Saturday, 31 December 2016
There's no doubt that 2016 has been a defining year for everyone. We've seen a tumultuous rift in politics and grieved heavily for many talented icons. It's been a year of uncertainty, confusion, and a rise in the demand for change.
I can honestly say that, despite all the hard times the world has seen this year, my own personal bubble of 2016 hasn't been bad at all. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's been one of the best years yet. The past twelve months have absolutely flown past, but here's some of the things I've enjoyed in 2016:
My job - I've learnt over the past year that finding a job you can tolerate is entirely different than finding a job that you genuinely enjoy, and the simple concept of liking your job is actually a well sought-after luxury indeed. I'm very happy to admit that I love my job. I don't get Sunday night anxiety and I don't shy away from talking about my work. I think I've achieved a lot in my first twelve months with the company and I am excited to see what happens this year.
Live music - This year I completed one of my goals which was to see more bands perform live. I've always liked music but sometimes have struggled to actually make any plans around it. This year I've been to a few festivals, including Icebreaker, Common People, IOW, Victorious and Southsea Fest. I've seen some awesome bands including Blossoms, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Queen, The Who, Primal Scream and Noel Gallagher, as well as countless local bands.
I've come to realise this year that spending a Friday night in a sticky pub watching a local band I've never heard of is actually one of my favourite things to do, and I plan to do even more of it in 2017.
Writing - This one is a tricky one. At the beginning of 2016 I had big ambitions to develop my online presence and start creating content for my blog on a much more regular basis. That totally didn't work out (oops). Instead, I started writing for a local company, Strong Island, and I've never really looked back.
Being a part of a creative team that focuses on all things local to Portsmouth and Southsea has been a great source of inspiration for me this year. I've met some beautiful people, been involved in some fun projects, and generally had a blast writing for them. This year I'm going to try and up my game and contribute a little more.
(If you're interested, you can read my contributions here.)
Saving money - Not the most exciting to some I imagine, but for my this is one of the things I'm most proud of this year. I spent most of 2015 juggling internships, unpaid work experience, and badly paid retail jobs. This year has been the first year since graduating university that I've had a steady income and I really did try and make the most of it. I didn't want to limit myself from having a good time, but I also had a goal in mind of how much I wanted to save.
Lots of people shy away from talking about money as it's such a taboo subject. This year I discovered The Financial Diet - a website dedicated to personal finance and living better (without being boring). It's full of advice from real people who are dedicated to shaking off the 'money taboo' and I think it's really awesome.
Travelling - 2016 saw me travel to some great places and start to really tick things off my bucket list. I swam in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I Instagrammed my heart out in Lisbon. I wandered the Christmas markets of Bath, Winchester, and London. I drank wine and ate ice cream by the beautiful Cornish seaside.
Each year I say I'd like to explore more of the UK, and I really do mean it. It's been mentioned once or twice that I need to leave my southern bubble and venture a little further north of England. Hopefully 2017 will be the year it finally happens.
So that's a little snapshot of my year. I'm not making any hard and fast new year's resolutions this time. I have a couple of things in mind that I'd quite like to achieve this year, but I'm not going to beat myself up if they don't happen. I'm just happy in the knowledge that I worked hard and played hard this year, and I will probably continue to do so in the years to come.
So after all that, 2016, you really weren't so bad.
Happy new year everyone.
Friday, 12 August 2016
This week, nourishing food experts Ginger and Peach held their first pop-up event at Southsea Coffee Co called Food and Mood. The event featured guest speaker Francesca Eldridge, who gave a fascinating presentation on the impacts nutrition can have on our mental health and wellbeing. The winning combination of informative nutritional facts and a delicious tasting menu left everyone feeling both full and inspired.
Born from the success of Southsea Coffee Co, Ginger and Peach is a company that focuses on raw and vegan food. They create beautiful and delicious hand-crafted cakes, made from 100% natural ingredients, free from dairy, egg, wheat, soya, refined sugar and gluten. If you're a regular at Southsea Coffee, you have probably seen them before, if not enjoyed a slice or two already. Aside from cakes, they are also a dab hand at savoury food, and are available for functions, catering and events.
The menu featured some beautiful creations including raw falafels and buckwheat balls, homemade kombucha and show-stopping mini desserts. However, the star of the show was the Buddha Bowls we were presented with for our main course. The most colourful meal I think I've ever eaten, packed full of nutrients, consisting of kale, beetroot noodles, carrot, cumin squash, avocado, toasted seeds, pink sauerkraut, a lemon and garlic dressing and of course, to my delight, edible flowers!
As a company, Ginger and Peach is self-described as a 'world of natural cakes, nourishing food and good vibes', and that really is the perfect way to describe the Food and Mood event too.
Francesca certainly left me questioning some of my eating habits and considering how to adapt her advice to work with my lifestyle. From chewing food at least 30 times, to taking time away from my desk to eat lunch, and replacing those 3pm chocolate bars with a protein-rich alternative snack. She showed us that it's not just what we eat, but also how we eat that can affect our mental wellbeing. Her attitude to nutrition was refreshing, focusing on individuals as opposed to trendy fad concepts, and even confessing her love for the occasional croissant and glass of wine. (I hear ya, girl.)
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Strong Island Clothing Co
Let's talk about stripes. Everyone loves a stripe. Breton tees are probably the most versatile piece and the one staple that everyone should have in their wardrobe. Paired with black skinny jeans, a leather jacket and a beret for Parisian chic, tucked into blue mom jeans with converse for preppy laid-back style, or under a classic black suit for those tailored-meets-casj vibes. They're an easy piece to work with, no matter what your style.
This one from the new Strong Island Clothing Co summer collection is a classic Breton style with thin, navy blue stripes, complete with subtle embroidered details. In this instance, I wore mine with simple sandals and jeans, and paired it with the wooden wayfarer style sunglasses and the bright yellow 'Refuse to Sink' pac-a-mac. The nautical themed outfit complimented the backdrop of Eastney Marina perfectly, and hen it cooled down in the evening I threw on one of the classic crew sweaters to keep off the seaside chill.
The new Strong island Clothing Co range is now available in store now and online. If you’re in the area take a visit to ‘Shop Ahoy’ in Southsea and check out all the new products for yourself.
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
The Isle of Wight has always been a nostalgic place for me. Having had family live there in the past and spent many a summer holiday there when I was younger, stepping off the hovercraft into Ryde and breathing in that Island air is like stepping back in time to my childhood. The festival is no exception and has always been a haven for nostalgia for many people, a place to relive musical history for music lovers of all ages. This year didn’t disappoint, featuring headline performances by 1970s rock heroes The Who and Queen, and 1990s favourites Stereophonics and Faithless.
My dad was at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, the year The Who played for the first time. 46 years later and there I was, at the same place and seeing the same band. Pulling at my nostalgic heart-strings once again, we danced away to classic hits ‘Who Are You?’, ‘Baba O’Riley’, ‘My Generation’ and ‘Pinball Wizard’. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey provided a fantastic performance that was enjoyed by a crowd of fans across multiple generations. With references to their previous performances at Isle of Wight Festival, for just one evening we were transported back to the 1970s.
The band I was most looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival though was of course Sunday night headliners; Queen. The band made the controversial decision in 2011 for Adam Lambert to fill the shoes of much-loved Freddie Mercury as lead vocalist on the road. In my opinion it was the best decision they could have made. Adam Lambert makes no attempt to impersonate Freddie Mercury and instead he is an incredible performer and flawless vocalist in his own right. He has brought the power rock anthems of Queen back to life and allowed a whole new generation the chance to see and embrace the band once again. The whole performance was incredibly poignant and emotional, with Lambert dedicating ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ to the victims of the Orlando shooting, and to “anyone who has been victim of senseless violence or hatred”.
This year’s festival was in collaboration with Cancer Research UK and Channel 4’s joint charity effort, Stand up to Cancer. Together we all paid tribute to David Bowie, whose last headline act was at Isle of Wight 2004, and who died of cancer at age 69 earlier this year. We purchased Ziggy Stardust masks and danced along to ‘Starman’ in the main arena, performed by Andrea Corr and Gary Kemp. The atmosphere was incredibly moving as thousands of music fans gathered to pay their respects.
Across the weekend I had a lot of fun seeing plenty of fantastic bands. One of the most exciting of these was a blast from my pre-teen past; Busted. My inner 12 year-old squealed with excitement as Charlie, Matt and James stepped out onto the stage. As to be expected, there were several groans and cringes from a generation who haven’t yet forgiven boybands for taking over the pop-punk stratosphere in the 2000s. I, however, was part of the crowd of devoted 1990s kids, with all those years spent jumping around our bedrooms with air-guitars, singing along to ‘Year 3000’ and ‘What I Go To School For’ suddenly racing back to life. They didn’t disappoint, and with a spattering of new music throughout, Busted embraced their nostalgic value and sang all our favourite hits.
A couple of relatively new bands who I thoroughly enjoyed over the weekend were Blossoms and Hello Operator. Blossoms came onto the scene just last year, rising to fame with hits such as ‘At Most a Kiss’ and ‘Charlemagne’. We managed to catch the last half of their set after rushing over to the Big Top after Busted. They captivated their audience and performed a great selection of tunes including latest single ‘Getaway’. Hello Operator graced the presence of the Jack Rocks stage, a stage brought to us by everyone’s favourite festival drink; Jack Daniels. With a plastic cup of Jack Daniels Honey & Lemonade in hand, I joined the crowd for Hello Operator’s lively and energetic set. Whilst still a fairly new band on the scene, they had the audience on their feet, dancing along to their single ‘Stephanie’, and generally having a good time.
As usual, it wasn’t just about the music though. With around 96 food stalls pitched up at Isle of Wight Festival, there was more than enough choice for sustenance to keep us partying all weekend. Long gone are the days of dry burgers and soggy chips as your staple festival diet. This season we had pulled pork sandwiches, stone-baked pizzas, fresh churros, and there was even a Moët tent for the fancier folk. A few people mentioned that food seems to be becoming such an important factor at festivals now that in some ways it is becoming more important than the music. My only grabble would be that there was almost too much to choose from…
The weather stayed beautiful all weekend despite constant forecasts of heavy rain, with the sun shining through the overcast sky to keep us warm and dry. The only exception was half an hour on Sunday evening, but I welcomed it as an excuse to finally don my favourite Refuse to Sink pac-a-mac.
Overall, it was another amazing weekend from John Giddings and the Isle of Wight Festival family. I look forward to seeing how many incredible bands and performers they can squeeze onto our favourite little neighbour Island this time next year!
Original article: Strong Island Co
Photography: Sarah Nunn, Callum Baker, Sara Lincoln
Monday, 20 June 2016
Strong Island Clothing Co
My good friends at Strong Island have just released their Summer 2016 collection and for some reason they let me loose to prance around the beach showing it all off, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share it with you all.
The collection mostly consists of t-shirts, hoodies and sweaters, but also features accessories such as a bright yellow pac-a-mac (festival essential), wooden sunglasses, and a picnic blanket - complete with beautifully hand-cut leather carrying straps.
You might have noticed me talking about Strong Island a bit more often here on my blog lately. That's because I joined the team at the beginning of the year as a contributing writer to their online magazine. I love my hometown of Portsmouth & Southsea so the fact I get to join in with local events and play a small part in promoting the creative scene of the city makes me very happy.
Strong Island acts primarily as an online resource for music, the arts and all things cultural within the city of Portsmouth. In 2010 they began designing and selling a couple of t-shirts to a handful of friends, and since then it has expanded into an independent store and exhibition creating brand new collections on a bi-annual basis.
This summer they've released a collection that stays true to their roots with the same high quality that their customers have learned to love, but with added attention to detail. The graphic tees showcase a combination of minimalist embroidery and detailed designs, all with the classic but subtle Strong Island branding.
The new Strong island Clothing Co range is available in store and online now. If you’re in the area, take a visit to ‘Shop Ahoy’ in Southsea and check out all the new products for yourself.
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Against all the odds, the sun shone down on Southampton this bank holiday weekend as 40,000 people gathered to enjoy Common People Festival for its 2nd year running.
Returning to his home town to headline the Saturday night, Craig David described the gig as the most important ever, exclaiming “you can take the boy out of Southampton, but you can’t take Southampton out of the boy!” Bringing his TS5 radio show all the way from Miami to Southampton, Craig David knows how to start a party and work the crowd, and his latest hits proved just as popular as the old favourites.
The first day featured several iconic, pioneering musicians from different eras and genres, including living legends of Indie-Rock, Primal Scream, who performed an exhilarating set that captivated the audience from the beginning. Other favourites were the Godfathers of Hip-Hop, Public Enemy, who after nearly 30 years performing together, are still as relevant as ever.
Kings of Pop, Duran Duran, headlined the Sunday night, garnering huge respect with their continued pursuit to create new music which they performed alongside the classic crowd pleasers, providing for their long-term, die-hard fans whilst also gaining the attention of new ones. The set was lively, exciting and full of atmosphere, bringing people of all ages together in one show-stopping performance.
Alongside the likes of Katy B, Jamie Lawson and dare I say, The Cuban Brothers, Portsmouth’s home grown talent still shone through. Rex Domino, a self-confessed “example of millennial self-loathing in a creative musical context” played a set early in the day. It was fantastic to see them captivate the attention of the audience for the entire set, considering the quiet time of day. Old favourites Kassassin Street took to the Uncommon Stage just before Duran Duran started, gearing the audience up with a fun and lively set. At one point the lead singer couldn’t bear to miss out on the fun and just had to jump in and join the crowd.
For me, one of the most visually exciting acts of the whole weekend was Batala Portsmouth, a local 60-piece drumming band, famous for their Afro Brazilian Samba Reggae drumming. As the first Batala band to establish itself in the UK, this is their tenth year of playing gigs across the South Coast of England. With the loud and infectious music, vibrant dancing and bright costumes, it’s no surprise it was so well received by the audience during the pop-up performances across the weekend.
Aside from the music, the second most important thing at any festival is deciding what you’re going to eat. With sumptuous street-food from Portsmouth favourites The Tenth Hole (On the Go) and Pie and Vinyl, and so many others including incredible pulled-pork and beef brisket from Smokestak and fancy cheese on toast by The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Company. For the grown-ups who’d had just about enough pints of cider for one day, the Jam Jar Bar served delicious cocktails, shaken and served in hipster jars and with a slightly smaller queue than the usual bars, what else could you want?
If you fancied a break from the hustle and bustle at the main stage, then a few of the other fun activities available included the iconic helter-skelter, a big wheel, and not forgetting the World’s biggest bouncy castle. Common People pulled out all the stops to kick off festival season 2016 with a bang, and with a little help from the weather Gods on their side, they definitely pulled it off.
Photography: Stuart Barker, Jordan Bareham and Common People
See the original story and more photos at strongisland.co
Sunday, 1 May 2016
It's the first day of May today. It's scary how fast this year is going - and how fast every year is going. I thought as it's pretty much Spring now (although the snow last week would tell you a different story) I'd share some of my must-have pieces that I'll be adding into my wardrobe this season.
When the weather starts warming up I gradually move away from my Winter colour staples of black, grey and navy blue, and gravitate towards colour again. Pastels are always going to be a 'thing' in Springtime so I've learned to accept this fact and embrace it.
This post features lots of frills, ruffles and floaty sleeves set on pastel colours, which together creates this strange idea that I've turned into an actual girlie girl. Don't worry, throw a black biker jacket on and a pair of studded ankle boots and suddenly it looks like me again. The contrast of the girlie pieces against my usual more rock n roll style is something I'm actually really enjoying this season.
Off the shoulder
Frills and ruffles
Let me know what you'll be adding to your wardrobe this Spring!
Monday, 18 April 2016
When Olivia Palermo rocked that reversible Topshop bomber at London Fashion Week, it subsequently became the most covetable SS16 piece and sold out almost immediately. Since then, we've seen statement bomber jackets crop up across both high street and high end. Complete with different colours, fabrics and designs, they've become an incredibly versatile piece of outerwear that is no longer reserved for just the sporty-types amongst the fashion world.
When I saw this particular design on the Topshop Instagram, I knew I needed it in my wardrobe. The classic bomber shape featuring a metallic, rust-coloured finish with a sateen texture. It's the perfect statement piece to finish off any outfit from jeans & a t-shirt, or even better, SS16's other must-have - a pair of dungarees.
The colour looks perfect styled with a monochrome outfit, but I also love how it looks paired with complimenting colours such as khaki green. The metallic shine gives the jacket a glam-rock vibe, whilst the bomber shape adds a sort of 90s sporty-spice effect, together giving you an effortlessly cool, laid-back look to any outfit. I love throwing it on with studded ankle boots and blue straight-leg jeans for a casual daytime look, or paired with a sleek black shirt dress and heels for an evening out.
Will you be rocking a statement bomber jacket this Spring / Summer? Let me know how you'd style yours.
Photos taken by Jack Daly
Thursday, 31 March 2016
I've been looking for an excuse to use Airbnb again ever since my first experience of it in Sweden a couple of summers ago, and as I was browsing flights to Reykjavik after Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give it another shot.
The apartment we stayed in was absolutely beautiful. The perfect size for myself and my friend. We had a double room each which gave us our own space to relax at the end of each day, whilst also having an open plan living, dining and kitchen area for us to eat breakfast together and chill out watching Friends in between hectic excursions and exploring the city.
Located just around the corner from a huge road full of the coolest bars, restaurants and shops, it was the perfect place for us to set up camp. A short walk away from the buzzing nightlife, but far enough that it doesn't disturb your hard-earned sleep. It couldn't have been easier to find our way around, with the Cathedral in one direction and the sea in another, you'll always have a rough idea of where you are.
The location, size and number of bedrooms were our main priority, but I won't lie and say I wasn't even a bit swayed by the cool interior design of the place.
Exposed brickwork, a mid-century inspired sofa and white walls with contemporary furniture created a beautiful, modern house for us to call home for the week. I loved the funky shaped lampshade and the bright orange map of the world on the wall, not to mention the fairy lights, plants and pictures that littered the apartment making it feel so cosy and welcoming.
Maria, who owns the property, was very helpful and fast to respond when I had questions and she even left us some food, tea and coffee to make us feel at home.
We couldn't have stayed in a better-suited apartment for our stay in Reykjavik and I highly recommend anyone check it out if you're thinking of going. Staying in Airbnb apartments has completely ruined hotels for me, it's a similar price (often cheaper!) but it really makes you feel like you're living like a local in whatever new city you're visiting.
Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb apartment before? Let me know if you're planning a trip to Iceland!
Tuesday, 29 March 2016
I spent the past week in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been - Reykjavik. A cool, vibrant city surrounded by incredible mountains and just a short drive away from some of the most fascinating natural sights on Earth, including geothermal baths, huge waterfalls and erupting Geysirs.
We experienced every kind of weather imaginable, from bright sunshine and blue skies, to heavy snow, and everything in between. This didn't put us off experiencing as much of Iceland as we could in the few days we spent there, and we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Blue Lagoon, a Golden Circle tour, a Northern Lights adventure and an afternoon horse-riding through the lava fields.
Alongside the excursions, we spent a lot of time in the city itself. Littered with brightly coloured buildings, huge street-art murals and plenty of trendy bars and restaurants, Reykjavik reminded me ever-so-slightly of London's Soho. The young men all had beards and man-buns, the cocktails were sky-high priced and the food was simply amazing. The difference being you only need to look down the road and be presented with huge, picturesque, snowy mountains to realise you're very far from London indeed.
It's hard to pick a favourite part as there were so many, but swimming in the milky water of the Blue Lagoon and witnessing the hazy green of the Northern Lights were definitely highlights of the trip and experiences that I will never forget. I've heard from a lot of people who are on the fence about visiting Reykjavik (or Iceland in general), and to all of them I've said the same thing. Just go, and you can thank me later.