Who are The Wanted?

If I ever have a daughter I would probably have ‘The Talk’ with her. It wouldn’t be the typical ‘Talk’ of sexual education, or of boys in her peer group. It would be about crap boybands such as The Wanted, something along the lines of; “you are not following them! Here, have this Radiohead album instead. That Jonny Greenwood was a right looker in the nineties. I’ll buy you a poster if you like?”

And here’s why:

  • The Wanted pick fights with One Direction. I’m not a ‘Directioner’ (I’m 24), but I’ve seen the Tweets directed at 1D (who are an acceptable boyband, even though they cannot dance). They’re the tweets of a band needing to create headlines by forging rivalries.
  • Lack of decent tunes. I don’t like their singles, so imagine what an album filler track would sound like…
  • They released this music video:

Why is there a random shot of a girl in her underwear with her friend? The camera barely sees her face (in a shot later in the film it gazes tantalizingly instead on her midriff). Despite the ‘LADS! LADS! LADS!’ image the guys are trying oh-so-hard to portray, they are still a boyband and boybands are marketed at young girls. So why objectify one? WHO IS THIS FOR?

Oh, and finally.

  • My daughter would have better taste.

I may have briefly mentioned that 1D cannot dance, but hey, they have a sense of humour.

So yes, future takers of One Direction’s (or the future equivalent’s) crown, this is the blueprint for sucess. Humour, squeaky clean faces and a good songwriting team – step away from the pint glass (or ‘Jar’ one of The Wanted call it in the ‘We Own the Night’ horror posted earlier).

Advertisements

The ‘what I want for Christmas’ post

“When are you doing your Christmas wish list this year?”

This is what my sister asked me last month. She claims to have found this post from two years ago rather hilarious (but also useful, seeing as she got me one of the items mentioned – thanks Charlotte)!

It occurred to me yesterday, as I admired the resulted of my admittedly pathetic wrapping piled up in the hallway of the ‘Get Flat’ (ahem, that’s my flat to the uninitiated) . I then got a Facebook message from my mother asking what I want, which made me realise that firstly, my Mother has moved on from the humble text message (phone calls were so over a few years ago) and has now decided that social media is the way to go for quick questions – Xmas requests and home visits being the most common – it’s also easier for her and her partner to both question me at the same time. Secondly, it reminded me that perhaps this Xmas wishlist lark is frivolous but useful for those lovely, wonderful people who are going to indulge me this year (my 24th birthday is December 27th… eek).

So now I’m doing a rushed browse around the web, wondering what on earth I could want. I’m going very minimal with my flat in case anyone is ever foolish/grown up enough to move in with me (yes I know that’s years away) and I’m scared of building up clutter. However, one’s sofa can never be cluttered, only squishy and comfy or glacial cool. So, I’ve got the er… ‘hunger’ for some of these amazing biscuit cushions from Nikki McWilliams.

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

My living room is very ‘masculine’ with loads of greys and black tones with a colour pop provided by an orange sofabed from Made.com so the custard creams might work nicely in the living room, with the party rings or love heart jammy dodgers going down better in the ‘girly’ bedroom.

Jammy dodger cushion

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

It’s not quite as cute or glamorous as the cushions, but I’m also seeking these shelves to pop in the hallway from Ikea. I’ve got a grey one in the living room, but the white version is perfect for books and more and they’re a snip at £14. I also need some grey machine dye to dye some curtains I’ve been given and a long curtain pole for my living room…. so er, maybe a voucher then!?

Finally house-wise, I’m seeking double bedding donations, contributions to aid my DVD and CD collections (I’ve only got Alt-J and Jessie Ware’s albums from the Mercurys shortlist and there’s a few more nominated I’d love to own, plus – ahem again – the Little Mix and Nicola Roberts albums). There’s also the desperate desire to own a floor lamp for the living room – either the Arche floor lamp or Studio tripod model from Made.com.

I’m still mad on baking – cupcakes are my latest fad (two years later than the rest of the world). I love that they’re so easy to transport to work/friends/places so I don’t end up keeping them all to myself. All baking paraphernalia welcome as far as I’m concerned!

Frankie holds cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes by Frankie (photo and help from Adam)

You can never go wrong with the gift of a Mac makeover (or one of their awesome eye shadows). You book a slot and then you get to try loads of products and the cost of the makeover covers products of the same value (you can buy more if you like, of course!) Plus, there’s the ever-reliable Topshop voucher to keep you in jumpers for the rest of Winter…

Stories Beat Stuff 3 UK

Tourism New Zealand are continuing their Stories Beat Stuff campaign with a brand new competition for a lucky so-and-so to win the trip of a lifetime to New Zealand with three jammy mates.

I first wrote about entering the competition earlier this year, but sadly my entry didn’t make an impact – I guess my time isn’t worth a $20k trip! Well this time the stakes are higher with a trip worth $30k. Understandably, I’m stepping things up a gear!

As with last time, there are two different packages; Culture Kaboom and City Splendour.

Culture Kaboom is catchily titled due to its focus New Zealand’s volcanic heritage. It’ll be an unforgettable experience packed with trips to hot mud pools and homage to Maori culture.

The package I’m competing for, City Splendour, is all about exploring New Zealand’s largest cities, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland; modern settlements juxtaposed next to beautiful landscapes and the native wildlife. Here’s a teaser campaign video:

If you want to have a go at entering the latest competition, it’s really simple. All you’ve got to do is submit a video or a photo of what you would trade for a trip to New Zealand – making sure it’s a real object and then share your entry round via Facebook/ Google+/ Twitter to get as many votes as possible. Obviously, it’d be lovely if you could vote for me too!

Here’s my video entry:

I decided to trade the something from one of one of my most unforgettable experiences for a new one; my costume from the Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012 for a trip to the other side of the world. I rehearsed for four months, giving up 200 hours for free, so hopefully I can trade in this for the experience of a lifetime! I’m desperate to get out of the country for the first time in over six years and really start to discover the world – with its laid back nature, reputation for extreme activities such as bungee jumping and its beautiful, unexplored environment, I can’t think of a better place to start…

To get involved, visit the Stories Beat Stuff Facebook Page. You don’t even have to trade to have a chance of make it to the other side of the world as a second prize of two flights to NZ will be awarded at random to one of the people who voted for the entries. It really couldn’t be easier.

This is a sponsored post, but don’t worry – if I don’t like it, I won’t write about it!

GoldenBoys Launch Party

After my last blog post I was invited to the GoldenBoys launch party.

(Get in!)

I don’t go to many ‘London-y’ events. The last one was a CBS party celebrating NCIS at the Dorchester Hotel. There were cupcakes, champagne, wine and an actress from the show to chat to – a nice event, but a slightly stiff atmosphere.

Luckily the GoldenBoys event was a far more laid back affair. Held in Neo Bar, Barbican, the party was oh so generous with the complimentary cocktails (all renamed with a financial theme). I helped myself to ‘Millionare’s Martinis’ and checked out the site on the laptops set out across the bar. One of the key games on the site is all about gambling on the state of the market – whether it’ll be up or down once trading has ended at the end of the working day. Another is the ‘Millionaires’, another game based on world markets – but, in theory, more predictable than the lottery numbers.

I also got to meet site founder Martin Linham and caught up with PR Adam (who works for event organisers TopLine Communications alongside my sister, Charlotte). When he’s not in the office, he can often be found drumming for Glaswegian alternative rock act There Will Be Fireworks.

Photo of me, Adam and Martin by Sheri Selby

On another note, the event marked the second ‘official’ outing for my Urban Outfitter’s playsuit – a lovely garment in theory (and some might say ‘on-trend’ due the all-over pattern and wide legged pyjama trouser) – but bloody hazardous when out and about. It’s got a zip followed by back of buttons that means that I simply can’t redress myself post toilet-break. Thankfully my friend Sarina was on hand to help with the process!

Keep the invites coming, please!

Make Like A Millionaire

If you won £1,000,000, how would you splash the cash?

That’s the question currently being posed by market traders’ betting site, GoldenBoys. They’re celebrating their launch with a massive competition that gives you the chance to live the life like a member of the financial elite, with a trip to London, 5 star accomodation, Michelin star dining, £1,000 spending money and West End tickets. Obviously, it’s a trip that only a lot of money can buy and, as time is of the essence, the prize also includes a chauffuer driven car (no Oyster card required).

Once the trip is over, the lucky winner will take home a chest packed full of gadgets and goodies to keep them living in luxury (despite a return to the day job).

The competition closes on the 1st May and can be entered here. Before then a lavish party on the 24th April is being thrown to celebrate the launch of GoldenBoys and the announcement of the winner. I’m desperate to blag an invite (hint, hint), although I don’t think I’d make enough of a convincing investment banker to make it past the bouncers…

What would you splash the cash on?

A Fee I Didn’t Sign Up For

I was rather shocked when I heard of the government plans to charge a fine on student loads paid before a 30 year period has ended.

Surely this would have had to be part of my contract with the Student Loans Company to be effective?

Even if it did not effect me, but future generations (with higher student debts) then it’s still sickening. To date I believe I have paid off £880 of my debt. It now stands at over £19,500. This will take me the best part of two decades to pay off – unless I occasionally choose to volunteer an extra payment or two.

I was always sensible at uni. I worked when I could, spent my spare time doing work experience and guaranteed myself a job before I graduated. I got myself out of my overdraft and left myself with just the loan to pay off. A noticeable proportion of what I earn now is deducted toward this (plus tax, but that effects all of us so I deal with it!). Why should I have to pay a fine as well as the interest?

What shocks me is that this hasn’t properly warranted headlines until the news that it’s probably not going to take effect (phew) and it’s due to the Conservatives deciding that this plan (attributed to the Lib Dems) is unnecessary.

Seems a bit like pro-Tory spin to me…

What do you make of the news?

A Lush Life

‘Agh it’s the worst month of the year, and this is the worst week of it!’

The words nearly flew out of my mouth as I stood at a bus stop in Finsbury Park on Saturday night. I’d had an uncharacteristic spat with a fellow passenger on a bus, forgotten my phone, broken a heel and got off of a bus, only to find out I was on the right route to my friend’s house after all.

This was packed into an hour. A hour! Yet, that hour was just an example of eight days of pathetic activities and miserable occurrences.

The previous Saturday I was getting ready for my ‘London-based birthday’ and decided to use a Lush shower scrub as a treat. I’ve used them before and have never had any problems, but when I got out of the shower I noticed I had big red scratches wherever I had used the product. Nightmare! After applications of sudocreme and a few days it had all but faded – no harm done, but depressing nonetheless.

A few days later a signal failure on the Richmond Overground line meant needing to find an alternative route to work, via zones my travel card didn’t cover. It also meant that I was an hour later into work than usual. Luckily my manager was fine with it, but I still decided to get in touch with Overground customer service to see if they could help me. I was also resolved to sent an email to Lush and make sure that my experience with the scrub didn’t happen to anyone else.

Although this week hasn’t got off to a flying start (I’m writing this with a mug of lemsip by my side) things looked up when I got pleasant replies from both the Overground and Lush.

The Overground sent a letter of apology and a voucher for £1.50, which covered my expenditure to get to work earlier that week – small, but very much appreciated. (No giggles at the back! I’m not tight, it’s a matter of principle and the fact I spent hundreds of pounds on a Zone 2-3 travel card!)

Lush, however, lived up to the friendly, personable customer service I’ve always found in the countless number of stores I’ve visited.

Butterball bath bomb, Pop in the Bath bubble bar, Olive Branch shower gel, Honey I Washed the Kids soap

After we’d exchanged a couple of emails, Jamie from Lush Customer Care offered to send me a few products to make up for my experience with the sugar scrub. Of course, I happily accepted and yesterday picked up a box of lovely Lush goodies from the post office (see above!) Honey I Washed the Kids soap is my favourite Lush product – the first I bought and the present I bought for all of my friends when I was 14 for Christmas. It smells and feels divine.

The goodies join my Christmas haul!

My bathroom is already stocked with Lush stuff that I received for Christmas (see some of it in the picture above), and I hope to continue receiving and buying it. All of the packaging is recyclable, the provenance is respectable and the results, (bar that one aforementioned experience), brilliant. I also love the fact that I can pop into a Lush store and have a enthusiastic conversation about the products on sale or have one of the staff recommend me cosmetics that suit my tastes and needs.

So tomorrow, when I’m scrubbing away in the shower (if the hot water decides to work), I shall try a bit of positive thinking and face the day with a smile on my face!

In your opinion, who provides you with the best customer service?

BIC Soleil

BIC Soleil have launched a new campaign called 'Just Live', surrounding four new razors with Shaver grip technology all aimed at different styles of shaving.

I've often had people stare aghast at my hands when I grip pens (apparently 'normal people' use their index fingers whereas I use my trusty 'claw' grip), so happily BIC have created a range to suit more 'unique cases' like me as well as the more eloquent of shavers. I'm quite pleased to hear that the emphasis is on grip too, being that I was forever put off more flimsy disposables after slicing into the top of my thumbs during a routine leg shave one morning. Needless to say, it hurt.

Bella razor

BIC have teamed up with body language expert Dr Jane McCartney to tell you how the way you shave reflects your personality. Apparently my long-studied techique of resting the handle in the palm of my hand 'allows me to shave quickly and efficiently and reflects my direct, driven and pragmatic approach', with the razor most suiting me being the generously sized Bella (see above). To find out more about each product, including which shaver could suit you and the way you defuzz, head to the Just Live Facebook Page.

Of course, a promotion wouldn't be a promotion these days without the giveaways, and BIC are getting chatty with their customers over on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, giving away goodies for ten weeks (including Benefit vouchers) and a cash prize to top off their season of giveaways.  The Competition can be entered here using the simple entry form.

To enforce the idea that BIC Soleil can help you to 'just live' by getting you feeling glam in a few strokes of a razor (my Saturday morning routine is pretty much centred around my shower), BIC has recruited bloggers such as Lauren Loves and Blah Blah Becky to dispense their tips for getting ready for a stress-free Christmas. They've also teamed up with Dorothy Perkins, fashion stylist Hannah Hughes, hairdresser Andrew Barton and make up artist Alana Phillips to give you top style and beauty tips to accompany your silky holiday pins.

Oh yes, and before I forget, they've also asked me too! So keep your eyes peeled to the Facebook page where my tips on feeling confident in the kitchen on Christmas Day – and the traditions and recipes I employ to keep myself feeling festive.

This is a sponsored post, but don't worry – if I don't like it, I won't write about it.

Viral video by ebuzzing

All I Want for Christmas…

… Ok so maybe not all I want, but as I’ve been shopping around for friends and family (honest!), I keep seeing things I wish I could treat myself to!

Anything by Tatty Devine

I’m a massive fan of innovative perspex jewellery designers Tatty Devine. I used to live around the corner from their Brick Lane store, which was lethal for my bank balance and I had to limit myself to window shopping most of the time. My sister loved the crazy glasses I bought for her birthday, and on special occasions I get out my massive mayor’s chain.

My favourite piece of theirs has always been their classic keyboard necklace. It’s as tinkly-looking as the real thing and, being monochrome, would go with anything. Recent designs I’m also lusting after include the ivy vines necklaces and the honesty seed pod stem necklace.

On another note, how cool are their models? Far from the ethereal editorial types, the girls on the website look like they wear the jewellery on a daily basis – I want to be them!

Original artwork

I’ve just moved to North West London and I’ve finally got a room I want to invest a bit more in – it’s large enough, for a start and it’s a lovely size (unlike my former ‘shoebox’ in Shoreditch). I’ve spent weeks buying things to make it into my own space, with a sofa, rug and coffee tables (inspired by the amazing makeover Dad’s wife, Deb, did on my old bedroom in Goudhurst, I’ve even got candles in the fireplace).  The one thing I haven’t done is successfully screwed my new mirror into the wall… there may have been, ahem, an issue with a drill…

What I’d really like to do now is get some amazing artwork to put up on the walls. Currently I’ve got a framed season three Skins poster that I got whilst I was at Channel 4, but there’s so much bare space it needs more! I’d love something by my friend Brendan Kearney (I gave this brilliant cat print to Deb when I moved back down South). I definitely need to retrieve my Get Frank artwork by Kate Hindley too – It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received – I’ve never had the chance to hang it somewhere because I’ve moved so much in the last 18 months. Hopefully that will all change now! Anything from Girls Who Draw would make me ecstatic – ditto, Lizz Lunney.

Smelly stuff

As always, I’m craving bits and bobs from Lush – we don’t have a bath in my new flat but their hand creams, shower gels and hair products are still high in my estimation. Perfume-wise, I’m missing my lunchtime trips to House of Fraser with the Channel4.com Lifestyle girls (Abi, Annabel and Emma… oh and Tom as well, if he insists!). We used to casually stroll through the perfume section, spritzing ourselves in preparation for the afternoon – my scents of choice being Lola or Oh Lola! by Marc Jacobs. I do love good old fashioned nostalgia!

Xbox games

Now I’ve set up home with my beanbag and Xbox, I’m in dire need of new games to play on it. I’m keen to get my mits on the latest Tekken, Skyrim and LA Noire.

Drink!

Now, I don’t mean to sound like an alcoholic but… I really want a cocktail cabinet and things to go inside it! Stop judging me – it’ll be for your benefit when you pop round for a mojito or two.

Togs, clogs and face paint

I’m obsessing over Topshop and Zara. One can never go wrong with Mac.

In essence, I want something for my neck, something for my walls, something for occupying my brain and something for my face! What are you hoping for this year?

The Groupon Experience

Not too long before I changed jobs and moved house I was approached by bargain voucher website Groupon, who wondered if I’d be up for trying out one of their offers and writing about it.

I originally discovered Groupon from one of those site popups – which is usually enough to put me off investigating further. However, the popularity of the website is now growing and the number of people I know that use the service has greatly increased – my new manager at Sky is one of their biggest fans!

Alongside national deals, the site runs vouchers for local businesses all over Britain. You can browse the site for new daily deals based on your chosen location (such as West London) and also subscribe to daily updates so you can find out about deals as soon as they’re launched. Offers vary from cosmetic procedures (dental implants, laser lipo and high-end hair removal solutions) to dining deals and domestic bargains (beanbags, for example). All deals are heavily discounted, with some offering up to a whopping 90% off!

Unlike other voucher sites, you pay for the deal on the Groupon site and either register your code online at the relevant website (if it’s a product rather than service or experience), or print out the voucher and take it with you to whatever you’ve bought. You’ll also need to book if it’s restaurant/salon related.

Groupon also run incentives to get more users active on the site – by successfully recommending friends to the site, users can currently earn £6 credit for redeeming on vouchers on the site – so if you recommend ten friends, that’s £60 for you to spend.

Having finally settled into my new place in Willesden Green, I decided to finally take Groupon up on their offer and see how far the £20 credit would go. Having my friend Charlie‘s housewarming to attend I took a gamble on a £19 KMS conditioning treatment, cut and blow-dry at Gregory’s Hair and Beauty salon in Northfields. Payment with my code was swift and easy and I was instructed that my voucher would be available the next day (once the deal had closed). An email arrived in my inbox the next morning completed with the aforementioned voucher so I sent a message to the Gregory’s, who rang me back a mere hour or so later to book me in. Amazingly, I was able to get an appointment for the next day. Not-so-amazingly I forgot that the Picadilly Line would be closed and I’d need to get a bus replacement service to Northfields…

Pesky travel issues aside, everything else about the experience was entirely plain sailing. My stylist Paula washed my hair, put the conditioning treatment on and sat me under one of those retro heaters for several minutes with a cup of tea and a magazine – bliss!

The results of my blow dry

After a quick trim, Paula asked how I’d like my hair dried. I decided to go against poker straight, but also tend to get disastrous results when hairdressers attempt to dry my hair into its natural curly style (they usually use too little product and go big on the frizz), so I asked for something slightly wavy.

My hair is quite coarse when straightened so it never looks perfectly glossy (Cheryl Cole-like one might say), but overall I was genuinely happy with the results. I did have to overload on products once I got home to try and keep the frizz at bay, which wasn’t entirely successful, but the cut itself was fantastic and has gone smoothly back to curls once washed.

Back to my curly 'roots'

At the salon, Paula how the salon became involved with Groupon. It seems that there’s quite a lot of interest in being featured on the site and the company asks many questions of the businesses apply. This could be to maintain quality control, to make sure that the deals sell and are worth hosting or a combination of the two (and more reasons besides). Ultimately, Groupon has been brilliant for Gregory’s. They’ve been featured multiple times with different treatments and have gained plenty of satisfied new customers. They also offer all Groupon customers the same treatment, at the same cost, for life.

Needless to say, I’ll be going back to both the salon and to Groupon!

Have you tried Groupon? What are your experiences of the site? Let me know below or send me a Tweet.