Wednesday, 5 April 2017

New Season, New Everything...


It's that time of year where you open your wardrobe and sigh before wading through the Winter jumpers, desperately trying to find an item that looks vaguely Spring-like. Here's my Spring wishlist:

You Can Never Have Too Many Handbags...

An item that certainly needs a seasonal refresh is my handbag. Stuffed with receipts and lipsticks and many other useless items, it's time for a clear-out.

In the search for the new perfect bag, I came across UK based company, 'Mahi Leather.' They produce beautiful leather handbags which you can definitely throw all your essentials into, even if your essentials include a contouring kit and 3 hairsprays.






Every order is shipped directly to you, cutting out the costs that you would normally pay by buying through a high-street store.

Each bag is made to order and can be personalised with your initials, Burberry scarf style. To ease your bag-buying guilt, Mahi will donate $1.50 from the sale of each bag to providing clean water with 'Frank Water.'

You can browse the full range here: https://mahileather.com/

Shoes


I think I have been lusting after these shoes since the age of 14. Now bang on trend with the animal print, I think it's finally time to invest in Billie Joe's shoe of choice..




Schuh - £64.99 (http://www.schuh.co.uk/womens/t.u.k-viva-lo-sole-creeper-black-and-brown-flat-shoes/1379089050/)

The Perfect Spring Coat

In typical Manchester style, Spring is bound to be a damp affair. I need to arm myself with a spring coat which not only fends off the elements, but can also pass as a smart work coat that can be thrown on with any outfit combination.

This neutral trench coat from Miss Selfridge is a beautiful grey with a cinched in waist to complement any outfit.



Grey Trench Coat -  £52.50 (http://www.missselfridge.com/en/msuk/product/grey-belted-trench-coat-6182485?geoip=noredirect&cmpid=ppc_pla_UK_ip&utm_medium=cpc&istCompanyId=ef628c1f-3888-4f51-9f35-cff6febf8eb3&istItemId=xipwplimmx&istBid=tztx&gclid=CKygw-Crj9MCFUeeGwodzWkPaw&gclsrc=aw.ds)

Gym Fun

To get myself to the gym after work, I need some sort of motivation. The only thing that really makes it bearable is new gym wear, the more jazzy the better. These are so mad they make my eyes go funny which would definitely make burpees slightly more interesting.




Adidas £20.00 - (https://www.jdsports.co.uk/product/black-adidas-originals-repeat-leggings/244807/)






Sunday, 19 February 2017

Inside Salford City Radio


Nestling between Swinton’s Town Hall and a generic looking Salford car park, is a tiny, fenced off portakabin. It’s almost unnoticeable amongst its bleak surroundings, but nudge aside the surrounding prison-like bars and scruffy exterior and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of unsigned bands, musical passion and a massive dollop of record spinning.

For the past 6 months, I have been making a weekly trek to Salford City Radio, a community run radio station in Swinton. Although its external appearance is a little hard on the eyes, it’s a secret haven for over a hundred little known DJ’s.

Awarded its broadcasting licence in 2007, the station pleases every possible audience, featuring everything from political talk shows to band sessions, to presenters unearthing new music. Guests from David Cameron to Frank Turner have visited the tiny premises, buzzed the shabby-looking door and entered into the three studio strong building. Photographs of previous guests and presenters adorn the walls, emphasising the ever present value of community spirit.

I have always had an unhealthy obsession with radio. As a child, I’d religiously tape the Sunday night chart, haphazardly cutting the tracks halfway through if I got bored. I’d gather some easily bossed, impressionable friends and tape my own radio show complete with bewildered, unhappy guests. So, when I got the chance to nosey around SCR, a real life radio station, I donned my headphones and vowed to visit once a week.

DJ’s range in age from sixteen to their early seventies. Their full time, bill paying jobs couldn’t differ more, from working in hospitals to driving lorries and working with mental health patients, yet they all gather, united in a complete devotion to all things music.

New recruits find themselves completing ‘what’s on’ guides or compiling lists of local events to be read out on air. However, after a couple of months at the station I found myself presenting a breakfast show with DJ, Stu Currie. Not only did we unite over our mutual love of all things Amy Winehouse, hatred for Simon Cowell, and Beyoncé’s backside, but we fast became friends. One of community radio’s biggest pros is the extended family you immediately gain, fuelled by a wealth of musical knowledge.

It’s Sunday afternoon, and we’ve just finished pre-recording our Wednesday morning breakfast show. ‘You’ll love this’ Stu says, handing me a soggy square that once resembled a cd, ‘it got a bit wet in my car but I think you’ll like it. And, there’s this really amazing cover of Outkast that I’ve got to play you.’

There’s a familiar gleam in his eyes as he start’s trawling the internet for the song, it’s a recognisable sparkle that only a deep passion for music can trigger.

“All my mates that I’ve had since I was a little kid have always known that I’ve wanted to be on the radio. When I was a kid I used to sit there with a ghetto blaster pressing play and record and I’d sit there in my room doing my own radio show. I’d be sat there just reading a magazine and interviewing all the people in it, I’ve still got the tapes somewhere!"

Trying to squish the four hour prep, band interviews and breakfast show recording into his tight work schedule never seems to leave him stressed. I have only known him to miss one show, and that was after witnessing him as a stumbling blur, fleeing the building as he clutched his face screaming ‘TOOTHACHE,’ which I think makes his absence perfectly understandable.




The area outside the three studios is where DJ’s tend to congregate before and after their shows. It’s home to two 70’s floral patterned sofa’s, which were undoubtedly uncool the first time round, and an old chair overflowing with sobbing wires bearing the homemade sign ‘RIP headphones.’ In the centre is a round table, which today is slightly busier than usual. About eight DJ’s schedules have brought them to coincide here and the rock ‘n’ roll conversation is fast flowing.

‘I had two bottles of wine and four cans of that really strong stuff to myself last night’ groans one DJ whose show is in a very fast approaching ten minutes. ’I used to be able to cane it all night on pills’ he continues, resting his head on the table, ‘but now.’

On most professional radio stations, this sort of talk would be banished before you could say ‘ad break,’ but there’s a certain 60’s pirate radio element to working here. There’s an ever present vibe of scratched vinyl and muffled beats, a bit ‘the boat that rocked’ but with less indecency.

The air is often tinged with tales of beer crates being stashed in studios and fights with band members.

Between the DJ’s there’s an inconceivable amount of talent, regardless of their unpaid status, and the preparation and ability to provide a high quality show obviously means everything to them.

Usually volunteers work alongside each other fairly tranquilly, but every so often a collision of opinions can erupt. I once witnessed a particularly fiery argument, in which Metallica’s biggest fan was politely informed that their back catalogue was utter ‘garbage.’




Fast forward a week and I manage to corner one of the station’s paid managers. He works at SCR as well as running a music industry learning project at Salford’s Media City, hosting free workshops for budding musicians.

He is one of the most cheerful, friendly faces at the station often making him the most in demand when a DJ needs help.  He admits that not everyone appreciates how stressful his role is.

“No, nobody understands.” He laughs wearily, “people come here to escape the pressures of life and it’s good for them to be able to come in here and just be able to walk in and see Mary who’s on reception during the week, she’s somebody who they can have a nice chat with. That’s what I wanted, a front of house person who can just be friendly and nice so that if people want to come here and talk about how their budgies died or that their nana’s got toothache, they can. For me, I have a job to do, a very demanding job which involves me raising tens of thousands of pounds a year to keep the station running because without the station there’s no voluntary roles for these hundred people and there’s no job for me and I can’t feed my kids. I know that sounds drastic but I always think of the worst scenario. I don’t think people really understand what happens day by day for me, but I have a lot of things to do.”

Mid-sentence, there’s a knock at his office door.

“Can you just come and turn the monitors on for me?” a face asks, peering round the ajar door.

“Which monitors, the speaker monitors?” He asks.

“No, the computer screen.”

“Well just press the on button then.”

“Oh, ok.” A sheepish sounding voice replies before shuffling back into the studio.

The door closes and he looks at me wearily.

I ask him which trait he thinks bonds the volunteers and he tells me that it’s their differences that allow them to work together so well.

He said: “I think that they don’t have a lot in common with each other and that’s what makes it work, with your commercial radio stations they all have that ‘radio voice’ in common, that set style that you hear but with community radio everybody’s different. Our youngest DJ is 16, our oldest is in his early 70’s. Some people come here with no intention to ever do anything professional with radio and others do, like Adam Brown who came here four and a half years ago with the sole intention of being a professional broadcaster and now he’s on Key 103 and BBC Radio Manchester. So it’s a great thrill for me to be somebody who trained Adam. But some people are just here to escape the pressures of family life and work life so nobody really has much in common with each other, we don’t want everybody to be the same. There are so many people here who are very different, that’s what makes it fun for me. I like that I can be talking to a 16 year old who’s into hip hop one minute and a 70 year old guy who’s into Tchaikovsky the next.”

As I walk out of the office I catch the end of Stu’s show, which he’s broadcasting from the main studio. He waves at me through the glass window, his desk laden with cd’s.

“I’m going to play an acoustic cover for Clémence who’s just come in,” I hear his voice beaming from the portable radio on the opposite side of the room and look over to see him grinning at me with his thumbs up.

Another DJ walks in, “Oh!” he says excitedly, “I found this amazing French band, you like French music don’t you, it’s got a 60’s feel to it, come in here and I’ll play it you!”

As he ushers me into a free studio, I can’t help but feel an immense sense of content. After years of scrawling lyrics into my schoolbooks and scratching punk tattoos onto my skin with biro, I’ve finally found a group of people who are equally as barmy about music. Here, I can spend hours delving into the depths of 60’s girl groups and debating whether Green Day should ditch the rock opera and head back to crystal meth, girls and smoking too much weed, without the recipient yawning and falling off their chair with boredom.  As I listen to the retro beats and soft vocals I realise that community radio has brought me more than a weekday slot and a new appreciation for adobe audition, it’s given me a whole new musical family. And that’s worth more than any amount of airplay.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Waist Trainers - Miracle Garment Or A Waist Of Time..?


It's that time of year when you stir from a ridiculously cold Spring slumber, one that's filled with Mac and Cheese and huddling in front of the TV. You're suddenly faced with the horror that you might soon have to hand over your parka and jeans for something a little less cosy.

After getting addicted to Clubbercise a couple of months ago (that's another story), I was feeling slightly smug about the whole Summer/baring skin dilemma. But that was before I agreed to review a waist trainer from The Ultimate Waist...

If your life goals are in anyway influenced by the Kardashian clan, you're likely to be familiar with waist training. Not a day goes by without a Kardashian sister uploading a post-gym selfie to Instagram cinched in by a neon Ann Chery waist trainer.

I will be honest, the first time you try to squish yourself into one of these is soul destroying. Think getting toothpaste back into the tube and you've got the idea. Designed to be the tightest fit possible, the sensation of shoving everything into one of these sturdy, latex trainers is one that makes you feel like genuinely quitting carbs for good.




Manufactured in Colombia, the trainer has flat seams so you can wear it under your clothes throughout the day and three sets of hooks ensure that you're on the tightest setting. Hooking it together gets easier with each wear. 

I'm not saying that it's a miracle, but on removal, you feel as though you have compressed your stomach which incredibly, makes for looser clothes instantly.

It's advised you wear your trainer for a few hours a day and for optimum results, you should work out whilst wearing it (haaa!) Whilst I have been wearing mine daily, I am not quite ready for the experience of trying to master aerobics to The Prodigy in it yet.




The trainer creates compression in your core and heats up your mid-section which is supposed to promote weight loss.

I have been wearing mine for over a week and have noticed that whilst wearing it, my posture is miles better than usual. Trust me, there's no slouching allowed in this thing, just try!

If you're mission it to get Summer-ready quickly, I would definitely recommend it. I'll let you know how I manage a gym session in it, if I'm still standing...


Visit The Ultimate Waist Here.





Sunday, 10 April 2016

Brunch At Neighbourhood...


Saturday mornings were designed for brunch. Especially if it's an incredible, 3 course brunch at celebrity hotspot, Neighbourhood.




Currently planning a relaunch, the Spinningfields restaurant invited bloggers to sample their new brunch menu.



The Manhattan-inspired interiors and extensive choice of food options meant everyone on our table was happy. The staff offered meat-free alternatives for me as a vegetarian and another member of our table who was gluten intolerant.





The pancakes were as amazing and perfect as they looked, whilst the poached eggs that I strive for at home but never achieve, put me to shame.





After 3 courses, a good natter with some fellow bloggers and a couple of cocktails, we all agreed that this is the perfect place for a leisurely, weekend brunch.

www.neighbourhoodrestaurant.co.uk

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Simple Stretches For The January Slump


For me, January is not a month of motivation. In a post-christmas cheese slumber, all I want to do is watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians on the sofa rather than drag myself up and exercise.

However, when hunched over my desk , I often feel the need to stretch to wake myself up and combat the ache of slumping over a computer. There's a couple of yoga stretches that I find can help you get through the 3.30 pm slump.

As part of their 'Flexible Working' campaign, Powwownow asked me to share my tips for stretching in the workplace.

Tree pose, or Vrksasana is a yoga pose you can do almost anywhere. You can even have a go whilst brushing your teeth, so there are no excuses! I hold the pose for about 30 seconds, breathing deeply to improve my sense of balance. Drawing your stomach in towards your spine and lengthening your arms above your head also helps to ease tension in your back from sitting in the same position all day.



Reverse Prayer is another pose that helps to stretch the forearms, upper back and shoulders. It's a really good stretch if your job involves using your hands, particularly at a computer. This position also helps you to breathe more deeply, so is great for when you need to take a few breaths and relax.



So, put down your phone, stop scrolling through photo's of avocado on toast on Instagram and take a few minutes to stretch and breathe. You'll definitely feel better for it.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Angel Wings And Pretty Things..


I am a Real Housewives of Cheshire junkie. I love watching Ampika, Dawn, Leanne, Lauren, Magali and Tanya repeatedly fall out with each other off whilst wearing incredible shoes and flouncing around places I know but can't afford to go to.


Now the second series has ended, I had to get my fix another way. So, on a rainy November weekday, I bundled my BFF into the car to the launch of favourite housewife Tanya Bardsley's jewellery collection.



Tanya is the funny one, the straight-talking one and the one who's best insult was to call Ampika a 'Birthday Dickhead.' 

After becoming a life coach and releasing an inspirational book, 'Just A Girl Who Got It All,' she has created a jewellery range to promote positive thinking and encourage the wearer to achieve their life goals named 'Dreams To Reality.'





Based around the theme of 'wings,' the jewellery is designed to be worn daily, as a reminder to get what you want to get from life. And as well as helping you to think positively, the range of bracelets and necklaces are really delicate and beautifully designed. Priced between £35-£97, the items are affordable and were being snapped up for Christmas gifts.

The launch evening, hosted at chic, healthy eatery The Garden in Hale, also treated guests to manicures, glitter make-up and massages along with a hair station manned by hairdresser to the housewives (and my favourite place to go for big bouncy curls) Eds Hair.

Hair by Ed's Hair

Tanya was lovely, she posed for pictures with guests and looked incredible in an amazing red dress and matching trademark lipstick. I definitely looked a tad ghost like and desperately in need of a tan standing next to her.



All the RHOC girls were in attendance to support their, dare I say, friend? And there wasn't a cake-fight or slanging match in sight!

With the lovely Magali

Ampika, Magali, Ed and Lauren



You can shop the full range at: www.tanyabardo.com

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Ultimate Blogging Uniform


If you're anything like me, getting dressed is a minefield.  On Sunday night, I embark on a weekly mission, plough through my wardrobe and find myself slumped on a mound of clothes two hours later, still none the wiser.

To combat this whilst blogging, Workwear Express offered to send me my own, personalised 'Blogger Uniform.' 

I was envisioning some sort of pink boiler suit/apron combo but was pleasantly surprised when this hoodie arrived in the post! It's a lovely, warm fluffy hoodie, the kind that were made for slouching on Sundays.






I had explained to Workwear Express that as a child, I'd frequently subject my toys to hours of fun in which I'd boss them around and give them heaps of work to do, I think I thought these were the job responsibilities of a teacher. Years later, bingeing on The Hills episodes, I wanted to  make like Lauren and co and have swishy hair and a BMW whilst flouncing around at Teen Vogue pretending to be a fashion journalist.

After realising that I wasn't particularly keen on being subjected to kids everyday and that living in LA may be a little unattainable, I stuck to writing.


Watching videos of cats..obvs.


Sharing this with them, they used my childhood dream to produce an item of clothing  which I'm sure will provide me with much warmth whilst blogging this Winter.

They were also kind enough to send me the ultimate blogging accompaniments, a Hetty desk hoover, travel mug and some very tiny but amazingly cute notebooks.





Share your childhood dream with them on Twitter using #WEChildhoodDream.

Twitter: @workwearexpress

Facebook: The Workwear Express Group