What is stereotypically quintessentially British?

What do I reckon people see when they think of Britain? Check out my list…

I might be living in Dubai at the moment but that doesn’t stop me loving my home country, England. From the ridiculously bipolar weather conditions to drinking a whole lot of tea – there are so many things that I think have become by default British traditions and stereotypes. Other Brits mights disagree, but I think around the world these things immediately come to mind when people think about Britain or should I perhaps say, London.  Let me know if you think of something different when you think of Britain, and be on the look out for my own list of what makes Britain, Britain to me.

1 A Full English Breakfast
Oh boy, where do I even start? A Full English is heaven on a chipped china plate. It’s ingredients apparently should be enjoyed together: (although I have reservations about the tomatoes, of all things)

Back bacon
Scrambled, fried or poached eggs
Grilled or friend tomatoes
Grilled mushroom
Toast or fried bread
Baked beans (Heinz)
Sausages
Black pudding
And, if you’re really like a bloody good hash brown
HP Brown Sauce or Heinz Tomato Ketchup if you’re not quite as sophisticated (like me).

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My mouth is just watering thinking about it, I can barely type.

2 Red buses, red telephone boxes, red letter boxes & Black Cabs.
We might as well have red cabs, our love of red just seems to be ongoing.

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I promise I’m sat on a Red Bus, 2011 was not a kind year for red sunglasses, pink scarves, grey gloves, and some strange winter combo.

3 London Underground
It smells of just about every disgusting thing under the sun, during rush hour it feels like the Sahara, people push and shove but it is definitely an experience and a half!

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4 Shakespeare, Fleming & Rowling
Of course these are just three names that stick out in British literature amongst many. From Fleming’s Bond, Shakespeare’s Othello and Rowling’s Potter I’ve just named so clear-cut protagonists who made history. British writing at it’s best.

5 An unhealthy obsession with the Royals & Big Ben
Good or bad, we talk about them. Do they take all tax payers money (no) and whether the Queen looked like a sunglower at Wills & Kate’s wedding (yes), we love to moan, print pictures and fill coloumn inches with our Royals. Do we need them? Probably not. Should we keep them? Hell yes! Also Big Ben is NOT the name of the building but a nickname for the bell that dongs, the actual building is called Elizabeth Tower (fun fact), but we are still obsessed by it.

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The Queen and her Corgi are made better just by being in Lego (from Hamleys)!

6 Liberty London, Harrods & Hamleys
I can’t even describe these shops, apart from using one word – yes.

7 Wimbledon, Cricket & Rugby
I should put football in there, but I simply can’t for my dislike of the sport. Tennis, cricket and rugby however. We just seem to love them. Wimbledon, as it happens leads me to my number 8…

8 Strawberries, cream, scones & cups of tea
Strawberries and cream whilst watching centre court at Wimbledon. Why of course. Scones and tea – the perfect remedy for just about anything and a daily ritual as far as I can tell.

9 Sarcasm and Irony, and the word ‘sorry’
Something we do only too well, and since I’ve lived in Dubai I’ve notice confuses practically every other nationality. We also seem to say: ‘sorry,’ a lot too. Sorry, I’m not sure why.

10 ££££
No one else has the pound, it’s ours – goodbye.

11 NHS
Typical Britain – underpaying and overworking valuable staff, complaining constantly about how the NHS is pure shite, and then demanding it treat us for free. I love it. It doesn’t always get it right but bloody hell the people who work there seem to do little else for tuppence, and I’m not talking just consultants, doctors, junior doctors, paramedics and nurses – I’m including everyone like; admin, management, caterers, janitors,porters, all of them.

12 BBC
Of course, it’s on the list. Rocked by scandal in the last few years but still in my opinion quintessentially British.

What do you think is considered stereotypically British, let me know in the comments below? Does your country have any traditions?

 

 

 

-H

 

New Year, New Me?

How does this happen? How does a year move by so fast? I’m not sure if I can actually bring myself to believe we’re entering 2017. In the lead up to the New Year, I’ve been getting that feeling that hits your insides. A dull ache I’ve come to associate with fear. Not pain, and not necessarily sadness – more a muted fear, that I’ve not done enough. That this next year will bring much of the same. That I’ll feel like I failed in someway.

I haven’t achieved what I wanted, I didn’t share my feelings with that guy I sort of kind of but not really liked, or that in some paradoxically universe my life would feel more complete. I wouldn’t be that twenty-four-year-old living with her parents, going through a degree purely because I couldn’t get a job. The excitement of finishing in May tainted with the unknown. Do I leave the country I’m studying in, do I go home? And to what? To do what?

My friends all seem so successful – they have a plan. Or at least I think they do. And for some reason they all seem to be getting engaged, or having babies(!?) It’s amazing, I feel like I’m getting left behind.

I think we can all relate to those feelings. The feelings of shame, fear, disappointment. You’re not good enough for this, you regret not doing that, you hate yourself for making someone upset. If you’d only tried harder…

I guess I’m kind of sick of that now.

I’m sick of hating me, and in that process faking a different me who I hate even more but seems to be accepted by those around me. An ever-so-trying, always caring if slightly unhinged version of the person I should be.

I’m sick of it, and if a fake persona is what you put up too, my vote is now to stop it. I don’t want to be a half person for fear of upsetting someone, not saying something I believe because they might not believe it too. Generally I think I’m okay, but funnily enough it’s the people closest to me who probably don’t know me really, at all. I always just nod, say yes and smile.

Reality is something different.

I just want to scream at them.

So, I’m not making any resolutions, not the usual anyway, you know – be nicer, healthier, fitter.

Nope, none of them.

I guess the only resolution I’m going to make, if I have to call it a resolution, is to be me.

Unapologetically me,
because at the end of the day my happiness is all that counts and I’m a full on believer (even if I haven’t lived my own advice so far) that you have a choice to be happy.

At the end of the day, if friends and if family can’t accept you for you – do you need them anyway?

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be,” -Abraham Lincoln

Happy New Year,

-H

About time for an update…

It’s been over a year, but I think I’m back. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Well hello. It has literally been ages. I think my last post was way back in October of 2015, about Kanpai in Dubai (aha, that rhymes, yes I sat here giggling away). You’ll have to bear with me, I feel like I’ve literally forgotten how to form entertaining and half-decent sentences since I last wrote a post. I wholeheartedly apologise for the mess of words that no doubt is to come.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know generally speaking I can be quite a chaotic writer, you would think being a postgraduate student at present that writing would be a fundamental necessity. Somehow I think I’ve got worse. I know, I know that’s probably not the case but have you ever felt more stupid even though you’re being educated. That is me – right now.

But this post isn’t about my questionable writing skills, it’s about an update.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I relocated to Dubai from the UK to finish my studies in the September of 2015. Fingers crossed, in May of this year I’ll be finishing and I’ll be well on my way to finding myself a real adult job. Honestly, I’m super excited to finish, and to return full-time to England, my home.

Dubai has been a struggle for me, to say the least.

I think a lot of that has to do with the limited amount of time I spend with people. I’m constantly studying, and where as the people I do know out there prefer to head to the beach (understandably, for a beautiful sunny country) or head out for a night clubbing – I’m not a beach goer (self-confidence crisis always likes to strike) and dancing the night away in shoes I can’t walk in make me uncomfortable. It’s definitely my fault that I’ve made limited connections, but it is something I’d like to work on for the rest of my time in Dubai.

I was lucky enough during 2016, to visit a whole load of places during the Summer months whilst I was back home with my dad, I’ll be writing a post or two on my blog about them with some of the photographs I’ve took whilst I was there.

  • Vienna
  • Milan
  • France
  • Czech

I spent Christmas at home in the UK with my dad, and at the moment I’m still in England, spending the last couple of weeks before I head back to university to finish my degree program.

In some ways I’m looking forward to going back, but in others I dread leaving. It’s a bit up and down. I want to finish as soon as possible so I can finally really settle down and find myself a nice little job to start saving for a little place of my own, or at least a flat share.

Honestly guys, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed this. Blogging and just letting go of feelings, it’s such a relief. I hope I can keep this up.

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A French Adventure – Avignon Part Two

I did have to split my time in Avignon in two, even if today’s adventures weren’t quite as expansive as yesterday was. It was more about the travelling I did between the two, and by travelling I mean by foot.

We got up extra early this morning to walk over two bridges and discover the Fort Saint-Andre.

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The walk was long, the wind was strong and the small inclines felt like mountains, but it was a good trip. Fort Saint-Andre is across the river from Avignon situated in a small town called Villeneuve lez Avignon. According to our guide pamphlet it is a: “perfect example of medieval military architecture,” honestly I’m not so sure.

The walk up there wasn’t as tough as I’m making out. It took us approximately an hour and half both ways and was a bit up and down to say the least.  When we finally arrived we got told the gardens and the abbey, which I had wrongly assumed were attached (although they are) were not open, so it was only the fort we could see. Although the fort was fine, I can’t think of a better dull but good adjective for it, the only real thing about it was the panoramic views of Avignon that we got from the top of a battlement.

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There were some interesting ruins but we couldn’t access them to see more. It did seem a little strange that we could only get to one of the three places, but it was affirmed to me by our concierge later that evening that most tourist attractions were closed on a Monday. Note to all travellers: don’t come to Avignon on a Monday.

That being said, after we managed the walk back we found a beautiful restaurant, that was by the Porte de L’Oule opening in the city’s walls.

View over Fort Saint Andre 3

My poor dad was more then happy to go back to the hotel to sleep after this meal, but I decided that it was time to try the Avignon mini train that I kept seeing making its rounds around the city. Can I just apologise now to my dad, although good (?) it was bumpy, uncomfortable and honestly although it gave you some slight historic knowledge I felt that having already been around most of its stops I knew it all already.

Having said that it is a nice and easy 40 minutes drive where you don’t have to do anything bar trying to stay in the carriage.

I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes.
I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes. Still kind of love it though

Update and Apologies

Right lets get the apology over with first of all. I have to say such a big sorry about my long absence over the past few weeks. It’s honestly nothing personal, well actually it’s all very personal. A few weeks back I got my first bar job. And since then I’ve been as busy as a buzzing bee.

It’s difficult to explain to you how much I’ve changed since getting this job. Before I was stuck in a rut of rejection and pretty much laziness. Since my graduation back in July 2014 I’ve applied for well over 250 jobs each time writing a cover letter, attaching my CV and bits an bobs I’ve written but alas nothing.  To be honest I can’t complain too much. I have an amazing support network and when it all got a bit too much, a friend said she could possibly get my me a job in a local pub and here I am now.

I love it. Literally it’s so much fun, the people, the other staff it’s all really lovely here. I’m slowly, very slowly that is getting used to pulling pints and serving food and hopefully I’m doing a half decent job.

Really though the main difference that I can see since I started working is in me. I work irregularly hours sometime and usually work weekends so I have to really plan when I want to go out to make sure it’s at times that work but that’s hardly an issue. The one thing that has really really stood out to me since I started working here a few weeks ago is that my confidence has come up.

I wouldn’t say that my self confidence is severely low, but on the outside I’m always this bubbly cotton ball fluff mess, someone actually described me like this, but like most people on the inside I suffer a whole load of insecurity and suffer from self destructive habits like calling myself names and other bits, that really are too personal to make public. The facade I put on for others has never really been who I am before but since I started meeting new people and realising that I can actually hold a decent and funny conversation with someone. Or that I can take the lead if a person, whose come in for a quick few, just needs their mind taking off the stresses of their daily life I can accommodate it. And strangely, I think I might be quite alright at it.

I like people. I like thinking that people might actually like me. And I like thinking that potentially I can make a person feel better about their day.

Whilst I’m working here I’ve been swept off my feet with how much work a bar/pub staff actually have to do. It can be quite tiring stuff and whilst I’ve had from some people the old: “that’s not a real job,” I can safely say being on my feet for 8 hours a day, dealing with issues and serving people all with a smile on my face even at the most difficult times is most definitely a job and I literally salute all those people out their who suffer from the same stigma that I have unexpectedly starting facing.

“You went to uni, you should have a real job,”.

Well if you really don’t want to class what I do as “real” that’s fine but as luck would have it I haven’t found anything in my trade that I studied. I haven’t had my “lucky break” in that sector but honestly I think of myself very lucky to be working under a great boss, with other staff who are lovely and be earning a living.  Quite frankly it’s better then doing nothing at all, which is what I was doing. Sorry if that doesn’t fit with your idea of me. Actually I’m not sorry. Fuck it. I like what I’m doing. Even if I stay here, one month or for the next few years I won’t be able to regret taking on a job that wasn’t potentially what I ‘should’ be doing after I graduated.

I’m still young and I still want to enjoy all life has to offer. So I’m saving and planning for the future but meanwhile I’m going to enjoy having a laugh with the locals and serving pints even if I never learn how to pull a perfect pint of IPA.

Nikita by Niki, Niki Mahon Interview

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Some of you by now hopefully have read my little blog on NikitaByNiki’s Acasia piece, if you haven’t you can click here to catch up. For those of you who saw how much I rated the necklace I got from NikitabyNiki I got to ask founder Niki Mahon some questions about her brand and what inspires her to come up with the beautiful pieces she has over on her website.

Courtesy of Niki Mahon ©
Courtesy of Niki Mahon ©

ME: Firstly, basics. I know your name is Niki Mahon and NikitabyNiki was started in 2014, but how old are you, and when did you realise you wanted to establish and create jewellery?
NIKI: I have very recently turned 23. I work full time as a Senior Account Manager at a mobile and web development agency in London. I have always been one to multi-task and fill my spare time with something productive and beneficial. I realised I had a genuine passion for jewellery at the age of 16 when I secured my first job at ‘Silverleaf Jewllery Ltd’, managing the store and creating unique pieces by hand. I absolutely loved this job, however pursuing a degree and securing a full time job were of top priority before exploring this avenue further and growing it into a business.

You could say as a typical girly-girl and perfectionist, I am drawn to and love making things pretty, and I am thrilled that I am now in a position in my life where I can devote my time to a jewellery brand that I firmly believe in.

ME: What or who was the inspiration behind the beginnings of NikitabyNiki?
NIKI: The best word to describe my jewellery is ‘Statement’. Although I wear dainty, delicate pieces on a daily basis, I believe when a woman dresses up, she does not need to break into her purse and buy an entire new outfit every time. The NikitaByNiki pieces aim to be feminine and flattering, yet bold enough to transform any ensemble again and again without having to worry about wearing the same outfit twice.

NikitabyNiki The Boho Collection Style Paris £25
NikitabyNiki The Boho Collection Style Paris £25

ME: How involved are you in the designing, creating and making process of your pieces?
NIKI: I currently source the pieces from trustworthy and talented manufacturers worldwide. My connections are obtained through networking, researching and travelling. Initially I sourced existing styles, however my most recent ventures involve channeling my love for drawing and design by customising and creating the NikitaByNiki pieces myself to ensure they are unique, beautiful and of a great quality.

ME: Where did the influence come from for your Boho and Rhinestone Collection?
NIKI: The Boho Collection was born first. I was so intrigued by the the London look of casual outfits dressed with bohemian silver cuffs and large statements. I wanted to branch out further and test the market with the Rhinestone collection soon after. This collection, for me, represents more evening wear, providing a more glitzy and elaborate addition to what can otherwise be a sleek and simple outfit. Naturally, I went on to further pursue those that proved to be the most popular and have the highest demand.

In April, I am going to be launching the NikitaByNiki Ring Collection which compliments both collections by combing vintage silvers and classic gem stones.

ME: Are there specific pieces from each of those collections that you think represent you and your brand the best, and why?
NIKI: I would definitely say I have some brand ambassadors within the two collections. In the Rhinestone Collection, Zahara and Aurora are solid examples of how a pieces can add the ‘wow’ factor to any look. Within the Boho collection, Paris is one that I believe to stand out on the website amongst both photoshoot and product photography.

NikitabyNiki The Rhinestone Collection - Style Zahara £20
NikitabyNiki The Rhinestone Collection – Style Zahara £20

ME: Are there any brands of jewellery, or other people who influence the designs that you create?
NIKI: Yes absolutely!

Interestingly, a lot of inspiration comes from clothes designers and gorgeous jewel encrusted wedding pieces; Zuhair Murad embellished gowns inspire me with their ability to look utterly classy without approaching the border of tacky and ‘blingy.’

In terms of jewellery, I have inspirations whom I strive to surpass. These are people and companies whom I prefer to hold close to my chest.

ME: Lastly, what do you want your buyers to feel when they wear your pieces?
NIKI: What drives me most is the feedback I get from ecstatic customers. A tremendous amount of effort goes into the final touches and packaging of each item and each order receives a small thank you note which has proven to attain repeat orders.I strive for all items to reach their owners safely, in the expected condition and for my customers to be able to wear their pieces over and over again without any hesitance.

Ultimately, I want my buyers to feel how I feel when wearing NikitaByNiki statements: beautiful, comfortable and stylish.

See what people have said about shopping at NikitaByNiki: www.nikitabyniki.com/testimonials

To follow Niki on:

TUMBLR

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

Not That Kind Of Girl, Lena Dunham – Review

IMG_0844So this week, I went through two books the first was The Miniaturist, and next was this fantastmiscal (yes made up but necessary) book by Lena Dunham. In fact this little gem is so good, I read it in one day. I simply couldn’t put it down, and when I did it made my head hurt so I picked it straight back up so I could finish it.

Oh Lena, well done.

I am not a fan of Lena Dunham, I have never once watched HBO’s Girls which she writes, directs, and stars in as I just thought it looked boring. I would go as far as to say that when I saw the advert, I almost felt a bit sick. I sort of stuffed Lena Dunham into the category of: she’s there but I’m not bothered by her, in fact I can’t remember what she look like. Harsh, but a reality in my life. I do tend to categorise. Well I should have listened to my mum and dad when they said never judge a book by its cover, because how hilarious is this woman. Utterly hilarious is the answer.

This book is the correct mix of; shock factor – when she discusses her rape which she herself is confused about and some odd and slightly worrying bits about her sister, humour – all the other bits, and generally giving the air that you could get to know this woman and actually, maybe even surprisingly like her. Now I’ve read it I feel bad about how I sort of judged her before I even ‘got to know her’. You feel as if you can relate to Lena if not because some her weird confessions and hilarious anecdotes remind you of your own life but, because of her language. The way a friend talks to a friend, and not just a friend but someone they feel like they can really trust. And you, the reader feel sort of special because it seems as if she is discussing things that are usually keep confined inside.

Dunham is honest, and that counts for a lot.

In a world where so many people lie about the big things and so many lie about the small things, whether that’s in their books,  television, press or just their daily lives Lena Dunham seems, at least, to be epitomise honesty. From declaring that she had a weird sex dream involving her dad, yikes, to how she coped with therapy, Lena explores what it means to be a woman, the pros and the cons. Blanched with feminism, but supportive of men at the same time, she seems to have a rather quirky self awareness and she imparts the wisdom that she has ‘learned’ to all those who chose to read this.

I have never been a fan of autobiographies or any type of biographies at all, in fact I avoid them like the plague. I don’t really know why, they don’t tend to offend me or amuse me, but really I think why should I care that much about that person’s life. It’s not my business. It’s theirs, and personal life should be personal, even if you live in the public eye. You shouldn’t relive your childhood for a profit. But maybe once again, I’ve been too quick to judge. I would seriously consider reading another biography now, but I truly wonder if anyone can touch on Lena Dunham’s honest way of writing and her satirical self-deprecation which makes her, to me a person I would actually invest my time in. Any ideas for my next biography?

So bring it on, I’m off to buy Girls!

If you want to take a peek into Lena’s life you can purchase you copy of Not That Kind Of Girl here.