During my Australian adventure my friends and I took a two day ‘road trip’ down the Great Ocean Road. We stayed overnight in sleepy Apollo Bay, visited the Twelve Apostles (underwhelming to be honest) and stopped off at some beaches along the way. I am not much of a video person, as you may know, but I hope that one day when I am old and boring (and missing my pals who will have no doubt stay in Australia forever because it is warm and lovely) I will be able to fondly look back on this montage and remember how lovely it was.
This year I joined a gym for the first time. Aside from a few classes that Millie had somehow talked me into, I had never set foot in a gym in my life and found the prospect really quite daunting. But a short induction, a lot of questions to friends who exercise, and most of all just giving it a go soon helped me overcome my gym related anxieties. I’m now a few months into my membership and I have finally started to get a little bit fitter than I was, and lo and behold I feel a lot better for it, almost as if everybody was actually right about the benefits of exercise.
Winter and the painfully cold weather we are having at the moment has brought with it a new obstacle on my fitness journey, though. Why would I exercise when I can sit on the sofa under a blanket with a hot chocolate instead? Getting out of the house – whether that is to go to the gym or just for a walk or a jog – becomes a challenge in itself when the temperature drops, so I have turned to Nike’s winter-wear to help me overcome it. The opportunity to wear good clothes is a great motivator for me, so whether I pull on this extremely bougie deep burgundy velour tracksuit and lightweight but super warm puffer over my gym gear or just take it for a walk around the park, it is playing a part in getting me off my arse. I completed my outfit with these mahogany coloured Air Max 97 Ultras 17s; a near perfect colour match for the tracksuit and a pair of trainers that I’ll be taking out for a spin with everything from wide leg trousers to dresses and shorts in the summer.
photos by Zac Mahrouche
*this post is sponsored by Nike*
Living in a large city with so much going on is a blessing and a curse. Central London is home to pretty much any shop you could ever want to visit, as well as the best restaurants, theatres, galleries and sights, so it is easy to forget that some of the loveliest parts of the city are hidden around the edges.
One of my favourite days of this year involved hopping on a quick train to Crystal Palace Park to see the hilarious misshapen dinosaur statues. South London boasts some of the nicest parks and best views of the skyline, Greenwich market is a cute day out and a great place to take visiting parents, and there’s Kew Gardens out in Richmond (about half an hour out of central London) which are lovely all year round. And all that without the draining (and usually expensive) experience of being in the vicinity of Oxford Street.
A short walk along the Thames Path from Greenwich leads to rugged little beaches like this one – the Thames is as far from white sand and clear waters as you can get and we definitely saw some MASSIVE EELS bobbing around in the water on this day, but it still makes for something interesting and different to do in London. Being here to shoot with Jordan has very much inspired me to explore more little corners of this vast place – do you have any favourite hidden London spots?
A little over two years ago I moved to London from Manchester. I also moved from a lovely little one bedroom flat in the city centre, with double height ceilings, wooden floors, big sash windows, space to keep my stuff and a nice landlord, to a basic bedroom in a two bed with no living room and a tiny kitchen, sad magnolia walls and ambiguous coloured carpets, incompetent estate agents and, at various stages, a mouse problem and a mould problem.
Environment is so crucial when it comes to wellbeing. My first year in London wasn’t easy and I’m quite sure my miserable bedroom only perpetuated that. No matter how hard I tried I could not make it look any better without throwing out half of my things, so eventually I gave up completely.
The nature of this job combined with my lifelong hatred of throwing anything away ‘in case I need it’ means that I have a lot of stuff, and so squeezing everything I had accumulated in an entire flat into my one room with no built in storage was impossible. I lived for a year and a half with a large cardboard box full of jumpers in front of my bookcase because I had nowhere else to put them, a minuscule floor space that got smaller and smaller as the years went on, and with no living room to escape from my mess into. I had nice bedding and a few plants on my windowsill, but besides that buying cute homeware did not make me feel better because I had nowhere to put it. My bedroom looked worse than my much smaller bedroom had in student halls, and I felt overwhelmingly that I had regressed.
this post is sponsored by Primark
Back in the summer came my time came to move out as my flatmate and friend abandoned me to move to Australia. I can’t afford to live alone here and searching for somewhere to in London is The Absolute Worst, but after a great deal of stress I finally found a room in an area I love, sharing with two great girls. There are original fireplaces and sash windows in every room, I have wooden floors in mine, there is even some built in storage and I finally have a LIVING ROOM!
A fresh start and a nicer ‘shell’ was the kick up the bum I needed to sort my home out. I slowly but surely got rid of more clothes, I asked for a nice storage trunk for my birthday and felt like a grown up, I bought things like prints and picture frames and clothes racks, and I made sure that everything I owned had somewhere to go.
Cactus – IKEA
Dinosaur – an arcade!
Faux sheepskin rug – La Redoute*
Black and white throw – Primark*
Grey jersey sheets – Muji (similar available in Primark)
Cushions – Primark*
Once I had sorted out my storage and big furniture, I could finally start accessorising. I have collected a variety of cute throws and rugs and ornaments that serve no purpose other than looking pretty and making me feel better. Primark homeware is perfect for finishing touches: sweet looking ‘faux’ plants that you can’t kill, bright fairy lights, lovely affordable bedding, cushions and throws, and loads and loads of candles.
My house isn’t particularly large or grand and by London standards it is fairly inexpensive, and I won’t lie and say it is always (or ever) as tidy as it looks in these photos. But it feels so good to finally have a space I am proud of again, and a place that I will be sad to move out of not just because I hate moving. Until then, I’m going to carry on making this house a home.
Heart lamp – Urban Outfitters (sold out, but make your own)
Candle – Primark*
Fairy lights – Primark*
White bedding – IKEA
Pink jersey bedding – Primark*
Knitted throw – H&M*
Mustard throw – Primark*
Mustard velvet cushions – Primark*
Hot water bottle – Primark*
Pusheen mug – Truffle Shuffle*
Cactus vase – La Redoute*
Fake leaves – Tiger
Fake succulents – Primark*
Flowers – Bloom & Wild*
Plant in black pot – Geofleur*
Plant in silver pot – IKEA
Splatter jug – gift
Marble jug – Primark*
Light box – Primark*
Hands bowl – Tiger
I’m not much of an exerciser. I break out in a sweat just standing still, I once took an actual nap in a PE lesson (again, really sorry to that poor student teacher), and I’m not even sure if ‘exerciser’ is a word. But last week, after years of ‘thinking about it’, I joined the gym. So, to ensure my fitness journey improves or at the very least continues to exist, I am extremely here for anything and everything that makes exercise or the idea of exercise fun and/or easier.
An invitation to check out the adidas Speedfactory could not, therefore, have come at a more perfect time. The Speedfactory is a portable factory, cleverly designed and built inside shipping containers. The whole operation can be packed up and transported from country to country. I popped along to see what it was all about down in Shoreditch.
The main purpose of the Speedfactory is to collect data and ‘co-create’ with its customers, which it does via various scanning stations. The face scan is just a bit of fun (but you will get a cool gif), the foot scan measures your feet precisely, and finally the test run allows adidas to learn about how you run, and feed it back to you instantly by simply scanning a code on your phone. Smart.
The adidas ‘Made For’ trainer, or AM4, is the first project of the Speedfactory. The AM4 LDN, which has proved insanely popular already (currently sold out online), is the product of consultation with a group of commuter runners from London, designed to meet the specific demands of the city.
In the future, Speedfactory plans to allow adidas to connect directly to each consumer to enable ‘ultimate tailoring’. I will be keeping my eye on what the Speedfactory creates next!
this post is sponsored by adidas
Photos by Tom Connick
Moving home in London is an endeavour I would not wish on someone I really disliked. Having no friends with a spare room at the right time, and not being able to afford a place alone (because, lol, London) while trying to move home in London is a set of circumstances I would not wish on my very worst enemy. Well, maybe.
I finally did it though. After a solid two months of searching, messaging strangers, viewing, finding nothing suitable, being rejected from house shares I did like the look of, and even being subject to watching a potential housemate boiling a lobster alive while I asked about bills, I found a lovely home with lovely flatmates, and moved in a month ago.
Picking out furniture and ornaments is the light at the end of the long, long tunnel of moving; I’ve been having a great time being a grown up, buying things and turning my new place into somewhere I actually enjoy existing in.
Here are some of my favourite purchases so far, and some *mostly* affordable and mid-range things that are on my wishlist:
CUTE SHIT YOU DON’T NEED BUT WANT
Money is, unavoidably, at topic which is constantly at the forefront of our collective minds. Whether you’re investing in your fifth property (lol) or you’re knee deep in your overdraft, or if you’re just doing fine, paying attention to your finances is really important.
As a student I kept (or tried to keep) a very basic spreadsheet on my phone on which I noted down every penny I spent each day – this lasted a short while but was ultimately too much faffing. As a ‘Grown Up’ I am much too busy (or lazy) for that, so instead have turned to money saving apps in an effort to be at least a bit responsible. All of the below are available for iPhone and Android, and I personally use all of them in my day-to-day life.
Monzo is a card which you can use to pay for anything, the same way you would with your existing debit or credit card. Instead of having access to everything in your bank account, you have to top up your Monzo card – you could do this daily, weekly, monthly, or just whenever you need it. I tend to top up my Monzo £100 per time and try to make that last as long as possible – having a limited amount on a card makes me more motivated to avoid spending frivolously because I am a stubborn child and I want to ‘win’ the game I am setting myself.
- The Monzo app makes it really easy to track what you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. Categories include groceries, eating out, transport and entertainment (read: BEER).
- Each time you spend on Monzo the app updates instantly – my regular online banking app takes a few days making day-to-day spending a bit of a guessing game, whereas there are no nasty surprises with the Monzo app.
- You can set monthly targets for spending in each category – Monzo will notify you if you’re spending too quickly in each category (and you can turn these notifications off if you’d just rather not know).
- You can use Monzo abroad with no fees!
To get a Monzo card, download the app and apply. If you already know someone with Monzo, ask them if they have a ‘golden ticket’ to send you to speed up the process of getting your card.
While Monzo is essentially a current account with a very user-friendly app, Chip is all about savings; simply connect it to your online banking and the app will track your average spending, and put away small amounts of money when you can afford it.
- You can change the settings to save less or more, depending on your personal preference.
- As well as the background saving, you can deposit specific amounts (up to £100 per day) into your Chip savings account.
- You can withdraw your chip savings whenever you want.
- For more info on Chip (including security and other FAQ), see here.
Download the app and use code KWHV5L to get a free £10 OR additional 1% interest on your savings for a year. Once you have the app you can invite your friends using your own code, and get both you and them £10 or an extra 1% interest once you save – get 5 mates on board and that’s 50 quid for you, or 6% interest, which is considerably above the standard rate of most current or savings accounts. This offer only lasts til June 30th, so get signing up asap!
Circle is an app that allows to you send money to people in your contacts or people you are in close proximity to instantly. This makes splitting bills or paying your mates back really easy; you can avoid awkwardly overpaying at dinner because you don’t have any change, one of your group can go to the bar but not have to pay for the full round, etc etc.
Moreover, if you sign up here you get £5 for free as soon as you use the app to send £25 (which you may or may not choose to send to your mum or a mate, and have them send it back immediately). You can then invite all your friends and family to the app, and get a free fiver for yourself and a free fiver for them when they join. THE APP IS QUITE USEFUL AND FREE MONEY IS FREE MONEY, FRIENDS.
Download Circle / use code 76XMUN for a free £5 in your account.
I am in therapy, I have been in therapy for about six months, and it’s time to talk about it.
I have always been aware of the importance and effectiveness of talking therapies via a constant stream of people in my life who have benefited from them, but equally therapy is not something I had ever thought I would need. I thought of therapy as a good thing, but a good thing for people who had experienced extreme grief, or who have a serious, diagnosed mental health condition, not for me. Unfortunately this is an attitude that many people, and in particular people in the UK, still have.
Anyone, preexisting mental health issue or not, can experience times in their life where they feel emotionally overwhelmed or are struggling to cope with a particular situation or with life in general. For me, everything went wrong all at once. Immediately after moving to London, further away from most of my friends and family than I had ever been, I spent the best (or worst) part of a year in an emotionally abusive relationship. I was fully self employed and out of a routine for the first time, I lost a grandparent and a few months later got the news that another had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and all the while the social and political climate around me was going entirely to shit. The stars aligned in all the wrong ways – my relationship was making it difficult to deal with day-to-day life and almost impossible to deal with anything bad happening.
At my lowest point I did not consider therapy, or help of any kind, at all. I was too wrapped up in my situation and in hindsight did not really have a grasp on how badly I was coping. A few months after the end of my relationship I eventually sought therapy to help me deal with what had happened to me; now I’m an entire year out of that relationship and am still finding therapy extremely helpful in coping both with related and entirely unrelated issues.
What to Expect
Therapy is a safe place to talk about yourself, your life, and anything you are struggling to cope with or understand, in a way that you might not always be able to with friends or family. Therapists are trained to listen and to help you improve whatever it is you are struggling with.
After exchanging a few emails with the association of therapists I had found online, I went for my consultation. I sat in a room in a house and cried to a stranger for an hour, left feeling completely exhausted, but at the same time oddly liberated.
I now go to therapy once per week, at the same time every week unless I need to rearrange. I ring the bell and go upstairs to a small set of rooms above a shop, wait in the waiting room until I am called, then sit in a room in a comfortable chair across from my therapist in a room with almost nothing else in it, and we speak for 50 minutes.
My first couple of sessions with my therapist were largely the same as my consultation, plus a lot of sitting in uncomfortable silence unable to summon a single thought. One thing that came as a slight surprise about therapy is how little my therapist spoke. I am occasionally asked questions, usually to further develop on what I am saying, but mostly I am left to steer the conversation. I have learned how to talk about what I am feeling, have grown to understand how events – positive, negative, huge or seemingly insignificant – in my life have influenced the way I think now, and how to better deal with what is going on in my head.
When I began my sessions I was hoping, expecting even, that I would go for a few months, get myself to a better place and stop. But the point of therapy is not necessarily to be ‘fixed’, and healing from anything is never linear. Life goes on, more things happen and like anyone else my mental health fluctuates, and therapy continues to help me deal with things a little better.
With all that being said, therapy (as with anything) is not for everyone, but is certainly an avenue worth exploring.
How to Get It
A conversation about therapy cannot be had without talking about access. Access to mental health resources is particularly diabolical and will likely get worse if NHS funding continues to be cut, and mental health awareness is worth almost nothing without access to support. I am fortunate enough to be financially stable enough to pay for my therapy sessions but many people who want or need therapy are not in this position; MIND’s advice on seeking therapy on the NHS or through a charity can be found here.
Here are some more useful websites and (UK) numbers:
This summer will mark the sixth birthday of hannahlouisef.com, and also the end of my second year of life as a ~full time blogger~. It would probably be fair enough for me to consider myself relatively established in my field, but with this comes the risk of complacency. I do ok as I am, therefore my drive and desire to actively learn is not as urgent as it used to be, or indeed as it should be. So, when I was invited to Very and Cosmopolitan‘s ‘Self Made Summit’ last weekend, I was actually excited to drag myself out of bed on a Saturday morning to go do some learning for a change.
The seminar of most interest to me was entitled ‘from blog to brand’. Sam Chapman of blog Pixiwoo and bestselling make-up brush line Real Techniques, Youtube superstar, blogger and author Fleur de Force, and blogger, Made In Chelsea personality and jewellery designer Rosie Fortescue came together to talk about into how they turned their blogs into extremely successful brands, while Sedge Beswick from SEEN Connects and formerly ASOS provided an insight into what big companies really look for in a blogger. All bases from blog to brand covered.
1. you really do get out what you put in
One of my favourite things about being a full time blogger is the luxury of time management that it affords me, so I was somewhat taken aback to learn that Sam Chapman never puts her phone on silent. If an email wakes her up at 3am, she will answer that email. Similarly when Sedge took some influencers on a trip to Asia, they would set alarms for 4am in order to hit their peak engagement time on social media, and Fleur admitted that her blog has for the most part become her social life (but was keen to add that this was no bad thing).
This work life balance, or lack thereof, was not necessarily recommended by the panel, but it is clear that their extreme dedication has paid off. Do with that information what you will.
2. growth isn’t linear, and this isn’t the end of the world
As everyone battles with new instagram algorithms, it was a relief to hear that the ‘super bloggers’ are not immune. Sam did not hesitate to admit that some posts do not do as well as others and that this is unavoidable and not to be dwelled on, while Sedge put a positive spin on this by emphasising that you can learn as much from a post that doesn’t do well as you can from one that does.
When you have been blogging, making videos, instagramming or whatever it is you do, for a long time, your audience will come to expect certain types of content from you. Fleur expressed frustration about the fact that she could spend days working on a new type of content only for her audience to give negative feedback and demand that she go back to her ‘usual’. ‘Old school’ bloggers are constantly balancing old ‘safe’ content with something new and innovative that will help them continue to grow in a developing online community.
3. numbers aren’t everything
Plateauing or even losing followers, subscribers or traffic can be really disheartening, but Sedge revealed that an enormous following isn’t necessarily what brands are looking for when choosing an influencer to work with. A recent menswear campaign she was part of saw £5000 of sales driven by someone with 3k Instagram followers, while another influencer with over 700k followers sold nothing at all for the brand. Having a very distinct style of content leads to a more niche, engaged audience, and this can be much more valuable to a brand than simply a large number.
4. meticulous planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either
Some bloggers will have weeks’ worth of posts and photos for Instagram scheduled at any one time. I almost never do. The panel’s attitude towards planning and scheduling content varied: Rosie uses an ‘old school’ paper diary to manage her time and values spontaneity on Instagram; Fleur plans her ‘pillars of content’ each month and works in smaller pieces around those are she goes along; Sam’s attitude to Instagram is an altogether more relatable ‘shit, I haven’t posted, what can I post?’ (but does use the Preview app to check how a photo will look in her feed in advance).
The point is that planning everything to a T does not equal success unless that is how you personally work best. Some structure is important, but bloggers and audiences alike value spontaneity and organic content.
5. don’t underestimate the value of integrity
It can be tempting, especially when you are first starting out as a blogger, to accept any sponsored post that comes your way no matter how irrelevant it is to your brand, content or life (*cough* slimming teas *cough*). There is a balance to be struck; full time bloggers need to make money but sacrificing integrity for a few quid can really harm your brand in the long run. Rosie stressed the importance of staying true to yourself when choosing brands to work with, and that eventually brands that you love will be drawn to you.
The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, [let’s hear it for] New York. I’ve been to New York twice now; the first time I posted some nice pictures I took, but this time I decided to do some real life proper travel blogging. In the interest of not making this piece a slightly inferior version of every other blogger’s guide to New York, I want to talk about Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, separated from Manhattan by some water and a subway ride, and is home to Gossip Girl’s Humphrey family because they aren’t as rich as the Upper East Siders. It is also where I have chosen to stay on both my visits to the city.
The majority of New York’s tourist spots and sights – from Times Square to the Seinfeld cafe and Carrie Bradshaw’s gaff – are in Manhattan, as well excellent restaurants and world class galleries, but Brooklyn has a bit more heart about it. It is, to use the most basic analogy, New York’s East London (cute cafes and bars and really unsettling levels of gentrification and all) but much less crap.
Places To Stay
– the author modelling a ‘well comfy’ bed at Marriott Brooklyn
I split my time (10 days – a long visit as far as city breaks go) between a cosy Airbnb in Bushwick and a beautiful hotel room at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Heights. I found this to be the perfect way to resolve my conflict between being a) a young person living in London and therefore incurring all the financial burden which comes with that and b) an aspiring Bougie Bitch. Airbnb provided a really affordable, comfortable but not quite luxurious place to crash after visiting one or five bars, whereas the Marriott allowed me to end my holiday in a good bed with a massive TV and stunning views over the city.
– the author conducting important research, on airbnb sofa
I like Airbnb for the good value and the plethora of choice. I’ve stayed in spare rooms before, which I think is fine for a night or two, but personally prefer to rent an entire apartment if I’m going to be staying longer. Brooklyn Airbnbs are some of the best value because there are so many of them: Emma and I rented a one bedroom apartment in Bushwick, less than 10 minutes walk from subway stops and walking distance from a number of bars, for £70 per night between us once all fees were taken into account. Well cheap. If you’ve never Airbnb-ed before, you can get £15 off your first trip by signing up here!
Because I am quite the seasoned Airbnb-er these days, staying in a hotel when I travel is now even more of a treat. I mean, fresh sheets and towels every day? ROOM SERVICE? The Marriott Brooklyn Bridge varies in cost depending on when you book and your room type, but on average is reasonable when compared to other centrally located hotels in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights is a more pleasantly suburban feeling area of the borough, but is nonetheless home to a few cool bars (try Floyd on Atlantic, 10 minutes walk from the Marriott) as well as restaurants and a Sephora (important). Due to its location, the Marriott boasts near panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, like this one from our room pictured above. Very good.
Things To Do
Much of my holiday planning, regardless of location, revolves around eating. *As a vegan* New York is the greatest place on this godforsaken earth, and Brooklyn alone is home to such legendary vegan trash spots as Champs Diner, Vinnie’s and Screamer’s pizzerias, Toad Style, and Dun-Well Donuts (pictured).
For when (or rather if) you finish eating, Brooklyn has countless bars and music venues: use Songkick or Oh My Rockness to find out about gigs on during your stay, try Three Diamond Door, Alphaville, Bossa Nova, Baby’s All Right or The Johnson’s for a drink or a dance, and please for the love of all things British go to Banter Bar and tell me what it’s like.
– a view from the East River Ferry
– a #view from Brooklyn Heights Promenade
– a #view from Williamsburg
Although most of New York’s sightseeing ops are located in Manhattan, you can’t see Manhattan from Manhattan, so head to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (less than 15 minutes walk from the Marriott), the edge of Williamsburg, walk across Brooklyn Bridge or take the East River Ferry for #views.
– the author engaging in ‘art banter’ at the Brooklyn Museum
Similarly, the majority of bigger galleries and museums are housed over the bridge in Manhattan (MoMA, the Met, the Whitney, the New Museum), but Brooklyn has a number of smaller art spaces and the extremely impressive (and massive) Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn Museum has various permanent exhibitions which are open most of the time (although sadly on my visit The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago was closed), and a rotation of temporary exhibitions. I was fortunate enough to see Marilyn Minter’s Pretty/Dirty (which runs til April 2nd 2017), and the museum is now showing an exhibition by Georgia O’Keefe until July 23rd.
– photos taken in Brooklyn Botanic Garden in summer 2015, which is not the trip I’m writing about here, but definitely still counts
As much as I enjoy a plant or two, I do feel that once you have seen one botanic garden you’ve seen them all. That said, Brooklyn’s are particularly lovely. If you are visiting in the summer take a minute to go down to the rose gardens and explore the conservatories, you’ll at least get a good Instagram out of it.
Whether you have been to New York 10 times or never, Brooklyn has loads going on, is a little more bank balance friendly, and above all gives you access to a slightly more authentic experience of the city. Visit Brooklyn!