10 things 20 Somethings should do when throwing a Christmas Dinner

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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.

7 Ways To Be Happy And Not Lonely In London

I read today that 1 day of loneliness is equivalent damage to your health as 15 cigarettes. Sometimes we’re lonely and we don’t want to say we’re lonely so we pretend that everything’s okay and the biggest culprit of spanning this loneliness is moving to a new city, especially after being at university living out of each other’s pockets for 3 years.
When I first moved to London 2 years ago, I was fresh out of University and standing on the underground platform at Kings Cross waiting to endure my morning commute. The platform was rammo with people but I remember thinking that if a pin dropped now, I’d still be able to hear it. No one was speaking, it sounded like no one was even breathing, and it was then that I thought London was a lot lonelier than I’d imagined.
Sometimes London does this thing to you when you need to surround yourself with people to drown out pressures of work, struggles with finances and living in a demanding city but no matter how much partying and boozing you can do in London, you don’t always shake off that lonely feeling. Bar one friend from University, I didn’t know a single person in London and I often found that before I knew it I was sat in on a Saturday evening having binge watched Netflix all day and getting ready for round 2, and that often made me feel really lonely, and tired, and upset.
So, I thought I’d come up with 7 things that you can do in London to keep yourself happy and not feel lonely, even if you’re doing things by your physical self. If you can think of any other ideas please leave a comment with your suggestion below- I’d love to hear everyone’s else’s ideas for fun on your own!
1. Go to a Graveyard
Ok, so a graveyard doesn’t exactly scream ‘wild party!’ and actually springs to mind as a rather lonely place but one of the first things I did when I moved to London was go on a tour of Highgate Cemetery just up from Archway Station. If you think of all the people in London, and then think of all the dead people in London, think about how many of them are famous. From Karl Marx to William Blake, there’s a hell of a lot of dead famous people dotted in graveyards across London. I was walking through a small graveyard as a short cut when I was scouting some venues in the Farringdon area and I came across William Blake’s gravestone, just there, poking out of the ground. The tour at Highgate was fantastic, a little eerie (obvs) but weirdly, despite death being a seemingly lonely experience, it really was far from it.
2. Talk to a stranger
Now, use your judgement here, because I’m definitely not advocating stranger danger; just be aware of your surroundings Lots of people work in similar fields in London, take the media industry for example, talk to someone at one of the industry events you paid a £15 ticket for, hand out business cards. Chances are you probably cross paths with these people more than you think, it’s healthy for business to network and it’s even healthier for the ind. About a year ago I was sat on a train going up North when I heard a girl who looked a similar age to me talking about working in TV production. After earwigging for a bit I plucked up the courage to ask her her name, added her on Facebook and we’ve been ‘proper’ friends since then, all because I spoke to a stranger on a strain. (Also, watch Strangers on a Train, great movie).
3.  Go to a Lecture
When I left University. I was both happy and sad that I’d never have to sit in on a lecture again; but actually they’re a great way to fill up an evening, learn something new and maybe meet some new friends along the way. Kings College London do some great free public lectures on subjects from politics to poetry.
4. Go to a Market
London is the place to be for markets. From fresh fruit and veg to vintage clothes and pretty flowers, there is a market for every taste. Notting Hill specialises in trinkets and fashion items, music and beer, Borough MArket is the place to get some of the best street food dishes, Columbia Road offers the prettiest blooms in the capital and Brixton is full of vibrancy, dancing and cheap plantain. Usually crammed with people and a colourful, sensual experience, hitting up a market on your own for a couple of hours really shows and opens you up to the heart of London cultures.
5. Go Sightseeing
You’re in London. Chances are you work 9-5 anyway and will never get to see the likes of Big Ben or Kew Gardens. Pack a sandwich and make it your mission to visit a new site, even if you just do one in a weekend, I can guarantee it will swell you with London pride that you just can’t get rid of.
6. Go to Interactive Theatre
I went to Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man last June and I had a great time experiencing Promenade theatre for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect and the great thing about promenade theatre is that it’s about immersing yourself into the experience as a whole. This means that you’re encouraged to break away from whoever you arrived with and go through the experience alone, to create a completely unique and tailored experience for yourself.
7. Go and join a club
Whether it’s ballet, or judo or indoor rock climbing, joining a club will enhance your social life, your stamina and your outlook on living in London. You’ll meet people who are joining a club to do something they love and interact with others who share the same interests at the same time. You can scout your local council website for more information on local get togethers, search on Facebook and Twitter and google the shit out of it because it’s London and if you can find a beginner’s ballet class less than a mile from your house, you can probably find a dungeons and dragons warlord special gaming group pretty easily too.
All my images are from Google and you better love them as much as me.

Travel Review: Milan

So myself and Yasmin whisked ourselves off to Milan at the end of September. We’ve both been working really hard and we needed a little girly break without the distractions of boys and bosses calling at 7am on a Saturday… So in true style, here’s a break down of what we got up to whilst being in the centre of fashion and food.

We woke up at 3am on the Saturday morning, missed the connecting bus to take us to our Airport bus and ended up getting into an Uber with a driver who, not only was it his first day driving for Uber and we were his first taxi ride, it was his first ever ride as a taxi driver. When you have 10 minutes to go until your bus leaves and you’re giving the taxi driver the wrong post code despite living in that area for the past year (STUPID YASMIN!) it is a heart pumping event. However, it was only the first of our troubles.

After smoothly going through security and spending our spending money in duty free at the airport, I checked my phone to see that our gate had closed 4 minutes prior. Cue THE SWEATIEST LOADSOF RUNNING IN BOOT HEELS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN and you’re not even close. We cried our way through the gate and despite being the last people on the plane, we got good seats and I had a little kip. Yasmin described it as similar to the Kanye West video ‘All Falls Down’ but I assure you, if Gatwick ever release the CCTV of that run, it will be so  SO far from Stacey Dash, dashing through the airport in what can only be described as a velour towel dress.

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When we landed, finding transfers etc was pretty easy, Italians are a friendly bunch it seems and to be honest, despite being tired and little bit agitated, we were pumped to be in one of the world’s fashion capitals. So, on to the important stuff…

Cafés and Restaurants

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So for the record, we spent a lot of time lazing in cafés, sipping Espressos and asking for table water instead of bottled, and people watching quite quickly became our brand new hobby. We decided that we were going to throw caution to the wind and eat as much frigging pizza and pasta as we could and literally, it’s taken me about 3 weeks to face pasta again. If you’re opting for a traditional Milano meal, go to the centre where the Duomo (Cathedral) is situated and start walking in the direction of the outskirts. The courtyard, though vast is set out in a sun shape like formation which means that all the streets are more or less diagonal off the square. Pick one of those streets and if you don’t come across a sweet little italiano restuarante, you’ll definitely come across a McDonald’s (there’s one in view of the Rectangle of Gold even!). Me and Yasmin opted for an al fresco experience as the weather was really good whilst we were there but these pop up outside elements of the restaurants aren’t really available when it’s not tourist season.

Accommodation

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The Holiday Inn…in our eyes

Yasmin and I like to live life reminding ourselves of our student days aka being skint as hell. We booked a Holiday Inn, there’s no shame. Our room was great, cleaned by the maid every day and there was a speaker in the bathroom connected to the TV. It was a slight walk out of the centre, but an enjoyable one definitely. Book early if you want fancy, book late if you want cheap. Our deal came with breakfast, which was definitely European, but also all you can eat which is great when you’re on a budget. Just don’t try to steal any hard boiled eggs…not a good move as I found out.

Public Transport

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We mostly walked but public transport is cheap

Okay, so I’ve never been the greatest with public transport, but I’m certainly not the worst. But Milan is something else. I found this problem in Belgium and I really think Europe should take note of how great our transport system is here in Britain. You pay by time on the underground in Milan, so you can do an unlimited amount of trips, but they have to be within 90 mins. Weird as hell. Genuinely didn’t see any buses, so I can’t comment, but we did get the train to Lake Como one day and it costs us roughly about £4 each, so well worth it.

Lake Como

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Also looked out on by Byron, Shelley and Keats

In a slightly soppy way, this place has a lot of meaning for me. My English degree is pretty much based on the British Romantic writers and a lot of them lived on and around Lake Como, seeping inspiration from its very waters. And when we got there, I could really see why. The place is just stunning. Literally, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We rode on the practically vertical cable car right up to the top of the mountain for the view and it was truly worth every penny (it cost about £3.60 to go all the way up and down again).

The resturants to choose from are in abundance and we chose a cute little one near the waters edge, where we gorged ourselves on pasta, pizza and what dubbed ‘the world’s greatest tiramasu’ . The atmosphere at night is one in a millian (sorry, had to!) and definitely recommended for a romantic trip. After rejecting Yasmin’s moves of a midnight kiss, we waddled back to the train station where we encountered some unfortunate species of the male variety, which I will elaborate on…

Males/Stares/Gawping/Attention

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Getting gawped at and run over simultaneously

For the first two days, we literally thought there was something wrong with us. I reguarly asked Yasmin to check if I had some unexpected growth coming out of my head or if my skirt was tucked into my knickers. It was only after a bit of research back at the hotel that ,nope, people actually just stare at you. At first it was males, and that’s to be expected, in forgeign culture, as long as you don’t look like a minor(ie. over 12) and also don’t look like you’ve been smoking a crack pipe for 10 years, you’re going to get attention. But seriously, it’s everyone. We left our hotel and decided to do an experiment where we counted how many looks or comments we got by the time we had walked to the centre. We had 5 before we had crossed the road from our hotel… The moral of the story is don’t go to Italy if you’re offended by this kind of beahviour and/or are ginger and/are or ethnic looking. You will get stared at, leered at, ciao bella’d at, but honestly, take it as a compliment and walk on, or if that fails, the middle finger means the same in Italian as it does at home.

Fashion

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The dome in the rectangle of gold, I mean we think…

Okay, so if I’m honest, this one was a let down. Not just in a sense of the fashion we saw on people, but apart from the Rectangle of Gold, it’s pretty damn normal when it comes to shopping. Nothing extravagant, nothing quirky, but then again, perhaps we stayed a little too mainstream as we were doing all of the museums and galleries in between (recommend booking to see The Last Supper, we managed to blag our way in because it wasn’t too busy and just paid on the door). I don’t really have much to comment on fashion unfortunately, and perhaps if I visited again, I would go all out on trying to find some hidden gems. Perhaps because Milan Fashion Week had been the week prior was an excuse for the Italians to have a week off? The one vintage shop we found on the way to the castle had some beautiful classic chanel shifts, and YSL shoes and handbags but unfortunately, being $kint the in city, naturally we couldn’t afford the €300 price tag. Sigh.

To summarise, the italians say Ciao for Hello and Goodbye which can get confusing. I would definitely go to Milan again, but I think next time I venture to that part of Italy, I’ll stay in Como. Oh and they do Pizza in McDonald’s, which is obviously a win all round.

Some more snaps that don’t fit into the sections I wrote about…not that the photos there do either.

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