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

 

10 things 20 Somethings should do when throwing a Christmas Dinner

copyright thedcam.com

 

I am trés excited for Saturday 12th December. Not only is it the official first day of Christmas, (don’t gimme any of that 1st December bullshit, it’s the 12th and you know it) but me and my nearest and dearest London pals are throwing a Christmas dinner. As we are all 20 somethings and attempting a Christmas meal, I thought the title for this post was very apt.

  1. Mistletoe – At the door, on the floor, in the cupboard that everyone opens thinking it’s the bathroom. Put it everywhere, chances are in your twenty something friendship group there’s either a couple, a maybe or some potential hook ups of tomorrow, either way, spread a little Christmas magic and be a Christmas cupid.
  2. Plan what you’re cooking at least the day before. Otherwise you will end up with half meat feast/half pepperoni dominoes setting you back around £25 pp. You could have gone gourmet for that price.
  3. On that note, budget: Set your budget at £10 or £20 per head for food and booze. You can get some really good deals in places like Iceland and Lidl without spending a fortune and can get some interesting German brands (Lidl especially) which will just make Christmas all the more authentic for you!
  4. Keep Secret Santa an actual secret. I mean myself and my friends tried to keep it secret this year and I worked out 70% of the formula of who had who and to be honest kind of ruined it for myself and others (sorry guys). You’re in your 20’s, you’re not going to be able to give each other £50 Liberty vouchers (I don’t know why I said this like as soon as you hit 40 you can afford that either) so set a budget -£5,£10 will do and accept your present of malleable fart goo from the pound shop and be merry and gay about it.
  5. Music – Don’t let any of your friends, no matter how close you are, choose putting on Kisstory Christmas over the traditional holiday tunes, but do allow your token Jewish friend to play Hava Nagila for a bit before the Turkey comes out the oven, then it’s Bublé time and you know it.
  6. Games – No Christmas dinner party soiree is complete without a family row and board games. These days, you’re hip and cool in your 20s and if you live in Shoreditch you’ll have been playing dirty scrabble since 2011, but for the rest of us folk who can’t grow beards that birds can live in, Cards of Humanity or good old fashioned Charades is the perfect way to get everyone drunkenly debating/arguing.
  7. Plan a night out in advance and agree where you’re going to go. You’re going to be bloated and full and not in the mood to go out but then those old pangs of going clubbing on special occasions will come back to haunt you from teenage/university years and you’ll just have to go out anyway. Better to be sensible and plan/mentally prepare for it as early as possible.
  8. Have a little nap before you head out. You’re old. This way you’ll last until 2am which is an improvement on Halloween’s 1am.
  9. Do get dressed up to the nines. It’s Christmas. You’re still young and hot-ish. Don’t comedy dress. No one is going to kiss ‘sexy Rudolph’ with face painted bright red nose, because no one is longer 18 and people actually develop standards as they get more sensible/age.
  10. Get prepared for that hangover the next day because it’s going to be disgusting. Take the Monday off work.Recuperate by having two day Domino binge with the money you saved on not getting Dominoes for Christmas dinner.

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.