If you’re considering going blonde, or flirting with the idea of a natural looking balayage, look no further than Live True London.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be blonde. What does it actually mean to have a blonde moment? Do blondes have more fun? You know me, these philosophical questions eat me up inside -I needed to find out first hand.
I started with a few highlights about a year ago, then in September I added some balayage. But I knew that for the real thing, I needed to bring in the big guns. Live True London.
the best hair salon in south west london
Live True London has salons in Clapham, Brixton and Vauxhall. I visited the Clapham salon and it was probably the most relaxing hair salon experience I’ve ever had. The salons sport incredible interiors, the service is next to none and the staff are super friendly. You cannot ask for much more for a weekend pamper.
5 tips if you are considering balayage
I’ve been blonde for a little while now, and the comment I’ve received the most is how seamless my balayage looks -it blends in so beautifully with my darker roots.
If you’re considering balayage yourself, hopefully you will find these tips useful:
Make sure your hair is healthy before you consider balayage. Your hair will go under quite a bit of stress with the bleaching and your ends might struggle a bit. To prevent this from happening, I recommend using Olaplex before and after your treatment, which will keep your hair hydrated and protected;
Ask your hairdresser for an icy blonde. A cooler look will look less artificial than yellowy, brassy tones;
Stock up on blue shampoo -this will help maintain the icy blonde tones;
Use heat protectors before styling your hair to protect against breakage and damage.
So -the question you’ve all been asking. Do blondes have more fun? They definitely do.
Two weeks ago I went to Harley Academy Clinics to get some dermal filler injections in my chin. Here is my first ever cosmetic procedure story.
It’s not easy to talk about one’s own feelings and insecurities. We learn from an early age not to make ourselves vulnerable. “Hey, how are you?” -“Very well, thank you very much”. Always. Even when we’re very bad, thank you very much.
However, with the rise of the internet and in particular social media, a new wave of authenticity has wiped over us. Suddenly, we find ourselves free to discuss just about anything. Somehow, being further apart in body has brought us closer together in truth.
Which brings me to today’s post. For years I have battled with my own insecurities. Like everyone else, there are things about my body that I wish were different. And although I’m fully aware that beauty is fleeting, I am also very aware of its power. Or rather, I am aware of the power that comes as a result of it –confidence.
All The DL
Now, I strongly believe that confidence should come mainly from within. But I would be foolish to think that the outside world does not or cannot influence our interior world and, ultimately, our confidence.
I can distinctly remember the day I realised that I had a receding jawline. I saw it in a side profile picture of myself and I had one of those “is that really what I look like?” moments. So I started researching for ways to rectify the problem.
Most articles suggested jaw surgery but, given that my jaw was not presenting any real health problems, I opted against such an invasive procedure. I did, however, come across a practice called orthotropics which claims that, through correct tongue posturing, one can improve the shape and symmetry of one’s face. I’ve been practising orthotropics for 3 years now and I’ve seen some surprisingly positive results.
However, despite having achieved some results through practising orthotropics, I was still not one hundred per cent satisfied with my chin and jawline.
During my research, I had read that it was possible to (aesthetically) correct a receding jaw by getting dermal filler injections. So I decided to book a consultation with Harley Academy Clinics.
Two weeks before the procedure I met up with Dr Emily Magregor to discuss the treatment where I explained to her what my expectations were. As you can see from the above, I had a very clear picture of what I wanted.
I was slightly concerned that, in putting my face in the hands of a stranger, albeit a medical professional, I would lose control over how I looked. However, Dr Macgregor reassured me that it was not an unusual procedure and that I was in safe hands.
During the consultation, I also had an opportunity to ask about any concerns regarding, pain, side effects and any other burning questions I had. By the end of the consultation, I was confident that the procedure was safe, and that I had nothing to worry about.
Most people have asked me whether the treatment was painful. Absolutely not.
I suppose I would describe the treatment as mildly uncomfortable. The dermal filler is placed near the bone with a syringe so it feels a little “scratchy”. But the whole area is numb anyway from the local anaesthetic so it really isn’t painful.
The procedure lasted approximately 15 minutes. I had about 3 ml of dermal filler injected in my chin and a tiny bit in my jawline.
I had very clear expectations of what I wanted my chin to look like and I am honestly so pleased with the results.
Although I would love to have a chin and jawline like Angelina, I have to accept the fact that I will probably always have a petite chin. However, my side profile is now a lot more balanced, making my features more defined.
In terms of side effects, other than my irrational fear of accidentally moving the filler to a different part of my face during my sleep, I experienced a little “chin tightness” for about a week and a half after the procedure.
Here are the before and after pictures:
As you can see, my chin and jawline are a lot more defined, giving me a more assertive look.
What I love about this treatment is that most people haven’t even noticed I’ve had anything done. No funny looks, no awkward questions. It’s good because it means I still look like myself -just a new and improved version.
So I’ve been going through a bit of a healthy phase lately. I say the word “weightloss” almost guiltily because, to be honest, I feel a bit sorry for us millennials.
So much is expected of us. We must have our careers in check, our relationships on track, enough savings to buy impossibly expensive homes and -to top it all off- perfect bodies, strong friendships, active lifestyles and a love of food (but not gluten).
So when I say I feel guilty for going through a healthy phase, it is because I don’t want to make anyone else who might be struggling with motivation feel like they aren’t doing enough. We are all in this together -I get you.
For example, my personality type is ENTP-T. I am a thinker and a debater. But when it comes to implementing my ideas, particularly when it comes to weightloss, I struggle -a lot. So I have come up with a few “life stabilisers” to help me along the way.
FYI, I’m not a nutrition/health expert. And I don’t blame you if you’re thinking -DUH!?
1. Protein diet
Weightloss is hard. Especially in this lovely weather, surrounded by temptation. There are so many bbqs, parties and afternoon teas to enjoy. No one likes feeling FOMO.
So my number one tip is to stick to a Mon-Fri protein heavy diet (lean meats, fish, eggs etc), and then have a bit of fun at the weekend. SO boring, I know. Works though.
Disclaimer -I used to hate walking. But recently I have found that it’s actually the perfect time to catch up with friends/family on the phone. If your commute to work/uni is too long to walk, walk for part of it. I swear to god it works for weightloss.
3. No alcohol
Now, you might be of the Grace (from Grace and Frankie) school of thought that alcohol has its own rules. This may well be true -as I said, I’m not a health expert. But what I do know is that empirically speaking, cutting out alcohol works a treat for me. I find that it makes me look less bloated and, more importantly, it ensures that I don’t end up in maccie ds at the end of the night.
4. LipoFirm Pro
My final “life stabiliser” is a treatment called LipoFirm Pro. A few months ago, I was invited to undertake 8 sessions of LipoFirm Pro at Coco Nail Bar in exchange for a review. So I thought -why not? Let’s give this a go. I was given a choice of which area I wanted to target: thighs, glutes, stomach, neck. I decided to target my stomach (PROBLEM AREA!).
As you can imagine, I was a little sceptical about the treatment at first. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t notice much of a difference after the first couple of sessions. However, after the 3rd or 4th session, I started to notice a real increase in the elasticity and tightness of my skin due to the collagen rejuvenation and contraction caused by the radio-frequency energy. Around the 5th session, I noticed that my stomach felt a lot more toned. Come session 8, I had lost a total of 7cm around my stomach.
Since I started the treatment, I have dropped one dress size. I believe this was thanks to a combination of all of the above “life stabilisers”.
Recently I’ve been obsessing over Instagram stories. I couldn’t understand why my follower count, likes and post reach kept increasing, yet my Instagram story views remained the same. So I decided to do what anyone with an undergrad degree and post grad in law would do -I turned to google. But the results were disappointing. All the articles I came across were just clickbait and the tips were mostly pretty basic.
So then I did what only someone with a pathological obsession would do -I started studying. I observed, took notes and applied. And since applying these techniques, my Instagram story views have doubled in reach in a matter of days.
The Instagram story ‘grab, hold, react’ technique
Instagram’s algorithm may be a bit of a mystery, but one thing’s for sure: high engagement equals more visibility. Luckily, if there’s anything that I have learned from endless hours in front of Netflix, it’s that in every mystery the clues will be right in front of you. And Instagram story insights give us lots of them.
Sticker taps (the users you tag)
Link clicks (swipe ups)
In all probability, the more replies, link clicks and taps and the fewer forward taps, away swipes and exits, the higher the chance of your content being seen. Not rocket science. This means you need to somehow grab and hold people’s attention with your Instagram story and then cause them to react to it. I call it the ‘grab, hold, react’ technique. Not an easy task though! In a world saturated with media content, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get your Instagram story seen.
1. The basics (grab, hold, react)
I’m going to assume that you already know the basics. But if you don’t here is a quick list.
Geotags(grab). Always geo tag to maximise views;
Bonus tip: you can hide your hashtags by pinching them so that they become virtually invisible. I once used the hashtag “gaypride2017” at the London gay pride and got 1.5k views just from that. To optimise your chances, use all 10 available hashtags.
Tags (react). When you tag someone chances are people will want to know who they are and click on them.
Bonus tip: tag new people. My friend Shelley used to get so many taps at the beginning, but now that everyone knows who she is, the number of taps has gone down. Whenever I tag a new person they get a lot more taps;
GIFS (grab, hold). I love gifs. a) They are just awesome and fun and you can get super creative with them, and b) they turn a photo into a video. And videos are more likely to end up on the geotag and hashtag stories. Bingo!
Post frequently (grab). Instagram stories are chronological, so the more you post to your stories, the more chances of getting your story to the top
Bonus tip: post regularly throughout the day rather than all at once;
Quality content (hold, react). Don’t post just anything. Your insta stories need to either have a purpose or look aesthetically pleasing.
2. Reccomendations (react)
People love to share their views on things. Think about when you’re telling someone a story about yourself and the recipient starts talking about something similar that happened to them. It’s no wonder social media is so popular -sharing is at the core of our species
E.g. “Does anyone have any good recommendations for a new Netflix series?”
3. Secrets (grab, hold, react)
Who doesn’t love a secret? No one can resist a click bait even when we know it’s just clickbait. People are naturally curious. And curiosity is a powerful tool in the ‘grab, hold, react’ formula.
I mean GOLD! I dare you not to click. Another great example was Sophie Milner, Millie Cotton and Chloe Plumstead’s recent podcast about how much they earned through blogging. Genius! Who wouldn’t want to know?! The only “downside” is that you must be willing to share your secrets. At the end of the day, you want people to trust that they will get what they were promised if you want them to keep coming back.
Instagram story polls are great because they force people to interact with you, thus provoking an instinctive ‘reaction’. But make sure you make the poll as easy as possible.
This or that?
E.g. “Do you prefer the blue dress or the yellow dress?”
Ask sensitive questions.
E.g. “Do I look good in this?”
Some people will think you do. However, others might not and will therefore just skip the story. Anyone who says no is just socially inept. But the crucial point here is that you’re missing out on a great opportunity for engagement by asking sensitive questions.
5. Time lapse videos (grab, hold)
I love watching time lapse videos. Luke Catleugh is a master at this. He places his phone directly adjacent to him and records simple tasks in time lapse. You will usually see him either cooking, sipping on a coffee, or studying. It’s like playing sims. He even makes packing a suitcase captivating! Which is both ‘grab’ and ‘hold’ in the ‘grab, hold, react’ formula.
6. Celebrating your success (react)
Hearing about other people’s success is always inspiring, particularly when it’s done in a humble way. And when you share your success with others, people will want to celebrate with you (reaction).
Jamie Cullen posted on his insta stories about the progress he’s achieving in the gym. I DMd him to congratulate him, and I’m guessing many others did too. If he’d only posted a mirror selfie in the gym, he would probably have received half the engagement.
7. Bloggermail (grab, hold, react)
Bloggermail insta stories. I’m not 100% sure on this -some people love them and others hate them (which is a potential for swipe aways). I personally don’t watch them often. However, it is a known fact that haul videos are one of the most popular videos on youtube so I must be part of the exception. Also, most bloggers tend to do them and there is always meaning in numbers.
I hope you found my tips useful. Please do let me know how you get on -I would love to hear what your experience was. And of course, if you have more tips that you’d like to share, I would love to learn all about them!
Yesterday I was invited to try out Burberry’s special Mother’s Day afternoon tea. The Burberry cafe is hidden inside Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street in London. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it was great to enjoy a quite moment in the cafe before heading out for some Saturday sping.
If you’re looking for some last minute Mother’s Day inspiration, hopefully this post will help you. Afternoon tea is always a lovely way of showing your mother just how special she is to you.
The interior of the Burberry cafe is elegant and sophisticated. Tall ceilings and windows, white table cloths and art nouveau tiled floors. It’s therefore the perfect place for a Mother’s Day afternoon tea, and a great place to create new memories.
The abundance of natural lighting also makes it the perfect place to take some cute family photos. You will already know from my Paris trip post that gorgeous interiors are a number one priority for me.
Mother’s Day afternoon tea
The afternoon tea at Thomas’ cafe is traditional -crumpets, scones or tea cakes, finger sandwiches and petit fours. There is also the option of adding Nightingale wine if you’re feeling like a little English bubbly.
I particularly enjoyed the clotted cream and Thomas’ jam scones. Speaking of which -do you say scone or scon? And do you prefer your scones with jam and clotted cream, or with clotted cream and jam? Please leave a comment below. This has already caused a bit of a storm on my Instagram lol.
Unfortunately I was not able to treat my mummy to Mother’s Day afternoon tea this year. However, this is definitely somewhere I would love to take her to on her next visit to London. Thomas’ cafe is also open for lunch and dinner, with a selection of traditional British foods.
Wow! It’s been a while guys. What can I say -I am SO sorry and I missed you!
So much has happened since my last post Forest of Dean Magic about my trip with Skirmy and Ollie. The Forest of Dean is a truly magical place. Many people associate it with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. But magic is not the only thing that attracts visitors to the forest. I Still need to tell you all about my visit to Tudor Farmhouse.
On our first evening, we were invited to experience a 6 course dining experience at Tudor Farmhouse. Walking down the drive towards the hotel was like stepping into a winter wonderland. Inside, the exposed wooden beams and roaring fireplace were second only to the delicious cocktails which we were served on arrival.
Though we did not stay overnight, the boys and I were really curious to take a tour of the hotel and suites. This independently owned business has the look and feel of a high end boutique hotel. Every room is perfectly decorated and each bathroom has deep, luxurious tubs. Rustic meets modern commodity in a sophisticated and elegant manner.
After our tour, our host showed us to a table in small candle-lit dining room. Each course of the meal was paired with matching wines from all parts of the world. Our sommelier did a great job of explaining the different flavours and textures of the wines. Each flight married beautifully with every single course.
I need you to be a little open-minded now. I’m about to explain why my favourite course was the roasted carrot but I forgot to take a picture of it (face palm moment). So I need you to use your imagination. You will no doubt remember growing up to your parents’ persistent requests that you eat your vegetables. Personally, I’ve never had that -my parents would put me in front of a salad and not really care if I moaned that I didn’t like it. Eventually, I learned to love any kind of food. However, I know this was a common issue in most families, so let’s resume my story.
Vegetables are usually served on the side of “something” -that something usually being some kind of superstar meat. They are never the main event but merely the supporting act. However, the chef at Tudor Farm House did an excellent job of turning that paradigm on its head -he boldly removed any distractions from our plates and forced us to pay attention to the Carrot. The result was unexpected. It was the best carrot I have ever tasted in my life, maybe even the best vegetable. I would highly recommend trying it.
The rest of the meal was just as impressive as it’s surprising beginning. Here are a few mouth-watering shots for your to enjoy. Hopefully, you’ve already eaten! Haha
We enjoyed our evening and surroundings at Tudor Farm House so much that the following morning we decided to return to the hotel to take pictures in the daylight. The staff were so friendly and accommodating. We will definitely be back!
There’s something to be said about being surrounded by history –it’s submersive. Growing up, I always had this burning desire to be somebody else. Which was why books the likes of ‘Narnia’ and ‘His Dark Materials’ appealed to me so much –they allowed me to open portals to different worlds, to be a different version of myself.
Now that I am older and (debatably) wiser, I don’t get to travel to different worlds very often. But for two nights in October, I was able to do just that.
Rooted in the heart of the Forest of Dean, Speech House Hotel is a magical place imbued with history. It was originally built as King Charles II’s hunting lodge in the late 1600’s but then later became a Verderers’ court –a court for the protection of vert and venison. I don’t really know why, but being surrounded by so much history awakens my imagination. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Take fantasy novels, for example –they’re mostly set in ancient lands where technology and stainless steel have not yet had a chance to strip the world bare. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But you have to admit, it is the antithesis to magic.
On our first morning at Speech House, sat in the Verderers’ court having breakfast by the snap and pop of the open fire, I realised I had done it: I had opened a portal. Suddenly, I found myself hoping that Dumbledore would make an appearance at breakfast and steal my toast, or that the naked lady in the oil painting above our heads would start sneezing into her bedsheets (or onto the boys’ black puddings!). The opportunities were endless. I carried on nibbling at the corner of my hash brown, taking in the warmth from the fire -London, a faraway universe.
My room at Speech House –which, in my head, I secretly referred to as “my chambers”-, was warm and cosy. It is not every day that one needs a stool to clamber onto their four-poster bed –yet, somehow, I felt instantly at home in this grandiose environment. Walking round in my dressing gown, I felt a true sense of belonging: had I finally made it into Slytherin?
The tall windows in my bedroom looked onto thick, ancient woodland. Some say it was the Forest of Dean that inspired JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ –I can see why. There is something very wild about the Forest of Dean –an almost eerie atmosphere. The vegetation is so old and luscious that one can imagine a very great deal happened in that forest. Maybe just a few hunting episodes, or who knows? Maybe something else -if only trees could talk!
On the first day, being the cute blogger family that we are, the boys and I coordinated outfits. After walking for a while in the Forest, we found a cool spot to take some group pictures. Tripod at the ready -and snap! The result? Well, I was hoping for Tatler meets ‘The Hobbit’, but someone recently commented saying that we look like the cast of Riverdale. I’ll take that.
Our evenings at the Hotel were spent mostly in Skirmy’s living room (or, as I liked to refer to it, the common room) playing wizard’s chess -just kidding! I apologise for all the Harry Potter references. This is what historic homes do to me! Or was I being influenced by Ollie’s hair colour? Maybe a combination of the two.
Leaving this enchanted place behind on the last day was difficult, but at least now I know that it is still possible to relive a little magic, even in your mid-twenties –all you need is a beautiful historic hotel and an ancient forest.
In the words of Albus Dumbledore: “a change of decoration is in order!”. Summer is dead. It’s time for transitional clothing.
Hello, autumn. Your days may be short and cold, but at least you allow me to layer, layer, layer. I mean, who doesn’t like to be wrapped up in what is basically the closest thing there is to your duvet? The teddy coat is the fashion staple of the season.
The fashion world is going through an existential paradigm shift -it is moving away from show pieces for faceless models and closer to real clothes for real people. Practicality is taking over the runways -we saw a flavour of it in Victoria Beckham’s show in NY last week. The truth is: autumns in the UK are cold, and so we need to wrap up warm! This topshop teddy coat is warm, cosy and just god damn perfect! I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.
For this look, I paired my topshop teddy coat with this gorgeous topshop dress in classic transitional style: bare legs for breeze and teddy coat for warmth and comfort. Floral dresses have made a real come back this season and I am totally on board with this trend. Feminine and romantic with a touch of practicality: easier to disguise those relish stains from those winter pub lunches than if wearing only one colour. And if you’re anything like me, that will come in handy. Trust.
And of course, let’s not ignore these topshop boots. I mean…hard to ignore, really. You hardly go unobserved walking around London in these bad boys. And with LFW round the corner, I sure know these trusty topshop boots will be my friends. They make me feel like a combo of Carrie Bradshore and Samantha. Explosive, not just transitional.
I want to thank my friend Skirmy from Mr. Salt and Pepper blog for taking these incredible photos. We had a little staycation in London together last weekend and, though I may have woken him up at 7:30am on Sunday morning, we had some really fun times going round London on our boris bikes. Yes -I was on a boris bike with my topshop teddy coat, floral dress and red boots. It felt very “An education” like.
Samuel Johnson once said that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. Well, Sam -try living in London now!
We all enjoy its perks -the constant parties, 24h tubes, trendy pop-ups and restaurants. But don’t you sometimes just crave a bit of peace and quiet? A bit of country life? Most Londoners don’t know that they can enjoy country living without even leaving London. Of course, the royal parks offer much by way of greenery -but it’s the country pursuits that I miss the most. A long walk (in the direction of an old country pub), wild swimming, a bit of polo, maybe? Not as exclusive as one might think.
Richmond’s very own Ham Polo Club is a well-established institution. It’s one of the oldest polo clubs in the country and the last surviving polo club in London. The club is very welcoming and allows non-members to attend the polo matches every week in the summer by paying a very small entry fee of £5 -totally worth the price for what it offers! You can pay for tickets at the gates and even bring your own picnic (and booze!).
Last weekend, I visited the club with a friend. We decided we wanted to take some photos with the ponies so, between matches, we walked around the stables looking for inspiration. The vibe at the club is so chilled that not one person told us off for cuddling the ponies and taking pictures with them. Of course, being the animal lover that I am, I made a new friend. It’s crazy how you can build such a strong bond with an animal in such little amount of time -it would never happen between humans (not in Britain, anyway lol). I will be back soon my friend!
This is not a sponsored post, by the way -just me wanting to share my secrets with you!
Some people feel comfortable in pyjamas, I feel comfortable in a blazer. I’m not sure I would sleep in a blazer, but I might try it and let you know how I get on.
Fashion reflects the times we live in, said Coco Chanel. This year, we’ve seen Exeter school boys in skirts, and frilly blouses at men’s fashion week. So the fashion world is following suit and going gender-free!
As women are becoming more and more powerful (see, for example, our Prime Minister, and our newly appointed president of the Supreme Court, Lady Justice Hale), suits and blazers have abandoned solitary confinement to join the rest of the world. Mark my words -come September, blazers, pronounced shoulders, and double breasted cuts will be all over your Instagram feed.
And so they should! Blazers are so versatile -they can be formal, elegant, edgy and casual, all at once, depending on how you style them. If I am ever stuck on outfit ideas (happens a lot), I will rock up in a blazer. It makes me feel powerful and feminine -perfect for the times we live in. Today’s women are fiercely independent go-getters: they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, so big padding is necessary!
Here, I added a delicate crushed velvet cami, paired with relaxed straight leg jeans for an easy day time look. I added a black belt and black faux leather mules to finish the look off. The mules are from primark -I wish I could link them below cause they were seriously the best buy of the summer (shoe-wise).
A slogan tee and pointy kitten heel would have also looked pretty cool. Maybe I can save that look for another blogpost -I don’t think the blazer trend will go anywhere anytime soon!