A glorious blogger brunch at Gail’s Bakery

The weekend was wonderful; as it was a lovely combination of being lazy but also productive at the same time. Lazy because I just ate food basically. But productive because I was testing out my NEW CAMERA at a blogger event, and also tried out filming a few YouTube videos (more on that later).

So yes, I didn’t realise I could be so excited about a new camera. I felt like a child who had a new Christmas present and has to sleep with it under your pillow. It takes amazing pictures and videos with a digital screen that flips (thank you for the recommendation Victoria) and I’d been desperate to test it out.

Up until now I’d use my iPhone to document everything. But, how ever much I adore my iPhone, it was really only good enough for Instagram pictures or silly things to send my friends – a real camera is needed especially if I want to document more events/holidays etc on this blog. As I’m going to more events and reviewing things in more detail, I realised that something was missing: a really good camera.

So on Sunday the lovely lot at Gail’s Bakery in Exmouth market invited a group of bloggers (including the lovely Plum) to try out their new menu. It was amazing. Here some pictures, and you’ll see on the menu, it wasn’t just your usual brunch. IT WAS AMAZING. My favourite was the SHAKSHUKA – I’m in love.

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Party Of The Year: #ZoellaBeauty

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Warning: a vey gushy blog post follows…. Strap yourselves in because I am about to unleash some soppiness.

Last night I attended Zoella’s beauty launch party. If you haven’t heard of Zoella then you must have literally been hibernating for the last four years. She is a YouTube personality slash vlogger (I always find it funny when people put “vlogger” in inverted commas, like it’s THIS CRAZY NEW WORD). But Zoe is also an author, a radio presenter, and now a BUSINESS WOMAN with her debut of new range products. Sophia Amoruso would call her a #girlboss, that’s for sure.

I had really been looking forward to it. I went to Sweden with Paul two weeks ago and when I got back to the office there was an envelope on my keyboard and honestly when I opened it I practically screamed. An invite to the #ZoellaBeauty launch. And errrr….I WAS GOING TO GET TO MEET ZOE. I tried not to act like a 12 year old, but it was difficult.

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I had been tweeting Zoe back and forth after I wrote a blog post about the news of her new book – and continued to send her virtual support from behind my laptop – because I absolutely adore the stuff she does and what she’s achieved is BONKERS and amazing on so many levels. I watch her videos in the evenings instead of turning on the TV: I find it entertaining and relaxing to just watch her live her crazy life. I think this what our generation is like – we don’t necessarily need to go through crappy TV channels looking for something to watch – we can binge on Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer. Also with Zoe’s videos there’s that feeling of she’s just like us – which makes her videos even more relatable to 20-something people who grew up with the Internet firmly wedged in our lives.

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I managed to chat to loads of YouTubers last night and honestly my first reaction was how lovely they all were. They weren’t in any rush to get out of conversation even though they must get hounded all the time. They were calm and happy to chat openly about their crazy lives – and they were FUNNY. I loll’d a lot last night. Nobody felt intimated by them – they are literally the same off-screen. You’d think they might have an aura of “celebrity” about them, considering that if you added all their followers and subscribers together you would honestly reach over 100 million. Teenagers were camping outside the venue for the hope of getting a quick selfie. I was doing the same inside, TBH.

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I was just as happy to have met them. #Hashtag. #Fangirl.

Zoe was brilliant. She chatted to everyone in a stunning floor-length dress, had a bit of nerves before giving a speech, running in and out of the photo booth and picking up her friend’s babies, who you can tell absolutely adore her. She is a real girl who was slightly overwhelmed, taking it all in that she had built up an amazing empire from just being herself in her bedroom.

I also met Carrie from Wish Wish Wish, Victoria from In The Frow, Polly from PollyAnneB, Lucy and Lydia, Niomi Smart the list goes on – and got to hang out with Megan from Wonderful You all night (I love this girl) and saw Zoe London (who’s dress was TOO GOOD – you must go and check out pictures). OH AND JAMIE OLIVER.

 

I am extremely hungover, so I must end this post now. Because in a nutshell:

  • YouTubers are amazing humans
  • Follow them all now
  • Zoe’s range is live on Superdrug sooooo check it out
  • The body mist smells AMAZING and I’ve OD’d on it today
  • The make-up bag has brightened up my day – um, a guinea pig in glasses, people
  • Zoe throws a really really good party

For more photos follow me on Instragram @girllosincity or the hashtag #ZoellaBeauty.

XOXO

ps. I have also written something for The Debrief which will go up soon. x

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Don’t Be Too Much Of A Fangirl, They Said

 

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I watched The Fault In Our Stars on the plane. Probably not the most intelligent choice of film when you’re feeling mega sleep-deprived, pensive, confused about life and acutely hungover – but often watching a sad film helps with a much needed cathartic release. A friend of mine openly admits to have nights in just to listen to sad music in a dark room because “better out than in”. Anyway, your allowed to sob on a plane because no one will see you and the flight attendant can give you a glass of water and nod sympathetically and leave you to it. It’s the film, I say, just the film.

Of course we all know the book is really sad, and therefore the film is sad. I knew what I was in for. Just like the hangover these tears were self-inflicted. Not having read the book the whole way through I enjoyed the sad suspense of not knowing how it would end. All I knew what that it is a tragedy. A modern day Romeo and Juliet horribly riddled with the C word. Every mention of the word cancer blows away all of the happiness away like a wind machine that gives the characters absolutely no respite. There is a haunting amount of realism too, with depressing lying-in-bed scenes, laptop scenes, Gmail chat, iPhones, normal open parks – it’s a Hollywood film sure, but there is a surprising lack of sugar-coating. And how can it be, with such a harrowing subject? Nothing is particularly glamourised except for their good looks. It makes the film all the more grim to watch, and the many morals of the story hit you over the head with a large frying pan.

Thinking about the author, John Green for a moment, the technique I found the most impressive was the way he wrote a book within a book. A book so seemingly real that I wanted to see if it existed, or perhaps even available on Amazon to read in its own right. I googled An Imperial Infliction by Peter Van Houton, whom the main character Hazel is obsessed with and quotes daily. But it’s not a real book in the real world, unfortunately, it’s planted there by the author as a meta seed. Peter Van Houten isn’t a real author either. And it’s a good job too, because he turned out to be a complete arsehole. A true example of the phrase “never meet your heroes”.

This made me think a little about a recent night out I had when someone said to me that I should stop reading the work of people I admire so much. That I should concentrate more on my own. Because to focus too much on other peoples you are not giving your new ideas the attention they need to blossom. It’s true that there about five writers who I read obsessively. The advice was coming from a good place. But it also jarred with me for some reason.

It was an interesting point to make; because I would never see being a huge fan of someone’s work or to obsessively read books in the hope for inspiration to ever be a bad thing. But I saw the point that was being made. There have been times when I’ve spent hours trawling through a backlog of archives of someone’s work who I admire. Re-reading their pieces again and again. Reading stuff that I cannot necessarily learn anything new from. The other day I went back to 2007 on an archive of articles by a certain writer. I was doing it in order to try and trigger a new idea or be inspired but after a while that doesn’t work. Really, you can only inspire yourself.

The reason why it’s important that Hazel had to let An Imperial Affliction go, is because she was holding on too tightly to it. She was enslaved to the book, to the ending, to the quotable paragraphs. She was so obsessed with the book that she wasn’t writing her own story. None of it was real and she’d become to hooked on it. I have certain books that I cling onto as well, but it’s not always the answer. It could be guiding you in the wrong direction.

I understand why it’s important to step back a little from being a fan of someone and their work. You can be a fan of what someone does but you have to also make sure you aren’t just hanging on to their every word. You need to keep your own thoughts and decisions in check and to avoid being guided too strongly. At some point you will have to create your own words, your own chapters and your own narrative. Something happened recently when I stopped following said writer so closely. I still read it. But I focused more on my own work. And since then, I’ve unleashed more ideas and better work because of it – because you can’t imitate, you can’t compare and you can’t do the same as what someone else is doing.

Go forth and enjoy the work of your idols, but don’t let it get you stuck.

Your (Extremely) UnOfficial Guide To Surviving Fashion Week

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Oh, London Fashion Week. You all encompassing, FOMO-inducing bastard. Every September (and February) London has a personality transplant and suddenly everyone dresses up to the nines in clothing they would NEVER normally throw on. People go into hibernation for a few days and suddenly emerge wearing “interesting” ensembles with the hope to attract a needy photographer, who has probably been briefed by someone higher up to get capture some “weird shit”. Bling, bold colours, strange-shapes, big hats, strange heels, bizarre sunglasses. Basically anything that screams “Lady Gaga circa 2010″. Any whiff of #normcore and/or facial expression and you will be cropped out of the frame, instantly.

Admitting that you are participating in these five crazy days (Friday to Tuesday) normally receives a pat on the back and a “good luck” to anyone trying to dodge it online or IRL. It goes all over everyone like a big trendy rash.

This year I went to a few shows and don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the experience. Because that’s what it is: an experience. I hadn’t been to a fashion week for a couple of years, and this time was fun in its own way. In 2012 I got to go backstage at Claire Barrow, Ashley Williams and Ryan Lo with TONI&GUY and it’s epic seeing how far they’ve come in such a short amount of time. Fashion East is the springboard for incredible talent.

But anyway, I wanted to do a blog post that sums up my observations. Not in a catty way (I hope) but definitely tongue in cheek….So here it goes.

1. You must take a photo of your thighs in the taxi: This is something that everybody does. It’s the “hotdog or legs” of #LFW. It’s a subtle hint to say: A) I’m on my way to a show B) Look at what I’m wearing and c) Look at my legs. Tip: Pinch the under bits of your thighs to make them look thinner before you take the snap. And then pump up the “saturation tool” on Instagram to turn those pasty jambons into a tangerine delight. (Tip: see Instagram feed of anyone from MIC for reference).

2. If you see a Mercedes VIP taxi, POSE BY IT AND UPLOAD IMMEDIATELY: Who cares if it’s not yours? Last time i checked, that’s not the point. I bet your instagram was full of these annoying taxis was it not? The point is to make it look like it dropped you off (even if it was for a z-list celeb and not you, just slip the driver a £10) and post in on Instagram to give the illusion that you’re a big f*cking deal.. Tip: bonus points for taking two or three photos of the said taxi – makes it look legit.

3. Hang your coat on your shoulders at all times. Yes I mean at all times. Even if it’s pissing down with rain and you have wet arms. You must hang it off your shoulders and refuse to wear it like a proper coat: FYI the posh name for it is to “shoulder-robe.” It says you mean business. You are Alexa Chung. You mean fash. You are not just part of the fash pack, you OWN the fash pack. *little mouth vom*

4. Steal people’s seats. On the 3rd row? Not for long sucker, just move forward and no-one will notice. Plonk yourself in the mid-front row if you can, people will be shocked and if they try and move you, just pretend you can’t speak English. Someone stole my seat at Felder & Felder, and good on them. Go forth, be ruthless you crazy fashion warriors.

5. Be as rude as fuck. Being polite won’t get you on the 8.30am Central Line tube and it certainly won’t get you anywhere in the fashion world. Look as miserable as possible. Look like you will bite someone if they come near you. They’ll take one look at your bitchy resting face and think you’re hot fashion shit and probably take your picture. Remain grumpy. Tip: If you do a big lion yawn whilst watching the catwalk, people will massively respect you for eternity.

6. Go to Somerset House with a bullet proof armour of self-esteem: People will be out to get you at Somerset House. It is where you go to be reunited with your Ghost of Childhood Past. Apparitions of the mean girls at school will be there, tutting, eye-rolling and gossiping into each other’s ears. Just ignore, march on and wear a pair of sunglasses that literally take over your entire face (and hide the tears you will no doubt cry).

7. If people pap you, try not to think that it might be for a “what not to wear” list. It could be for the best-wearing list. It so could! Be positive. It probably isn’t because your outfit sucks and might end up on “what’s hot.. and what’s NOT” list with a big hearty X factor NO emblazoned across your outfit of choice. Don’t paranoid. Don’t be. Omg, what’s that behind you?

8. Photographers turn evil. Have you noticed that during fashion week photographers haven’t a red glint in their eye? They don’t mean to, but they turn scary. They will literally push you out of the way in order to get their shot. There is only one thing to do: Photobomb the shit out of them.

9. Ignore the peacocks. You know that saying “don’t feed the troll”? There’s another one (which I definitely didn’t just make up) which is “don’t look at the peacock”. You will come across the peacocks ruffling their feathers and posing next to a brick wall, posing as still as a statue. They will remain in “photo position” for hours on end, hoping someone will take a photo at some point during the 24 hour day. It’s rude to stare. Don’t give them what they want.

10. Remember at all times: that at the end of the day, you are just watching people walk up and down a long piece of flooring in large room. See all those people sitting watching the show with their notepads looking highly important? They were probably in their pyjamas the night before. And probably gagging to get home to their pyjamas again. We’re all just people, sucked into a bit of superficiality for five days, knowing FULL WELL that it’s all rather silly and a bit lols.

XX

What happens when you can’t tick a box?

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A favourite quote of mine is about handbags. Before you roll your eyes and think I’m about to go all pink-and-fluffy on you, the sentiment is actually rather anti-handbag. I will paraphrase the quote; it was something I heard Caitlin Moran say at one of her secret gigs in Crouch End. Essentially, she is against the idea of an “investment handbag” – it’s something you drop fag ash on, vom in to, leave shitty receipts in and always find a pack of chewing gum from five years ago. This “investment” will not be there to save you when your 85 years old. That handbag will not be sold for millions in exchange for a pension. This handbag will be wrinkled and sad-looking in 50 years time, glaring at you from the corner of the room, and you will frown at it bitterly, asking yourself why you parted with £800 on a shitty piece of pleather.

Screw handbags. Get a fabric tote. (See above in my strategically placed picture).

But, seriously now, let’s for a second talk about a real “investment”. That investment is you. This isn’t me about to launch into thousands of words about “personal branding” (although you know I’d love nothing more than to do that) but it’s more about the basics of investing you. You, you, you. The one thing in this life that actually IS an investment.

Number 1) Look after yourself. Seriously. Go the doctor every now and again. Tell your boss you’re going to get yourself looked at, and look him/her square in the eye. Even if you both know that your getting *down there* looked at. Do it.

Number 2) Don’t be a dick, offline or online. No really. Don’t be one. Being a dick will come back to haunt you and no matter how much you think “being a bitchy twat in the office” will get you “further up the career ladder” that is bullshit. Be a kind human being. People remember how you make them feel. If you make people feel shitty, they will get you.

Number 3) Don’t post blurry photos. Ever. Especially not of yourself. And learn to CROP. Don’t ever upload a profile picture that’s badly cropped. Or one that is the tiniest thumbnail that doesn’t even expand. It’s rude. And you’ll look like a criminal. Only criminals are lazy with their cropping. I’m joking, but seriously.

So now we’ve cleared that up – I want to talk “box ticking” with you. Building any sort of presence or brand requires box-ticking right? WRONG.

I want to put an end to this hideous myth. Hardly anyone fits perfectly into a nice neat little box.

For so long I have been a fun-loving, grateful part of the “blogging community”. I really have. I’ve been to amazing events, met incredible people, build relationships I am proud of. But, there’s a catch, I’ve always felt a little bit on the outside, or should I say an “outsider”. This is because I don’t tick a box. Are you a fashion blogger, they ask? (I can’t afford it). Are you a beauty blogger, they suggest? (I own three pieces of make-up). Are you a restaurant reviewer, they enquire? (Sometimes, to be fair, but who doesn’t love food?). But I am none of these things. But at the same time I am also a small fraction of each of these things. I am all things, whenever, wherever the wind may take me. The main thing, I write on this blog, because I LOVE this blog, and I love the people I meet through this blog. My passion is to write – anywhere, everywhere.

I remember my first ever “campaign” I did with Diesel in 2011 where they put mine and four other bloggers faces on the clothing tags as our selected pieces in the new Covent Garden store. My blog was quite new and there I was in a massive shop in London with my FACE on a tag. I love Diesel, I loved the initiative, and I was so happy to be involved. I am still good pals with one the girls there. But I literally stuck out like a sore thumb. Most of the other bloggers there were proper fashion bloggers – they had a photographer, the most amazing statement shoes, the latest clothes, the crazy expensive camera, the poses, the lightening, the personality, the everything.

I literally had my iPhone and I hadn’t washed my hair in three days. I stood in the corner and drank three cups of tea rather awkwardly as I watched the other amazing bloggers try on new outfits, they loved the clothes, the clothes loved them. I stroked a few pairs of jeans and trying to join in. I felt like a phony. What did I know about clothes? Why was I even here? (Two of those bloggers have now gone on to have proper partnerships with huge retailers. This was their thing).

But then I realised: I was there for a different reason. They had selected different bloggers, in order to have different points of view, and different opinions on the new collection. I had never branded myself a fashion blogger, and never would, and they knew that. They were looking for a lifestyle writer in their 20s to review the clothes, as someone who wasn’t actually that clued up on every move of the fashion industry. And it’s OK. It’s OK to realise when something isn’t your thing.

Experiences like this one have cropped up a fair bit, being often surrounded by beauty bloggers, fashion bloggers, vintage bloggers, craft bloggers. Huge blogging ‘categories’ have formed. Businesses will want to work with you if you fall into a category. Blog Awards fall into categories. There are some seriously amazing blogs out there that are incredibly niche and cater for a brilliant audience. But I will never tick one of those categorical boxes. Not entirely. And not everyone has to. You can’t be something you’re not. You just need to work out what it is you want it to say on your business card. The rest is up to you.

If you want to start a blog but don’t have a “thing”, who cares. Just do it anyway. Do it for you. And naturally you will navigate towards more focused interests, as I have with this blog – books, travel, lady news, careers etc. But as I said in this old blog post, I guess I’m just trying to write, and not necessarily blog.

And the next time somebody asks you “what do you do” at a dinner party, your response should be “how long have you got?”

#noboxtickinghereplease