Wednesday, 30 August 2017



Reading Festival 2017 - My Weekend

I’m writing this at 6am in my too-low-a-tog sleeping bag, in a prison cell like university hall room, on the final day of Reading Festival. There’s a niggling and relentless buzzing in my legs, I’ve got a hormonal break-out, and I’m feeling anxious about heading back to site (and all those people,) but even with all that considered, this will go down as one of the best weekends of the summer. It always does. 

As I said in my Reading look-back piece, it has become a staple fixture for almost half of my life on earth, so it’s no wonder it holds such a pivotal position in the calendar. Weirdly it’s become a bit of a landmark weekend for me too, one which makes me look back on what I’ve achieved in the last 12 months, even more so than new years eve. Mentally I always say to myself ‘by the next Reading I want to have done ‘insert some sort of achievement’ and I want ****** to have changed. Sadly another Reading has come (and nearly gone) and prior to it’s arrival I realised that I’ve not managed to tick off anything from the list of mental goals I had, and pretty much nothing has improved (in terms of career, financial position, the industry as a whole). In light of this I decided to do Reading very differently this year, realising that working your ass off isn’t actually recognised by the industry and doesn’t lead to any tangible reward, and that it actually just means you miss out on so many of the aspects that make a festival weekend freakin’ awesome. 


Tuesday, 22 August 2017


I have made a point of not working out exactly how many Reading Festivals I have been a part of because I’m sure the exact number will only serve to make me feel even more ancient than I already do. Let’s just say it’s around the 15 mark. On the whole these sorts of realisations fill me with a horrible sense of doom and despair. However in this case I can positively say that my rather depressing number of years on this planet has meant I’ve been able to be present at Reading during some unimaginably awesome line ups, some life-changing live performances, as well as life altering personal epiphanies and hilarious calamities.  


Tuesday, 15 August 2017


What a whirlwind of weekend I’ve had. I’m pretty sure I’m just a husk right now. I flew from a festival in Germany, with just enough time to wash and pack (although not very well, it would turn out) and then hop in the car and head to my very first Bloodstock festival


Friday, 4 August 2017

Holidaying at Home

I know with the abundance of picture-perfect holiday posts on Instagram it feels likeh EVERYONE is able, or in the financial position to go on holiday (and regularly). But I promise you it’s not the case. I’m not sure me saying you’re not the only one at home is helping you that much, the extreme feeling of wanderlust or the mere yearning to escape your life for a bit probably overwhelms rational of the nature, but I just wanted to remind you that what you’re seeing online isn’t REAL LIFE. We don’t know what sacrifice or efforts they had to put in to be able to go on the holiday, we have no ideal if the trip was as idyllic as the images portray, we don’t know what aspects of life they neglect in order to be able to travel. Of course there are some simply jammy people or those that come from money, but please don't feel less-than if you aren’t currently in a position/situation that allows you to take time out or afford trips away. 

Apart from my love of seeing the world and basking in the soothing rays of the sun, I’m desperate to get away with Si because of our living situation. Living with my parents and only really having my bedroom to live out of is difficult to say the least. It’s undeniably unhealthy for a couple to have to exists together in a space that is where they both have to eat, sleep AND work, but at the same time have no privacy or independence because interested ears are always a few metres or less away. Si gets to feel like a proper adult at times and escape through his work travels, but I haven’t had any time away from my parents since August. I'm desperate for some time to myself, or with my boyfriend and be able to enjoy each other in the way normal couples of our age can . 

Before I activate woe-is-me mode I wanted to get myself back to the point of this post, that being that is a holiday really isn’t on the cards for you this year, there are some small ways to give bursts of that holiday feeling. I’m not talking about UK breaks or cheap holidays, because I’m sure there’s many people like me who can’t even consider those options either, this is more about pockets of joy.

If the suns out in the garden and I’m at home, I’ll spray on the suntan lotion I love the smell of, you know that ones that instantly takes you back to chilling on that Kefalonia beach with a can of peach juice. Talking of peach juice, I’ll make sure I get those drinks I associate with holiday in - Lemon Fanta, Sam Pellegrino, Orangina…you know, the usual suspects. 

This is another way to create a holiday vibe. If you’ve finished work and the evening is warm head to a pub with outside seating, I try to find one near water for added holiday points. Buy a bevvy that reminds you of holiday unwinding and people-watching, which would be shandy, mojito or Pimms in my case.

People-watching is one of my all time favourite aspects of holidays. I love seeing how other couples interact and getting the ick when they’re way over-zealous with the PDA’s. I love to observe family dynamics and will admit to getting a bit judgemental when witnessing bad parenting. The whole ‘aww isn’t he funny’ when in fact he’s an absolute brat, particularly gets my goat. Of course, as long as I’ve got my shades on I’m a bit partial to checking out the dad bods too. Yes this activity seems more fun when horizontal and sipping on a delicious drink, but who says that needs to be a holiday-only activity.

It doesn’t take much to get brits scantily clad and horizontal when the sun comes out. Going to one of our many great parks and open spaces will deliver, with locations like Alexandra Palace being a hive of summer fun, with the added bonus of incredible views and access to drinks and food, you can get that holiday vibe in an instance. The bonus of a park is also the addition of dogs, which improves any scenario a million fold in my eyes.

Is the hotel pool or the ocean one of the main things you look forward to and enjoy about a holiday? If the answer is yes, I understand that the leisure full of kids centre doesn’t quite fill that void. Speak to your friends and see if any of them are members of clubs, like Shoreditch House for example. I of course can’t afford membership to places like this, but I know many lucky people who get them through their work. Many have options to invite guests for the day, so it’s worth seeing whether this could allow for a few day’s of sunbathing by the pool in the city sun this summer. Failing that of course there are Lido’s. Some of them getting frighteningly rowdy and busy on the really hot days which can be off-putting but maybe try a few and see if you can find one that will deliver a nice place to cool down without the overcrowding completely killing that holiday vibe.
Of course if you have a few pounds to spare you could order a paddling pool to the garden. It’s nice to keep those ankles cool when things get really muggy - muggy in weather terms not the Love Island way.

Another thing I love about a holiday is getting ready for a night out after a day of lying in the sun feeling a little bit rank. Putting on your make-up having been sweaty and bare faced all day, and attempting to sort out that barnet, which has either turned into wire wool due to the humidity, or a greasy oil slick due to the lotion/sweat combo, is a satisfying process . It also serves to separates the day into two parts part which makes it feel a lot longer, which is what you want on a holiday.
Si and I rarely get dressed up these days, we are well and truly into the routine of getting in our sloggy clothes as quickly and as often as possible. We are definitely at that age where comfort rules over all. However I think ensuring you have a few nights over the summer where you put on an ‘holiday outfit’ and preen in the way you would when you’re away, rather than pull up your joggers and the t-shirt you sleep in, will give you those holiday feels and potentially reignite a spark with your beau. 

I’m not suggesting you should spend money and go out for a meal with your glad rags on, that’s just not possible for everyone’s budget, nor do you need to get any fancy ingredients in. Merely changing your normal routine a bit could make the evening feel different, and therefore more special and akin to how mushy you feel on holiday. Perhaps you could eat in a more civilised manner, lay the table rather than eat off your laps. Perhaps you could light a candle or too, and add some smooth tunes in the background, or a Spanish guitar track if you want to be mentally transported away. Maybe you/he could work the gentlemanly moves as if you were out in a restaurant and on a date - pull out the chair, pour her wine, stand up if she goes to the loo.

The other week, even though we were both exhausted, we decided to make the most of the heatwave knowing it was likely to go away very soon (dammit, were we right) and decided to have a bbq. Our first one as a couple of five years no less! We got in the car and drove to our local Argos, managed to find one on deal, grabbed some coal that was on offer at Tesco’s, and checked the reduced aisle for some bargains to cook on the griddle. We already had some veggie burgers and corn on the cobs in our fridge, so it proved to be relatively inexpensive whilst being extremely effective in giving us those summer feels. Nothing like a burnt sausage to make you feel like summer is truly here.

Unfortunately the last couple of weeks the weather has been very inconsistent. It’s hard to allocate a day to summer activities when it glimmers for half hour intervals at a time.

Gandy’s very kindly sent me some goodies this week in the form of a circular towel and some flip flops. I permanently have the Aztec towel draped over one of the kitchen chairs now, so that when I see the sun re-emerge from behind the clouds I can pop on my flip flops, grab the towel and set myself up a little holiday spot in the garden. It’s quite easy to pretend I’m in an exotic location if I squint enough to blind myself to the view of my house, as I have a large palm tree and bamboo in the garden. It’s only when the neighbours kids decide to bounce on their trampoline and peer over that I feel a bit less relaxed. Once again I spray that yummy smelling lotion, spread my bare legs out on the towel and absorb myself in a book for a few minutes, before heading in and getting back to work. If you don’t know about Gandy’s please take time to familiarise either via a previous blog ( or by reading their story on their website. By making a purchase you are making a difference.

Now finally for my fellow spoonies that find themselves be- bound and not able to even venture to the dining table or garden, it will be admittedly harder to recreate holiday vibes in your bedroom, but there are a few little things that will at the very least  feel pleasant. It’s amazing how scent can effect your mood, relax or invite your imagination to run wild. If there’s a particular location you want to close your eyes and picture, think of a scent that will make that mental journey easier. Whether it’s Moroccan spices of the bustling souks, or the smell of a grapes from your tine at a vine yard in Bordeaux. So whether you fill your room with incense, scented candles, or food this can help to relax or uplift. If there’s someone else there maybe the aroma can arrive via a massage oil. Like I said before play some music befitting of the location your want to put yourself in whether that be laid back Baleiric, indian folk music or Nashville classic country. Perhaps you’d prefer the sounds of the sea, if so there’s plenty of playlists of natural sounds that can be streamed or downloaded. When Si and I want to be cosy and imagine we are in a cosy log cabin snuggling up we find one of those 10hr fireplace video on YouTube that we stream through the TV. We always end up falling asleep to the crackle of the fake embers.

I was a bit worried this post would feel a bit patronising due to the simplistic advice it offers, I know I’m not suggesting anything you’ve probably not thought of or tried before. I guess I just wanted an excuse to reach out to others who haven’t been able (due to time constraints, ill health, or lack of funds to go on holiday this year, or even on a mini break in their own country.

Let’s not let this summer conclude without ensuring we’ve created some snapshots of a new kinda holidays at home.

Aztec Sand Round Towel £75.00
Aztec Sand Flip Flops £24.00

both from @GandysLondon


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Having it All and Feeling Guilty

As I start this journey of study to learn mindfullness techniques, and then on to acquiring teaching skills to pass on what I have learned, I am undoubtedly going to experience plenty of those eureka moments. These courses will force me to look hard at myself and access my own behaviours and habits, and in turn question the the way I spend the minutes of my days.

One chapter in to one of my main reference books, and it’s already been made extremely clear how important it is to schedule the mediations in to your life as regularly as possible, ideally daily, and that they should be considered as routine and integral as brushing your teeth. As someone who already feels like they need to turn to cloning or look into medical advances in terms of obtaining extra limbs, I’ve wondered how on earth I am going to manage this.

The reality is we can all find 10-40 minutes a day to ensure to focus on the present in a quiet spot allocated for this purpose. This is something I will no doubt comment on further as I progress through the studies, but initially it has got me thinking about time, and about how so many of us feel there just aren’t enough minutes in the day anymore - to fulfil and tick off all the things we are expected to do for others, or the things we wish to do for ourselves. This lead me thinking about the emotions that resonate because of this, and I think the most prevalent, and most draining, is that of guilt. 

From a young age I remember seeing articles aimed to be triumphant and positive in feminism strength, telling us that we (women) really can ‘have it all’. I know the intentions of such messages were to empower and equalize, and that the authors wanted us to believe that there are no boundaries due to our gender, but I think the repetition of the statement has turned it into a pressure, one that’s really not needed on top of all the other things weighing us down in 2017.

If they’re saying we can ‘have it all’ but we fail to do so, are we failures? Have we let our gender down? Even worse, have we let ourselves down? 

I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s definitely not possible to have it all, in the way you want to have it all, at least. What I mean is perfecting each and every area of your life is very unlikely and probably unachievable. I’m not saying we can’t have a good relationship, a good career, a good social life etc. However, I do think it’s impossible to nourish, nurture or propel one area as much as you  would, if you didn’t have to look after the other areas too.

For example in the last year I’ve turned down a potentially career-changing TV appearance to be there for a friend in need. I knew that if I didn’t I would never forgive myself and the guilt would eat me up, so it was a fairly quick decision, albeit not one those I confided in agreed with. So if we were to summarise this instance, I’ve sacrificed progress in my career to ensure that my social circle was looked after. So, if I didn’t care about maintaining friendships or being there for loved ones my career could be benefitting or flourishing. But would I be happy? Probably not. Definitely not. 

Recently I’ve been on the constant edge of burnout, in fact I’ve probably been in a consistent state of burn-out, in an attempt to keep everyone happy and maintain all the areas of my life. I have to admit to myself that’s it’s just not possible to work as hard as I innately like to work...and be a good friend, girlfriend, family member and human. No doubt this burnout has been accelerated because of the strain feeling permanently guilty puts on your body and mind.

Every week I’m having to let friends down by cancelling dinners, being too tired to head into London on the weekend for BBQ’s and gatherings (having commuted all week), being too ill (due to pushing myself too hard) or too busy to go birthdays, reunions, baby showers etc. It’s truly horrible to feel like a rubbish friend, but if I don’t say yes to all the work opportunities I can, I will be letting work people down, and the concept that ‘I only have myself to blame’ enforced. Afterall I am constantly being told I’ll only start earning more money if I go to these events, meet these people etc. It’s a no win situation. Whatever decision I make I will let someone down, so whether I choose work or a social life, the result is that my stomach will be knotted, I will have to go through an awkward interaction with whoever I’ve decided to let down on this particular occasion, and I’ll have to try and make the most of the choice I’ve made in spite of feeling  greyed by guilt. 

You’re then having to fit in spending quality time with your partner, who also has a busy schedule which doesn’t necessarily working seamlessly with yours, and try and not be a stressed/tired wreck during those windows. I’ve done the long distance thing for a while, and yes the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ thing does work for a time, but for us at least, we’ve reached an age where we don’t want that to be the norm anymore. To make it work for us now, we need to try and allocate some time to one another each week, which I’ve found would be impossible if I were to say yes to all work opportunities that come my way. So I’ll turn down some premieres or a party with friends, and try not to make Si feel guilty for that or like an inconvenient part of the difficult level puzzle that is my weekly schedule.

So once again that involves some sacrifice, which reaffirms my previous statement that you can’t entirely ‘have it all’ in the form you may dreamt it.

Blogging/YouTube is a very hard industry to incorporate ‘No's’ into. When glamorous, fun or exciting events or trips come your way you want to say yes to them all because you are all to aware of how important illusion of being busy/successful is to getting future work with other brands, how good it is for your profile, how fickle and saturated the industry is, and simply because they look awesome…but also because you know that you’ll have to see pictures on your feeds and timelines posted by the people who have said yes to the invitation and opportunities. It’s very easy to become dogged to a unhealthy extent. At times I’ve been a workaholic to almost a selfish level where forgotten how it impacts those people around me. It’s not fair to never be around for Si, and miss out on the moments he wants to share, or always be distracted or work focused when we are finally together. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always gonna work hard and be ambitious, that’s innate, but I can be more selective and reasonable when it comes to what I say yes to. And I do need to remember that relationships are what enrich my life, and I should ensure my determination to succeed doesn’t harm them to a level I’ll regret. 

While we’re talking work, something needs to be done about the 24/7 expectation of people within a lot of prominant industries these days. I saw something on Twitter a few weeks ago that really captured how out-of-hand things have got, and went a long way to explain why so many people are struggling with stress or burn-out. A company going through the interview process to hire new employees decided to test them without warning by sending an email out on a Sunday, if they replied within an hour they’d still be in the running for the job (something like that anyway). Tweeters were quick to point out how unfair that was and reasoned that the opposite would actually be better for business - it would mean the employee would likely be more fulfilled and happy from their weekend and refreshed on Monday ahead of their working week if they’d taken time away from work (and their inbox). But this businesses attitude to a preferable work ethic is not unusual and actually pretty consistent in many industries, like music, media and blogging. Unless we all take a stand against this though it’s not going to change. As long as some people are willing to give up their evenings and weekends, others will be expected or pressured to do so too, so will risk losing their much sought after position if they fail to do so. 

Say you’ve decided to let your foot slightly off the accelerator career wise, for the sake of your friends/partner/family. Your financial position is therefore stagnant or deteriorating. You then realise you can’t afford to do all the things your partner/friends want you to do or take part in . Oh hello guilt, there you are again you rotten bastard.

Most of my close friends are also far more financially stable than me, with homes, cars, regular salaries and such. So every time there’s a birthday gathering or celebration they’ll come with cards and presents, I’ll come empty handed because I can barely afford to pay for the meal we’re having.  I can’t even bring a handmade card anymore, as I haven’t got the time to do thoughtful things like that anymore. Sometimes I even opt out of things just to avoid feeling like a crappy guest or friend, and so to avoid that particular reminder that I’m not where I want to be career wise.

Then there’s the guilt of being absent from social media or other tech methods of communication. There’s a couple of WhatsApp groups I barely contribute to anymore, and I feel awful, as they’ve now become the main forum for my closest friends to share the trials, sadnesses and triumphs of their days, where they seek advice and share their funny or embarrassing stories, and I just don’t have enough/any time to keep on top of them. I can’t read them, let alone respond thoughtfully. After attending an event I’ll see three different groups with 100 plus messages I need to catch up on and it’s so daunting it almost makes me feel sick with stress. There’s only so many times I can say sorry I’ve been M.I.A works been hectic, particularly when I’m talking to working mums who are dealing with stresses of their own. I just wish I could give them that beauty and the beast mirror so they could see how stretched I am, so they could see it wasn’t me not making enough effort or not caring enough. There’s also the fact that social media is a large chunk of my work, (unlike my mates who work in very different industries) so to fill my non-work time doing the same sort of action/process is clearly unhealthy and something I should try and avoid for my mental health... and poor overworked fingers. 

I’ve had to make the decision to stop using Facebook too, just so I have enough to time to do the social media that is more integral to my work, but that now means I’m constantly missing event invites, and no longer wishing friends happy birthday on their timelines - something which I used to be regimented about. Even though I’m making time to post on Instagram I’m not responding to the comments, which makes me feel terribly guilty when someones taken the time to offer kindness or help. Then there’s the messages from strangers I get due to the nature of my YouTube content. I get so many a week now it’s a significant job to reply to them in the nature I would want to. I doesn’t feel right replying to a page and half of heartfelt text with a few paltry or generic lines of thanks or well wishes. So then I don’t reply, and feel wracked with guilt that I’ve not sent anything back. What will they think of me? What if the fact I don’t reply hurts them and makes them feel worse?

These are just a few things I feel guilty about, and I’m sure a few of you have nodded along as you’ve read. While it might be a comfort to know someone else is feeling this perennial and unpleasant feeling in the gut, without at least pondering solutions this article is somewhat pointless.
So what can we do?

In my view it’s something that needs to be changed on a grand scale. Our society and working culture needs to be transformed in a way that is kinder to our mental health and more conducive to maintaining a balance in all areas of our lives. Should there be stricter things enforced in terms of how many hours a week we work? Should there be times of social media blackout so we are forced to have breaks from it? Should everyone have rights to a 2 or even 3 day weekend? Unfortunately, I fear a quick fix isn’t possible, and any cultural changes will take a significant amount of time, with lots of ingrained habits or expectations needing to be befazed out, which will be hard when you consider the trends and pressures of modern society.

I do believe we hold a lot of power to make the changes necessary to mean we will be less hard on ourselves though.

Rather than worry what people are thinking of me (or saying about me) when I don’t turn up to social events, I’m going to explain my position so they can understand why I’m unable to be as present as I’d like right now. I’m going to attempt to use my time more efficiently, being more selective about what I say yes to, weighing the negatives and benefits, and trying to gauge how positive it will be to do it. I will really need to constantly remind myself what’s important to me, and not push myself to do excess amounts of the stuff that isn’t enriching me on a deep or helpful level. Knowing that although being financially stable would make me happy, but being rich isn’t important to me, I’m going to try and make sure my the scales tip a bit more favourably to the social side of my life. My friends are everything to me, and it’s about time my actions mirrored that truth. I also know that I need to try and give myself a break, and acknowledge that I am in a very tricky position and that my lack of energy makes everything harder to deal with.
Lastly I refer back to an earlier point. I think we have to acknowledge that we have to realistic in our quest for ‘having it all’. We have to accept that if we are going to try, there will be times we will get the balance very wrong, and end up feeling bad because of how that makes us, or others feel. 

I’m not saying we can’t have a great career, awesome relationships and a buzzing social life whilst having time look after our wellbeing, but we HAVE to accept that some areas, or even all areas, will involve sacrifice. It’s not easy despite how some people make it appear online or in the papers/magazines, and at some point you may decide it’s sensible/necessary to change your own expectations for your life - don't see this as giving up or failing. This really doesn’t have to mean you’re not striving for your best life, being a boss-woman or championing girl power…I promise you. Knowing yourself, and managing your life in a way that makes you happier is what I call bossin’ it.

Are you living with guilt? What makes you feel guilty? What are you going to do to combat it? 

Outfit Details
 Milk. It Reckless Long Sleeve Tee (available on Ragged Priest)
New Look Bag
Dr.Martens Vegan Boots 
Boohoo skirt
Ebay Sunglasses. 

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