some shoppers got confused how the shop assistant overnight became a manager but y’know I was just as confused. Oh and at the age of 20 or 21 I was the youngest on my region just for my own humble brag there. I know I may have youth on my side Janice but I’m the captain of this ship. Sadly that ship was the titanic BUT I WAS STILL THE CAPTAIN.

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15. Y’know when it’s unbearably hot and stuffy in a shop, there’s no air conditioning and you customers sweat and moan about the rising heat so leave after about 23 seconds? Think Primark in the late 90s early noughties when it was always unbearably hot inside, clothes were strewn everywhere and it looked like you just walked onto the set of Earth Song. Yah someone has to work in that fiery heat. I was that person once upon a time. When I was a manager we had a spare temperature probe for the fridges and I left it on the shop floor just to see how hot it actually was in there. It would get up to the high 20s or 30. Which is lovely if you’re sipping pina coladas on a beach in the Bahamas in that temperature; not so much when you’re working. My area manager said it wasn’t that hot or I should buy a fan. So my training coordinator suggested I dip the end of the thermometer in some boiling hot water so it looks much hotter than it really is, so they’ll have no choice but to buy us top of the range air conditioning. Shortly after he did a surprise visit to come see me and needless to say, he was a bit shocked/surprised/concerned to see we’d been working in 68 degree heat and none of us had combusted.

16. One thing that used to really irritate me, maybe that’s just because I’m easily irritated was that a customer would come in every week and ask for the same thing but pronounce it wrong everytime. Quinoa being pronounced keen wah is a prime example.

17. I don’t know if anyone else suffered this but I used to get people mistaking me and my shop as the tourist information desk ALL. THE. TIME. Baring in mind I still have to double check my left and right with my hands I don’t think I’m the best person to ask for directions to Stonehenge by electric bike, Sir. When I worked in Bath a lady grabbed me by my elbow (I thought it was an odd way to get someone’s attention too but it actually worked) and simply asked me to tell her if she was going the wrong way. She gave no more information. She just said that…Depends, if you’re trying to get to the Roman Baths, no you’re not. Take a left by the man painted silver covered in pigeons if you’re trying to get to Mozambique…then yes ma’am you’re going the wrong way.

18. Customers who try and tell you how to do your job. Urgh get on tills if you really want to help me out Karen.

19. People who make that joke like you’ve never heard it before “hehehehe if it’s not scanning it must be free right???? Hehhehe”. Get in the bin.

20. PEOPLE WHO COME IN TO BROWSE JUST AS THE PLACE IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. I understand you may have been working all day too but we don’t often get paid if we have to stay later. I like you but I like earning money for being in work more.

21. People who complain once they’ve consumed nearly all of their food/drink/whatever. The fact you ate all your food apart from one spoonful even though it was too garlicky??? Your case is now invalid. Go home. Have a lovely life. Goodbye.

22. Whoever made the phrase the customer is always right was wrong.

23. People who complain about pretty much anything they can in general can be so taxing and sometimes they take it way too far. I was in the Lush store near Christmas time in Bath and a couple went IN on the girl serving them both. They were screaming, shouting and the poor girl cried. Looking back I actually kinda regret standing by and doing nothing as I have also been on the receiving end of sociopaths like that. But me and my friend did stick around to see if she was ok and luckily all of her team and her manager basically told the customers to do one. In much more eloquent terms obvs.

24. Having to face up shelves, so they look dead neat and tidy and then someone has the nerve and audacity to BUY something from said bay. You wouldn’t cut a slice out of Mary Berry’s cake before she finished icing it would you?! Also I used to call facing up pulling forward but apparently that sounded dead raunchy for the shopfloor.

25. Loyalty cards. Ok I could literally write a whole dissertation on the drama these things cause. Same with the products we try and sell you on the till or even the 30 billion receipts that seem to come flying out the till at the end with your shopping. I just wanna say as a retail worker and also a customer in shops I totally get how annoying it is to be practically interrogated when you just want to buy some pants. But we HAVE to ask you that or we get shouted it at. It becomes a part of a salespersons routine and script. Where I used to work they wanted at least 75% of all customers to be signed up onto their loyalty scheme and you’d be heavily pressured to ask every single person who walked through their door. If you didn’t or you didn’t get the amount of sign ups your boss would want you’d face a grilling. We are human and know that you get asked that in every shop so please just be polite and say no thanks. Same with getting an email or receipt asking about your service instore that day.Like we get it, it’s annoying we care about whether you have a loyalty card just as much as you do. Believe me, probably even less. A lot of shops and restaurants have taken away the monthly mystery shopper element so the general public can scrutinise your performance instead and mark you down if you didn’t ask them open questions or greet them within the first 15 seconds of them coming into a store. :))))))))))))). That often gives us a commission based bonus which makes up our full salary. Is it any different to tipping a waitress for good service in a cafe?

26. Same thing with coupons that have expired. Most of them have a barcode which literally will not work once scanned past the expiration date so pls don’t shout at me because it’s been a matter of hours since it ran out.

27. I don’t really understand why name badges are a necessity to be honest. Some may say it gives a more personal shopping experience but this isn’t Harrods and you’re not my Mum so you don’t need to beckon me over by my full name like I’m a naughty child.

28. Unruly kids that run around like the place is a playground. Sometimes breaking stuff and the parents just sort of give you that awkward laugh/don’t blame me look.

29. People who think you have any control in this company. I used to get customers asking me to send letters of complaint to head office like I was going to boardroom meetings every Friday. You wouldn’t pop into Currys with a problem with your laptop and ask them to dial through to Bill Gates to see if he knew a solution.

30. Partners that bicker at the till. Pls no. I served a couple that had a full on domestic at the till over whether they wanted a second one for half price. She walked out of the shop in the end. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall in their house later. If she ever returned home that is.

31. When customers cards get declined it actually gives me mad anxiety. I always used to make a joke and blame it on the card machine saying it’s playing up a bit but some people would straight up, look them in the eye and scream their card got declined. AGAIN.

32. Customers to demand you check in the stockroom for a product you don’t even sell. I spend more time in this place than I do at home nothing comes through these doors without me knowing sis. Guilty of walking in there, staring at the empty room, waiting a good amount of time and then coming back out and telling you there’s none in stock.

33. Customers who don’t take off their sunglasses inside. It wasn’t cool when Kanye did it, it’s not cool when you do it in a service station Starbucks.

34. Work colleagues are your fam. Like love ’em or hate ’em they’re there for you. Unless you need them to cover your shifts over a Bank Holiday Weekend.

35. You kinda realise how dumb some people are. Not just some people you work with but the general public. There was one guy I worked with who may possibly be the dumbest/most fascinating person I’ve ever met. He could have a feature length series on either the Discovery Channel or You’ve Been Framed. He never had a dull weekend and would always come in on Monday with a great albeit odd story to tell. Whether that was how he fell OFF a bus and bruised his entire face (it was awful but he looked just like Freddy Kreuger) Or how he was texting a girl he was seeing, tried to type ‘Hello’ but his phone autocorrected it to HELP all in caps lock and then his phone died. He got home and charged his phone to see about 17 missed calls, 20 messages and several v angry voicemails.

36. When a customer tries to give you change after you’ve put through the amount on the till. Like I’m sorry hun I’m not rainman how am I supposed to work out your change now you’ve given me MORE money?! I know you think you’re trying to help but maybe I’m just a bit thick.

37. Customers that don’t clean up after themselves and expect you to *just* do it because you’re paid to. Please ctrl alt delete yourself. Like I know I work here but you don’t need to make my job even more difficult or annoying.

All I ask is that if you read this and you aren’t already, please be more kind, forgiving and mindful of retail staff or service staff. OR just people in general y’know. It’s nice being nice 🙂

BE KIND ALWAYS. X

The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House.

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The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

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Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

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My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

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My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

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As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

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I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

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A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

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These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

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I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

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I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

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Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

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The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

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I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

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If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

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This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

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I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

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There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

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*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

No, I ain’t no follow back gurl.

It’s been a while since I wrote something thoughts and feelsy on here that wasn’t to do with stuffing my cakehole full of, well, cake. I’ve wanted to write something like this for ages now actually and I was filled with inspiration after spending the night before on social media hating myself and my life a liiiiiittle bit. I really want to talk about all the things that kinda irk me about blogging. I love it don’t get me wrong but sometimes I feel like I want to throw my laptop into a fast flowing river and wonder what I did with my time before all of this. I’ve written and rambled on for an absolute age beneath so if you’d rather not read all this gushy jargon keep scrolling down to the bits I’ll have titled in bold. YOU’RE WELCOME XOX. But if you do wanna read my innermost thoughts and feelings and potentially the lottery numbers (not really soz I just want to entice you in a bit) well settle into your seats and enjoy!

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I’ve been blogging for quite some time now, on and off for nearly 6 years and honestly it’s such a joy to see this community of people all over the planet grow. It actually makes me so happy to see people I interacted with, all those years ago when I was just starting out at 17, back when I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing, not that I do now  to be honest, seeing them progress with their blog and their lives in general really! I mean some have got married, had babies, had a full on bloody glow up whilst I’ve twiddled about on the internet for a couple years, dying my hair and getting a little bit Naomi Campbell’ed at the weekends.

I don’t know whether I have ever touched upon my blogging journey with you all because it’s a bit of a random starter to this. I’ve read some people’s accounts as to why or how they started and they are really touching stories and mine is a bit of an arsy one to say the very least. And it’s kinda full of name drops. It all started in June or July 2012. (If this was the film of my life I would have been narrating this scene and that bit as we travel back in time to this monumental occasion. Ideally Kate Upton would be playing me but i’m going to stop dreaming for a little bit ok. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had as many thoughts on career changes as Mr Benn and at this moment in time I really wanted to go into journalism or something involved in the media circus. My cousin is celeb and entertainment journo and often is meeting and interviewing all the top names so as a favour to me he said I could be his plus one to go backstage with him at T4 On The Beach. If you don’t remember this (ur too young for me bro) it was a one day music festival held on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare. Super it is not may I add. I had a wristband that said PRESS PERSON on it I felt like I was a teen Fearne Cotton hotfooting my way over to interview Tulisa and Rizzle Kicks. I mean it wasn’t exactly Glasto.

I got to see the perks of all the behind the scenes fun, mingle with famous people and even basically loot the gifting lounge. Having never been inside somewhere like that before I honestly had no idea what I was doing and whether I was supposed to be taking things for free?! FYI Hugo from Made in Chelsea took two soda streams. Who needs one let alone two was my thought as well. It was in there at a table laden with gifts from a cosmetics company, when I was literally breathing in the same air as Alexandra Burke and Rita Ora, (oops soz I’ll just pick up those name I just dropped. *Insert shameless eyeroll emoji*) that the girls from the brand looked at my press band, looked at me (aged 17) and head to toe in Primark and H&M and they asked politely who I was or who I was with.  I quickly swapped my entire life story and gushed on and on to them how I was still in sixth form and was kind of hating it and didn’t know what to do, that my cousin invited me and I wanted to do something similar and love writing. I’m fairly certain I said this all within about 9 seconds in one breath as well. One of the girls just said with total ease in her voice that I should give blogging a go. They handed me loads of their goodies and instructed me to write all about them online. We swapped email addresses and I promised I’d send them my blog info. THUS my blog was born about 7 hours later when I eventually got home. Needless to say my blog journey was a bit of a strange one. I don’t know how I effectively nabbed the PR samples before the blog was even around. I have a lot to thank those girls for. Or you might just think I’m easily swayed and take life advice off of a complete stranger I met in a glorified tent.

Sometimes I absolutely adore this community and other times, like a 0.0001% of the time, I simply loathe it. It’s gone forward in a lot of aspects since I started. In the sense that’s it’s grown huuuuuugely with more and more people, blogging or vlogging or simply being more present online. It’s getting lot more good press, great attention and the respect it deserves. Not a day goes past where I don’t see people reaching out to others asking for their blogging deets to pass on to a PR rep or fellow bloggers posting affiliate links or their latest posts with items in which they’ve been gifted by a brand. I’ve seen some people get hate saying that X blogger only wrote such a rave review about their specific products because they got it for free or whatnot and it just makes me giggle what they must think about the celebrities who are paid to endorse certain products. I know who’s opinion I’d rather trust, someone who’s used it and put it on their blog or Cheryl Cole (or whatever her surname is) on an advert. I’m so hugely impressed and proud of people I’ve never even met, seeing them glow up and basically do so well. It makes me remember why I enjoy and love being part of such a thriving, ambitious group of fab people.

On my old blog, one which I have now hidden from prying eyes, I used to literally post on there about everything or anything. From daily updates on what colour my nail varnish was, what I bought from Oxfam on my lunch break from work or what I was thinking about having for my eleven o’clock snack. NO JOKE. One time I posted four times on my blog in one evening four different nail varnish shades asking you all for your opinions on which one I should go with for sixth form the following day. God knows how I wasn’t ever reported as a bot. Or why Blogger/blogspot didn’t intervene like U ok hun??? We want to report your unusual activity and posting all this verbal poop on our sites.

  • BLOGGING ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE. 

I know I sound about 357 years old by saying that and obvs things change over time but back in the day when I was starting out the blogger chats you see on twitter were buzzing with life and activity. I remember Sunday evenings used to be an actual challenge for me, as I was organising myself around the lifestyle bloggers chat at 7, another chat at 8 and getting ready for bed as I had a look at the blog posts mentioned and linked to in the chats and then watching TOWIE at 10. People used to share each others links ALL the time I remember seeing people write specific posts to share their favourite blog posts and or bloggers of that week or month. Or people would often be writing guest posts on each others blogs a lot too. I don’t know whether that’s still a thing as such anymore or whether I’ve got my head up my butt, but I just don’t see the same love in’s anymore.

  • IT CAN BE HARD NOT TO FEEL JEALOUS OR COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

I was actually a little unsure how to post this or word it as well. It’s something I’m sure i’m not alone in feeling. It can be difficult to not get a few jealous pangs when you see someone you’re friendly with through blogging getting offered amazing opportunities or pr samples. You want to be super happy for them but also a tiny part of you probably wonders why you didn’t get that email or DM too. You can sit there questioning it, wondering why they have it when your engagement is far better or you’ve been blogging a lot longer and think to yourself whether it was because you missed a week back in November because you went out out one weekend and simply couldn’t be arsed to write about whatever it was the following day so missed your weekly blog catch up. I’m not entirely sure how PR’s find bloggers sometimes if you’re reading this as a blogger/ a PR or even a normal person please do let me know if you have the answer. I’m happy for all my blogger pals and for all they’ve achieved because I know they’ve all worked their socks off for what they get and they deserve it too. You want a tiny slice of that pie too and that’s totally ok, you want to be recognised by someone for all your hard work too.  Just as long as you don’t take this jealousy too far and burn their house down with their new Jo Malone candle we’re all good, ok. But in all seriousness if this thought does niggle away at you just remember you have a blog, so you have internet connection so you’re already a lot better off than a lot of people around the world. Stay humble. 🙂

  • FOLLOWING EVERY BLOGGER.

I’m going to admit it I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past and I hold my hands up to that and apologise to all the people I’ve actually annoyed when I used to be that person popping up on their timeline every now and then. In a blogger world you think numbers are the key to success and as soon as you’ve hit over a certain amount you’ll be jetting off to the Bahamas on a press trip. It doesn’t work that way I’m afraid. You see the word blogger in their bio and click that big blue follow button assuming they’ll follow you right back and not mess up your ratios. if you were in a room full of 200 people chances are you wouldn’t get on with everybody in the said room. So why force it with blogging too? Just because you have a mutual hobby together doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be besties skipping off to Peggy Porschen’s together.

  • FAKING YOUR NUMBERS.

Whether this is from actually buying bots and followers or literally following everyone you can so you have about 120,000 followers but sadly also have to follow 121,000 people. How on earth do you see everything? As mentioned I used to think by following EVERYONE, my numbers would shoot up and my blog would get the following to match too. It didn’t happen. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’m a lot happy for it. If someone follows my blog, my Instagram or my Twitter I’m super chuffed as it’s an organic/authentic follower.

  • UNNECESSARY PRESSURE.

Your blog is your own if you want to write about the decline in bumble bee’s I’d be more than happy to read that or if you want to write about why you have started using lipstick as eye shadow I’d also be more than happy to read that too. Or if you’ve just treated yourself to the Urban decay heat palette and really want to write about that even though everyone else has too. Well you open up your browser and you write that review. I used to be quite put off and not want to write those sorts of posts on my old page because there will have been umpteen blog posts about the eyeshadow palette I just got. But don’t let that put you off. The world has yet to read your thoughts and feels on it. Also I’m just going to chuck in here that you can tell when someone slips away from themselves when writing content and it no longer feels or sounds like the same person behind the screen tapping away at their keyboards. There’s the pressure of putting out great content, to have a great, informative, innovative, whatever you want to call it blog. As long as you are happy with it and it makes YOU happy who cares what so and so on the internet thinks.  

  • PODS/TRAINS.

Two words that have a totally different meaning outside the blog world. I’ve been in Instagram pods but I’m not going to lie it was an effort. I was liking pictures I didn’t actually like. Just so I would also get a like on my new selfie. When I put into words it sounds dead sad doesn’t it. I’ve also been in follow trains on twitter too. Congrats if they work for you but I didn’t reap the rewards like everyone else seems to. Not many people seemed to follow back or if they did they’d be gone within a few days. If it works for you then excellent but I know it’s not the way in which I want to project myself.

  • BITCHINESS.

UGH. I’ve seen some pretty nasty things flung around and the vast majority of people I’ve come across have been even lovelier than lovely. I personally am very much looking forward to the day it is not seen as cool or funny for people to be a bitch, or to be petty or to be unnecessarily mean. You do you but don’t bring someone else down for your pleasure.

  • Some people are in it for the freebies/money. 

You can usually spot these people a mile off and do you know what who am I to judge you or them or anyone for that matter. I was friendly with another blogger who would get so ragey if they didn’t get sent something they saw someone else post online. What bugs me about it is that it can give the whole blogger breed a bad rep. Outsiders from this community thinking we are dishonest or suck the buttcheeks off the PR rep in return of a good review.

FOLLOWING TO UNFOLLOW BACK. 

This shit really is bananas. I’m sure I speak for many when I say this is SO annoying. Please stop I beg. I’m yet to understand how these types gain followings at all because it is so blatantly obvious that’s what they’re up to. I had someone on twitter follow me 3 times over one weekend. There they were lurking on my page like a weirdo in a trench coat so I followed them back then they immediately unfollowed me?!! I mean kinda the whole point of this whole post but when I say ‘Few times I’ve been round that track, So it’s not just gonna happen like that…’Cause I ain’t no followback girllllllllllllll no I ain’t no followback girl.’

  • EVERYTHING LOOKING PERFECT.

I understand this is kinda the way of the social media world. No one posts a picture of their sad bowl of Rice Krispies it’s always the decadent avo on rye that gets the likes. The trials and tribulations of being a lifestyle blogger can be that your brand is your life and effectively your life is your brand. You want to portray this picture perfect image that you’re living your best life and just so happen to have a candid shot taken over lunch at Spoons. Don’t get me wrong I kinda obsess over these accounts that everything is pastel and pretty and annoyingly perfect. But for once can you just stand in some dog poop and post that to really go with your aesthetic. K THNX.

  • SOMETIMES IT TAKES AGES TO WRITE A BLOG POST AND THEN YOU REALISE YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PICTURES FOR IT. OR ANY PICTURES AT ALL FOR THAT MATTER. 

This was me as I was writing this post. Like I was close to just scrolling through my phone pics and clicking one at random until I realised the one I picked was close ups of me drunk my friend took. No one needs to see those.

  • SELF DOUBT.

SOMETIMES i have the fear when I go to click that cute little publish button. These crippling moments of self doubt. Like this stuff I put out online that I pour my heart, soul and fingertips into no one *really* gives a crap about. But it’s like the grown up, modern day self soothing and I feel a lot better putting this stuff out there. Even if it’s for my own benefit.

  • LOVELY.

Why do we call everyone lovely??????

  • DRAFTS. 

I have countless drafted posts that are either blank with random jumbled writing, a half written post, something I wrote when I was drunk that I thought was heartfelt but when I read it back it’s actually quite terrifying. Who knew I could squeeze Monica Gellar and Tennis Shoe into the same paragraph and what on earth was the point I thought I was making?!!?

  • When did blogging become so intense?

I log into twitter and sometimes I feel like I’ve got lost in a foreign country without a map and everyone is speaking in code. What’s a DA? Who on earth is Moz when they’re at home? I haven’t a clue about affiliate links or how to fix broken links to come to that either. I’ve only just learnt how to schedule posts and I don’t have strict timings or a plan each week for posting either. Does that make me a bad blogger? You may be tutting and shaking your head in disdain but I don’t think so. Personally I don’t think anyone will be on the edge of their seats on a Sunday evening refreshing their inbox awaiting my new post to bounce on in. I don’t think anyone would be that bothered and also I don’t need that added pressure and you sure as hell don’t either.

Your blog can evolve.

Just as you mature, and your crowd/friends/audience/rabble mature at the same time too. So if you used to post about what you carry with you in your school bag don’t worry about disrupting your niche to suddenly posting about holiday hot spots or how to spot a terrible tinder guy. ALSO whilst I’m on the subject, how do I put this, IT IS YOUR BLOG. In the words of Sheryl Crow ‘ If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad’. Unless it’s olives, they’re gross Sheryl.

After all that ramble about the things I dislike about the world of blogging I want to reiterate how much I also do love it. I’ve made so many fantastic friends who are going to be my friends for life whether they like it or not sorry guys. It’s given me more confidence in myself and being able to speak my mind and say what’s bothering me and also it gives me a sense of belonging and community. Something I can say I’ve never really had before.

 

It’s gone midnight and I’ve just finished writing all this. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Gemma who I simply adore so if you haven’t given her some love then I reckon you should do it now. Find her blog here. or find her chatting away to the small hours on Twitter here.  BIG LOVE X

I’m buzzing with the fact I got the phrase lurking on my page like a weirdo in a trench coat into this post btw. Oh and also Gwen Stefani lyrics. x

 

 

Be At One – Brighton.

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We decided to head into Be At One on a whim as we were about to stroll back to the hotel and I’m really glad we swung in for a cocktail or five. It was quite quiet when we walked in with the girl behind the bar ushering a shiny, brand-spanking-new cocktail menu in our hands. She was nice, hilarious and attentive as we sat down at the end of the bar and she offered her opinions on which cocktails we liked based on what we already drink. She was like one of those quizzes you got in magazines that pointed you in the right direction of which Backstreet Boy was for you. Except she pointed me in the direction of a glass of something much more delicious. Soz JT I’m forever a gin girl.

Me being like a magpie and attracted to the pretty shiny things in life (FYI their whole cocktail menu is absolutely glorious, filled with drinks that look *almost too pretty to drink* but definitely pretty enough to Instagram) chose to have a lurid blue cocktail called Blue Steel. So I whacked on my best Zoolander pout, stuck my pinky out as I sipped on this sweet, gin, white peach and prosecco based beaut. It went down like a dream I’ll tell ya. To the point it went down a little too well. I was quickly onto the next.

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When someone dangles a cocktail menu in front of your face it can be quite hard to not ask them for one of each. But when you remember you don’t want to look like an actual alcoholic on a Tuesday night and also aren’t made of money you only stick to the ones either you can pronounce or look the coolest. Which leads me onto me then asking for Bit of Me. After screaming loudly from the top of my lungs that I’VE GOT A TEXT I can tell you I definitely wasn’t bantering you when I say this was 100% my type on paper. Have I got enough Love Island quotes in here yet?? Either way this was sublime, another gin based cocktail for yours truly and it was really refreshing and fruity with the strawberry and rhubarb infused to it. That’s why I’d definitely want to pair up with this cocktail again. Ps did I mention I was in Blazin’ Squad?

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I definitely have a sweet tooth and a sweet palette when it comes to food and drinks. I much prefer clean spirits that are easily blended into cocktails and honestly, ones you can’t really taste in a cocktail too. My alltime favourite cocktails would probably be either an amaretto sour or a pornstar martini. Both sweet and zesty but not with that hard liquor after taste you can often find with whiskies and rums. The last one I ordered was called Candy Pants. It was a gentle blend of vodka and chambord mixed with strawberries and lemon juice over a large glass of ice. It was sweet but wasn’t overpoweringly so.

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The new cocktail menu we tried definitely whet my whistle to visiting my nearer bar in Bath. I really love and enjoy how many pubs and bars are upping their cocktail menus and cocktail game and this one in particular is one I’d definitely return to. Who can say no to a pretty pastel cocktail whilst enjoying the sun?! I know I could definitely think of worse ways to spend a day!

If you’re ever in the Brighton area and fancy a quick tipple I would definitely recommend this bar. Both the waitress and the bar manager were on hand all evening and they were an actual delight. AND they make great cocktails!? Although it did give me my first hangover in several months but that might have been more my fault than theirs???

Street Thai – Brighton.

When I’m in a new place I absolutely love trying the local restaurant scene or sampling the best rated places that I may not be able to get at home. I love trying new foods and well eating in general really so during my few days away in Brighton my friend and I wanted to be able to say we had some great fun, great memories and great food too. We spent our first evening wandering the streets, not in a lonely Oliver Twist type of way but in a neither of us could make up our silly minds where we wanted to eat we instead sat on the promenade googling nearby suggestions. We would pass somewhere that I liked the look of but Jimmy did not and vice versa until we both just got too hungry we agreed the next place we saw we would go into. Finding our bearings a bit we realized we were not too far from where Choccywoccydoodah was in one of the Lanes and there before us like a glowing light, to which we were two starving little moths, was Street Thai. Lit up like the empire state and will it’s kitchen aroma filling the streets we were in, almost like in a cartoon we followed the piquant smell, and the sign for the 3 course dinner for £12.99 special.

Street Thai specialises in staple Thai dinners and traditional Thai street foods and I was really keen to try something a little bit different or something traditionally Thai. As long as it wasn’t crickets on sticks, I draw the line there. Perusing the special three course offer we both opted for that as it was really good value and also need I mention again how starving we were?!?

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I ordered the spicy green papaya salad for a starter. Which was hot. Like a lot hotter than I anticipated. Over the years I’ve grown a lot better with spicy foods although I much prefer foods with plenty of flavours over a lot of heat, you will never catch me chomping down on a vindaloo is what I’m saying. Nevertheless this was enjoyable once I got myself over the initial heat of the dish. It was crunchy, flavourful and tangy. Plus I really like added nuts in any food really. From chocolate to curries and stir frys I like the added texture it adds to something and it didn’t disappoint. Within seconds of finishing our first course, our main meal came whizzing out. I ordered a red curry with pumpkin and mixed vegetables and a side of jasmine rice. It was warming, fragrant and just plain lush to be honest.

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However I was most looking forward to the final course, the best course in my opinion, the dessert course. Jimmy went with a green tea cheesecake and I opted for banana and coconut fritters. Which unfortunately I think they forgot about as it was getting late and they took off the bill. It was annoying but at least we didn’t have to pay for something we didn’t get. As this was my first experience of traditional thai foods outside of my local thai takeaway, Koh Thai Tapas and Giggling Squid restaurant chains. I really liked the food we had. If I were to go back I think I’d quite like to jump outside of my comfort zone a little bit more and try something a bit different.

Sunshine Blogger Award!!!!

I’m not a very good blogger, I either write on here consistently, 3 times a day or nothing for weeks and months at a time. I only own one thing marble and that’s a coaster for my gin and I’ve only ever been able to take one decent flatlay. I’m not really down with all the blogging lingo if you asked me about my DA or my media kit or about the latest blogging drama the best I could give you would be a slightly derpy confused face because I honestly have no clue. But what I do know is that the blogging community can come together at times and be so lovely and supportive. Floating about amongst this community are a number of different awards that fellow bloggers can nominate other bloggers for. I remember on my old blog, my first blog, all those lightyears ago I got nominated for the liebster award (I’m not sure if that’s still a thing??) But oh my goodness I was running around as if I just got nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar all at the same time. I told everyone I came across that little old ME, was a worthy award winner. Get your ballgowns at the ready, lads!!

You can tell amateur dramatics is something I should have pursued. Nevertheless I was and am still so so chuffed to this day if I am lucky enough to get these. Just last week the very lovely, Rosie nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Following her both through her blog and her twitter page I really like how naturally she writes. She posts such lovely, honest things that are so gorgeously engaging to read. She’s such a natural at this whole blogging BIZ!! If you don’t follow her yet, I would strongly recommend you do, but definitely check out her blog and have a read of one of my favourite posts of hers which is this one. Honest, raw and it totally puts feelings I’ve also had into words. Thank you so much Rosie for this kind nomination it means so much from such a great blogger!!

So before I get down with answering all of Rosie’s questions I’ll explain a little bit about the Sunshine Blogger Award. It is an award, or tag should I say, given from bloggers to other fellow bloggers that are seen as positive, warm and inspiring. Like little rays sunshine. Hence the name eh?! The tag consists of writing a post, tagging and thanking the person who nominated you. Answering the 11 questions they set for you to do. Nominating 11 other bloggers and write for them 11 fun and interesting questions to answer too! So here goes!

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Favourite quote? ‘Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game’ I remembered this quote ever since the first time I watched A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff allllllllll those years ago and it stuck with me ever since. It’s a great film. I’m definitely watching that this evening.

What’s your favourite drink? Oooooh depends on the occasion. If I’m having a soft drink it’d be lemonade or the watermelon, peach and raspberry juice from Bills (it is INCRED and will quite possibly change your life). If I’m feeling boujee or going out for drinks something like a nice gin and tonic, or a amaretto sour or a pornstar martini will always get me in the partaaaaay mood. But you also can’t beat a good cup of tea can you?

Dream holiday destination? Morocco.

What’s your favourite ice cream flavour? Ice cream is legit one of my favourite sweet treats I’ve loved it since I was a child and I can’t see it ever changing! I love anything from pistachio, to blackcurrent, to a rich dark chocolate. I think i’ll say chocolate for now.

If you could have an office anywhere in the world where would it be and why? Either in Paris or in Times Square in New York. I’d do absolutely no work as I’d be staring out the window people watching all day but think of all the cool things and interesting people you’d see.

If you could change one decision in your life what would it be? That’s an interesting one. I’m quite content in a lot of the decisions I’ve made really. Maybe it would have been to knuckle down harder during school so I could have achieved a lot better grades. I wasn’t the best at revising and I wish I tried a lot harder. Or maybe I’d change so I’d have a bit of a filter in my head, during arguments I tend to say the first thing that pops into my head. Not thinking about if it’ll be a bit harsh or a bit over the line.

Summer or Winter? Summer.

Why did you start your blog? I wanted to get back into blogging again and found it a really therapeutic way of getting my thoughts and feelings out of my head and projected somewhere. I loved the sense of community and friendship that comes with it. Plus i wanted to get much better at cooking and baking and what better way to document it than on here???

Give a small piece of advice to a new blogger? I’d probably say to stay true to yourself and try not to get caught up with blogging drama often found on Twitter or Instagram. 99.9% of the people in the blogging community are lovely, wonderful, super cool, likeminded people but like anything there can be those few people that try and incite negativity. Pfft I don’t have time for that. You do you hunnaaay.

What word best describes your blog? I’d probably say eclectic.

If you could switch blogs with someone for a day who would it be and why? It’s a close one between Kamilah and Jess. I wish I could write as well as both of them respectively and also kinda wish Jess could come round and cook for me everyday. They are so kind and did I mention they are both really cool. I might be fangirling a little bit over here.

Thank you SO much for the tag Rosie, I really enjoyed answering these questions. To check out her answers read her post just here.

The 11 fab people I’m nominating are:

Jess from Jess Eats and Travels. Everything she posts whether it’s on her blog, her Instagram or her Twitter account makes me feel so hungry. She’s an incredibly talent cook and takes the best photography as well that literally leaves me drooling. She’s such a kind soul and one of my favourite blogging people.

K from kkamilah. I don’t think I can actually put into words just how much I obsess over this gal. She’s such a sweet and is actually hilarious on her Twitter too. I could spend ages just liking or RT’ing her content if it didn’t make me look like a crazy fan. Britney eat your heart out…

Ross from Man VS Adulthood. Ross is an absolute babe. If you’re not aware of him (umm where have you been??) he’s one of the kindest people I’ve come across online. He’s so supportive of so many people and that really is something to be praised. He’s an absolute cheerleader for so many different bloggers and is always RT’ing their work, giving them shoutouts or simply just spending the time chatting away to new people, making them feel welcomed and friendly. You are such a positive influence on my blogging journey Ross; so thank you for being you!

Jimmy from Jimmy Et Al. This is my real life buddy. Support him, love him, send him fanmail. He writes from the heart and I appreciate his warmth, his wit and his honesty in his writing. Also he’s my real life pal. So be extra lush for that reason.

Molly from Mollyyrees. She is also someone I know in real life. She is also lovely and her blog makes me want to drive to the airport ASAP and get on the next flight to Barcelona. She’s such a babe and if you don’t find her on her blog you can always find her on twitter catching up with a netflix boxset. Gossip Girl lovers for LIFE.

Tanya from Glam Glitz Gloss.  I wish there were enough words in the English language for me to explain just how FABULOUS this chick is. She’s so kind and thoughtful and also her blog is absolute goals. She’s always up to something exciting and I love her no holds barred attitude towards so many things in life. She’s honestly such an inspiration to me.

Michaela from Mleeek. Michaela is effortlessly cool in that I wish I could steal her wardobe and we could be best friends and go to concerts together and I could quote everything she says on Tumblr type of way. She’s one of the best and her photography is an actual dream.

Danielle from The Preemie Mummy. Danielle is so kind and considerate and her blog posts are such a joy to read. She has such a kind soul and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her say a bad word about anyone. Everyone needs a sprinkling of Danielle in their life!

Kaylea from Will Flirt for Food. Kaylea’s blog is actual real life food porn. From decadent recipes to the most amazing looking food she’s eaten out and about. I love seeing and reading about what she’s got up to on her travels, what she’s seen and more importantly what she ate!

Esther from Esther Wyse Blog.  Esther is the epitome of a sunshine blogger to me. She’s always so positive! She’s so lovely and you can tell she is inside and out through what she puts online. Her post on 24 life lessons she learnt in 24 years gives me LIFE (seen here). Especially the bit about cheese. Nothing goes wrong with extra cheese.

Alicia from Popular is Wrong. Alicia is such a brilliant writer. Everything she pens is heartfelt and thought provoking and I adore the way she writes. I really loved her post about Instagram Envy found just here. It really struck a chord with me and I really would urge anyone who’s a prolific Instagrammer like me to read it and let it sink in.

Aaaaand your 11 questions are:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Pineapple on a pizza? Yay or nay?
  3. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
  4. What would you have for your dream three course dinner?
  5. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
  6. Are you usually early or late?
  7. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
  8. What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
  9. How different was your life one year ago?
  10. What is something that your friends would consider “so you”?
  11. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

I AM SO EXCITED TO READ ALL YOUR ANSWERS!!!

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

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Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

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Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

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As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

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For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

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For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

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Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

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As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

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Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

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I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.

How to cope when you are LITERALLY skint.

 

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Photo above is courtesy of Sandbanks, Poole,Dorset. UK. Super pretty and super expensive.

I have been rich, I have had a disposable income and thought nothing of grabbing a Costa every morning before work and going to Pret* (insert any other over priced chain here) everyday for lunch. See I was THAT bad with money. I would think nothing of doing an online clothes shop several times a week and I’ve been known to have actually forgotten about the things I’ve ordered and later on found still unopened in their original packaging at the bottom of my wardrobe from days gone by. I’ve frittered away small fortunes and what do I have to show for it other than my illustrious albeit pretentious Instagram feed.

On the other hand, I have also been poor. Poor indeed. Poor enough where I took on a godawful job just to see me through. Waking up at 4:30am to clean an office block toilets. THE GLAMOUR. I’ve been poor enough that I had to consider whether to buy petrol to get me back and forth to work everyday until my next payslip comes through or to have food to eat for the rest of the week instead. So very poor that Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl is basically my anthem and haunts me a little at the accuracy of it all to be quite honest. For a lot of people things like money and personal finances are still quite a taboo subject, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of pride bashing for a number of people to admit what situation they are in. To have to ask people for cash and feel guilt sink to the pit of their stomach at having to even ask as well. I hate having to rely on other people for those reasons, I’ve been fairly independent and have earned my own dollar since the age of sixteen so having a significantly decreased income was something that took a little while to actually get my head around. Sadly it took a little too long for me to work out that life balance and had to sort my act out quiiiiickkk. After speaking out a little bit about it on my Twitter page (shameless plug seen herrrrrreeee) I’ve noticed a few people have actually gone through or are going through the same situation. It’s not an easy situation and can be incredibly difficult.

Money quite literally makes the world go round and as much as I’d like to believe it isn’t a necessity; it also completely ruddy is all at the same time. I’m not totally, 100% materialistic but having said that it is very nice having the nice, pretty, lusted after things. These are the types of things that no one teaches you in school, ask me anything you want about the Tudor period or how King Henry VIII killed his fourth wife but when it comes to real life adulty things and problems…well they didn’t have a special, very damp Portakabin classroom for that one did they?! I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve found helpful that either I’ve figured out for myself or I’ve had the help and support of some special people with their invaluable input. Please note I am no expert I am merely just sharing with you my tips on how I haven’t staged a heist/military coup/ full scale toddler style tantrum.

Budgeting.

I am the world’s most unorganised person, possibly ever. So when I had to actually, plan and budget my life it didn’t come about naturally. I had to plan what I was doing month by month, payday to payday. Working on a literal four weekly rota for both my working life and my social life. I learnt how to budget how much petrol my car needs to get me to and from work and to have enough in case of emergencies (emergency trips to McDonalds and the chinese are included). Splurging on food has become a thing of the past and spending out only when I deserve and or need a treat.

Making your own lunches for work. 

To be honest, with this one I’m a little embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to actually do. It’s easier to buy a lunch meal deal than it is to make the exact same sarnie at home that morning. But the money I’ve saved can speak for itself. When it comes to little treats like the odd skinny vanilla latte (not that I’m pretentious and fussy or anything…*ahem*) I used to have several a week and not only is that really unhealthy but they are hella expensive when you add them all up. If you think I’d get a double espresso which would be about £2 or a skinny vanilla latte which would be anywhere between £3-£4 I was probably spending the best part of £15 a week just on coffee. If I kept that up over a year I would have quite literally pee’d away roughly £780+. Considering I want a new laptop I could have bought one with that figurative money there.

Cutting down on non-essential expenses. 

Even if I was just meeting friends for dinner or a few drinks at our local I’d always want to look nice and make an effort whether that meant popping into New Look on my lunch break or making a last minute Missguided order the night before with next day delivery. Looking back my spending habits were poor and a wee bit ridiculous. I’m sure my friends wouldn’t have thrown a drink in my face at the sheer audacity of me rocking up to our local boozer in the same Primark shift dress I also wore a month before. I haven’t made an online order for myself in a long time, I do feel slight pangs of jealousy when I see friends showing off their online deliveries on social media, or when I get the usual 38,519 emails a day about last minute sales they have on. Even to cutting down on buying my usual glossies. Gone are the days of my stack of Cosmopolitans or Heat’s on my bedside table. I am quite happy browsing through Pinterest, BlogLovin’ or on WordPress finding some written word and inspiration to lose myself in, FOR FREE. Well apart from the WiFi if you want to dissect this with a fine tooth comb!

Lift sharing.

To save yourself a few pennies, car sharing is such a simple and easy way to split costs and also save yourself the dreaded commute on your own.

Asking for an advance or raise at work.

There is no harm in asking, I know several people who argued a fair and strong case in my old job and did actually get the results they wanted. One of them told their boss they were thinking of leaving to go somewhere that’d pay more and they got a pay increase. Another mentioned their struggle of how they were just scraping by considering they have a longer than normal commute to work.

Using a cash converters/ exchange shop. 

There are loads of different types of retailers both on the High Street and online if you have a load of stuff around the house you want to get rid of. From Music Magpie, to Cash Converters to popping into your local CeX. You can flog nearly anything these days from books, dvds, consoles, old tech and cds. It may take a bit longer if you do it yourself at home as you’ll have to type in every barcode and waiting for it to register. I took all the cd’s and dvd’s I wanted to get rid of into CeX and they took care of it all and said to come back in about 45 minutes and it’ll be all sorted and I walked out with a pocketful of cash. Banging!

Depop/ebay.

Another good option if you are a complete clothes hoarder like myself is to take a quick pic of the items you want to get rid of and have a go at selling them online.

Car boot sales.

I don’t think it’s really the season for it at the moment as it’s still freezing and you don’t really want to be hanging about in a muddy field in your mum’s hatchback trying to do a Del Boy with all your Monopoly games and vintage Jane Norman. Spring time is a popular time for people to quite literally spring clean and get rid of items so keep an ear and an eye out for any local boot sales in your area.

Thrift shopping.

Macklemore made it more popular but I blimmin’ love scouring the charity shops on my high street, or any high street really seeing what I could find. Even if it works out as a cheaper way of getting new clobber or as an investment going on the hunt for higher priced goods to upcycle and then proceed to sell on for a higher price. My mum snapped up a Mulberry and Louis Vuitton bags just last week! Bargain!

Socialising. 

If you were quite a social butterfly and are finding it hard to accustom, becoming the designated driver and getting your pals to fling some cash your way is always a winner. You’ll be doing them a favour and you can put it towards the soft drinks you’ll be sipping on all night too.

Comping.

This one is probably my not so secret favourite. If you have the time and or patience you could quite easily spend a whole day entering various competitions online or as it’s so delightfully coined as ‘Comping’. So far by doing this I’ve won a beautiful Chanel handbag, tickets to London Fashion Week Festival, a Love 2 Shop voucher and an Amazon giftcard. I’ve made a separate Twitter account so I don’t spam my poor friends with my boring RT to win tweets. A good way I’ve found to keep up to date with lots of comps going on is checking the Money Saving Expert forum seen here. It’s really easy to navigate around and the other users are all really friendly and helpful.

Voucher hunting.

If you’re thinking of going out for dinner or ordering something online from a takeaway to an ASOS haul I always check on Voucher Codes website in case there are any extra offers to be had or monies to be saved.

 

Online Surveys.

Similar to comping, if you have the time and patience you could quite easily earn a few hundred pounds extra every month by answering questions in surveys. How easy does that sound?! There are quite a lot out there on the internet and it can be hard to know which ones are legit, are they too good to be true and do the people actually doing the surveys ever get the money. In short, yes. My internet pal Harley, reached out to me about these and linked me to SwagBucks. He earned some extra pocket money and has cashed it in through PayPal. Snaps for Harley!

Matched betting. 

A fellow blogger mentioned this one to me and my first thought was Oh My Gawwwwd I don’t know the first thing about football. BUT apparently it is so much more than that. Sites like Profit Accumulator  offer a free trial which is known as risk free, completely legal and tax free!

Part time work. 

I don’t know about you but part time work is very few and far between in my area. So in order to earn a crust I’ve taken on an extra part time cleaning job first thing in the morning. The early starts are a little bit brutal but it’s extra pennies and I know it’s not a forever role. Even if you nip round your local cafes, bars and pubs seeing if they need any waiting staff or pot washers.

Seeking work through an recruitment agency.

I can’t speak for every single recruitment agency but the one nearest to me I went to for an interview and got offered nearly all the dud, dead end jobs within a 28 mile radius. As much as I mock the dud jobs of actually putting a chocolate curl on top of a profiterole all day errday the pay came in at around £100 a day and you get paid weekly. If you were in need of some quick cash or wanted to save up for something huge this would be a quick way to go. Plus one of the benefits of seeking employment this way is that once you’re on their books they can look out for anything that might be more suited for you.

Applying for Government credit. 

If you are earning under a certain amount or out of work would mean you would be entitled to applying for Universal Credit. It’s relatively straight forward to do and you can find the application process just here. To finish your application you do have to have a short interview at your local job centre and you have to agree to look for more full time work in between or at least scrub up your CV.

Learning to live frugally. 

Adjusting the life you lead can be something that can be the hardest and I’ve found quite difficult. Adapting to the life of Fagin and Oliver can be quite hard. Searching for good offers or even free things to do in your local area so you don’t feel too downbeat or like a complete hermit. Getting out and about more even just going for a walk or taking the dog out, the light exercise will release endorphins giving you happier feels and happier thoughts.

Learning to sell your skills.

I am 189% certain you, yes YOU reading this right here, right now are something very special and I’m more than certain you’ll have invaluable skills you could pass on to someone else for a price (or for all the warm gooey feels you’d get by doing something good and altruistic y’know whatever you’re into…) Whether you were particularly gifted at History at GCSE you could offer to do some tutoring or selling off your old revision notes. OR if you happen to be a computer whizzkid how about put a flyer in your local newsagents offering to teach basic PC skillz.

Maximising the use out of loyalty cards.

Other than taking up precious space in your ultra fancy nancy purse, loyalty cards do actually have some uses and can be quite handy depending you’ve acquired the ones you want and need and not just every single one a la Moi just cos you wanted to look boujee with a River Island purse full of M&S Sparks cards. Loyalty cards such as Boots and Tesco’s Clubcard have always rated quite highly in my eyes. Whether that’s just because I’ve secured nearly £100 on my Boots card over the years so if I’m feeling the purse strings tighten it’s like I’ve got a hidden stash of cash. Places like Paperchase if you sign up for a card with that transaction it will give you a percentage off of your end bill. Aaaaand I’m not gonna tell anyone and will keep it a secret if you sign up for a new card every single shop. Your secret is safe with me.

Selling unwanted giftcards on Zeek.

I didn’t hear about Zeek until very recently but I’m sure we’ve all received a gift card at Christmas or for birthdays we didn’t *reaaaaaally* want and didn’t know what to do with a B&Q gift voucher when you don’t even know the difference between a Phillips and a Flathead screwdriver. Zeek offers to buy the voucher off of you for a lower price but you get it as a cash payment and it’s off of your hands rather than taking up space in your wall unit.

Utilising your spare time. 

Please do not worry or panic or feel alone. Because you are far from alone in situations like this. Money at the end of the day is also just waxy paper we put a price and a meaning to. There are ways and means around everything and people to support you and care for you more than you probably even realise. Even if you have to have a bit of a pride bruising and reach out to a friend or a relative for a bit of help and support.

It can be hard to try and not fall into a trap of getting money from places that offer you short term loans. It can seem like a quick fix to get you out of hole but sites like Wonga offer an annual interest rate of anywhere up to 1509% on top of that. Once in these types of cycles it can be seen as harder to break out of.

Lowering bills where you can. 

If your outgoings are becoming slowly higher than what’s coming in, it could encourage you to take some time to evaluate the costs of say your phone bill or that ever so necessary Netflix account.

Saving where you can.

Even if you just open a bank account and put a pound in one week and a couple of pounds the next, over the space of a year it’ll all add up. Or if you get an old coffee jar and fill it with 50p pieces before you know it the jar will be bustling full.

These are my ideas and tips on how to get through a rough financial patch, I am lucky that my outgoings aren’t as high as others might be,  seeing as I still live at home but these are just my ideas and tricks on how to save a little extra where necessary. If you have any please do let me know!

Blogger Recognition Award

Good morning my delightful little pain au chocolat’s I hope you’ve had the most wondrous of weekends and are settled in and enjoying this brand new week. You may have noticed I am a brilliant mood at the moment and to top off my ever glowing mood the very lovely Erika nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award and I squealed seeing I’ve been tagged. So thanks a BILLION. If you have a spare moment or two I’d really urge you to check out Erika‘s blog; I love reading her posts or catching up with what she’s up to on Twitter or Instagram.

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So the Blogger Recognition Award was made for bloggers by the bloggers. It’s basically a great way to celebrate, champion and let other bloggers know that you appreciate and are a fan of their hard work. If you are on twitter and follow the drama surrounding the blogging world and circles you may have seen a lot of drama erupting over the last couple of months or so. There has been a lot of bad business where a small few can let the side down a little and make it a more uncomfortable, catty place to be. There are some who are only blogging to get numbers, followers and freebies which is a great perk but if that’s the only reason you’re doing it then you might be in it for the wrong reasons! Before I ramble on and on for the rest of the night I’ll explain a bit more about the rules of this one.

  1. You have to write a blog post thanking the person that nominated you.
  2. Explain your story on how and why you started blogging.
  3. Share two general pieces of advice to other bloggers.
  4. Nominate fifteen other bloggers and let them know you’ve nominated them too.

Continue reading “Blogger Recognition Award”

I made a raspberry and almond tray bake!

I haven’t baked in ages, I know it sounds dreadfully lazy of but the thought of going to the shops, buying ingredients, the thrill of bumping into people I don’t want to see. Baking can be quite a lengthy process as well as incredibly messy maybe I speak for myself on that bit, but those things do put me off. When it’s so much easier to watch Netflix and order something unhealthy or living at home when my mum and sister are both confident cooks and bakers they do most of it. However, my sister is on holiday with her boyfriend this week and with a week of peace and quiet also comes a free kitchen space for moi. 

I spent this morning getting very distracted on Pinterest (why is everything and everyone on there so pretty?!) before I eventually searched for easy baking recipes. I wanted to make something easy and fruity. I know I’ve said before I have a big sweet tooth but when it comes to cakes or desserts I’d much rather opt for something fruity than sickly sweet like a double chocolate molten brownie. I spotted a recipe for a Bakewell tart and that’s one of my favourite sweet treats. It goes so well with a cup of tea or coffee but that recipe also called for homemade shortcrust pastry and macerated raspberries so it was back to the drawing board (or the Pinterest boards actually) so I just typed into google for a raspberry and almond cake and one of the top recipes that appeared was from the bbc good food website here. The method sounded super duper easy which sucked me in and the ingredient list wasn’t at all ridiculous so WINNING all round. 

If you want to recreate the recipe you will need: 

  • 140g ground almonds,
  • 140g softened butter (it didn’t specify salted or unsalted so I used salted as it didn’t say to add any salt in,
  • 140g golden caster sugar,
  • 140g self raising flour, 
  • 2 medium eggs,
  • Raspberries, 
  • Half a tsp vanilla extract,
  • Flaked almonds to top.

I freestyled a little bit with this one, I doubled the quantities, cake is one of the main food groups in my household and I knew this wouldn’t last more than five minutes. I also added in some almond extract flavouring. Me and my mum really like the almond taste and flavour so if you aren’t a big fan you don’t have to add it, and it’s still just as delicious. The recipe is so SO simple as well throwing all the ingredients into a mixer apart from the raspberries and flaked almonds, mix it through thoroughly and layer half in a lined tin. Dot some raspberries in the mixture and then pour the rest of the cake batter on top. I put some flaked almonds on top so they would crisp and roast up in the oven. The oven was on 180c and it took about 30-40 minutes. Leaving it to cool I then drizzled some icing over the top to finish it off. 


Not the prettiest picture as you can see it was starting to catch on in places. But I sprinkled a few extra flaked almonds over the top. 


Tastes prettier than it looks you’ll have to trust me on that one. 


I was really pleased with how this bake cake out, I was worried that with ground almonds and flour it might make the batter with heavy and dry but with the raspberries it added some extra moisture but didn’t make it have a soggy bottom either. Totally giggling at soggy botty aren’t I? 

For a quick, simple recipe I’d definitely recommend this one. It was super easy to make and didn’t take too long at all, so if you’re using up old ingredients in the cupboard, having a friend over at last minute or even baking with the kiddies this one is perf.