Dagenham Days: The story continues…

As promised on Twitter this week, I caught up with Scott Redmond, a freelancer writer, who is working on a book about growing up in Dagenham. While researching his family history, he’s discovered quite a few twists and turns along the way, which has been picked up by local newspapers and organisations.

Heathway

Scott, last time we caught up with you, you were reminiscing about how our local high street used to be, where has your story taken you now?

My early parts were very much trotting down memory lane, reminiscing and reminding myself of things I should have long since forgotten. Those nostalgic hugs got me thinking about the things from my childhood that never really stacked up, since then it’s been like playing detective in a search for facts.


You’ve been discovering a few twists along the way, without giving too much away, what’s been one of the best?

Discovering several uncles I knew nothing about was pivotal to the story. Delving in to why they’d been erased was never going to give me any Disney answers. One of them was closely linked to the Kray’s I quickly discovered. I also discovered my mum had been on trial at The Old Bailey when she was 17….

Questions

Where are you looking to take your story next?
It’s more a case of where it’s taking me. Being 100 per cent factual each discovery gives me my words.

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You’ve received a lot of local interest, who has got involved so far?
I’ve embraced social media, it’s something I’ve had a love hate relationship over the years. For Dagenham Days it’s been nothing but positive. Via Facebook and Twitter I’ve found various people who shaped my childhood. Only this week I hooked up with the girl next door at 49, I’ve not seen or heard from her for almost 30 years. The Dagenham Post have been supportive, they’ve run two articles so far, each one resulted in residents of Dagenham getting intouch with facts about my mum’s family.

 Your doodles are definitely a talking point on your Facebook page, where do you get your day to day inspiration from for them?

The doodles came about by accident. I needed a map of Dagenham, to highlight areas I have refered to. I tried to find one but in the just doodled one, since then I’ve done over a 100. They help to engage people and compliment chapters that I’ve written. I’ve also done a few doodles for The Made in Dagenham musical gang, they’ve used them on their own social media with surprisingly positive results!

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What’s next for you and the book? Do you have a target date for finishing?

If this was a work of fiction I could tie up the loose ends and write that last line, being factual that’s not a luxury I have, nor want. It was suggested by someone who’s read it all that I split it in to two books, one being the early nostalgic and social history sections, the other being the playing Miss Marple part and looking for facts. It’s an idea but I think it’ll work better in one lot.

What inspired you to write DD in the first place and what has been your most favourite part of the process so far?
There was no eureka moment, I just started writing sections after reading Kath Hardy’s book Secrets My Mother Kept, which is also set in Dagenham albeit in an early era. I love writing, the last seven years I’ve freelanced on motorcycle magazines, having stepped away from that this filled my passion for writing. Researching if, buts and maybes and discovering the truth is the most rewarding part of this process, it helps me understand not just who I am, but who my parents really were!

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To keep up with Scott’s story, you can follow him on Twitter at @DagenhamDays or check out his Facebook page.

 

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Balance is the Key to Life

I’ll confess that I had a bit of a mini break-down last weekend, which sounds sooooo dramatic, I know but as most girls will know, every now and again, you end up crying buckets for absolutely no reason. Damn hormones. Well…not for no reason, I guess I started feeling overwhelmed again and gallivanting around everywhere all the time, didn’t really help. There are a few things at the moment that are stressing me out and I’ll be glad once I know the outcome of them (sorry to be cryptic) but in the meantime, I think I’ve been distracting myself by doing loads of things and trying to be Super Girl ha. As usual, I end up feeling ‘burnt-out,’ so this week I’ve decided to chill out more, spend some time with my family and get a few bits and pieces done that I’ve been putting off doing. My little sunshine get-away to Spain on Saturday has come at the right time too!

I find it hard to get the right balance in my life sometimes and I feel at times I’m neglecting some things more than others and to be honest, I’m so busy worrying about those things when I’m concentrating on what’s in front of me, that I turn into a complete and utter grouch. Like I said in my previous post about the art of saying no, I’m trying to get into my mindset that its okay to miss out on things or turn things down because I need an evening monging out in my pjs, watching one of my guilty pleasures (usually a crap chick-flick or Geordie Shore).

So in spirit of my couple of weeks of ‘Me-time,’ although I don’t like calling it that because it sounds selfish but anyhow, here are a few of my creature comforts that I do to relax and unwind. Ah…bistoooooo… Creature_Comforts A nice bubbly bath- You can’t beat a laaaavly scalding hot bath filled with a beautifully-scented bubble-bath, I love Palmolive’s Naturals range (Milk & Honey- yum!) and BodyShop’s Passion Fruit Shower Gel because you can still smell them hours after a scrub in the tub and they’re kind to your skin. I know most bloggers are Lush fans but I don’t dig being covered in glitter.

Pamper sesh- I’m not patient enough to sit there with a facial mask on but I do love a cleanse/tone/moisturise regime. I treat myself to Clarins products every now and again and their everyday exfoliater and cleansing milk is gorgeous. My skin is mostly combination but it can be quite sensitive too and I find that Clarins is not too heavily perfumed to cause irritation. Admittedly my skin is driving me nuts at the moment because I keep getting a few break-outs (I had none when I was a teenager!) so I’ve been using some blemish treatments (Bodyshop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion and Witch Blemish Gel) to keep them at bay.

Snuggly PJs- I’m a sucker for a cute PJ set (not very sexy I know) but sometimes you just need a bit of comfort when you’re slobbing out. Tesco and George at Asda always do really reasonably priced sets and the quality is good. I usually then like to snuggle up in my dressing gown or a blanket with a pillow. I’ve been looking for a couple of quirky scatter cushions for my bedroom for a while now but haven’t really found any that fit my duck-egg/cream theme. Think I may have found a winner with this Layla Grayce one…

Tea & Cookies- Nothing beats a good British cuppa and of course, what goes best with a brew? Cookies! Yeah I know you’re supposed to lay off the refined stuff when you’re feeling a bit under the weather but that’s 70 calories of happiness, right there.

Girly Reads/DVDs- I love buying three or four magazines to read over a weekend so that I can flick through them at my leisure. My fave glossies are Elle, Company magazine, Look and InStyle but I’m gonna wait this week to stock up at the airport for the plane journey. Most of the mags are giving away some awesome beauty mini’s this month. My TV at the moment is being dominated by Sport (good job I’m a fan!) so yeah I’ve watched about 90% of the World Cup and most of the Grand Prix, Tour de France and Wimbledon…I think I’m entitled to a month of trashy chick-flicks! Katherine Heigl is one of my favourite rom-com actresses so I guess it’s no surprise that 27 Dresses is one of my guilty-pleasures, probably because I can relate to the main protagonist Jane’s Type A personality and I’ve been a bridesmaid like 7 times! Don’t get me wrong, I do prefer a comedy/thriller most of the time (currently on Season 3 of Breaking Bad) but sometimes you just need to watch something that doesn’t require too much concentration.

What are your creature comforts for maximum relaxation?

You know you’re from Essex when…

My last little post You know you’re a Commuter when,’ went down pretty well with you all so I’d thought that in honour of my home country and the many misconceptions people have about it, I’d do another little list.

Slap your hand to your face every time you can relate to each point!

Image from Share Inspire Quotes via Pinterest

Image from Share Inspire Quotes via Pinterest

1. As soon as you say you’re from Essex, people yell: “Oh my god, shut uuuuuuup!” *Le Sigh*

2. People ask if you live near/have seen/met/ shared saliva with any of the TOWIE crew…urgh.

3. Because of the above reasons, you have resorted to saying that you’re from East Laaaaaandaaaan instead or as I call it, Lessex.

4. People ask you where your white stilettos are…pur-lease that was left in the 70s. Besides white shoes are in now, ya hear!

5. “Why are you so pale, don’t you use fake tan?” No, funny enough, I don’t want to go through the Dulux colour chart.

6. Explaining to people that you are actually 100% au-natural, no silicone for me thank you!

7. We’re not all hairdressers/models/TOWIE members/drug-dealers/wide-boys.

8. Yes, I have been to Sugar Hut, 195 and the Brick Yard but like the west-end, they’re a tourist trap. Essex is not the only way!

9. Yes, we really do refer to Basildon as Bas-Vegas.

10. No, we don’t all drive Mercs/BMWs/Mini Coopers.

11. Most of us live in terraced housing, not gated apartment estates.

12. There is more to Essex than just Brentwood, Chigwell and Loughton.

13. I have never been to Marbs and probably won’t ever.

14. Contrary to popular belief, the majority adhere to the main fashion ‘rules,’ legs OR boobs out, never both.

15. Saying “Oh, don’t worry she’s from Essex…” every time we come out with something silly will result in a punch in the face.

16. We don’t spend all of our weekends shopping in Lakeside, I spent three years of my life there, got far better things to do.

17. No, everyone in Essex doesn’t know each other (or sleep with each other) its a big county y’know! (1,300 square miles to be exact!)

18. We’re not all thick, some of us actually have more than 5 GCSEs.

19. Getting ready for a night out doesn’t take all day, it takes me an hour.

20. The majority of us do not own a silly little spoiled pet, that we’ve dyed pink. REALLY?!

21. The Essex lad exists but he doesn’t always come preened in a polo shirt (or a thong!)

22. It’s not all cat-fights and thrown drinks on a night out, daaaaarling.

23. We don’t all name our kids Chardonnay and Dave.

24. The Duck-pout usually is a result of far too much Botox.

25. If being Essex works in our favour, we will (admittedly) use it to our advantage…alriiiiiight.

 

I’m off daaaaan the pub for a glass orf Proseccooo, catcha laters babes!

 

Welcome to 2014…

Hello and Happy New Year to you all! I know it’s been a while but time ran away from me in the run up to Christmas, I mean like craaaaaaazy busy!

There was not only one but THREE Christmas parties, which was great because I felt like I got to know everyone I work with better, can’t believe I’ve been there over three months now- time flies and all that jazz.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest via Lin L

Photo courtesy of Pinterest via Lin L

I’ve also got some exciting news to tell you, which if you follow me on Twitter etc, you’ll probably know about it but I’ve taken over the Gig Panel guide in The Ticket, an entertainment supplement free with The Daily Mirror every Friday! I’m absolutely over the moon to have been given the opportunity to do this and I’m looking to work on more projects in the future. Many fingers, many pies! My second panel is out tomorrow so don’t forget to grab yourself a copy.

It’s been all systems go since the New Year, I’m on full holiday countdown and as a result, my to-do lists seem to be endless (I totally do need a new Cath Kidston passport holder, right?) and my inner Super Girl has upped the ante so that I’m one step ahead at work while I’m away…I’ll let you know how that progresses ha!

Thanks to everyone who has posted and sent me some recommendations for Thailand, so unbelievably excited! Although I’m slightly apprehensive about the 11 hour flight, never experienced a long-haul  before so again if you’ve got any advice, throw it my way. I’m just praying that I don’t get a snoring drunkard sitting next to me with a bladder the size of Wales en route.

This weekend is a busy one as it’s that time of the year again, its almost the day of my birth and I really wish that time didn’t go so quick sometimes, feels like I was 19 only about a year ago ha! Alas it’ll be the last year that I get to tick the ol’ 18-24 age box on a survey (*sob*) so I’ll happily do any questionnaires or quizzes etc for the next 365-odd days. Just don’t ask me come January next year!

Celebrating with my fellow January babies Dan & Emma and we’re off to Kanaloa in the City for a bit of Hawaii in the winter…makes sense of course! There will be photos and a little review…if I don’t let the cocktails go to my head too much.

Until then, aloha!

The Art of Smiling when you’re Overwhelmed

So how many of you are  sprawled out on your sofas, wine in one hand, bag of Malteasers in the other, with a good movie on the TV? Whether it’s a pizza and movie night or a candles and Massive Attack one, I hope you’ve all breathed a sigh of relief because the weekend is here people!

I’ve got my ol’ Indie Chill Out playlist on courtesy of Spotify, I’m adding gems to it all the time from electro and indie dance to acoustic and pop. If you’re on Spotify and you wanna take a listen, check it out here- Indie Chill-Out.

It’s been an absolute hectic week, y’know the ones where everything seems to come at once and you feel slightly overwhelmed by things…yeaaaah THAT. I’d probably get bored if life didn’t put me on my toes every now and again, you’ve just gotta learn to pirouette out of it. I am grateful to be having a night in though with a bit of peace and quiet.

Although things are crazy, I’m massively happy and I know I have a tendency to write ‘deep’ (for want of a better word!) blog posts but in a way, writing is my therapy. If I’ve got something on my mind (99.9% of the time!) then I  find that if I write things down, it’s a way of getting things off my chest without having to bombard my friends and family etc. I always used to keep a diary when I was younger- found some the other day, hilarity ensued- and after about the age of 19, I stopped for some reason. My future self probably knew that I couldn’t hack the cringe-fest! But anyways, I still keep a journal of sorts, but it’s less formal than a diary (the empty pages put me on a guilt-trip) so I kind of just write in it as and when I feel like it.

How do you guys deal with feeling overwhelmed?

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Anyways, before I go off on another tangent, happy I be and even more exciting, I’m off to Barcelona in a couple of weeks for a long weekend. I’ve heard and seen so many awesome things about it and I can’t wait to see more of the country I call my adopted second home. Of course, a blog post will follow and in the meantime, I’m hunting around for last minute summer threads because jumpers, boots and those gorgeous, rich Autumn colours are starting to creep on to the High Street. Although I prefer Summer over any season, any day, I do love Britain’s Autumn trends. Again, keep a look out for an upcoming post.

If anyone has got any advice on things to do and places to see in Barcelona, post your comments on here! Las Ramblas, the Sangrada Familia, Nou Camp, Placa de Catalunya and the beach are already on our list of things to do but if anyone knows about the city’s hidden treasures, throw them my way!

In the meantime, whatever you get up to this weekend, take time out of your day to unwind and have some YOU time.

Short but sweet post today…my bed’s calling.

 

Cheesecake and Cocktails

I am currently revelling in another quiet Sunday after an awesome day and evening out with the girls yesterday. I apologise for the lack of posts, as of late, things have been pretty hectic and I’ve crashed into bed by 10pm most nights. Living the dream, people, living the dream.

Instead of our usual haunts in Shoreditch and the City, we spent the afternoon and evening having dinner and bar-hopping our way around Covent Garden and the West End and experienced some erm…interesting  cocktail choices.

Although the weather wasn’t as warm as anticipated this weekend (Summer, seriously where art thou?) that didn’t put us off from wearing our floral, polka-dot and chiffon numbers. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of shoe however that will allow you to walk across the cobbles of Covent Garden without a few near-miss face-palms so we wobbled our way across the Piazza to Henry’s Cafe Bar on Henrietta Street.

I won’t bore you with the details of what we all had to eat but it was lovely just to chill out and have a goss without our meal being rushed along. The staff in Henry’s are also super friendly but it is best to book a table to guarantee a seat in there as it can get quite busy, especially at the weekend. The   interior with its stripy pouffes, brocade patterned carpet and chandeliers reminded me of a 1920s jazz lounge and I then wished that I had donned a Daisy Buchanan style headband.

Having an absolute sweet-tooth, I don’t think any of us could resist having dessert, especially when it looked this good!

Henry's Vanilla Cheesecake...yum!

Henry’s Vanilla Cheesecake…yum!

And of course when you’re in Covent Garden, cocktails come hand-in-hand with cheesecake and we treated ourselves to a couple of Strawberry Daiquiris and Greek Island Iced Teas. Eat your heart out Carrie Bradshaw!

Ladies that lunch

Ladies that lunch

We started as we meant to go on and that meant taking advantage of Happy Hour cocktails in Roadhouse just a few yards away from Henry’s, before making our way to Leicester Square.

En route we were approached by one of the PR girls for The Foundation Bar in Langley Street for a free cocktail and of course that being our main theme for the day, if you like, there was no way that we would turn down a free one. How naive of us.

The bar décor itself is awesome (although I’m not fond of clubs with steep staircases) but I liked the eclectic vibe of the place, just not the eclectic cocktails. Our free drink was the bar’s special Garden Jam, served in a jam jar of course and after much deliberation about what the funny Worcester sauce aftertaste was, we discovered that the vodka and puréed strawberry combo also contained basil leaves. Yes, basil?!?! I’m all for trying out new concoctions but it tasted like blended Pizza. Too good to be true.

The girls with our delightful freebie in a jam jar

The girls with our delightful freebie in a jam jar

Having quickly downed the entrées, we quickly hot-footed our way to Ruby Blue right in the middle of Leicester Square, where upon entry we were asked if we wanted to fill some seats in their Saturday night comedy club with Channel 4 comedians. Not in the front row, they said. It would be hilarious, they said. We were plonked slap-bang right in the middle of the front row and from then on we knew we had taken our lives into our hands. While the presenter Nina Benjamin had us in stitches, the first act of the night Angie McEvoy swore her way through her ‘jokes’ and told an overexcited hen party to be quiet or words to that effect…

Although we were extremely grateful to not be picked on, since we had giggled our way through the opening because of the sheer randomness of ending up there, we all agreed to escape downstairs to the dancefloor after the first act. As much as I admire anyone for having the balls to get on stage and do stand-up in front of a reasonably large crowd, it was all a little bit too awkward for my liking.

Ruby Blue is always generally a fun night out, being one of the better bars in Leicester Square because I find the West End a little too touristy. It does get absolutely packed in there though and with a coach-load of final year students out celebrating their end of university exams in matching bar crawl t-shirts, we were up to our eyeballs in sweat, glowsticks and questionable dance moves. Niiiiiice.

Having been on our feet solidly for a good 9 hours or so, we headed home before midnight like Cinderella in her pumpkin coach, treating our fellow tube passengers to a high-pitched rendition of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie,” and Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” Had to be done of course, it topped off the day splendidly.

In the meantime, I am also contributing articles on a weekly basis to Yuppee Magazine. If any of my fellow wannabe journos want to add a little extra writing experience to their CVs, I highly recommend getting in touch with the team as they’re always looking for writers. I’m also counting down to a highly overdue break in the sun visiting my grandparents in July and looking for a team to compete in a triathlon later on in the month. I’ve been bit by the challenge bug since my Swimathon in April, does that make me crazy? Possibly.

Every Cloud…

Dare I say it but summer might actually be here and yeah I know that I usually start off every single one of my blog posts with a comment about the weather, like an awkward ice-breaker. My mother would probably tell you that my middle name is ‘awkward,’ so it’s quite fitting.

I’ve taken a break from sunbathing in the garden so that hayfever doesn’t turn me into a snotty mess (anyone else have shares in Benadryl?) and I was inspired to write a post by the book I’m currently reading- The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick.

Does every cloud have a silver lining?

Does every cloud have a silver lining?

I haven’t see the movie yet and I’m only halfway through the book so no spoilers please. From what I’ve read so far, the main character is Pat Peoples, a guy who has just been released from a psychiatric unit and desperately wants to reconcile with his wife Nikki again, despite the advice from his family. Pat is happy to have a new therapist, who doesn’t write down or analyse every little thing he says and appears to be understanding of Pat’s optimism in life, something which the doctors in the institution he was in, lacked. He’s fascinated by clouds and therefore believes in the ol’ mantra of ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’

It made me think whether that old saying is just an optimist’s belief, y’know like “the glass is always half-full,” or “there’s always light at the end of a tunnel,” or is it some sort of ego defence mechanism that people use when the going gets tough because most people like to believe in hope. I mean, is there always a positive spin on a bad situation?

Don’t think for a second that I’m disregarding the entire notion because I’m one of those people who does try to see the bright side of things even when it can be quite difficult to do so. My motto in life afterall is C’est la vie but the book has made me think about what we do when no silver lining appears?

It also made me think whether the silver lining mantra also ‘appears’ to us when things start looking up again. If you think about all of the crappy things that have ever happened to you in your life, I can guarantee you that we only start to see the positives once we have cried or stopped being angry or sad. Emotions may be a mind-set but I think physically our bodies have to go through a healing process too, the ol’ Fight or Flight syndrome when we either decide to face something or run for the hills. I mean, do we only see the silver lining once we’ve reflected on things?

For me, whenever I look back on certain past events that haven’t exactly been pleasant, I always try and look at them as some sort of learning curve, even if they were beyond my control. That’s another reason why I think it’s important not to regret anything because life throws small challenges at you to make you learn, whether it’s an explicit one or not.

While I’m not an all-dancing, all-singing, butterflies and rainbows kind of optimist, I think it’s good to believe in certain life mantras, even if it’s just to keep some sort of sanity like Pat Peoples.

That’s my food for thought for today, enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday!

Living La Vida Loca: Part Deux

It’s another rainy Sunday evening and although Monday is looming in the distance, there’s nothing better than being all cosy  indoors, content after a lazy day and a gorgeous veggie roast. After a quiet night in on Friday, we had a night out at the good ol’ Queen of Hoxton last night for Session’s 4th Birthday but as promised, here’s part deux of Living La Vida Loca…

B@1 

B@1...Pastel Aztec print dress from New Look- £14.99

B@1…Pastel Aztec print dress from New Look- £14.99

So speaking of Shoreditch bars, we headed to the B@1 cocktail Bar in Old Street for my friend Kevin’s birthday a couple of weekends back and it’s definitely among my top nights out on the town. Happy Hour is from 5-8 there and although I sadly missed it by minutes arriving just after 8, the early birds amongst my friends who got there just after 5 were very happy indeed. Who wouldn’t be after half a dozen Long Island Teas and a few Woo Woos?! There are absolutely hundreds of cocktails to choose from and of course the staff (who are super-friendly but nuts!) show off their skills by throwing the shakers up to the air, setting fire to the orange peel before putting it into your Cosmo and handing you your drink with a cheeky cheesy  wink. The bar gets filled up pretty quick and once it gets going, it gets really going! The music in there is an eclectic mix, with the staff choosing their own favourites from their iTunes playlists so one minute you may be dancing to Swedish House Mafia, Tina Turner the next before all warbling in unison to Bon Jovi’s  “Living on a Prayer.” Random but it works! If you don’t have to clock-watch through the evening to get the last train, it’s a place that is worth staying in until the very end, purely because the staff are so up for joining in between serving up cocktails. Like an all male version of Coyote Ugly, they were all dancing on the bar with shirts (and drinks) strewn everywhere.  A few of us made an impromptu decision to stay out until the bar closed at 2am and although my bank account probably wasn’t happy with the cab fare home, it was absolutely worth it. You only live once afterall…

Cambridge

One of Cambridge's many cathedrals and churches

One of Cambridge’s many cathedrals and churches

One of the things on my bucket list this year is to see more of the UK, as well as the rest of the world. While I’m content with to-ing and fro-ing from Essex to London most of the time, it’s always nice to venture around somewhere new. So last weekend I sang along to Heart Classics (sad, very sad) to stop myself from freaking out so much during my fog and rain soaked journey up the dark M11 to Cambridge and was convinced upon arrival that my sat nav had directed me to Lego Land instead. I was successful in conquering the lanes, the numerous roundabouts, the one-way system and the tiny roads though, but sadly my parking still remains shoddy. I digress…

Fancy a Punt?

Fancy a Punt?

The town was absolutely brimming with tourists (moi included) despite the cold weather and we spent the day getting ‘lost’ through the old part of it, while I cooed and squealed at every boutique, patisserie and bookshop we walked past. For shopaholics, there is a real need for restraint! While we passed on the walking tours of the cathedrals and the university campus, you can’t help but be amazed at the architecture and the old-worldiness of it all. Cambridge is possibly half Hogwarts and half Belgium. And if you do wander down to the river and want to spectate the punting from cosy surroundings, I would recommend the charming Mill pub which offers fresh, hearty food as well as local cask ales. It was unfortunately a little bit too cold for me to even consider punting (and I would probably lump it in with ice-skating, skiing and rock climbing as activities that someone as clumsy as me should never be allowed to partake in) but you can imagine how beautiful everything is in the summer. Also literally EVERYONE in Cambridge cycles and by the end of our day out, I’d lost count of how many times I’d nearly run over by a bicycle with a floral basket.

One of the many winding streets to get lost in, in Cambridge

One of the many winding streets to get lost in, in Cambridge

For fashionistas, there is of course the Grand Arcade in the heart of town which has everything from Topshop and Kurt Geiger to LK Bennett, Laura Ashley and John Lewis. There’s also an array of brands dotted around the lanes and Market Hill, including a massive Cath Kidston (I resisted temptation!) and hundreds of independent boutiques like Chattertons and Lilac Rose.  And if you’re feeling a bit peckish in the afternoon, there’s nothing better than a spot of afternoon tea. Patisserie Valerie is probably one of the busiest tearooms in the town but with mouth-watering cakes placed strategically in their windows, it’s one thing you can’t resist and of course, it’s worth the wait.

There’s literally so much to do in the town that it was impossible to fit everything in a weekend and of course, weather permitting but it definitely will be one of our summer jaunts this year!

Greenwich

After waking up to slight blizzard on Sunday morning, I made my way back to Essex without so much of a flap in time for my mother to open her Mother’s Day presents. A very chic blush Dorothy Perkins cropped faux-leather jacket and a scarf if you’re interested! Greenwich Market is my Mum’s favourite place in London so we decided to have a day out there for Mother’s Day.

A perfect Sunday with food and cake...

A perfect Sunday with food and cake…

Located just across the road from Cutty Sark station, if you love food, vintage knick-knacks, cupcakes and foooood, then Greenwich Market is perfect for a Sunday. Although it’s not as vast as Spitalfields, it’s a little bit more quaint and manageable for an afternoon, especially if you’ve been out the night before.

Stalls sell everything from landscape canvases, hand-printed t-shirts, organic soaps and intricate jewellery. There are boutiques and shops dotted around the square including the most amazing vintage shop 360 Degrees with clothing and accessories dating back to the 1940s. I’m slightly obsessed with the 40s and 50s at the moment after Call The Midwife finished its first series on BBC One last week.

As for the food, whether you love Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai or if you’re vegan, veggie, eat gluten-free or just  love freshly baked goods, you will be in your absolute element. I had a spinach, potato and mozzarella mini calzone from one of the Italian traders followed by this too-good-to-eat red velvet cupcake.

Heaven in a box...

Heaven in a box…

After we had gorged ourselves silly, it was time for a refreshing beverage at the nearest pub. The Gipsy Moth next to the Cutty Sark is one of the cutest pubs in South East London and has amazing views of the ship itself and overlooking the Thames. Seeing as it was Mother’s Day, the place was full to the brim with families tucking into their Sunday Roast so we ended up all huddling outside in the beer garden (amazing in the summer!) under the very small patio heater nursing pints of London Pride and Elderflower and Lime cider.

The Gipsy Moth pub is located a stone's throw away from Greenwich Market

The Gipsy Moth pub is located a stone’s throw away from Greenwich Market

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Family Day Out: With the bro in the Gipsy Moth

It seemed I brought the sleet and the snow back with me from Cambridge and when we could no longer feel our fingers and toes, we took a few tourist shots from the harbour and jumped on the train home. Of course, the weather didn’t dampen our spirits and it was lovely to spend time all together. Greenwich is absolutely beautiful and has so much history with the university, the Naval College and of course is home to the Meridian Clock. The views from the top of that clock are absolutely amazing and on a clear day, you can see most of the City. Again, it’s another thing for the Summer 2013 To Do list.

Mum <3

Mum ❤

I’ve had a few awesome weekends and I hope my Mum had as much fun as we did last weekend. I also have to mention a Happy 70th Birthday to my Grandad Norman and Happy 21st to my cousin Nicole for this weekend…looking forward to another family get-together next weekend!

May your Monday be swift and let’s pray to the Sun God for some warmer weather for the end of the month. À bientôt.

Eat your Heart Out, Laura Ashley!

I’m blogging today while sitting at my new Scandinavian pine dressing table in my newly decorated boudoir. Yes folks, I am not longer sleeping on the floor like a hobo and was as a snug as a bug in my new bed on Christmas Eve, just in time.

As my friends have kindly called it, my new ‘grown-up girl‘ bed comes complete with scatter cushions, silk throws and more likely than not, a sleeping cat, who becomes slightly miffed when I relegate her to the end of the bed at night. I have more storage than a squirrel and mother is now pleased that I’ll have less bruises now that I can navigate around my room without hitting my shins on everything (where there’s a will, there’s a way I guess).

My new obsession at the moment is trawling through cyberspace for dinky knick-knacks (read: not clutter) and cute bits and bobs for my boudoir. I don’t know if this is thanks to my inner OCD, who likes to have everything matching, my attraction to new and shiny things or whether it is because I am actually getting old and will soon have an interest in gardening and birds to go alongside my home interiors fad. I have spent far too many hours amongst the aisles of B&Q and Homebase in the past month, I can tell you!

Birdcage Lamp from B&Q

Birdcage Lamp from B&Q

I have however found some cute little gems (I’m going with the white vintage look for accessories) including a miniature jewellery chest with chrome heart handles at £9.99, a mannequin jewellery stand from a gorgeous little shop in Romford called Changing Rooms at £7.99 and a cream birdcage lampshade for £24.98 from good ol’ B&Q. I’m currently hunting for a tiered dressing table mirror, preferably one that looks like a Shabby Chic one without the Shabby Chic price-tag!

My 'grown up girl' bed...about time!

My ‘grown up girl’ bed…about time!

Jewellery stand- Changing Rooms, Jewellery box- Homebase

Jewellery stand- Changing Rooms, Jewellery box- Homebase

So if any of you fellow-knick-knack lovers come across any little finds, holler at me on here or Pinterest. I’d also recommend Not On The High Street or Flutterbyes for anyone who is looking for an unique gift for someone.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have overindulged on chocolates, Baileys and the love-to-hate TV specials. It’s time to wake yourself up for a knees up at New Year’s Eve and I’ll be putting up a fashion special post over the weekend if you’re still stuck for ideas for what to wear to bring in 2013.

Apologies for the low-quality photos, I’m currently snapping pics on my Blackberry and will be purchasing a new camera!

If you’re going to attempt to shop in the sales though, I suggest you wear your most comfiest shoes, pack a bottle of Evian and take precautions with a crash helmet…it’s a Jungle out there.

Christmas Shopping and DIY Woes

Why is it that all of a sudden on the 1st December, people rush out in their thousands and start raiding Boots for their three-for-ones, quicker than you can “Jingle Bells?”

I made the fatal mistake yesterday of agreeing to help my brother with his Christmas shopping and the moment that we ended up having to park on the eight floor of the car-park, I knew that we were heading for a scrum.

On the first day of Christmas... Photo Courtesy of Cristiano Betta

On the first day of Christmas… Photo Courtesy of Cristiano Betta

Now as much as I love shopping and fashion, I am not one of those ‘casual moochers,’ or ‘window shoppers,’ as they like to call themselves. I cannot stand wandering around aimlessly waiting for something to stand out from the racks screaming “BUY MEEEEEE!!!”

When you shop, especially Christmas shopping, you have to go out with a military style plan or as I like to call it-

Operation Get In, Get Out, Get Home.

As I’ve said before, I love a list and it’s always good to have an idea of what to get your loved ones before deciding to endure four hours worth of queuing, other stressed out shoppers, stressed out sales assistants, screaming, fed-up children and hearing “Last Christmas” a gazillion times while parting with your hard-earned cash. You can save time and energy by having a pre-prepared list and can smugly flounce past the overwhelmed casual moochers with your bags of accomplished gifts, while they scratch their heads and furrow their brows in the fragrance department.

Having worked in retail for over six years, I also understand the pain and frustration of having to work over the festive period; the havoc and mess caused by frenzied bargain hunters, the late nights, having to explain the extended refund policy a thousand times (and there’s always one that brings an unwanted gift back a day over the receipt’s expiry date) the tutting and the moaning as you put handbag after handbag through the till, while trying to wrap it as nicely but as quickly as possible so that Mr Tut next in the queue stops tutting.

Bear that in mind the next time you’re shopping and spare a thought to the retailers, who are working their butts off to ensure that you get what you want for Christmas.

Anyways from one high horse to another…DIY!!

We are currently in the middle of redecorating my bedroom (if you didn’t know before) and are now at the painting stage. If there’s anything worse than Christmas shopping, it’s browsing the aisles of Homebase and B&Q.

Having decided on which furniture/paint/lampshade etc, you drive to said stores in the car with the largest boot, with your measurements and catalogue numbers in hand to discover that most of the items on your list are not bloody in stock!! Cue a further 30 minutes of waiting time while the ‘experts’ painstakingly order said missing items, only for them to tell you that the expected delivery time will be three weeks from now and you leave with an empty boot and are £500 or so less richer. The law of Sod indeed.

So at this moment in time, my ‘wardrobe’ is currently two runner rails in our hallway, with my shoe collection on display for anyone that visits, while my desk is residing on the landing with the chest of drawers and boxes and boxes of other rubbish that I’ve managed to hoard over the years. My OCD has gone past the point of overdrive and I’ve now adopted the “If I ignore the clutter, the clutter doesn’t exist,” notion to cope with it. As for my bed, I have downgraded from my mattress to the sofa and have consequently become a 2am bouncy castle for my two crazy cats. All will be worth it in the long run when my boudoir is complete…that’s what I keep telling myself.

But for now, keep warm and carry on.