Are you tube body ready?

Take a look at this advert.

small

Does it offend you? Don’t worry – there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, I’m just being curious.

Because – unlike what you may have initially thought – I’m not offended by this advert; I’m merely bored by it.

I’m bored by the slim blonde woman. Sent to sleep by the block colour background and statement lettering. Yawning at the implication that not only is the packaging small, but the model is draping herself over the phrase, physically linking herself to it; “think small! Drink our small drink and be small!” Don’t make yourself big, don’t be big and don’t think bigger than this.

After last year’s Protein World “Are you beach body ready?” debate, you would have thought portion ads marketed at women would have learnt a thing or two. Here the ad team must have seen the ban on outright body shaming ads and thought; let’s move the woman left of centre! And we’ll make it seem all about the product, even though there’s a yoga toned model in the corner, by only describing its ingredients and lack of gluten (perfect for the ‘clean’ eating brigade), rather than demonstrating its efficacy.

I don’t want to body shame the beautiful model in this ad, but where are her flexed muscles? Where’s the sweat? The look of intent one gets when someone else has the machine in the gym you keep missing due to poor timing? Where’s the glint of pride earned from surpassing one’s own expectations in the hand weights section?

The answer is not in this advert. It’s in gyms across the country. In parks, in living rooms and community centres. It’s in Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign. It’s even in the recent Adidas Woman campaign where they invited loads of uniformly slim followers to don their three stripes and give thanks for Karli Kloss.

I had a response on Twitter calling out my original tweet about this ad, picking up on protein not being a weight loss tool (I’d argue the visuals of this ad position it as one) and the common ‘would you say this if it was a man in the picture?’.

But here’s the thing – of course it wouldn’t be a man in the picture. It’s a product aimed at women and their tiny lady hands and bags! A print campaign ignoring the fact that – going by my gym anyway – women’s gym essentials often include a hairdryers and a bag big enough to carry that and much more. If it was a male marketed product, the ad minds wouldn’t think small, they’d think huge! They’d focus on strength, power, size, stamina, sweat and inspiration.

The successful women’s campaigns make us feel empowered and part of a unit; we all sweat, we all experience an intense adrenaline rush from reaching our goals. But the goal of this ad is to look like a yoga-toned blonde white woman. And I ain’t buying it.

After all, what’s empowering about thinking small?

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How to build a PC: a guide by Frankie Ward

Recently I did something I never thought possible; I built a PC.

Despite what one misogynist visitor to my Twitch stream, women can build PCs – we have hands and brains just like men do (whaddya know)!

However, I would be honest and say that for this individual, PC building wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, so I’ve compiled this handy help guide in case you get a hankering to put your own rig together.

1. After saving for months on end, peruse Amazon and get mind blown by how many varieties of Intel i7 Core Processors are, what a PSU is (power unit, it turns out) and how much wattage you actually need to get the final thing to turn on.

2. Settle for a *slight* shortcut by buying a bundle from a third party Amazon vender called Components for All, featuring the CPU (Intel chip), CPU cooler (a fan), motherboard (brain) and RAM (not a sheep). Realise after buying that this lot is going to be put together by the company, meaning you’re less likely to blow the bloody metaphorical doors off and can just ‘stick it in’ to the case.

3. Order PSU, case, graphics card and settle on hard drive (HDD) because you don’t realise SSDs (solid state drives) can actually work without one. Then buy Windows on a USB stick because Linux would be a step too far.

4. Speak to dad. Audibly sense the disappointment in his voice when he discovers you’re owning something not created by Apple (that could one day end up in his graveyard collection of Macs).

5. Find initial enthusiasm of components arriving wears off very quickly when the various instructions in each box is ridiculously vague.

6. Find internet also ridiculously vague. What’s BIOS when it’s at home?

7.  Put motherboard into case. Get confused by instructions about PCIe. Cry out “What’s a  PCIe? WHY DIDN’T I BUY A PCIe?” Routinely hug the case, partly because of worries about static and the need to ground oneself, partly because everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, and if you haven’t got one a cold metal case will have to do.

8. Discover you own a PCIe in the shape of a graphics card. Spend 20 minutes wondering how to take off PCIe cover from case. Finally have guts to peel metal off while crying about how much this business has all cost, in money and tears.

9. Broadcast a Twitch IRL stream to get advice from lovely community about order of I/O front panel connectors. Then give up for the night.

10. Discover that it would have been an extremely good idea to connect those little front panel cables in the case up to the motherboard before the graphics card went in… Give a moderate scream as the cables keep popping out.

11. Breath a sigh of relief as build ends. Connect up to fancy BenQ screen.

12. Let out a scream of insanity as nothing happens.

13. Realise that part of the motherboard was lacking power. Discover from colleague and all-round life coach Iain that this was due to the 8 point cable from PSU was plugged into graphics card instead and actually this 8 point cable splits into two parts, one of which now goes into the motherboard, with a modular cable used to power the graphics card. Rage that none of this information was included in the PSU instructions box.

14. Try again; lights on front and the graphics card now turn on, as does the CPU cooler, but nothing happens on the screen. Scream. Repeat stage 6 and the latter part of stage 8.

The computer that will turn on, won't show a screen. Gaaaaah

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15. In airport on way to Dreamhack Leipzig, speak to lovely man on phone from Components 4 All. He mentions that actually, the problem is probably using the wrong side of the 8 pin split and that’s why the thing isn’t turning on.

16. Get home from work trip, now a massive fan of German Twitch broadcasters and a self-confessed pretzel addict (I’ve gone cold turkey). Switch side of 8 pin in motherboard. Try to boot again. Light turns on, fan turns on… but nothing happens on screen. For once do not panic as nice man from step 15 also mentioned trying to turn on again without the graphics card.

17. Take out graphics card. Plug power and screen in again and switch on.

18. Scream, because this time it works and YOU’RE IN BLOODY BIOS!

19. Get Windows installed, put graphics card back in again, install Overwatch as a matter of urgency.

20. Stream on Twitch from your shiny new PC the first time.

21. Suck a Strepsil and enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who helped me in the painful process of building my PC – you can see it in action on my Twitch channel!

Bring on 2017

Let’s face it, 2016 isn’t going to go down in the Great British Scrapbook (or its worldwide equivalent) as the best days of our collective lives.

For me personally, in the latter half of 2016 a big job change pulled all focus into its orbit. I made the difficult decision to leave the BBC after over four years (and four different roles, including Radio Comedy and BBC Live) for a far different proposition; the social video gaming platform Twitch. I’ve swapped hot desking and getting annoyed about reading about my employer in the Daily Mail, for having a desk to fill with assorted gaming memorabilia and tea leaves, as well as getting annoyed about coverage of my former employer in the Daily Mail.

Dragon Quest Builders are our our #twitch stage at #EGX at 11:45!

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But it’s not just tea leaves and complimentary snacks (we have LOTS of them in my office, sorry waistline), I’ve also travelled more in five months than ever before; Germany, Amsterdam, Poland, Sweden and er… Birmingham (twice), met some brilliant fellow gaming fans who work darned hard streaming to their audience, worn silly headgear onstage, made friends with a chocobo, and formed my own little gaming community on my personal Twitch channel. As a programming manager, I’m producing stage shows and meeting game developers and streamers and trying to absorb as much new knowledge as possible – which leads me to my ‘to do’ list for 2017. Because resolutions are so 2016.

2017 to do list

  1. Make transition from gaming fan, to gaming expert; I work with the latter and count myself currently as the former. So every opportunity has me ‘sponging’ for more information.
  2. Build a gaming PC – most lunchtimes see me streaming and/or practicing Overwatch in the office games’ room. I stream from Playstation 4 at home, but I’m longing to spend more time on my Tracer time-hopping, Hanzo-dodging skills.
  3. Host some eSports, preferably Rocket League. And get better at playing Rocket League. Just because.
  4. Do some creative stuff; my sister bought me a book about knitting stuff using your own forearm. It’s worth a go, right? Keep your eyes peeled for ‘wool rage’ on my Twitch channel sometime soon…
  5. GIG AGAIN! This makes the list each year. I played set list yesterday at home and realised I genuinely miss it – life gets in the way, and all that.
  6. Move in with Lacey (boyfriend) and get a small dog called Guthlac. (This may be carried over to next year.)
  7. Pioneer “cheese, wine and VR nights”, because I’m determined to “make VR happen”, although it’s looking like it will with or without my help, thankfully.
  8. Do the Youtube yoga thing more regularly again – it’s good for the mind.
  9. Keep up the gym thing – it’s good for the behind.
  10. Go to the cinema more often. My favourite podcast is Wittertainment and I now have BFI membership, thanks to Lacey.
  11. BAKE! Jeez, I used to do this every weekend and now, once a year…
  12. Be kind. To others, and to myself.

This is now on record. So I guess I’ve got no excuses now…

A look back at the Invictus Games

“You’re so lucky!” my disbelieving friends told me when I explained I was off to Orlando, Forida not for a holiday, but to cover the Invictus Games for the BBC.

Behind the scenes of the #invictusgames featuring our special guests Prince Harry and Paul Vice

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The event, which first took place in London in 2014, gives ex-servicemen and women with physical and mental injuries the chance to compete for their country, amongst others like them. Set up by HRH Prince Harry, it’s a massive event, attended by 14 nations – with more likely to join for the third event in Toronto in 2017.

I produced a live blog for each programme, filming extra video interviews and reports from ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, in order to expand the story of the games and get the audience closer to the athletes.

I might not have managed the time to visit any of the Disney theme parks proper, but there was a magical thing that did happen out in the searing heat – the inner Londoner in me, quick to grimace at the sound of tinny headphones, elbowing back aggressive businessmen and occasionally ignorant of my own fortune – disintegrated. Suddenly I could talk to anyone. Byron in the Veteran Services van, spectators, a Dutch tennis coach, athletes I’d read about but never met in person before.

A personal highlight was hosting my first Facebook Live with Invictus host (and Channel 4 and BBC pundit) JJ Chalmers and the People’s Strictly Come Dancing champion Cassidy Little. We spoke about Cassidy’s experiences of learning to walk on his first prosthetic leg and how he and JJ were “blown up” together back in 2011. The two former Royal Commandos were happy to talk about anything and were brilliant, charismatic interviewees.

And yet, surviving my first live presenting gig for the BBC couldn’t come close to the feeling of being at the Invictus Games itself, and the amazing people I met there (JJ and Cassidy included). From the Aussie sitting volleyball captain Brendan Dover and his squad, including Wade Roberts and Dani Moffitt, to Frenchman Franck Gibot, who told me openly and honestly about how Invictus had helped him and his fellow athletes in learning to cope with crippling PTSD.

martinclaptoninvictusgamesorlando2016nesj6jaoiocl

I don’t think I’ll ever forget archer Martin Clapton, who had just been awarded a special trophy in recognition of his inspirational abilities – releasing arrows with a mouth tab, telling me in this video how he’d tried to take his own life merely a year ago, but how his sport of choice, and the archery squad had brought him back from a brink. As his team captain Chris MacFayden (pictured below with vice-captain Gareth Patterson) turned and told him – they’re “a family”.

Chris and Gareth from the UK #archery team #champions #goldmedal #invictusgames

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There were also early Paralympic promises in the performances of double above-knee amputee 20om sprinter Dave Henson and lightweight powerlifter Micky Yule. In total, the UK brought home 131 medals – you can find more details on the last Invictus live page I produced.

#fireworks at the closing ceremony #invictusgames

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Prince Harry spoke at the opening ceremony of the need to address the hidden injuries – the PSTD suffered by many in attendance – and I was amazed at the willingness for people to talk, both to me and each other. It was a triumph of the human spirit. And every time I feel an irritation on the tube, or at work, or even walking down the street, I shall remember; Invictus!

Finding what feels good

A few big things happened to me earlier this year…

I’ve gone on attachment within the BBC (I’m working on live coverage for events and programmes such as The Great British Bake Off), and I discovered (thanks to this article by Bryony Gordon) that I have a form of OCD, subsequently making it easier to deal with varying levels of anxiety brought on my repetitive (and often distressing) thought patterns. Another change was the unexpected end of a 15 month long relationship, which had switched to long distance mode for the last four months and was likely to continue that way.

There are things that I know are triggers for my OCD, break-ups aside, including caffeine and alcohol (particularly the day after even one large glass of wine – certainly not hangover levels), and so I know I should avoid these or bear in mind that when I’m anxious, I’m partly facing the consequences of my actions. And when your mind is constantly on high alert, and the NHS has a three month waiting list for CBT, it’s hard to make further changes – I knew meditation probably wasn’t going to be practical for me. As someone who tries to box, circuit train, run, dance and Zumba as much as possible (but with limited home space), I wanted to try something physical, free and independent.

And so I discovered Yoga with Adriene. Adriene is an actor and yoga teacher from Texas who hosts an extremely popular YouTube channel, releasing a video each week. Luckily for me, I’ve caught on a few years into her video career, which means there’s a constantly a wealth of videos for me to choose from; from her 30 Days of Yoga playlist, to her Yoga for Weight Loss series and her technique videos. There’s workouts for every mood and schedule; from 3 minutes looking at strengthening the wrists to a full hour of fat-burning moves.

Adriene is so warm, bubbly and likeable – as well as easy to follow. Once you’ve been following her videos for a month or so, the flow between moves becomes more intuitive, although I’m constantly adding new poses to by yoga bank. Even now, when I’m a bit under the weather, I know I can pick one of her more nurturing videos (yes, she has one for when you’re feeling sick).

I’ve hooked my YouTube account up with my Xbox so I can play the videos on my TV and I practice using a cheap yoga mat from Sports Direct and a £2 foam yoga block I bought from Tiger. I’d genuinely thought that yoga wouldn’t be for me; I’ve had a regular exercise routine for at least four years now (starting in my bedroom with Davina McCall DVDs), and thought I’d find it boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Although taking part in the videos is fun, the end is usually the best for me; most videos end in a shavasana (or corpse pose), where you basically lie on your back for as long as you want. Given the moves you’ve just done – focusing your mind and body to work together – it leads to a natural state of contented relaxation.

I do believe that what happens to you in a space affects the way your body reacts when your return to it. For example, when you feel fine in the morning, but find you feel ill upon entering your workplace building – something that can be brought on by work-related stress. This can be alleviated once you reclaim the space in a positive way. (I genuinely think all offices should run exercise classes in their buildings – dancing can change the way your subconscious associates itself with that space, as well as being brilliant fun). Now my living room is also my yoga studio, it feels like a different, warmer space. I celebrated its revised context with a makeover too…

Been decorating, ain't I? Colour is 'Sarong' from B and Q colours range

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Oh yes, you’ve probably not seen my living room before – this ‘feature wall’ used to be white with poorly framed posters. Now it’s got a few coats of paint I picked up for £8 from B&Q and a David Shrigley print I picked up from the Tate Modern for the same price. It’s a fresh start, and one I’m really enjoying.

Recommended by a Friend: Comedians on their pick of the Edinburgh Fringe

Last year I produced and presented an interactive video series called Frankie’s Fringe Focus.

This year I’ve gone back to YouTube and spoken to four of my favourite up-and-coming comics about the shows you shouldn’t miss in Edinburgh this year.

Sofie Hagen

I recorded this with Danish comic (and Denmark’s biggest Westlife fan) Sofie Hagen in the loos upstairs at the Camden Head (the one in Camden, rather than its Angel namesake). I’ve been dying to interview her since meeting her at the BBC Radio New Comedy Award in 2013 so was thrilled when she agreed to meet me in the aforementioned bathroom (with my sister on iPad holding duties) to recommend Damien Clark’s latest full length show. I also saw a preview of her own show, Bubblewrap, after our interview and it was poignant, hilarious and unmissable.

Find out more about Sofie’s free show, Bubblewrap

Find out more about Damien Clark’s free show It’s a Good Day to Damo

Joz Norris

I LOVE JOZ! He’s awesome and so much fun to watch and generally be around. This was, in essence, a pilot for the format. (Thanks for being my guinea pig, Joz!) I really enjoyed last year’s show and this year’s Hey Guys comes complete with a toilet seat head and Neil Young – what more could you want? Well, possibly another laughter-packed show, in Marny Godden’s bonkers character show Flap ‘Em on the Gate, the first solo hour from The Grandees perforner. It’s very amusing – and yes, you may be pulled up on stage (but she doesn’t bite).

Find out more about Joz Norris: Hey Guys!

Find out more about Marny Godden: Flap ‘Em on the Gate

Michael Brunström

Part man, part river Michael is responsible for one of the most surprising uses of a morph suit ever to be witnessed in Edinburgh. Now he’s back with The Golden Age of Steam. Rumours he will once again make audience members dance with a fennel are currently unsubstantiated. He’s recommending the utterly charming Colin Leggo (google Breaking Bude for one of his hilarious Cornish videos).

Find out more about Michael Brunström: The Golden Age of Steam

Find out more about Colin Leggo: Leggoland

Matt Winning

Matt Winning is an absurd comic, member of the Bearpit Podcast and all round lovely person, so it’s a real treat to have him on the show to recommend Sean McLoughlin’s show at this year’s Fringe – and, by way of a bonus, he’s debuting his first hour, Mugabe and Me this year, so if you like a bit of intelligent wordplay with outlandish impressions, he’s your man!

Find out more about Matt Winning: Mugabe and Me

Find out more about Sean McLoughlin: Whatever It Takes

But who would you recommend at this year’s Fringe? Tell the world, well Twitter, using the hashtag #RecommendedByAFriend

Oh, make me over!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m making a few ‘alternations’ to myself…

I’ve held off cutting my hair because people were aghast at the suggestion, thought I couldn’t get a tattoo because ‘what would it be like in your mid-thirties’. That I shouldn’t wear anything sheer or too bright or ‘out there’. I had a classic case of being a woman in a society where we’re held to a standard we see in shampoo and body lotion ads, filling out the costly pages of the free ES Magazine.

The last few months were tough, but now I’m about to start a new job, and being ‘on my own’ is just a social construct. I don’t need someone else to be a ‘whole person’. But I am interested in looking deeper into my own identity, and the surface changes are like a little contract to myself to remember be who I want to be.

I’m still working on it though; an unloved pile of clothes and shoes sits in a corner; it’s time for a clear out.

The first change was my hair. After months of holding the front high in front of my face to emulate Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, I finally got the courage to tell my hairdresser Salma that I really did want to go short and crazy – my hair grows quickly after all!

Hair before #balayage with @bleachlondon

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I stepped out of Tigi’s Creative Studio at Boxpark Shoreditch with the biggest barnet I’ve ever rocked. Shockingly for me – someone who has always had to wash my hair if I wanted to leave the house to tame its frizzy self – I now don’t have to condition my hair every single morning. It’s great – I’m like a normal person who can get on with stuff and not have wet hair on the tube!

Later, I went even further. Going for DIY highlights (applied by my sister – which was, quite frankly, terrifying). I didn’t get them quite light enough to dye the ends with some of the fun temporary colours Bleach London makes, but their balayage kit was great – so I’d definitely recommend their range at Boots if you’re looking for a change.

My tiny lower black eye is now a semi-fashionable purple

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I guess it’s the fact that the hair cut didn’t hurt that I decided to finally go for something that I knew actually would (at least in the short term). I’d been obsessively Instagramming tattoo artists and researching the best places to go when I stumbled across Emily Alice Johnston, who tattoos in black with that really cool style of deceptively simple looking line drawings that didn’t resemble anyone else’s work. In another daunting move, I headed to Into You Tattoo in Farringdon to place my cash deposit…

#peroxide

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I knew I wanted something with a botanical theme and had been thinking about having forget-me-nots on my foot for a good few years, but in the couple of weeks before getting inked I swayed between thistles and poppy seed heads. Then, two days before, my mind finally settled; a dandelion clock.

When I met Emily she showed me her flash book (basically like a portfolio of signature designs) I saw some flowers I liked but really wanted something bespoke so mentioned my idea. After printing out a botanical drawing from the internet, she drew me what turned out to be more of a ‘lifecycle of a dandelion’, with different types of dandelion flowers and a very complex looking leaf! She asked me if I wanted it to be smaller, given that it was my first one, and I decided to go for it as it was!

For those of you wondering about the feeling of getting a tattoo, imagine the pain of an injection – say your BGC vaccine – and then imagine it being administered multiple times very quickly, whilst the scratching is simultaneously dragged across your skin. And yes, the foot is bony and therefore can’t cushion you from the pain of the needle as easily which means the pain is intensified.

And yet, despite this, getting tattooed was one of the most ‘zen-like’ experiences I’ve ever had. I had to focus so hard on breathing that I didn’t really think about anything else. Not that I recommend being in pain to meditate, but I think I learnt a lot about breathing in a short space of time… Also, there were some very cool people in that studio I did NOT want to embarrass myself in front of. Emily declared that I was one of the most silent people she’d ever tattooed – much to the amusement of anyone who’s ever been in the same room as me…

Perfect #clogs for showing off my new #tattoo!

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Here’s the thing about tattoos – I’m not going to feel hugely different about it in my mid-thirties, or any other decade. I’m going to be able to look down at it and remember who I was when I got it – a reminder to never let myself go. Not physically, but (and I’d rarely use this word for myself) spiritually.

Hey Tories, tax me – not my licence fee

Today George Osborne’s budget revealed that soon the BBC is to fund the cost of free licence-fees for over-75s.

This will apply to all and will not be means tested. It will eat up a fifth of the BBC’s budget – and don’t forget that the BBC is already cutting over 1,000 jobs to save £50 million (it has yet to announce how it will save a further £100 million currently needing to be found).

Here’s the thing; I understand the need to help people in need and I totally support social policies that do this. There are pensioners in this country who have very little money and are entitled to help. And this is one of the many reasons we have taxes – based on the income we earn and adjusted to reflect this. And these taxes are how this policy should be funded. You want to tax me more to fund this? Fine. I will pay £150 pounds in extra tax a year  – between 12 and 13 pounds a month – to fund someone in need to have access to the wide and varied communications services the BBC provides.

Another pledge the Tories promised during their election campaign was a further freeze of the licence fee. With this new plan announced, this would be disastrous for the BBC – but it looks like Director General Tony Hall has cut a deal that means a rise in line with inflation will be possible. Bear in mind that for many years annual BBC staff pay rises have been under the rate of inflation. This rise of the licence fee wouldn’t mean pay rises for its staff, but it will be vital to keep the BBC going. Again, however – why not means test people to see who should be eligible for a free licence, avoid eating up the budget and freeze the licence fee for another five years. Either way the BBC is negatively effected, but surely it’s preferable to a BBC that can’t afford to commission the dramas that BBC Worldwide can syndicate internationally in order to fund public service content for the nation.

To be honest, I’m surprised, shocked and saddened that this move today is even legal – surely we, as licence fee and tax payers, should have a say in how the product we pay for is deprecated. How our services are cut and whether we prefer to keep thousands of people in work – paying their taxes and the cost of their TV licences, no less. The BBC is vital to the growth of the indie production sector, to training the next generation in media, developing the digital ideas that will inspire the industry (iPlayer, for example), for entertaining and educating our children, from toddlers to teenagers (where they’ll use the BBC for revision and learning), to find recipes from the chefs they see on BBC channels (not imperialist Osbourne, but a common sense ‘digital 360’ approach to programming, making commissions go further for the audience), inspiring and informing the world with the hugely trusted World Service, making household names of British writers, actors and directors. Uncovering conspiracies and covering wars. Soundtracking our kitchens, bedrooms, cars and gardens with BBC Radio. Bringing culture – both live and recorded – to the masses. I simply can’t cover it all in this blog, but I do welcome you to mention your favourite BBC services in the comments below.

There’s a well-known routine in the journalism industry; everyone watches Sky News. They have a dedicated pot of money so they can publish stories as soon as they come in without necessarily knowing how watertight they are. They seek the viewers and cover their backs later. This doesn’t mean their coverage is usually inaccurate, but it’s why they can take risks and break stories before anyone else. The BBC, on the other hand, has to have anything it reports verified. In other words, everyone may watch Sky News, but they trust the BBC. They’re ying and yang and they balance each other out. There is absolutely room for both.

Osborne may say that BBC News is risking the stability of the national press, but I smell a rat. The BBC News website again publishes verifiable, unbiased news stories. The majority of the national press is right wing; they provide a loud, supportive voice for the Tories. They are essential to their plans come election season. The Tories need these outlets. Therefore they need to crush the alternative. And so they turn on the BBC and they attempt to tear it apart, before people decide they prefer their news to be news, and not an opinion published to sell papers.

To conclude, I repeat my earlier statement – tax my income, and not the culture I willingly pay for.

ASOS x Walls and the difficult decision

Ever since I saw pictures from the press launch of the ingenious Walls and ASOS collaboration I’ve been hungrily awaiting the collection’s release.

I even went to the lengths of tweeting the ASOS team about it, given that June had arrived and still no release. They first said to keep and eye on their site and then, that very same afternoon, tweeted me a link to the Twister lolly heels (£50)I’d be so desperately coveting.

I’ve not seen the amazing rocket lolly and Feast glittery clutch bags I also had my eye on posted on the site yet, but I couldn’t resist treating myself to a starship rocket dress (£40) too…

Naturally the heels are only available in a size 3 now, but the dress is still available in all sizes. I felt tentative to say the least about spending so much, but then I remembered it’s rare I find clothes I like so much – and screw it, it’s Summer.

Within a few days the pieces had arrived at work and I got so excited I ran to the loos to try them on. Thankfully my very obliging colleague Shabana took a photo for me…

To my mild horror the back of the dress is white and more revealing than you’d expect – I pretty much have to wear leggings with it or find the best white anti-VPL pants ever, because otherwise you’ll be able to see my pants through it. Not exactly ideal. The heels have no platform and are the same in height as the length of my iPhone 5C (to give you an idea). Wearing them is like trying to strut in ballet pointe shoes. Nigh on impossible.

I packed up the items and put the photos on Instagram explaining that I was going to have to return them and was pretty much flat out told by the very nice commenters that no, I couldn’t possibly return them Similarly Luke told me that the dress had to stay.

So that’s that. I’m going to watch telly in the shoes (so I don’t have to move) and buy some new pants; because you win, social media. You win.

ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT! I'll keep the shoes!

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Skin salad

Excuse the icky title! I’ve not been eating skin, I promise!

I’ve just returned from visiting my boyfriend Luke in France (followed by my sister’s hen weekend in Wales) and I’ve over indulged in bread, wine and cake. Understandably I felt chubbier and my skin was ravaged by copious amounts of Lancome’s SPF 50 CC cream (I had to have SPF, but this isn’t a product I’ll be buying again – it’s an expensive break out in a bottle). To try and reward my body for keeping going I’ve been feeding it a rainbow every night for the past four days.

Rainbow bright salad! #veggiemountain

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It’s pretty much a souped up tuna nicoise – although I’ve been having it with tinned salmon too. The salad in the picture above features olives, chopped gherkins, red pepper, celery, cucumber, grated carrot, mixed salad leaves, tinned salmon and a ‘just hard enough’ boiled egg. Oh, and a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing. It basically gets your jaw working double time and it’s properly refreshing and carb free (if that’s your bag).

I’m needing protein as I’m getting back into my circuit training and boxing post holiday and I’ve got a common ‘cranky knee’ condition called chondromalacia patellae which sometimes means bending my knees to get up is excruciating. However, if I eat fish I genuinely notice a difference – and fast. It doesn’t mean I don’t get a dodgy knee from jumping, but it does help me heal faster – essential given that I’m exercising at least five times a week.

The other benefit I’ve noticed is that my skin, which genuinely reached peak anger by the end of my week in France, has cleared up in double time. It’s also a combination of cutting out alcohol, swapping that evil CC cream for Garnier Moisture Match SPF 20 moisturiser and a discontinued Khiels tinted moisturiser, and using a couple of drops of Khiel’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate every other night (too much equals, yep you guessed it, breakouts). I’ve also gone back to Cetaphil skin cleanser, after using Nivea Refreshing Face Wash in France and finding it was probably increasing the skin problem, rather than helping! I geniunely think Cetaphil is brilliant – I read an article where Alexa Chung recommended it and tracked it down in the pharmacy section of Boots. (I’m now on my third bottle.)

So is the skin down to my routine or has the rainbow salad helped things along a bit? Well, I’m kind of convinced it has – usually my skin wouldn’t recover quite so fast (although the Khiel’s serum will definitely have helped). The hazard is that I’ll get stuck in a rut of the same thing every night, so if anyone has tips for skin friendly, guilt free recipes (preferably ones that feature cheap ingredients of convenience), please recommend away!