Monday, 30 December 2013

2014 reading list

I've always been a keen reader- as a child my love of books led to my family mocking me for not even being able to go on a short journey without a well-thumbed favourite or new literary adventure for company. I would go as far as to say that my love of books is the reason behind my habit of carrying a large handbag around -another mocking point for my family and friends.

Yet despite my love for reading, I am often ashamed to admit that I have never read many of the great 'classics' that I feel I should have read. I'm all about reading for enjoyment rather than chore, nevertheless I have been wondering recently whether I'm missing out. Not being one for making new year's resolutions, I've decided to make a list of books I want to read in 2014, and it goes something like this (in no particular order):

Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Grapes of Wrath by John Stenibeck
A Passage to India by EM Forster
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Moby Dick by Helman Melville
Little Women by Louisa M.Alcott
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Sherlock Holmes series (or at least part of) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

As I tick them off, I'll be writing a brief review of each one here. If you have any more suggestions of what I should read, tweet me @scribbling_lau!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Upcoming artist: Mariama Samba

It's been a while since I've done a music post - anyone who knows me knows that music isn't really my thing - but I've heard some great stuff coming out of Mariama Samba's YouTube channel recently and wanted to share it with you. This is her video for 'My Other Half' - have a listen and let me know what you think!

Friday, 13 December 2013

A reflection on Soweto

Following Nelson Mandela's death in 2013, and the resulting attention on South Africa, and in particular the township of Soweto, I thought a lot about the time I spent out in South Africa in 2012 and I remembered this piece I wrote about my visit to Soweto, which never got published at the time.

We pulled up at the side of a road on a busy flyover, the driver seemingly oblivious to the speed of the other traffic – just another example of the reckless South African driving that we had become accustomed to and fearing of in equal proportions. None of us wanted to be the first out of the minibus; even with the doors closed, the extent of the poverty could be seen. For miles ahead, row upon row of tumbledown shacks stood precariously, as if the lightest wind would bring the whole settlement down, and with it, the lives of the thousands of residents.

However,step outside the minibus we did – with our expensive cameras, nice clothes and full stomachs, we owed it to these people to, at the very least, bear witness to the trials and tribulations of their everyday lives. Looking at the traffic going past on the flyover, thousands upon thousands of people must drive past the shanty town every day, rushing between the centre of Johannesburg and the wealthier parts of Soweto, or beyond, too busy to care about what is going on around them.

Whilst the extent of the shanty town was shocking – not only did it reach far into the distance, but it continued the other side of the bridge, close to railway lines, and up into the hills, all the while watched over by the iconic Soweto towers – the most shocking part was looking directly below us. This allowed us to look into the lives of real people, individuals, rather than a vast number of people. We saw children playing, women hanging out washing on a makeshift line, people putting their lives at risk crossing the lethal railway tracks.  If anyone had ever doubted the reality of the scenes shown to us on Oxfam appeal adverts, had thought they were staged, or exaggerated, this alone was proof that they were not.
As we spent a few minutes taking in the scene, an elderly woman and her granddaughter approached us and engaged us in conversation, asking our names and where we were from, before telling us they lived in one of the homes below. The genuine interest they showed in our lives was humbling. We bid them farewell as they continued their journey, and as we turned around, we were faced with a wall of children, around 15 of them, all keen to talk to us. Shouting below alerted us to the arrival of more children – word was being spread around the settlement about the visitors up at the road, and groups of children were scrambling up the grass bank and climbing over the railings to see us.  Sadly, their interest stemmed from their need to beg – we were later told that their families send them up to the road to get food or money from tourists.

Within seconds we were surrounded entirely by the children, some as young as 3 or 4 years old, and our guide decided it was best for us to get back on the minibus. Even as we climbed back in, the children were still following us, until the minibus driver- who had grown up in Soweto himself-  intercepted, and spoke to the children in a language we didn’t understand. We later asked what he had said, and he had explained to them that those who had not been lucky enough to receive food or money from visitors today would have to hope that tomorrow was a better day for them.

We then drove to another area of Soweto – getting a sense of how large it is was astonishing – where we were to have a tour of one of the settlements with one of the residents. On arriving, a couple of people decided to stay in the minibus, too upset by what they had already seen. Those of us who did venture out were blown away by the friendliness of the people. As we walked down the dirt track past their houses – some of them smaller than our bedrooms at home- they waved, smiled, said hello, welcomed us to their township. One elderly lady even invited us into her house, insisting that we come in and look around. We tried to politely decline, but she was very insistent, and our local guide, Sam, said that it was an honour for her to be able to show us her home – a matter of pride, if you will. So in we went, the house barely big enough for the ten of us. It consisted of three tiny rooms – a kitchen, a living area and a bedroom. Decor was non-existent. The walls were lined with tarpaulin in an attempt at insulation. It was small, but she was proud of it, chattering away to us all, enquiring about where we were from, telling us about her life, laughing and smiling the whole time. As we left the house, a group of children were waiting for us in the garden – the news of our arrival had quickly spread around the settlement, and as at our previous stop, parents sent their children out to try to elicit food or money from visitors.

The children latched onto us, one on one, in a well rehearsed routine, asking our names, where we were from, if we had any siblings, before asking “do you have anything for me?” We had been told to leave our belongings in the minibus and not to give them anything. As harsh as this sounds, giving them money teaches them that begging is a sustainable way of life and offers them no motivation to search for employment when they are older. They walked with us for a while, until we headed back to the minibus, and even as we got on and closed the door behind us, they could still be heard asking “Do you have anything for me?”

An overwhelming sense of guilt hit us knowing that these children would have to go back to their parents, some with 10 or 12 mouths to feed, and tell them that they had not managed to get any money today. Yet the thing that stuck with me most about the experience was the attitude of the people we met. They all had next to nothing, lived in conditions that most people are lucky enough never to encounter, and have to fight just to survive every day, yet they were some of the most joyful and welcoming people I have ever met. Always laughing, smiling, greeting strangers and inviting them in to their homes. There’s a lesson to be learned from these people!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Simmons Bar, Camden: Review

There's a certain feeling of blasphemy involved in drinking alcohol from a teacup - at the very least it requires delicate sips. Yet a feeling to Simmons, Camden's newest bar, doesn't feel blasphemous at all. In fact, it feels quite revitalising.

Finding it is not the easiest of tasks. Firstly, don't be deceived by the location- head to Mornington Crescent tube station rather than Camden, and it's right outside. If however, like The Boy and I, you spend a good few minutes scratching your heads and puzzling over Google Maps before looking up at the sign and realising you're actually standing outside, don't feel foolish - it happens to the best of us!

Despite the hipster-esque attire of the gentleman serving behind the bar, the atmosphere was very welcoming. Although we visited on a Saturday night, it was peacefully empty - something which I hope doesn't change as word gets out about this place.

For our first round we somehow managed to take advantage of their happy hour offer - despite the fact that it is advertised as a Sunday-Friday offer and we were there on a Saturday - and got two Cosmopolitans for £10. Pretty good prices for central London, and although they would have cost £7.50 each otherwise, the strong dose of alcohol makes this a good price.

Sipping our drinks from the aforementioned teacups gave us a chance to take in our surroundings. The walls and ceiling are adorned with a mismatch collection of lampshades, whilst the centre piece is a revolving skull-shaped disco ball. The overall effect leaves one  thinking that it's the sort of place Tim Burton may open once he retires from the film industry - and that's no bad thing!

Going back for round two, we decided to branch out. The Boy had a Jamble, fascinated by the concept of jam in a cocktail, and I went for the Strawberry Cake - both were very well received.

Prices come in at around £8 for a "teacup" or £20 for a "teapot" - Simmons' equivalent of a cocktail pitcher. Although the prices may prevent it from becoming a regular haunt, it's a kitsch little place for an eclectic yet peaceful drink.

To see Simmons full menu and for further information, visit their website. The site itself makes my inner pedant want to sub-edit the heck out of it *twitch* so many spelling mistakes and typos *twitch*, but the menu is worth a read for a laugh - the Jamble description in particular sticks in my mind.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

5 weeks at Psychologies magazine!

I can't believe I've been at Psychologies magazine for 5 weeks now! I meant to do an update post after 2 weeks...then 3 weeks...then 4 weeks, but time just spiralled out of control.

I am really enjoying my placement, largely because the team are all so friendly, but also because of how much responsibility they are trusting me with. I have been managing the magazine's social media output on Facebook and Twitter, which has been really exciting recently, as the new-look, restyled version of the mag launched last week, so we have had a big PR campaign to publicise the new format. The feedback so far has been really good, and it was great to be involved with the mag at such an exciting time. Next month promises to be another exciting one, as it sees the 100th issue of Psychologies published!

I have also enjoyed attending events on behalf of the mag. In my second week, I attended the media preview of the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition (try getting that mouthful out after a couple of drinks), the results of which are here. Last week I went to a media screening of The Butler in a swanky Soho hotel, and this week next week I'm off to a preview of Nicole Kidman's new film.

I do spend some time in the office too, believe it or not, largely creating and uploading content for the web- either writing pieces myself, commissioning field experts to write pieces, or re-writing articles from the print magazine to fit the web format and conventions.

I've been given several other adhoc tasks to complete as well - the most bizarre moment was when I was deeply absorbed in a review copy of Jo-Ann Power's WW1 novel "Heroic Measures" (interview here), in a particularly graphic paragraph, when Ali came running over and asked me to urgently call in some fashion pieces from Selfridges - talk about one extreme to the other!

By far the biggest lesson I've learned so far is in relation to social media. Before this placement, I often wondered how large publications such as Company and Cosmopolitan could justify hiring a person purely to work on their social media -after all, it's only a case of writing a few tweets and Facebook posts a day. I take it all back - social media has been the most draining part of my job so far, and certainly takes up more time than anyone would imagine. From writing Facebook posts and tweets, finding Twitter handles to tag, scheduling posts, uploading links and images and responding to reader posts, it could be a full-time job and then some!

I've never worked at a magazine with such a close-knit team before, so it's really interesting to hear the features, sub-editing and art departments all working together to discuss issues as they arise.

Here's to the next few weeks!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Editorial Internship at Psychologies: Week 1

I can't believe my first week at Psychologies magazine has gone already! I'm loving being in the Psychologies office, everyone is really friendly and has made me feel very welcome, and it's the first time an Editor has offered to make me a cup of tea, rather than vice versa!

The office is so different to anywhere I've worked previously - set in a barn in what is essentially a field in the middle of nowhere, it has a really homely feel to it, a complete contrast to the corporate magazine offices in Old London Town. Of course, the fact that one of the key members of the features team is a dog named Oscar also massively contributes towards my love for the job!

Monday was a plethora of meetings, which was a really good way to get to know the features team. I was more than surprised at the end of the meeting when Suzy, the Editor, turned to me and asked if there was anything I wanted to write about - another first in my many forays into the world of magazine offices!

I have been given a couple of long term projects to be working on - that's all I'm saying, but keep your eyes peeled on the January issue for the results- and have been given some responsibility for the social media channels.

I'm already looking forward to next week as I've got a couple of events lined up (including the press preview of the Natural History Museum Photography Exhibition- eeeek!) and a celebrity interview to do on Thursday (mouth firmly zipped as to who, but watch this space!)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Finally, I'm getting somewhere!

Good news, kids! 15 months after graduating, many work experience placements and a lot of applications later, I’ve gone and landed myself a job in journalism! As of next Monday, I have an editorial internship (admittedly unpaid, but whatever your opinion on unpaid internships – and I’ve had many opinions over the years- I’ve resigned myself to the knowledge that they are completely necessary for career progression in the media industry) at Psychologies magazine. Woo and indeed hoo!

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing yet, hopefully a mixture of work across the website, magazine, and their social media channels. All I know is that there is already a project lined up for me, and I’m very excited! 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Celebrity Planet's London Ghost Tour

I've been hitting Wowcher pretty hard recently, and following on from my success at zorbing, my next bargain-fuelled adventure was a London Ghost Tour. At £16 for two people, including a boat trip on the Thames, my inner explorer couldn't resist.

Turning up at the meeting point in Green Park, we weren't sure what to expect. Would we be the only ones? Would the tour be led by an aged thespian with a penchant for the dramatic (please, no)? Fortunately, we realised that several others were also waiting for the tour, and further relief ensued when our tour guide, Joe, rocked up in jeans and a hoodie - perhaps some intrepid ghost hunters wouldn't approve, but I dislike tour guides that take themselves too seriously, dressed in top hats and carrying canes.

Our tour began in Green Park itself, where we heard stories of several ghostly beings that have inhabited the park over the years, before moving on to St. James' Palace, the British Institution and the most haunted house in  London, all the while hearing ghost stories from Joe (who did a great job of keeping track of all 45 members of the group!)

Next we hopped on to the tube at Green Park and emerged at Westminster (Joe even had some ghost stories about the section of tube we travelled on), where we heard a couple of tales of regal and parliamentary ghosts. A quick stroll over Westminster Bridge, via a couple more stories and we hopped on the boat to the Tower of London. 
After enjoying the views of the Thames by night, we hopped off the boat outside the Tower of London for our final round of ghost stories, and, it has to be said, the ones that captured my imagination the most.

I have been purposefully vague because I would definitely recommend taking the tour yourself. If you are a serious ghost tour regular, and enjoy the drama and mystery of tour guides who take themselves to seriously, regularly picking on members of the crowd throughout, then this is probably not the tour for you. However, if you are looking for a casual way to introduce yourself to the ghouls of London, go for it! 


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Photo of the day 25/09/2013

As a celebration on getting my new job (more of which to follow), The Boy took me to one of my favourite haunts in London- The Hummingbird Bakery, Kensington. After briefly glossing over the usual cupcake choices, this beast caught my eye (how could it not?)

I'm pleased to report that Hummingbird Bakery do Rainbow Cake as well as they do all other cakes, although the "slice" was more of a doorstep, and could easily be split between two people (or, y'know, the population of a small country). It was certainly more successful than our attempt at rainbow cake!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Autumn 2013 High Street picks

So, kiddiwinks, summer has retreated faster than a misbehaving kid at the mention of Santa, and Autumn is finally upon us. Autumn is my favourite time of year for many reasons, and I love watching changing fashions enter the shops.

My first glimpse of Autumn wear this year was the Cath Kidston bird jumper (centre) which featured in the Metro a few weeks ago. At £64 it'a way out of my price range, but it is adorable and got me looking round for other jumpers.

Thankfully, there aren't that many winter warmers around on the High Street yet (let us enjoy what remains of the summer first!). But I managed to find a few lovelies to warm my cockles until payday:

Autumn 2013

Fire & Stone, Covent Garden -Review

If you're bored of the generic pizzas churned out by Pizza Express and the like, then Fire & Stone in Covent Garden may well be the place for you. Their global themed pizzas allow pizza to step away from it's Italian origins, pack up it's map and compass, and really explore the world. Take for example, The London; "Cumberland sausage, streaky bacon, chunks of roast potato with roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted field mushrooms". A stereotype, perhaps, but reading the menu feels somewhat like a static, culinary version of a trip to Disney's Epcot Centre - I was just left to hope that these pizza stereotypes were as well executed as their theme park counterparts.

The interior of Fire & Stone is an unusual one, causing me to comment that it was the most open plan restaurant I have ever been in. The combination of close proximity to other tables, and low backed chairs and benches make privacy an impossibility.

Opting to share two different starters for the maximum experience, we went for the Crispy Mushroom Strips and Arancini. Although they were served quickly, I wish I'd waited for the main. The Arancini, with it's flecks of bacon and cheese flavouring, would have left me disappointed in any other scenario, however as a bed-mate to the Crispy Mushroom Strips, it was certainly the more memorable of the two. The mushroom strips were flavourless and unforgivingly dry, and were beyond rescuing by the garlic mayonnaise dip, despite it's best efforts.

Starters unceremoniously over, it was onto the mains. I'm not normally one for fussing over menus; once I know what I want I settle for it without any backtracking or mind changing. However, in this instance, there was no one option which stood out more than the others, or, if I'm being really honest, particularly appealed to me at all. After much to-ing and fro-ing between the Florence and the Arizona, I caught sight of the Pizza Specials section, hidden in the corner of the menu, and opted for the Canberra pizza: "Roast chicken breast, garlic & rosemary potatoes, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, sour cream and topped with sweet chilli sauce and chives."

I still wasn't entirely convinced by the presence of potatoes on pizza - a combination that occurs several times on the Fire & Stone menu- but The Boy, who is all too familiar with my whimsical ways with food, assured me that it works. He was right about the Chilli Poppers on the Chiquito's menu a few weeks previously, so I went with it.

Cautiously trying the first few mouthfuls of my pizza, I was pleasantly surprised. The generous amount of chicken was well cooked and brought out very well by the sweet chilli sauce. However, as I ventured further away from the safety of the crusts and into the unknown centre, it went downhill. I found that there was too much going on (and the potatoes were a mistake!). I am also convinced that the chef does not know what to do with a mushroom. After the disappointment of the mushroom starter, the mushrooms aboard the pizza were flavourless and slimy- I'm not sure what they'd been marinated in, but the result was as if they'd been overcooked in their own juices.

Whilst the Canberra may well appeal to those with a more adventurous palate than myself, I'll stick to a run-of-the-mill pepperoni in future. Top points for the raspberry daquiri though, and a fast and efficient service throughout.

Conclusion: If simplicity is your thing, this probably isn't the place for you, but if you prefer a more extravagant pizza, give it a go. Just don't expect good things from a mushroom.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Zorbing, zorbing, zorbing.....

Ever since I first heard the word, and subsequently found out what it meant, zorbing* has been a long-standing aim of mine (Say it many times, really fast, "Zorbing zorbing zorbing zorbing...." Cool word, huh?)

 (*For the uninitiated, zorbing is basically the act of being strapped into a large, inflatable ball, and rolling down a hill in it)

I finally got round to it yesterday, having found a rather lovely Wowcher offer which allowed two people to go zorbing for £39 - an absolute bargain!

On arrival at Pod London, we were told that our free t-shirts included in the offer weren't actually available so were being replaced with a DVD of our experience, usually worth £20 - I'd prefer a DVD to a t-shirt anyway.

Once we were signed in we were sent to await our turn on the viewing platform overlooking the zorbing run, where some teenage boys were attempting to go hydro-zorbing (similar to regular zorbing, but with water in the ball). It's not a concept that appeals to me. Surely it'd be like being in a washing machine, with the movement of the ball causing the water to hit you in the face every time you tried to catch your breath, leaving you to reach the bottom of the slope a quivering, half drowned mess? These boys in front of us were clearly having second thoughts too, judging from the girly screaming coming from inside the ball once they'd realised how cold the water was.

Eventually they got on with it and it was our turn. We were expecting a lengthy safety briefing before we were allowed anywhere near the zorbing run, but all we had to do was remove our shoes, strap on the harnesses with the cameras and hop in. 
Turns out there's no elegant way to get in! 
We were strapped in directly opposite each other, so that our cameras were recording each other, and after fastening a few straps, we were off.

The whole roll must have taken about 20-30 seconds but felt like a lot longer (in a good way, surprisingly). On reaching the bottom, we took a few moments to acclimatize ourselves to being static again, before facing the biggest challenge of all-climbing back up the stairs to the top. At this point, the effects began to kick in, and I found myself veering inexplicably off to the left when trying to walk in a straight line, my legs converted to two sticks of jelly.

The zorb run - it actually felt a lot longer when we were rolling!

The whole experience was over in a few minutes but is something I would wholeheartedly recommend, and would jump at the chance to do it again! That's another one crossed off the old bucket list. I'm now on the hunt for my next challenge!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A retrospective hiatus

Looking back over the past couple of months, it’s clear that blogging hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve done the odd blog post here and there, but to be perfectly honest, they’ve felt quite forced. Many of them have been halfheartedly written several weeks after the event, and only then when I have downloaded photos from my camera to computer and been reminded to blog about various adventures.

Why, I hear you ask? In hindsight, there are two reasons for this – albeit unintentional- retrospective hiatus. I think my reluctance to blog has a lot to do with the large number of job applications I’ve completed (and subsequently been rejected from) over the past year since graduating. In aspiring to become a features writer, I’ve applied for many entry level writing jobs at various publications. Like I said, many I’ve been rejected from – three in particular stick in my mind, as they stated they had 670, 590 and 370 applicants respectively-, but others I’ve never heard back from, left, like many jobseekers, to assume that I haven’t been shortlisted. In short, hitting against this relentless brick wall that encircles the world of features journalism, thus far too high and too thick for me to penetrate, has left me with negative connotations of writing.

I’m pleased to say that, for the first time in a long time, I woke up this morning with an overwhelming urge to write. If you’ve never had this feeling, then I pity you, because it’s one of the best feelings in the world – I found myself in the situation where the words were forming faster than I could write them down. It was this experience that made me fall in love with writing in the first place, and it’s a relief to have it back!

The more prominent, and by far more positive, reason for my lack of blogging, is due to the presence of someone new in my life. This summer, I’ve seen more of London than I’ve seen in the last 22 years combined, and I feel like I’ve had a holiday without leaving my beloved city! I’ve done things I’ve never done before (trapezing being the prime example). In short, he’s taught me to live my life, rather than just passing through it from day to day. And as it turns out, when you’re living your life, passing quickly from one adventure to the next, there is very little time to write about these japes! I used to mull over the possibility of new experiences to the extent that I would talk myself out of them. In the past month, I’ve booked a travel writing course, a trapeze lesson, a zorbing experience and ghost tour with barely a second thought.

When I felt my writing mojo coming back to me this morning, I signed onto this blog for the first time in a while, and I could have wept with happiness at the gift waiting for me! Despite my lack of new posts, August 2013 was the busiest month traffic-wise that my blog has ever had; 2,987 of you had a cheeky read! Whilst I’ve never been a blogger who is concerned with traffic numbers and site hits, it’s massively flattering to know that so many people have even a fleeting interest in my writing, and had massively spurred me on to continue blogging with renewed vigour!

So, in short, I’m back. But if I ever go AWOL again, rest assured that it means I’m living my life, rather than just existing.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Trapezing at Gorilla Circus, Regent's Park

Swinging through the air with my legs kicking like a drowning hamster, my knuckles turning white from gripping to the metal bar which held me from the 20ft drop below, and my eyes squeezed shut to cope with the intense dizziness, it was hard to appear dignified. Yet despite my body working against me- as it so often does in these situations- I felt surprisingly elegant, swinging effortlessly(ish) above the splendour of  Regent's Park at sunset.
This isn't actually me, I just love the silhouette against the sunset colour!
Gorilla Circus hold open air trapeze classes in Regent's Park and various other locations every summer, and after two years of teasing myself, I finally signed up for a two hour beginners class. Unsure of what to expect, I poddled along after work one day, and was relieved to find nine other people in the same novice situation.

We were taken over to the practice swing first - a normal trapeze bar, suspended about 7ft of the ground with a crash mat below it (initially it was hard to know whether to be reassured or intimidated by the presence of the mat) - and were taken through the motions of getting our legs onto the trapeze swing, letting go with our hands, and then doing the reverse.
It all seems so easy with a little help!
The next (massive) step was to take this exact sequence onto the actual trapeze, at least 20ft further from the safety of the ground. The ladder of doom, as I came to call it in my head, felt like the longest ladder in the world, and the relief of reaching the top was quickly wiped out by the realisation of what was to come.

What HAVE I let myself in for?
With the help of one of the instructors, I reached one hand out for the trapeze bar, whilst clinging desperately on to safety with the other. The bar was surprisingly heavy- a shock at first, but more of a reassurance as time went on and I considered that it was responsible for preventing me crashing onto the ground below. After tentatively putting my second hand onto the bar and letting go off my last remaining link to solid ground, I was off. The aim was to lift my legs onto the bar, let go with my hands, hang from knees and then reverse. Simple, huh? NO. Not as simple as it sounds. My lack of flexibility and grace, coupled with an innate fear of knocking my teeth out with my knees saw me unable to complete this task, and crashing into the safety net into a crumpled heap.

A couple more attempts later, I was no closer to being able to achieve the desired athletic prowess, but was nonetheless enjoying the adrenalin of speeding through the air. Whilst I don't believe that trapezing is a viable alternative career move for me, should the journalism dream not work out,  I can sleep easy knowing that I have explored this avenue to its full potential.
I doubt  I will ever look anything like this elegant again in my life!
See the Gorilla Circus website for details of upcoming courses, and to book tickets.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Luna Cinema at Hampton Court Palace

As twilight fell, we strolled through the perfectly landscaped grounds of Hampton Court Palace, the rain hitting the ground so hard that it was bouncing back up to our knees, and our eyes seriously in danger of becoming acquainted with someone else's umbrella, we had to admit that it wasn't exactly how we'd imagined it.

Think "Outdoor Cinema" and it conjures up Americanised images of convertible mustangs lined up against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, the whole scene awash with a sepia-toned romance - or perhaps that's just me taking inspiration from the film we went to see; Grease.

Needless to say, the British version of outdoor cinema is somewhat more, well, wet. After a seemingly endless heatwave, we chose the day when the deluge arrived for our inaugural outdoor cinema trip. Having settled on a spot in the vast field, overseen by the splendid buildings of Hampton Court Palace, we set about making a rainproof shelter from the resources we had to hand.
The view of the screen from our foil blanket and umbrella shelter.
A mat, a blanket, a foil sheet and a dome umbrella later, we had ourselves a decent makeshift shelter, and the film began. Haagen Dazs were giving away free ice cream throughout, and although it wasn't the weather for it, it would have been rude not to!  

A sea of umbrellas facing the screen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

An afternoon in Battersea Park

This lovely summer weather has lured me into spending more time outside, particularly in the various parks and public spaces of Old London Town, which are great places for faffing around and making the most of the weather.

Following the expedition across Hampstead Heath last week, yesterday was the turn of Battersea Park, a lovely area immediately south of the river, best known for it's zoo, to be graced with our presence. We avoided the zoo (if it's not free, we're not going in - not until after payday, anyway) and wandered around until we came across a fountain-centric splash pool, perfect for dipping our legs in and cooling down.

We stayed until our toes started to wrinkle, at which point we bounded off across the park, full of renewed vigour from the cooling effect of the water, covering what seemed like miles of fields and gardens, before we came across the Tropical Gardens, and once again sat down to rest and faff away a few minutes. I'm not sure what was particularly tropical about the gardens- even the weather had cooled down and clouded over by this point- but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. On leaving the gardens we promenaded around many more fields before heading back to the edge of the park and walking back across my favourite bridge in London (because it is adorned with fairy lights that make sure it looks like Christmas every day.)

I love the juxtaposition between the park and the industry of Battersea power station behind it.

Little Venice - not the real thing, but not bad.

Anyone who knows me will have had at least one conversation with me which involved me uttering the words "I really want to go to Venice". Truth is, it's always been top of my list of places to visit, for reasons unfathomable. Although I've not made that pilgrimage yet, a friend - who had probably got fed up of my whining about wanting to go to Venice- recently took pity on me and arranged a trip to Little Venice, which is surprisingly situated in the heart of London, just around the corner from Paddington station.

To get into the spirit of things, we took a canal boat to Little Venice. The 30 minute journey along the Regent's Canal was lined by canal boats on either side, each more extravagantly furnished and bizarrely named than the previous. On arriving at Little Venice, where the Canal opened up into a lake (probably not the technical boating term, but it'll suffice for these purposes) we hopped off the boat and began exploring. The first thing we came across was The Waterside Cafe, a quaint cafe in a boat:

(The photo doesn't do justice to the quaintness)
  We meandered on a little further passing a few exclusive-looking restaurants - one of which, The Summerhouse, I very much intend to return to one day, when I have pennies in my pocket- before crossing over the river and walking back down the other side. Along our way, we came across London's answer to Jack Sparrow's ship, moored in the canal.
Our wandering taught us that there isn't much to actually do in Little Venice, once you've had your fill of boats and window shopping (window eating??) in overpriced restaurants. So we pottered off to the nearest restaurant we could afford (Strada), and ate Italian food until our hearts were content, all the while imagining that we were in real Venice.

Conclusion: Worth a visit for an hour or so, but not a lot to see and do. Fingers firmly crossed that the real Venice is more lively.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Photo of the day 06/06/13

Another early finish at work = another batch of animal photos from around the zoo!!

Jae Jae the Sumatran tiger is getting braver and coming face to face with the public more often (apologies for the rogue human ear in the left of the shot!)  I think I need to get me one of these snazzy newfangled cameras that automatically eradicates fences and wire!

The newest arrivals to the zoo are the kangaroos, fresh from Down Under about a month ago. Having never seen a kangaroo in real life before, they're not quite as cute as they're made out to be, but they're fascinating to watch.

Last but not least was this gorilla, chewing on her own toes as a human baby would!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Up at the O2!

Never being one to shy away from adventure, I was excited last summer to read about "Up at the O2" opening, and immediately added it to my wishlist. For the uninitiated, Up at the O2 is a walkway up and over the O2 ("Millennium") Dome in North Greenwich.

A few months after its opening (I like to give other people a chance to safety test these things first) I finally got my chance to scale the heights of one of London's most iconic structures, as a joint birthday outing between my dad and I. Due to my dad's disability, our party of four were the only ones taking part in our particular climb, which allowed us a good chance of speaking to the guides as we ascended, and meant that there was nobody to photo-bomb out pictures at the top.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. As we entered the Base Camp centre buzzing with nervous anticipation, our first task was to sign a disclaimer form - never a good thing- and watch a short safety video of things to come.

 When our briefing was over, it was time to suit up into the breathtakingly stylish boiler suits* provided.
(* I would like to take this opportunity to point out that NOBODY LOOKS GOOD IN A BOILER SUIT)

And we were off. Having spent a good half hour before leaving solid ground discussing how springy the canvas walkway was, we were surprised to find that it really was as springy as it looked! We were clipped on at all times of the ascent to a rail down the centre of the walkway, a total of about 45 minutes. As predicted from the ground, the first part was the steepest, and we were relieved to get it out of the way first. As we got further from the ground, we took a couple of breaks to change the wheelchair ropes, and to survey our surroundings, as more and more of the centre of London came into view, spotting landmarks such as the London Eye, St. Paul's, and the Tate Modern tower.

Once we reached the centre, we were able to release ourselves from the safety rail and wander freely around the viewing platform, which gave a stunning view of the twists and turns of the murky Thames below, stretching from the flood barrier out East, to the centre of the city, despite being partially obscured by Canary Wharf and the surrounding forest of towers. A quick photoshoot later, we were on our way back down the other side. Somehow I drew the short straw and ended up at the front- not a problem for the first part of the descent, but a little heart-stopping as we got closer to the ground and the gradient began to feel practically vertical!

The whole experience took around two and a half hours from start to finish, and is well worth doing for seeing London from a different perspective. It will challenge the orientation and geographical knowledge of even the most seasoned Londoner. We were lucky that we went on a day that was neither too hot nor too wet, and had clear views.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Hangover Part III review

**May contain spoilers**

The Hangover Part III has not received rave reviews – to put it mildly – but that’s only to be expected; the generic conventions of a sequel, particularly the third instalment of a trilogy such as this, dictate that it will be inferior to its predecessors, luring in faithful audiences only by their undying hopes that they will get a replica of the first film. In this case, it was not to be.  For a film named “The Hangover”, the lack of alcohol was glaring, although the concept of the plot being one giant hangover from events past was not wasted.

To be honest, it was better than expected. For starters, any film which features Mmm Bop by Hanson in the first few minutes of the soundtrack is A-OK by me. Ignoring the dodgy CGI giraffe and subtle-as-a-brick product placement (Tab, anyone? Beats by Dr Dre...), the film has some pretty funny scenes, although predictably the plot line is further-fetched than a camel in Antarctica; you get the impression they wrote the jokes first and built the plot –featuring kidnap comedy giraffe deaths, and the predictable return to Las Vegas- around the jokes.

That said, it’s a great way to round off the trilogy, bringing it to a timely end (yet leaving it open should they feel the need to return to it in the future...). It’s funnier than many critics have made it out to be, with laughter rolling around the cinema throughout. A particular highlight is the scene which unfolds on top of Cesar’s Palace, and had me chuckling for a good few minutes afterwards.

If worse comes to worse, kick back and enjoy the magnificent views that Bradley Cooper brings to the film. I for one was particularly appreciative of the camera shot towards the end, set up from an angle which seemed to have no purpose other than demonstrate the length of his mighty pins. Amen to that.

Conclusion: worth seeing if you fancy a light-hearted giggle. Go in with low expectations and you’ll enjoy it more. Don’t leave as soon as the credits start rolling – the best is yet to come.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Photo of the Day: 15/05/2013

A post-work drinks date with the lovely Rosie saw us checking out Scooter Cafe near Waterloo. After taking the very scenic route to find it, we finally rolled up around 7pm, and ended up having to fight for seats. Anyone who is familiar with Evil Eye in York may see the similarities between the two, although Scooter is a lot smaller. Look out for the scooter in the window to avoid missing it *cough* like us *cough*.

Photo of the day: 16/05/2013

Nemo peekaboo in the aquarium at London Zoo!

Yesterday when I finished work, I spent some time walking around the zoo, taking some photos. I love the vivid colours of this one.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cosmopolitan magazine's Superblogger event - May 14th 2013

I'm starting to feel like a bit of an old hand at the various careers-style events held by publications in London, but nonetheless was still very excited to attend the Cosmopolitan Superblogger event in collaboration with Next last night.

The format of the evening was similar to that of Company magazine's blogger forum, and, more recently, Cosmopolitan's Media Career Masterclass. It begin with an opportunity to mingle with the other attendees, after which we were called into a lecture theatre, where the panel were waiting for us.

The panel consisted of:

  • Louise Court, Cosmo editor
  • Pat McNulty, Cosmo digital editor
  • Emily Johnston, blogger at Fashion Foie Gras
  • Kat "I really love weddings" Williams, blogger at Rock 'n' Roll Bride
  • Andreas Pouros
  • Vicky Fogwell, from Next
  • Dom Smales
The panel all spoke first, giving their own opinions on various aspects of blogging, from building up followers to avoiding hackers.  The realities of blogging became very real, as both Emily and Kat spoke of managing to accidentally delete their entire blogs in the past.  They also touched on the problem of hackers, particularly those who sit on blogs and demand money for returning control of the blog to the rightful owner. 

When Emily spoke of the "drug of blogging", a ripple of recognition ran through the room, as the majority of attendees identified with the issue - although recognition turned to shock when she told of living on four hours sleep a night for three years as she blogged along time a full time job. Another point which united many people in the room was the mention of the stigma of blogging, due largely to the reputation bloggers have for trying to blag things for free! 

The best piece of advice I took away from the event, and will be attempting to put into practice, was Kat's recommendation to become a routine in your reader's lives by blogging at the same time every week. This led to a discussion amongst the panel of how often is too often to blog- From experience, Dom knew of cases where blogs cut down from three posts to two posts a week, and actually received more readers as a result, suggesting that it is quality rather than quantity that counts.

Contrary to the Company blogging event, this event focused far more on the commercial side of blogging, for those who would like to make a living from it. Whilst this is something that I would love to do, I am very much aware that for me it is a pipe dream, and not something that is ever likely to become a reality. But I was left feeling the need to justify myself for not having a niche topic in my blog, so I was reassured by Dom's statement that there are some bloggers with great work, but do not have what it takes to go commercial. I'm OK with that.

So the final tips for the evening were:

Blogging do's:  
  • Be tenacious
  • Think about brands you want to work with and how you want to work with them
  • Be honest 
  • Value your worth
  • Use social media
And the all important dont's:

  • Don't give up
  • Don't just ask for freebies
  • Don't assume people are interested in anything you're writing
  • Don't  be controversial just for the sake of it
  • Don't get frustrated
  • Don't misbehave on Twitter
  • Don't just sit at your computer- go and look for stories!
The event wrapped up with a few questions from the audience, but for me the best was yet to come, when I summoned up the courage to introduce myself to Louise Court, the editor of Cosmopolitan. Despite spending four weeks as a workie at Cosmo, and attending various events hosted by Cosmopolitan, I'd never actually spoken to Louise, so it was great to have a discussion with her about an article which I contributed to!

As always, the evening resulted in a goody bag for all attendees! Mine consisted of the following:

Self tan mitt, VO5 heat defence cream, Body Shop Coconut Body Butter, Right Guard deodorant,  Baptiste dry shampoo, Blink eyebrow pencil, Bronze Ambition tanning cream, Rimmel Apocalips, DHC deep cleansing oil,  Tresemme Platinum Strength, and a lovely bag of Propercorn.

Coca-Cola named packaging: a good PR plot, or one that's about to backfire?

The iconic Christmas Coke ads have long since disappeared from our screens, and won't be returning until at least, oh, August, giving their marketing and PR people a chance to come up with their latest PR ploy - named packaging.

At first, the idea seemed entirely random -it doesn't link to any upcoming TV or film release, or anything else current - but therein lies its beauty; if #danceponydance and its predecessor, Cadbury's drumming gorilla, taught us anything, it's that random is good in the world of mainstream corporate advertising.

Coke have taken this one step further by making the random personal, by producing bottles with the top 150 names in the country stamped on them. I've yet to find a bottle with my name on it- although I did see a bus with an advert with my name in Oxford Street- but I know that when I do, I'll be buying it, and I know plenty of other people who have said the same. Now maths isn't my strong point, but that's a lot of people, with the 150 most popular names in the country, now buying a Coke that they probably weren't going to buy otherwise. Knowing me, if I do manage to get a bottle with my name on, I won't open it. I'll keep it on a shelf in my room, gathering dust, a la the Peter Rabbit Easter egg of 2005 (if you don't know, don't ask). Again, I know other people who have said they would do the same. But every time I look at that Coke, it's going to give me a craving for Coke. So off I'll trot to buy a can of Coke, simultaneously satisfying my craving and playing into their hands.

So far so good for Coke sales figures, and someone in their head office is heading for a sizeable end of year bonus.

But for every Laura, or Adam, or Rachel out there, there's a Jemima, or Annaliese, or, the person who inspired me to write this blog post, a Farrah.

A couple of days ago, without really thinking about it, I tweeted the following: "Retailers must be getting sick of their drink shelves getting messed up by people looking for a Coke bottles with their name on it!" 

Very quickly, I got this reply: "Fortunately for them, I will sadly be picking up a Fanta instead. Personalised doesn't come in size "Farrah" </3"

 As well as encouraging people who wouldn't normally buy a Coke to buy one, they're also discouraging regular buyers who have been excluded from this PR ploy. Now I'm not saying that the Farrahs of this world are going to outnumber the Lauras- the very essence of this being the 150 most popular names exlcudes this possibility, but it's food for thought.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Gavin & Stacey goes Stateside

When I heard that Gavin and Stacey, the best thing to ever come out of BBC3, was headed for a US makeover, I was not amused. The brilliant sitcom is intrinsically based on the cultural quirks of England and Wales (co-creator James Corden found inspiration for the show when he attended a wedding consisting of both English and Welsh guests), so short of hitting on the US/Canada divide - and I think How I Met Your Mother has sufficiently covered that one from all possible angles- it's difficult to see how this show would translate for an American audience. Add to this the fact that the chemistry between the actors of the British version is largely what makes it such a success, and many British fans found themselves wishing that the US would leave this one alone.  The one saving grace of the US remake was that James Corden and Ruth Jones were on board as executive producers.

The trailer has now been released, and things aren't looking good. The intermittent title screens  suggest it to be a budget rom-com. The casting choices are interesting- the woman who plays Stacey's mum in the US version has a striking resemblance to Joanna Page, who plays Stacey herself in the British version. On first glance, it looks like Jack Black has been cast to play Smithy, a possible saving grace, until it's revealed that it's actually stand-up comic Dustin Ybarra. 

It also appears that there are exact replicas of some of the scenes in the British version, the kitchen table rape alarm scene being a prime example. However, without the comic genius of Rob Brydon, it doesn't seem  to have the same wit and sparkle. Whether there is the all-important chemistry between the characters remains to be seen. Have a watch and let me know what you think.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Birthday accessories

My birthday continued yesterday as I went out for a belated meal with some friends and received some more presents. The earrings on the blue and cream card are all from the very talented Emma, who made them all herself.

The eager-eyed among you might recognise the bucket necklace from my weekly wishlist - Amy, who was with me when I saw it, remembered it from all those months ago!

Finally, the pink flower and pearl hair clips are ones that I chose myself from New Look - they match perfectly with a ring I bought from Accessorize a few months ago.

I also got this perfume from (a different) Emma. It's Summer Heat from Next, and, like all perfumes that I take a liking to, is limited edition. I've never recovered from the loss of the extremely limited edition Forever and Ever by Dior.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Photo of the day: 09/05/2013

Anyone who knows me knows that Venice is -and always has been- top of my dream holiday list. So when I found out that one of my friends was going on a tour of Europe, stopping by in Venice on my birthday of all days, I wasn't about to let the subject drop.

 10 days later he came back to work with a present for me from his travels; a marble carving of a street scene, a magnet, and a commemorative coin from Paris.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The World's End - Teaser Trailer

Only Pegg can take something simple like a pub crawl, set in a small British town, and turn it into a feature film, let alone one featuring explosions, perfectly-timed comedy lines, and the oh-so-British slapstick comedy that Pegg and co. (Shaun of the Dead, Paul) do so well.

So the teaser trailer for what I'm hoping will be my second favourite film of the year (there's room for negotiation, depending how Gatsby turns out) is very exciting. I'm just disappointed that the eponymous "World's End" doesn't seem to refer to the pub of the same name in Camden Town, North London.

I  can't be the only one hoping that one of the pubs in the film is named the Winchester, can I?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sugar overload

So yesterday was my birthday. Woo, and indeed hoo, for being another year older. Shame I still look about 12, but what can you do? In a happy twist of fate, the weather was beautiful, so we ended up taking a trip to Brighton for a couple of hours. A stroll along the pier promised to end in a birthday ice cream, but halfway along, as we stopped to take in a view of the coastline - barely visible through the throngs of pre-bank holiday crowds - I caught sight of JB's Diner. 
A view of the bustling seafront - the colours remind me of old-fashioned beach postcards.
Some of you may remember my blog post from summer last year, in which I visited JB's and pledged to go back one day for one of their Lucky Charms milkshake. Well, yesterday was that day.  We skipped the pier ice cream and headed straight for JB's. 

Fortunately, there was one table outside, and we made a beeline for it. I didn't even need to see the menu - I was there for one thing, and one thing only (although I did end up with a side of cheesy chips - I needed something to soak up all the sugar).

When my milkshake arrived, it was everything I had hoped it would be - and plenty more besides. As well as the tall, sundae-style glass it was presented in, I was served  full cocktail shaker full of "excess" milkshake.  It was thick,  made from ice cream, and abundant with Lucky Charms.

And just look at those toppings! Lucky Charms, whipped cream, cherries, sprinkles...

I'd already had pop tarts for breakfast (following our first, less than pleasant encounter, our relationship blossomed, but I fear it has now reached it's peak) so already had plentiful sugar flowing through my veins.  The birthday cake a couple of hours later pushed me over the edge into a sugar induced coma.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Emeli Sande - Crazy In Love feat. The Bryan Ferry Orchestra

A cheeky browse on Twitter this morning saw me finding a link to Emeli Sande and Bryan Ferry's cover of Crazy in Love, part of the Great Gatsby soundtrack. I couldn't actually watch the video until I got home this evening, so spent all day hyping it up in my mind, until I had a solid idea of what I expected- a slow and sensual rendition of Queen Bey's best-known work.

That was not what I got. This rendition is pacey, full of bring-on-the-trumpets jazziness, a perfect backing soundtrack for the automobiles of the '20s speeding past the watchful eyes of Dr. Eckleburg into the lively city beyond.

 Never have I been so excited about a film!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Cosmopolitan magazine's Media Careers Masterclass

Last night, throngs of London businessmen looked mightily confused as clans of young women gathered outside the Freemason's Hall near Covent Garden. The reason? Cosmopolitan Magazine's Media Career Masterclass.

The evening began with a chance to mingle with the staff of Cosmo, and with the other attendees, after which we all filed into the room to be presented with the panel; a group of people working across different strands of the media industry, from PR, to marketing, journalism and everything in between, led by Louise Court, the editor of Cosmopolitan.

It was interesting to get an overview of many different career paths in media, and for someone who hasn't yet decided what they want to do, it was a very useful event. For those who, like me, have a clear idea of what they want to do, large parts of the evening were irrelevant, but still interesting.

The goody bag was brimming with goodies, but for me, the most exciting part was the bag itself, printed with old Cosmo covers, dating back a good few years:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Photo of the day: 29/03/2013

Today's mouthwatering picture of the day is the selection of chocolate goodies I made at an Easter chocolate workshop at Temper Temper in Southborough. A combination of truffles, florentines, lollies, moulds and chocolate bowls made for a yummy morning.

Happy Easter!! 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sensorites- Slipstream

Having hit the "Repeat" button on Sensorites' single Fool enough times for even the inanimate objects in my life to know all the lyrics - I defy you to listen to it a couple of times and NOT have it playing in your head for the rest of eternity- I had a dig around their YouTube channel to see what other mischief they've got up to.

Slipstream is not a song for the mild-mannered, as suggested by the single cover. The lyrics aren't quite as catchy as Fool, but the melody is one of those that you'll catch yourself humming half-heartedly as you go about your business, until you get to the two words you do know. You'll sing these words with such oomph and gusto that you'll scare all elderly women and cats within a 2 mile radius.

The more I listen to Sensorites, the more they sound like an awesome Oasis-Scouting for Girls-Arctic Monkeys mash up. And that's OK with me.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

It's nearly here! The Great Gatsby theatrical trailer

Never have I anticipated a film release as much as I am looking forward to The Great Gatsby. The trailer shows Leo Di Caprio playing the brooding Jay Gatsby, although whether he is in with a shot at becoming more synonymous with the role than Robert Redford remains to be seen. I'm still not sure about the casting of Carey Mulligan as Daisy - this is not to discredit her in any way as an actress, but it's a role I could very much imagine Emma Stone adopting quite well. I was also interested to learn that Tobey Maguire had been cast in the narrative role of Nick. Being from the Spiderman era myself, I struggle to imagine him carrying off enough authority as is required to play Nick, but with Baz Luhrmann firmly at the helm, I also struggle to see how any tiny detail of the film could be allowed to go awry.

Looking at the trailer, it seems set to be everything it should -as a subscriber to the idea that films never do justice to the books they're based on, I don't want to speak too soon- but the glitz, the glamour, the extravagance all seem to add up to another Luhrmann classic.

The UK cinema release date is set for 16th May. Meanwhile, I'll be curled up on a beanbag re-reading Fitzgerald's finest work,and anticipating the inevitable tsunami of '20s flapper-style dresses hitting the high street.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Photo of the day: 26/03/2013

Today, the postman arrived with a rather large box for me. I opened it, and found a delivery of Propercorn "popcorn done properly". It was sent by the lovely Alex from Propercorn, who I liaised with as part of my work experience at Cosmopolitan

I've already tried the "Lightly Sea Salted" flavour, and with less than 100 calories per bag, I can't wait to try the rest!

Friday, 22 March 2013

My work experience at Cosmopolitan magazine: part two

Sadly my placement at Cosmopolitan magazine came to an end today. This is the bit where I take an X-Factor-esue look back at my time in the competition Cosmo HQ.

For all the goss on my first two weeks, clickety-click. All caught up? Good. I'll begin.

I'm pleased to say that my second two weeks were even more exciting than my first.  I had even more chances to get involved with "real" work, such as tracking down and interviewing psychologists, to get their take on certain subjects.

Of course, there was the usual transcribing and tea-making to be done. One transcription I did was an interview with an author, for which I was asked to prepare some questions the previous day. It was really exciting to hear that some of the questions I had suggested and research I had prepared had been used in the interview!

Particularly exciting was last Thursday. Around 11am, the office was stormed by a gaggle of half naked young men wearing pink jeans and throwing chocolates around. Their aim: promoting an event on behalf of Wink Bingo. Their actual action; all attempting to climb into the same dustbin.

 This was followed up shortly afterwards by a delivery of ice cream. A couple of hours later, a pizza delivery from Bella Italia arrived. All in all, a good day.

The following day was Comic Relief, which saw the majority of the office dressed in onesies for the day!

The Cosmo team storm the editor's office in their onesies!

Later in the day we were joined by boyband Times Red, who made it to judges' houses on 2012 X-Factor, and were treated to an intimate performance of their single in the office. One of them even took a photo of me in my sexy giraffe onesie!

As always, the worst part of the work placement was saying goodbye to the lovely people I've worked with for the past month, but I left the Hearst building armed with goodies, free books (thanks to Lorna, the books editor!) and a heapful of inspiration to succeed in the magazine industry and one day work for a great magazine such as Cosmo.