Get the Layered London Life

Thanks DUDELOL.com, you’re hilarious and you know it!

So for a while, I’ve been having this constant internal breakdown where I’m like ‘Where am I? ‘Who am I’? And more importantly, ‘Where am I going?’ And of course, the constant beating in my chest and subsequently my throat are cultivated by the Uber stress that’s bestowed upon me and also in fact that I can’t actually afford half the Uber rides I actually get.

I was about 16 when I decided that after I’d thwarted my way through performance studies at college (free spirited ok?) and spent three years of my life chugging back VKs in Revs at uni that I would move to London. In September 2013 I set off with my little handkerchief tied onto a stick and was driven 300 miles down the motorway by my Stepdad and TalkSport Radio (4 HOUR DRIVE PEOPLE). Pretty soon after I’d landed and since, I’d managed to start a new job, cry at a new job, quit a job, open an overdraft, spend an overdraft, have an interview at Vogue, an interview at Glamour, get rejection letters from both, get a job in TV, realise I like TV, lose my job in TV, get another job in TV, lose my job in TV again, and then gain another job in TV which I’m due to start soon. Amongst all that, I’d ended a previous relationship, started a new one, boarded with crazy people, boarded with friends, eaten at Morley’s Fried Chicken more than once, eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant more than once and still managed on top of all that to be in debt, but drinking Prosecco on a Friday night? Crazy huh?

What’s my secret? Ok guys…I’ll tell you. How can I on the surface have this shiny, happy go lucky persona, my Primark skirt being mistaken for Zara at a glance, my perfectly manicured nails being stick on types from Poundland, and then underneath that is a 2 bedroom flat in Brixton, a meal at Duck & Waffle on a Friday night and a trip to New York in October for my 25th. How do I do it you ask? I’ve got the Layered London Life.

The Layered London Life is not a product you can buy, or a class you can attend, it’s a London way of life which you have to study, perfect and ultimately master in order to balance your life of oxymoron’s and juxtapose your daily routine. Up until 3am getting hammered on 2 4 1 cocktails at Be At One but got a work meeting at 9am? The Answer? Dean Street Townhouse! Avocado and egg on toast for £9! Amazing. You get to eat something that washes the Sambuca out of your mouth and look like you’ve got your shit together! And what’s even better? You can expense it to work!

Got a hot date on Thursday night but don’t have any money to get a new outfit? Don’t ignore those cheap looking pile of shit shops like Risky and Rebel!. They might be gross on the outside, and the inside, but they can re-sell a Boohoo dress with the label cut out for half the price! You might get some D£sign£r heels too for only £6, wow how incredible considering the RRP is £225!

Want to appear cultured and knowledgeable but can’t actually afford the £12 entry fee to the Tate exhibition on rat droppings? Well, have no fear, you can go to all of the free ones instead, and when you’re date/person you are trying to impress with all your knowledge makes a hint that they want to go into said paid for exhibit, distract them with your waving of a BOGOF glass of house white voucher at the local Wetherspoon’s which conveniently looks over the Thames…And if you want to travel back in style, grab the Emirates cable cars, and gawp at the view of London by air for the same price as a tube ride, bonus points if you’re on a travelcard and further bonus points for realising these two spots are nowhere near each other.

It sucks having no money and living in a city in London where everything is so expensive but there’s lots of things worth doing that are free, it just takes a bit of research. It sucks not having any time and living in London. Work can overtake your life sometimes, and although my mum always says ‘You don’t have to do it all now just because you’re young!’ Well screw you mom! Do you think you know better than me because you have 30 years life experience on top of me and have brought up a child genius such as myself? I will do it all now! You know why? Because London is a young person’s game. It might be the golden oldies who sit in their million pound Highgate and Kensington homes and the odd flake from Made in Chelsea made up land, but it is the young people that get away with the shit above because we are young, and determined and a liiiiiittle bit stupid.

You see, the secret to The Layered London Life is in its title. LAYERS. Like Donkey said to Shrek, Onions have layers, and so does London. Use them to your advantage. One day you might be supping on champagne from a glass shaped like Kate Moss’ tit, the next you’ll be paying for a Boots meal deal with your saved up Boots points you had reserved for a new mascara. C’est la Vie! C’est London!

Look at my layers on Instagram @ecarg_h

Laugh at my layers on Twitter g_hetherington

 

Brighton: Britain’s Babe of The Coast

I’d never been to Brighton before this past weekend, can you believe it? Recently, some friends from university took the plunge and decided to move to the coast instead of inhaling the smog along with the rest of us in London. Their lungs full of fresh air and fresh decisions, away from the social and economical pressures of London.

Our friends actually live in Hove, Brighton’s tamer and less expensive neighbour. Pretty Edwardian houses intermingled with mock deco flats lines the stretch down to the beach and it has a quaint yet practical look and feel to it all.

Hove is full of little diamonds like The Wick Inn where scruffy meets neat, rough meets sweet and it’s the kind of establishment adorned with as many globes as there is beer bottles, and the right amount of neon lighting. At the weekend, there’s a special speakeasy cocktail menu buut the real gem at this pub is its quirk of selling Thai food. Eating out with boys who complain 100 times before you’ve sat down about ow hungry they are is annoying but thankfully the portion size and spice factors was well received.

I’ve heard a lot more about Brighton’s breakfast club in the recent months than I have about the several that are way closer to me in London. I haven’t got round to trying any of the London branches because no one should queue that long for breakfast so the slightly sleepier seaside setting of Brighton seemed the right the right location to break the fast between us all.

I chose the pancakes with bacon; since dropping my vegetarianism nearly a year ago now, I’ve been all about bacon and the BC bacon did not disappoint. If you want to eat your breakfast to the sound of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and Club Tropicana, then seriously, look no further. We also had a a lovely server Becky, who was not only really attentive but definitely went the extra mile, bringing the banter of Barnsley to Brighton.

The lanes have intrigued me about Brighton for a while too, and mostly because I’ve heard that they’re absolutely slamming for fashion. Proving their worth, I snapped up a psychedlic shift dress for £11 from Oxfam, and DW spent ‘the best £12 of his life’ on a moon cat t shirt. Bric a Brac shops galore, this is a horders heaven and I had to stop myelf from cluttering my life with trinkets and quirk past relics. Also my bag was already jam packed of googly eyes purchased from Tiger, which is also where the boys got their matching hats from. Which I can honestly say I wasn’t embarrassed of whatsoever, and instead jealous that I’d not purchased my own.

Brighton is also home to booze and as well as giving it out free on the street (it was only Radlers guys don’t get excited) they sell craft beers for expensive prices. But the bottles look great on a windowsill and they also look pretty fancy on a beachy instagram snap…apart from the only beach snap I got of DW drinking what looked and tasted like a can of Slurm.

Brighton Pier was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Old, slightly unstable, loud, tacky and a little bit sticky. With its Seagulls overhead look like they were hanging from string and its deckchair charm, this is a place that hasn’t changed much over 100 years but was at least not a place where eager Briton’s had their tops off in the arcade (hello Morecambe anyone?). The beach itself was rammed, I’ve never been surrounded by so much wobbling white flesh in all of my life. My only criticism of the pier would be the deafening disco tunes that blasted out near the rides, but you know what, like I’d pay £6 for a 30 second ride anyway.

As for Brighton’s night life, perhaps if I could remember a little more I’d be able to divulge but I guess that’s a homage to its cheap and cheerful drinks and terrible open mic Oasis sing-a-longs. Not sure how many people I told I was from Manchester and that I actually don’t like Oasis. In the end I was annoying myself. Although, alcohol does decrease the pain in your feet from the pebbles on the beach, and seeing Georgio Armani throw himself into the sea at 3am might now be an image I’m storing in my mind palace.

Brighton’s possibly one of my favourite destinations of British seaside I’ve ever been to, and did I mention there’s just so many dogs?

Follow me on instagram and see all of these pictures again plus more @ecarg_h 

I write stuff on Twitter and sometimes it’s funny @g_hetherington

5 Ways to EAT FREE in London

Look at these cheeky friends, they’re laughing the bill away! Copyright food-freedom.co.uk

(and if not free – then for very very little)

I’ve kind of got over pretending that I can afford my lifestyle. People who don’t live in London always ask ‘But isn’t it so expensive?’ and you reply ‘Yeah but…[insert justification as to why you didn’t eat for three days this past week]. London is f***ing expensive and sometimes you know, girl gotta eat.

But instead of blowing all my money on eating out…which if I total up how many lunches, dinners, snacks and afternoon nibbles I’ve spent money on over the past two years living here would give me heart attack – it would probably be a bill in the thousands – I’ve found some thrify ways to pig out on a small or non existent price tag.

So, here’s my short but sweet list of how to eat free in London, or at least close enough to it that you won’t actually have to consider homelessness.

1. Sign up to Ultra Vie. This nifty little site started up earlier this year and is the way forward in getting to exclusive restaurant openings and bagging a nice restaurant for you and a plus one. The concept is simple, sign up and you receive an RSVP each month, or you can go premier for a small fee (Approx £30 p/a) and you get 4 RSVPs per month. I got an exclusive to Marco Pierre White’s infamous Rib & Oyster restaurant and took The London Adventurer as my plus one and this week I’m attending the Olympia Arts Fair Previews – not food but I’m hoping on a free canapé of some sort.

Pros: Exclusive invites to events and restaurants you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

Cons: Site like these are becoming very popular very quickly, it’s literally fastest finger first.

2. Secret dining. Secret Dining is Mystery Shopping cool younger sister. You sign up to one of these sites like Secret Squirrels or Service Scan and you get a brief to go to a restaurant where you keep a beady but unassuming eye over the service, food and atmosphere, write up a report and get your meal reimbursed. You can even earn up to £20 per visit for some sites.

Pros: You get a lovely hearty meal, and all you have to do is fill out a form as to whether it was good or not.

Cons: The restaurants are a little samey samey and if you don’t submit your report in 24 hours you run the chance of not being reimbursed.

3. Hang out at BBQs. Now this one can get a little shady, but if you’re going to a BBQ at a friend’s, you’re entitled to eat the food. Yeah sure you look like the person who didn’t bring anything but themselves, but hey, they’re your friends, surely they understand how poor and hungry you are right now right?

Pros: Like an all you can eat buffet and friends are there too.

Cons: You will eventually be sussed as the friend who brings nothing to the table and subsequently is dropped by said friendship group.

4. Scout around on social media. There’s a lot of resturants in London and if they’re going to get anywhere promoting themselves, they will be doing on social media. Look out for Focus Groups where you go and east a meal and give feedback during as well as exclusive offers like ‘First 50 customers’ and even opening nights of new ventures. the possibilities are endless.

Pros: The possibilities are endless, you have to try before you buy.

Cons: You could get your hopes and dreams set on something free and then you don’t win. Sh*t happens.

3. Your friend is a food blogger. Chances are, if your friend is a good food blogger, you probably know all about the tips and tricks mentioned above already, and if you don’t, no offence but your friend isn’t a good food blogger. Food bloggers get invited to swanky events and normally because food is involved and so much opinion surrounds food, they usually get a plus one.

Pros: Your friend is a food blogger. Lucky you, you’ve hit the free food jackpot. Keep your diary free, you could be doing something last minute.

Cons: Your friend is a food blogger. They have friends too. Keeping your diary free might result in you not being #1 plus one choice that week and you’ll end up crying eating a Rustlers alone. Dear god, please do never eat a Rustlers.

If you want to look at pictures of my shit cooking check out my Instagram ecarg_h

If you want to laugh at my life follow me on Twitter g_hetherington

If you want to become my m8 and collabor8 then drop me a line grace.hetherington@hotmail.co.uk

Boring stuff: Free Food picture is from Google Imaging ‘Free Food’ and choosing this RAD dude and the companies mentioned aren’t endorsing me, I’m just hoping to get free food out of them and bring it to the masses, like a modern day Mother Theresa with chips.