Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A note on sober nights out

A note on sober nights out
pint of diet coke


Just as a little caveat from the start, no, I am absolutely not pregnant. As y’know, the moment you say you’re not drinking without any ‘valid’ reason, that seems to be the first assumption.

Not drinking without any ‘real’ reason seems to really unnerve people. I’ve been that person that even as a student has had nights out which are a night off from booze, and the moment people realise, it seems to throw them off. Why would I be here if it wasn’t to drink? What will I drink instead? But WHY am I not drinking? The list goes on.

I will happily hold my hands up and say that sometimes I just don’t fancy it. There’s no big, underlying reason, I’m not driving, I’m not on antibiotics, I’m not struggling with a hidden addiction, I’m not hiding an accidental pregnancy, I just don’t feel the need to drink. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some of the best nights whilst necking jagerbombs at 3am, but I’ve also had some fantastic nights sipping a diet coke too.

Trust me, if you’re that person who is a bit of a dick about someone sticking to soft drinks and tries to peer pressure them into having a pint, why not take it as a compliment that someone is going out of their way to spend time with you and doesn’t need to be impaired by alcohol to enjoy your company?

When I go out and don’t drink, it’s usually because I’m struggling a bit with my mental health that week. For me, it’s about not losing control and I know that two drinks in, I will stop giving a shit about my bank balance, what I eat, how much sleep I get and how I’ll feel the next day. If you’re already feeling a little on edge or like you could be easily thrown off balance, drinking can be a minefield of disasters waiting to happen. But sober? I’ll have one or two soft drinks, head home and cook my tea at a reasonable time and won’t wake up with a hangover. And not only that, but there’s no bigger sense of achievement than knowing you haven’t given in to temptation.

With the right people, sober nights are fun. If you know that you’re with people who can look after themselves and don’t need parenting when they’ve had one too many, it’s honestly fine. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend going out with the kind of dickheads who start fights/drink until they can’t walk/have a tendency to cry hysterically over nothing in the toilets, as they’re not exactly a delight to be around. But the people who have a few, get a bit giddy and have a laugh? They’re a hoot and the best kind of friends to have.

In the run up to Christmas, nights out will be in full swing with trips to the German Christmas Markets, festive drinks, after work drinks, Christmas parties, going to the pub on a Wednesday as what else is there to do in November, I could go on. But taking a few nights off will not only save you some serious dollar when there are Christmas presents and party outfits to buy, but will give your liver a break that it will almost certainly need.

Worried about staying sober on a night out as you think you’ll get grief? Whilst I’m not usually one to recommend justifying yourself to anyone, here are some responses for when you’re asked why you’re not drinking, whether they’re true or not:

1. I’m driving tonight/later/tomorrow
2. I’ve got shit to do tomorrow and don’t want a hangover
3. [Holding up a glass] It’s vodka and diet coke/lemonade
4. I'm trying to lose weight and trust me you don't want to       witness the meltdown I will have pre-Christmas do if I don't
5.  I’m not drinking tonight
6.  I just don’t fancy it
7.  Fuck off


Are you a fan of the sober night out? Let me know in the comments.

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Monday, 12 November 2018

The importance of female friendships

The importance of female friendships
be nicer to your sisters neon sign


A wise gal once said to me 'real queens fix each other's crowns without telling the whole world it was crooked'. 

And you know what? They're words to live by. That's the underlying vibe of the true sisterhood. Girl code. Whatever you want to call it.

We live in a world where women are fighting for equality, being slut shamed for dressing how we like and are often being blamed for being the victims of assault. Women are frowned upon for leaving toxic relationships and abandoning our so-called 'role' of care-giver, yet when a man walks away? He's celebrated for 'dodging a bullet'. Right now, life isn't fair in so many areas, and yet still, there are women out there who set out to tear other women down.

Inequality exists, that's a fact, so it's ever more important that women have each others backs. Women should empower other women, and I'm grateful to be (mainly) surrounded by women who do just that. 

Some women though, just aren’t those women. Some are the type of people who will declare that you can’t be a feminist if you wear pink, do your make up, then post your cleaning tips on Instagram. And that’s sad as the one thing every feminist should be fighting for is the right to choose. They’re the women who will tread on toes to get to a man even if it’s complicated. They’re the girls who make back handed comments that you’ll think you’re reading too much into when in fact, you’re reading into them just enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there will never be a world where there isn’t bitching and I know I’m just as guilty for it as everyone else, but if you're going to bitch, do it with a good reason. Don’t be the bitch. If someone’s being a dick to you, go for your life, but don’t hate on someone out of jealousy or your own insecurity.

The 90’s saw the launch of girl power with the Spice Girls (though I’m still not sure why if you want a man to be your lover that you’d want him to get with your friends?), but 2018 needs to be the year where we really stick together as God knows we’re up against enough. 

This is the time to bin off the Regina George’s of the world. Call out bad behaviour, don’t reward it with silence. Bring women up with you, don’t stand on them to get to the top. And above all? When you find those women who are on your level, hang onto them and don’t let go.

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Thursday, 8 November 2018

Why you should declutter your living space

Why you should declutter your living space


Autumn seems to have arrived with approximately three minutes notice and if it wasn’t my absolute favourite season of the year, I’d almost say it was a little rude. I’m absolutely 100% down for scarf weather, layers and spooky season but I must admit, that first morning I saw sunshine out of my window and realised only when I got outside without my coat that it was approximately minus three, I was taken aback.

However, whilst Spring is the known season for cleaning (amongst other things), I’m all about the Autumn declutter. I’m the first to admit that I struggle massively with my mental health in Winter, as my mood seems to plummet and I have to make a conscious effort to stop all the good vibes in my body from hibernating. This means that keeping a handle on my living environment is important. One of the things that really helps me when my mood is low is feeling as though I’m in control and whilst when it comes to my professional life, I can accept that things will be out of my hands, at home, they’re not.

Which is why during my weekly trip to the supermarket, I will happily peruse the cleaning aisle to buy binbags (sorry environment), new cleaning products (yup, my bad, environment) and anything else I may need for a declutter and deep clean. I believe this is what everyone else my age is calling ‘getting your Hinch on’.

(If you haven’t heard of Mrs Hinch, she’s an Instagrammer who everyone has gone wild for because she has an excessively clean home and shares all of her cleaning tips on her Instagram stories. She’s well worth checking out if you fancy a little motivation to do some cleaning but if you have any obsessive tendencies then I’d definitely avoid as she takes things way too far.)

But decluttering is a great activity for boosting my mood as it means getting rid of things you just don’t need. Whether it goes in the bin, the recycling or to a charity shop, getting rid of shit that doesn’t add value to your life is liberating.

That’s anything from decorative tat that you’ve been bought but it doesn’t fit with your interior theme to candles that you’ve had for 12 months and haven’t burnt yet being shipped off to the charity shop.

Clear out your cupboard of ‘non-perishable’ goods which do in fact have a use-by date and you’ll find yourself looking in cupboards and actually seeing what you have.

Sort out your bags for life as I can promise you, you don’t need 20 of them.

Get rid of anything you hoard – plastic water bottles is my guilty one as I always buy them, reuse them a few times and end up with a load of them that I don’t need. (Yes, I know, I’m fessing up to being THAT person, nobody tell Greenpeace).

Sort out your shower so that you only have the necessary product actually sitting in there and when you realise that black mould has appeared behind the tub of conditioning treatment you never use, get some Cillit Bang black mould remover on it for an hour and it will dissolve into nothingness. (one of my top five cleaning products).

When you wipe your sides down, use a cleaning spray you actually like the smell of that doesn’t reek of antiseptic and chemicals. Method’s cleaning spray in grapefruit and diluted Zoflora (yes, I know, #HinchArmy) in fresh linen are both dreamy.

Wash and dry your bedding so it’s machine-fresh during your decluttering day and honest to God, it’s the reward you will enjoy the most. For a truly dreamy experience, I would absolutely, 100% recommend Bold 2 in 1 washing liquid with a hint of Lenor in Lavender and Camomile, and a capful of Lenor Unstoppables in was scent boosters in that come in the purple bottle.

All of these things are so easy to do and yet the feeling of satisfaction, calm and yes, I do have my life together (at least a little bit) is so worth it. It’s so easy for weeks to go by where you work Monday – Friday then have plans/hangovers all weekend and if you’re not a naturally tidy person (AKA, me), it can be easy to let things get on top of you and become so over-whelming that you don’t know where to begin. I’m hoping that now I’ve done my decluttering for the season that I can keep on top of it and keep a clearer mindset.

What are your tips for an Autumn declutter? Let me know in the comments.

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Supporting independents this Christmas

Supporting independents this Christmas
lovebrew scarborough


Christmas is an absolute financial minefield for everyone involved. As much as we all love the season of glitz and giving, let’s be honest, it comes at a serious financial pinch that lasts well into that elusive January payday. Some of us will know exactly what sum will be landing in our bank accounts during that final working week of the month but if you own an independent business? Who knows what that could be.

I’m a big believer in supporting independents as you know that with every purchase, that’s someone getting a little closer to their target that month and they will feel the direct impact of every sale. Here are a few small ways that you can support independents over the festive period.

Buy your Christmas cards on Etsy
I mean, fair enough, buy a multipack from Card Factory for the masses, but your special cards for close friends, family and partners, why not get something a little more personal, with a sassy slogan from a creative seller on Etsy? It’s a great opportunity to get the kind of card they’ll keep for years rather than a standard ‘to my sister’ card from Marks and Spencer.

Make your annual Christmas meet up in a non-chain restaurant
We all do it, we get together with a group of friends back home in that weird period of time between Christmas and New Year where nobody knows what day it is, so why not go somewhere that isn’t a chain? Whether it’s the local family-run Italian (La Piazza in York, I’m looking at you) or the local pub you grew up in, head to somewhere that isn’t part of a massive corporation.

Take a break from Christmas shopping in an independent coffee shop
It’s so easy to be lured into Starbucks with the promise of a red cup and a shot of gingerbread syrup, but when those takeaway cups are gracing the ‘gram over every influencer and their Instagram husband, take it to an independent. Tea from a china cup and homemade Christmas bakes from an independent coffee shop looks cuter and tastes better. In Leeds, I’d recommend If and Mrs Athas in the city centre, but if you fancy nipping out for a coffee and a catch up, Temple Coffee is incredible.

Get your flowers from the market
Don’t get me wrong, supermarkets have great options but your local market will be cheaper and have more choice. The market in Leeds is fantastic and you get the full service of a florist at a fraction of the price. This works for when you’re visiting someone at Christmas and taking a gift or going extra on the dinner table with a floral centrepiece.

Buy your booze from local sellers
Again, it’s very easy to be lured in with supermarket offers but even if it’s just one bottle of spirits brewed locally (I can recommend the gin brewed at Harewood House, it’s incredible), or beer from a local brewery, why not offer your guests something a little different when they come to visit?

Take your hangover to a food truck
If you think you’ll get through December without an office hangover, more than likely, you’re seriously kidding yourself. I’m lucky that Trinity Kitchen is on my doorstep at work with a whole host of permanent fixtures like Tortilla, Chicago Rib Shack and Pho, and a regularly rotating set of pop up food trucks. It basically covers off every hangover craving that you and your work pals could possibly have.

How will you be supporting independents this Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

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Friday, 2 November 2018

Tinder bingo

Tinder bingo
houses in bristol


If you've ever had the (mis)fortunate experience of being on Tinder, you'll know that the novelty of swiping left and right based on whether you think you'd be punching above your weight or not does wear off pretty fast. I mean, this 'game' will be a night out favourite that rivals Ring of Fire amongst your coupled up friends who got it on far before the rest of us had to resort to an app. But when you're watching the Strictly Come Dancing results show by yourself on a Sunday eve and increasing your radius as you've swiped through everyone in your area, it can be a little disheartening. 

Once you've been doing your single thing for a while, you'll start to see the same things cropping up, which is why I thought I'd create a bingo checklist to play during your Sunday swiping session. 

1. The gap yah photo - for an extra point, a photo with a sedated lion or elephant having a bath.

2. Topless gym shot, most likely in a Puregym with those telltale turquoise lockers in the changing room.

3. Where's Wally? A succession of group shots where you have to pick out the common denominator(usually the shortest guy).

4. Lads holiday, most likely a topless shot by the pool where those abs are only there due to hangover dehydration.

5. The dog shot. It probably belongs to his mum but y'know, who can resist a guy with a puppy?

6. The mum shot. Even harder to resist is a photo of a guy with his arm round his mum (also counts when it's his nan)

7. The wedding shot. At first glance, it looks like a newly married couple looking for a threesome but in reality, it's when he stepped up to be an usher at his sister's wedding.

8. The Uber rating in bio thing. He thinks it makes him look cool and individual, little does he know that at least 70% of guys include this.

9. Link to Snapchat, AKA wants nudes.

10. Link to Instagram, AKA wants followers.

11. A photo from either a wedding, the races or a Christmas party (any opportunity to suit up and go from a 6 to an 8 out of 10).

12. Height in bio but only if he's over 6ft, obviously)

So, that's my Tinder checklist, what would you add? Would you like to take over my Tinder and find me the one whilst on a night out? Let me know in the comments.
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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

How to be a good ‘crisis friend’

How to be a good ‘crisis friend’
anthropologie alphabet mug


Adulthood is a weird one as it seems that no matter how old you get, when you’re in a crisis, your parents are still your go-to. I mean, I’m not sure which school of life my mum went to but she seems to be excellent in most emergency situations whereas I’d be more inclined to frantically Google something. There is a point though where you need to become the adultiest adult and step up when your friends are in need as a lot of the time, people live far enough away from their families that they can’t be there in an emergency. Or y’know, once the kids have flown the nest, the parents have taken the opportunity to go on every holiday they could never have afforded as a family of four.

Not everyone is a ‘crisis friend’, as some people are quite frankly shit in a crisis, but there are times where being there for someone is necessary whether you’re good at it or not. I’m talking break ups, grief, trips to A&E and every shitstorm in between where your friend needs someone to be there for them.

It seems to be human nature to ‘not want to put anyone out’ and that means that judging a situation is really important. Sometimes, people will just want to sit by themselves and cry about the bad thing that’s happened and that is absolutely fine, but other times, they may well want someone to pop round to check in on them but don’t want to bother people. When offering yourself up for hugs and passing them tissues, gently call out the situation and ask if they’re saying it because they truly want to be alone or if they would like some company. Remind them that it’s what friends are for and that you wouldn’t be offering if you didn’t mean it.

That leads onto my other point of how to be a great friend in a crisis. When you say that you can be there, you need to not only be willing to drop everything to be there, but to push for them to accept your support if you think they need it. Essentially, don’t promise and then not deliver. In some instances, this might mean bailing on other plans but at this point it’s when you need to ask yourself ‘is how much I love my friend in need more important than my plans’ and if they answer is yes, then you know the right thing to do.

Sometimes, all it takes is a phonecall. And I actually mean a phonecall, not just dropping someone a message. Ringing to check in and taking time to have a conversation is important as it shows that you’re engaged with their circumstances and know they’re having a tough time. It’s an opportunity to talk and in some instances will be enough to calm someone down.

Being a ‘crisis friend’ and working out who your own ‘crisis friends’ are, sadly, something that usually only comes out of a crisis but knowing how to step up, be the practical one in a situation and do the grown up thing is really important when one of your besties is in a time of need.

Are you a good crisis friend? Let me know in the comments.

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Friday, 26 October 2018

How to survive a hangover as a grown up

How to survive a hangover as a grown up
checked bedding


Remember back when you were at uni when you thought you knew what a hangover is? When you’d wake up with a headache, smash a couple of painkillers with a can of something highly caffeinated and make a miraculous recovery in time to get on it again the following night? Well enter grown up world and suddenly that’s a thing of the past. Goodbye going out every night, hello Friday nights out that you only feel fully recovered from on Monday morning.

It’s official, I’m old and my liver can’t take it. I’ve reached the turning point of my life where Jagerbombs turn my stomach (not that it will stop me) and I need a fully recovery plan in place if I want to have a chance of enjoying a weekend following a heavy Friday. As I’ve become pretty accustomed to after work drinks, here are my tips to surviving a Saturday hangover and keeping it to one day, not two.

Water, water, water
Make your last drink before you leave the pub/club/bar a glass of water and then grab a bottle of it from a takeaway to sip on your way home. Honestly, it will make the world of difference. It means for at least your last hour or so before bed, you’re not drinking anything which has caffeine in it either which will help you sleep.

Eat toast not takeaways
I know, I know, nothing tastes better when you’re pissed than a Dominos that you probably can’t afford, but eating a big takeout that’s full of salt will leave you feeling seriously dehydrated and bloated the next day. Coming in and having a couple of slices of toast isn’t as heavy and will stop you feeling crappy because of what you’ve eaten as well as what you’ve drunk.

Prep your post-drinks as well as your pre-drinks
Waking up dehydrated is the worst, but having ice stashed in the freezer and a bottle of fruit squash to hand will help. There’s nothing better than a pint of peach squash (Robinsons is the absolute dream), when you’re hanging. If you drink fizzy drinks, keep a couple of cans in the fridge of whatever hasn’t been your mixer from the night before. Drunk vodka and diet coke all night? Drink diet coke the next day and all you’ll taste is vodka.

Have staple food supplies ready
A sure sign of grown up living is having a cupboard full of non-perishable foods, but if you have a tin of beans, hashbrowns and sausages in your freezer and a couple of eggs in the fridge, you’re well on the way to a bangin’ breakfast the morning after the night before.

Keep your bedding fresh
Changing your bedding the night before means that though drunk you will have already benefited from the fresh sheets feeling, but if you use my absolute fave cleaning product in the world, Lenor Unstoppables Scent Boosters, they’ll still smell fresh for when hungover you needs a nap.

For the love of God, don’t make plans
Don’t kid yourself, you’re not going to be up to doing much, so don’t commit yourself to seeing people. In particular, don’t commit to seeing people who will disapprove of the state you’re in. Unless your plans include being driven to a McDonald’s drive thru (by someone who is legally under the limit to drive, obviously...) don’t even think about it.

So, that’s my round up of how I try and cure a hangover, what are your tips? Let me know in the comments.

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