Friday, 26 September 2014

Interning in the Big Smoke

Today marks my last day of my two-week placement interning at Delicious. magazine. I will be very sad to go, but more than anything I can’t wait to get back to my home comforts… and the gym!

From taste testing copious amounts of mince pies and uncountable Christmas puddings, I can safely say that I have become somewhat of a Christmas food connoisseur.

I have learnt first and foremost, particularly as the weeks have gone on and the mountains of food have got bigger, that by adapting the food tasting style of Mary Berry (only taking tiny bites at a time) means that I won’t feel quite as sick. 

Although I have only been here for a short time I have learnt a lot about the way a food magazine works, and also a lot about London and it’s people. For starters, they’re rude. But, funnily enough, I’ve soon found myself slipping in to the ways of a London commuter, running up and down escalators and ensuring I can fit into the tiniest amount of remaining space in a tube, (being petite has had it’s advantages) and I’ve almost forgotten the meaning of personal space.

Kris and me
When it comes to outside of work I have had a great time living with one of my best friends because, well, who wouldn’t love living with someone you get along with so well.

I’ve had an amazing two-weeks and a great experience at Delicious. magazine whilst meeting all sorts of lovely people, but for now, I can’t wait to get home to my dog and some of Mummy O’s home cooked dinners.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Day One interning at Delicious Magazine

Having arrived in London late last night, I woke up pretty nervous at the idea of having to navigate my way across a busy London.

I left at eight this morning, but first had to pick up some flowers from a posh florist called McQueens to pick up a gift a client from my previous internship had sent me.

I managed to navigate my way to the shop, with the help of Google maps. I was so reliant on that this morning that I am pretty sure if it had told me to get into the Thames and swim I would have done.

I arrived at the florist and picked up my flowers... roses in a terracotta pot. Gorgeous but as you can imagine rather comical and heavy to be carrying half way across London amongst the commuters.

I managed to get to the Delicious office in plenty of time, and so I decided to give my biceps a rest and have a drink in Pret A Manger before having a re read of the latest delicious. magazine.

Everyone in the office was lovely, and I saw stars as soon as I spotted the test kitchen at the back of the office. Heaven!

The morning was predominately made up of researching tasks, I had to write a few short foodie news stories, and call for some press images. I went out exploring during my lunch break, but soon got fed up with the amount of people. Can you tell I'm a Nottingham bird?

As soon as I got back in the office I helped set up a taste test, which does what it says on the tin. I had to taste nine Christmas Cakes, which sounds amazing until you get to cake number four, or an hour down the line and start to get a mild sugar rush.

After work I met up with my friend Laura who had spent the day in London and took advantage of being situated just around the corner from The Shard.

The views were amazing, so I'll leave the photos below to do the talking on that front.

I'm looking forward to seeing what tomorrow has in store, including some Christmas pudding tasting. Maybe I'll boycott the scales for a while when I return.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A reflection on 9/11

I can remember vividly that at the time of 9/11 I was sat in my mum’s car waiting for her come out of Argos.
Little did I know as my seven year old self realise that the events about to unfold were part of a moment in history that kids of the future would study in school.
For every child, there eventually comes a time when your bubble of innocence is popped: a time when you realise that the world is actually a pretty dangerous place and that there are some pretty scary people out there.
My mum returned from the shop with a present for my brother’s friend (they were just turning five) and explained what had happened. It was all over the car radio and TV when we got home, but as kid I didn’t fully understand the true meaning behind what had happened.
In fact, you didn’t have to be a child to feel confused about why someone would kill so many people.
It wasn’t until years later that we realised the full extent of how horrible this event really was, and how much it would impact our lives 13 years on.
However, the force hits you even harder when you read testimonies from American’s there that day. Ordinary people that had never done anything wrong being told that their father would never come home that night, or they would never see their partner again.
I can’t even watch any of the programmes that circulate TV around early September with memories and footage from that day without shedding a tear.
The force hits you the greatest when you read about the true effect 9/11 has had around the globe, and particularly in countries where we have since been to war. I saw a statistic on twitter this morning that said millions of innocent civilians had lost their lives by the conflict caused by 9/11.
didn't lose a personal friend or family member on that tragic day. I don’t live in America, and my life hasn’t be thrown into turmoil by the following wars, but what I did lose that day was faith in humanity.
In some ways it marks the end of my blissfully innocent childhood and that of many others my age. We learnt that the world isn’t always a safe and good place and there are people out there that can inflict nasty crimes.
And today, when I reflected back on that eventful day from my childhood I learnt that if there is one thing we should take from 9/11 it is that we should never take “ordinary” moments for granted.
I thought about the ordinary goodbye I give my mum and dad in a morning and the ordinary “I love you” I give to my boyfriend. The ordinary hugs I give my friends and even the ordinary pat I give my dog.
But, today I realised that those things aren’t that ordinary after all. They’re a moment in time that many people who have suffered the consequences of September 11 2001 will never have.

So, if there’s one thing I am going to learn from 9/11 it is that nothing should be treated as ordinary. Your life and the people that bless it are a gift, and that should never be taken for granted.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Seven things you must do when visiting Ibiza

I know this blog post is a little late coming (I’ve been back in England over a month), but after I received so many compliments about my photos that I took in Ibiza this year, I felt it a necessity.

Lots of people see Ibiza and think parties, clubs and drug/boozed fuelled nights. Yes, those words are synonymous with parts of the island, but in this blog post I wanted to share the other side of Ibiza. The alternative Ibiza that I like to call my second home.

So, here are my top seven things to do you must do when on the White Isle, and not one of the mentions going to a club.

1.       Climb up the old town

In Ibiza’s main town (Eivissa) is a traditional and beautiful cathedral on top of a rather steep hill lined with quaint streets, shops and even Spanish houses.

It’s a steep and longish walk up to the top, but well worth the effort you have to put in. You can take several different routes, but be sure to stop and admire the views. The best time to climb up is just before sunset for a cooler temperature and the best light for photographs.
2.       Visit Formentera

Take a boat to the island just off Ibiza called Formentera for awe inspiring beaches and crystal clear water. I’ve never been to the Caribbean, but Formentera’s beaches must rival them.

It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to travel to Formentera by boat, and is well worth the cost. However, if you take the time to shop around a little you can often get a good deal. 
We went with Aqua Bus which takes a little longer than the quick ferries, but is much cheaper and you get a great ride on a boat with fantastic views and amazing photo opportunities.

As for when you’re there, hire bikes for around 5 euros each. The nearest beach is an easy 20 minute bike ride away and has places to leave your bike. And you get to see much more of the island than you would in a car, on a bus or in a taxi.
3.       Don’t be afraid of the back streets

Most of the time the best places aren’t on the touristy strips. The back streets, particularly in Ibiza town offer a little more culture and far more interesting shops.

I find the back streets in Santa Eulalia particularly nice, as I find the main front can get a little touristy and busy.

Even in San Antonio this is the case. Carry on walking along the sea front past the sunset strip and you’ll stumble across a lovely ice cream parlour serving the best ice cream. 

4.       Don’t stick to the main beaches

Ibiza has so many beautiful beaches that you wouldn’t be doing the island justice if you just went and visited one.

Sometimes the beaches that require a little more effort to reach are the best. One of my favourites, Cala Salada, near San Antonio requires a treacherous walk over the cliff face (or a short swim) to reach the best part of the beach… but it is well worth it.
5.       Watch the sunset at Es Vedra

There is something strangely captivating and powerful about Es Vedra, and the sunsets are something else.

You have to walk a little to reach a small area where you can sit and watch the sun go down around mesmerising views, and amazing photos.

6.       Visit Ses Salines and watch the sunset over the salt flats

Ses Salines is a short drive away from Playa Den Bossa and by far one of the best beaches on the island.

With crystal clear waters and white soft sand it’s a beach you can visit time and time again without getting bored.

It is also definitely worth taking a walk to the fort a short walk off the beach marking the most southern part of the island.
Take sandwiches and stay late on the beach before heading back and pulling in to a layby to watch the most gorgeous sunsets over the salt flats
7.       Act like a local, not a tourist

Get in to the spirit of things, learn a bit of Spanish and be adventurous. One of the best experiences I had this holiday were those off the cuff that you wouldn’t do as a normal tourist.

For example stopping at the local orangery and trying freshly squeezed orange juice or even nipping to the local supermarket. It gives you an outlook into the culture and makes you appreciate the island even more.



Saturday, 6 September 2014

Music Review: By The Highway by The Gorgeous Chans

Last spring I was given the opportunity to review Nottingham born band The Gorgeous Chans.

I'd listened to their tracks and enjoyed the upbeat melodies- the sort that you'd find me dancing around in a morning to- and I have to say that I was incredibly impressed by the versatility of the band from their slower numbers to encouraging the crowd to dance along with their Vampire Weekend esque quirkiness.

Almost six months on and I was introduced to their latest track, By The Highway.

Like all songs by The Gorgeous Chans, it is a beautiful mixture of cheery upbeat sounds cleverly mixed among perfectly layered harmonies. It is what can only be described as a banquet for the ears and a great late summer feel good track.

With interesting lyrics, talented guitar solos and quirky brass riffs, The Gorgeous Chans' latest single offers a sound you'd struggle to find from any other group.

You can listen to their latest track By The Highway here:

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Great British Bake Off- Bin Gate

It all kicked off on last night’s Great British Bake off after Baked Alaska sabotage unfolded in front of our eyes. And the British public are livid.

If you managed to completely stay out of the public outrage that unfolded last night, it all stemmed from a contestant, Diana Beard, taking another’s baked Alaska out of the freezer during the showstopper challenge.

When the ice-cream centre of Iain Watters’ Baked Alaska failed to set in the allotted time (possibly unhelped by fellow baker Diana TAKING IT OUT OF THE FREEZER) he threw the remains in the bin in a fit of rage and stormed out of the tent in full-blown fury.

With no bake to present Iain then topped the outrage by presenting a BIN to Mary and Paul. As you can imagine, Mary’s face was an absolute picture.

Ultimately, Iain (my previously least favourite contestant due to his resemblance to an elf), was sent packing by Paul and Mary. However, Iain didn’t blame #DirtyDiana (as it began trending on twitter).

As Iain left the show twitter was at bursting point with #BinGate and #DirtyDiana trending worldwide, signifying how important a small-scale British baking competition is to the core of the universe.
Someone even took the pleasure of changing Diana’s occupation on Wikipedia to “Ice cream melting super villain”.

More controversial than the great custard theft of 2013, bin gate sparked national wrath, showing that what unites the nation is not politics, religion or society, but the disobeying of baking etiquette.

So what can we learn from the scandal? Well the rest of the world now knows that the British public have a terrifying store of anger reserved for baked goods, and Alaska has been put back on the map, having received the most attention since Sarah Palin ran for presidency.

Personally, I was hoping David Cameron would break off his holiday and head straight back to 10 Downing Street to deal with the outrage.

Roll on next week.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Why doing badly in your AS levels isn't the worst thing in the world

Despite it being over two years ago, A Level results day still had me tied up in knots just thinking about it. The sense of panic and uncertainty is one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences.

I’m about to enter my third year of university and so my AS and A level results days are long gone, but I can still vividly remember the nerves.

I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in my AS levels, and so I know that it can feel like the end of the world.
Good news is that it really isn’t. Some even better news is that I honestly think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Why? Because it put a kick up my arse and I started to realise some very simple mantras for life that still keep me motivated even now that I’m at university.

First and foremost it’s important not to lose hope or sight of your dreams. Your aspirations are what will keep you going. As Albus Dumbledore said: “Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times if one only remembers to switch on the light,” and he’s right.  

Everyone thinks that the hardest thing is changing other people’s mentality-how they perceive you and what you do and think-when in actual fact the hardest opinion to change is your own.

If you let other people tell you that you can’t do something just because you don’t have the right grades it’s your attitude that needs to change not theirs. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because even the biggest dreams are achievable, no matter how long or difficult the road may be.

Whoever we are here on the earth, we might be princesses somewhere else. Or writers or doctors. Or whatever the hell we want to be that everyone else says we can’t. And guess what? The best feeling in the world is proving people wrong.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Is chivalry dead?

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but holding a door open for a woman to walk through and giving up your seat on the bus are all gestures I expect to be common manners.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t seem to agree with me, and over the past few weeks in particular I’ve found myself disgusted with the poor behaviour from the men out there.

Don’t get me wrong, like in all situations; there are some real gentlemen still out there, but it seems the majority are letting the side down.

Why is it impossible for men to do the, what I consider, ‘normal’ thing? When did all the men out there lose their chivalrous touch? What happened to pulling out chairs and holding doors? Or just buying a bunch of flowers because the girl you love had a bad week?

I blame society- mostly because men can’t be blamed for everything, but partly because women play a role in the death of common manners. If boys do put in the effort they come off as a clingy emotional idiot and all their friends consider them wet.

Well, I’ve got a news flash for you- holding a door open for a woman will go a lot further than your pervy sexist pig of a friend who beeps women as they stand at the bus stop just because they’re wearing a skirt

The other problem is that women have become complacent by agreeing to the bare minimum. For example a man doesn’t let her sit down on the bus and society tells her that because men and women are equal it doesn’t matter.

It does matter.
I’m the first to argue that men and women should be equal and I definitely don’t agree that all women should go back to being a 1950’s housewife who pampers after her husband's every need, but when it comes to decent manners equality doesn’t even come in to it.

Men will always be the physically stronger sex, so it’s only natural for them to show consideration towards women. Yes I can open the door myself and I’m perfectly capable of standing up on the bus, but sometimes it’s just about being nice.

Ok, so I’m not expecting flowers every week or you all to kiss the floor I walk on, although that would be nice. I’m just asking for a man to say, “after you” as I walk through the door, or hold our a chair for me to sit down, and I don’t think that’s asking for the world.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why Prince George is making me despise the royal family

Babies are annoying, they cry and scream and let out funny smelling gas, and Prince George is no exception.

He might be royal and he might be the future King of England, but if I see or write one more press release about Prince George’s first year on this deranged planet there is a very good chance that I will lose the will to live.

Now, I should probably make it clear that I do not hate kids in any stretch of the imagination, oh no. In fact at one time before I decided I wanted to train as a journalist I had the burning ambition to be a primary school teacher.

Albeit the ambition didn't last very long but nevertheless I did volunteer at my local Infant school once a week which I found somewhat enjoyable.

Of course there were times when I got so sick of being surrounded by children that I started to see smoke. For example when one of the little boys weed on another classmate’s hand, just to see whether it was warm. Head into hands moment.

And I should also make very clear that I am in no way against the royal family. In fact, I even have a waving statute of the Queen in my bedroom. Ask my boyfriend.

However, if there is one thing that is rapidly putting me off them it is Prince George.

Don’t get me wrong, last year I was fully submerged by the royal baby tidal wave, but I’ve since realised that as a nation we could probably do with a reality check.

I mean come on, we’re intelligent Britons but we’re all infatuated with an infant who doesn’t even know we exist… maybe we should all take a long hard look at ourselves and rethink our priorities. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Oxfam festival steward experience- Glastonbury 2014

Last weekend was my eleventh year of going to Glastonbury Festival. Yes, I was the weird kid at school that tripped off to sleep in a tent in a field for a few days when I was nine years old.
Me at my first Glastonbury in 2004

I’ve always been keen to support charities such as Oxfam as I think the work that they do is great, and so volunteering at a festival seemed like the perfect way to still go to a festival whilst doing something for a great cause. In fact, Oxfam stewarding raises £1 million every summer.

In 2012 my dad and I tripped off in the camper van to the Isle of Wight to steward our first festival with Oxfam- Bestival.

Stewarding at Bestival in 2012
Since then we’ve never looked back, and this weekend we stewarded our third festival with Oxfam.

We turned up on Tuesday morning to some rather admiring glances as our baby blue campervan was yet to be trashed with mud. Needless to say as the rain poured down later in the week the glances became somewhat green with envy as we cuddled down in our watertight van.

After we’d got our shifts we had a quick walk round the site which is one of the best perks of being an Oxfam steward. Glastonbury is one of the, if not the, biggest festivals in the world but being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people on an hourly basis can sometimes seem a little claustrophobic.
In front of the Pyramid Stage on Wednesday

Being able to freely walk around the site as the organisers are putting the finishing touches on everything is a priceless feeling.

On Wednesday morning we were up at 5am to get ready for our impending 5.45-14.00 shift. We were put on Pedestrian gate B which meant checking tickets and letting people in and out of the festival.

In our bright orange tabards we trudged past hoards of eager punters waiting at the gates ready for them to open at 8am. I had no idea so many people come a long so early… but I suppose that shows the changing face of the festival.

We were put on the turnstiles and were counting punters into the festival whilst issuing them with their programmes and official guide. There was a lot of waiting around, and the anticipation in the air hummed with both excitement and worry. I suddenly became very protective over the site… “I don’t want these drunken punters ruining it! “I thought.

8am came and we were called into position when the big green gates were opened and the first excited (and probably very tired) punters ran in.

Eight hours slowly passed, my thumb was getting tired from counting people in, and my patience running out after trying to understand countless scousers, but the shift was nearly over.
Pedestrian Gate B- opening the gates

We had all spectrums of society pass through our gate, from geordies in hair rollers to a clearly disabled man pushing his wheelchair full of booze (which had to be the funniest).

The best thing about Glastonbury is that there are so many people you never know who you’re going to bump in to, and letting our friend, Louise, and her husband through the gate was one of those moments. It cheered our shift up though, that’s for sure. 

When our shift was over we dawdled back to the campervan for a well-deserved kip, and went out to explore the now very crowed festival later on that evening.

Thursday evening- tents filling up
Luckily two of our shifts were early on in the festival, and Thursday evening was our overnight shift. Wednesday had set us up for an exciting and fast paced role, but the eight hours between 10pm and 6am the following morning felt like forever as we let around ten people in to the site. 
Cold moment during the night shift

Early in the morning was a little more exciting as people were rolling in from their heavy nights out all the way up until 6am in the morning. As you can imagine, trying to explain to someone who’s partly incoherent and covered in mud that they need to keep their tickets and pass outs safe otherwise they won’t be allowed back in to the festival was a task in itself.

Friday was a day off, which meant a) sleeping and then b) partying… or as much partying as you can do on limited sleep. 

After a lazy morning we headed down to see Rudimental on the Pyramid stage with an ever looming black cloud plus thunder and lightning in the background. Before the set was finished the band were rushed off stage due to a localized power cut.

We decided to head to the cider bus (solution to everything) when the heavens opened. In all my Glastonburys I have never ever seen raindrops as big. Plopping into my cider, which was becoming more and more watered down, we ran for cover but I was already soaking wet.

Drying out clothes in the dance village post rain
Mud 1- 0 Glastonbury.

It was also the day of our first celebrity encounter at Glastonbury 2014, and I have to say I was least than impressed.

 We were queuing to go up the ribbon tower in the park, which looks over the whole site. As you can imagine, there becomes quite a queue as only eight people are allowed up at a time, and my dad and I had planned it perfectly so we’d catch the sunset.

As soon as we got to the front of the line the apologetic steward told us they were shutting it momentarily as Metallica were having a photo shoot at the top. Needless to say we were annoyed, as we’d queued for easily half an hour

After exchanging some angered words with the man in charge we got fobbed off with a free (very nice) bar of chocolate, and got a dirty look of Lars Ulrich (the drummer from Metallica) who seemed to be looking down on us peasant fans.

We gave them a miss on the Pyramid stage the next day.

Saturday was our last shift, and we were working 2pm-10pm. We were unsure of what to expect as I was positioned in the Oxfield (the area in which Oxfam were camping) and Dad was on response, which means you get called to an area if they require more stewards.

Saturday afternoon
Luckily the response was coming to sit with the bored and lonely girl by the gate to keep her company. The bored and lonely girl was me.

That Saturday afternoon felt like forever, particularly when we were stood cowering under a tree dripping wet from the continual rain that never seemed to pass: I’ve never been so wet in all my life.

Those eight hours were the worst of the festival, but once we’d finished we were able to go out and see some acts and elements of the site that we’d never have done previously.

Block 9
Sunday was our last day, and as you can imagine I was dying for a shower AND not having to put wellie boots on just to go to the toilet (ah simple things).

We had a great day walking round the festival but by 10pm everything had got a bit too much, and with worry that we would struggle to get the campervan out of the mud logged field I left with a heavy heart, but safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be the last time I would get to visit Worthy Farm.