Thursday, 25 April 2019

A very pink birthday in London

My birthday in February was a pink affair in London that I'm so excited to finally share! I spent the day with my boyfriend and parents as we celebrated in the prettiest pink hot-spots that London has to offer; a few of our traditional haunts amongst a few new gems added to the mix. The previous day I'd organised my outfit and we'd bought pink confetti balloons and a helium machine in preparation for lots of blog and insta photo opps. It's no secret that I have a major love/hate relationship with London, but last year after doing a pink tour of the capital I really conquered a lot of my anxiety when it comes to visiting the city, and since then I've been full-steam ahead in my enjoyment of all the cute cafes and colourful streets the capital vibrantly showcases. On the eve of my birthday Graham sweetly bought me a beautiful bunch of birthday blooms and we spent the day local to my mum and dad, visiting one of our favourite haunts and enjoying a Nando's (the one near my parents is the best!) My birthday started bright and early, the four of us getting on a train to Central London where our first stop was.... 

Peggy Porschen, balloons & Valentine spirit 

So my birthday breakfast started outside the Peggy Porschen parlour with confetti balloons in hand and a sequin/holographic outfit I'd painstakingly chosen for the event. Initially a little nervous about posing with balloons in a busy London street, I found myself getting into the spirit of things - soon firmly ensconced in a "f*ck it, it's my birthday" attitude. We settled down to a stylish "La Vie En Rose" cake date, Peggy Porschen's Valentine theme providing all the birthday joy. You can read more about my previous Peggy Porschen Valentine brunch date here. During our breakfast we saw a little girl admiring my birthday balloons and before we left Graham gave her one to take home with her. We got chatting to her dad and found out the family were visiting from France, which made the Parisian theme all the more perfect. Her dad told us she hadn't been feeling well, and that it was their last day in London before heading back home to France, which made the balloon seem even more symbolic.

Nail'd It! 
This gorgeous phone box is mostly meant for clients to use, but a lovely lady working there kindly took some photos of me after I explained how much I'd been admiring their floral phone box online. She noticed my balloons and urged me to include them in the photos, so of course I didn't need asking twice! I vowed to make a future appointment for a glittery manicure for the future which I'm determined to do. I still can't get over the fairytale fabulousness of it all! 

The prettiest pink house 
I'd admired this pretty pink house for years online and my birthday seemed as good a day as any to visit it IRL. A couple of women walking by noticed us getting photos of my sparkly outfit and balloons in the street and as I moved out of the way so they could get a photo, one of them said "oh no, please stay in the picture, you make it even better!" which totally made my day. When strangers are this kind-hearted it really restores your faith in the human race. I was so cold by this point that we didn't stop long, but I was over the moon that we managed a few fun outfit snaps. As we walked through the streets my mum took hold of the balloons, cue a load of random strangers wishing her a happy birthday ☺︎

EL&N Cafe (Belgravia branch) 
The newest EL&N cafe to open, I decided my birthday was THE opportune moment to go! The stunning floral wonderland booths looked both beautiful and alluring, and having visited both the Knightsbridge Elan cafe and the Hans Crescent one, I was excited to see what this newest feature was like. 

Both my dad and Graham were a little shell shocked by all the pink, but were soon tempted by beetroot lattes and leafy rainbow salads. To be honest this branch was my least favourite. Despite loving the downstairs decor the whole vibe seemed to be a little less welcoming than the other branches and I just didn't feel like it gave off as nice a feel.

Saying that I still adored every moment of our lunch-date; by some miracle we bagged a sought-after booth despite it being in the lunch-time rush and I had a flower tea whilst Graham smashed Instagram-husband potential by ordering the pinkest drink on the menu, the beetroot latte.
Kalifornia Kitchen 

Allegedly the next insta hot-spot on the block, this pink vegan restaurant became mine and Graham's dinner date destination. Already full from Peggy Porschen cake and Elan's eateries, we opted for a rainbow salad and fries to share. The guy serving was friendly and when I complimented the pink decor he started telling us that some customers take Instagram divaish behaviour next level by sending their plates back and demanding more flowers on them for photos. Sorry, what?!?!

Gotta be honest here and say the restaurant was a little bit on the disappointing side, the food was nice but the place tiny and quite limited in terms of personal space. I'd wanted to take more photos of the pretty pink surroundings but kind of felt like some of the staff were a bit offish and people seemed to react a little weirdly when I took the select few photos on my camera that I did - which was a bit odd. Perhaps it's just the selfish millennial streak coursing through my veins but surely there's no point to an Insta worthy restaurant if you can't grab a few pics along the way? Ah well, at least I didn't demand more flower power on our rainbow plate (and I have zero photos of our food, so I guess we were too hungry at that point!) 

I had such a special birthday and truly cherished every moment. It was so much fun to enjoy some of our well-loved places whilst stumbling upon some new treasures. I hope you all enjoyed reading about our pink adventures in London, and I'm looking forward to exploring colourful fields afresh for lots of upcoming summer shoots, so stay posted! XO

Have you been to any of these pink locations? 


Monday, 8 April 2019

What to do when social media makes you feel ill

Six months ago, if you'd have asked me if social media made me feel ill I would've said a definite no. Is it toxic at times? Highly. Upsetting? Definitely. Irritating? Yep. But not so bad as to make me feel physically sick to the stomach. These past few months, however, my answer would be a definite yes - yes social media has been making me feel ill. On occasions it's left me shaking, crying, in such a bad way that my special birthday week became ruined with sick to the stomach nausea and paranoid dread. The exciting lead up to my holiday was wrecked with self-doubt and upset, I was on the phone to my boyfriend more than once at work because of a bad blip in my mental health due entirely to several things that happened on social media. The last time I'd felt this horrendous was over two years ago.

This chain of events was one of the reasons why I stopped blogging.  
I was too frightened to post anything because of feeling so vulnerable by several things that had got me in such a bad way. All of this stemmed from my supportive nature being taken advantage of by someone I thought I could trust who turned nasty. This taught me a lesson I needed to learn; that I should have listened to my gut feeling earlier, and that I needed to be less trusting online. We don't really know who someone is behind a screen, and often we don't know what their intentions are. After speaking to a few close friends I was heartened yet disappointed to find that they'd found themselves in similar situations too. I wasn't alone. It was comforting but worrying, how badly time online had affected us. How people, practical strangers, had made us feel so paranoid and worried, costing us our health in the process. 

The pettiness of social media seems to have ramped up a notch this past year, with people taking offence to any given thing, stabbings in the back that belong in secondary school, sarcastic subtweets flying back and forth and social media users using their platform to promote harm, instead of good. Bullying, criticism, hate and witch hunts seem to occur on a daily basis. The amount of negativity online is astounding, reaching levels of spite that are unbelievable at best, hateful and disgusting at worst. At one point I was seriously considering deleting my social media handles and just leaving it all, full-stop. If you come offline, the nastiness and negativity all just disappears, a lot of people will be quick to point out. But why should those people win and ruin it for everyone else? Deep down I didn't want to come off social media for good, but I didn't see any other solution when it was affecting me so badly. Just as I was feeling better and had enjoyed a lovely Sunday sitting outside in the garden, I went on Twitter for all of five minutes before someone leapt on something I said, and I started shaking with upset. I didn't want to be shaking over a stupid comment but being a naturally sensitive person who takes everything to heart and also battles with anxiety every single day, I couldn't help it.

The worst thing when someone turns nasty with me on social media, is that I immediately start to worry that others will follow suit. People that I care about, people that I consider life-long friends, people that I enjoy chatting to. I know this is unlikely, but this is the state in which anxiety leads me. Despite being initially upset, I managed to disregard the online exchange as quickly as possible, making sure it didn't ruin any more of my night. Even though this may only be a small victory, it's practically unheard of for me - someone who replays every negative remark and nasty word said in my head for days afterwards. Someone who can't help but hurt when little inconsequential things like this happen.

I recently decided I needed to put my health first and stop letting strangers online ruin my life. Despite Instagram being highly criticised and understandably a platform that a lot of users find can do more harm than good, I always find it a safe and happy place, and it's often Twitter that sees the root of a lot of upset and negativity impacting on my health. I've got some friends for life online, and I talk to many kind hearted, supportive and caring people on Twitter who often make my day with their kind comments and show me so much love and care which I always appreciate and try my hardest to reciprocate. This makes it even more of a shame that a choice few can ruin what would otherwise be a perfect platform. These past few weeks I've realised I need to take some steps to improve my time on social media, to ensure my health comes first. I thought I'd share a few of these in the hope of helping others out there who have been feeling the same. 


5 ways I've improved my time on social media 

I've stopped scrolling 
Twitter can be like an achievement roll of other people's successes, which is fine. I've posted things I'm proud of on there, and it can be a great platform for sharing and engaging; that's what it's all about! But too often I'd feel deflated from Twitter, in a switch of a second suddenly feeling low and down about my own life, when minutes ago none of this had been concerning me. These past few weeks I've stopped scrolling, especially seeing as the negativity on the app has been harder and harder to bear. Instead I focus on the people who I speak to the most, who bring me the most positivity and light, and who I enjoy connecting with. Making this change has already made a massive difference to my state of mind; already I'm feeling more positive and enlightened about life.

Switching off after posting 
One of my biggest downfalls is immediately assuming a blog post, an Instagram pic or content I've been excited about is going to flop. A dangerous habit of mine would involve constantly checking up on comments, interaction and reactions - optimism draining away by the second as nothing seemed to happen. This would not only make me feel like a failure, it would also lead me down a destructive path of negativity; should I just stop blogging? What's the point? There's no interest, I may as well just give up. It's not healthy, and only now am I making sure it doesn't become a repeat performance, time and time again. Taking time to step away from the content I've just posted is proving a better move for me, and instead of worrying and focusing on the negatives I'm feeling more positive about all the content I'm creating.

Muting, blocking, disengaging 
VITAL. I recently wish I'd hit the block button on several individuals a lot sooner, it would have given me peace of mind and the opportunity to have had a lot less upset. Guilt grounds away at me if I feel the need to mute or block - but our health is the priority here, and recently I've dropped the guilt and realised if those actions need to be taken to ensure my time is healthier online, then that's no.1.

Realising my worth
I've wasted too many precious hours worrying about people online. I spoke about meeting an online friend in this post, and how it all went wrong. It shook me up for a while afterwards - I found myself in a bad way self-esteem wise. The same thing has happened these last few months, just because of some nastiness I started doubting and worrying what everyone thought about me, convinced other people might turn too. Rising above is tough, but I'm constantly reminding myself that so long as I'm happy in my own skin, I haven't got anything to prove to anyone. I'm a kind person who has big dreams, works hard and has a loving partner, mum and dad, friends and this is all that matters.

Enjoying life offline 
Since moving in with my partner I've realised even more what really matters in life. Our time together comes first and if that means lesser time online, so be it. On days off I make sure if I post something I turn my attentions away from my phone and usually don't look again until later in the evening. Messages that I used to pressure myself to answer I put on the back burner, waiting until I have the time and not before. I used to be guilty of checking my phone too much when we were out but now I find I do that less and less. There's no need, and everything else can wait. In the evenings if we're watching TV or having a meal I've got into the habit of leaving my phone upstairs, forgotten and out of my peripheral vision. It's amazing how applying such a small change can make such a big difference. 

Lastly I think it's important to remind ourselves that everyone we interact with online is a real person behind a screen. Making an offish comment, turning on someone, being unkind for no given reason or typing that critical comment could just be a blasΓ© remark to you, but it could cost someone much more. You don't know what state of mind someone could be in, and choosing kindness over cruelty is everything. "If you've got nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all", applies to this ever-increasingly toxic online world in more ways than one. Instead of engaging or giving time to people and scenarios that bring me down, I'm curating my time online solely to share what I need whilst interacting with those that boost me up, not bring me down. Our health comes first over everything, and I'm not going to waste another second of my life being upset by the toxic side of social media.