Monday, 29 February 2016
Okay, so I took a bit of a "blogging break" this month (two months into your goal of blogging three times a week - good one Lucy), but I'm determined to stick to this series as I think they'll be fun to read back. I mean, this time it doesn't really count. February's not a real month really, is it? 28/9 days. Make your mind up hun. Happy Leap Day btw.
It may have been short, but it's been BUSY. There's been a lot going on at work and I've taken on a couple of projects I'm super excited about. Also, as you'll see below, it's been a month of eating and drinking like I'm Henry VIII.
Without further ado, here's my February recap. Now I'm off to take a lie down as I've just realised it's March tomorrow and wtf, 2016 you're going far too quickly.
Many A Cocktail Evening
Aaaand so it begins. I do love a cocktail evening though. Early in the month, I met Jon and two of his friends for ramen at Shoryu, and we wandered over to The Botanist in Broadgate Circle for drinks afterwards (see top photo). Believe it or not, this was my first taste of a Espresso Martini. Never looking back.
This month I also hit up the Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia with my pal Alex, who has just moved to London. I absolutely LOVED this place. The inside is luxe and cosy in equal measure. We sat up at the bar, which legit made me feel like I was in Gossip Girl drinking in some five star hotel. Their cocktail menu was really unusual as well - liquors added to everything from green smoothies to herbal tea (see above). Definitely check it out if you're around Oxford Circus.
Year of the Monkey
I'd never really paid attention to Chinese New Year until 2016. This could be for a couple of reasons - one being my boyfriend is half Chinese so I'm a lot more exposed to it, and the other being it was time for my Asian spirit animal, the Monkey, to take centre stage. I got given this fortune cookie at work, and even though I know they're mostly just a bit of fun, it brightened up a relatively stressful day. Life is full of nice surprises...
Back In 5 Minutes
... This being one of them. On Valentines Day evening, Jon lead me through Shoreditch on our way to evening dinner. I had absolutely no idea where he'd booked. If you've clicked through to his blog though, you'll see he's a big foodie, so I trust his taste.
All of a sudden, I was seriously confused. Instead of leading me to the doors of a brasserie or a nice pub, he took me into a clothes shop. I got even more confused when the girl on the till smiled knowingly at him, before pulling back a black velvet curtain.
Hidden down behind the shop was a secret pop-up restaurant called Back In 5 Minutes. Decorated like a cosy Swedish living room with only enough seating for about 15 people, it was one of the most special dining experiences of my life. Jon had emailed in advance to let the chefs know of my shellfish allergy, and as a couple of things on the menu actually included oysters and scallops, they were kind enough to whip up replacement dishes for me. I had a gorgeous starter of goats cheese roulade with spicy butternut soup, whilst Jon tucked into his seafood. The main course still leaves my mouth watering. It was rhubarb risotto and truffled bean salad, with the tastiest cut of lamb I've ever had in my life. I could have eaten ten bowls of that stuff. Dessert was vanilla bavarois with strawberry jelly and a sprinkling of oats - perfect and light to round off the meal.
Back In 5 Minutes is part of the Disappearing Dining Club and I honestly couldn't recommend them enough.
Taking In Some Culture
I'm planning an upcoming post on things to do in London if you're skint, and *SPOILER ALERT*, heading to a gallery or museum is one of them. This month I visited the British Museum for the first time, and not gonna lie I was seriously impressed by this place. Did you know they have a collection of real Ancient Egyptian mummies? Or a huge section dedicated to Ancient Greek art? If that doesn't float your nerdy boat, the dreamy architecture sure will.
I Ate My Weight in Pizza
I shouldn't be proud of this, but I am. UNPOPULAR OPINION KLAXON, but I'm not really a "pizza person." I just don't really get it. I'd choose a Chinese or an Indian takeaway over a Dominos any day. But one place I'd had recommended to me over and over again was Homeslice, so when the opportunity came to try it this month, I threw my pizza caution to the wind and dived in.
Homeslice do 20" pizzas for £20, and you can choose two of their frequently rotating toppings if you've got a picky mate or just want to share the love. We went for the goats shoulder with cabbage and yoghurt on one side, chorizo on the other. MY GOD. I've been converted. It was the best pizza I've ever tasted, and I'm not an easy one to please when it comes to topping and dough. The goat shoulder and yoghurt side was especially delicious. Pizza fanatics and tentative eaters: this is your calling.
I Went For the Chop
Confession: I've not had my hair cut properly in over two years. I've always had a bit of an obsession with growing it, to the point where when I last headed to a hairdressers about a year ago, I begged the stylist not to take off any more than an inch. Cue a short term solution to a long term problem: damaged, ratty split ends that weren't going to go away without a fairly considerable snip. So after uhm-ing and ahh-ing for a couple of weeks, I did it, and had about five or six inches of hair chopped off. At first I was petrified but MY GOD IT FEELS GOOD. It's so nice to run your hands through healthy hair. So satisfying to put on a jacket or coat and not have to drag out my long ratty hair from underneath. So easy to wash. So easy to style. Much wow. Why didn't I do this sooner?
Flight Club Darts
(Excuse the snapchat photo, I forgot to take a proper one!) When a work colleague suggested darts for a social, I thought she'd mistaken me for a 45 year old who heads down the pub of a Friday for a pint with the lads and a packet of pork scratchings (to be fair, something I'd absolutely do). But no. This wasn't any old darts game. Flight Club are based in Shoreditch and host interactive dart board games with real time digital scoring and a Snapchat-esque webcam. You get a little group of you together to play in cosy little areas called oches, and there's an actual alcohol button. Considering I have the hand eye coordination of a drunk toddler, I was oh so pleased to fluke and win a game (see cheesy grin above). It's £40 for ten people in a two hour slot, too - very reasonably priced!
What have you all been up to this month? x
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
This week's round up brings you everything from Netflix-and-chill themed Airbnb apartments to a big ol' infographic on how millennials are about to have their moment (yay!). Things get a little #Emojinal, and I think about the impact smartphones might have on the memory of younger generations. Anyone else use Instagram/Twitter to check what they were doing last week? Just me? Okay.
Without further ado, here's my favourite online reads of the past week...
1. Guilt and Shame as a UI Design Element
A really interesting look into the way online decisions are worded for us. "Can't Go" instead of simply "No" on a Facebook invite - the option of not attending simply because you don't want to doesn't exist anymore. Facebook quite literally removes the guilt element and makes excuses for you. On the other hand, online pop-ups are inducing more guilt than ever. "No thanks, I want to pay full price," reads Hotel.com's "opt out" button, almost mocking the idiot reader who dares decline the invitation to join their mailing list. It's super tacky advertising, and in all honesty, is all the more likely to make me think "no thanks" - regardless of whatever follows.
2. Millennials: Coming of Age Infographic
The idea that a large percentage of the population are about to move into their prime spending years is both exciting and scary for brands. We have a different approach to buying and selling, our priorities have shifted, we want access, not ownership. This infographic provides an insightful comparison of spending habits of millennials to that of generations before us: no longer are we interested in a car, house, baby and partner by 30.
3. Airbnb Are Now Offering A Netflix And Chill Room To Rent on a Saturday Night
Netflix take the "and chill" remainder of their online namesake to the next level with this Airbnb apartment in New York, complete with minibar, digital projector, and of course Netflix branded sheets. In all seriousness, anyone fancy a trip to NYC? I have three episodes of Making A Murderer left.
4. Does Social Media Cloud Our Memories?
This post by Emma Gannon on being able to remember events where she wasn't scrambling to take a photo for Instagram rings really true. I have such vivid memories from my early teens, but can barely remember what I did last weekend. It makes me quite afraid for a generation who are getting smartphones at such young ages - my 10 year old cousin can navigate his way around an iPad better than I can.
5. The Drum's #Emojinal Round-Up
I don't think anyone on the internet could have bypassed House Of Fraser's bolshy (and pretty terrifying) #Emojinal ad campaign, but in case you did, here's The Drum's sum of events. In a nutshell: the Bangor University found 29% of people with smartphones use emojis in all their messaging. House of Fraser took this as an indicator to replace well-thought out, clever content with ALL THE EMOJIS. To top it off, they picked a hashtag that sounds like the name of a thrush cream for teens. Yuck.
Monday, 1 February 2016
I ended up waving goodbye to January in the exact same way I saw it in: cradling a massive hangover.
I didn't make any "new year, new me" promises (see my post on this here), so I'm not feeling too guilty about this - although, I am yet to start the 50 day squat challenge, or buy those snazzy trainers to help encourage me to gym it a bit more. Oops.
In between the hangovers, January wasn't as bad as I expected. I feel as though January looms over the rest of the year like a dark cloud - Christmas is over, everyone's skint, the reality of being back at work kicks in and on the whole everyone just feels a bit shit.
It wasn't all sobbing into my banks statements and sleeping through my alarm every morning though. I'm taking a look back at all of my January best bits, to remind myself that despite it being the Monday of the the calendar year, I've had some pretty bloody good times over the past 31 days.
NYE In Camden
New Years, as we all know, usually results in an overpriced night out, a mini heart-attack when you check your bank balance the next day and a lot of tequila-induced regret. This year was different - my friend Gill decided to throw a party at her gorgeous flat in Camden. We all huddled onto her roof terrace to watch the fireworks at midnight, had a freestyle rap battle in the bedroom and danced in the kitchen until 7am. A lot of laughs were had, and it was my favourite New Years night yet.
(I'm also still head-over-heels in love with the dress I wore. Topshop sale, you absolute babe.)
Cocktails With Saynaree
After weeks of being apart I met up with my favourite Australian buddy to beat the January blues. We stuffed our faces in Byron burger, went for happy hour cocktails in Angel and gossiped for hours about boys, careers, and the adventures we want to have this year.
Twilight Tours at the Tower Of London
My housemates and I decided it was time to do something a bit more cultural than go out for a drink, so Lottie got us tickets to Twilight Tours at the Tower of London. Taking place in the evening with a smaller group, you have free run of the tower and are taken on a super creepy/interesting tour, learning all about everything from ghosts, to torture methods, to where Anne Boleyn is buried. The inner history nerd in me LOVED this.
Skiing In Gressoney, Italy
You can see a full post on my ski trip here, but this was without a shadow of a doubt my January highlight. I learnt how to ski for the first time, made new friends, danced in the hotel discoteque until the early hours of the morning and drank Bombardinos at the top of the mountain. I'm already itching to go back.
Saynaree celebrated her 25th birthday and so a group of us headed to Sen Nin in Islington for sushi, prosecco and more prosecco. I ordered these yummy Volcano rolls, caught up with pals I hadn't seen over Christmas and laughed til my tummy hurt far too many times. The best part? Sen Nin is 50% off every Tuesday evening - perfect for a skint January.
Whisky Tasting With Ballantines
I'm not a whisky girl myself, but was I going to pass up the opportunity to trade my last hour of the working day for a free whisky tasting and cocktails session? HELL NO. We were taken through the tasting by Ballantine's Global MD - a super cheery Scot whose passion for the drink made me wonder if actually I should become a whisky girl. The session was really fun, and we got to enjoy a selection of whisky cocktails at the end of it - not a bad way to end a day in the office.
Payday Date Night
After a month of trying not to splash the cash, our date nights had basically involved watching Narcos in bed with a ready meal (not that there's anything wrong with that - but when you're foodies like us with a restaurant bucket list as long as my arm, it was hard to resist temptation to go out!) So, after payday, we treated ourselves to a nice meal at a restaurant we'd had our eye on for a while, Chick 'N' Sours (read our reviews here and here), followed by cocktails at Dalston Superstore. A fabby end to the month.
What have been your January highlights? What are you looking forward to in February?
Saturday, 30 January 2016
When I asked in the foodie Skype chat at work where to head for the best chicken in London, I started a debate of sorts. Some raved about Clutch. Others suggested I swoop by Ma Plucker in Soho. The one that really hooked me though, was Chick 'N' Sours.
A fusion of good, old fashioned fried chicken peppered with Asian ingredients - I was sold. I'd already spotted reviews on the likes of The Londoner and Cheese n Biscuits, and I was ready to indulge in burgers as big as my head, sour cocktails and enough chicken to feed an army.
So, with my favourite Asian infused human, Jon, in tow, I headed over to Dalston last night to see what all the fuss was about.
We kicked off with a couple of sour cocktails, half of the restaurant's namesake. I went for the Chick N Club: a fruity, gin based affair that made me wince after every sip (but was so delicious I'd downed my first in under a minute). Jon opted for a Toreador: tequila, apricot and apple lemon, garnished with a slice of orange.
Next up arrived the mother of all chicken burgers.
Korean fried thigh and crunchy slaw, drizzled with gochujang mayo and chilli vinegar and rammed into a toasted brioche bun, this monster was quite a mean feat to wrap your lips around.
I gave it my best shot though.
We accompanied our mains with fries, sriracha and sour cream dip, and of course, another round of cocktails. I usually find chicken shop fries to be sub-par but these were crisp, light, and a welcome change when we both had to pause for breath between huge bites of chicken.
Chicken cravings satisfied and full to the brim, we asked for the bill, which was delivered in a giant egg with some temporary tattoos (I say temporary, but almost 24 hours later I'm still trying to scrub mine off. Nice touch though!)
If you're in the mood for fried chicken but KFC just ain't doing it for you, I'd definitely recommend checking out Chick N Sours. Nestle in on one of the wooden pews, order yourself some aubergine, wings and fries, then wash 'em down with some sour cocktails.
And if you're really feeling up to it, give that bun a go. I dare you.
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
*Image from WeHeartIt.comI know myself, though. I get bored easily. Next week, I'll just about manage to pull together my list. Then Week #4 will roll around and I'll think hey, who's going to punish me if I don't?
We're in Week #2 of this series. High five. Gold star. Ten points to Gryffindor.
Great mentality - not.
So, I decided to do future Lucy a favour.
I've told my team at work that not only will I be sharing this series on my blog, but I'll be sharing it with them, too.
The thing is, I enjoy doing these. I enjoy celebrating good writing, and writing about that writing, and sharing that writing.
So now I've expanded my own audience. Let's hope it works.
1. A Story of a Fuck Off Fund
If you read one thing this week, make it this. A story of "financial self-defence," the idea that you may need a hidden fund to get away from a situation - be it a crumbling apartment, or a threatening partner, or a failing job, is a scary but empowering thought. I'm not in need of a Fuck Off Fund now, but it's not going to stop me setting up that ISA and putting the money aside every month. As Jezebel noted, however big or small, the Fuck Off Fund is the rainy day that is, in one form or another, coming for us all.
2. Why No Career Path May Be The Best Career Path
Shout out to ma main man Jon for sharing this one with me.
When I finished university, I thought I had it all figured out - I'd completed a degree in journalism, and so naturally imagined myself interning for a women's magazine in London. I pictured my life: hailing down black cabs, writing notes on my iPad on the tube, going for cocktails with interviewees and just basically being super sassy.
Whilst I did move to London, my (unplanned) career path couldn't have been more different. I went from being a journalism graduate, to a film publicist, to a senior social media executive. Being open to other career paths has meant that I've not only learnt a hell of a lot along the way, but I've ended up doing something completely unexpected that I love!
3. 14 Things You Only Own Once You've Hit Peak Adulthood
You can always rely on Hannah Gale's blog - particularly her lists - to give you a good old LOL.
On my last birthday, I had one of those "shit, am I an adult now?" moments whilst writing my list.
Gone were the days of asking for MAC lipsticks and ASOS jewellery. "Fluffy towels," I jotted down. "New bedding. New pillows. A washing basket."
Last week I had a five minute conversation about potted plants. POTTED PLANTS. A few days ago, I set up the Help To Buy ISA in the hopes that one day (probably 2054) I can put down the deposit on a house and have me my very own mortgage.
As someone who still thinks of herself as 18, these "adult" moments are a little alarming to me, but this post of Hannah's made me chuckle.
4. 6 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To
I spend approximately an hour of every weekday underground. It's quite scary, really. I'm like a part-time moleman. I get bored really easily, but often turn to Spotify to help speed up those journeys along the central line which can sometimes feel like an eternity.
One of my goals (NOT resolutions - see a few posts back) for this year was to use that commute time wisely. An hour a day is five hours a week. Five hours a week is 260 HOURS A YEAR. You could learn an entire language in that time.
My solution? Podcasts. This list of informative podcast series that will educate me but won't make me snooze past my stop are going straight on my phone, in an attempt to help make my moleman time a little more productive.
5. 95 Things I Should Do Every Day According To The Internet
This satirical piece on Medium.com made me smile today. A little reminder to take all those lifestyle pieces (you know the ones. The ones that tell you to think about freezing your eggs when you're 25 because otherwise OMG HOW WILL YOU EVER HAVE CHILDREN) with a pinch of salt.
What have you been reading lately? Plus, don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin'!
Sunday, 24 January 2016
My skiing experience began with a small meltdown in Decathlon the night before my flight.
I'm not the kind of girl who frequents places like Decathlon. Stick me in a Topshop and I'm happy as larry. Decathlon? Nah. Bargain buckets of waterproof socks and thinsulate gloves really don't do it for me.
Who knew there were approximately 14 different types of fleece snood on offer? Or that ski gloves were so thick you could barely wiggle your fingers in them? Would I be a size 4-6 in socks? Did it really matter what thermals I wore? Was I even going to enjoy this experience one bit?
I was the kind of girl who'd lie about having a stomach ache to get out of PE. I've never owned a *proper* pair of trainers in my life, and I don't have a gym membership. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind being healthy - it's just that I've never enjoyed any form of sports.
Hence why, when I climbed aboard our flight to Milan Malpensa, surrounded by work colleagues (many of whom frequently ski for fun) I felt a twinge of nerves that not even my three plastic cups of vodka red bull could mask (shout out to BA for free alcohol on flights).
I'm pleased to report that all those nerves were entirely unnecessary.
Okay, so I wasn't a *complete* pro from the off - when I first clicked my skis into place I had a slight Bridget Jones moment, drifting off towards the thin net fence that separated the beginners class from a steep double diamond hill, thinking omg, this is the end. I'm going to die on a company ski trip, how embarrassing.
But once I got the hang of the ski plough (and had been shouted at a few times by my tough-love instructor Antonella) my fears dissolved and I was going down the slopes without a) wanting to do a little cry or b) clinging on to any of my friends for dear life. I was actually *okay* at skiing. I didn't even fall over once.
Celebrating with an ice cold beer in a nearby lodge after we'd peeled off our layers of sweaty ski clothes, my beginners buddies and I made a pact to ski down a blue slope by the end of the weekend.
I'd like to say that we didn't ski on day two because we were too busy exploring the town, getting to know the locals and picking up a bit of the language. But that would be una bugia (a lie). Really, we were cradling massive hangovers after an all night party with the foreign offices in the hotel bar. Day two was all about giant pizzas and hitting up the spa. Sorry not sorry.
On day three, we stuck to our word and gingerly climbed inside a cable car which would take us to the top of the mountain. If I'd felt out of depth on a baby slope by the hotel, this was a whole other ball game. You couldn't walk five steps across the snow without some sort of pro skier in an anonymous balaclava whizzing past you. Heck, even the kids were pros. I'm pretty sure I saw a child skiing down a black slope, but it may have been a very small adult. Or a mirage.
To get to the top of the blue slope, you had to get on a ski lift. If you've ever been on a ski lift before, you'll know that climbing on one isn't the most graceful of tasks. You sort of have to stand and wait for it to pick you up, sticking out your bum and awaiting the impending OOFT you'll let out as the metal whacks against your legs and you're thrown back into your seat.
Once aboard though, I felt calm. Ready. LET'S DO THIS, I told my pals, as the top of the mountain loomed ever closer. We lifted the safety bar. We were ready to go.
What happened next is going down as one of the most hilarious moments of my life.
We hadn't realised that once you get off the lift, you go straight into a very steep, very icy slope. The kind of slope you couldn't brake on, even if you wanted to. We were mid-conversation, awaiting a nice gentle ski down the mountain, then BAM - we were shooting down the hill like a bullet.
My skis were OUT OF CONTROL. If I wasn't Bridget Jones-ing before, I certainly was now. Adrenaline kicked in, and I suddenly started hysterically laughing. I just COULDN'T get control of my skis, yet I somehow hadn't fallen over. I must have looked hilarious. I managed to glance sideways at Maddie, and I noticed she was laughing too, tears rolling down her cheeks. A further glance showed me that Megs hadn't even made it down, she'd completely bailed as we came off the lift. I completely lost it. Try to imagine what it's like: bent over laughing, but trying not to DIE as you ski down a steep icy hill.
Look, the important thing is that we made it out alive.
SOMEHOW, we all got to the bottom of the hill without any injuries (unless you count a slightly bruised bum for Megs). We awarded ourselves with a round of Bombardinos - a mix of eggnogg and brandy served hot with whipped cream on top. These things were strong. I don't know if my stomach just couldn't handle any more alcohol after three days of wine, rum, vodka, Jagermeister and more rum, but I just about managed to devour the whipped cream, and that was that. Still, great picture op though.
We made it down said perilous blue slope a few times without anyone crying tears of laughter, falling over or losing control of their skis. Satisfied with our efforts, we hopped on the cable car back to the hotel to get ready for our coach to the airport.
I could have stayed in Gressoney for weeks; harnessing my skiing skills, dancing to cheesy Europop in the hotel bar, demolishing pizzas bigger than my face and attempting to down Bombardinos without wincing. I never thought I'd enjoy the experience so much, but I'm already itching to go back and click my skis into place.
I guess those Decathlon thermals will be getting more than one use after all.
Saturday, 23 January 2016
When it comes to things like food, I'm a bad sharer. A complete Joey from Friends, if you will. I'd rather buy you your own as well as mine, just to avoid your fork dangerously waving anywhere near my plate. The last Rolo? Sorry. I already ate it.
There are things I'm better at sharing. Things like information, facts, knowledge. At work, nothing pleases me more than receiving a "have you read this?" email, so that I can make myself a nice cuppa and get stuck into an article I haven't seen before. Knowledge sharing is different. It's like baking a large cake and inviting everyone to have a slice. Now that's sharing I can get on board with.
In an attempt to log all those favourite articles, essays, and general wordy-bits from the internet that I've shared and received, I'm going to start logging them here in a series of Five Favourite Weekly Reads.
Feel free to take a slice and pass it on.
1. Facebook Makes Us More Narrow-Minded, Study Finds
This article based on new research that Facebook users seek out information that reinforces their beliefs really got me thinking about the platform on the whole this week. I'm not a big Facebook user myself, and a lot of the content in this piece seemed to affirm things I'd already thought about. If you've got "those" Facebook friends you always tell yourself you need to get round to deleting, this is one for you.
2. How To Write
David Ogilvy's list of tips on how to write well, taken from a 1982 memo sent to his staff. Still as motivating and true today.
3. 32 Mistakes Companies Still Make When It Comes To Social Media
Blogger, writer and general superwoman Emma Gannon shares her thoughts on everything from self promotion to the power of influencers. Working for a social media agency myself, I immediately shared this with my team: though some of it might seem obvious, when you're caught up in a big campaign it's easy to forget to put social media at the heart of your ideas.
4. 7 More Cheap Restaurants Where You Can Get A Meal (With Booze) For Under £10 In London
The Debrief have this knack of creating bizarrely niche content which yet somehow feels perfectly tailored to my life. This piece on cheap eats in London (with the odd budget glass of red thrown in) has made me drool over Jubo and seriously pine for Pizza Pilgrims.
5. In Defence of Millennials In The Workplace
It's Emma Gannon (again) and this time she's fighting the corner of a generation dubbed "lazy" and "entitled." Jobs in social media did not exist five years ago. Five years ago, my now global, 550-strong agency was just a couple of guys in a room in East London bouncing ideas off of each other. We're constantly evolving along with an ever-changing digital world. As Emma quite rightly concludes, Millennials don't work less hard, they just work differently.