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

 

My Tribute to David Bowie: The True Starman 1947-2016

He took no title of Sir and declined a CBE but David Bowie was close to royalty with his contribution to the arts over the past 47 years of his career.

I’m not going to pretend I’m the number one David Bowie fan, because apart from a stint of watching the movie Labyrinth everyday for about 3 months solid when I was 8, I didn’t actually get into and appreciate his music until I was way late into my teens. I remember once, when I was 20 years old, I had to get the 2A bus from the centre of Lancaster to University campus and the bus took a particular route through the Hala estate, notoriously steep with hills and riddled with slow old people taking forever to flash their bus passes to the driver. I was irritated because I was already late for a seminar I was not allowed to be late for, and it had just started Lancaster raining (this is much fiercer than any other UK rain) and I didn’t have an umbrella. And then Starman came on my Spotify, and as I hummed the words, I felt much better. It wasn’t an epiphany, or a moment of transformation. I just listened to the lyrics and then replayed it over and over again until I got to campus.

With an ex of mine, we used to constantly listen to The Best of Bowie on his dad’s old record player and dance around the little wooden hut we lived in like the hipster 21 year olds we thought we’d be forever, and I remember loving every minute of it. Fast forward 4 years, I listen to Bowie in the mornings whilst I get ready; or as a ‘panic song’ for when my mind goes blank at house party’s and most of the time whilst I’m walking somewhere so I can strut and pretend that everyone around me are just extras in my ultra cool and alternative music video.

My point is, Bowie for me sits up there on my internal music shelf, sometimes not thought of for a while, sometimes overplayed in just one day. I place him up there with Coldplay, The Beatles, Elvis, The Beautiful South, NWA and that one song from Visage I like. Songs that I can just pluck down and remind me of a time in my life, or a feeling I had when listening to it before.

David Bowie represented all ages, all races, all genders and all sexuality. His songs filter through some of the best known films and productions of the past 20 years, Buddha of Suburbia, Moulin Rouge and Shrek among others. His Aladdin Sane imagery features on the t shirts of those who bought online from eBay without the foggiest of who he is, and his lyrics adorn posters in student flats from 1970 onward.

So as I stood last night with hundreds of others at the vigil held in his birthplace of Brixton, we raised a glass for the master of reinvention, projected his images onto walls and even witnessed the defacing (debatable) of a statue adorned with the Aladdin Sane eye emblem. There were big Bowie fans there, there were people there just for the crowds but either way, there was this buzz. This buzz of everyone wanting to just celebrate this great, great life.

We should be thankful to David Bowie, not just because he was incredibly talented, but because he taught everyone the most valuable life lesson of all; that you should be whoever you want to be, you can change, you can stay the same, or be a hero, forever and ever.

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

16 Things You Learn Living in London

All kudos for this go to the Croydon Guardian and ma homeboi google images

It’s coming up to two years that I’ve lived in the capital and I’ve learnt lots of useful and interesting things about London. It’s perks, its quirks, its pits and its downfalls. Talking to friends, it seems some of them are unanimous to everyone living in London so I thought I’d share 16 (random?) of them. My number 1 won’t work, it’s being difficult, soz.

Sirens are background noise.Whether you live in Kings Cross, Brixton or Finsbury Park, you’ll definitely be hearing your fair share of sirens. They’re just a given. In fact, I struggle to get to sleep without them, which brings me on to my next point…

2. If you hear police helicopters but no sirens.The police are looking for someone and their sirens are turned off to maximise chance of capture. If the overhead buzzing of helicopter is right over your head, lock your windows and your doors.

3. ‘ERROR Seek Assistance’ is both a fear and the bane of your life. Your god damn oyster card is touching the god damn reader so just let me through you piece of shit barrier and stop embarrassing me!

4. If you get food for FREE – TAKE IT. Restaurant blogging, PR events open to public, food samples of new menu? IT’s free and it saves you cooking a meal tonight which in turn saves money. And we like money.

5. If you get drinks for FREE – TAKE THEM. Whether offered as part of a door package, or simply for showing up on the guestlist. Tweet bars, tag your friends, say where you are. And if that dodgy looking bloke offers you a drink – observe that FREE doesn’t always mean SAFE.

6. McDonalds/Burger King are about as gourmet food you’re going to get post 12am. Aint no Michelin staying open for you. Not that you can probably afford Duck and Waffle after a night out anyway and if you can – this blog isn’t for you…

7. The District line is the worst line out of all the lines and you will always be late using it. And even though it’s semi overground – still boiling.

8. The Victoria Line on the other hand is hands down the most efficient line. Well, that is if you’re either going North Zone 3 or South Zone 2….

9. You’ll never not be in awe of Big Ben. Coming out of Westminster station and looking up at that Bad Boy not only takes your breath away, you realise that it looks like a really big lego tower made with the fancy sets of lego that looks like real stone.

10. Peckham is posh now. So is Brixton. They even have cocktail bars.

11. If a club is described as ‘fresh, classy and well priced’, it’s probably a shit hole located on Leicester Square with a £10 entry free and free shot necklace on arrival.

12. Afternoon tea on average costs as much as one month’s council tax pp. I know which I’ll be spending my money on.

13. Tiger is the best shop for nothing but everything since Wilkos.

14. Zone 4 is way too far to travel for one evening. You’ve never seen your friends nice and pleasant house in Manor House because your dingy flat in Stockwell is just so much more accessible from Central.

15. ‘I don’t have any change, sorry’ is in your daily vocabulary now.

16. You currently don’t want to live anywhere else.

9 Ways to Fall in Love in London

Thanks Google Images, for reminding me that Yes I would swipe right purely for this picture of a dog and not for the person’s who’s face I’ve already forgotten.

London’s a very busy place and although it’s full of people – it’s hard to meet the right one who you want to spend lots of time with and you know, do stuff with. That’s why I have created these 9 wonderful tips to help you find love in the nation’s capital. Whether you’re looking for a long term romance or a cheeky snog on Tower Bridge (pls don’t do this), there is someone special out there in the capital for you!

1. Meet friends of friends of friends. So you’ve met the friends of your new friends, but now it’s time to meet your friends, friends, friends, geddit? Expanding your friendship group with nice like minded people will more often that not lead to you finding someone you have something in common with and gradually spending more time with meaning you’ve got new friends and a potential new lover.

2. Go speed dating. Srsly. Drag your friends along, even if they’ve got spouses, they can make up a person they want to be that night and just be there for moral support. Speed dater is a great site that gives you lists of nights and prices for that all special singles night.

3. Tinder. Tinder is a bit of a last resort in my opinion. I’ve had friends that have had bad experiences with the ‘it’s like real life, but better’ app but I’ve also got friends who found blossoming relationships out of it too. Not everyone on there is DTF? Promise.

4. Reconnect with old school/college/uni mates. Remember Josh/Holly/Patrick from school that you always kind of had a semi crush on but you couldn’t bring yourself to talk to them/be seen around them/confront them about their monobrow? Well, are you hotter now than you were in school? Chances are they might be too. It could be worth revisiting…

5. Going to every club night of your favourite genre of music every week without fail. You might also develop an an alcohol/drug addiction along with going out all the time, so your idea of ‘the right one’ might be askew, but hey, people meet and fall in love in clubs all the time. Right?

6. Do your hobby. Who knew you both enjoyed and were good at wine archery? And is that guy Tom kind of cute, he sure pull a bow string back well. Maybe you should ask Tom if he wants to go for a drink somewhere in Hampstead where you can drink an earthy shiraz and talk about how leafy the park is this time of year.

7. On public transport. Contrary to popular belief, people do actually speak on public transport in London. Okay, not at rush hour or like…completely randomly. But maybe next time you spot someone cute on the tube, I dunno, you could actually speak to them…or just gaze at them (gaze not stare) until they approach you.

8. OR you could just Rush Hour Crush it in The Metro. I mean ‘cute giggly brunette with amazing ti -eyes’ why wouldn’t you want to go out with ‘shy guy who stared at you on the 8.17am from Walthamstowe Central’?

9. And finally…stop looking for it and it’ll find you. London is a pretty romantic city but it’s not like cupid is around every corner, and you can’t force someone to like you or vice versa (I think the Met might file that under harassment and rape) if you just focus on living your life in London, doing the things you want to do, chances are you’ll probably meet someone who’s doing the exact same thing as you too.

If you want to follow me on instagram and see what I get up to @ecarg_h

I tweet stuff and say stupid sh*t @g_hetherington

I’ll send you snapchats of my face for every response @yolonaise

How to Find Somewhere (Good) to Live in London: The Newbie Edition

This image is courtesy of google images and depicts people cramped in a sardine tin because that’s how it feels to live in London, how funny

Moving to any new city can be a scary and daunting experience. Moving to London for any graduate is both exciting and nerve wracking; and perhaps even more daunting than other UK cities. The prospect of forking out masses of pounds a month for a cruddy room in Walthamstow and discovering you have type X mould on your windowsill or you’re living next door to a 24 hour party house of students is all too common, so here are some tips and tricks on HOW TO FIND SOMEWHERE (GOOD) TO LIVE IN LONDON: THE NEWBIE EDITION.

  1. COMMUTE: PICK YOUR ROUTE

When I first moved to London, I was living in Kings Cross and working on Edgware Road in Marylebone; and for the first month, I took a higgely piggely route across London because I just didn’t assess my options. Do you work on the Victoria Line? Why don’t you live on the Victoria line or even an interchange line so you can live further out (cheaper) but still get to work? Aim to move as near to your place of work as possible – and if you can’t do that at least make your transport links bearable – you will be doing it there and back every day and the tube novelty wears off after the third time you take it.

  1. SHOP AROUND: SEE MORE THAN LESS

Don’t settle on the first room you see, shop around before you make the commitment. That room in Hammersmith with 4 cool housemates might be such a massive room for £800 a month but are you going to want to do the 25 minute walk to the station twice a day? In winter? Nope, thought not. Are you sure you can live with your parents friend for £400 a month and not go crazy when their child is jumping on your bed at 7am on a saturday? No, thought as much. Don’t do it.

  1. ASK AWAY: ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

When you go to see a room, it’s as much about how you feel in the presence of your potential flatmates, and they do in yours. Yeah, it’s an interview to see if you’ll fit into the dynamic of the house, but you have to ask questions too. Do they wake early and work late? Do they like to party? Are you likely to be woken at 4am in the morning and sharing your bathroom/living room with strangers for the weekend? It’s best to check and get the low down up front before you get woken up by your housemate throwing up in the toilet 3 times a week after a hard night of drinking (true story).

  1. MONEY MONEY MONEY: IT’S A RICH MAN’S WORLD

It really is a rich man’s world. Make sure you’ve thought about how much and how often something is going to cost you. Sometimes moving into a room can cost you the same amount in up front costs as getting a whole flat with your friend. And if you are looking on sites like Spare Room and Right Move then don’t be afraid to barter to an extent, sometimes people are simply subletting and they’re trying to get as much money out of you up front, so don’t be taken for a mug.

  1. KEEP IT CLEAN: BE MEAN

Be mean with your stuff. Do a sort and clear out of your things before you move. Start with a clean slate and try to keep possessions to a minimum as much as you can, chances are  you’ll be moving your stuff across London at some point, and the smaller your load, the easier. Trust me, moving house in an Uber is not a fun experience, moving it in suitcases on tubes and buses like a homeless person is literally hell and no one will help you.

For all my moans follow me on Twitter @g_hetherington

For all my nashville filtered photos follow me on Instagram @ecarg_h

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.

3 Free Things to do in London this Summer (because you broke, i’m broke, errybody broke)

Recently I’ve been participating in a lot of things that aren’t free and my recent house move and lack of money anyway have left me in a position where the only way I’m intending to have a social life this summer is by doing stuff that’s actually FREE. Here are 3 things that I’m definitely intending to attend in terms of swigging warm red wine from a Sainsbury’s bag and walking home because I can’t afford the tube.

Going to all the carnivals, all the street parties, all the parties in the parks.

Okay, so obviously you can buy things at each of these places, but the great thing about them is that you don’t actually have to.

Notting Hill Carnival on the 30th and 31st August is completely free to enter, and is a great day out for seeing the famous carnival that started in the sixties as well as listening to different types of music street by street.

Expect to see: Local entertainment in the form of street acts, mental homeless people and the LADS from Surrey who urinate on the street and are arrested by the met at 7pm.

Brixton Splash on 2nd August (rumours of a cancellation, I’m refusing to believe it) has great food which is actually sometimes free in this generous community, great music and great people.

Expect to see: A lot of flags, a lot of vibrant colours and smell a lot of different smells.

Then coming up this Saturday 20th June is Swedish MidSummer, a massive event held unofficially in Hyde Park each year, and is the largest party outside of Sweden each year. It’s BYOB, BYOF, and BYOM (Bring Your Own Maypole) to this delightful and dizzy party.

Expect to see: Gorgeous Swedish people, and not so gorgeous non-Swedish people trying to fit in with said gorgeous swedish people.

If you like Barbie Follow me on Instagram ecarg_h

If you like self deprication Follow me on Twitter g_hetherington

If you want to zig a zig ah, email me grchthrngtn@gmail.com

Why Vintage is Mintage in Manchester

So ever since I became an overly cocky, self assured but at the same time crippingly self conscious teenager I’ve been interested in things that are vintage. Though since coming out the other end of teen angst a few years ago, my interests in vintage have swayed more towards trinkets and furniture rather than 3 paisley printed scarfs for £10.

I was home at the weekend in Manchester, and in my opinion, the home of proper vintage. I’m not saying the term we used was coined there, or even that it’s got the best shops for it, but it has got one thing, a good balance. People whack the vintage label on anything and put the price up by £20 and people will pay, thinking they are getting a true bargain, or if not a bargain, they’re parting with this cash for an overpriced item because it’s ‘vintage’ That’s what I’ve found since vintage shopping in London anyway.

Two years ago, the sudden desire to own a fedora with a little fish hook feather overpowered me and I dragged my friend Musty to Portobello Market so I could seek one out. Now anyone who knows me quite well will know that I have a child’s sized head; a pea head if you will. I just can’t get hats to fit, and if I find one, oh boy am I snapping it up. So I found a hat that fits me kind of as long as I’m not going anywhere windy (good job I moved from Lancaster) but the guy tells me it’s £25 because it’s ‘true vintage’. Yeah? ‘True vintage’ you say? I didn’t know true vintage was made in china and stuck on the inside of the hat. Naturally, on principle I didn’t buy it.

Whilst living my teen years in Manchester, me and friend would regularly visit haunts on Oldham Street such as Ryan Vintage for £15 Fred Perry’s, Retro Rehab for £1 sale rail cocktail dresses and the £3 and under for well, £3 and under clothes. These were the days when you were paying max £10-15 for a Ralph Lauren shirt and £4 on a pair of vintage boots was a splurge. Then came the invasion of vintage chain brands like COW who somehow got away with charging £20 for a ‘vintage’ tie dye t-shirt and £40 for a pair of worn out moccasins.

Moving to London, I know ‘vintage’ is more expensive, it’s a tourist commodity, places like Portobello Market and Carnaby Street and you know what I don’t blame companies wanting to make more bang for their buck I really don’t. But it means I just don’t buy vintage anymore. Instead you’ll find me shopping around for Burberry bargains on eBay or going to an East End charity shop.

When I visited home this past weekend, my mum told me of a ‘Vintage Emporium’ that had popped up at Pear Mill in Stockport. Now Stockport doesn’t pop up at me when I think of ‘Vintage Emporium’ and neither does Pear Mill; a place I used to get dragged around looking at pine furniture in the early noughties. But I was really quite pleasantly surprised by the turn out.

You walk up to this part of the mill which towered over by the great old chimney and soot stained brick from years gone by and it’s quite quaint in it’s own little way. Inside, everything is set out in little shop styled format, a common theme any vintage rummager will know. But what really stood out about this place was the prices. Dresses from upwards of £7, shoes from as low as £8, trinkets and jewellery all £2,£3 and £5, little pieces of history.

vintage1

The place was full of objects of character such as the three piece suite below, and a beautiful Indian hand painted wardrobe. Chests and trunks going for £60 instead of the £250 I’d seen weeks earlier in Portobello. One thing is for sure, as soon as I get my own place, I’m renting a van and sweeping this place of it’s amazing vintage furniture from eras spanning the 20th century.

vintage5

vintage2

vintage4

This place is full of vintage delights and at the prices that vintage should be. The products still show the quality of their make, and I didn’t spot one item that I thought more on the gross end of vintage, no raggedy Brick Lane scarfs here. Being an old mill, the place adds character to the items, even with it’s bare walls and wooden floors, it feels like stepping back in time, especially when you see the psychedelic fitting rooms. All in all, a pure vintage delight, and I walked away with some mustard crocodile shoes for £14.

vintage3

And the good news? The place is expanding to upstairs and to celebrate the grand opening, they’re holding a fashion show this Saturday 2nd May at 2pm, if you’re up North, it’s definitely worth dropping by. Info and tickets can be found here on their Facebook.

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.