2017 – Seven ways to a happier self in 2017

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                                                                             – CK illustration

Scrolling through Facebook – like I do every morning – I stumbled across an article which really hit the nail on the head. It put things into perspective… something I’m shit at. It was basically a kick up the arse to say slow down and take a breather – you’re only 22. I’m guilty for going a hundred miles an hour and never making time to stop and take it all in. I can never sit still and hope things fall into place. I guess what I’m trying to say is I never trust fate. To me, fate is only something you can make. But, I suppose that’s not always right. I’m so scared about the future and then I realise what’s the point – life isn’t meant to be meticulously planned out from start to finish. I suppose there wouldn’t be any fun be without spontaneity. So, before I go off on a massive tangent and bore you all to death, here’s a few of the things/mini goals I hope to achieve by the end of 2017.

  1. Blog more

Blogging is one of life’s little outlets. It’s where I feel I can write about absolutely anything. The triumphs, the shit situations and everything in between. But, I feel I’ve neglected it lately. They say a problem shared is always a problem halved – so I guess it has health benefits too.  I’m determined to talk about things a lot more and give my input on the little (or big) things that crop up in life. I’m not talking political bullshit, we hear enough of that as it is. So, be prepared to see a lot more of me.

2. ‘Try’ to be a bit more organised

In with the new and out with the old, I decided to welcome in 2017 with a well-needed clear out. If you know me well, you know how much I love to hoard. So, as I’m starting a new job on Monday, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to bin all the baggage and get everything organised. For the first time in my life, my shoes and wardrobe are freakishly organised. But it’s still early days so we’ll see how long that lasts for. It’s weird how much better it makes you feel.

3. Don’t be a cookie cutter

While reading through a recent Vogue edition, Alex Shulman used a phrase which has stuck with me ever since. Funnily enough, it has nothing to do with food. She talked about how important it is to be inspired rather than to be a copy. No-one wants to get lost in the crowd and nobody wants to follow other people’s dreams – I certainly don’t. I feel as though it is very easy for our generation to be pressured into becoming cookie cutters. There is this constant pressure to follow the old-fashioned way and be in a relationship, have a steady career and be a homeowner by a certain age. That’s definitely not me. I’m completely content with being single – I’m still figuring out what I want myself, I can’t be doing it for someone else aswell at the minute. I’m far from ready to settle down. The sheer thought of settling down scares me because I feel like I have so much to do and get out of my system first. As for a career, I don’t think I’ll ever know until the dream hits me in the face.

4. Stop putting so much pressure on myself

I’m my own worst enemy. I criticise everything I do and always try to do better. It’s a very annoying trait to have. During the mega clear-out, I came across an old school report – it was so weird. My tutor wrote “Be happy, keep working hard (but don’t be too hard on yourself)”. Some things never change. I’m determined to let things pan out for themselves instead of forcing them. Jobs, friendships and paths.

5. Stop panicking and enjoy my 20s

I’ve learnt the worst thing to do is let time slip through your fingers. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Spending three years away for Uni proved that. Before you say it, no I’m not talking about Carpe Diem – that phrase literally makes my skin crawl. I’m just going to enjoy the fuck ups and appreciate the surprises. My hair might be turning grey ( I know, shit ain’t it) but I’m not ready to take on the role of a fully fledged, responsible adult just yet. There’s plenty of time for that later.

6. Travel more

Whether it be  hundreds of miles across the globe to Asia, weekend trips to Europe, or even a quick trip up to Manchester – I want to travel much more. I have no ties and I know I need to use it to my advantage. After learning so much about myself in America, I want to learn even more. I can do it, I just need to confidence to tell myself I can do it.

7. Be happy by learning not to give a fuck

Simple as that. Do what makes me happy. Stop trying to make other people happy.

I hope 2017 is a fabulous year for everyone.

The Mad Grad

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Closing doors on The Clothes Show Live

After 27 years of glitz and glamour, Birmingham has finally drawn the curtains on the ever-successful Clothes Show Live and passed the baton over to Liverpool to host ‘The British Style Collective’ in 2017. Determined to finish in style, all who had a part to play pulled out all the stops to ensure this year’s show went down in fashion history – and it certainly did. I went along to the show to see what all the fuss is about and even managed to grab a quick snap with Made in Chelsea’s star and heir to McVities, Jamie Laing.

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After outgrowing London’s Olympia in the late 80s, organisers of the long-standing fashion show decided to pack up and move into a much bigger home, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Since then, the show has grown from strength to strength – spreading itself over the arena’s biggest halls – and continued to welcome some of the biggest names in the fashion industry. But, the fashion show has been much more than just the clothes and rented stalls, it has been the place where the likes of Vernon Kay, Holly Willoughby and Cat Deeley started their careers after being scouted out by modelling agency, Select Model Management. Desperate to tread in the footsteps of the rich and famous, hundreds of girls have flocked to the show over the years hoping to picked up.

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Technically creative staging, X factor star performances and insider tips from This Morning’s fashion guru, Mark Heyes were among this year’s highlights. Laura Whitmore, who was dressed in this season’s floral print two-piece, presented the live fashion show with help from a long-list of celebrities including reality TV star, Joey Essex. Remarkable catwalks, imaginative staging and faultless choreography, the final fashion show was definitely one not be missed. Despite 2016’s doom and gloom, AW/16 has been a season of vibrant colours and texture with puffer jackets, iridescent two piece suits and lace bodices stealing this year’s runway.

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But it’s not all over for the four day fashion event yet. In fact, it’s only the beginning. Moving just a hundreds miles up the motorway, next year’s show will dispersing itself  across a number of venues in Liverpool – including The Baltic Triangle, Liverpool Cathedral and St George’s Hall. Expected to be bigger and better than ever before, the show will be re-branded ‘The British Style Collective’ and promises to provide the ultimate shopping experience.

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November fashion

My favourite time of the year; dark colours, layers and dark tone lipsticks. The month when it is socially acceptable to wear black – Gah, I’ve waited so long. Saying that, I’ve just purchased a sexy ass sky blue leather jacket from Zara – 20 quid in the sale. Winner. A month jammed-packed with stuff going on. Hello, when did I become such a social butterfly. So it’s been the perfect excuse to spend the well-earned pennies – lol. Bonobo in London. Catfish in Manchester. Courteeners in Liverpool. Xmas markets in Hamburg – I know don’t hate me too much. So here’s a few of my fav outfits from this month.

This is England ’86

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Top; Fred Perry (£49.99)  Jeans; Zara (£25.99) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

The days when The Stone Roses’ Sally Cinnamon was the greatest love story, when the budget-skinhead-cut was in and trusty Doc Martens were the ultimate go to. But the best thing – it was the don’t-give-a-flying-fuck-era. Man I wish I grew up in that era. Like every other man, I proper love This is England. The clothes. The Culture. The music. Gah, Toots and The Matyals ’54 -46 Was My Number – What a jam. Anyways before I get too carried away and start harping on about my crush on Woody (Joe Gilden for all the film virgins) I’ll get back to the outfit. In case you haven’t guessed I love patterns. I love black. I fackin’ love Dr Martens. Oh and I’m all about matching my shoes with my lip colour – I know well edgy right!?

Wide-Fit

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Trousers; Zara (£19.99) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Wide leg trousers – gahhhh, slap my ass and call me Sally. I have enough wide leg trousers to last a lifetime. Ok, slight over exaggeration, but you get my drift. They’re so comfy – like hello let’s do some yoga. But the real reason I wear them? Count yourself lucky, I’m letting you in on a secret here. I wear them cos they make me feel like Kim K. Ok, Kim K may be a bit extreme – but they give me some sort of booty. I need all the help I can get with my little pancake ass. Hell0 mum, you blessed two of your daughters with a peachy bum – did you forget about the other two? Well, at least Zara understands my daily struggles – thanks hun. I just ‘happened’ to have my docs on when I tried these heavenly trousers on – and I don’t think I could have chosen a better shoe if I tried. I like to play around with patterns and textures and dressed it with a velvet/cord top which I think works really well. Ok, and we can’t forget the dark lipstick – It’s Sleek ‘Vamp’ for anyone wondering.

A-line.

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Skirt; Primark (£12) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; New Look (£22.99) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Do I leave the secret to last or let you know now? OK, I give it – I’ll do it now. Primark. The skirt is Primark. Yes I was as shocked as you are. When I saw it in the distance in Oxford Street’s Primark – I ran. Yes I ran to grab it. I was scared someone was going to get there first and steal the last size – this was one of those gems. I fell in love as soon as I touched it. I wanted to cradle it forever and never let it go. But this wasn’t the best discovery. Oh no, prepare yourself for this one. I got the matching jacket. I had a Clueless fan girl moment. I felt like all my dreams had come true – I could finally have a sexy co-ord like Cher. All I need now is to get my hands on her tartan one – it’s to DIE for. Remember when I said I chose Primark over Topshop any day? – Yeah well they had the EXACT same skirt in Topshop – just add a few more quid onto it.

Until next time.

The Mad Grad 

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The fours for thought.

When it comes to fashion, there’s four gals who’ve got my back. For the I-refuse-to-wear-real-clothes Sundays, the shit-i’ve-got-an-hour-to-get-ready Saturdays and the I-refuse-to-get-up-earlier weekdays. These girls have got it sorted.

Megan Ellaby

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She’s a northern lass. She’s quirky. She has the best hair. So, I guess she’s an all round winner. She’s not afraid to experiment – but then again only she would be able to pull off sparkly shiver ankle boots with star print jeans. I’d just look like a massive dickhead. Everything just seems to work for her – jammy so and so. The moment I discovered her – when she went under the name asos_meg – my then waitrose wages started to dwindle. If she had it, I wanted it. Albeit she was a good 5″ taller than me, had sky scraper legs and locks to die for – I was convinced I could make whatever she wore work. Lol, wrong every time. She’s a grounded kinda gal. Prada sunglasses? Sure. But, I doubt she’s a stranger to Primark. Esp Manchester Primark. Like Alexa Chung, she likes to give two fingers up to everything which tries to get in her way. And she gave me a kick up the back-side to start blogging, play around with wacky pants and to pursue a career in something I love. Oh and we’re both a sucker for an artisan latte and a wardrobe full of Zara garms.

Alexa Chung

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Ok every girl has wanted to be Alexa Chung some time or another – don’t try to deny it. First off, she made up half of the sexiest celeb couple – gah, I need to find a boy who sends me love letters like Alex Turner. Although a boy at school used to do that and it was weird. I decided I wasn’t one for love poems after that. She’s been the face of the dreamiest magazine in the world, … actually planet, no scrap that… the universe – Vogue. I dream every day about working in their office. Ok, there might be a handful of people that think she’s a dickhead – but she means well. Gals, be grateful she is a feminist. I remember being asked the make or break question in an interview earlier this year, who is your biggest icon? The girl to my left said some woman president another said some random french author from about a million years ago. I must’ve looked like a right twat when I said Alexa Chung. Safe to say, I never got the job. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that – and I stand by my decision. She stands for a lot more than just fashion. She’s got a bit of fire – something I like to think I have every now and then.

Jenna Rink – 13 Going on 30 (aka Jennifer Garner)

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She perfected the god awful ‘spikey’ buns of the 90s (complete with the silver spiral twist clips) and bright blue eye-shadow. Out of all the films I’ve managed to watch right until the end – which has been few and far between – Jennifer Rink is the gal I can most relate to. Like me, She’s always dreamt of working for a fashion magazine. She had an obsession with dancing around her room to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Ok we didn’t exactly have the same music taste. And she owed one of those hideous-off-the-shoulder-gem-encrusted-blue-top accessorised with two whole rolls of toilet paper. The one thing I haven’t done yet is wear my silky nightdress to work.. but I guess there is still time.

Felicity Jones

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Absolute hair goals – THE sweeping bangs girl. *quick fan girl moment* And boy does she knows how to don the peter pan collar. Ok she donned it went peter pan collars were in fashion. As much as I’m all for wacky patterns and quirky pants – she screams simple. But she makes simple so sophisticated. High neck jumpers and a polite-past-the-knee-skirt… Miss Jones nails it. Fav pic of all time has to be from her shoot with Vogue in 2014 – proper sixties. Baby blue coat with a dusty pink collar finished off with a Mary Quant-esk skirt. The outfit which dreams are made of. Icing on the cake? She’s a born and bred brummie – so there’s hope for us all. No matter how slow and stupid we sound.

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Who gets lost at Dot2Dot festival?

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So, I think I owe you guys an apology – it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been slacking on the blogging front. But, I’ll make it up to you – promise.  I don’t mean to rub it in – but I’ve been living the some sort of high life lately and haven’t had time to stop. From press nights at Turtle Bay to menu reviews at Missoula – I’ve basically been paid to eat my body weight in food and drink. Another rum punch? why not.

It’s been a very busy bank holiday. But, it started with a bang that’s for sure. I jetted off to Manchester for a day (and night) of unsigned bands, quirky venues and far too many ciders. It’s safe to say I’m still feeling the effects two days later. Ok, I guess it doesn’t help that I followed the ‘hair of the dog’ rule yesterday and had a generous tipple of gin at a family house party. But, it’s the bank holiday weekend and sleeping, eating and drinking is part and parcel, right?

Back to the festival, before I go on a sleep deprived tangent. The teeny-weeny festival – a cracking £12.50 a ticket – was scattered across Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Proper quirky. Like, who’d have thought you could watch Sundara Karma in a cathedral with a pint in hand? I know.

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I’ve been to a far few festivals, but this was something else. Ok, there was still the odd cup of piss flung in the air – but that’s a given. It was everything without the bullshit. No floral headbands, floor length kimono’s or 125ml bottles of wine in sight. It was just decent music for a change. We stuck to the pint-a-place rule so we could see as many acts as possible – and many acts we saw. By the end of the night, we had no sense of direction at all. Forget dot-to-dot festival – we walked the same circle three times to end up in the exact place we started. At least we found the kebab shop no bother. Saying that, we could sniff one out on a deserted island.  

Liss – a five man band from Sweden – tore the place apart in Soup Kitchen. Set in a grungy cellar – with make-shift toilets and stage – it was a real experience. We’d sacked the all-time favourite Mystery Jets off to see the unheardof band –  and it was well worth the risk. I’m all for sticky feet, sweaty hair and being packed in like sardines.

Dua Lipa were on point. Yet, the venue was past boiling point. Manchester’s Methodist Church was a literal sweat box. Vocally, she was wicked and she had real good stage presence (give or take the late arrival).

 

A festival up there at the top – it’ll definitely be on the cards for next year.

Ey up, a quick inside tip for anyone looking for somewhere ‘different’ for a drink

  • Soup Kitchen – kitted out with quirky furniture
  • Night and Day – proper chilled atmosphere
  • 57 Thomas Street – lush apricot cider

 

Until next time…

The Mad Grad

 

 

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Gym and Tonic – if only it was as good as the real thing.

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So, I’ve finally turned into the person. I’ve purchased a gym membership – ‘cancel any time’ – of course and I’ve planned a weekly routine. Send help.

Screw the beach body, Kim K bum and abs that look like baking trays – I’m doing it to keep fit. It’s so easy to get caught up in the work-life routine and forget about your own goals. It’s important to always put time aside for yourself. Whether it’s a stroll round a park, an hour watching your favourite TV series or a quick workout at the gym – sometimes you just need to ease your foot off the gas for a bit.

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m far from a ‘gym-head’. I’m that person who stares at a machine for ten minutes to figure out how it works. I’m also that person who can barely lift the lightest weights. Oh yeah, I’m also that person who has a half-hearted attempt a gym wardrobe. I’d much rather sweat in an Arctic Monkeys top. That way, at least if I can’t lift, people know I’ve got good music taste. Every cloud, ey?

I doubt I’ll be entering the World Championship body-building tournament or running a marathon any time soon. But, it’s all about one step at a time. I’ve always been a keen runner. Ok, keen and running should never be used in the same sentence. Let’s re-phrase that. I have two left feet, so I never made it as a dancer. And, height isn’t on my side, so I never made it as a netball player. So, I guess you could say running was a last resort. I was tactical – the 200m sprint was my forte. It was neither a sprint or trek.

Ok, I know I say I’m only joining the gym to wind down after work, yet I do have one goal in mind. I’ve done Race for Life, I’ve competed for Sparkhill Harriers and I’ve played for Sheffield Hallam’s Gaelic football team. But, there is still one thing to tick off – Mudderella. So, let’s see how that plans out.

Watch this space.

The Mad Grad

 

 

 

 

 

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“No, it’s not Ashton, it’s Aisling. That’s A-I-S-L-I-N-G”

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Well, that’s a wrap. I made it the end of the week without any major fuck-ups. Yeah, major is the imperative word here. But, it could have gone a lot worst. Believe me. Ok, I might have had heart palpitations, a tied tongue and a spate of shakes when I made my first phonecall. But, I still managed to pluck up the courage to do it. We’ll just ignore the fact it took three hours to do so.

It’s weird – I’m practically an adult now. Like, I have my own you-can’t-see-much-because-it’s-covered-in-sticky-notes desk, a fancy office phone (which I’ve soon discovered actually works) and a fully functioning email address. Woah – calm down. Fashion wise? I get to wear fancy shoes, fitted pencil skirts and elegant dresses – it’s bliss.

Saying that, it hasn’t been plain sailing. It’s a challenge and I’ve got a lot to learn. Writing is my passion and when I’m blogging words just roll off my tongue – but news writing is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. And it’s an it’s an art I’m eager to master. I know it’ll come in time and the penny will drop – I’m just very impatient.

As far as work environments go, it’s pretty awesome. Everyone is so chilled and the room is constantly full of flying banter. Of course, I’m always the brunt of the jokes. But you wait, you wait until I’m all settled. They’ll need a tub of sudocreme for the burns. They’ll soon see the punny side. Joking aside, they’re a cracking bunch and have made me feel proper welcome.

Sticking to my word – even though I’ve settled into a job – it’s the year of experience. The first hurdle? shorthand. It’s shapes and symbols, so if it’s anything like algebra – I’m screwed. With that in mind, I’m proper excited to get my teeth into it and whip its ass. But let’s not get cocky – I haven’t started it yet.

So, the good news is that I’m going back for another week. They haven’t managed to scare me off. Not yet anyway. Although it’s difficult, I’m excited to grow and find my niche as a journalist. I know I’ve made the right decision and I’m full of beans to see where it will take me.

For now? It’s about nailing an Intro.

Over and out.

The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

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