Sunday, 2 July 2017

The summer of Love (Island)

This summer a new crew of tanned, toned wannabes descended on a luxury villa in the Balearic Isles for ITV2's Love Island. As with previous years, I was hooked from the first episode. I'm not the only person to feel this way. Love Island has captured the nation's attention in an extraordinary way, social media is awash with commentary and national newspapers are providing daily coverage. Celebrities like Liam Gallagher and Adele have even confessed to watching the show.

There are, of course, the naysayers. Those who think that watching reality TV is the same as eating junk food: unhealthy and ultimately dangerous consumption. It riles me that some people snobbishly profess that educated and intelligent people shouldn't enjoy so-called 'trash-tv' so here are 5 reasons why I love Love Island, and why you should too:

1. While I don't have much in common with the contestants in terms of protein consumption and hours spent at the sunbeds, there have been many moments of real, raw emotion this season that I can relate to. The Camilla/Jonny/Tyla love triangle played out like a biopic based on my teenage years while Olivia's drunk alter-ego is a girl we all know too well. The relationships these people are forming are sincere and honest and are a pleasure to watch.

2. Softly-spoken and shy Camilla is the stand-out star of this year's Love Island. A rumoured former flame of Prince Harry, a humanitarian and a total babe to boot, Camilla has been kind and caring and completely true to herself. When the aforementioned Jonny (King of the snakes) rolled his eyes and asked Camilla if she was a feminist, she proudly proclaimed "Shouldn't we all be?". Truer words were never spoken.

3. I am not a person who is down with the kids and it wasn't too long ago that I had to Google the word 'bae' after seeing it pop up in countless places and having absolutely no idea what it meant. Love Island has allowed me a glimpse into the everyday vocabulary of the youth of today and I will now seamlessly use words like 'melt' and 'muggy' in all communications.

4. The unfeasibly buff bodies of the men and women of Love Island serve as a very harsh reminder that I should put down the cheese and crackers and pick up some sort of dumbbell. The girls' ability to be perfectly preened, wearing a full face of make-up in the blistering heat has discouraged me from going to Sainsbury's in my pyjamas on more than one occasion.

5. In a world that is full of darkness, where almost every day we are confronted with sadness and tragedy, Love Island is pure escapism. It knows it's not deep or symbolic but its entertaining editing and acerbic voice over make it a wonderful way to unwind after a long day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Bring on the Spring.

Like many people I vowed to start the new year on the right note. I'd eat better, drink less and exercise more. I promised myself I'd try to leave work on time in order cultivate the perfect work/life balance and to save my sanity. However, since the Christmas break I have felt permanently on the back foot, struggling to juggle an increasingly stressful job with a social life and failing to find any time for personal admin.

We are fat and skint and jaded in January, suffering from a physical and emotional festive hangover. The Sunday night dread feels more dreadful than ever and we scour job adverts for something new, something better. Then, before you know it the light mornings are tentatively tip-toeing in and it's halfway through February already. The list of friends I've not caught up with is as long as the cruel Scottish winter, and an unforgivable amount of unanswered texts lay heavy on my heart.

The beginning of the year is a bit like a Monday: it can feel long and relentless yet fraught and frantic all at once. It is often tinged with guilt about resolutions broken and chances not taken. But, it is the start of something. A year full of fun and friends and possibility. As the sun shines through my window today I am temporarily able to abolish my anxieties and look forward to the future. Bring on the Spring.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Girl Talk - things that can be infuriating about being female.

I endeavour to write more in 2017 but in the meantime here's a list of some trivial things that sometimes annoy me about being a woman (although normally it's pretty damn great). 

1. Emotion fuelled indecisiveness. 
Have you laid on your bed wearing your jacket and shoes and cried at your boyfriend this week about not knowing what you want for dinner? I know have. 

2. False eyelashes. 
They are impossible to put on but if your friends/colleagues/lovers are successfully wearing them next to you in a Facebook photo you will look at least 50% uglier than them. 

3. The constant period fear. 
Was that a particular sweaty spin class or have I just started the world's heaviest period? Should I just stay on this stationary bike forever?

4. Bras. 
Yes, they are necessary (especially if you have big boobs like me) but man can they be uncomfortable. There is no greater feeling than whipping that instrument of torture off after a long, hard day. Am I right ladies?

5. Kirby grips. 
You'll buy them in their millions throughout your life and have probably littered strangers homes with them at times but when you decide to do a fancy up-do for your cousin's wedding they will be nowhere to be found. 

6. Wine hangovers. 
I love knocking back the vino with reckless abandon with my gal pals on any given night. Sadly the result is often projectile vomiting and a headache that leaves me feeling like I've got a brain injury.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I was hygge before it was cool.

Last month I went to my parents house for dinner, the lighting was low and candles were burning. 'It's huh-gah,' my mum proclaimed and with that the term 'hygge' officially became mainstream.

The thing is, I'm Scottish so I'm used to long, dark, cold winters. And I'm lazy, so I'm used to long periods sat on the couch in fleecy pyjamas with the heating on. Since buying a flat 4 years ago I have shunned expensive nights on the town in towering heels for cheap nights in the flat by candlelight. It's not that I'm trendy, it's that I'm tired and skint.

I don't need a 'Little Book of Hygge,' I was rocking a grey cotton lounge combo long before EasyJet started offering cheap returns to Copenhagen.

Like 'Normcore' and the 'Dad bod' before it, 'hygge' has taken a simple concept and given it a rebrand. Staying in, being at home, spending time with family: all everyday, unglamorous albeit fulfilling achievements. Yet without the sexy skandi terminology why are we so ashamed to just stay at home and vegetate?

The period between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to exercise your right to lounge, so put on your comfiest pyjama bottoms and a jumper that has seen better days and chill the fuck out. 

Turns out I do need the Little Book of Hygge

Monday, 21 November 2016

An ode to the Pret Christmas sandwich.

My favourite part of Christmas is the eating: tonne boxes of Celebrations, M&S party food and enough roast potatoes to cater for a small principality. There is no festive feed mightier however, in my humble opinion, than Pret's Veggie Christmas Lunch.

A Christmas sandwich is a wonderful thing: an edible celebration contained within two slices of delicious bread. It is a taste of the best of times that can be eaten at the worst of times, a little bit of festive cheer for a long train journey or a joyless lunch stuck at your desk.

Pret offers 2 Christmas sandwiches (3 if you count the vegan one, I don't) and while the traditional meat number is delicious it is the vegetarian alternative that has my heart. Perfectly roasted chunks of butternut squash sit alongside something akin to stuffing, nutty and rich with a surprisingly fruity edge. Add in some mayo, some rocket and a smattering of crispy onions and you have a taste sensation. Just thinking abut said sandwich has made me ravenous.

Basically what I'm saying here is go to Pret today for your lunch, buy it, eat it and feel fucking fantastically festive. No need to thank me.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Treat Yo'Self

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the simple stresses of life permeate your soul. I'm talking about the everyday Everest's: a particularly painful week at work, an empty bank account a fortnight before payday, the anxiety of an overdue smear. Like Jenga, these individual non-issues stack up unsteadily before one rogue piece (a misplaced set of keys, a finger burnt while cooking dinner) renders the whole thing a messy heap.

So how can we help ourselves when we feel overwhelmed? 'Don't worry' is a comforting phrase but I'm the kind of person who assumes my boyfriend's been in a terrible car accident if he's over 15 minutes late getting home from work. When I was young I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry if a member of my household was poorly, worried about what fate awaited them.

So, to stop myself from crying in the work toilets or reaching for a weeknight bottle of wine, I've found a few things that help me look after myself:

Sheet Masks
I am obsessed with Japanese style sheet masks. Soaked in cooling serum, these super thin cloth/paper masks require the wearer lie down for a minimum of 15 minutes. May I recommend pairing with a comedy podcast for ultimate escapism.

Going for a walk in the crisp winter weather is perfect for clearing your head. I find I get some of my most rational thinking done when powering home from work after a hectic day.

Get into a TV show with loads of episodes and get caught up in somebody else's world for a little while. Warning, binge-watching American Horror Story may result in some weird dreams.

While my inability to write as regularly as I'd like makes me agitated, I find quiet comfort in composing these mundane monologues. Carefully selecting words and phrases challenges my brain and calms me down.

Eating pizza in my pants
Because sometimes carbs and the Kardashians is just what you need...

A winter walk

Monday, 31 October 2016

Forget FOMO, this Autumn it's all about GOMO (Getting Out More Often)

As autumn makes itself truly known with a blanket of glorious russet leaves underfoot and a cool, crisp chill in the air, it's hard to resist the overwhelming urge to hibernate. Outside is cold and inside is so very warm (if you are as lavish with the central heating as I am). 
The term hygge is this year's buzzword and while the Danish wellbeing philosophy of hiding away from the elements certainly has its place we shouldn't use this as an excuse to avoid living life. The lead up to Christmas is jam-packed with fun things to do, so I’m going to embrace autumn and GOMO (Get Out More Often).

Halloween is an underrated holiday in my opinion. Every year since I was small I’d start planning a costume weeks in advance and my Mum would ensure the house was suitably spooky for a night of dooking and guising. This year I’m hosting a small soiree complete with cake pop eyballs and bloody punch, the scariest thing will be fitting more than 2 people, in costume, inside my tiny flat!

Bonfire Night
I’m a little bit scared of DIY displays after a rogue rocket came straight for me and burnt a hole in my brand new Skechers in 2001. That being said there are some perfectly safe Firework spectaculars going on all over the country where you can watch the sky light up in glorious technicolour.

Autumn rambles
There are few things more satisfying than walking through a carpet of crunchy leaves. Autumn is breathtakingly beautiful in its gold and copper glory and the weather is perfect for long walks with loved ones. Grab your coat, wrap up warm and head out into the great outdoors.

Run for it
I’ve signed up for a hill running event in March (full disclosure, it seemed like a good idea after 2 glasses of wine) so I’m going to use the autumn months to get into running. I figure if I can find the willpower to pull myself away from Netflix to do exercise outside in the cold then I’ll feel unstoppable.

Whatever your plans for autumn, you can promote, manage and host your own successful GOMO events with event planning software from Eventbrite.

The gruesome cake pops