The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Monday 14 December 2015

Independent Islington - A Christmas Angel's gift list!

Ah Christmas shopping! Are you one that loves the experience? Pootling/scrolling the shop wares, peacefully choosing bits and pieces for loved ones, no?  Oh well anyone that knows me knows I love it.  I've been happily singing carols and working out what to buy people since the second the fireworks stopped on November 5th. That said I get its not all rainbows and unicorns for everyone and can result in a fruitless search for that one awkward member of your family.  You know like a father that asks for a shirt in a shade of I’m-not-really-sure-it-exists-but-I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it’ silver/grey.  Or a grandmother who has had 91 Christmases’ already and therefore says ‘nah’ to everything single possible idea of a present you could come up with.  

While I admit to doing some of my shopping in that place where, this year, they’ve sent some poor old sod to the blinkin’ moon just to film their advert, I do try to get at least a few of my presents from independents.   This year I’ve discovered the adorable shops of Camden Passage in Islington and highly suggest you get yourself down there if you're looking for something a little less main steam (hang on to your baubles, it's a picture heavy post!)

Modern Times - I can honestly say my images didn’t do this place justice.  The genuine vintage 1950’s trio sets (cup, saucer and plate) are stupidly cute.  They do vintage wedding lists as well should you be up for gifts from not the ‘moon advert’ people.

Spice Shoes - Independent shoe shops are a bit of a weakness of mine…. OK ANY shoe shop is a weakness of mine but the accessories and footwear of Spice, with their cosy, chic designs and reasonable prices is a proper find!

Annie’s Vintage - My favourite shop on the road.  It has a sort of Narnian style winter coat vibe mixed with the elegance of the 1920’s. This shop is a museum of joy even if you’re not that into vintage. 

Japanese Gallery – Open since the year after I was born, Japanese Gallery has contemporary and traditional styled art to suit many a pocket.  These images would make any wall feel a million dollars…. If walls had feelings… and cared about currency.

Stalls: Glynis E.M. Brown & Nigel Smeeton - For that seriously difficult older giftee a 17th Century book from Nigel or individual kitchenware from Glynis may be just the trick.  And if not you’ll probably want to go back anyway just to see what else they've picked up since your last visit. 

Home & Pantry - The kind of shop I could spend years and thousands in.  Cute little decorations, trinkets, bobble hats and inscribed kitchenware.  Home & Pantry couldn't be any cuter if it was filled with baby rabbits. Okay that would be cuter but possibly a tad chaotic after a couple of minutes. 

Designer Outlet by Eve - All unused or returned items, Eve’s is a bit like an Aladdin’s cave. If I'm honest the wares aren’t all my cup of tea but that, conversely, is what I like about it and what makes it so interesting!  She caters for a whole heap of different styles and has both high end high street and designer items at a fraction of the price.  Dig around and come up with a gem.

I’ve not even spoken of half the stores along this passageway, not to mention the stands which pop up over the weekend. So there’s nothing for it, I’ll just have to go back and do another post.  All in the name of research obviously.  No no, don’t thank me, I live to serve.

What’s your favourite independent?  

Friday 4 December 2015

Curls: to Covet or a Curse?

I never really thought much having curly hair, it was what it was but then I saw The Lost Boys.   If you’re under 30 look it up, it’s a classic film that, apart from starring Jason Patrick, Kiefer Sutherland AND Corey Haim gave me my first girl crush. Her name was Jamie Getz and she had the most beautiful hair ever.  It was big, beautiful and most importantly curly, like mine. 

She so purdy!
13 yr old me looked nothing like my idol but as I got older it was pointed out to me that curly hair is something that people found attractive (I'll wait you here while you barf in a bucket at this myself comment). That said I wasn't particularly good at styling it back then and ever since have been on the look out for that perfect product.  So when a rep from Umberto Giannini contacted me to ask if I fancied trying out their Curl Friends products I jumped at the chance.  And they were generous enough to send me the whole range. 

I've tried them all over the past month and not just in a cursory way.  The products are empty and I mean 'water added and bottle shaken to try and get one more use out of them' empty. I was instantly enamoured with the scent which was fragrant but not in the least over powering.  It reminded me of the suntan lotion I used as a kid, so good memories!

I was looking forward to the intensive conditioner as using dryers, curlers (for a more-Lorde-less-birds-nest look) and when I fancied a change GHD's, meant my barnet has been through the mill.  This felt super smooth on application but in truth wasn't quite so salon ready the next morning and I'm still not sure it actively helped the condition.

The nourishing oil worked well when applied (sparingly) to damp hair and small sections twisted to aid the natural curl, But it's the scrunching jelly that proved to be my favourite product.  It can leave your hair a little sharp in texture, as pretty much any other holding product I've found that works so you may not be able to run your fingers through long hair like they do on the adverts without some scalp pain. But it does hold a beach wave all day which is quite the feat in itself.

Then I went and did an odd thing, I got all my hair cut off.  Seeing as I hadn't had short hair since I was 3 it was quite a big step so my hairdresser and I discussed a long bob to ease me in.  Then with the dual persuasions of him basically knowing better and a glass of prosecco I got talked into a shorter do. 
I’ll admit to being a little concerned at the wet look version of my new style, but with encouraging comments from the staff at Adamson Berekoff and watching my natural curl rise from the weight of 35 years of the same style I found myself feeling empowered.  Rebelling against the value of attractiveness I held/had been taught, shorter hair seems to be a hit with friends, family and more importantly with me.  I'm very much enjoying the extra time I have as washing and styling it takes minutes not hours, plus it's much less sweaty at gigs! 
Shorter hair is where Umberto Giannini scrunching jelly and mousse come into their own. These products give a controlled curl without looking too 'done' and the length means I can run my fingers through my hair without scalping myself.  While at times I do feel a pang of conscience when I see images of a pre chopped me all in all I'm feeling... well like this: 

What are your best styling tips?

Sunday 22 November 2015

Local Review: The High Tea Club

The phrase East meets West get bandied around fairly frequently and the other week I found myself thinking it again when I attended The High Tea Club. As a venue it’s small yet perfectly formed with 3D dresser drawers on the wall and elegantly written messages on the bathroom walls, who doesn't like something to read while you wee! These details add a quaint charm and with the right lighting it could be an instagrammers dream!

Other than the usual British afternoon tea, you also have the option of dim sum, we got to try both which is ever so handy when you are reviewing the food at an eatery. The tea cake stand and dim sum dishes were served with care and attention and thoroughly enjoyed by myself and my hungry blogger comrades... after we’d taken our 50,000 photos of course.  My only slight grumble is that there were only six small sandwiches on the British afternoon tea stand which I felt to be a little sparse. It's altogether possible this is due to my being spoilt by afternoon tea at The Ritz though where they treat you like Foie gras geese and you, in turn, act like them by eating until your stomach lining splits. 

That said the tiny macaroons brought in from local suppliers, were beautifully delicate and moorish and the Dim Sum made a great alternative to the traditional teatime options. While I don’t pretend to ‘get’ all the flavours, there’s definitely something that tastes like savoury marshmallow there, I did appreciate the juxtaposition of scones and sesame prawne toast.

Where The High Tea Club shines is their selection of teas. There are several types spread over four pages including seven or eight mesmerising flowering teas.  I tasted 'Mountain Dream' and having been served this type before in a tall glass I wasn't sure the see through pot would give the flower enough room to flourish. While I feel the bloom could well have stretched higher I think we got to see most of the impressive effect.  The staff were chatty and accommodating noticing our empty pots and offering to refill them mentioning that the flavour of the tea is better second time around anyway, a point we found to be quite true!

If afternoon tea isn't your thing the day menu offers soups, sandwiches, pancakes and breakfasts until 5pm. After dark and the party continues.  This is when the cheese boards come out along with countless spirits and cocktails.  You can even continue your tea drinking with gin, vodka and whisky tea cocktails. So we can pretend we're there to be all refined and ladylike but for some of us there’s a good chance we’ll end up accidentally getting blotto’d.

I'm really quite looking forward to going back.

Have you experienced a fusion afternoon tea venue?

Wednesday 18 November 2015

5 Years A Blogger - The ups and downs of a small time writer.

I began blogging over 5 years ago, before it was the manic craze it seems to be now and before it was taken seriously as a career.  I started because I had all these thoughts and ideas circling my brain, like a plane waiting to land in Heathrow, incidentally with the same amount of nausea.  I found that once I wrote them down they seemed to dissipate. It calmed me what's more I loved it and there's no better feeling then finding what your creative outlet is.

Anyway cut to January 2012 and I discovered twitter, embarrassingly I once had a Facebook status which said ‘I don’t get twitter and will never have an account’.  Nearly 1,500 followers, countless chats and over 1,000 photos later it’s safe to say I changed my mind a bit there.  Twitter was the place I first uploaded my links and found other people had actually been reading them!  Blogging's been a rather odd journey and the advice for what to do and how to do it is conflicting to say the least.  Among other tips I have seen:

Find a routine - Get a space that’s just yours, pick a time and stick to it.
Mix it up - Write at different times/places don’t get stuck in a rut!
Write Constantly -  Even when you don’t feel like it, push yourself.
Don't Write Constantly -  If you're not feeling it do something else, take your mind off it and inspiration will kick in.
Pick up your phone  - Its a great way to connect/get inspiration for your next post.
Put down your phone  - It’s distracting, you’ll end up on Twitter/YouTube wasting the day away

Tricky huh?

So rather than offer advice I'm just going to tell you my highs and lows through the years.  Maybe you'll recognise or have a few of your own to add:

Great things about blogging
Discovering a new love.  As a baby blogger I would just lift images from the web and add them to my page. Not recommended unless you are really good friends with the person that took the photo (you’ll see why I added this in a bit).  Later I learnt this was tantamount to walking into Reiss and saying I'm just gonna wear this dress and talk about how much love it without paying OK? byeee! Luckily, other than writing I discovered a joy in photography which I hadn't explored previously.  When taking my own images I don't have to worry about permissions, furthermore its becoming a seriously passionate pastime. 

Finding #CambMeetUp
Sigh - these girls and they are all girls, which isn't to say men aren't welcome - get a part of me that some of my other friends just don't relate to.  They're funny, clever, interesting, odd, lovely people and I'm feeling all gushy just thinking about the friendships they have added to my life.  

Inspiring Others

So yeah, apparently GirlRunningLate started blogging (in part at least) due to my doing this one - I still feel a bit like a fraud writing this and am sure she's going to privately email me (cos she's nice like that) saying "erm what? no I didn't!" in which case this paragraph will disappear quick smart. On the off chance I didn't make this up its beyond cool.  Seriously who would've thunk it?

Working with Brands – Umberto Giannini, Nude Jewellery, Antonio Ben Chimol, Kiss Air Candles, Bacoca Boutique to name a few! – I've actually had companies send me their products to test and talk about at no (financial) expense to me and a definite expense them. Many of these items have been jewellery and to a "shiny-things-rock" magpie like me it’s insane this is happening.  Its such a privilege, one I genuinely appreciate. 

Comments on my posts:  That people bother to say anything about my blog is still a wonder to me.  Granted it can be another thing to become obsessed with but these mini appreciations at the end of my posts are most welcome.  Seriously... please keep them coming.

Not so great things about blogging.
Stat-checking: Sometimes I curse the day I first discovered the blogger stats page.  The addiction really took hold when I got the rush of adrenaline that comes with seeing a jump in views from 200-300 to 2000.  Similar to the experience Essena O’Neill must have felt at her first 100,000 views I imagine, just less impressive to the rest of the world.  Its uber difficult not to let this be my first refresh every morning, I'm working on it though.

Crippling insecurity: Unless you’re completely immune to comparing yourself to others (in which case I want to know what chemicals you’re taking) at some point you’ll see another blog that is prettier, funnier, better written, or more popular than yours.  This happens to me on a regular frickin' basis and it took a while before it became something that I learnt to use as inspiration rather than just comparison.  

So there you have it. Looking at all I've learnt, the person I am and who I've surrounded myself with I'd say I'm on the right track. 

And in my own mind at least I'm kind of a big deal.

Have you anything to add to my best/worst things about blogging list?

PS that photo of Lauren? completely stolen.... I'm hoping she'll forgive me due to the above! 

Sunday 15 November 2015


I was troubling over what to write for my 200th blog and had plans for a highs and lows post (which is still coming) but then Paris happened…. Then a bomb went off in Beirut, and still refugees are arriving from Syria in their droves.  And as people started splitting on how best to wish for peace, be it #PrayForParis or #Parisisaboutlife I felt moved to say something about it. 

It’s scary to see all this pain, death and contrived acts of terror and the temptation to hide away or get angry and blame one faith or another can seem overwhelming. Yesterday I saw this post from Disasters of a 30 Something an Instagram friend (and I’m about to find out if she minds being called that as we’ve never actually met) and it gave me a moment’s comfort in a sad and confusing day.

When everything is messed up finding something good to hold onto is powerful. 

It’s easy to get bogged down and dispute how best to retaliate but in the end all that achieves is disheartened good intentions.  You’re told not to pray for Paris and this can leave you feeling chastised.  Why?  What does it matter HOW you show your solidarity?

It’s been said before and much more eloquently than here but only kindness can eradicate hatred and personally I don’t care if it’s through prayers, celebration of life or by just quietly, agnostically if you like, being nice to each other. 

So I’ll #PrayForParis and celebrate the freedoms I have, with my middle finger up to anyone that wants to take it away, however I want.

Feel free to do the same. 

NB: I don't know who's images these are but felt in this instance the message was more important then the nitty gritty of who owns what.  If you know please comment below.  I'll happily acknowledge them.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Essena O'Neill response

So I’ve been thinking about this Essena O Neil chick and I’m in two minds about the whole thing. I applaud her bravery and that she’s using what she has learnt to coerce her followers to put their phones down and see the world/meet real people.  As all she knows is making money from Social Media accounts this takes some guts so good on ya.  

That said she may or may not realise that getting out and meeting people is most likely, going to be much easier for a 19 yr old ex model with a massive following then say, an awkward not able to make a living off her looks 30 year old muggle.  

She’s brave but also a little entitled.  Used to getting paid for what she wears and how she looks, now doesn't know what she’s going to do with her life and is asking us to pay for her while she works this out.  She cries that she has wasted the last few years of her life on nothing.  

Can I remind you she's 19! Hopefully she's got a few pennies saved up from getting $400 to wear one dress and can afford to learn a skill and do or be anything she wants.  Those two or three years of her life gave her a real platform from which her next project Lets Be GameChangers will start head and shoulders above that of someone without this advantage. 

She states she had it all at 16 and as a near fossil of 38 I gotta say, I think that right there is your problem love.  I believe that at 16 most people have not had enough life experiences and are not equipped mentally to deal with the scrutiny that comes with this kind of fame.  I was fanatical about pretty much everything as a teenager and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many teens tend towards the obsessive when they find something they like.  So for any 16 yr. old that has an instagram career there’s no off switch.  It’s an insatiable beast which wants feeding 24/7 365.  There’s literally no let up and so no time at which you can clear your head, think about how important it really is that you gained or lost followers that day.  No wonder she's got burn out but it wasn't meant to be this way.  Many of us use social media as one of many ways to communicate, not as an all encompassing lifestyle.  

I'm a massive twitter fan and will at 5pm today be taking part in a chat entitled #FabricOfChange asking how consumers can transform fashion into a force for good. This would not be possible without social media.  The lovely Dave Grohl would not have played in Cesena had someone not posted a video of 1,000 fans playing learn to fly and had that post not gone viral.  This would not have been possible without social media.  

There’s nothing wrong with instagram as long as you think of it as pretty pictures and art, not a marker to measure your life by.  There's nothing wrong with Social Media but it should be only one of a myriad of ways that you are social. 

So I hope she takes this time to find a little balance, not attack social media as an all out evil but see it for what it is.  Like anything its an outlet that is shaped by those of us that use it.  

It may not sound like it but I honestly am rooting for her.

What do you think of the whole situation?  Is she right or over reacting?


Thursday 29 October 2015

Cambridge Autumn: Photography


So am off to an event tonight at The High Tea Club which I'll more than likely be blogging on this weekend.  

But before that I just wanted to upload some random images I took today. 

My home city is gorgeous at this time of year.  

I frickin' LOVE Autumn!


Monday 26 October 2015

Event: Suffolk Blogger Meet

A couple of weeks back I went to the Suffolk Blogger Meet arranged by @DaisyXXO.  Held in Bury St Edmunds, a place I have zero knowledge of, I was pleased/relieved that Clashing Time offered to give me a lift.  We met up with Life's A Catwalk and Loved By Laura and after a mini mare due to all the car parks being closed (!!) arrived at the venue only a little late to see what the what was.

Inside we were greeted with cookies, chocolates and a smiling if slightly nervous looking Daisy. Stall holders happily chatted away to whomever approached them, their smile never wavering as we rearranged their products for our countless photos. The only slight annoyance was the venue was rather dark which meant it didn't lend itself to wonderful images with tons of natural light.  This did become a conversation starter though and I got to meet a couple of fantastic ladies running their dream businesses.  **Queue a little free publicity for those gorgeous indie traders**

Ivy Joan are a new company selling all manner of cute interior furnishings.  Their soft and cosy blankets were a real hit, perfect for snuggling under on forthcoming predictably damp winter days. So too were the framed letters but as you can see from the below picture, they know their market! 
The Charity Candle Company are just that, beautiful candles that you can purchase safe in the knowledge you are helping one of four totally worthwhile charities.  The scents were mellow yet fragrant and prices being between £2.50 and £8.00 meant these beauties pretty much sell themselves, especially in the run up to Christmas.

To add to the fun of meeting new blogger friends like Sahara Splash, there was also a raffle which had an immense number of prizes.  I wasn't as lucky as Life's a Catwalk (who won four times) but did get picked to win one of five gorgeous packs of birthday/post cards and all sorts of fabulous paraphernalia from Yoohoo Mail.  I took this as a blessing from the Gods and confirmation that my stationary addiction was healthy/to be encouraged. 

This was particularly welcome as not 10 minutes earlier I had knocked one of the A4 framed posters from YooHoo's stand crashing to the ground. Incidentally it didn't break so I can also vouch for their durability... which was the plan all along.  Yeah, see I wasn't being clumsy, it was a performance test! 
And try not to touch suicidal frames!  
...... Anyway

The main thing I took away from this event, apart from the six(!) goodie bags - it's fair to say that Daisy is one connected chickee - was how our community is expanding.   The blogging scene has blown up over the past few years and while it's true there are those that are just in it for the freebies many do just want to connect with other like-minded writers.  Eager to learn skills, experiment with apps and attend events we used to have to traipse into the big smoke, but no more.  Thanks to people @DaisyXXO and @ClashingTime who started CambMeetUp, those of us on the outskirts can now get a piece of the action. 

About time too!

Have you found that blogger events are spilling out from London to the smaller cities?   

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