Out And About In April

Since I’ve been back from my holiday, I’ve had quite a few mini-adventures out and about in London. I thought I’d share a few in this blog post. Be aware – there will be lots of yummy things!

Mooching in Spitalfields with Kelly

I met up with Kelly, mainly to give her some things I picked up in the US, but we ended up having such a fab day. We started off some vegan desserts at Cookies & Scream, followed by a video call shopping spree with Rhina – surreal and so much fun! We then wandered over to Liverpool Street to mooch around Brick Lane and Spitalfields. I tried on some bits in Collectif and then we went to pick up bagels to take home. We were starving after all this and ended up munching some messy but tasty naan wraps. Dessert came in the form of milkshakes at The Diner. We left very happy indeed.

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Ice Cream and Burgers with Becky

We had a strange week-long heatwave this month so Becky and I got our summer dresses out for a foodie day. We explored Camden and hit our first stop – Chin Chin Ice Cream. It was nothing less than dessert perfection in every way. Perfect portion size and not sickly, it was a great combination of burnt butter caramel ice cream, toffee sauce and sticky toffee sponge – yum yum. We then hopped on the tube to Victoria… I might have lost Becky for a little bit. We found each other again at Victoria and went to try out Bleecker Burger. Though it was a perfectly acceptable meal, it wasn’t anything to write home about sadly. Feeling a bit rough from the heat, we headed home to slouch on our respective sofas.

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Exploring South West London with Nick and Sam

Yesterday, Nick and I headed to Brixton to meet up with my old uni friend Sam. Feeling a little worse for wear after a previous late night, coffee was sorely needed. Federation do a mean filter and a shared portion of spiced avocado toast made me feel so much better. After meeting Sam, we strolled round Brixton before sitting down for lunch at The Joint. The Joint had been recommended to me by Notsobasiclondon and boy, it did not disappoint. We had pulled pork burgers, onion rings, sweet potato fries and mac and cheese bites. It was seriously good. Sam then took us to Streatham for coffee and dessert at Blackbird Bakery. I had home-made plum tart and ice cream and was a very happy bunny. Finally, we headed to Tooting Broadway to explore the markets – unfortunately we were far too full to try anything else! We ended up having a few drinks before travelling home. I’d definitely be happy to repeat this day out.

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If you’ve got any recommendations for exploring different areas of the UK or London, please let me know – I’m always looking for new things to do!

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Papow Ponders #17: My Relationship With Food

If you met me today, you would know me as someone who loves their food. On my recent trip to the Bay Area, I shared my food diary online. Most of the comments I got were generally really positive but there were a couple that really got to me: ‘Gaining weight just looking at your posts’ and ‘I hope you packed stretchy clothes’. To some, these might be throwaway comments not worth giving a second thought but to me these comments are the most neurotic parts of my mind coming back to haunt me.

I’ve not always had the best relationship with food. Most of my time growing up, I’d see my mum dieting and grappling with her body image. Though she never put any of her issues on to me and always told me I was beautiful, I couldn’t help picking up on the idea that ‘fat was bad’. I remember from about the age of ten feeling bigger than the other girls in my class and that’s when my relationship with food started to change.

I struggled with my enjoyment of food and the painful guilt I felt every time I ate it. At its worst, it would really negatively impact on my family. From a young age, I have been surrounded by great food – my family is full of great cooks (with the exception of my grandpa). A huge part of of our culture is cooking and eating together whatever the occasion. It’s an element of family life I adore. However when I was filled with massive anxiety about food making me bigger, I would be a horrible dinner guest. I’d resent everyone who was enjoying themselves and I couldn’t enjoy what I was eating because I was so full of angst. I still feel so much regret about the many meals I have ruined. As my weight got picked on more and more at school, my eating habits became very boom and bust: gorging in secret and eating little in front of others. That, I thought at least, would make me feel less guilty when I was eating in front of others. It didn’t though.

When I met my other half at school, my issues remained. He’d compliment me all the time and I refused to believe him. Eating together was incredibly uncomfortable for me. I’d been told so much that I was fat and disgusting that I couldn’t comprehend someone being attracted to me. It stopped me trusting him – another huge regret. When I went to university, I don’t think I ever heard a negative comment about my weight. Old habits die hard though and I still spend my time comparing myself to everyone else. Slowly though, I started to relax. I’d help my grandma cook dinner and eat with her (I lived with my grandparents during uni). I’d hang out with friends who never made an issue of my size so I felt less self-conscious.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. I went to Germany for my year abroad and ended up quite isolated in a small village. The change from London was huge and I lost my entire support network as we were placed all over the country. I became very regimented with my food – even now I could probably list what I put in my shopping basket every week. There are so many great dishes in Germany but I would stick to the same things again and again. I’d feel guilty if I was ever full. By the time I finished my year abroad, I’d dropped three dress sizes, developed anxiety and IBS and I was utterly miserable.

After uni until I hit twenty-eight, I continued these guilt cycles with food. After I sought help for my anxiety and started communicating more with my friends and family, I finally allowed myself to stop hating myself, change my relationship with food and enjoy life.

It’s an ongoing process though and sometimes I find myself in a weak moment. When those moments happen though, I take time to reflect on how far I’ve come. Getting those comments a few years ago would have sent me into a very negative spiral. Now though, I can lift my head up and just say I don’t need to worry about any of that. If I share pictures of food online, the focus is on the food not me. What happens to my body is my business and no-one else’s.

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Thrifting And Vintage Shopping In The Bay Area

Well it’s been a busy few weeks – apologies for posting every other week rather than weekly. Everything’s back on schedule now so it’s business as usual!

Last week, I was in one of my favourite places in the world: the Bay Area. This was my third visit with my other half. We lived in Oakland for a month back in 2010 and we spent our summer hols there in 2015. My husband had a work trip that ended around the start of my Easter break so we thought it’d be a good time to head back out again. Oakland has a very special place in my heart: I’ve always felt really safe and relaxed there; there are so many cultures and communities living in one area and the food is awesome. I know it’s a place I can’t stay away from for too long.

Whenever I head over, I always enjoy a decent bit of thrifting and vintage shopping. It’s a great place for it so I thought I’d put together a little guide. Obviously there are folks out there who know way more about this stuff than me but this is just a list of my go-to spots. I’ve linked either their websites, IG or FB page so you can find out more if you wish.

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and Buffalo Exchange

These three shops can be found all over the Bay Area. I will generally have a browse in any one I come across. My favourite Buffalo Exchanges (second hand) are in Berkeley and Haight & Ashbury. I tend to visit Goodwill and The Salvation Army (charity shops) in Oakland. You can find all sorts in these places and the prices are really affordable. Unlike a carefully curated vintage shop, you have to really sift through everything – sometimes you might find a load of stuff and sometimes you might be completely unsuccessful. My best finds are usually vintage coats or the odd dress. I know I’ll always find some colourful jumpers for school too.

Mars Mercantile – Berkeley

Mars is one of my favourite vintage/second hand shops. It’s a really easy place to navigate with clearly marked out sections – dresses are organised by era and style and other garments are generally colour ordered. Eras range from the fifties to the nineties. I always seem to find something there and it’s also very affordable.

Haight & Ashbury

Haight & Ashbury is a neighbourhood in San Francisco which is filled with vintage boutiques and a variety of eclectic shops – good spot for mooching and exploring.

Held Over – This place is pretty big and has a huge range of vintage from the fifties to the eighties. It takes a good while to sift through everything but you can definitely find some bits.

Decades Of Fashion – The first time I went here, I found it quite intimidating: all the clothes were in plastic covers (something I’m really not a fan of). However on my latest visit, nearly all of the covers were gone – I wonder if they were having a sale of some kind. I’d say it’s quite similar to held over as you have to rummage a bit.

Relic Vintage – Relic is easily the friendliest and most beautiful vintage shop I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. They focus mainly on forties and fifties era clothing. You can be a vintage novice or a real expert – the staff will treat you with total respect. They are incredibly knowledgeable and give great advice on styling too. One of my favourite things about Relic is that they have measurements on all their garments. This allows you choose wisely and also stops the disappointment of finding something then discovering it won’t fit. Everything I’ve seen there is in fantastic condition – no musty whiffs or items in need of fixing. You can try on whatever you like and there are also a variety of accessories to help finish off your outfit. I’ve shopped in Relic with my mum and also my husband – neither of them are hugely into vintage style but they both ended up with gorgeous vintage pieces. I couldn’t recommend this place enough.

Apologies for the lack of photos, I was having fun and not really documenting my shopping!

Livin’ It Up In Liverpool

Around August last year, I headed up to Manchester to meet my seamstress friend Flick to sort out a special dress (you can read about it here). While I was up north, I got chatting to Flick’s friend Steph and we just seemed to click. We kept in touch and hung out in London for an epic girls’ weekend in November. Not long after Christmas, we made plans to spend some more time together in Liverpool. Perfect for the end of a very long term at school!

After a four and a half hour train journey on Friday, I settled down at Steph’s with prosecco, fajitas and the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race – she knows me well. Early the next morning, Steph drove us to Stockport for our appointment at I Love Lucie. I’ve been having my hair cut by Lucie for over two years, initially booking her guest spots in London. Her guest spots in London have closed for the time being so if I’m ever in the area, I love to get my hair by her. As we were both going, we took advantage of their ‘bring a friend’ deal…as did Flick and Karen who were meeting us in the salon for a catch-up.

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Lovely and knowledgeable Siobhan!

I always know my hair is going to look ruddy fabulous when I visit Lucie’s. It was such a lovely experience going with friends though! We got to chat and have a giggle. There’s a brilliant cake shop opposite the salon and Steph spoilt us rotten with some sweet treats (I went for the salon recommendation of a peanut butter brownie – I was not disappointed). Definitely a good way to spend a few hours.

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Flick made this dress – so talented!

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Kareb

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#teamgreen
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Karen made her trousers with her serious seamstress skills!

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This jacket from House Of Foxy is my favourite investment!

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To say we were happy bunnies is quite an understatement. We’ve already decided to do it again! Karen had to hop home for her evening plans but we’ll be stealing her away next time. With our barnets coiffed, we nipped back to Steph’s to get ready for a night on the tiles.

 

Our evening kicked off with dinner at Steph’s boyfriend’s restaurant. We had a seriously delicious Turkish feast and a little bit of fizz. A return visit is on the cards.

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From the restaurant, we caught a taxi to Steph’s mystery evening location. It turns out she’d booked us a table for cocktails at The Panoramic in Liverpool – it was stunning to  say the least. Flick isn’t the biggest fan of heights but I know she definitely appreciated the rest of the surroundings.

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Berry Across The Mersey – the best!

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Flick is a stunner and yes, she made this dress too.

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Steph seriously pushed the boat out and we ended up having the most wonderful night out. We talked about all kinds of stuff – from the ridiculous to the sublime. I think it’s safe to say that we all know quite a bit more about each other. After an interesting drive home, we were all definitely ready for bed.

In the  morning, we woke up to a killer fry up (you are the best hostess Steph!). We then headed to Lime Street so I could catch my train home.

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I wonder what she’s looking at

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What a weekend! I always think it’s amazing how a chance meeting can turn into a proper bond between people. Next time, I’ll be hosting – though I doubt I’ll meet Steph’s level of hostessing skills.

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