Northern Girl reviews… Skinny Living

On Wednesday me and Tom had managed to secure ourselves tickets to see Skinny Living live at an event – we would eventually discover – put on by Sony music. The gig was held in an intimate, basement venue in town just off Tottenham Court Road and with free drinks and canapes we were set for a dream evening out. The venue honestly couldn’t have been more perfect with sporadic glass tables and candles and the stage protruding into the audience it felt like it was made for such an event and I hope I get to return! 

Free drinks and sliders!

So I’ll swiftly move on to the band. If you haven’t heard of them already then shame on you. If you were at #BSTHydePark when Bieber was there then they may sound familiar (they were a support act after all) but if not they’ve featured more recently on BBC Radio 1 as well as being featured in Spotify’s viral top 50. I’ll hold my hands up and admit apart from hearing “Why” on Spotify and their beautiful acoustic video from their time in Hyde park, I was relatively new to their work but I know a lot of people back home who are huge fans and I trusted their judgement entirely.

So onto the music itself. I was already pretty familiar with why so it was no surprise this was their opener but I was blown away actually seeing it performed live and the lyrics resonate around the room so much more. 

Their next was a funky, acoustic vibe and then we got into fade. The band worked the crowd and got us to sing along. By this point in the gig I hadn’t stopped dancing and I was grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know if it’s the Irish lilt of the lead singer but fade almost reminded me of The Script in their early days. It’s perfect, bounce-along pop with amazing instruments thrown in and my inner indie girl from my teens fell in love with the band. 

The next song was an emotional one and I enjoyed it just as much. Messiah is a truly beautiful song with the most beautiful lyrics and story and the perfect balance to fade.

There is literally nothing not to love about Skinny Loving. You only have to spend 5 minutes listening to the lead singer talk about the band to know how much it truly means to them and yet there’s almost that air of disbelief that all of this is happening to them (they quite clearly deserve every inch of success). They have an insane amount of talent and yet seem like this band is where they are meant to be.

So what’s next from the band?

Well from what I can gather from speaking to the band, they have a string of festivals in the summer, an EP imminent and an album on its way which I quite simply can’t wait for. There wasn’t a single fault I could pick with any of the songs I heard and I have no doubt that their album will become one of those where you literally listen to it from start to finish – no skipping required, the sign of a truly good album. I’ve been to a string of gigs recently but it has been so long since I last saw something where I literally couldn’t stop grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way through. The music is refreshing whilst familiar all at the same time and it is something the charts are so desperate for right now.

You can find the band on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Spotify.

NG x 

The liebster award

A huge thank you to Yella from yeallahawk.com for inviting me to do my first ever blogger tag post! I got asked some great questions which you can see the answers to below but first, the rules of the tag.

  • Thank the person for tagging you
  • Answer their questions 
  • Tag between 5-11 other bloggers 
  • Give them 5-11 questions
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

What would the perfect Sunday morning look like to you? It would have to start with waffles from The Green Cafe in Greenwich. I’ve almost spoilt myself as the first place we’ve lived in London is walking distance to Greenwich. Then I’d probably have to wander round the clock tower vintage market before picking up a Pimms and fresh lemonade from Greenwich market.


What’s your all time favourite book?
Oh this is so hard! I go through so many phases with book genres that I’m obsessed with (right now its psychological thrillers) but the book I probably always come back to is The Great Gatsby. Ironically when I studied it for my AS levels I actually hated it but as I began to understand the sub stories and complexities it gripped me and I probably go back to it every year and come away remembering something new each time.

What’s your biggest goal in life? Probably just being happy? Obviously I have different goals for all aspects of my life from blog to career to body image but those are all relative compared to just having a happy healthy life with my family.

What do you love most about your blog? The fact that it gives me a purpose to get out and explore interesting and different pockets of London. And that it introduced me to the blogging community where I feel like I’ve established some genuine friendships that are only going to flourish.

Who inspired you recently? This is really difficult.I sometimes think I’m inspired without really realising it. To be honest some of the deep conversations me and Tom have really get me thinking about myself and my life and can often spur blog ideas so he inspires me a lot and makes me challenge my own thought process.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start blogging? Go for it! Honestly don’t ever look back. Do what suits you and join blog chats as often as you can!

What’s your favourite cocktail? Hands down an espresso martini. I’m a little bit of a caffeine addict so it’s just my absolute dream in a glass. It also helps that you can get them for free in London from with the help of Drinki App!

I’ll be tagging my bloggers ball blog squad:

Chloe from imjustagirl16.co.uk

Kirsty from thevioletblonde.com

Chloe from chloealicelily.co.uk

Lauren from mylifeaslauren1993

Chloe from simplychlo.co.uk

Here are your questions girls! 

  1. What’s your ultimate pet hate?
  2. What’s your favourite animal ?
  3. What would be your death row meal?
  4. Where’s your favourite city ?
  5. If you could choose only one to use what would it be? Twitter/Instagram/Facebook?
  6. What’s your favourite cuisine?
  7. Least favourite household chore?
  8. If you’ve ever been to London what’s your favourite thing about it?
  9. What’s your ultimate blogging tip?
  10. Who’s your favourite blogger (big or small)?
  11. And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Am I a bad blogger? A blogger’s crisis of confidence 

  1. I don’t schedule tweets
  2. I don’t have a blog schedule
  3. I’m really bad at remembering to promote old content
  4. I couldn’t even tell you what my latest stats are
  5. I have 0 subscribers
  6. I have never been approached by a single brand about anything
  7. I don’t own a marble background nor am I able to nail the perfect flatlay
  8. I don’t use Photoshop and barely edit anything
  9. I don’t vlog
  10. I don’t always reply to my comments

So am I a bad blogger?

I am an insanely jealous person and I will openly hold my hands up and admit that. I’m also very competitive so maybe that breeds jealousy. Not exactly traits you’d expect from a blogger in what has recently been described as a “saturated market” but here I am. You’d be forgiven for reading this and thinking I’m a total b*tch, I’d hope anyone who has got to know me know that this isn’t the case  (though I’m sure there are some who do know me and still think it).

As a blogger it’s all too easy to look at other people’s success and compare it to your own (or lack of)! Don’t get me wrong, when I tell other bloggers I’m happy for them I genuinely am. There are so many amazing bloggers out there who work so incredibly hard and I’m genuinely proud of them but I’m also jealous – it’s embarrassing to admit it but I am.

But then I sit myself down and I have a reality check…

I didn’t start this blog expecting it to be incredible and be flooded by PR requests. I love writing, I always have. My biggest regret in life is not going to uni and studying language and linguistics. I keep travel diaries when I go on holiday and I keep countless notebooks. I started this blog because it gave me a hobby I could be passionate about. I started this blog so I could share my advice about living in London and all the incredible things there is to do here and as a result of starting this blog I get out and explore this beautiful city more. My family and friends get to see life updates. I get a space where I feel like I can share anything and I get to make some incredible friends (hopefully)!

I’d be lying if I said I’d be happy if I never got contracted by any brands but I’d be ok with it. I mean how many people can say they get paid to do their hobby? I also know that there are a lot more things I could do if I had the time to grow and develop (organically) my blog which I don’t currently – though I’m desperately trying to change that.

So whilst I may not be a good blogger, I’m at least proud to say that I’m a genuine one.

NG x

Northern Girl on… half year goals list

I can’t believe we’re in June already! I was so new to blogging back in January I didn’t realise how much of a thing “goals lists” were so I never did one. Thinking about it now, I have no idea why I didn’t think to, even if I didn’t share it I should have set out my aims and goals- I’m a sucker for a to do list after all! To make up for it I’ve decided to do a half-year one with my aims for the remainder of 2017, separating them into blog, life and health.

Blog:

  • I was very lucky to hit my initial target of 1000 twitter followers by my birthday so I’m going to be even more ambitious and hope for 2k by the new year 
  • Similarly, I’d love reach 500 instagram followers 
  • I’m hoping that I can attend my first blog event/get my first sponsored post offer 
  • I’d also love to regularly meet up with other local bloggers and try and formulate some friendships.  One of the hardest things about moving to London has been adapting to the loneliness. Tom has worked shifts our entire relationship so that’s nothing new but before if he was working on an evening/weekend I’d be able to call round and see family/friends – not so easy when you’re 200km away. Whilst we regularly catch up on phone calls/facetime it’s not the same.
  • Improve my blog photography. This will probably be the one I struggle most with as I’m far from a natural photographer but I’ve bought a few pretty props and dug out my ancient Olympus EP-1 So it’s a start.
We recently took the camera on a walk with us for practice

    Life:

    • I’m a money worrier so a big part of my 2017 is clearing a huge chunk off my credit card. I have another couple of years to clear it so I’m not too worried but it’ll be good to get rid of a lot.
    • Likewise keep squirreling away our savings. This is quite easy to do as I have automated payments set up to a help to buy isa. We’d love to be able to afford our own house but it’s looking impossible in London atm so it’s not our number one priority but we can both comfortably afford the payments whilst we adjust to our London life. 
    • I didn’t go to university so I’ve fought for where I am at work, especially in a heavily male environment so I’m hoping to continue to grow this and increase my role and responsibility.
    • I’d also love to learn to cook. I owe Tom a cooking masterclass for his birthday so it’s definitely one to tick off this year.
    • I’d love to grow my hair again to donate it. I have such a love/hate relationship with my hair. When it’s long and thick it takes so much to maintain and style but when it’s short I miss being able to throw it back in a pony on my lazy days but I know it will always grow again and it’s satisfying knowing that it has been donated to a good cause. If I do donate again it will be my third donation to The Little Princess’ Trust.
    • I received the most amazing journals for my birthday so one will be my new blog notebook, the other I’m planning on turning into a bullet journal.

    Health 

    • I’m hoping 2017 is finally the year I get some sort of diagnosis in way of my stomach problems. I’ve been battling near constant pain for almost 4 years with 1 major surgery and countless other scans/procedures with no success so far but I’m due to see a specialist in June so it’s progress.  
    • I’d always said at the start of this year I wanted to run a 10k so that’s very much still on my mind. I’m aiming for this around September time and I’m looking to do a blog series all about how different people have trained for different running events/distances so watch this space!
    • I’d love this year to be the year I finally combat my body issues. It ultimately felt great recognising my issues with the blog and I think it was a huge step towards recovery. I’m trying not to focus so much on numbers on a scale and more my own confidence and positivity so I’m aiming for:
    1. Feeling confident in my bikini – I’m going on two holidays this year and it’ll be my first beach holiday in 2 years so this is a huge one. I didn’t wear a bikini to a spa weekend last year because I  wasn’t happy so yeah, watch this space.
    2. I would also love to stop focusing on numbers on a scale and more on how I feel in my clothes. I let the numbers my weight was at rule my life for so long so I’m trying to change those goals to things like feeling confident enough to work out in just a sports bra and leggings or getting the confidence to wear crop tops back.
    3. I’m also hoping to celebrate my good days more. I will proudly say that there are days when I do want to celebrate my body. I’m trying to remember to wear clothes that suit my body type rather than just my dress size and embracing this.
    • I’d also love to be able to get my emotions/stress under control.  It’s the number one cause for friction in my relationship so this is another huge thing for me to finally achieve and I hope the two will go somewhat hand in hand. Get my eating under control and the emotions will hopefully follow.  
    The new running gear I got for my birthday to try and motivate me through the summer

      Do you have any goals for this year? NG x

      Northern Girl on… UPDATE – My body image story

      It’s been exactly a month since I first published my eating disorder experience. Yes really, a month. I can’t believe it either. When I first hit that publish button and shut my laptop off I genuinely thought when I woke up the next day I’d delete it instantly but boy am I glad I didn’t. It was never my intention to make people pity me but I have to say the genuine support I received and the incredible feedback I got made it so worthwhile and guess what – the post stayed (though I still can’t read it back).

      It was such a hard post for me to get out and yet it was one of my easiest to write. It had a mixed impact on my mind too. It felt incredible to get it all out there but it certainly made it more real, I had some really down days where I was obsessing over my weight and not being able to shift any of it but it was forcing me to think about it, recognise it and deal with it.

      I can’t explain enough how much support I receive at home every single day. Tom is an actual angel but I always worry that he gets frustrated having to constantly tell me that I am enough. The dark, twisted side of me thinks he does it because he feels obliged to but I know that is never the case. I wish more than anything that I could see what he sees and love the person that I am now, not the person I will be when I’ve lost a bit of the podge. The optimis in me thinks I’ll wake up one morning not caring, like somebody flicked a switch and fixed me. The realist in me knows that this is a long way off, if it even happens at all but the key for me now is that I want this. The truth is I’ve found over my 10 years with this struggle that your mind set will only change if you want it to and I let my mind get too comfortable and it was hard to see that I was content being like this. Now I’m not. Now i’m ready to change.

      I’ll be releasing my Half-year aims list in a couple of weeks – a goals list for the remainder of the year and my mental health is at the forefront of my mind. I’m aiming to not get bogged down with the number on the scales, something I’ve been very hit and miss with over the years. Instead i’m setting myself goals that are around me being comfortable with me. These will be harder to achieve but safer for my mind. I’m also trying to look at things in a different way so when I see the latest celebrity Instagram where a petite socialite is parading around her rock hard abs in a tiny bikini; i’m reminding myself that they are not me. They are not battling a chronic illness that is so painful it means I can’t get out of bed some days. They don’t work 11 hour days in an office for a wage that barely makes rent. They have money for personal trainers and time to train multiple hours a day. I could look like that if I had all of those but I don’t, that isn’t my life and I’m ok with that.

      Another thing I’m hoping to develop in my mind is dressing for my body shape not my dress size. This i’m most interested in seeing if it works because at the minute it’s looking promising and it’s the first time I’ve ever thought about such a mind set. I am trying to feel so proud of my hourglass figure that I know others would be ecstatic to have. I know that I’m going to have good days and bad days. I’m strict with my money so I wouldn’t throw out outfits because they don’t fit right and they make me feel fat – though maybe I should – but I’m trying to re-think outfits where I can so I feel comfortable, sexy and confident so that I can finally champion my own body positivity!

      After a painful 10 years I finally feel like I’m making progress. If you’d have asked me at the start of the year to wear a crop top I’d have told you to stick it.

      Ng x

      Northern Girl on… Instagram Pods

      It seems the whole blogosphere is whispering about Instagram pods and “beating the algorithm” but as a new blogger I wanted to share my honest opinion on them.

      What is an Instagram pod and how do they work?

      It’s basically a lovely little bubble of fellow bloggers all in a group message on Instagram who will share a post when they’ve uploaded a new one to the group and each individual in the group will go onto their feed to find said post and like and comment. There are some rules such as the comments where possible must be a minimum of 4 words and not just be generic, some pods also introduce rules such as a maximum upload of 2 posts per day etc. but that depends solely on the person who has set up the pod and the rules they gave at the start.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but in doing this, the post is bumped up in people’s news feed as it looks as if there’s a bit of hype and frenzy about it which Instagram LOVE and the post gets seen more easily.

      Sounds great right?

      For me, i’m going to say no. 

      I will reiterate again that this post is my own opinion. I am in no way slating Instagram pods on their own as there are things I like. Where I’m struggling is more a reflection of my own life individually and is no way aimed at all bloggers in general.


      (my Instagram feed @chlorebecca. It’s an ode to me and my life, a little bit of blog and a little bit of life.)
      See, I work full time; in central London. I leave my flat at 7am and I return at 6pm. My journey requires using the LU ergo – no mobile signal except for the 10 second stops at each station where I may very luckily pick up WiFi. My boyfriend works shifts so when I get home if he’s home we will do things together. We will go grocery shopping, we will go to the driving range, we will go out for dinner, we will stay in and cook dinner, we will go for a run or we might even snuggle up on the sofa to watch Gilmore Girls. Then I will shower, and I will go to bed and I will do it all over again.

      Now how many times during that did I mention that I looked on Instagram.

      Oh I didn’t? How funny. Do you see where this is going?

      Now I love discovering new feeds be it on Bloglovin’, Twitter or Instagram. Those promo tweets people put out asking to be Instagram friends? 9 out of 10 times I’ll follow. So the idea of discovering new people in a pod was super duper exciting and I have to say I love my Instagram feed all the more for it. However, I do this in my own time and at my own pace. I will hold my hands up now and say I am struggling, I am drowning in notifications of posts that I need to catch up on. I did not expect it to be this hard.

      But that’s only one part of the problem because I try my hardest to catch up I really do. However I am also  struggling with what some people are posting. I am very aware that I am a new blogger, my instagram is not exclusively about my blog, nor is my twitter and maybe this will change in the future I’m not sure. So for me personally, I would never expect my instagram pod to comment on a selfie that is in no way relevant to my blog. I will only share with my pod the posts that I link to blog posts that I want to promote and given that I only post once a week at best, this isn’t that frequent. Unfortunatley not everyone does this and I get that this is what works for them BUT it makes me physically cringe if I have to put ” Oh my god you’re so pretty” on your third selfie of the day.

      I am not a beauty blogger and I am not a fashion blogger. I do not follow the latest trends religiously and I do not burn out my bank account on morphe pallets and embroidered bomber jackets. I would much rather go out and buy some new running shoes or a golf club. That’s not to say I don’t love your morphe pallet/jacket/jeffree star liquid lip. I do, and when you put your post on about these I will genuinely be intrigued, where did you get it? What did you think? and my comments will reflect that. I have no issue in doing that because it is genuine. However, there are only so many times a day I can say how amazing that cranberry colour is in your pallet and how pretty I think your new Topshop boots are – FYI when I say there are only so many times I mean once. It’s because of this I feel like I would rather not leave any comment than a horrible, cringy, in-genuine one but I will still like your post because I still want you on my feed. This means I’m breaking the rules, and not to sound like a spoilt child, I don’t care. Sorry not sorry.

      I know that blog traffic is all about promotion, promotion, promotion. I’m not an idiot and if you share a similar ootd/make up post a week later on your Instagram, I’m ok with that, I’ll still comment becuase I’m probably still lusting after your boots a week later and I’ll tell you that but I’ll probably get sick of them after seeing them 3 times a day for a week. Makes sense?

      Maybe I’m not doing it right or maybe now’s not the time for me to be in an Instagram pod (I’m probably going to get kicked out of the two I’m in when people read this). 

      What are your thoughts on them? Do you love or hate? Let me know what you think.

      Ng x

      *This was in no mean aimed at any individuals and is not intended to cause offence

      Northern Girl On… My body image story..

      I write this as I lie in my bed in a sports bra and leggings, it’s 10:15pm and I’ve just completed one of those 10 minute high intensity home work out things. If you’d have asked me about my plans for my blog, this was never in it. I’ve admired others who have but I didn’t think it was for me. But today, is the day I can say “I’m not okay”.
      On the surface I’ve been able to pass the above, and the running and everything else as the ‘new me’ desperate to get fit and healthy now I’m ‘The London Girl’ and whilst that is part of it, it isn’t all. What the above actually is is the obsessive, controlling mind of an eating disorder sufferer. The mind that will not rest until it has punished the body in some way for the calories consumed throughout the day. The mind that can focus of nothing else but running, running until the body physically can’t take anymore because that’s what it deserves (and not in a good way).
      It’s been a while since I’ve felt this out of control. I’ve been suffering with eating disorders on and off – mainly on – for what will be my 10th year this year. At my lowest weight in 2012, I was a little under 7 stone and over-joyous at the fact I was in age 12 denim shorts and age 9-10 leggings. And yes; they are ages, not dress sizes. I was 18 years old and ironically probably at my most confident with my body, 5 years since it all first started and i’d made it to that monumental under 7st mark or so I thought. That should have been a warning to me, but it wasn’t. See the issue was that I never felt unwell. I never bought size 4 clothes – size 6, yes but size 4 always seemed tiny even for me. And I was never hospitalised and fed through a tube. In the social media age I grew up in, it almost felt as though there were degrees of severity you had to reach to be classified as ‘ill’ almost like jumping through hoops and checking off boxes – go to a GP for these sorts of things and it literally feels like they’re reading a quiz off the screen “Do you have an eating disorder? Answer these questions now to find out…”
      (an almost unrecognisable 2012 me in size 6 dresses that I couldn’t dream of wearing today)!
      I don’t remember at which point I returned to a level of normality with my weight. If I were to look back at pictures, I would swear it came at some point in 2014 – a very significant year for me. But whilst my weight became normal, my mind has never once stopped. Every single meal for the past 10 years has been a pro/con list. Is it worth it? Can I work it off? Do I deserve the treat? Can I feasibly have a salad as my next meal to counteract it? And it has been F**king exhausting. A special shout out goes to my long suffering boyfriend who has put up with my horrendous moods because I just haven’t felt like eating that day, or when I’ve not been able to come up with anything to eat/where to go because that little voice in my head didn’t want the extra calories. There have been times when I have overcome the little annoying voice in my head. Where I’ve said F*ck it and I’ve had the nachos/cake/ice cream, but that voice has also come back chastising my decision, making me feel nothing but dread or regret and not many people in my current circle will now that this is as much an issue now as it was in 2012. 
      The hardest part for me now is feeling I don’t have a reason for it. You could argue that back in 2012 I didn’t either but I am happy, healthy, with a career and life I absolutely adore. I should have it all – but I don’t.
      (Summer 2013 – still secretly satisfied at how skinny I was – in the striped bikini)
      There will be people reading this who have seen it all. People who knew the 13 year old me, who supported me through the start to the people who helped me through that hellish year and stuck with me and the people who will read this and will be surprised by it. It’s a very very difficult thing for me to post, partly because I feel embarrassed to be plagued by this and partly because I don’t want people to look at me differently. I don’t want to get treated with pity or looked at like a fragile doll because that isn’t me. I know I will bounce back from this again and I will hopefully one day find the strength – with the help of my incredible support network – to rid myself of my demons completely.
      (The start to my summer 2017, a year of turning 23 and enjoying LDN)
      There are so many great people out there who are incredible representatives for body positivity who I aspire to on a daily daily basis, but I decided to tell my story to let people know that in the word’s of Jessie J – “it’s ok not to be okay”. If I can even reach it out to one person who is suffering and help them admit that then it was all worth it.
      NG x

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      If you have been affected by anything featured in this post then please contact B.Eat (https://www.b-eat.co.uk/) or speak to your GP.

      Northern Girl On… Homemade cocktails

      With a long bank holiday weekend on it’s way – and another one shortly after – there can often be a pressure to go out and enjoy it by drinking all day and partying all night. Unfortunately for me, even this soon since payday I’m not wholly convinced my bank account can stretch to a 4 day drinking session so I’ve decided to share some of the recipes to my favourite home made cocktails. 


      The Northern Girl’s take on Tinto Verano.

      If you’ve ever spent any amount of time in the middle regions of Spain in the summer you’ll have probably discovered Tinto Verano – if you haven’t it’s sangria’s fruity and sparkling sister. Super easy to make, the fruitier the better. I was inspired to make this at home when I had some red wine left over from cooking.

      The recipe:

      • 150ml San Pellegrino or similar lemon based sparkling drink. I find with this drink, the better the lemon the better the drink but you could use regular lemonade and add a dash of lemon juice
      • 50ml Red Wine. I’m not the biggest red wine drinker so this mix is perfect for me but feel free to add more red wine to your taste.

      If gin is your drink… discover the mirrorball.

      This little beauty is the perfect long gin mixer. Combining gin, lemon, elderflower before lengthening with soda. We currently have 2 bottles of gin sat in our flat which we picked up for £20 thanks to tesco’s offer but there are loads of great supermarket offers on spirits at the minute. We vary our drink by swapping between elderflower and regular gin.
      The recipe:
      • 50ml gin
      • 50ml elderflower cordial
      • Top with soda water
      • 3 dashes of lemon juice – the kind you would put on your pancakes


      Prosecco cocktails.

      For my 21st Birthday Tom whisked me away to Milan and the Italian lakes for 2 weeks. In our first couple of nights we noticed that everyone seemed to be drinking this orange cocktail so when we saw a barman preparing one; we asked what it was and discovered the Aperol Spritz. The second he said it contained prosecco, I was sold. I will now order myself one EVERY SINGLE TIME I see it on any cocktail menu.

      Aperol Spritz

      The recipe:
      • 3 shots (75ml) Prosecco
      • 2 shots (50ml) Aperol
      • Top with soda
      • Garnish with orange
      I had a few cocktails in Leeds with the girls at the weekend and Headrow House had a whole spritz section so switch it up and replace your Aperol with Raspberry Liquor or even elderflower gin for a different spritz flavour.

      Gin Spritz

      • 200ml prosecco
      • 50ml Gordon’s elderflower gin
      • 25ml elderflower cordial
      • Top with sparkling water

      Drinking out in London

      It doesn’t have to be all drinking in this weekend. If you’re about in London, get yourself on to Drinki – an app that gives you free drinks in London. You can view the bars by map and it’s a great opportunity to discover new drinks. If you’re about for the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, hit up Rum and Sugar in Canary Wharf on your way for THE best Strawberry Mojito I have ever had. Sign up with the link below and you’ll get two extra free drinks, exclusively for readers of The Northern Girl’s Guide to London! Already have the app? Input code NGGUIDE01.

      http://share.drinki.com/northern-girls-guide

      Free espresso martinis at all of the London Grind bars courtesy of Drinki

      What are your plans for the long weekend? Leave me a comment to let me know what’s going on or what your favourite drinks at home are NG x

      Northern Girl on… March’s beauty buys

      1. The Body Shop – Vitamin E Gentle Facial Wash £7.50 – I had been using the Clinique foaming face wash and was running low, knowing how much I liked the seaweed scrub I decided to give this a try. As my skin can be blemish-prone at times, I like to use a gentle face wash to counteract the strong spot fighting treatments I apply later in my skin care routine which was why I was using the Clinique foaming wash and I have to say once again, I love the Body Shop even more which I didn’t think would be possible! It’s so creamy and doesn’t feel like it dries out my face and at £7.50 an absolute bargain. I also love knowing that The Body Shop are all natural and cruelty free.
      2. The Body Shop – Seaweed Pore Cleansing Exfoliator £11 – I actually first bought this product in December because I had a 40% off voucher at Christmas and was running low on my Clinique exfoliator and I loved it. Even my sister who uses it when she visits loves it and this is the first time I’ve had to repurchase since December. I have combination skin so I like my exfoliators to be strong enough to feel like they are working but gentle enough to use every day and this definitely ticks both boxes. It foams up quite a bit which is unusual for an exfoliator but my skin definitely feels buffed afterwards, it’s easily my go-to exfoliator now and cheaper than some of the other brands I’ve tried (and a lot better too)!
      3. The Body Shop – Liquid Eyeliner £9 – This was more of an add on/emergency item. At the time of placing my order, The Body Shop were doing an amazing £10 off a £25 spend and I knew I was running low on my Soap and Glory eyeliner so decided to use this to top up my order and prepare for the inevitable day of running out. I’m yet to use it properly but so far it’s excellent to keep in my handbag and top up my eyeliner during the day at work. I’m looking forward to giving it a proper go when my current eye-liner finally runs out.
      4. The Body Shop – Lip Butter in Strawberry £4.50 – OK, this is a little bit of a cheat. I never actually paid £4.50 as I got it FREE! with o2 priority (o2 customers can also often get £10 off a £25 spend). I don’t wear anywhere near as much lip balm as I should and this smells divine. It’s perfect for once again keeping in my handbag and hopefully the smell with lure me in to using it more. I will say that the consistency of this is delightful, much richer and smoother than it’s “Born Lippy” cousin which in the past I have found to be a bit sticky. So if you’re in the market for a delicious smelling lip balm I would definitely opt for the lip butter for an extra couple of quid. I’ll probably write a full post at some point on my favourite store loyalty cards – I’m a sucker for them – but I love that The Body Shop have now launched one, each £1 equals 10 points and 500 points = a £5 voucher with an extra £5 voucher for your birthday!
      5. Clinique anti-blemish clarifying lotion £18 – Whilst I’m doing my best to save money, my little luxuries to myself will always be my Clinique skin care. It took me so so so long to find an anti-blemish range that worked for me that I almost don’t dare steer away so I have 3 Clinique anti-blemish products I can’t live without. I always try and purchase them from Boots so I at least get points on my advantage card and because I only ever need to purchase roughly every 6 months, I nearly always have one of my ‘point booster’ vouchers at the ready.
      6. Clinique anti-blemish all over treatment £21 – It had been one of those months where everything was either nearly running out or had run out already and I had been trying so so hard to live without this and use other moisturisers but as a result my skin has been suffering. Not only do I try and only purchase my Clinique stuff at boots, but I also try and hold out for a Clinique bonus time and luckily I got this during one.  Clinique run various offers throughout the year at various realtors where you qualify for a free gift with 2 or more purchases (1 being skin care or foundation), this time it was at boots and the gift set I have to say is exceptional this time round. If you’re new to Clinique and don’t want to make a huge spend commitment, the skin care sets qualify as skin care. As does the All About Eyes eye cream which has just been voted in The Evening Standard’s top eye creams for 2017. Failing that, I am a huge fan of the chubby stick lip balms in particular Super Strawberry and the darker colours. They give tint like a lip stick but in a really creamy formula, it’s my go to lip colour if I don’t want anything to fancy of committing like a liquid lipstick. They would definitely be my recommendations for finding your qualifying products for the freebies.

      (inside the Clinique gift set)

      1. Rinse off foaming cleanser – I’d had this full sized from my last bonus time and I really really liked it. The only thing that stopped me purchasing again was discovering The Body Shop vitamin E cleanser. When it says you need a pea sized amount, you literally do. The tiniest amount foams up massively which means it lasts you ages. This will go going in my cupboard to dig out when I finish the vitamin E cleanser.
      2. Clinique Pep-Start Hydroblur Moisturiser – I had been dying to give this a go so I was extremely excited to see this included in bonus time. I’ve started using it as a primer to sort of mattify my skin on the days when I’m not wearing foundation and at the minute I’m not sure. The smell is bordering on vinegary and the texture is odd, its very thick and not completely smooth which means like you feel as though you’re dragging it over your skin as apposed to blending it in. I’m going to persist until I’ve finished the tub, but I’m almost hoping it’s a dodgy batch and not supposed to be like this…
      3. Clinique Pep-Start eye cream – I had actually already purchased the full size version of this and I balance it between All About Eyes. It’s perfect for those mornings when you’ve not quite had enough sleep and haven’t had caffeine yet but I’m still undecided as to if I love it enough to purchase full sized again – luckily I don’t have to decide just yet and the miniature will be great to put in my travel bag.
      4. High Impact Mascara – This is pretty much a bonus time staple and I really, really like this mascara. The thick wand means you get the right amount of product, I’ve used other mascaras with a thin rubbery wand and end up with the mascara caked all over my eyelids but this doesn’t happen with Clinique. I have quite naturally long lashes (blessed, I know) and they genuinely curly up enough to touch my eyebrows when I use this mascara. I’m yet to purchase full size but thats only because these miniatures last for ages. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had to purchase a mascara, it must be at least 3 years and that’s simply because the various bonus time freebies have lasted that length of time.
      5. Take the day off cleanser for lips, lids and lashes – Another staple in pretty much every bonus time I’ve ever received, it’s a great cleanser and as bonus time’s are always travel sizes I pretty much have one that lives in every single travel bag I own. I mostly use it when I’m travelling as a way of removing stubborn eye make up. It has quite an oily feel so I’m not sure I’d ever purchase a full size bottle but at the minute I don’t need to (I genuinely have about 6).
      6. Clinique Pop, lipstick and primer in sweet pop. I really really like the formula of Clinique lipsticks, I tend to sway towards matte liquid lipsticks at the minute but I do like to mix it up. The Clinique lipsticks are always very pigmented and the fact that this is a built in primer makes the colour last and feel great on your lips. I don’t wear anywhere near as much lipstick as I should but if I was in the market for lip stuff i’d definitely look to Clinique. I’m really intrigued to try their scrub/balm combos so they might be my next beauty treat to myself.
      (such a dreamy, creamy formula)

      Quite a big haul for me this month, what were your recent beauty treats to yourself? NG x

      Northern Girl on… Community Yoga

      I thought I had done yoga before. I thought I was somewhat good at it so I decided to give community yoga a try and this is what I found…

      1. I am terrible at yoga
      2. I am not very flexible
      3. I’m determined to get better at yoga
      4. I live in an excellent community (but I knew that anyway)
      5. After 2 sessions my posture is amazing! 

      What is community yoga? – Community (or fundraising) yoga is a concept set up in my local area by the wonderful Neha Kadiyala. It takes place in the Docklands Water Sport Centre twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays 6:45pm-7:45pm). It is known as fundraising yoga as the participants pay £5 to take part with the money going back into the centre. 

      (The official poster for fundraising group yoga)
      Can anyone do it? – The short answer is yes, the sessions are mixed ability and the instructor will always give an alternative stretch for those who may be struggling – like me, each session I’ve done – or a harder stretch – definitely not me after 2 sessions, but I’ll get there!

      Do you have to do lots of complicated breathing activities? – Absolutely not. There are obviously some breathing exercises to relax you but then it is all about matching the stretches to your natural breaths. You will simply be told what to do on each inhale, what to do on each exhale and how many breaths you are expected to hold the stretch for – great for shallow breathers like me.

      Is the group cliquey/bitchy like some group classes I’ve experienced before? Again, absolutely not. Everyone I’ve spoken to before and after the sessions has been so lovely and there’s always someone new coming along to give it a try. The instructor herself is lovely, never once feeling like you’re not doing good enough; she’s encouraging and gentle helping you to develop your yoga rather than feeling like a failure.

      Do I need a yoga mat? – Yes and No. Having your own is definitely preferred and you can pick them up at a reasonable price at sports direct (I’m eyeing up the patterned one for myself) but if you don’t have one/forget to bring one Neha has a small supply available for use during the session.

      (starting to get the hang of it by session 2. Photo credit Christina Wildman Mullet)
      I caught up with Neha before my first session to find out what drove her to create Fundraising Yoga.

      Firstly you instantly realise just how passionate she is. Her enthusiasm for health and fitness shines through, as does her excitement and pride in what she has been able to achieve so far. She gushes about future plans including PT sessions in the local parks and even yoga on a paddleboard in the summer! So I decided to get to know a little bit more about her heath journey.

      She moved to London from Dubai and found it extremely difficult to adjust to this new life until she hit rock bottom. Thankfully she turned to improving and prioritising her health and was able to save herself. She began to research what was available and found a distinct lack in her local community, she knew what she wanted to do but it wasn’t out there for her to just join already. A lesser person at this stage could have easily turned and said “oh well, I tried” but not Neha; instead she founded running group Walk, Jog, Run – a local group aimed at getting people out for just 30 minutes a day to walk, jog or run at their own pace. Pets are welcome, children are welcome, even new mums with pushchairs can join the group daily at Millwall Park. The group was a HUGE success and she started bouncing around the idea of a yoga group (hailing from India, Neha was already well versed with the wonderful health benefits of yoga) and the idea was met with enthusiasm.

      That’s where we are today and already she is looking to the next thing (I don’t think this woman ever stops, she credits her boundless energy to the incredible benefits of aloe vera gel). She has just launched a creche facility as some of the people interested in yoga struggle with child care, she’s in the middle of organising an international food festival as well as fundraising for cancer research, setting herself a target of hitting 10K steps EVERY SINGLE DAY of March – impressive work. It doesn’t stop there, she has a Walk, Jog, Run 5k event in the pipeline and a deal with a local catering company not to mention her work with the sailing centre and as mentioned earlier the planned PT sessions.

      It’s evident that Neha’s policy is pure inclusion and she buzzes off that community spirit and I’m proud she’s converted me to a fully fledged yogi. So don your favourite yoga leggings, get practicing your “ohmmmmm” and give yoga a try.

      (definitely still my favourite part – relaxing and reflecting at the end of a session. Photo credit Christina Wildman Mullet)

      For more information on anything featured in this blog please use the links below or alternatively leave a comment with your question and your email address so I can personally respond. NG x

      More information on the sailing centre can be found at www.dswc.org
      Neha is a proud Forever business owner, more information about the work she does for community health and fitness can we found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stayfitiodcw/
      To sponsor Neha in her March 10k journey you can visit her sponsor page at https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/livehealthylovelife