Thursday, 29 May 2014

Gastro Clapham

I think I've accidentally stumbled across a perfect sunshine spot in Clapham.

After a stressful few weeks, I just wanted to head out for a while, for a bit of a walk and a bit of a beverage. We came across a little French place called Gastro..and it was just what the doctor ordered!

I was absolutely not dressed for the occasion, wearing Topshop jeans, an Oasis crochet tshirt, Topshop cardi (old) and my trusty Prada sunnies. Oh, and no make up...#nomakeupnonselfie.

Gastro is properly French. Like, French people outside, all the waiters were French, and I found a cheeky copy of Londre Ici, the magazine for French people living in London. I can barely speak a word of French, but I could read enough to attempt some translation to my date :)

With the sun and the wine sorted, we dived into starter. We ordered the sharing platter, which was incredible. Huge, meaty iced prawns, fois gras, smoked salmon and parma ham, piled high with bread, chicory and creme fraiche with chives for creating epic parcels.

Main course was veal escalope in a mushroom sauce with potato dauphinoise for me, duck breast in cherry sauce with cabbage for him, and a shared side of garlicky, buttery spinach.

The mains were good...but I couldn't help but feel a bit let down after the epic starter. While the duck, spinach and potatoes were beautiful (it's a sign of a good date if he lets you eat some of their food in the name of science), the veal was cold..and however good they were they still didn't do the starter justice.

Still, it didn't stop us from retreating inside the restaurant when the sun went in for petites fours and the remainder of the wine..

Dinky espresso cups joined my first ever (!) macaroon, creme brulée and chocolate brownie. The macaroon was amazing, and the coffee velvety and smooth. I then decided to go exploring the restaurant- mainly to look fascinated at lobsters and smile at very French signs.

I will definitely go back..I think next time I'll go for one of the sharing platters, skip the main and let the wine flow. Their cheese also looked amazing so I'm already planning my next fact this post has made me hungry!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

10 Ways to Define a Best Friend Forever

This weekend I went away with the girls. And not any ordinary girls. These are my non-sexual life partners. Meet the Barrys. As a side note, go and see McBusted. They were amazing.

  1. They tell it like it is. These are the friends who will tell you that yes, your bum does look big in that dress. And yes, you are being a bit of an idiot with that boy you met. And no, it isn't acceptable to not wash your armpits after a night out. They tell the truth, and you love them for it.

  2. Whatsapp Messages. Me and these girls message all day, every day. They are the first people I tell if I've fallen out with my boss, we send each other 'Outfits of the Day', and sometimes, when you can't sleep for worrying or your baby won't settle (yes, one of us is a Mum!) or you have massive PMT and don't know why you're being irrational, you have this little thread of sanity. If your shared media collection is about 500 photos deep (guilty!) then you know they are integral to your life.

  3. Shared Wardrobes. What's hers is yours and vice-versa. Anything that doesn't work in someone's wardrobe does the rounds before being sent to charity shops/younger sisters/ebay. 

  4. Comfortable Silence. When we first met in Brighton, we couldn't stop talking. For hours. I still have a sore throat. But when you're hanging after McBusted (true story) then you are quite comfortable slobbing about in silence. After all, they are comfy and know how you take your tea.

  5. Protectiveness. Try and chat a Barry up and you might just get a 4 panel interview. These girls will protect you from creepers, unplug the drain or catch a spider for you.

  6. Ridiculous Conversations. From hypothetical situations to FAR too much information about her sex life/toilet habits/hungover face, you've been there, seen that. 

  7. Inside Jokes. You can't remember the last time you called her by her real name, because you have so many nicknames, you have whole albums full of songs that have memories for you, and nobody else quite knows what on earth you're talking about most of the time. It's like girl code.

  8. Idiosyncrasies. One of you uses an excessive amount of plates at Nandos. The other one will strop with too many bags. The third will only drink 7up, never Sprite, and one won't wear wristbands and freaks at mouldy bread. You know each others weird little quirks, and you love them all for it. 

  9. Shared Discounts. One's a student, one works in retail, and the other (YES, it's me, alright), finally splashed out on an asos premier account. Discount from someone wherever you go! Sharing is caring. 

  10. Future Dreams. You have plans to all have a beach hut and share a retirement home together when you're old.  

The White Blazer

I recently did a post on how I wanted to update my wardrobe for summer.
I did a cheeky asos purchase recently and picked up this white blazer. It's perfect for summer, lightweight, and that perfect level of formality. Here I wore it to work with simple grey and black separates, but I intend to take it with me to Spain to smarten up summer dresses in the evening.

What's your favourite summer staple?

Friday, 23 May 2014

London Lates- Nearly-Naked in a Museum

There's something funky going on in London's museums. The Queen doesn't look too impressed. (Sorry, Ma'am)

Grace and I headed to the Museum of London for Digital City, an event looking at the ways in which technology increasingly influences the lives of Londoners.

Inside the museum was a collection of exhibits, including a fascinating look at the life of a Boris bike. We wandered, prosecco in hands, watching some great comedy by Shoot from the Hip and creating our own 8-bit versions of London landmarks. While we mapped our journeys into the museum, we decided to pass on the life drawing and admired the model's bravery at being projected from every (!) angle.

It was a great way to spend a weekday evening and get access to somewhere working hours normally prohibits!

London Lates is doing a whole host of evening events across the museums, which I recommend a visit to if you want to do something different.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

What I Wore- Sunshine on the River

Sunday in London was a scorcher! Gorgeous weather called for a stroll along embankment, a few falafel and more than a few white wine spritzers in the park.

A few more spritzers...

Dress- Motel Rocks
Necklace- Topshop
Flipflops- New Look
Clutch- Asos
Sunglasses- Prada
Rings- Rokit/Accessorize/Gift

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

How to...Get Over Your Fear and Grab Life by the Balls

Today I want to talk about my biggest fear. If someone asks me what I'm most scared of, you might get my standard answer: bugs. But that's not technically true. Whilst a beetle or spider is likely to render me a crying mess, the one thing that strikes fear in my heart on a daily basis is failure.

A couple of weeks ago I had one of those delicious conversations. The ones that last until 3am and leave you feeling a bit vulnerable because you've sort of figured out something. And that was the day I decided to start blogging again.

For as long as I can remember I've been a quitter. Not out of laziness, or lack of ability, or even attention span (which can be limited, especially when 'hangry'). I quit things when the going gets tough because I'm scared. And I would rather kid myself that I could've done something than try my absolute best and discover that I can't.

In the last 6 months alone, I have taken an evening class in philosophy, looked for a new job, started learning graphic design, started learning mandarin, started writing a book, considered investing in bitcoin, and developed an unhealthy obsession with pinterest. All as a way of hiding from what I really love and what I really want to do, which is blog. Blogging and cooking are my two biggest hobbies and passions. And I nearly let them go because I was afraid to try.

Here's what I've learnt:-

1. Face your fear head on. One of the biggest things that helped me during this process was asking what I was truly scared of. What did I honestly think would change if I tried really hard at something and failed? Was I scared of being labelled as stupid? Was I afraid that my friends and loved ones would change their opinion of me and not hang around? Realising that even if I did mess up, the same people would be by my side really helped.

2. Don't think other people are any different. When people started saying to me 'Oh, everyone feels like that' I used to get mad. I didn't want to be the same as other people! I wanted to be better! But realising that everyone gets scared and feels exposed sometimes helps me make sense and understand my emotions. Fear is natural! It means you're growing. I hate the phrase 'feel the fear and do it anyway', but trust me- if you just notice them and keep going, they fade. Admit to yourself that you're terrified, and that's ok. Reading about famous people who've failed is also very liberating!

3. Keep a record of what you do, not what the results are. Instead of focusing on the outcomes of something- 'I messed up that meeting', 'I forgot the milk', focus on the input. You prepped really hard for that meeting. You wrote 'get milk' on your hand. That way, you can sleep well knowing you've done what you can. The business world, especially, is full of things beyond your control. There is so much honour in trying.

4. Be nice to yourself. If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to yourself you wouldn't have any friends left. I watched this video on self-compassion and even though it's a bit hippy the message is good. I keep a stash of emergency compliments in my head for when I'm really scared. If I'm about to walk into a really big presentation, I'll pull one out totally unrelated. I tell myself 'you have nice hair'. Ok, now I sound really weird. Seriously. Stop calling yourself 'stupid', 'fat', 'horrible' wouldn't speak to anyone else like that! Try and silence your inner critic by looking for the evidence to disprove what you are saying.

5. Ask for help on the little things. Part of my humongous fear of failure (which actually has a scientific name- atychiphobia) is a fear of asking for help. Practise what you're afraid of on little things. I ask people to pass me things. I ask someone to proof read something. I ask people's feedback- just to practise hearing people helping me and not feeling it is a reflection on my ability.

6. Just do your thing.You have to be yourself. Everyone else is already taken- and you're pretty damn awesome.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Updating your Wardrobe for Summer

The weather in London is a bit temperamental. I cannot seem to fathom what to wear on a daily basis, as we veer from thunderstorms to sunshine. I'm longing for pub gardens! I'm also longing to get out of tights and into summer clothes, which means my wardrobe needs a good clear out and an update! I was lucky enough to attend London Fashion Weekend, and it gave me a bit of inspiration on how to update my wardrobe for SS14.

1. White. The fashion world has gone white mad, and there's no faster way to freshen up your wardrobe than investing in some white. I'll be wearing fresh pencil skirts with navy, grey and pops of colour to work, clutch bags and cut out dresses on nights out, and floaty kimonos for lazy sundays.  Shop Topshop here and asos here.

2. Florals. I know, not very original for summer...but this year florals are anything but ditsy and cute. The SS14 catwalk at London Fashion Weekend was full of big, bold prints- and I know once I've cleared out my wardrobe it will be in dire need of some colour. I'll be looking for big pieces to wear with plain seperates, and easy throw on dresses like the asos one in the middle.

3. Folklore. This trend is similar to boho festival style- which is guaranteed to make a re-appearance, but slightly more minimalist. I am dying for a double strand coin necklace. I have a black tassled backpack, which I love, but I am going to be hunting out a tan one and some folky print dresses.

4. Sports Luxe. This is a trend that previously I really haven't bought into. I think it comes back to my fear of P.E at school! I've warmed much more to the idea of straps, exposed zips and mesh panels. You will never see me in a baseball cap, but I might be trying a baggy sports tee with a pencil skirt.

5. Tribal. SS14 catwalks were heavily influenced by African tribal prints. I am a magpie for all things jangly, so I will be sorting through my jewellery to make space for stacked rings, collars and bangles. It's also time to scrub those feet and stock up on the fake tan..beach season is upon us!

What do you think? How are you going to be getting your wardrobe summer ready?

I'll be sure to include some lookbooks as I start updating my wardrobe- first off, I'm going white shopping...

Friday, 16 May 2014

I'm Taking you to Lunch

Most of the time that I'm not working from home I'm working in my company's London office. It means sardines on the tube, doing the 'London girl shoe swap' with heels in my bag, and getting annoyed with people who don't know to stand on the right, but it has it's upsides. One of the biggest ones is the food. Being in central London means you can eat anything you like, whenever you like. I took my camera with me this week so you could come to lunch with me!

We're off to Benugo on Cannon Street for Patatas Bravas Soup and a Sicilian Panini followed by a Skinny Vanilla Latte from Harris and Hoole (the best in the city).

I hope you enjoyed our cheeky lunch date :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How to Google like a Boss

I have a bit of a reputation for googling everything. And I'm pretty good at it. I can find things in a flash- particularly helpful if you're sheltering in John Lewis on Oxford Street in a rain storm with a rumbling tummy, trying to find out if the burger place you read about on The Londoner is open yet. True story. The internet is a very big and very busy place- and here's my top tips on how to navigate it and get some answers.

1. Use quotation marks to search for specific terms. Searching topshop boots will find you everything that contains BOTH the words, but also everything that contains EITHER of the words. I just tried it and I got 16.7 million results. Including Boots the pharmacist. Not helpful. Add quotation marks, so search "topshop boots" and you will only get results than include both words in that order. I got 125,000 results- still a huge number, but much more manageable- and after the Topshop website, the next link was for Topshop boots on Ebay. Result.

2. Use two full stops to create ranges. Googling Ebay £1 £100 will, you've guessed it, get you results of everything that contains those three key words. And a whole host of others. Search instead for Ebay £1..£100 and you will only get results between those ranges. And now you're on track to exclude campervans that cost £50,000 and will make you cry into your supernoodles.

3. Create your own search engine. If you're on Google Chrome (and if you're not, you should be), then try this trick. Some websites have terrible search functions that just don't work. Instead of writing them a furious complaint letter that will get ignored by their poor IT guy, type the name of the website you want, e.g, then hit space and your search bar will only search that website. So shoes will search the ebay website for you using the mighty power of Google. Don't put up with substandard searching! You can also do this on the Google website, if you insist on not using chrome or your dinosaur boss makes everyone use internet explorer. Type site: then the website you want, then what you're looking for- e.g jewellery.

4. Know how to exclude things from your search. This is so easy and so helpful. You want to get a recipe for a great burger, but every time you search burger you end up on the awful corporate website of Burger King. You need to exclude the word king from your searches. Add a minus symbol in front and that is just what you'll do! Type burger -king and Google will eliminate all results with the word king in it. Ah, if only all jaguar owners knew they could avoid the local zoo popping up.

5. Know that you don't have to be a vocabulary genius. Fed up of looking up courgette recipes, then zucchini recipes because our American friends might have better ones? Then trying to work out the precise way to word what you want to get Google to find the damn rescipe so you can eat? Try this trick. A cleverly placed ~ symbol means Google also searches synonyms. OMG. So search ~courgette recipes and Google's built in dictionary will look up all words that mean the same as courgette. Genius.

6. STOP typing to Google as if it is your friend. The amount of people I know who type Where in Clapham London should I go for dinner tonight that isn't sushi is amazing. Google is not a person, it is a robot. A clever one, but it's never going to reply with I reckon that place on the corner whatshername recommended. The less words the better. Search Clapham Restaurants -Sushi and you might just be onto something.

7. Ask the expert. By far and away my biggest tip, use Google to find you an expert. If you want a cheap train ticket to Liverpool, don't search 'cheap train ticket to Liverpool'. Google is not an expert, it's a phone book. Search 'cheap train tickets'. About three results down (after the adverts- be careful!) you find moneysavingexpert. They look like they know what they're talking about more than robot Google. On their website, sure enough, they have a list of websites. I went through them and found a lesser known one, and actually saved £65 on a journey last week doing this.

8. Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark. I have a series of folders along my bookmarks bar. 'Work', 'Social', 'Useful', 'Blogs', 'London' etc etc. Pick what works for you. It's important to use folders or it gets messy. As you find little snippets around the internet bookmark them in the relevant folder. You might not be able to remember exactly what you searched to find that hidden gem again once you have all this variety.

9. Stop clicking the top result! These are almost always adverts. You can see the little 'ad' in orange next to it. It might be exactly the thing you're looking for, but the non-ad version is often underneath. It encourages Google to stop pushing the big fish to the top for revenue, and means you get more little, cheaper, minnows in your search results. Also, Google is the robot, not you. You're smarter than them.

10. A bonus one. Go to Google, and type 'do a barrel roll'. Just for the lols.

Happy searching! If you have any more tips, I'd love to hear them! Leave me a comment below.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Favourite Things

1. Planning and shopping for my new room. I'm going 'flea market chic' with lots of random arty pieces to add interest to the big, airy space.

2. Planning my trip to Spain at the end of June. We've hired a convertible and are driving around Andalucia, stopping at places booked through airbnb. I'm loving using the Tripomatic app and website to build our itinerary.

3. These amazing spray painted slate wall pieces made for me by a special someone to celebrate the house move and my birthday.

4. Cooking. I'm trying to cut down on carbs, and that has resulted in some crazy creations. Cooking competes with writing for my favourite hobby, and me and George (the Foreman) make a mean brunch. My next adventure (tonight) is garlic spinach and butterbean burgers with banana sushi.

5. Blogging! Getting back into it, discovering new ones, planning posts. I'm loving it. For those of you wondering, my photos are taken with either an iphone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 or occasionally a Samsung DV150F. I edit virtually all of them, with Afterlight, VSCOcam or Picmonkey.

Things I'm Also Loving:

6. Ebay Collections...Bloggers sorting through the junk for me? Yes please!
7. Watching tv series. Never was a big one for the telly box. Now, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn name it, I'm addicted to it.
8. Hoarding inspirational photos on pinterest and twibfy
9. Exploring my beautiful home city of London (eek!) and doing a lot of random things. Next up is a cinema on a roof. 
10. 'Fake shopping'. Coined by me and my besties while skint at uni, this is the practise of letting yourself add everything you ever want to your online shopping basket, sleeping on it, and then emptying it the next morning instead of checking out. Should be really frustrating, actually really satisfying.
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