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

Thursday, 27 April 2017

13 Reasons Why, did it go too far?


I downloaded this a few weeks ago and when I saw a tweet from someone advising caution against watching it I thought ‘that’s a bit strong and somewhat dramatic’.  To me this was a wonderfully acted, totally gripping drama, but I was only on episode 5.

What did I know.

Okay that’s not fair, it is wonderfully acted and gripping.  However I will admit after I had seen episodes 9 and 12 and 13 I not only understood why the writer sent this tweet, I did the same.

If you’re not 137 or living under a rock you’ve heard of 13 Reasons Why. I’ll not go into the story of Hannah Baker; you can find it here because the issues around the series are, to me, more worthy of report. I think what might have happened is the grown-ups have forgotten what it’s like to be 16 and the all-encompassing belief that what you’re feeling will never disperse that comes with it.

There are two particularly graphic rape scenes that anyone who isn’t a complete psychopath will have difficulty watching.  But these aren’t the only truly disturbing images we get, there's also the suicide… in full. The whole sorry incident. 

Nic Sheff, who adapted the novel written by Jay Asher, has argued that he wanted to ‘depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible’.  He also advised ‘it seems to me that the most irresponsible thing we could’ve done would have been not to show the death at all,’

Erm Bollocks!

If he was showing it in ‘all its accuracy’ we wouldn’t have been given that ‘peaceful glide into abyss’ style. You would have seen her throw up, as sometimes happens during an attempt to commit suicide.  But this scene neither messy nor drawn out means I fully believe the accusations of glamorising suicide are not exaggerated. 

The fact that the perfect skinned Hannah is seen wandering the halls - albeit through Clay's eyes - in each episode seems suggest she got the last laugh. That the people who were hurting her get their comeuppance because of her actions… Again Not. Accurate.  Suicide doesn’t fix anything, I think you’ll find as Veronica Sawyer says, all it does is make you a statistic.


All that happens after suicide is pain, confusion and more pain, not in the people that may or may not have caused it but in the friends and family of the person that died.  There is no justice in suicide, no sweet revenge.  There is just a big, fat, crappy mess and mental health issues for everyone involved.

Which brings me to another issue, why were there warnings of the graphic scenes but no mention of helplines or crisis centers for those that had been triggered by what they have just witnessed? How irresponsible is that?

13 Reasons Why is not the cause of teen suicide and it shouldn't be made the scapegoat of a messed up society.  Maybe it will get people talking and be more open about mental health. It’s a risk though and to those teetering on the edge of hurting themselves it may come across as giving permission to actually do it.

Only time will tell.

Have you seen 13 Reasons Why?

What did you think? 

Rape Crisis
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Thursday, 20 April 2017

General Election or FFS what are you trying to do to us!

Are you kidding me! Seriously with all the talk of 'stability' and 'coming together' May calls a general election NOW?! 



I'm exhausted and from what I can gather many of you feel the same, but here we are. Forced yet again into choosing between people we don't like and have little faith in, to run a country that hasn't been this angry and scared since Hitler decided to give up painting.

We could just say what's the point, sit back and wait for Kim Jong-Un to get his missiles off the beach and into the end of days. Wait for May to walk the election because she's riding high on the poll stats and we don't know what else to do.  

But that's what she's banking on.

Our lethargy and confusion are what this government want. So its time, once more, to stand up and get involved. Get registered.  Find out what the parties in your area stand for, their stance on Brexit, education or anything that affects you and yours.

Personally I think the best way forward is for a coalition between Lib Dems, Green Party, WEP, Labour and screw it yes the SNP too.  Basically if every other party puts their egos aside and joins together to form a truly democratic government we might just get out of this mess alive or at least with the NHS still in tact. 

It does make a difference, and if one person tells me their vote doesn't count...





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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Review: Hot Numbers Coffee House

Fresh from of my successful stint as reporter at the London Coffee Festival for Barista Magazine, what articles you ask? Oh just These Ones!  I thought now would be a good time to turn my attention back to the coffee offerings of my hometown.  This time Hot Numbers.

The Cool
Hot numbers employees have the fine art of coffee making down to a tee*.  This is coffee connoisseur-age to the nth degree. 
This is where the really hip hipsters go to sample perfectly balanced blends.  You know immediately when you are near Hot Numbers, the distinctive bright red of their cups, perfect latte art and smack-you-in-the-back-of-the-head taste for your buds is unmistakable. 
I love that sometimes there’s vinyl playing in the background.  Yummy, relaxed sounds are perfect for a stress free upper middle class coffee break (cos we know how trying it can be to be an employed, straight, white person these days). 

The Quirks
The Barista training days are incredibly interesting and really give you food for thought** though are quite expensive, the Home Barista Training Experience being £160 for two.  There’s also a small side effect in that you may realise you haven’t had a decent cup of coffee at home since 1990-never!  That aside our barista, Jack (of course he was called Jack) had incredible knowledge of his subject.  Coupled with the skills to explain the intricate details of the brewing process to two coffee novices meant we thoroughly enjoyed our time learning about the bean. 
Hot Numbers events include drawing nights, bands to listen to and exhibitions to see.  With no ticket or entry fees (though a £5 donation is suggested) Hot Numbers could keep your evenings busy throughout the year.    

The Que?
My one true bugbear is No. Reward. Cards!  I’m sure there’s a reason for this but if the majority of other coffee houses can offer a little thank you to us their loyal customers I see no reason why the lovely people of Hot Numbers can’t do the same.  Is it laziness? Is it short sightedness? Is it couldn’t give a crap we’re still raking it in-ness? I guess we’ll never know (unless they read this and reply *waits…)
The Trumpington street address is particularly small.  Freelancers (what an annoying breed they are eh?) camping out all day, ordering one Americano and scabbing electricity supplies from small businesses needs to be curbed, we understand that.  However reducing the free Wi-Fi time to 30 mins is really rather stingy.  Give us a full lunch hour at least!

Bearing all this in mind I wont pretend I don't enjoy Hot Numbers and do visit under these particular circumstances:
I have an extra £5 in my pocket.
I have hour to kill.
I want to spend some time taking in some culture with my coffee.
I'm outside a Hot Numbers.


Have you been to Hot Numbers? 

* or should that be down to a coftee! No? alright I’ll get my coat. #Sadface
** was going to write liquid for thought here but it just doesn’t work does it?

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Playing with the new Olympus Pen E-PL8


As a fully invested Canon camera user I have never experimented with another brand.  Until that is local camera shop Campkins approached me to arrange a #CambMeetUp event with Olympus to try out their brand new Olympus PEN E-PL8.  The pen was the camera I originally lusted after when I first started to take blogging seriously, if I’m honest it was partly because I had seen it round the necks of bloggers I admire and partly because the white one is so damn pretty!

This meant I was only too happy to give it a go, as were several of those in my blogging community.  And so it was on a glorious Saturday afternoon a bunch of us found ourselves able to play with the latest Olympus creation.  David Smith, an Olympus tech specialist very patiently went through the set up.  Showing us how easy it was to link our images to our phone (a real pulling point for instagram lovers!) and running through the basics of what the Olympus PEN E-PL8 can do.  He was on hand throughout the walk, answering our questions and helping us figure out the menu's many icons.  He even became photographers assistant - with the help of the reflector or the ‘shiny shiny’ as we will now be calling it - so that we got the most out of our images.


Obviously a stroll around this incredibly gorgeous city is never a hardship and it was made all the more special as we could document our time together.  Catching up with those who have moved away, had babies or are just plain crazy busy all whilst learning how to use the blurring mode and enjoying the pin point clarity from this cutest of cute cameras was so much fun. 



There’s no denying this is a sexy little camera, as a blogger and social media lover it has many aspects that are attractive to me.  The down side being for a small camera it does get quite heavy and the cost isn't exactly a drop in the ocean if you know what I mean.

I’ve listed my likes/dislikes below and will be consulting this list regularly over the next few months to figure out if it’s something I need… or just something I just really really want!


Likes:
App easily links images to phone
Attractive
Small
Pin point clarity

Dislikes:
Weight (Some rather painful neck marks appeared after a couple of hours)
Complex menu
Expensive! (Kit from £549)

Do you have an Olympus Pen?


Thanks to Campkins and Olympus for hosting us.  



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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Gratitude


Bloggers can get a bad rap. Some believe all we do is swan around events, drinking prosecco, eating canapes and being given preferential treatment...

So onto my blog post topic, last week I got to go to two events, Hygge at Origins and the John Lewis beauty evening where we got to swan around, drinking prosecco, eating canapes and being given preferential treatment.

Hmmmm... so it does look like the 'some' I mentioned before have a point. But while I'll admit this is an aspect of blogging, its not the whole deal.  We spend countless hours researching topics, writing, photographing and contacting the brands we all voluntarily blog about.  And while its a choice and a privilege, its also bloody hard work.  I do believe however it is important to let brands know when they've got it right and these two definitely have! 

Origins on Rose Crescent have long been aware that bloggers, and customers, are key to a happy corporation and healthy sales.  Every time I pop in I'm greeted by interested and engaging staff who are excited about their latest product or ingredient.  The Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah*) event was no different, the scent of relaxation and blissful self-indulgence filled this pretty little shop.  We were handed a drink and chatted a while before the staff introduced the concept to us.  Hygge, in case you've been living under a rock for the past 6 months, is 'the danish ritual of enjoying life's simple pleasures'.  Incidentally I heard there was a little more to it than this but that's for another blog post, another time.


Origins products have been reviewed here before and I'm happy to report their goods are just as delectable as ever.  We were offered hand and arm (as well as Indian head) massages, and after a wonderfully relaxing massage with Origins ginger scrub and moisturiser I floated off in a happy hygge bubble. 



Straight into a completely different vibe.  The excitement outside John Lewis was palpable, as it would be when those that are interested in make up and beauty are faced with a couple of non-interrupted hours of playing with make up and beauty!  Live music, canapes (enough so that you actually get some!) and yet more fizz was available to us. I spoke with Urban Decay, a favourite brand of mine - their eye-shadow is amazing for both young and not so young eyelids**.  Apparently there is a skin care range hitting the shelves in the middle of April so watch this space! 



John Lewis know how to put on an event with style and had reached out to local bloggers deliberately, it seems, to give us a sneak peak at their exclusive And/Or range with denim specialists Joie Rucker and Caroline Calvin.  



The collection is jean heavy but the pieces that really stood out to me were the slightly edgier accessories and clothing.  Their slogan tops and reasonably priced bags are definitely worth a look-in, there's a fairly good chance I'll be heading back to check out the cropped jeans as well (especially if this weather keeps up***)



Both John Lewis and Origins seem to be clued up on how helpful we bloggers can be and did a bang up job of making us feel welcome at these events.  Its not just about sucking up to a bunch of beauty/fashion obsessed writers looking for freebies, its understanding the power of the micro-influencer and the community we have created. And you know what? It wouldn't work half as well if they weren't already doing all the right things for customers as well. 

So this is a thank you to those brands that appreciate us.  We definitely appreciate you too! 

*I know its odd!
**Not as easy as you'd think!
***Crosses fingers and pleads with invisible deity
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Favourite Fashion Designer, A Fantasy post

I’ve been an Alexander McQueen fan since I first discovered that not everyone has to buy their clothes from the high street. I've read his biographies - Blood Beneath the Skin being my favourite -  and my first piece of designer clothing was one of his scarves*.  I’ve worked my way up to owning a few more items (yet more scarves, boots and a bag) and almost wept at the wonderfully curatored Savage Beauty when it came to the V&A.

But recently, I’ve found some of McQueens' offerings a little lacklustre and dare as say it bland?  Obviously with Sarah Barton at the helm things were bound to change but unfortunately not to my liking, something I'm sure she's oh-so-cut-up about. It seems I’m in the market for a new fantasy favourite designer**

Not sure where to look I googled 'who is my favourite new designer'.  As luck would have it I stumbled across this quiz on Who What Wear and decided to see what they thought.  Just a few short questions later (Daphne Guinness is my style icon, yes I do hate Birkenstocks and yes I can picture myself saying ‘I don’t think there is ever a wrong time for a polka-dot’***) and volia! I was assigned... Tom Ford.
Now obviously I know of Tom.  He has burn your retina beauty...


although is a 'tad' gay.


but to be honest I hadn’t spent much time studying his designs all that much, so off I popped to Net-a-porter for a quick introduction and the first thing I saw was this:
A one-shoulder cashmere and silk-blend sweater! Why it's the exact top I had been searching for since last winter… and at £1,120 it's only a mere £1000 out of my price range...


Oh well! 

Tom’s style seems, to me, to be edgier than Victoria Beckham, less in your face than Jean Paul Gaultier and more chic than…. any/everyone else.  

After the epic Selfridges trip I took with my style soul sister (which you may well hear more of in the coming months) the shopping beast inside has well and trying awoken.  Looks like me and my bank balance are in serious trouble!

Take the test and let me know which designer you favour?

*Yes it does count as clothing...Yes it does. Because I say so! 
** Fantasy because I’m still an administrator/trainee photographer and my monthly salary fluctuates between 'can just about afford a magazine that shows me pictures of designer shoes' to 'could maybe afford a pair of designer shoes if I don’t pay any other bills, eat nothing and sell a kidney'.
*** Although come to think of it, I was thinking of a polka dance, not a polka dot… Anyway!

Gifs from Giphy,
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Monday, 13 March 2017

Fashion Week, Norwich

Last week was a lesson in powering on through. 

After suffering from a virus that left me thinking my brain was trying to escape through my skull by bashing itself against the inside of my cranium* every time I stood up, on Thursday I limped my way to Norwich.  I had won a competition to be one of the photographers for their Fashion Week and to say I was nervous/not feeling in tip top condition would be an understatement.  However I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity to try two genres of photography I had yet to explore, Portrait and Fashion.


Greeted by the House photographer, the completely chilled not-at-all-lovey Paul John Bayfield wasted no time in making us feel comfortable and included. He lead us backstage and told us to get stuck in where we snapped away at models in various states of perfection and wearing more Charlotte Tilbury make-up than you might see available to purchase in Selfridges. 




 This was a proper butterfly in the stomach moment with the anticipation and excitement building as the models went from every day lovely to sparkly eyed vixens.  Some of the girls has exquisite faces, you know you’re in the presence of real beauty** when even the Lightroom's 'clarity' setting reveals not one wrinkle! 


Being competition winners meant we received special status and were basically allowed to run a muck in all areas and Paul was on hand to give advice and guidance throughout the process.  He even seemed a little jealous of our freedom as he encouraged us to try different angles, look for prop images and generally lark about.  I'm pretty sure we carried out his instructions beautifully. I'm an AWESOME larker!



For the ‘real’ show the music and lights became more intense and the spot we picked in photographers stand or ‘pit’ proved to be of vital importance.  Luckily I managed to get some decent images even if I do say so myself.



 

With the first show over, an eerily quiet period ensued.  The buzz of the lights and chatter of people disappeared as they foraged the Norwich streets for food or just enjoy a little downtime.  But it all revved back up again with a few extra gears for the final show of the night.  Again Paul was on hand to ensure we were OK when some of the other photographers that arrived seemed a little put out by our presence.  


I took this opportunity to try a few experimental shots and whilst the results weren’t quite as good as I hoped, I loved seeing the show from a different angle.  Like a kid watching their parent’s party from the staircase this view was special, if only to me.  To be honest, I preferred shooting the slightly more obscure shots to those of the actual show, with one possible exception...


Hard life eh?

*by that I mean I had a headache
**by that I mean youth

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Friday, 3 March 2017

Embracing International Women’s Day

Fuuuuuuck its March already!  



March means many things to me. It’s when I really start hunting for signs of Spring, decide which Easter egg I’m getting* and on the 8th day of the month celebrate International Woman’s Day.

Here’s where I admit to being a bad feminist and say I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to IWD for many years. Obviously I laughed at how hard Richard K Herring had to work at advising twittards there was an International Mans Day (November 19th) when they got all bejiggedy about how unfair it is but that's it.

However this year with the rise of Trump and the metric fuck-ton of intolerance that followed I wanted to dedicate a post to the day. Because there are incredible women everywhere, I mean take Ashima Shiraishi**, the first women to climb a mountain with the cutting edge grade of V15.  From what I can gather V15 means its particularly difficult and can take several days.  She’s also the youngest ever to achieve a climb this tricky, did I not mention that she’s only 15?

This year IWD has a campaign #BeBoldForChange highlighting five ways we can all work on equality.  Each area has several additional aims we can pledge to do, being an awkward sort I’ve decided to pick and choose from each of the five and give them all a go.  

To be honest I've no idea how I'll do but something am definitely up for is going to see Embrace at the Light Cinema on 8th March.  This documentary follows Taryn Brumfitt exploring the global issue of body loathing.  


I feel lucky to say that I honestly haven’t hated my body since I was a teenager, however with 91% of women feeling differently this is an insanely huge issue. It seems learning to love your body is quite the struggle especially as we get older and it’s no coincidence that I’m thinking more about this issue as I hit a particularly big birthday in January.

I'm of the opinion if we spent half as much time learning to accept ourselves AND our bodies as we do trying to look younger or achieve perfection we’d be a great deal happier*** and a damn sight richer!  

There are still spaces left for this event so if you want to come along we’d love to have you.

Can you relate to these issues?
What are you doing for International Women’s Day?



*may have sampled a few of those already, purely for research purposes you understand
**slight change of subject alert
***not exactly a ground breaking thought but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you come here for! 



Gifts from Gify
Embrace Trailer from YouTube

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Review: Bould Brothers Coffee House

I'm not an expert at many things but one thing I do know is what a blogger or freelancer wants from their coffee houses, Cambridge's coffee houses to be specific. So I'm writing a series of posts where you can find out the cool, the quirks and the que? aspects of our independent coffee connoisseurs.  What better place to start than the newest coffee kid on the block,  Bould Brothers.


 The Cool
  • Coffee and conversation is the boy's motto and they seem to take this quite to heart.  They are so enthusiastic, naturally discussing the ins and outs of life with everyone they come in contact with.
  • The decor has all the charm of an English tea room with the chic metropolitan finishing touches you'd expect from a modern Cambridge establishment.  
  • They have a loyalty reward card, always a plus!
  • The coffee itself is smooth and delicately flavoured... or it was when I visited.  I don't doubt if you wanted something a little more slap-you-in-the-face-fantastic they'd be only to happy to offer recommendations for more intense loving taste buds. 
  • Their barista and latte skills are top notch, that coupled together with the decor means its a very instagramable place.
  • Their logo, a clever black and white silhouette showing the outline of 2 men (the brothers themselves I believe), is sleek and understated.  Similar to those optical illusion images that were popular way back when.
The Quirks
  • The lamps upstairs have a rustic, vintage look but for my requirements are too low.  When I banged my head sitting down (and standing up) I got empathetic smiles from the other diners.  A quick straw poll of each of the tables concluded every one of them had also banged their heads at least once, possibly every time, they stood up.  
The Que? 
  • A pet hate of mine is getting lattes in a glass rather than a cup.  I can't help feeling somewhat short changed when this happens as the coffee seems to cool more quickly and it looks as if you don't get as much. 
  • An unfortunate interjection from a customer did sour my appetite for a return visit, not something you can blame the boys for but unwanted comments or pompous interruptions do not exactly give you the warm and fuzzies!  
  • The wifi is weak, seriously so and at the time of posting their website seems to be having a few issues. While it works from certain smart phones, there are some issues from their google search and for pc users*. They may well be fixing this as I write** however while I have contacted them find out and ask a few questions getting a reply is proving tricky.
  • They don't seem to respond all that quickly and they don't have a twitter account.  I find twitter invaluable when it comes to corresponding with brands and bloggers alike so this is a little surprising to me.  
A poll I carried out (on twitter) inspired by Bould Brothers decision to forgo this platform showed 80% of those that responded use twitter for business either 'all the time' or 'quite a bit'.  Novi, another coffee house in Cambridge, advised 'we like to be where our customers are'***.
These issues, I believe, could well be teething problems and the friendly attitude and beautiful latte art I received on my visit means I'll likely give them a second chance to make a first impression.


I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

*Its not just my pc before you ask, I've had outside confirmation!
**they are! not sure if this is cos they have seen this or just noticed by themselves!
*** Now that's a response that smacks of common sense. 

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Monday, 13 February 2017

Valentines Round Up

Gah! 
So Valentines Day is tomorrow which means its Galentines Day today.  A day to celebrate your friends and buy yourself nice things.



Obviously tomorrow is a day we all hope to get nice thing from other people. On the off chance your beau forgot, or was just plain lazy or didn't think about getting anything until this very second (rude!) here are a few ideas I had for presents from around Cambridge:
Byard Art - Aldona Juska
Country Traditionals
Bowns - Tara Jarmon

Burwash Manor - Manor Florist
You're Welcome!

Gif from Gify
Images from @TheeMiddleSister
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

I'm Quitting Social Media

Oh Good Lord no not me!  

This is something I've seen a few friends say recently and a couple have actually sworn off it altogether.  Not in that Essena O'Neil Instagram queen way, its more a 'social media is a mean place and I can't take how horrible everyone is' situation. 

And I get it. What with the shit show of referendums and elections that 2016 threw at us I've seen my fair share of hate spewed rhetoric myself.  I've been blocked by republicans who told me the Muslim culture are trying to kill us all!  And Democrats who didn't like that I insisted that not all republicans are evil. 

But I've also seen the other side. 

I've spent a whole evening joking with and tweeting complete strangers from Canada, some of whom promised to adopt me! I've had correspondence (sort of) with @technicallyron @jkrowling and @thelastleg, guys who have - and this is no exaggeration - literally kept my spirits up and inspired me to fight on while some of the most terrible situations in the world were unfolding. 

While the blocking and brain numbing chats with right wing "Christian" conservatives weren't particularly fun they were at least conversations. Which is what I believe we need this year. Conversations.  With people we do not agree with.   This doesn't mean we have to take abuse or ignorance.  And doesn't mean we can be patronising or condescending in response either (though a well placed gif does go down quite well).  



I believe we can't go on assuming those that think politically differently to us are idiotic or evil, but we can't shut down to them either.  And while I understand taking a break from social media I really don't feel shutting off from the best way to converse and correspond with the world is going to work.

Twitter and the like may never be the friendly-kitteny-soft-safe-space it once was.  But like I've said before If you can't see anything nice on your feed that means its your turn, you're up!

We need to be the change we want to see on Social Media.




Alright? lets get to work. 

Gifs from Gify
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