Monday, 12 December 2011

HELLO to the Jenny Craig Meal Plan Diet!

Although it may be snowing outside and my thermal socks are seeing a lot of use, my thoughts are straying to my post-Xmas travels to New Zealand and Australia, where bikini season is in full swing! I am also well aware of how Christmas indugences usually cause us to put on a little bit of winter insulation, which I do NOT need after my summer going super-size in the US!

To both prevent any further weight gain and also in a bid to start losing a little of that which I've gained, I have embarked on the Jenny Craig weight loss program, which you can read all about right HERE.

The program is basically a three-pronged attack the help you either lose weight, maintain your current weight or re-educate yourself on what (and importantly; how much) to eat in order to have a healthy balanced diet.

Firstly (this is the main thing for me), you are provided with the right foods in the right amounts in the 'Food' part of the plan. I received a HUGE box of goodies containing all my meals and a few snacks to last two weeks, delivered direct to my door. It was strangely exciting to rifle through my planned diet, and it got me excited to try all the delicious-sounding meals (more on that later).

The contents of my stomach for the next two weeks!

Secondly, you are put in touch with a consultant who is like your go-to person if you have any problems, need to confess a slip-up or need advice on how to handle a potentially dangerous situation (I had a Big Night Out planned, but I tried to counter-act my many vodka/diet cokes by dancing for 5 hours, skipping my daily 'goodie' and drinking lots of water). My lovely consultant Alison is thus helping my tackle the 'Mind' part of the program, I've spoken to her twice already and feel like I'm doing pretty well!

Thirdly, there's little point in putting the right fuels in your body if you don't supplement that with exercise to help boost your weight loss and your mood, hence the 'Body' part of the program. The calorie content of the diet plan is according to your level of activity, mine is 1200 per day (not including 'free foods') but I've been walking loads and I danced until 4am on Fri night/Sat morning so I'm getting in some workouts, kind-of!

Now, the Food! Breakfasts are packets of flavoured porridge, tasty wheat flakes or muesli, and you add milk and fruit. Lunches are almost instant (soups, noodles, instant potato, salad pots etc) with salad, but often require you to be near a microwave or kettle. I've managed to fit the plan into my erratic schedule so far by eating my tuna pasta salad while shopping instead of my potato and croutons, and I chose soup during a lunch out because that's what I was supposed to have anyway. Dinners are very tasty so far, and include curries, lasagne and roast chicken- not typical diet foods by any means, but these are calorie controlled and you get the amount your body needs, but can supplement your portion with vegetables or salad. You also get a delicious snack like the white-chocolate and caramel cereal bar, which I LOVE, and eat fruit and yoghurt between meals too, though I've found it tricky to fit in so many food breaks (surprisingly!)

Chocolate Coated Wheat Flakes- YUM!

I have a couple of meals out to navigate whilst on the plan (which are allowed but you must try and be mindful of your choices) so we shall see how I deal with those! Watch this space for my grand review of the whole program and my experiences overall, but for brief updates check my Twitter and the Jenny Craig Facebook Page, where I will be posting regularly! Wish me luck!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas Holiday Essentials!

So many of us choose to go away over Christmas, be it travelling to be with family, travelling to get away from family or heading for some winter fun in the sun, but what essential items should you take with you over the festive period?

Here's my list of the top 5 essentials that what would be going in my sleigh/suitcase if I was to spend the holidays away from home...

1. Alcohol :) Preferably home brewed sloe gin or something festive like mulled wine, advocaat for eggnog or Glayva for a warming hot toddy. I always find that a day of my Mother's overcooked turkey, my grandad's snoring and the Queen's speech becomes much more bearable after a liquid breakfast of the adult kind. If I were on holiday overseas, I'd have hit the duty free en route and stocked up on festive spirit(s) to help the party season go with a clink, why not? HEY it's the holidays! Share a bevvy or five with the people you love!

2. Decorative Ribbon- the kind you curl with a scissor edge. Any gift can be jazzed up with a bit of ribbon, even if it's wrapped in the Christmas Eve newspaper because you yet again left it too late this year goddamit. Little rolls of the stuff can even be stuffed into shoes when packing to save space, and any bottle of wine you pick up can instantly be made to seem extra special. You took the time to curl the ribbon didn't you? WIN.

3. A Sparkly Dress- Christmas isn't Christmas for me without a smattering of sequins, so I would always pack a really jazzy little number for all those party season dates you'll have in your diary. Failing that, dress up on Christmas Day, just because it's Christmas- the only day on the calendar during which sequins are acceptable day attire. Sparkly dresses are also proven to increase your chances of experiencing a mistletoe kiss by up to 74%. Yeah, that's a real statistic. This jaw-dropping one from Lanvin is a jaw-dropping £1,635, but this high-street gem from Dorothy Perkins is equally fabuous and a much more purse-friendly £60...

Lanvin at Matches, £1,635

Dorothy Perkins, £60

4. Morning Rescue Kit- No-one wants to be hungover on Christmas Day, the turkey just won't taste right ( vote 'hair of the dog'- see point 1. on this list). What you need, is channel your inner Boy Scout when packing, and Be Prepared. I don't mean include your sparking flint and Swiss army knife (though the latter usually has a corkscrew. Just sayin'), I'm talking about your rescue kit for those mornings after the night before, using mini-bottles where possible to travel light. Mine would consist of: pain killers, Berocca, eye mask for lie-ins, Vitamin B, Touche Eclat, lip balm, Sex and the City on DVD and ideally a small elf who would bring me food, give me foot rubs and close the curtains for me if I took a dislike to daylight.

5. Festive Extras- A Santa hat is actually quite sensible if your winter break is somewhere chilly; keep your ears warm, reduce heat-loss through the head and emit festive cheer on the slopes! Tinsel could replace your usual piece or ribbon/luggage strap that you use to distinguish your baggage on the conveyor belt, and red lipstick could be used not only for vixen lips but for an impromptu Rudolf nose if the situation suddenly called for it  (this could happen- a couple of twigs more and you've got yourself an easy-peasy fancy dress outfit). A few small baubles bit in the suitcase could be used as wine glass markers (HEY that's my zinfandel, my bauble is terracotta coloured, yours is the one with squiggles on!) but could also be used as silly earrings or even bobbing apples during a seasonally-confused games night. Here's an extra travel tip- fit all these items into a compression sack (like this one from Rutand Outdoor) and squish it all down to save space. They also keep all your clothes in neat little sacks that make great weapons in pillow fights!

Hopefully my handy hints and tips will stand me in good stead for winning This great competition from Thomas Cook to win a fabulous Antler suitcase, which is very shiny and sexy, and I want very much!

All together now (Mariah warbles optional):
Santa won't you bring me one thing I really need, won't you please bring the suitcase to me-e-ee!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Post-Camp Travel Stories- NY, Toronto, DC, MD and PA

Well I've been a busy bee since my last post, but my 5 months in the US of A are officially over (for this year- more on that later!) and I thought I should share some of the stories and pearls of wisdom I gleaned from my time travelling the states after working summer camp.

From camp I got the train (not the right one- I missed that!) to Buffalo in north-west New York state. The vibe I got from Buffalo was kind of strange- it was like a ghost-town during the day, all high-rise office blocks but only homeless people on the streets. By night things got a little more fun, at least they did in my eyes (I had my first cocktail with some sushi at the lovely SeaBar around 1pm. A couple of Oktoberfest pints and some vanilla vodka later, my time in Buffalo was perking up!) Moral of the story- only go to Buffalo if you're going to Niagara Falls, or you're old enough to buy alcohol in America!
SeaBar's lunch special- sushi, noodles, miso soup and tea, plus a cocktail!

I meant to go to Niagara Falls from there but had so much fun with my first hostel friend that I didn't get round to it until I got to Toronto- a bustling cosmopolitan-feeling city in Canada with a central square that seemed to look to Times Square for inspiration (though it didn't have quite the same brash austerity as the NYC photo-op favourite). In Toronto I found good shopping, helpful people, a busy bar/club scene (though it was quite expensive) and some lovely European girls who I am still in touch with.

I ventured to Niagara Falls all on my lonesome, choosing to travel by bus and get a local shuttle down to the tourist mecca that is Clifton Hill. Considering the falls are a beautiful natural phenomenon, the gaudy facades of the ubiquitous Tussaud's and Ripley's seem to jar, but fair play to the tourist board who are laughing all the way to the bank as tourists decide to 'make a day of it' at all the amusement arcades and could-be-anywhere entertainment venues. As you can see it wasn't my favourite place but I'm glad I did the Maid of the Mist tour, even if I got soaked, got water in my camera and almost froze to death, because the high-winds/rain/waterfall spray combo caused quite a ruckus amongst the excitable Japanese tourists, which amused me no end.

Back to Toronto in time to catch my 11 AND A HALF HOUR BUS RIDE to Washington DC. No, I didn't get a wink of sleep, and yes I did have to sit next to a snoring man, but I arrived to glorious weather in a beautiful historic city that I'd been excited to see. Also, I was on Megabus (cheap as chips and free wifi) so I amused myself on the Internet for most of the journey!

Washington DC turned out to be AMAZING- after my hostel had no record of my reservation and so postponed my check-in for 7 hours, I went exploring to the White house and the fabulous FREE museum mile, before I came across hundreds of people making some sort of pilgrimage down by the monuments. I befriended 3 awesome girls, who explained that Obama was about to make a speech to open the Martin Luther king memorial, and there was to be a free open-air concert afterwards. The next few hours were amazing- Obama's speech was powerful and moving, and I got to sing along to Stevie Wonder (who forgot even his own song lyrics but blew us all away), Sheryl Crow, James Taylor and others, whilst getting one shoulder sun burnt and dancing with my new found friends. They even loaned me some trainers and brought me along to one of their awesome Zumba classes the next day! That's what travelling is all about, just exploring and going with the flow, making the best of it and making friends, plus having incredible opportunities just because you were in the right place at the right time :D
The Whitehouse
After a good night out in the gay district at DuPoint Circle with my hostel friends, I made my way to Baltimore to meet my first CouchSurfing Host, Michelle. for those of you unfamiliar with CouchSurfing, here's the lo-down. You sign up to an international website, make a profile like on Facebook, and can either request couches to surf on, arrange to meet other surfers for coffee or a drink, or just hit them up for insider tips on where they live. You can host fellow surfers if you have a spare sofa or bed, but I just wanted to meet someone cool who would show me around and let me stay, and I'm so glad I did it!

You may think CouchSurfing is like advertising yourself to rapists and murderers, which to some extent it is, but there are safety measures in place via the site and you must be a bit careful. You can research and contact your host first, there's no obligation to stay once you meet them if you get a bad vibe, and you can get in touch with other people who have stayed with them too, to see what their experience was like. On the whole the site is full of interesting and worldly people who just want to treat others how they'd like to be treated. It's rather philanthropic actually, and my experiences were wonderful :D I didn't even have a couch, I had my own bedroom, bathroom and key!

In Baltimore I walked along the beautiful harbour at sunset with my surfing host, we cooked together and planned my first full day there. I did the touristy things and went shopping, to markets and art galleries and up the observation deck, generally embraced the rainy day and then chilled with Michelle over some rum punch that evening. A friend I'd met in Thailand and Vietnam came and met me for dinner and drinks with his friends, and he ended up staying with my next couch surfing hosts in Philly a couple of days later- making the world smaller one step at a time!

Baltimore harbor
In Philly I couch surfed in a huge house full of multicultural people with interesting stories to tell, and enjoyed a house party that night before I saw Philly's sights and got my art gallery fix. From there I headed to New York City, where I stayed until my flight home on Halloween.

Time for a few pearls of wisdom-
1) Couch Surfing is an amazing idea and I'd recommend anyone to try it, but you have to trust your instincts and do your research before you stay with a stranger. Don't be naive, but do be open to people from other cultures and let them into your life too, many a life-changing conversation can be had over a cup of tea on a stranger's sofa!
2) Hostels are very communal, so if you like to strut around naked for a while after you shower, it probably isn't for you! Remember that other people have different sleep patterns to you, have different levels of messiness and are not there to ensure you have a nice stay. Usually you'll befriend many people in your dorm. Occasionally, you will hate them. It's hit or miss! Here's some more tips from TravMonkey...
3) I've learnt to pack light, and pack cleverly, but include things you really value. Use multi-tasking products like scented lotion (no need for perfume), face wipes (for face and body), and thick scarves (cardigan, pillow, blanket, bag, you name it!). If like me you like accessories, then include your lightest, smallest ones, rather than none at all. If you have to match, then take mix'n'match clothing so whatever you wear will go together. Take black shoes and a black handbag, they go with everything! Earplugs and an eye mask are essentials. Take more than one! Consider sleeping tablets, lip balm and painkillers, plus a torch and a padlock for in the hostel. Something you don't wear at home, you won't wear travelling! And allow for fluctuating weight- I put on over a stone at camp, but lost half a stone travelling after. Stretchy pants are KEY!
4) Alcohol is a great way to make friends. Always buy enough to share!
5) Don't plan every day, let yourself just go with the flow, join in others' plans and stumble across things that you enjoy. So what if you spend 2 hours in a book shop and only half an hour looking at some monuments. Don't worry about being selfish, you don't have to change what you want to do to fit in with someone else. It's your trip, make it matter to you!
Picture I took from the Empire State Building- HOW Awesome!

New York City is amazing and I think everyone should try and experience it at least once. The atmosphere is just fabulous- one day I will live, work and play there, wearing black and feeling cool just because of my address. At the beginning I was helped up and down stairs with my luggage, was given directions by NYPD and looked up in awe at the skyscrapers looming overhead. I followed my map like it would lead me to treasure and I got paranoid about pick-pockets every time someone brushed past me. I sat in awe in front of pieces of art that I'd read about as an art student, and gleefully took pictures of Times Square in all weathers. I sang along to Broadway stars in Ellen's Stardust Diner, gave a standing ovation at Mary Poppins, and queued for 2 hours for panoramic views form the Empire State Building.

By the end I carried my Starbucks coffee cup and steamed up my sunglasses with it whilst walking purposefully like all the locals. I sat and read outside the Central Library (SJP's wedding venue in SATC), I gave homeless people my left-over food and toiletries, and I strode out of subway stops as though I knew which way was East and which was West. I hunted down the best vintage warehouses in Brooklyn, spent a night in Queens, went to a weekend thrift market and even haggled in Chinatown. I avoided eye contact on the subway, didn't sit next to the guy with his pants down, shared a giggle with a guy dressed as an Angry Bird. I EMBRACED life as a faux-local, and enjoyed every minute of it!

I will be returning to America next year after a second summer back at camp. This time, I'll hit New York with my 'cwo-fey' cup and eke out all the places that tourists miss, no doubt blogging along the way. Watch this space for more travelling adventures!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Floral Flare Fever...

So I meant to share my excitement over finally plucking up the courage to wear my floral palazzo pants, and now i'm converted!

Mine were a bargain from Primark (don't judge, I am a student!) and they were debued in Berlin just before I went to NY, teamed with a long black vest and a statement necklace, plus a gold scarf in the daytime...

By day- palazzos, leather and sunnies

By night- palazzos, sandals and 'pose'

 They are UBER comfy, surprisingly flattering if worn with a fitted top, and bang on-trend, not to mention nice and airy for when the sun hopefully comes out!

These chifon flares from Therapy at House of Fraser are MEGA- floaty, floral and almost like a maxi-skirt, they remind me of Monet's waterlillies. Currently £36 down from £45- get them quick!

These ones are £34 from Rare, and are finely pleated but still floaty- nothing wrong with a bit of subtle textured detailing!
Rare, £34

These ones from Love Label are huge, look mega comfy and have a more Jackson Pollock-esque feel to them, as does this jumpsuit from, which is only £18- that's for practically a whole outfit!

Love Label, £35

BooHoo, £18
If you're not a fan of the wide leg, try a similar print on a more slim fitting trouser. These white ones from Matalan are only £14 and ASDA do a fabulous pair of printed palazzo trousers for £16.

Now it's coming into Autumn yours can still be worn! Save then for less windy days though as the flapping-round-the-ankles flare is not something others will covet!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Daisy Chain Tees at Student Fashion Blog

Here's a tasty little link to an article I've recently written for the fabulous Student Fashion Blog if you like cool T-shirts then Daisy Chain are the ones to watch!

Enjoy :D

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

American Summer Camp... It Begins

I'm writing this from across the big pond as I am currently working at a kids summer camp in New York! In my pre-camp excitement I made this post, but now I'm here I can tell you much better what it's like.

After almost 35 hours travelling with only 5 hours sleep (from setting off for Heathrow to arriving at Camp in the Adirondack mountains in New York state) I arrived at the glorious Point O'Pines private girls camp, having met some wonderful fellow counselors along the way.

Point O'Pines is gorgeous- set on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by Brant Lake, the bunks have great facilities, the camp boasts so many things you can do and the weather has been great (only one patch of sunburn so far! Oh, and 4 mosquito bites).

The food here is delicious- the salad bar is well stocked and the main meals are tasty (though not always healthy- my mac and cheese tasted like shortbread it was so buttery!) plus the deserts are to die for- especially the giant iced chocolate cookies! When the kids arrive on Saturday there will be even more treats- candy canteen twice a week, two 'snack' times per day and special days like ice cream day, Point O'Pizza and Point O'Pasta. Nom!

Most people here are from America, Australia or the UK though the tennis team is predominantly hilarious Mexicans and there are lots of Eastern European staff too, especially as 'Campower', who work very hard to keep the campers well fed and looked after! Everyone I've met has been so friendly, definately making some friends for life here!

I've been so busy it's unreal- fitness bootcamp at 7am, activities all day stopping only for food or 'rest hour' a.k.a nap time or writing in my sexy new journal time. Yesterday by lunch time I had worked out, swam fully clothed in the lake, been trussed up as a horse and galloped round a course, played a pantomine horse in a play, cheerleaded, hoola hooped, done a taste testing game, made up songs and helped build a boat for an egg. Standard morning at camp! Evening activities are fun here too, we've had one social with the brother camp so far but have more planned, and there will be more plays, movie trips, talent shows, competitions, dance shows, campfires, traditions, days out and 'surprise' nights than I could shake a spirit stick at.

I am loving my time here so far (and haven't even had the Walmart trip yet!), an though it was a little over whelming at first, I am having so much fun and am beginning to feel so at home that I am already thinking about returning next year! Stay tuned for more camp insights!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Vintage in Birmingham!

Here is a tasty version of an article I wrote for last week's Redbrick Newspaper... Enjoy!
Last Saturday saw the launch of “Birmingham’s Newest Independent Fashion, Home and Arts Fair”;  

Retro Brum.

Held, fittingly, at the Custard Factory’s Space 2 in Digbeth, the fair was jam-packed with treasures old and new; from antique watches and granddad jumpers to scrabble-letter rings and hand-made greeting cards!

The Custards Cream Stall... see

 The quid entry fee was worth it for the atmosphere alone; haggling with the traders, grooving whilst browsing and mooching on the battered sofas eating caramel shortbread was made über-fun by the sexual tracks spun by the Tantrums. Saturday afternoon well spent I'd say!

DJ + full sleeve = YES
A quaint vintage tea room took over the bar area selling delicious cakes and nibbles on kitsch chinaware, and some stalls were dedicated wholly to cupcakes, tray-bakes and other heavenly treats! My company and I headed to Yumm just round the corner instead for their scrummy mezzalunas (like a calzone/panini/pasty!?) and spicy wedges. Sorted out our hangovers a treat!

 Two low-key catwalk shows were held, styled by Bad Apple and Ove-ra Monkeys, which were short but sweet and featured ‘real-life’ models (none of this Size-Zero malarkey). Folks from The Vintage Salon were offering retro pin-up hair and make-up over in Zellig, and you could even get beautiful henna tattoos done. 

There were over 40 stalls selling titbits old and new, from well-loved leather bags from Tea Cup Kitsch right up to new but vintage-inspired tees from Daisy Chain Clothing. Do not despair if you missed it- the fair will be on 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 11am! There’s also a vintage market on 25th June at Stan’s Cafe in the Jewellery Quarter, and weekend car boots like ‘Bar Boot Sale’ at the Hare and Hounds from 1pm Saturdays or the city-centre Sunday morning one, which are often dotted with vintage finds. Don’t forget the vintage stalls in and around the rag markets, plus there’s vintage to be found in a garage-y warehouse shop near Sing Fat Ltd Chinese supermarket- if you can find it!

The Custard Factory is also home to Urban Village and Frock On Vintage, and of course there’s the iconic vintage warehouse COW on Digbeth High Street, so why not make your trip to the fair into a thorough vintage shopping experience. 

Urban Village

More Urban Village

COW has a sister shop near Urban Outfitters in the city centre too, and the Urban Renewal (Men here and women here) section at UO stocks one-off treads made from vintage, surplus and pre-loved materials. Also check out Top Banana in Kings Heath, Yo Yo in the city centre, the vintage section on the top floor of Oasis, and keep an eye out for Forgotten Vintage’s next hanging-rail vintage market!

COW in Digbeth

You can check out this article in it's original format at Redbrick Online right here...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Birmingham's Best Bits... On The LASH!

Here is Chapter 2 of the Birmingham Gospel According to Me: Where to go Out on The LASH!

Disclaimer: It must be noted that these suggestions are coming from a student, with limited funds, who is able and more than willing to go out during the week when normal people go to work. Do not expect an all-encompassing view of Birmingham's night life, as I am by no means knowledgeable enough to give it!

Having said that, there are a few MUST-GO-TO places in Bham, my favourite places being The Rainbow (cool place, cool people), Snobs (Indie, Messy, FUN,), Mechu (dress up a bit, still get smashed, it also serves food), and the infamous Fab'n'Fresh on Saturdays at my SU: The Guild.
If you fancied a whole week on the LASH, here is a suggested diary:
  • Monday- Bambu or Loaded at Gatecrasher.
  • Tuesday- Naked Lunch at The Rainbow (if it's on), or Stupid Tuesdays (which seems to switch venues constantly, anyone know where it is now?)
  • Wednesday- Full Moon Party at the HMV Institute (see an earlier review here) or Snobs
  • Thursday- Minted at Mechu, or DV8, or Jam House.
  • Friday- Propaganda at The 02 or Anarchy at Subway City.
  • Saturday- Fab'n'Fresh at the Bham Uni Guild of Students, or Snobs, possibly followed by Subside.
  • Sunday- sleep it off!
Bambu; not to shabby!
So considering what kind of night you're after:
If you want to get your rock on, then you want the quirky Flapper and Firkin, followed by the fortnightly Anarchy at Subway City on Fridays (£10 entry, 10 free drinks!), Subculture Saturdays at the 02 Academy, and alternative/rock bar Subside (open 'til 6am!). A new club is opening next weekend, ran by Subculture, called Vudu; Fridays are set to be the new Ramshackle, and Saturdays will be full of Indie/Rock tunes too.

Gatecrasher, admittedly on a busy night!
If you want Indie, then Snobs is always a winner and the Sunflower Lounge often has cool bands playing downstairs for pre-drinks. Also it's decisions decisions for Indie on Fridays: you can choose from Propaganda at the O2, Supersonic Vague at Gatecrasher, or Subway City's other fortnightly night; Resurrection.
A band playing downstairs at The Sunflower Lounge
 For cheesy, it's gotta be Flares, Reflex or the gay clubs; DV8 and Nightingales. If you want to get your rave on, wait for a proper event to come to (what's left of) the Custard Factory, or Godskitchen at Air, or Raveology held at places like the Rainbow. 
Standard queue at DV8...
For 'nice drinks' rather than 'drunk clubbing', try the many bars at The Mailbox (Penny Blacks, Pitcher and Piano, Bar Room Bar etc), or the bars in the Arcadian complex near China Town (Sobar, Poppyred, Arca Bar, Mono Bar etc).

Also don't be afraid to think outside the box a little; the Yarbird jazz club is awesome, and the Jam House is a cocktail-tastic proper-dancing bar owned by Jools Holland which is pretty swingin' and always seems to have live music on. Also check out the Island Bar for it's cocktails, the Gothic-inspired Bacchus bar beneath the Burlington Arcade, and the achingly-cool Victoria, which also holds quirky events like 'A Crafty Beer' (knit and drink- win win!).

I'm yet to explore the evening delights of nearby Moseley and Kings Heath or the Jewelery Quarter bars, but I hear that these are the places to be, and so must try them out before I leave Birmingham!

One final note on going out in Brum- avoid Broad Street at weekends unless absolutely necessary. The reasons for this needn't be listed, just take my advice.Yes, it's were Gatecrasher resides and some of the bars along it's sick-blood-and-lager strewn length are passable, but only people who don't know Birmingham very well, or who are laddish balding men/crazy almost-menopausal women enjoy Broad Street at weekends, unless you're doing Carnage; the awesome charity pub crawl (sounds oxymoronic but it's true!)
"A typical Sturday Night on Broad Street" from the Daily Mail

I also wouldn't particularly recommend Air in Digbeth, Oceana is an acquired taste but you may love a cheeky bit of Vodbull on Thursdays, and Risa must be saved for when it's absolutely necessary.

If you want to look for 'What's On' in terms of club nights and special events like silent discos, comedy nights and roller discos, these are the best sites I've found; WOIB (What's On In Brum), Live Brum, Visit Birmingham, Itchy, Don't Stay In, Birmingham Theatre Guide and also the Birmingham Mail website.

The End

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

5.5 Points of Procrastination

So now I've handed in my dissertation (halle-freakin-lujah!) I have time to publicly procrastinate!

1) TOWIE (You should know what this is, if you don't, click here, you are missing out) is so unbelievably crap, yet is as addictive as Maltesers, if not more! One of the 'hunks' of the show, if you could call them that, is Kirk Norcross, who I've discovered features in a random music video, shirtless and mute, looking like a bit of a spare part, which you can watch HERE. I've got to admit, he does have a bit of a sexy smouldering thing going on here, but the singer (NY apparently) has some crazy schizophrenic hair going on which reminds me of the hilarious new Boots advert (watch it here).

2) Royal Wedding FEVER was wonderful, wasn't it? I attended a fab street party and helped decorate the lovely cakes below... (I did the cool ones by the way, the 'bejeweled' ones were my friends' creations!). Many glasses of Pimms and much BBQ food later, we came to the conclusion that Harry is much hotter than Wills, Kate's sister Pippa has a peachy bottom but is not prettier than Kate, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugene looked ridiculous. Also, hurrah to two kisses on the balcony, and to lip-readers interpretations of the Big Day Banter!

I only ate four of these I swear...

3) Someone please buy me these Jeffrey Campbell shoes? They're only £95, but alas! My meagre student budget must be spent of food/alcohol/train tickets instead. They're tapestry but I promise I won't ruin them?

In the style of Homer drooling over donuts... Mmmm... Shoooes...

4) HOW COOL is this wash basin (now there's a sentence I've never said before...)

5) Kind of like guerrilla gardening, but different and less messy; public embroidery. A nice idea, special if you see it or are involved in it, probably isn't going to change the world but nevertheless, I like it.

And finally, it was only a matter of time before even entry stamps at clubs and such places started trying to sell you stuff. I think having them printed in lickable ink would be just swell!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Student Fashion Blog Review

Want to see me pretending to model for a review I did for the Student Fashion Blog? Click here!

I road-tested some clothing from Get The, and paraded them around my Birmingham house for photographer Emmanuel (idrawwithlight).

I have had the pleasure of working with Emmanuel before on this shoot and review... where I got my geek on wearing J!NX T-shirts in our Uni Library!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Birmingham's Best Bits... Where to EAT!

So I've lived here for three years now and I think it's time I shared some pearls of wisdom about this fabulous city- where to eat and drink, what to see, where to shop and all manner or little things like that.

This first post will be on FOOD- I hope you're hungry!

So aside from Selly Sausage's 'what-it-says-on-the-tin' big breakfasts and awesome omelettes (with beans and 2 slices of toast!), Birmingham has some great eateries, and here are a few of my favourites:

I went to a new little cafe/eatery called Arco Lounge in the achingly middle-class suburb of Harborne at the weekend, next door to Cafe Nero up near Waitrose, which was just FABULOUS. It's part of the 'Lounge' chain but the only real give-away is the range of printed menus. Everything else from the home-made cakes and tray bakes to the big jugs of water and help-yourself glasses, magazine and newspaper stacks and huge blackboard with the menu written on feel very 'nice-one-off-little-cafe'. I like.

Apparently, (says the website) this one seats 80, and there's another one in Kings Heath which is huge (130 seats inside 40 outside, if the weather holds!). Better than a gastro-pub and the menu is varied enough to be a crowd-pleaser but also interesting and saliva-inducing.

I ordered tapas, (3 bowls for £7.95) they have a great selection for meat-eaters and veggies alike. I LOVED my cream-cheese stuffed mini peppers, honey-glazed 5 spice shredded pork and goats-cheese topped roasted sweet potato, which came with sliced ciabatta to get dippy with.

My brunch buddy had a scrummy-looking poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and crispy bacon on English muffins, and a good ol' bacon sarnie on doorstop bread. Yes, that's two meals for one person, but it hits the spot for brunch, right?

The previous night I had tapas at Bar Estilo in the Mailbox (this was a very tapas-y weekend), which was also delicious. Potato Bravas, salmon quesadillas, minted lamb kofte and sweet potato mash were spot on, but the stars of the show were the delicious duck and chorizo wraps and the spicy chicken thighs.

Also at the Mailbox is a very nice Cafe Rouge, where I would recommend the Confit de Canard; duck with dauphinoise potatoes, and also the huge bread and dip starters to share, though my boss would say it's all about the Croque Monsieur if you're feeling indulgent. In my opinion the deserts are better than the mains I've tried though- Crème Brûlée, Tarte Tatin and the melting chocolate torte are all rich and divine!

The mailbox is full of similar places to eat; GBK, Nando's, Pizza Express, Strada, Zizzi's, all nice and I wouldn't turn down a meal at any of them but nothing a-mazing in my humble opinion.

Although part of a chain itself, Jamie's Italian is gorgeous, as I've already said earlier in this blog. It's not too pretentious for pretentious-sounding Italian food, and surprisingly good value for money. You can see my review of it here, but long story short: go there!

Now I must turn to my all-time love; sushi. The many times I have been for all-you-can-eat sushi at Woktastic have been phenomenal- and not only for the variety of mini dishes offered (from sushi to noodles, salads, calamari, wontons, spring rolls and even deserts). I also love for the novelty value of getting it off a conveyor belt and the other non-sushi Japanese treats it offers (like the-world's-most-filling-bowl of Ramen, right Dean?). Also, the value for money is great- £10.99 for all-you-can-eat (I always seem to rinse this unlimited amount and leave with a huge rice belly, see fig.3).

Yes those were all my empty bowls. And what?

Also amazing for Japanese food is Mount Fuji, attached to the Bullring so super close for while you are shopping! Their eel and scallop sushi is to die for, as is their chicken teriyaki... NOM! The thing I love the most about this place though are the bento boxes where everything comes in it's little box section within a bigger box; great for those who sometimes seem to have OCD, and it feels kind of like tapas- always a winner!

Next on my agenda is this Vietnamese restaurant which does Pho Bo, or beef noodle soup, which I fell in love with in Vietnam and would like to relive the experience!
Woman making Pho Bo in Saigon

"It's 3am, we need Pho Bo"

Thoroughly addicted to Pho Bo by the time we reached Hanoi!

I also want to try out buffet restaurant Ming Moon (they have a chocolate fountain, and it's all you can eat, why wouldn't I want to go there), and Lasan; the Indian that won "Best Local Restaurant" in one series of The F Word, and is one of the "Healthiest Restaurants" 2009 as judged by Men's Health. I'd also like to eat at the vegan and veggie Warehouse cafe in Digbeth, try the teas at Cha Cha Cha tea lounge near House of Fraser, and (on my good friend's recommendation), Chez Jules. Oh, and Purnell's Michelin starred eatery. One can dream!