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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“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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How to dress your way into a job.

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Eat, sleep, job hunt – repeat. That’s life post-grad. So, if you’re lucky enough to bag yourself an interview – fix up and look sharp. You can bet your bottom dollar your choice of shoe will say much more than 12 GCSE’s (… what are they again?)

Here’s a few tips to get you on your way:

Keep it Conservative.

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Scrap your CV, Linkedin and over-compensated cover letter – it’s all about first impressions. It’s like X Factor (the difference is you only get one shot). Keep it conservative, classy and clean (Of Course). Remember, you’re applying for a job not a position on Take Me Out. You may be £27,000 in debt, have a non-existent social life and be living at home, but the last thing you want is to look desperate – keep it subtle. A simple, flattering shirt coupled with a tailored pair of trousers can work wonders. You’ve got one chance to make your mark – so use your accessories to make a statement.

 

Put some spring in your step

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Tried and tested; vibrant colours, patterned pants and petite peep toes are the passport to a second interview. Dress like you don’t want to be forgotten and left on the shelf. For Pete’s sake – get creative, be original and inject a bit of life into your outfit. After all,  you’ve probably got under half an hour to sell yourself (no, not in that way). So, let your outfit do the intro. Black, ill-fitted, nylon trousers are so ten years ago. Unconventional, extremely comfortable and only-to-be-worn-with-white-knickers, these patterned pants are definitely the way forward. Chuck in a bold top and you’ll be onto a winner (S’alright, just thank us later).

 

The LBD

IMG_2121A girl’s best friend – Little Black Dress. Like a Maccies after a night out – it never disappoints. It’s an item which completes every woman’s wardrobe. Believe me. Simple, sophisticated and stylish, the LBD is the interview outfit. I bet you never thought you could look so professional. Karen Brady, watch your back girl. Perfectly complimented with a pair of mid-heel court shoes and a classy watch, you’ll be more than ready to get down to business. So, get in there and show them who is boss!

Happy hunting.

The Mad Grad

 

 

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You’ve got the Job!

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Reverse back a few weeks – to the point where I was having a mid-life crisis. I’d been rejected from a job I thought fit the bill for me. Now I realise how very wrong I was. Yesterday, I attended an interview at the Solihull Observer for the role of a News reporter/editor. Call me stubborn, persistent or maybe even lucky – but I got offered it within half an hour of the interview.

Alright, it’s only a local paper and the salary isn’t the best – but it’s a start. I’ve got one foot on the ladder and I’m going to climb. It’s the start of an adventure. They’ve even offered to support me through my NCTJ exams to become an accredited journalist. Who’d have thought it?

Of Course, I’m petrified to leave Waitrose – a job I’ve been settled in for 5 years – and it’ll be strange leaving everything behind. But, I know it’s something I needed to do (and soon). It’s a family. I’ve grown so much in the 5 years of working there (and I’m not just talking about height). Yet, I’m sure they’re all grateful that they’ll never have to hear my awful jokes and face my dry humour again. Joking aside, I think I’m more devastated about the fact I’m losing my discount card – no more treats for me.

I’m excited for the future and determined to make something of myself. As I proved to myself, anything is possible. I can’t finish up without making a reference to my guide-to-life-film, Confessions of a Shopaholic. Rebecca Bloomwood (who is just as ditzy as me) worked her way up from Successful Savings to Alette magazine. So, who know’s.

Watch this space.

The Mad Grad. 

 

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Better luck next time – ‘Computer says no.’

 

Rejection – I’m sure you’ve experienced it sometime or other. It ain’t pretty. We’ve all had heartbreaks, feuds with bouncers and had our train tickets spat back at us. However, I’ve never felt rejection like the  ‘you’ve been unsuccessful’ email. That’s always a killer.

I guess I’m not afraid to admit it – I hate failure. I always strive to succeed in everything I do to achieve the greatest results. You could say I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to prove myself. Perhaps, for my own peace of mind. Saying that, aside from the bit-too-determined and driven front,  deep down I’m a bit of a mouse.

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On Tuesday, I attended a group interview in Manchester with a company which sounded like Google on paper. The website bragged of an office decorated with a gym, steam rooms and a state of the art bar. The benefits boasted starry-eyed bonuses, numerous social events and free booze on a Friday afternoon. It almost sounded too good to be true. Curious to see if there was any truth in it, I set out to complete the quirky job application. Successful, I started to imagine what it would be like to start a life in Manchester – yeah, I got pretty carried away.

The office looked exactly how it sounded on the website. There was a bar. There was a giant chess-board in reception. And yes, people did actually walk around with no shoes on. It was crackers. It seemed like the place to work. Not every CEO organises a make-shift beach or ice rink to be built in the car park.

I spent the whole morning downing bottles of water to hide the hunger pains – the interview really was that long. Psychometric tests and pointless Q&A sessions – the type where pretentious candidates splurge all the facts and figures they’d read on the website. Basically, a computer was testing me to see if I was fit for a creative job – logical. It didn’t take long for me to realise that practically everyone in the room was going for the same job as me. Picture this, we’re talking about 30 people here. Proper bottleneck. Or, as Darwin would say, it was the survival of the fittest. Safe to say, I knew I had been defeated by the maths questions, but stood my ground as well as I could and left with my head held high.

It didn’t take long to be brought back to reality anyway. The walk into work the next day was enough to do that. So, you can imagine how I felt when I received that email on my break. The day just went from bad to worse. Initially gutted, I’ve realised it could be a blessing in disguise. I think it’s so easy to lose sight of what you actually want just because something sounds like an easy option or incredible on paper. I’m guilty of it. I was proper disheartened. I’d failed at something and now I’m admitting it.

So, I guess that’s telling me something. I’ve changed and I’m a lot stronger than I think. I only have to look back a few months to the passing of my absolute hero to see that. I’ve discovered that sometimes things do fuck up and don’t go the way you want them too, but that’s all part of the plan – I’m convinced.

For the first time in my life, I’m going to forget everything I’ve done previously and follow my gut instinct. Screw the salary, the over-sold job specs and over-exaggerated benefits – I’m going to focus on achieving exactly what I want. Not something easy that I can settle for, or even a job which I think is going to make my parents happy.

I want to be a newspaper or magazine editor, so that’s exactly what I’m going to be. Jennifer Rink made it to ‘Poise’ in 13 going on 30 and Isla Fisher made it to ‘Alette’ magazine in Confessions of a Shopoholic. Call me mad, but I think one day I could see my name in the byline of a high-end magazine, who knows.

At the minute it’s just a dream, but with a shed load of perseverance and determination I reckon I could achieve it – or maybe get somewhere close.

For now, this is my everyday inspiration and I’m excited to watch it grow.

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The Mad Grad. 

 

 

 

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Sheffield – post student days.

Gone are the days of Corp’s paint-stripper purple pints, Plug’s cringe-worthy playlists and the down-right ugly nights at Embrace. The pencil-thin eyebrows, a shade-too-dark eye shadow (we weren’t lucky enough to be blessed with Naked palettes back then) and dire haircuts. Shoddy pairs of converse, leather skirts and over-sized white shirts. The fresher stage was far from elegant.

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As much as I cringe now, I’d relive my days as a student all over again and I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one thing. I’d embrace the mullet hair-d0, the dotted UV face paint and the near death experience lectures that followed a night at Corp.

I’d even attend the hilarious flat parties. The type which attracted all-sorts; tea leaves who would come just to rob your Tesco Value vodka, weirdo’s who would make a beeline for you and latch onto you the whole night and that one kid who would chew your ear off about something you couldn’t be less interested in.

halloweenThose were the days, but I suppose you can’t hold onto your student days forever.

As a Graduate, nights out in Sheffield aren’t the same, in fact they couldn’t be more different. On a typical night out, there doesn’t tend to be any projectile vomit or search parties sent out to find missing friends. Tend being the imperative word there. However, the greasy food that proceeds a heavy night of drinking, the drunk conversations with Sheffield’s taxi men and the shoeless walk from the taxi to the front door still stands. Some things will never change, well not yet anyway.

Corp’s deathly concoctions have been replaced with sophisticated cocktails, pairs of Converse have been swapped for heels and clubs have been traded in for quirky pubs. Eager to stay in touch with our youthful side, but staying clear of student-ridden clubs and annoying freshers, we’ve managed to sift out Sheffield trustiest sites which always manage to cure our post-student days blues.

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  1. West Street Live (aka, WSL)

Whether it’s a cold, wet Monday night or a night on the weekend, WSL is almost always packed out to the rafters. You can always guarantee that Tina Turner’s Proud Mary or Nelly’s Ignition will be blasted through the speakers and you’ll be leaving with a sore throat for the morning. Just when you thought dirty pints were bad, WSL has its fair share of weird and wonderful mash-ups, which are often served by Sheffield’s own version of Noel Fielding. Chuck Norris or Schit bomb, they’ve got a name for them all. With your average drink costing literal pennies, there’s no surprise it’s our favourite go to – even if we’ve got a little bit more money now. That’s what I call budgeting skills.

2. Bierkeller

Bierkeller; the pub of all pubs. The Bavarian -themed cellar bar, which is furnished with antique wooden benches and tables, feels proper authentic. As the waitresses are kitted out in traditional Bavarian attire and the chalkboard drinks list is inscribed in German, it’s hard to imagine you’ve just walked off one of Sheffield’s busiest streets. In the words of Lionel Richie, you often find yourself practically dancing on the ceiling as you bust your moves on the saturated wooden benches – it’s kind of weird.

Although initially expensive, at around 9 quid a pop, the stein cocktails are actually a pretty good deal (but perhaps a little bit too easy to drink). Oh, just as a head’s up, after a night in the ‘keller your hand will kill the next day from holding such a heavy drink. A banging playlist coupled with spiffing steins, Bierkeller sure gives you a night to remember.

3. Wick at Both Ends
Sophisticated and extortionate cocktail prices – the Wick is the place to go when you’ve got a few quid. Often saved till after pay day, it’s the ideal spot for an overdue chin-wag and overindulgence – well, you’ve got to treat yourself one way or another. A proper chilled vibe and perfect lighting, you could sit there for hours on end and have no intention of moving. Free from irritating freshers and rowdy men, it’s a nice place to get your glad rags on and enjoy the company of friends you haven’t seen in a while.
Sheffield, it’s always a pleasure.
The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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