A Wild Hen Do To Remember

On the Friday of half term, I was honoured to see my wonderful friend Kelly marry her soulmate Grant. Two days prior, Rhina and I organised a day of fabulousness to celebrate her forthcoming nuptials. I think it’s safe to say it was great!

Outfit:

The dress code was animal print so I went with this tiger print shift dress from Hobbs, adding a vintage coat for warmth.

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Stop 1: Victoria Miro

Kelly’s an art teacher so we definitely needed to include something arty on the itinerary. Both of us wanted to see the Kusama exhibition in London but tickets had been sold out for ages. Luckily, I saw a ticket release for half term and managed to snag three for us.

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Stop 2: Spitalfields

The three of us initially got to know each other through our love of vintage style so a bit of a mooch around seemed about right. We sorted a mother of the bride dress first and then strolled around the market. Feeling a bit parched, we stopped for a cuppa and tiny cakes thanks to Rhina!

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Stop 3: Sketch

Our heaven – no other words needed.

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Stop 4: Mr Fogg’s

After cake and tea overload, we ambled to Mr Fogg’s in hope of sampling something a little stronger. My drink certainly put hairs on my chest. It was an intriguing drinking spot and a great end to our spectacular day!

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Although I know we would have had a good time at home, a ridiculous day out was very much needed. I love these two more than they know!

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Time For A Change

At the end of September, I took the conscious decision to take a step back from blogging and give myself some time for reflection. I hadn’t been looking after myself as well as I could so I didn’t feel like I was in the best head space to write.

My attitude and approach to my blog have changed since I started blogging in 2015. Initially, my focus was vintage/pin-up fashion and styling. After a while, it became a way of recording positive life events as well as giving me a space to vent about issues which are important to me. Now I’ve had some time away, I’m going to keep some aspects of the blog the same and I’ll be making some changes.

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I will keep on recording positive life events. When I had my worst mental health struggles, I would keep a gratitude diary in which I would list three good things that happened each day. While I don’t go into such fine detail in my blog, keeping a log of happy times does me good.

The ‘Papow Ponders’ series will continue. I found it quite cathartic writing about everything from child-bearing to anxiety. More often than not, my opinions and thoughts are shared by others which helps me feel less isolated in my thinking.

From time to time, I’ll post about outfits and styling but this won’t be as frequent as other posts. I’ve had several conversations with friends about spending and consumerism and I feel it’s high time I made some changes. For the past few months, I’ve been making better use of what I already own and focusing more on experiences rather than objects – I’d like my blog to reflect this.

Different

I plan to focus more on activism, putting a spotlight on key accounts, writers, books, artists, etc. which celebrate and support marginalised people. I’m also going to share how I tackle certain issues as a teacher and in my day-to-day life. I’m hoping this will be helpful to others.

Food is one of my greatest passions but after some pretty harsh comments online a while back, I was put off from writing about food. Now I’m feeling more confident,  I’ll be working on a series of posts called ‘Technically Edible’. Basically, it’ll focus on my favourite places to eat (there’s quite a few).

Aims

I’m aiming to get back to posting regularly on a weekly basis. Last half term was quite heavy for me and I still feel like spending more time at work than ever. This half term, I’m determined to take better care of myself – that means giving myself more time to write, read, walk and relax. Giving myself proper schedule should force me to block out some time away from school.

Here’s to getting back into the swing of things!

24 Hours In Manchester

Last Friday, I headed up to Manchester for a brief visit to celebrate several birthdays. As I was teaching and doing some messy art, I dressed practically. After a long journey, I was met by Flick and Steph. We dropped off my overnight stuff and headed out to El Capo for dinner. Yummy food and excellent margaritas were just what the doctor ordered!

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After a very restful slumber, we got ourselves ready for a day out in the city. I forgot to take outfit photos so I took them when I got home. All spruced up, we headed into Manchester. Our first port of call was Primark as Flick was in desperate need of flat shoes. We then walked around and found Trof – a cute and cosy bar/brunch spot. It was a lucky find! We had great service and the food was top notch.

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With full tummies, we went mooching around some shops (looked at a lot of fabric). We met up with Karen and Jen in the process, finally heading off for afternoon tea at Richmond Tea Rooms. We all had a good natter and caught up. It was lovely!

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Travelling so far is tiring and a lot of effort but it’s so worth it for good friends.

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A Lonely Journey Through Hell

Uncomfortable reading ahead:

Last night, I caught the train home from a brilliant weekend in Manchester. Long distance journeys on public transport make me pretty anxious anyway but when I found my train completely crammed with drunk football fans – I was close to panic.

I managed to shuffle my way to my seat but a woman in a head scarf was sitting there with her daughter. Aware of the atmosphere and fearing the worst, I told her to stay in my seat until her stop. The football chants continued in full force – loud and constant. I couldn’t think and I was desperate to get off the train but I had to get home.

When the woman left with her daughter, I grabbed my seat by the window and a quiet guy who was standing with me sat beside me. He was as desperate as I was for the chanting to stop so we chatted about anything and everything to take our minds off of it.

After a while, I said I’d try to drown things out with my music. It didn’t really work – it was more of a distraction at least. A moment later, I noticed a change in tone and one of the men was looking at me and smiling as he was chanting. I took out my earphones to listen more clearly – the guy next to me told me to keep listening to my music and ignore it. The chanting had moved on to the mocking of South Asian accents filled with stereotypes. To say I was upset is an understatement. I was filled with a terrible mix of rage, pain and fear.

During all of this, the same chanter looked at me and smiled. The guy next on me continued to talk, telling me they were ignorant idiots and they that were nothing. I told him I was going to shout at them and tell them to shut up. He told me that I needed to keep myself safe and that it could escalate things. He said if I had to do something then I should just call the police. I did.

Once I’d reported what was happening, I sat, watched and waited with my heart hammering in my chest. They’d gone on to illegal immigrants and the like. I kept switching between weeping and swearing. The man next to me kept talking to me throughout – a great comfort. I messaged my friends and tried to take my mind off of the fact that I was sat in my own hell, unable to leave for over two hours.

The chanting returned to football stuff. A woman shouted at the men to shut up but was met with the chant of ‘she’s going home in an ambulance’. No-one said anything to that.

When she left the train, the police arrived and the carriage became totally silent. No-one said a word. One of the chanters was loudly complaining to the police about the woman who told them to shut up. I couldn’t take it so I called over one of the officers, explaining what the woman said and that I had reported the chants. They asked me to identify anyone I could. The only person I could clearly identify was the one who smiled and stared at me while he chanted. The rest had their heads turned or were obscured by seats or other passengers. They said they’d remove him and asked me to make a statement – I said I would. As they escorted the man off the train, I stared at him and smiled.

What happened afterwards, upset me most. The guy next to me who heard everything wished me luck and got off at his station – he didn’t want to talk to the police. The other passengers on the same carriage who heard everything remained silent as I called my better half and told him what had happened in tears. They looked at me and I looked back – then they averted their eyes. My statement would be the only one. I was painfully aware of that fact.

As I sit reflecting on the events of last night, I feel so frustrated and self-doubting. Did no-one say anything because they didn’t think the chanters were being racist? Did they think I was being sensitive or over-reacting? Thing is I know – everyone should bloody know – that you don’t have to use racist language to be racist. Mocking accents and laughing about illegal immigrants while you’re staring and smiling at a brown woman and the brown man in front of her surely is not OK. Am I wrong?

I wish sometimes that I had the privilege of being ignorant. I wish I could hear this stuff and not register it – it’s drunk banter, it’s nothing. Being drunk doesn’t make you racist or xenophobic though. You were those things already but alcohol loosens your tongue and gives you enough bravado to say that ignorant rubbish in public. I wish I could ignore it all. I wish I could say that my brown skin doesn’t spark some vile thought in someone’s brain. The fact is I know far too much. I know it’s not drunk banter. I know that it’s about brown skin.  I know that it’s racist. Sometimes I hate myself for knowing so much. Knowing so much is incredibly lonely.

Twinwood 2018 In Photos

This year’s bank holiday was spent catching up with friends, trawling through stalls and enjoying some fabulous tunes at Twinwood. Saturday was the busiest day for us – we did so much. The weather was pretty grim on Sunday so we made most of the day and rested up in the evening. On Monday, we had to head home pretty quick so we had a final stroll around and catch up. Twinwood 2018 was seriously chilled and it was bliss – a great end to the summer holidays

Saturday

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Sunday

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Monday

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Such a fabulous weekend spent with good friends – just what we needed!

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Turning 30

This summer, I turned the big 3-0. I’ve got to a point in life where I much prefer experiences With that in mind, my better half and I organised an awesome weekend in London

DragWorld

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore drag so going to a drag convention seemed like the right thing to do on my thirtieth. My buddy Kelly had been the previous year and really recommended it. I’m not that confident with make-up apart from what I do on a regular basis so I stuck to my usual style of dress and make-up. I wore a vintage dress I picked up from Brighton and earrings I got as a birthday gift from my mum.

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It was such a great day! I got to spend it doing what I love: spending time with friends, watching great performances, fangirling over drag talent and engaging in big discussions. We’ll definitely be returning next year.

The Cheese Bar

Food is another one of my great loves in life. The Cheese Bar was recommended to me by a few friends so we thought we’d give it a bash. Needless to say it was brilliant from start to finish: incredibly delicious food, good atmosphere and fantastic service.

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Club Swizzle

Before I broke up from school, I found out that my friend, Dandy, would be performing at The Roundhouse over the summer. Seeing as we didn’t have plans for the evening portion of my birthday, we booked tickets for Club Swizzle.

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It was a pretty spectactular evening of acrobatics, singing, burlesque, jazz and comedy – we bloody loved it. I hope we get the chance to see the show again.

Outsider Tart

Next morning, we headed over to Turnham Green for a yummy brunch at Outsider Tart. This place NEVER disappoints.

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It was an amazing weekend and I need to thank my better half for being the best company over the weekend and for helping to organise everything.What a great way to turn 30!

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Fierce Females: Friends, Frida and Hot Brown Honey

Ah, the end of term is most definitely a time for celebration and what better way to celebrate than hanging out with my favourite people doing my favourite things!

As it was another incredibly hot day, I went for a light but bright and bold outfit. My dress is repro and I added a turban and hair flowers to top it off. I felt both wonderful and ridiculous.

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To kick off the day, I headed to the V&A to meet up with Kelly. I arrived early so a mooched about on my own. Oddly enough, I was approached by a very desperate American tourist who was looking to get into the sold out Frida exhibition in the final few hours before his flight home. I couldn’t really say no so we took a whirlwind tour before I found Kelly. With my buddy in tow and my trusty V&A membership, we went from exhibition to exhibition and took in as much as we could.

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Seeing as Kelly and I were both on our school hols, we decided to treat ourselves to the Frida Kahlo-inspired afternoon tea at The Lanesborough in London. The space was absolutely stunning to say the least and it was so serene – just what a tired teacher needs. Tea began with a palate-cleanser, which was a refreshing hibiscus concoction. This was followed by some really scrummy sandwiches. I particularly enjoyed the cucumber one and the guacamole one. Scones as always made us very happy indeed. Now, I’m such a stickler for good cakes and patisserie – I was slightly worried that this afternoon tea would be more style over substance. Boy was I wrong! Every single morsel was utterly delicious and if I hadn’t have been so painfully full, I’d have happily eaten them all again. I should also add that the service was particularly brilliant; from the doorman to the pianist, everyone was warm and courteous. Both of us left with big smiles on our faces.

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After I said my goodbyes to Kelly on the tube, I moved on to Covent Garden to meet up with Jennifer. We chewed the fat as we always do and sat about in the sunshine. A  few months back, we heard about a Hot Brown Honey show at the South Bank Centre so we snapped up some tickets. I never fail to have a wonderful time with Jen and this was no exception. I won’t give any details but the show was pretty mind-blowing. It explored race, identity and gender in such a thought-provoking and intriguing manner. Both of us cried, shouted and laughed in the space of two hours. If you get the opportunity to see it, please do. Afterwards, we took time for a drink and post-show contemplation.

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Not bad for a Tuesday. I’m so grateful to have such awesome women in my life!

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