Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts

GORDON RAMSAY BOTTOMLESS STREET PIZZA REVIEW

Saturday

Since I have been trying a lot more foodie places lately, I thought why not review some restaurants as blog posts? Although, I only decided to write a blog after the fact and didn't think to get lots of pictures.


The latest place I have been that I thought would be good to review is Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza in Battersea. There are a few locations across London, but we decided to go to the Battersea one as it was the closest to where Joe (my boyfriend) lives.


It is located around Battersea Power Station, near the new tube station and it seems like everything around there is new - I'm not sure though. There are loads of restaurants around there and they have Birdies mini-golf and bar, so we went there beforehand.


The pizza


Gordon ramsay bottomless street pizza

For Christmas, Joe's mum got us bottomless pizza for two at Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza, so we went there for a kind of Valentine's Day celebration. I love experience presents like this!


Our table was booked for around 6pm and as soon as we got there, we saw people walking around with the pizza. For the bottomless pizza, I believe it is £16pp for 2 hours of pizza, they do have a few sides too but the pizza was SO filling I didn't even look at the sides. Although we did get the garlic pesto dip which I would highly recommend!

As they are bringing round pizza so frequently, pretty much as soon as you sit down and order a drink you can start getting your pizza, on a slice by slice basis. For this reason, we got really full in about the first 20 minutes and couldn't even last the full 2 hours. So my advice would be to take your time.


For a drink, I had the special lemonade cocktail (I forget what it's called now) but it had vodka, limoncello and lemon and it was really tasty and refreshing. To be honest, the cocktails on the menu weren't really my thing, lots had elderflower so great if you like that but I don't really.

Related: Greyhound at Corfe Castle Review

There were five pizza flavours including the special which was nduja. Surprisingly the nduja special was actually my favourite as it wasn't spicy at all, but I found the pepperoni really spicy. The pizza itself was really good and it was a good thing it was really thin because it's more practical for fitting more slices in.


After the pizza though, I was the most full I'd been in ages. Did I have to secretly undo the button on my jeans and hide it with my scarf on my lap? Yes. I would NOT have been able to last the full 2 hours.


The service


The service was generally good although the waiters did forget things a couple of times, I think a few of them were new but that's ok. It was a busy Saturday and the main thing was the pizza - which was brought round VERY promptly.


Also, we were well looked after and were asked multiple times how everything was.


For sport lovers, they had football on in the background. Important information for dates if you want your football-mad partner to talk to you, maybe go on a day they don't have football on. Thank me later.


Overall rating


For the food, service and general ambience, I would give our experience an 8/10. Everything was great but would have given the extra two points for more pizza flavours and if the waiters hadn't forgotten to bring us our water.


I would definitely go there again and it was such a great gift for Christmas!

Related: 7 fun things to do in Shoreditch, London

Did you like this review? I am thinking of doing more as I try new restaurants and experiences.

MAKING FRIENDS AS AN ADULT: THE LOW DOWN

Sunday

Welcome to another post in my The Low Down series, where I give you the Low Down on important stuff.

I don't know about you but I feel like it seems to be harder to make friends as an adult. When you're at school or university, you kind of make friends with the people you see every day because you are all put into a situation together.


Since leaving uni, I have made a few new friends but it is a very different process. My friends from uni or childhood, I don't even remember how I made friends with them, we just have a friendship. So when I think of making new friends it's a bit more difficult.


Having said that, I feel like people as adults are way more accepting and open to new friendships, whereas school kids are kind of mean and form cliques. 


The girls having fun

Tips for making friends as an adult


1. Network online


Through blogging and Instagram, I have met some really great people. You can find people who you have a lot in common with and it is a lot easier to approach people online too.


Obviously, making friends online can be dangerous with catfishing etc, so please be careful in doing this.


In Salisbury, there is a group called the Salisbury Social on Instagram where anyone is welcome to join social events including book clubs, drinks and more. Groups like this are great if you have moved to a new area and you want to make new friends because you're all in the same boat. 


Does your city have a group like this? If not, why not start one?

Related: Friendships: The Low Down

2. Put yourself out there


This is such a cringe piece of advice that I hear all the time but it's true. In order to make new friends as an adult, you really do need to be confident enough to put yourself out there and reach out to people. This can be really daunting, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Ask your work colleagues if they want to meet up after work, message people online to meet (safely of course) just do it without worrying too much.

A lot of people have a fear of rejection, but the only way to get over that fear is to face it head-on and think, what is the worst that can happen if someone doesn't want to meet up with me or be friends with me?

If that does happen and you do end up being ghosted or rejected, then that is just a sign that you aren't meant to be friends with that person and they probably aren't worth your time.

3. Don't be desperate


Not trying to be savage with this one, what I really mean is evaluate the reason you are looking for friends. Be careful and selective with who you choose to be friends with because it's important to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, rather than making friends for the sake of it.

I guess I'm just saying make sure you make friends that make you happy and if you end up meeting people who don't that's ok. The only way to find out if you will like someone or not is to actually get to know them first.

You may find that you have tried to become friends with someone and they have completely different views to you, or maybe they don't make you feel quite as good about yourself as they should. It doesn't mean you are stuck there.

As difficult as it can be to make friends as an adult sometimes, it's definitely way easier to lose them too (if you feel you need to).

At this age, I'm definitely way more selective about who I spend my time with. Especially because I am so busy with work and everything now, my free time is very precious and I usually try to spend it wisely with people who make me feel good.
How have you found making friends as an adult?

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE UK SEASON 2 TOUR REVIEW

Saturday

Wow, that is a long title! When I was telling people I was going it was such a mouthful too. Either way, I had such a great time that I had to tell you about it.


If you haven't watched RuPaul's Drag Race UK yet then what are you waiting for? You can watch it here on BBC IPlayer.


If you are unaware of what Drag Race is completely, then it is a group of drag queens who compete in challenges and someone goes home every week until they crown a winner. There are many seasons in many countries so if you haven't watched any, do it!


A fun fact about me is that I wrote a 10,000 word dissertation on the representations in RuPaul's Drag Race for my final year of university (and got a first which I tell anyone, any chance I get).


Ruapuls drag race uk season 2
Image from the BBC.


A bit of background information about the event


So, this was my second ever drag show. My first was seeing Lawrence Chaney perform in DYMK in Bournemouth, who is incidentally the winner of Drag Race UK Season 2, so I got to see them perform again.

The event was held at the Pavillion in Bournemouth and lasted from around 8pm until 10pm (ish). I went with my friend Kitty who asked me if I wanted to go around a month before. I didn't even realise they were touring so the tickets we got were resale ones at about £65, so they were a bit more expensive than the ones that went on sale the first time around but I was happy to pay that as I love most of the queens that were on season 2 and wanted to see them live.

The queens


Every queen that was a contestant on season 2 performed at the show except Awhora, who had injured her knee a few days prior.

The queens who performed were as follows but in no particular order: Astina Mandella, Tia Kofi, Joe Black, Ginny Lemon, Cherry Valentine, Veronica Green, Ellie Diamond, Sister Sister, Tayce, Bimini Bon Boulash and Lawrence Chaney.

At the beginning, the queens all walked out and performed a lip-sync, giving us a bit of a taster of what they were going to be doing in the show.

After that, each of the queens performed one by one. Their performances mainly consisted of lip syncs, dancing and some singing.

I have to say each performance was iconic in it's own way. The only one I wasn't too sure of was Ellie Diamond dressing up as The Cat in the Hat. It was funny and I wasn't expecting to see The Cat in the Hat, but it just wasn't overly drag for me.

Even though I didn't like her too much in her season, I thought Veronica Green put on an outstanding performance. She can sing, dance and do it all and I want to wear her outfit on my birthday.

Another person I kind of slept on in her season was Cherry Valentine. After watching her documentary Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, I felt like I got to know her way more, and when she performed it was amazing! I just don't remember seeing that on the show, I guess it just goes to show that they maybe give more air time to some queens over others. Her hips DID NOT lie.

My favourite acts


For me, the best acts of the night were Bimini Bon Boulash, Lawrence Chaney, and Tayce. Are you surprised?

First of all, let's talk about Lawrence Chaney. I had already seen them perform so was wondering if it was kind of going to be the same as that but it was so different. On her season, Lawrence admitted to not really being a dancer, but she is so good at entertaining the crowd and so creative! I love Lawrence, one of my favourite drag queens of all time.

When Tayce came out in a high fashion robot suit, I knew we were in for a treat. I did not know what to expect with Tayce, she always looks amazing but it was hard to tell what her performance would be like. 

I feel like I can't even explain it, she just came out and the whole time we were wowed and could not stop watching. But in the background, there was some sort of weird futuristic robo porn going on. Was it weird? Yes. Was it iconic? Also yes.

Finally, we have Bimini, one of the most talented drag queens out there. She really can do anything. Firstly, the visuals coming up on the screen behind her were stunning. She also had a pole that she was climbing up and doing all sorts of things on. At one point I was scared she was going to fall off.

She really is the bendiest bitch in all of East London and she was serving us kind of 90s grunge realness at the same time.

At the end


Towards the end of the show, each of the queens came out in pairs with the person they had lip-synced against in the bottom two of show and Bimini was wearing the biggest heels I've ever seen.

Then, they all performed a routine together and came out and took a bow as you do on stage.

We honestly had so much fun and I can't wait to see more drag shows. 

I also made an Instagram Reel video of some of the queens performing so please watch that here. Sometimes you have to see it for yourself.

5 TIPS TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR FIRST JOB

This is a guest post written by Chloe from chlodoeslife.com.

You did it! You finally graduated and landed your first job. Life after university can feel very overwhelming and starting your first full-time job sounds scary, but I’ve created a list of amazing tips to help you navigate through your first job and be successful. 


Hi, my name is Chloë and I blog over at chlodoeslife.com. I graduated in May 2020 and started my first (corporate) job in August of that year. In the year and a half between starting that job and writing this post, I’ve learned a lot and now I’m sharing my tips with you. Thank you, Lauren, for giving me the opportunity to guest post!


Person typing on laptop

1. First Impressions Matter


It sounds cliché, but it’s definitely true: first impressions matter. Make sure that on your first day - and every day after - you’re dressed properly and look neat. Of course, you dress according to your workplace - make sure you know beforehand what the dress code is. If there is none, you can easily wear jeans and nice jumper, but just make sure that you don’t look as if you’ve just rolled out of bed. It gives your employer the wrong impression of you.


Not only your outfit is important, there are a few other things to take into consideration as well. Make sure that you have everything you need to make your first day into a success. Take a notebook and a pen to make notes, bring some snacks and a water bottle if you’re not entirely sure your workplace will provide these. I wrote a whole post on how to rock your first day on my own blog, so make sure to check that out if you’ve finished reading here. 


2. Always Ask Questions


And you can take always quite literally. You just graduated and have only limited to no work experience, nobody expects you to know everything from the start. Even after months and after a year and longer, it’s still okay to ask questions. Nobody is perfect and even senior profiles still need help sometimes. It’s better to continue asking questions than make big mistakes that could cost you your job! 


You need to ask questions in order to be able to be successful in your first job. Finding solutions to a problem yourself is time-consuming and not efficient. Of course, you shouldn’t just bother your manager with every little inconvenience. I once read a tip online about the 20-minute rule: if you can’t find any possible solution within the first 20 minutes, ask your manager. If within the first 20 minutes you have a slight idea of how you could solve it, try that first. If that doesn’t work, speak to your manager. This way you don’t unnecessarily bother them and still find a solution in a timely manner. 

Related: 10 productive things to do on a Sunday for the best week

3. Take Additional Training


As someone who has just entered into the workforce, you naturally don’t have all of the skills you need yet to grow as a professional. Along the way, you automatically notice there are things you can’t do yet, and you should take every opportunity you can find to expand your skill-set. Not only for your current job, but any future positions you will take on in your career.


Most companies have a training budget available, so make sure you check in with your manager about how much you can spend yearly on courses. When you find a course that’s relevant to your job, talk to your manager to see if you can attend - you shouldn’t pay for these yourself. If there is no budget, there is also plenty of free training available online that will help you expand your skill-set. For example, some of the tools I work with or some of our business partners offer free online training on various subjects that I try to attend as much as I can. 


4. Learn To Say No


This probably also depends on the department you work in and on your individual skills, but as a new hire, people from different departments will ask you for your help, especially if you have one specific skill that might be useful for them as well. I, for example, speak German fluently, so the marketing and customer service departments often ask me to help with some translations. 


What’s important to remember, is that you make sure it fits in your schedule. Always do your job first and then see what you can do for other people. I know that especially in the beginning it’s very hard to say no to others, because you want to make a good impression, but you should always put the tasks you were hired for first. If a favour for someone else doesn’t fit in with your other deadlines, say no politely. Most of them will understand. This is super important to avoid any unnecessary stress and to not feel burnt out after a while. 


5. Stay In Touch With Your Friends


Nothing is more important than staying in touch with your friends. Even if you have less time now than you had before, find some space to squeeze in your friends for a drink after work every now and then. As a junior, you can feel very out of place sometimes, especially in the beginning, and being able to talk to your friends about it, can be a huge relief. 


It’s the perfect way to let out those frustrations that you can’t share with colleagues or family, because they simply won’t understand. Talking with people that are on the same level as you will make you feel understood. After all, most of them will be going through the same thing and it will help you feel less alone at times. 

Related: What now? A life after graduation

These are my tips to be successful in your first job! I hope you enjoyed them and that they’ll be useful for you in your job too. Thank you again, Lauren, for the opportunity and for letting me write a piece for your blog. 


Yours truly,

Chloë 

INSTAGRAMMERS YOU NEED TO FOLLOW IN 2022

I find that the start of the new year is a good time for a social media clear-out. Whether that be unfollowing any accounts that produce content that is not really relevant to you anymore, or even archiving some of your own posts that just don't feel very you anymore.


It is also a good time to follow new accounts that lift your timeline up. This is why I am sharing some of my favourite accounts to follow on Instagram in 2022.


I wrote a blog post a while back about why social media doesn't have to be negative and this is exactly what I mean. A lot of people have negative experiences with social media, especially Instagram. However, you are in control of who you follow, so make sure it's accounts that add something to your life and make you feel positive after seeing their content.


Also, do you use TikTok? Let me know if you want to see a TikTok version of this post too since I am always scrolling on there and would love to share my favourite accounts on there with you too.


Anyway, here is a list of some of my favourite Insta accounts to follow at the moment that you should check out, categorised into the main theme of their content, e.g. fashion or food. Emphasis on SOME of my favourite accounts as I follow so many great ones, these are just my favourites of now.


woman holding iphone next to coffee


Instagram accounts you need to follow in 2022


Lifestyle


First up we have me!!! Yep that's right, why not put myself first? If you regularly read my blogs, chances are you follow me on Instagram anyway but if not, come and say hello at @_laurenken.



Travel (or people showing local hidden gems)


I feel like I don't see as many Instagram accounts solely for travel since covid, but I follow a lot of great accounts that show hidden gems around their local cities.


Foodie



Fashion


Related: 5 steps to taking successful Instagram pictures

Who are some of your favourite creators on Instagram at the moment? 

A-Z OF MOVIES YOU NEED TO WATCH

I love making A-Z lists of things but it can be quite hard when you get towards the end of the alphabet. Full disclosure: I do not have anything for the letter X.


A while ago for Valentine's Day, I wrote an A-Z list of date ideas and because I love films, I thought I could create a list for that too. Some letters of the alphabet have lots of really good films starting with that letter, so for some, it was really hard to narrow it down. For others, there were only a few that I'd seen beginning with that letter. For example, I'm pretty sure I have only seen about three films beginning with the letter V, but S had loads I wanted to share.


The films in the following list are all films I have seen, enjoyed, and would recommend to you. If you need watchlist inspo, then look no further. There is a range of genres, some new, some old.


Netflix on tv with remote


A-Z list of movies you need to watch


A - American Psycho

B - Back to the Future

C - Clueless

D - Do the Right Thing

E - Everybody's Talking About Jamie

F - Forrest Gump

G - Get Out

H - The Help

I - In the Heights

J - Joker

K - Knives Out

L - Legally Blonde

M - Mamma Mia

N - The Notebook

O - Only Yesterday

P - Prisoners 

Q - Queen of Katwe

R - Ratatouille

S - Schindler's List

T - Titanic

U - Us

V - The Vow (There are probably better films beginning with V but I have not seen very many beginning with V)

W - Wizard of Oz

Y - Yes Man

Z - Zootropolis (the only film I have seen beginning with Z but still cute).


There we have it, this list was so much fun to make so let me know if you enjoyed it and I can make more. There are so many films I would recommend and if you love films like me then follow me on Letterboxd here.


Letterboxd is an app where you can log each and every film you have ever watched. It's basically a social media channel where you can rate and review films and see what you're friends have been watching.

Related: What to watch on Netflix and Disney+

How many of these have you seen?

2021 Roundup

Welcome to my yearly roundup post where I share with you the highlights and lowlights from my year, 2021 has been a weird year, a lot has happened and although it hasn't been my favourite year, I have had some really good memories and some big changes have happened in my life.


My 2021 Roundup


January 


As usual, January was quite nothingy for me, especially this year as we were in lockdown for the start of 2021. I have to say after 2020 and being in lockdown over the new year period, I wasn't excited for 2021 at all. By this point, we had been struggling with the pandemic for so long I just had no hope that we would come out the other side.

For some reason though, I started being quite productive (I think to distract myself from these feelings) and I started my writing dissertation and also started planning how I was going to make money with my blog. 2020 was the year my blog really "took off" so I used the new year to see how I could make the next step with it. 

Girl at the beach putting her hand out

In 2021, I was able to make £500 through my blog and Instagram with lots of gifted campaigns dotted about too! This has been the first year I've made any money from it so I am very pleased with that! It did take a lot of work that I haven't really been able to keep up in the later part of 2021 though.

February


After planning how I was going to make money through blogging, February was the first month I actually earned anything. It was also filled with lots of freezing cold beach walks.

Christchurch harbour uk

She might kill me for saying this but my mum had her 50th birthday in February and it was great fun. We all made one of those lockdown happy birthday videos for her (throwback!) and it was just great to celebrate something after a gloomy start to the year.

I'm not going to lie, February was probably the worst month for my mental health as I was just so fed up with lockdown and feeling isolated. I find it important to share lows with you as well as highs so you know I'm human and I'm not just showing off the best version of myself online.

March


March for me was mainly filled with socially distanced walks with friends. At the start of the year, I would just complain so much about all of the things we couldn't do but those walks with friends were something I really appreciated and it made me focus on the things that we could do to bring us joy at that moment in time.


Sheep in poole


April


April is my bday month and I had yet another lockdown birthday and turned 22 but this one felt way less restrictive. I was able to see my boyfriend and friends and a couple of weeks after, Joe and I went for an outdoor meal to celebrate when things opened outdoor seating. Classic me to make it a whole birthday month. Stay tuned to see what I do for my 23rd birthday and if we are in lockdown again (my luck). If not, I'm going big!


Girl clinking drinks with friends


Because outdoor seating started opening for restaurants and pubs and I was gagging to be anywhere but my uni bedroom, I went any time that I could for bottomless brunch or for food. But does anyone remember how freezing it was? I just remember thinking it was going to be warm and it really wasn't, I even had to wear gloves at one point.


May


So after all these months of writing my dissertation since January, I finally submitted it in May and basically finished uni. Throughout all of the other months, I was doing loads of uni work too but I didn't mention that because - boring. 


Girl holdinh up bournemouth university dissertation


When I submitted my diss, I got the standard picture with the front page outside my uni. Only the front page - because we submitted it digitally rather than on paper, which I think is so much better anyway.


After finishing, I was invited by the National Express to go on a PR day out with them, so Joe and I went to London for the day on the coach.


Umbrellas at camden market


We also went to a PR evening at Mbuntu's opening night in Southampton. So basically, I was feeling quite VIP in May. Uni was over, and there was a lot to look forward to re the world opening up.


June


First of all, in June, I celebrated three years with Joe. YAY! We went for a nice anniversary meal at Cote Brasserie and it was extra special because we didn't get to celebrate last year. Also, I started my graduate job halfway through June. I am now a social media and communications coordinator at the same place where I did my internship.

Girl and boy in garden

Because I knew I was starting soon, I tried to make the most out of my non-working days so Joe and I took a trip to Weymouth together. We both love animals so we went to the aquarium which was great fun. I also went to Ginjams in Westbourne with my friends which is a gin and cheese bar and had been on my Bournemouth bucket list for years.

Penguins at sealife weymouth

Cheese board from ginjams westbourne

One of my favourite days ever was in June, too. At our uni house, my two friends and me planned a sports day themed party at our house. It was the first party we could have at ours because of Covid and the people who didn't really like to party were away that weekend so it worked out well. It was so much fun and we did some classic games like egg and spoon race.


Another PR invite - My friend Maddie and I were able to try the lovely Greyhound Inn pub in Corfe. I can't recommend their pub garden enough, it was so stunning and there are great views of Corfe Castle.


Girl in summer dress at corfe castle


Also in June, I spoke on the radio for the first time. I was interviewed on BBC Radio Wiltshire as someone who watches Love Island to talk about the new show starting. Big deal for me as I hate speaking on things like that.


July


July was the month I moved back home from uni which was a weird experience. It still hasn't hit me yet that uni is over for good and it's been months since finishing.


As nightclubs reopened in the UK, I was able to go to my first ever drag show, and see my fave Scottish Queen, Lawrence Chaney. I love drag so much and I hope to go to many more drag shows in the future, it was so much fun!


Lawrence chaney in DYMK bournemouth


The day after (suffering from a hangover) I went on my first out of two student nights out in the whole of third year. I was so glad to go on a night out after months of not being able to.


This is the month Joe moved back to London for work too, so since then, we have been getting up to all sorts of fun things that I will let you know about.


August


In August, we celebrated Joe's birthday (he's a leo) and had a lovely meal in Fulham with his family. 

I also had my friend Maddie come to stay at my house so I gave her a very countryside weekend, there were chickens. We moved house last November and not many of my friends have been to my new house mainly due to covid.

Chickens at cholderton farm shop

After much anticipation on whether it would happen or not, my friends from uni and I went to Bournemouth 7s Festival. This is basically the event we look forward to every year and we couldn't go in 2020 so it felt even better to go this year - even if my feet did feel broken by the end of it.


Group of friends at festival

Bournemouth 7s festival


September


At the beginning of September, my mum, grandma and I went to see 9 to 5 The Musical. Going to see shows is a newfound love of mine and I have really enjoyed all the ones I have been to so far and this was no exception.


9 to 5 the musical southampton mayflower


In the middle of September, Joe and I went on a long weekend away to St Ive's in Cornwall. We had the best time there and this was the last of the sunny weather we had this year. Read about our St Ives trip in full here.


St ives cornwall


Towards the end of September, I visited Joe in London and we went to Spitalfields Market, where I had a pulled pork bun, and about a third of a crumble from Humble Crumble because it was so filling. After that, we went to a spontaneous comedy show at Vauxhall Comedy Club and had a really good night.


Humble crumble spitalfields market london


October


October was a month filled with lots of nights out and fun stuff. Firstly, I went on a trip to Incognito in Winchester. If you haven't heard about it yet, it was the best cocktail bar I've ever been to! They also have one in Kingston and the cocktails are just so cool and fancy. They are more than just cocktails and are presented with such cool effects. It is better if you just see for yourself on my Instagram reel here.

Cocktail at incognito winchester

I also took my friends from home on a night out in Bournemouth. We went to DYMK which is the gay club in Bournemouth as I had such a great time there seeing Lawrence Chaney earlier in the year.


November


I haven't stopped going on about this, and I'm not sure when I will but I graduated from uni in November, and this was probably the best day of the whole year. It just made all of the days of hard work and feeling like I couldn't do it pay off.



Friends posing


After graduating and celebrating with my friends, I also had a party a few days later to celebrate with my family friends at home. In true Lauren Kenny style, we had a huge brie centerpiece.


Another month, another visit to London, but this time it was to see my friends. We celebrated one of my friend's birthdays by going to Hijingo in Shoreditch, which is basically a really futuristic boozy bingo. I am yet to win anything at a boozy bingo - I'm starting to think it's a fix.


Friends posing


Towards the end of November, I just started getting into Christmas activities early, like Christmas shopping and going to the markets for mulled wine.


December


To kick off December, I was invited to a PR meal at Pizza Venti in Salisbury where we tried their amazing Christmas menu. The pizza was to die for!!


Pizza at pizza venti


I also went to my first book club meeting. I have been a part of the book club since September but there were various reasons why I couldn't attend the previous ones. It was really great to meet some new people in my home city.


As I said, I also try to share the low moments as well as the highlights, and in December, I spent a lot of time feeling really anxious. I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my mental health and going out of my comfort zone, but what I was hearing in the news about the new waves of Coronavirus made me really worried because of how much I struggled in the previous lockdown.

At this time of year, we usually go to the Dortmund Christmas markets but this year we went to the Birmingham one instead.


All in all, the year has been filled with highs and lows just like any other year. Has it been the best year of my life? Has it been the worst? Not really. A lot has happened that I'm grateful for and that's why I really like writing these posts. At first I thought this year had been a bit rubbish with Covid, but looking back through the year, I have some really fun memories and lifelong achievements that I am proud of.


What are some of the highlights of your year?

BOOKS I READ IN 2021

I have started doing a few book reviews this year and that's because, to be honest, I have only really started regularly reading as a hobby this year.


When I was at uni I had to read for my course so I didn't really want to do it in my free time, but I've actually been enjoying it since leaving. Does that mean I'm a real-life adult now?


So, I thought I would share my favourite books I have read this year with you.


Florence given illustrations in women dont owe you pretty


My best reads of 2021

1. Women Don't Owe You Pretty by Florence Given


This is definitely one of my favourite books I have read, ever. It's so important and covers so many different themes of feminism. I actually did a review on this one so if you want to hear my full thoughts then read my review of Women Don't Owe You Pretty.

Incidentally, I actually saw Florence Given (the author) in real life when I was walking through Shoreditch the other day. If you don't know who she is yet, I would recommend following her on socials she is COOL.

2. Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman


Humankind is another non-fiction book and it unpacks all kinds of anthropological themes. Basically, it talks a lot about human history and the main question asked is are humans really selfish by nature? If you are interested in social sciences or just history in general I would recommend this book.

I am aware I am not explaining it too well, there is just so much covered and I feel like I'd need to read it again to remember it all. If you read it, you will understand what I mean.

3. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris


I had literally started reading this book in 2019 but I finished it in 2021 so I have included it in this list anyway. Despite the length of time it took me to read (just me being on and off with it, nothing to do with the book) I really enjoyed this. I know I'm a bit late to the party with this but got there in the end!

4. Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness by Vex King


Another non-fiction book - can you tell which I prefer? I feel like this book unlocked something in my brain. The theme is basically good vibes only and tips of getting away from negativity and it all just makes so much sense. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. Who doesn't want to have good vibes and live a good life?

Also, I will be reading Vex's new book Healing is the New High very soon.

5. His Other Woman by Louise Voss


This book is actually written by a lady who is local to Salisbury (near where I live) which made me interested in reading it. It is a fictional book about a couple in Salisbury. The husband goes abroad by himself and is involved in an accident where he loses his memory. I will leave you with that description and the name of the title for you to work out the rest of the storyline. Very good, would recommend reading.

6. Drag Queen of Scots: The Dos and Don'ts of a Drag Superstar by Lawrence Chaney


Lawrence Chaney of one of my favourite drag queens to ever set foot on the main stage of RuPaul's Drag Race. They are also the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race UK Season 2. If you know me, you will know how much of a fan of the show I am and at every opportunity I tell people I did my dissertation on it (there we go, just mentioned it for the 497th time).

For this reason, I loved hearing about Lawrence's experiences before the show, during and after. I also wrote a review of this one too so if you'd like to hear more about what I thought, read my review of Lawrence Chaney's book.

7. Release the Beast: A Drag Queen's Guide to Life by Bimini Bon Boulash


Similar to number 6, this was written by Drag Queen, Bimini Bon Boulash from Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. I loved reading this book, it was a mixture of biographical content and advice, life lessons, etc. There is a lot to be learnt from this book. 

Bimini covers a range of sociological concepts meanwhile their drag persona is branded as a 'bimbo'. Spoiler alert: the term 'bimbo' is unpacked in this book. Bimini also identifies as non-binary and seeing the world through their eyes definitely teaches you a lot about how gender-reliant the world we live in is.

Basically, Bimini can do it all by teaching you stuff, talking about their life and drag while generally just being iconic. There are also cool illustrations.

8. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard


OK so I am a fan of the TV show so I thought why not try the books and see what they're like? I have to say, I am a bit obsessed at the moment. Pretty Little Liars is one of my comfort TV shows that I watched as a teenager and will watch over and over again now, so I find it really interesting to see what is different/the same in the books. I have read book 1 and 2 so far but there are so many, it depends if I can be bothered to read all of them,

When I asked earlier if I'm a real adult? The answer is no.

And there we have all of my favourite books that I've read this year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on book content as I'm quite new to it so please let me know if you like seeing it.

LOCAL SALISBURY CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

I was debating doing a Christmas gift guide this year as I did one last year, but I thought since I created the Salisbury Bloggers network this year, it would be great to share some local businesses with you, whether you are from the Salisbury area or not.


If you are not yet aware of the Salisbury Bloggers network, this is an Instagram account I created over summer with the aim of connecting creators and local businesses in Salisbury and the surrounding areas. While being at uni in Bournemouth, I was part of the Bournemouth Bloggers group and had some great opportunities from being part of it, so I thought Salisbury needed something similar. Follow the Salisbury Bloggers network on Instagram here.


Another aim of the group is to create opportunities for Salisbury creators, similar to the opportunities I had from Bournemouth Bloggers. So, if you are a local business wanting to work with influencers and creators, or if you're a creator looking to work with local businesses, get in touch and see more information here.

Salisbury Christmas Gift Guide


So, I am going to be sharing my favourite local businesses with you where you can get great gifts for loved ones for Christmas.


1. Wolf Cabin Wax Melts


Glittery wax melt in burner

I recently ordered some wax melts from Naomi at Wolf Cabin Wax Melts and they smell amazing. Wolf Cabin is a small wax melt business local to Salisbury which was started in 2020 and the name of the business inspired by everything cosy, just like you would find in a cabin.


Their wax melts would make great Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. They have such a wide range of scents - Christmassy and non Christmassy and they are so affordable too.


2. Rosebourne


If you haven't been to Rosebourne at this time of year yet then you need to! It is not in the centre of Salisbury, but if you are looking for a day out that is not too far away then it's definitely worth a visit. It is in Weyhill near Andover.

They have so many luxury gifts to choose from - foodie and otherwise. They also have gift vouchers and if you prefer to gift people experiences rather than items, you can get someone a voucher to have a lovely afternoon tea at Rosebourne.

Even if you don't end up getting presents there, the Christmas section looks amazing and you can check out their cafe for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

3. Ginkgo Accessories


Ginkgo is a small business on Etsy started by a lovely lady called Hollie this year who is local to Hampshire. Hollie makes her lovely earrings by hand and these would make beautiful gifts for people who love jewellery.

4. Crystals

Crystals is one of my favourite shops in Salisbury. It is a physical shop near The Maltings by the river and as far as I'm aware they don't have an online shop. It is a jewellery shop again but slightly different styles to Ginkgo. 

They have such beautiful jewellery made from a wide range of gemstones and they sell crystals by themselves too. I have given and received lots of gifts from here in the past so if you are in Salisbury, it's definitely worth visiting. I try to get in there where I can and support them where possible.

5. My Mini Wardrobe


If you are looking for handmade knitted clothes for little people in your life, then look no further than My Mini Wardrobe on Etsy.


These items are handmade in Salisbury and you can personalise and chat with the business owner to collaborate on the perfect pieces.


6. Weathered Knots


Paige from Weathered Knots creates and sells the most amazing home decorations made out of Macrame knots. So much talent goes into these items, and again she is local to Salisbury.


Paige's website is definitely worth a look. There are so many unique gifts you could buy for a loved one to spice up their living space.


7. Army Flying Museum


The Army Flying Museum in Stockbridge is offering gift vouchers and they have a shop with all things army. The museum would make a great day out for anyone who is interested in flying.

8. Ruby and Moon


OK this is another jewellery business, but can you ever have enough jewellery? Also, the ones I have included are all so different.

Ruby and Moon have some really beautiful pieces that would make great gifts for jewellery lovers and is an Etsy business run by Nikki from Salisbury.

9. Maul's Cheese and Wine Bar


So it's no surprise that Maul's is one of my favourite places to go ever because I love their cheese! But did you know they have a shop? That's right, you can purchase the most amazing cheese and wine from them and give someone a cheese and wine night of their own at home.

You can go into the bar and buy cheeses or you can order from a wide selection of cheese, wine and pate online. (If anyone is reading this may want to buy me a present for any reason, this is definitely NOT a hint).

10. Chalke Valley Soaps


Handmade in Wiltshire, these luxury soaps would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves to indulge in self-care at bath or shower time. The soaps look so good that I want to eat them (don't do that) and they even have soap for dogs? I'm sold.

11. Artisan Wine and Spirit Co


If you're looking for a boozy gift then why not support local at this Salisbury shop? You can look in the store or order online and choose from a wide range of wines and (you guessed it) spirits.

12. Bluestone Vineyards


Bluestone Vineyards is local to Salisbury in the nearby village of Cholderton. Here, you can go on wine tasting tours or visit their online shop with local English sparkling wine. You can purchase wine tasting vouchers for loved ones which would make a great experience gift.

While you're at it...

13. Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm


Right by Bluestone Vineyards is Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm, which offers a range of experiences for animal lovers. Again, this would make a great experience gift for children and adults and you can even walk with alpacas here.
I couldn't include all of the amazing businesses in and around Salisbury because there is just not enough time! But make sure you are following @SalisburyBloggers on Instagram to see all of our favourites showcased on the page.

DRAG QUEEN OF SCOTS BY LAWRENCE CHANEY - BOOK REVIEW

Now that I have left uni and don't have to read for my dissertation anymore, I am actually enjoying reading as a hobby for the first time really. One of the books I have really enjoyed reading lately is Lawrence Chaney's first book, Drag Queen of Scots: The Dos and Don'ts of a Drag Superstar.


Lawrence chaney drag queen shipwreck look
Image from @lawrencechaney on Instagram.


If you don't know who Lawrence Chaney is, they are a Scottish drag queen who won RuPaul's Drag Race UK Season 2 and I have been a fan since watching the show. I have also seen Lawrence Chaney perform live which was fabulous.


I haven't really read a biography until this one and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I had to share my thoughts with you.


What was the book about?


The book does what it says on the tin. It is an autobiography mixed with advice for drag queens who want to start out. As Lawrence was only 24 at the time of writing, the book is about their childhood, teenage years and how they got into drag, and ultimately winning Drag Race.

Related: Women don't owe you pretty book review

After watching Lawrence Chaney KILL IT all of season 2, it was so interesting to read about their childhood. As with many drag queens, they were bullied throughout most of their childhood, mostly for being gay, being fat or being Scottish. Although it was hard to read about, Lawrence made light of this and in the end, the bullying lessened at school due to their sense of humour. Being funny and making fun of themself was a way out of being targeted and I resonate with this a lot.


After that Lawrence wrote about getting into drag and gender identity. They said at one point that they are still on a journey with gender so even though I have heard Lawrence be referred to as he/him out of drag and she/her in drag, I am using gender-neutral pronouns in this post such as they/them/theirs.


The book had a lot of content about mental health but it was a light read due to a balance of talking about important subjects whilst also injecting comedy into the book.


Should you read this book?


The answer is 100% yes! Even if you are not into RuPaul's Drag Race, it's still so interesting to read about how an ordinary person pursues their dreams and becomes a drag superstar. 

Related: 5 books I wish I'd read sooner

Have you read this book?

I'M A GRADUATE

Since starting university I have written a few blog posts about student life, so I thought I also need to write about it all being over as sad as that is.


I finished university in May but I have only just had my graduation.


If you are reading my blog for the first time, I have been studying Communication and Media at Bournemouth University for the past four years (including a placement year) and have recently graduated!


Girl in graduation cap and gown bournemouth university


About the day

First of all, there was a huge storm a few nights before the big day and we were completely without power the day before and the morning of my graduation. I had to do my hair at my grandma's house before we could make our way down to Bournemouth.

Our ceremony was at 16:30 so my parents and I went for a lovely lunch at Miller and Carter beforehand. Then, I was able to collect my gown and hat, get my professional photography done, and see all my friends.

Bournemouth university graduates in cap and gown

Bournemouth university graduates

It was an emotional day and I'm still not over it. It was amazing being able to attend graduation after the uncertainty of Covid and see my friends graduate too. But, it is so sad thinking that is the last of uni for us.
After the ceremony, where we all walked across the stage and collected our diplomas, there was free fizz and snacks in another room. Did I need the free fizz? Definitely not, but did I enjoy it. Then, my friends and I went out to celebrate.

Onwards and upwards

Since finishing uni, I have been working full-time as a Social Media and Communications Coordinator. Although I am really sad that uni is over, I will look forward to what the future holds and there are lots of positives. One being that with working full-time, I have more money to do fun things that I want to do.

A lot of people have been saying, does this mean you're a real adult now? And I am thinking, no probably not. I don't actually feel much older than I did when I started uni at 18, I am wondering if that will ever change.

Girl in graduation gown with parents

There were a lot of times at uni where I just thought is this even worth it? And there have been times where I didn't want to do it anymore. I'm sure every student has felt this. But now I can say, it was all worth it and I am so glad.

Towards the end of my degree, there were a few times where people made me feel like I was stupid and not clever enough. I don't know why, because I was clearly at university for a reason and I ended up getting better grades than these people anyway. What can I say? Karma is real.

For those of you who have been reading my blogs all the way through uni, thank you! It definitely is the end of an era but now I will cherish the happy memories I had and remember that I overcame the not so happy ones.
I am thinking of writing graduate content too so please let me know if you would like to see this.