London Coffee Festival

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Coffee?
Coffee.

The simplest of exchanges and yet the very mention of caffeine is enough to spark a little excitement. Having been in the coffee business for more years than I can count, I thought it was about time I popped down to the Old Truman Brewery.

Coffee culture has taken the world by storm. Gone are the days where a cup of coffee is just that- a cup of coffee. Cappuccinos are the new cosmopolitans and latte art is a must have. Costa and Starbucks, whilst both popular in their own respective rights, don’t always hit the spot for the coffee connoisseurs (or snobs, whatever you prefer to call us) and as a happy result, independent brewers are the belle de jour.

In retrospect, Costa Coffee was my first foray. My teenage tastebuds had a penchant for their gingerbread lattes, and as dear old Papa was a franchisee, this sickly-sweet goodness was practically on tap. Naturally, they were my first port of call for a job, and I was whipping out my own hand-crafted coffees in no time. Not long after, I progressed into the Head Office before joining the high-stakes game and becoming a franchisee myself. It was short-lived, as last year we dusted our hands of the business altogether.

More recently, I became the latest recruit at Bru Coffee and Gelato, bringing my Social Media expertise to the table. Independent and local, this coffee joint is far more me than your average high street chain.

Have you ever been to the London Coffee Festival? It certainly draws in the London locals. From traders to sellers, drinkers to baristas, it’s so fascinating to see the humble cup of coffee bring so many individuals together under one roof. The conversations are certainly a talking point (no pun intended), purely because of the passion that these curators have for their art. Whether they’re explaining their various blends, or telling you the history behind the brand, it’s incredible that a cup of coffee is elevated beyond morning fuel.

Sandows

Ah, the photogenic bottle of Cold Brew Coffee that wouldn’t look out of place during the prohibition period. It’s a very refreshing drink, and the lovely folks at Sandows got the caffeine buzz through the queue.

What exactly is it? Cold Brew differs to Iced Coffee, in the way that it’s extracted. With Iced Coffee, the espresso is extracted in the traditional way- hot water pushed through compacted, ground coffee. With Cold Brew, the coffee granules are left to soak in water over a period of time.

The difference is evident in taste. Cold Brew is very light, and doesn’t have that bitter taste that’s so prevalent in Iced Coffee. If you’re looking to dabble in Cold Brew, Sandows is the perfect place to start and stocked by most coffee connoisseurs.

Grind

One can hardly discuss coffee without mentioning Grind. With an expanse across the city of London, Grind serves everything from freshly crafted coffee to cocktails. A gritty, city aesthetic, they’re fast becoming a fan favourite in London’s coffee scene.

It was no surprise that their pop-up at London Coffee Festival was buzzing with activity all throughout the day, as they served flat whites to the masses. This is a coffee shop that has truly cracked the code. No detail is too small, and they display a great commercial awareness with great tasting coffee and instagrammable locations. From a business perspective, what Grind has managed to tap into so well is the late-night market. Coffee is no longer reserved for the morning.

My personal favourite is Soho Grind, mainly because of the bright red neon sign that reads French lessons given downstairs; but Shoreditch comes in at a close second with its witty slogans. Feeling fancy? Royal Exchange is right up your street.

Minor Figures

There was a time when the coffee scene was all about the chai. Purebred or dirty (with a shot of espresso), it was a guarantee that at least one person in the Starbucks queue was going to order a chai latte. Powder trumps syrup, but Minor Figures have an even better option.

A concentrate that goes back to the basics of chai. A quick whiff perfectly details every single spice, and it’s straight from the leaf- no added ingredients, whatsoever. It leaves you with the most beautiful flavour that warms your heart.

The Minor Figures gang were generous enough with their samples, and I’ve been frothing up my own chai lattes with their organic concentrate since. While you’re at it, pop open a can of their Nitro.

Brass Monkeys

As cold coffee peaks in popularity, one of its many forms is Nitro. For the uninitiated amongst us, this is Cold Brew filled in a keg and poured on tap. The most common way to describe it is describing the look and pour akin to a Guinness.

Brass Monkeys were a friendly bunch, eager to share the story behind the bottle and tap. London locals who pride themselves on the bold flavour thanks to the way they brew the stuff. Their Nitro is bursting with flavour and slips down easy as anything.

Mörk

Fear not! It might be called the London Coffee Festival, but it extends far beyond into the realms of tea and hot chocolate. One that certainly stood out was Mörk. Still relatively new to the UK, Mörk are chocolate artisans originating from Down Under.

The gentleman was kind enough to concoct up their Original Dark 70% blend, and it was beautifully velvety and rich with flavour, without being a gimmicky, sweet hot chocolate. The minimalist packaging and Scandi vibes are sure to attract a hipster or two, but these fellows are the premium of all hot chocolates.

I suppose it goes without saying, doesn’t it? Spending the day with an ever-changing espresso in my hand, learning about the origins of different beans and just being in such a highly caffeinated environment rather made my day.

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Offside

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“If you’re such a football fan, name a player who’s scored one hundred goals and played for both Aston Villa and Liverpool.”

It’s astounding, isn’t it? That we are in the twenty-first century and there are still men who think having boobs and possessing a passion for sports simply cannot co-exist within the same person. It’s a tale as old time, and a battle I have been fighting for as long as my memory can recall. Supposedly an all-inclusive field (no pun intended), why has sexism not been given the red card?

I can distinctly remember the first time I faced abuse as a female obsessed with the beautiful game. I must have been fifteen-years-old and absolutely smitten with Liverpool’s latest hotshot number nine- Fernando Torres. Despite El Niño’s swishy blonde mane and sharp cheekbones, it was his nifty footwork and sensational scoring partnership with Steven Gerrard that rekindled my Liverpool love. I was perfectly aware that the other girls in my year preferred skin-tight Superdry t-shirts over football jerseys. They wore foundation and expensive perfume when all I had in my make-up bag was a tube of mascara and old eyeliner. It never bothered me, until a double period of Chemistry where two boys threw my Liverpool backpack around the lab and reduced me to tears with their harsh words and hurtful jeers. They showed no sign of remorse and I hardly expect them to now.

Undeterred, I decided that the best counter measure I could take was to start a blog about football, and naturally, being the determined individual that I am, I did. I wrote about the Liverpool games I watched, before progressing to YouTube, where I once again bore the stung of discrimination. I was seventeen-years-old and terrified, as I read the threats of anonymous male viewers. Viewers who threatened to rape me because of the football team I supported. Viewers who warned me they would kill me because of my brown skin. I was a seventeen-year-old girl.

Now, at twenty-three-years-old, I find myself still trapped by the archaic belief that as a female, I can never truly understand the offside rule. To which I’d like to say; of course I understand the offside rule; I’m not a referee!

Something that has bothered me for much longer than I care to admit is the perception of myself as a football fan. It’s almost embarrassing, how I sat and thought about how men would see me. Would I forever be labelled as ‘the tomboy’; the chill girl who’s cool because she can talk transfer windows and league tables; but never attractive because she’s ‘one of the boys’? Perhaps I was intimidating because I knew far too much about footballers and not regular guys? Or maybe guys just thought I was a football phony; a pretty little princess who was trying too hard as a way of flirting with them? If I was so into sports, why was I taking the perfect selfie for Instagram and enjoying shopping for the perfect pair of heels? Worse, what if all they did was objectify me as that girl, the kind who can be found on The Lad Bible, with a cropped sports jersey and a thong, sexily nibbling on a slice of pizza?

A quick scour of the internet only seemed to aggravate the situation, with ridiculous articles such as How to watch football with your boyfriend and 15 reasons why you should date a girl that loves football populating Google’s pages. Apparently, a female football fan can only be either one extreme or the other. After all, having a vagina makes it biologically impossible to enjoy football. God forbid sports is actually appealing to women!

Bullshit.

Pardon my French, it’s very rare I resort to a curse word but quite frankly, this little essay is all about defying stereotypes, is it not? To put it simply, I am frustrated at how accessible sports is for men and not for women. Society has a nasty habit of labelling every activity with a gender and football is no different. How many times have we girls doubted ourselves? Whether it’s our opinion on the government or the football team’s colours we sport, there is always someone who will stand up and tell you that you simply don’t understand, but it’s alright, it’s not your fault, you’re a woman.

Bullshit.

You can kiss my rose gold Nike Airs. After years of feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in my own skin, it’s about time I left my inhibitions at the Shankly Gates, don’t you think? Whether I’m in a dress or a pair of jeans, you can count on my winged eyeliner and love of Liverpool combined being sharp enough to cut you to pieces. It’s 2017; stop judging women as girls who like football and start respecting them as football fans.

Oh, and to answer the original question; Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane.

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Beauty Blogger Tag

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We bloggers, we love our tags! I must admit, I got a little carried away with this one because I adore sharing my thoughts on all things beauty and make-up! The lovely Chloe from What Chloe Wrote nominated me to answer a few beauty mind bogglers.

Mes réponses…

What make-up product can’t you live without?

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Because my current favourite is Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara. It’s such a subtle way to make your eyes look wider and awake; it’s the first thing I reach for in the morning! I most definitely apply it to my lower lash too- I don’t understand people who don’t!

The correct way to apply mascara is to wiggle the wand into the roots of your lashes and gently zig-zag them through, making sure to brush out any clumps with a lash comb. This mascara works wonders with one coat, but the jury’s out if it’s Better Than Sex

Favourite hair care product?

In my misguided youth, I was convinced that if a product was premium priced, it would solve all my hair related problems. How very wrong I was! Lush’s American Cream conditioner has since converted me. It smells heavenly, of strawberries and cream- hence the name! What really won me over was just how amazing my hair feels after using it! My hair tends to be on the frizzy side of long and thick, but American Cream has a way of smoothing it and making it more manageable!

Favourite perfume?

Insolence by Guerlain. This is a concoction that is ultra-feminine and very sexy. I can only describe it as sex in a bottle! You need a healthy dose of confidence to wear this, which makes it perfect for a game of seduction. I just adore the way it makes me feel, so I save it for special occasions. It’s very French and very self-assured, which is an odd way to describe a perfume; but, it’s a powerful scent. This is one you have to test to understand what I mean!

Why did you start blogging?

Part naivety and part creativity. I was sixteen, or seventeen, years old and had just discovered the likes of Jenna Marbles and Kingsley on YouTube. I loved their raw honesty and the way they made me laugh- and I do mean laugh! The kind where you have to hold your stomach and catch your breath.

I suppose I was a little inspired, because I wanted to relate to people and I wanted them to relate to me. I didn’t have the confidence or personality of Jenna or Kingsley, so I wanted to blog about something that was me. I settled on football in the end, and I rather enjoyed it! I was successful too, which I am quite proud of. Alas, I started university and soon other things occupied my time. And when I decided to get back to blogging, I was passionate about different aspects of my life.

What do you love most about blogging?

I love having a platform where I can share my innermost thoughts and musings with the world, whether they may be about travel, current affairs or my favourite beauty products. It pushes me creatively and stylistically, and lately I’m loving that I feel confident in writing about things that are a little more personal.

Favourite celebrity style?

Emmanuelle Alt, without a shadow of a doubt. She is the most Parisian of us all in my opinion, and I admire her greatly. What I love about her is her ‘uniform’. A button-down shirt, jeans and a pair of heels are so often her outfit of choice and she somehow makes something so simple look so elegant. As this is a combination I have often turned to, she has given me the confidence to wear it with pride- before I truly discovered fashion, I felt shy about wearing the same combination so frequently as I thought people would mock me. But, now I channel my inner Emmanuelle Alt every time. If it works for VOGUE Paris’ Editor-in-Chief, it works for me!

Must follow on Instagram?

Audrey, from Frassy. She was one of the first bloggers I ever discovered, and I cannot tell you how much I love her. She is so inspiring and a truly empowering woman! I aim to be as honest as her one day when it comes to my blog. She’s an old-school blogging powerhouse that way- a very no-nonsense kind of girl! Her Instagram is a careful curation of very beautiful photos, but sheer honesty. It’s incredible that she can combine fashion with politics and body image, showing the two can co-exist. I am woman, and I can post about both my political standings and that cute pair of shoes I bought!

Lipstick or lipgloss?

I am going to be brutally honest now- I absolutely despise lipgloss. I never saw the appeal, even as a young girl. I wore it, but that’s because my mother refused to let me wear lipstick, only the brightest pink gloss. The texture is awful, and my long hair constantly sticks to it! It makes a right mess and I hate my lips looking shiny!

Now, the humble lipstick, that is more to my liking! It’s just so timeless and ladylike. Applying it is a sacred ritual and oh, there are so many to choose from! But, of course, nine times out of ten, I will choose a classic red.

Et toi?

Imaan, Lindsay, Lois, Sinéad – I think this tag is one you’ll like! Time to spill your secrets!

What is your favourite high street beauty product?
Which beauty blogger do you always turn to for beauty advice?
Most instagrammable beauty product out there?
What do you make of Huda Beauty?
What is your favourite high end beauty product?
CHANEL or Dior?
What is your most embarrassing beauty blunder?
Share a beauty tip?

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Montmartre

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There is a French saying, and roughly, it translates to something like; ‘there is more of Montmartre in Paris than there is Paris in Montmartre’.

There is an undeniable image of the Moulin Rouge, the infinite sex shops that line the streets, and the Café des 2 Moulins where Amélie once waited. All magnificent in their own rights, of course. But to a Parisian such as myself, Montmartre holds much more magic than that.

On my last few visits to the City of Lights, my friends and I have firmly upheld the tradition of heading to Montmartre first. Blessed with beautiful on all occasions, the Sacré-Coeur is without a doubt our starting point. None of us have a particularly religious affiliation with the church, but it is remarkable. The way the pure white stone seems to shine brilliantly across the blue sky.

Even the herds of tourists with their selfie sticks are more hushed here; as they stand to admire the great domes and the ever-present twang of a harp. The steps of the Sacré-Coeur offer a most breath-taking view of Paris, and there’s nothing better than simply letting your eye wander over typically Parisian rooftops that seem close enough to step on. Up here, the city is quite literally beneath your feet.

My fondest memory is from my first year, where I sat with friends I had just made on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur. It was a beautiful day, and I wished I had packed my sunglasses. I remember this sense of calm. Although, none of us knew each other too well, we bonded in that moment. And most importantly, of course, we felt very Parisian.

The Sacré-Coeur is extravagantly beautiful inside too. Unfortunately, or happily, depending on which way you look at it, I don’t have any photographs. The Church does ask visitors not to take any, and as a mark of respect I never have. Whilst it is a destination for tourists, it still is a place of worship for many. That itself is what makes the Sacré-Coeur so remarkable. In a country that prides itself on staunch secularism, this church remains a symbol of hope for those that still pray there.

Behind the Sacré-Coeur lies a rich history, one plagued with death and religion versus the State. Perhaps a little too heavy a subject for now, but a bloody story well worth a read.

Far from the safest neighbourhood in Paris, Montmartre is an intricate little maze of streets and sights alike, all waiting to be discovered. Ignoring the less than charming men who try to arm you with bracelets (and these really should be avoided), there are little shops filled with trinkets and quaint treasures. Vintage shops with designer pieces and concept fashion. Let’s not forget the sheer abundance of cafes and bistros, with prix fixe menus that include espressos and crêpes. It is an undeniable truth that the French know how to cook.

My words and my photographs can only help you imagine so much about Montmartre, it is simply somewhere you must stop the next time you find yourself in the City of Lights. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a serenity I have felt every time. I suppose it’s typically French in that way, in that it is unabashedly itself. It is dirty, and it is raw with graffiti, but it’s Paris. This is the Paris that belongs to its inhabitants, the ones who work hard to make rent and pay for a pack of cigarettes. This is the Paris that belongs to artists, having played home to Degas and Van Gogh and even now, there is no shortage of painters perched at café tables.

It sounds odd, to say that in a city famed for its beauty and romance I love the lesser travelled streets where I can blend in with the locals, but I suppose I’m Living Like a Parisienne for a reason. Experiencing a city as if one lives there is just that little bit more special than playing tourist.

Montmartre is more than a seedy neighbourhood nestled in the city of Paris. When the tourists are a little too much, and you want to experience Paris beyond the Eiffel Tower, climb the hill and bask in the magic of Montmartre.

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La Mer x Glossybox

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“La mer
qu’on voit danser
le long des golfes clairs”

A sea foam blue box delivered to my door was a welcome sight on the gloomiest day in Britain. Charles Trenet’s melodious voice echoed through the house, and I walked through it as if treading on sand, my little blue box held aloft. Skies were stormy outside, but with my Glossybox, it was sunshine inside for me.

Like many La Mer admirers before me, I had been waiting for the all-important email that marked the early sale of this limited edition Glossybox. And with good reason! La Mer is possibly the most coveted skincare brand; the signature Miracle Broth creating quite the reputation. As it sits at the premium end of the price scale, this was an excellent way to sample the products without breaking the bank.

It’s no secret that packaging can make all the difference, and Glossybox x La Mer is a daydream. It’s quintessentially minimal, but with the assured touch of luxury. It was a real treat, unravelling the ribbon and unveiling the beauty within. The avid instagrammer in me was delighted at the sea-inspired colours. As I had just purchased a new camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL7, I can’t think of a better subject to have photographed first!

There are six products in total; a blend of the cult classics that brought La Mer its fame, and some of the newer additions. At an estimated value of £118, forking out a mere £40 for six of the best skincare products is an absolute bargain. It means I can sample a little of everything, and if my graduate salary allows, possibly purchase one or two of the one I like the most. The only problem is, after a week of using La Mer, I think I’m in love…

La Mer Cleansing Micellar Water…

I was very excited to try this product! Since Micellar Water has trickled down on to the high street, I’ve preferred it over make-up wipes. La Mer’s version is gloriously refreshing and removes every trace of make-up rather easily. Even my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner didn’t stand a chance! The scent was a little clinical, but other than that, I simply can’t fault La Mer’s Micellar Water.

La Mer Intensive Revitalising Mask…

Who doesn’t love the way their skin feels after a face mask? La Mer’s concoction is perfect for breathing life back into drab skin that’s in desperate need of some TLC. All it takes is eight minutes for skin that’s restored with suppleness. This product didn’t stand out for as much as some of the others, but I suppose that’s because of my oily skin, I prefer a mask that takes no nonsense from my pores.

The Revitalising Hydrating Serum…

This product is single-handedly responsible for my love affair with La Mer. As I mentioned before, I have incredibly oily skin. Finding a moisturiser that controls shine is a full-time job in itself. Murad has been keeping me happy, but then along came La Mer. I am going to need a higher salary because this is it. I have never seen my skin look so healthy and radiant, but also without a trace of shine… all day long. If you have oily skin, I recommend trying the Revitalising Hydrating Serum because it is a miracle worker!

The Treatment Lotion…

Moisture has never been much of an issue for me, but for those days when the weather had made my skin a little worse for wear, I found myself reaching for La Mer’s Treatment Lotion. It’s moisture packed into a tiny little bottle! You can expect radiance, all with even tone and improved texture. Just a few drops is all it takes!

The Eye Concentrate…

Courtesy of my job, I find myself staring at various screens for hours on end with not much snooze time, so I was intrigued to see what this product is all about. While I don’t think my eye contour needs too much TLC, the skin did look much healthier after using the Eye Concentrate and my concealer applied far better too.

Crème de La Mer –  The Moisturising Cream…

Ah yes, the Holy Grail. There’s very little I can say about this moisturiser that hasn’t been said before. All I will add is, it lives up to its reputation.

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The verdict? I am well and truly in love with La Mer. I’m not normally a fan of subscription boxes, but I’m thrilled I forked out for this one! The premium price and celebrity status certainly makes sense, because their products do make that difference in my skin care routine. Of course, as with any product it is all about trial and error- there’s not always one solution that works for all. Except perhaps Crème de La Mer

The revolution will be liked, tweeted & shared

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Materialistic, narcissistic and selfish. Not to mention entitled, lazy and privileged. These are just a few of the adjectives that crop up in discussions about Millennials. The me-me-me kids. The generation that is set to be the future. A future, at least according to parents and sociologists alike, that we have already forfeited in favour of making sure our Instagram grids have a perfect theme.

“What’s your opinion on Millennials?” I asked my mother, as she sipped at her coffee. She thought about it for a second, and began reeling off a list not too dissimilar to the one above. It quickly turned into something more personal, and I had to nip that conversation in the bud there and then. Everyone has an opinion on Millennials, but why is there so much animosity?

Internship. The word that employers will use to reel in graduates who will end up in a full-time job that barely pays for their travel, let alone food or rising rent prices in London. Do not underestimate the value of the humble internship; they are excellent opportunities to get to grips with the industry and develop the necessary skills. Having said that, if I have gone to university, burying myself in debt in the process, to achieve the necessary qualification I need for a job, I do not then expect to do said job for free. Granted, my CV might not boast years’ worth of experience, but come on, you can fork out the National Minimum Wage at least.

Millennials are a generation who aren’t fazed by rules and regiment, hence why we see no reason to adhere to it. We are revolutionising the workplace, with our fashionable workwear and our staunch decline to work the traditional 9 to 5. As Millennials, we have evolved beyond the strict lines of the colouring book; willing to tread into the vast expanse of blank canvas where we can rewrite the rules completely. Corporate culture doesn’t cut it for us all.

Hashtag selfie. It would be silly to lie and say Millennials aren’t obsessed with social media. We are incredibly aware of our online presence, and most of the time, yes, we are Instagramming that coffee we ordered and yes, you will see us at the next Twitter chat. As a generation, we are constantly switched on. Tube Commuters clutching the latest John Grisham are a rare breed, replaced by Kindle wielding, iPhone waving armies.

Perhaps there’s more to the story than immediate gratification. Perhaps, the answer is as simple as the world has changed. The digital era has steadily crept into our lives, as more businesses, people and procedures turn to technology to stay relevant. Websites and blogs have pulled the rug out from underneath the newspaper, trending tweets replacing the “Dear Editor” letter. Facebook is the new, better way to invite friends over to look at your slides of holiday photos. Instagram provides an insight into each other’s lives.

Ah, the future. It’s ours for the taking. If Gen X has any doubts about it, then I ask them to look at themselves. The elders but not wiser, who voted for Brexit and set us on a downward spiral. The so-called responsible adults, who put their faith in a madman and opened the floodgates for hate crimes. Talk about one step forward, two steps back. Homophobia, Transphobia, Islamophobia, Misogyny… Gen X are quick to point the finger at us Millennials, but what about the negativity they exude with their outdated beliefs?

Who better to stand up for what is right than the generation of the future? Millennials seem to have a fierce disregard for their parents’ beliefs; powered by a moral compass that is no doubt the result of the internet. Online platforms have enabled Millennials to educate themselves on issues beyond the white heteronormative, and with this knowledge comes a revolution. A revolution that threatens to sweep away the order of Gen X and replace it with a new one that teaches tolerance and acceptance and promotes new ideas on careers, relationships and faith.

Over the last couple of years, Millennials have orchestrated some of the world’s most powerful movements in the fight for justice. Where are the lazy, materialistic, entitled Millennials you speak of? We are a generation on a mission to educate ourselves and live fulfilling lives. Perhaps we do spend a lot of time on our phones. And perhaps you should worry about it. Why? Well, because you’ve left behind a mess and now we need a revolution to clean it up. This is a revolution that will be liked, tweeted, and shared.

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The Liebster Award

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The blogging industry can seem so intimidating to a newbie who is still working out how to get on the good side of the Instagram algorithm and googling what on earth ‘SEO’ means. I suppose it’s why something as humble as The Liebster Award is wonderful. I remember my first nomination, by the wonderful Anne-Sophie from City Cookie. There was a sheer sense of delight that someone read what I wrote on the internet, and wanted to include me in the blogosphere. Not every blogger sits on a throne of mighty Instagram likes!

As with any tale as old as time, no-one truly knows the original rules. Every blogger seems to have their own addition. I’m going to trust the judgement of Breanna Catharina, who nominated me and is, as her blog suggests, Too Cute for Life.

  1. Post 11 facts about yourself
  2. Answer the 11 questions from your nominator
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers (and tell them they’ve been nominated)
  4. Ask them 11 questions

Sur moi…

  1. Standing at 5’1 (barely), I am as every bit as tiny as I look in the photos
  2. At the tender of seventeen, I decided to blog… about football
  3. The reason I am such a coffee snob is because I am a qualified barista
  4. I’m a huge fan of Marvel films, Iron Man being my favourite superhero
  5. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is the only book of poetry I didn’t have to force myself to read
  6. Although my family has Indian and Pakistani origins, I consider myself culturally British
  7. The first man to break my heart was Fernando Torres; with his transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea
  8. I am absolutely terrified of spiders, or most creepy crawlies in general
  9. A good pulled rib meat burger is the way to my heart
  10. Chris Pine was my first celebrity crush
  11. This one’s a secret, but I cannot decide if I love London or Paris more

Mes réponses…

  1. If you live in a world that was monochromatic, what colour would you want it to be?
    Black. I think it’s a colour with so much depth and emotion. It’s sleek and flattering, with a certain je ne sais quoi.
  2. If you were in the circus, what act would you want?
    Trapeze artist. I think it would be both terrifying and exciting flying through the air every night.
  3. What is your favourite cuisine?
    Is coffee a cuisine?
  4. What song describes your life?
    I wish it was something as poetic as Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden, whereas in reality, it’s more like Labels or Love; the song Fergie recorded for Sex and the City.
  5. What is something everyone loves but you don’t like?
    Hauls. I can’t quite pinpoint it, but I see people do these all the time, and I just can’t understand why? Also, how do bloggers afford to do hauls so often? It’s something I just can’t see myself doing, I suppose.
  6. What small thing drives you crazy?
    Daniel; my younger brother.
  7. What was your favourite year in school?
    If we’re talking about the good old days, I would have to say Year Five, when I would have been ten years old. I think the highlight for me was being the only person on the playground who could tackle this one boy no-one else could.
  8. What do you know that you think everyone should?
    Starbucks’ coffee comes from a vending machine. That’s why you can’t see what they’re doing apart from steaming the milk, they don’t want you to know all they do is press a button to get you your morning latte.
  9. What would you like to change about your blog?
    I think my photography could do with some work. Which is why I’m selling my old camera and upgrading. Any tips are welcome as always.
  10. What brand would you like to work with on your blog?
    It’s painfully obvious that I am a CHANEL girl, but at this moment in time I am loving Alessandro Michele’s creative direction with Gucci. It would be such an honour to work with Gucci and create posts around the vibrant colours and bold accessories.
  11. What is going on in your life right now?
    I hope to be a part of some branding projects, as I want to develop my marketing skills. Editorial is the ultimate goal; so I am reading more and trying to practice my writing through longer, eloquent posts. Is it working?

Et toi?

Ayse, Cody, Eleanor, Imaan, Katrina, Kimberly, Lindsay, Melissa, Selena, Shellie & Sinead– you’re up! Here are some very important questions I have for you…

  1. What do you like most about your blog?
  2. How do you like to spend a Monday morning?
  3. Is there something that never fails to brighten your mood?
  4. If you could pick one fictional person to be your best friend, who would you choose?
  5. Where do you see your blog in five years’ time?
  6. Which is your favourite social media platform?
  7. Do you prefer holidays where you can relax, or holidays filled with activities?
  8. What’s your favourite opening line of a book?
  9. Coca Cola or Pepsi?
  10. Has your blogging style changed since you first started out?
  11. Do you believe in horoscopes?

The Dubai Epiphany

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A Londoner and a self-proclaimed Parisian. It’s the cities that make us who we are. The daily grind; the kind where you wake up every morning early enough to wing your eyeliner and sip a flat white in a Shoreditch coffee shop before a day in your heels and making a quick stop at that new cocktail bar that makes your body ache by the time you collapse in bed that evening. A life where your Saturdays are spent at the launderette as you try to have some clean underwear in time for your date with the blue-eyed boy with the seductive smelling cologne. It’s a life I certainly wouldn’t trade.

That’s not to say that the provinces bore me. Every once in a while, I find the urge to disappear and sip a cocktail under the sunshine. Or hunt down the most instagrammable shots of town. Sometimes, even the most urban of us need to escape to pollution free air where we can feel the hot sand between our toes.

Dubai is a hotspot for people from all corners of the earth. An ever-growing city that is always alive with lights, it has connections with a vast number of countries that it’s no wonder that it’s so popular amongst the expats. Make no mistake, it is a city, but a city I oddly enough felt no desire to wander into. I spent a week in the happy bubble of Madinat Jumeirah, basking in the scorch of the sun and cooling off in the pool.

I have never been one for hotels. At least, I think not. They restrict me. I much prefer the freedom of an apartment, where I can truly make myself at home. I suppose it’s why we didn’t opt for the famous Jumeirah Beach Hotel– it’s rife with the tourist trade. No, I loved the shade of our villa in the Dar Al Masyaf resort. We had a private pool and king size beds. There was a huge tub and a walk-in closet I was reluctant to leave behind. The little details relax me; that wonderful sense of being on holiday but with the homeliness.

There are always details that remind you just how far from home you are. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the early morning sunshine from the shade of my boat, sailing through the waterways that connect the resort. There was a serenity about the gentle slosh of the water and the curious questions of the man navigating the boat towards the beachfront for my breakfast. Gliding down crystal clear blue waters lined by palm trees and Middle Eastern architecture… it’s certainly one way to feel alive.

In theory, these were all reasons that should have led to a very happy relationship between myself and Dubai.  I’ve never felt so carefree as the day I boated back to my villa after a full body massage at the spa. But, oddly enough, it made me crave London. I liked Dubai, yes, or rather, I liked what Dubai wanted me to.

Dubai is a city, but a very different kind of city that isn’t my cup of tea. The landscape that is forever changing unsettles me. I’m not against innovation, but how does one thrive in a city where the buildings you live and work in could exist one day and be rubble the next? I value the familiar joints that ground me when I need a place to return to. London is never short of coffee shops or bars to experience. There are side streets just waiting to be explored and suburbs just waiting for a city goer to get lost in. But when I’ve had enough, I find myself ordering a flat white at Soho Grind and taking comfort in the dim glow of the neon sign; French lessons given downstairs.

I am a do-it-yourself kind of woman. Fortunate as I am to have grown up in a comfortable lifestyle, the kind where there was always food to eat and a warm house to come back to, my parents have never believed in handing me life on a silver platter. I remember days working on a market in the bitter cold. I have served time as a barista to pay for my education. Even as a fashion intern, I have run around London in my high heels, carrying boxes of props and attending events. I’m no stranger to work, so I feel uneasy in cultures were servants are part of the hierarchy. It may well be the history behind ‘the help’, but I don’t consider myself above anyone enough to think they should be ironing my clothes for me. My roots armed me with a fierce humility towards the Pakistanis who were at my beck and call just so they could send money home to provide for their families. Without them, Dubai would struggle to survive.

Consumerism is the only culture ingrained into Dubai society. Beyond its skyscrapers, resorts and malls, there is little to charm me. And even those are only for those with more money than sense. If you can give it a paint job and shine some filmstar bulbs on it, you can bet the Arabs want a slice of the action in their dearly beloved Dubai.

In retrospect, perhaps I have simply put a pair of rose tinted glasses on my workaholic nature. Maybe I am in love with London and Paris too much to ever truly open myself up to anywhere else. Perfect lives are for the elite Emirati; daily glamour and glitz doesn’t define this modern woman, nor does shopping and Starbucks. You see, with London, you get what you see. It makes no effort to hide the grit of Hackney and the opulence of South Kensington. London is unapologetically itself. Paris? The romance is overrated but it prides itself with a blasé attitude that would put anyone to shame. Dubai? While you’re hiding in the comforts of Jumeirah Beach or gazing up at the Burj Khalifa, the dirty secrets of the UAE are being buried at the bottom of that new canal in Business Bay. Moral corruption, maybe London has that too; but at least I can protest it in my rose gold Nikes like the East London working woman that I am.

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Lip Kit Battle: Stila

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Oh, how difficult it is to be a beauty blogger when there is so much make-up across the pond… and so little of it here in rainy old England. It means that when these coveted cosmetics finally trickle through customs, I abandon any hope I have for my bank balance and go on a spending spree. And in the unlikeliest of places, a Marks & Spencer in Leicester to be specific, I discovered a small selection of Stila.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick was one of the first names I came across when liquid lipsticks came to light. On the shelf for £16.00, it falls into the same price bracket as Huda Beauty. I suppose one saving grace is that there’s no postage or customs fees attached, just a trip to your local M&S.

Twenty-five shades to choose from means there is bound to be a colour, nude or not, that takes your fancy… so long as the shade you want is one of five or so that M&S actually stock in-store. Their website is more promising for range, but this Parisienne prefers trying before buying. If you are a first-time buyer, or unsure of what would suit you, then don’t be tempted by marks and spencer dot com. £16.00 is not worth a lip colour that you hate.

A little sweetness never went amiss, so Dolce was the shade that went home with me that fateful night. It’s a nude, and beautifully simple too. From one beauty babe to another, it is one of the most natural nudes that is flattering to my complexion. The consistency is super soft, and it glides on like a dream. As with most, if not all, liquid lipsticks, blending it in with your finger and allowing it time to dry will give you a flawless finish.

My only reservation? The shimmer. It escaped my attention at the time, but Dolce is one of the shimmery shades in the collection. Being the Parisienne that I am, I hate glossy lip products as I think they’re far too ostentatious. Granted, my lips only shimmered in certain lights, but I despise the shine.

Especially as Stila means business. Stay All Day couldn’t be a better name for this liquid lipstick! It possesses serious staying power and thanks to the creamy texture, you can say goodbye to a parched pout.

If purchasing a liquid lipstick seems like a daunting task, I would like to point you in the direction of Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. It’s an excellent place to start; the brand isn’t intimidating at all and all-in-all, despite the gold glimmer amidst the nude, this is a liquid lipstick I turn to time and time again. I don’t think it’s enough to knock a Kylie Lip Kit off the millennial radar, but it’s certainly one for your cosmetics bag.

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To work in fashion like me

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“You sold your soul to the devil when you put on your first pair of Jimmy Choo’s!” – The Devil Wears Prada

It’s a Monday morning, and in between cups of coffee and a dozen emails, I find myself mapping out my career path. I was a late bloomer, so to speak, meaning I only decided that fashion was my chosen industry approximately two and a half years ago. Designing and modelling (aside from the odd Instagram selfie, of course) had never crossed my mind, and to this day, they still don’t strike any interest with me. Currently, my official title reads: Administrative & Marketing Assistant. It’s as every bit as gruelling and yet glamorous as it sounds.

Approval for an internship is as rare as a smile from Anna Wintour. I met mine with sheer relief, as it meant I wasn’t part of the unemployed 5% of recent graduates. That, and I had been accepted into the very industry I craved to be a part of. I will take the donkey work. The photocopier will be owned. Coffee runs will be my cardio. Being a fashion intern- or an entry level employee in any industry- does not allow for much luxury. So, I suppose the workaholic nature I inherited from my father is somewhat of a godsend. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I am lucky enough to work with a team who trust me enough to give me authority and responsibility. From running their social media to co-ordinating a project for a high-profile client three times a year, I’m a busy bee. Details can’t be spared seeing as I have signed a non-disclosure agreement, but rest assured, I love my job.

The cold hard truth? The fashion industry is as notoriously hard to break into as it is reputed to be. As Carolina Herrera once said; “to make it in fashion, you must have perseverance, discipline, and talent.” It is a long way to the top, but it’s even longer to get a foot on the ladder itself. The rejections will pile up. How you deal with them is what singles out the real potentials. Sheer passion has to be the driving force, because a qualification will only take you so far. Experience is essential, and as difficult as it is to find, don’t turn down retail. A few stints in Harrods or a New Bond Street boutique will open more doors for you than you think.

Eat fashion. Sleep fashion. Breathe fashion. Immerse yourself in it. This time last year, I expressed myself with the ever repetitive ‘I love fashion’ line and the odd Coco Chanel quote to caption my Instagram posts. In retrospect, this was incredibly naive and rather embarrassing. There are a million girls who love fashion, so what makes me more worthy than them to work in the industry? In a nutshell, I discovered myself in fashion; forging an identity based on creative expression and a deep found knowledge of its icons. Can you tell me what the political significance of the Lady Dior bag is? What inspired the features of a CHANEL Classic Bag? Why are the straps of a Gucci handbag shaped in that specific way?

What about the clothes? Where are the handbags? What size do those shoes come in? These are questions I ask myself when I pass through Harrods or the Dior boutique on New Bond Street (heaven on earth, if you must know). Yet, the businesswoman in me has other questions. What impact does Brexit have on the fashion industry? How has the digital era affected consumer markets? Does social media have any tangible benefits for luxury fashion? What about Stella’s pledge for sustainable fashion? Spotting the Prada amongst the Primark cannot be your sole skill.

Envisaging the dream job, or the ultimate goal, now, that’s the easy part. But, as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Work out what that first step is, and then the others. Map out the path to your dream job, and don’t rule out any detours. Ask an expert to glance over your CV. Accept that internship. The fashion industry isn’t sugarcoated for a reason. It is tough. There are early starts and late nights. You will be challenged mentally and physically, so you had better break in those heels before Monday morning comes around.

Having said that, when it comes to the fashion industry, hard work reaps rewards. There is always something to learn; whether it’s the history behind a brand, or about yourself, I find myself growing and maturing all the time into a more wholesome person. The fashion world is filled with hundreds of thousands of people, all of whom are inspiring in their own way. Their motivation fuels my own. Of course, there are the beautiful clothes and the sample sales, as well as the odd freebie and invitations to events. After all, this wouldn’t be a fashion post without all that jazz.

Don’t assume fashion is the glossy exterior pictured in VOGUE. It has a rich history, rooted deep in society, economics and most importantly, humanity.

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