Friday, 18 September 2020

An Evening at Koop + Craft | AD PR Event



I was delighted to see on the Pompey Bloggers page that Koop + Kraft were hosting an event to try some of their food and drinks. I had actually only ever heard of the restaurant from fellow blogger Kat, she posts about a lot of local restaurants and events - definitely go and check her blog out! My excitement levels were very high from seeing Kat's posts.

Located just on London Road, Waterlooville it's a lovely location just outside of the town centre. The restaurant has a nice cosy feel to it, with aesthetic lights dotted around. I really loved the kooky pattern on the wall pictured above. There are mostly several semi circle booths, which is great for social distancing and keeping to your party, but also enables you to see and talk to everyone. I ended up sharing a booth with Jacob from The Eats Sheets as all of the evening's food was for sharing (I know, I wish I didn't have to share food either) but actually there was too much for the both of us! 



When I saw K+K's rather large drinks menu, I had no idea what I wanted. There's local spirits, so many cocktails and mocktails as well as your usual beers and soft drinks. I went for the Isle of Wight Distillery - Mermaid Pink Gin with lemonade, and my word it was delicious. I've had a few variations of pink gin, and after awhile you start thinking most of them taste the same. But not this one. It had an ever so slight extra sweet fruity flavour to it. I saw a few of the other guests have a Sunrise Sour that is made with a ball of smoke that you can pop before you drink it - I kind of wish I ordered one for myself, but the gin did hit the spot.

I wasn't sure just how much food was on offer for the evening, but when the waitresses started bring over dish after dish, I knew we were in for a challenge. Above we had Chicken Wings, Cheesy Fries, Halloumi Fries, Curry Fries, Cheesy Garlic Bread, more Halloumi Fries, Dirty Fries and Buttermilk Chicken Tenders. A carb lovers dream. I think I've only ever had buttermilk chicken in burgers or BBQ stacks in big chain restaurants. It was nice to read about the process that K+K do to create their buttermilk, and really experience the taste on it's own. It has a very distinct flavour, I was expecting the taste and texture to be similar of southern fried chicken, instead of the outer coating sliding off the chicken in a greasy way, it stays softly to the chicken. I found it to be more of a softer eating experience.




Then we had two halves of two burgers; Cheese Please and Bacon and Black, yup you read that right. "Black" as in black pudding. I was sceptical too. I don't think I've ever had black pudding before, and to be honest I had been put off trying it. However, I thought I'm at a nice event with free food so what's the harm? At first I really couldn't taste much difference, then I asked Jacob what it's supposed to taste like. He described it as a sort of peppery spicy flavour, then I noticed that I could taste it and it wasn't what I expected at all! In a good way. Both burgers were so delicious. 


And some people might call dessert the most exciting part of a meal, I must admit I am one of those people. I bloody love a dessert and I don't care who hears it. I will always make room for pudding. Boy, was I happy to see Churros come out on that platter. Partnered with Deep Fried Oreo's and Kinder Bueno Bites. I had never seen or heard of anyone deep fry an Oreo, but it was amazing. I loved that it was picky puddings, as they felt "lighter" and you had the chance to try a bit of everything.



I had such a lovely evening, the staff were really friendly and helpful and it was great to meet George - the owner as well. I will definitely be back to try more sides and burgers, they also have a variation of classic meals as well as burgers. If you are vegan or veggie, there are options for you as well. I also just saw that they make some tasty looking milkshakes, and one in my favourite flavour at the moment...Biscoff. Since lockdown restrictions have been lifted (sort of) it's been so nice to explore more local independent restaurants and new food. 

Thank you so much to Koop + Kraft for having me, your food and drink were absolutely amazing and I can't wait to introduce more people to the restaurant! Also thank you for the wonderful goodie bag of freebies and discounts for independent and local businesses (Make Up By Hope, Village Gym, Time 4 Nutrition, Prepped By Koop, Elle's Salon, Graceful Scents, Valerie Rose, Gym Buddy, Lixir Drinks and HMS Spirits)

*This opportunity was gifted as a free experience to try some of K+K's menu, all words and opinions are my own, with no obligation to post a positive review. 

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Saturday, 15 August 2020

Getting the Chop for The Little Princess Trust

 



If you know me, you will probably have realised my long hair has been a part of my identity for quite a few years. I rarely ever go short or medium length, because it's my security blanket and my most beloved accessory. Where I've been working in retail I mostly have my hair up when I work, to keep it out of my face and to prevent myself pulling on it. I realised over Lockdown that it had gotten extremely long; I had been struggling to put my hair up in one of my easy buns, due to it's length. It got me thinking; "what could I do with this mane, but also could I use it to help others?". I've always tried to be a charitable person, and help where I can. But I could do more. More donations and more fundraisers. Since my last major chop back in 2011, I have seen many women cutting off their hair for The Little Princess Trust. Yes, my hair is long enough to give a good donation, but it is in no way healthy enough to donate. TLPT ask for a minimum of 7 inches of hair up to 16 inches of hair. It needs to be healthy, no split ends/damage and natural colour or the same "natural" dye. My hair is also multi-coloured because of previous bleach, brown dye, red dye and whatever the sun bleaches it to.

I was disappointed that I couldn't actually donate my hair for wigs to help children who've been through cancer. They are always after donations, and I imagine it's a really hefty job to go through the donations, modify the hair to make the best wigs to make a child smile. I thought the least I could do is raise money for this charity so they can either use it for wigs or research into cancer. I set myself a small goal of £100 because I don't personally do a lot of fundraising, I wanted something achievable otherwise I'd feel let down, and that I'd let the charity down. At the time of this posting the donations come to £135, which I was ecstatic over.

When deciding how much to cut off, I thought 10 inches was a good number to try and get people interested and involved in my fundraising. I even umm-ed and ahh-ed if I went shorter would I have any quality hair to donate, but I think a lot of it is damaged from not being looked after, and as previously mentioned too many different colours. Oops. In my fundraising photo I roughly drew where I was having the chop, and just seeing it even just as a drawn line was scary for me. I have quite irrational haircut "anxiety" (I don't know if this is actually a thing). Any sort of change or drastic change; I freak out. I wanted these changes, and imagine them for quite a while. I don't do anything impulsively. After I get these new cuts and dyes, it takes me a while to get used to seeing the new change. In past times I've had a little cry to myself, but then a few days later I'll love it. 

The day of the cut; Friday 14th August.

I washed and brushed my long hair one last time. Sad to see it go, but also happy for a new change. Fae is my hairdresser and we were both excited for this (Fae is mobile and you can also find her at Wispers). I had also decided to go back in time to 2014 and get a fringe again, as well as have a new colour; darker brown mixed with warm tones. The first thing we did was the chop. Fae took chunks off and asked if it was ok, it did feel a lot shorter but I felt I could go a tad further after dyeing. When the dye was done, and my hair dried I assessed the outcome so far. It still looked quite long, but technically short for me and my previous 29 inches of hair. We took some after photos and when I got out my measuring tape Fae said we were at 21 inches, not the 19 inches I had promised everyone. Although the idea of going even shorter was terrifying, I had to keep my morals and have the other two inches off. I went back to the chair and nervously waited for Fae to stop snipping away until we hit 19 inches. I just kept telling myself it was all for a good cause and it'd grow back if I didn't like it.

I forget how different a fresh cut and a good chop feels like. Your hair becomes all bouncy and full of life again. It feels all silky from the new dye. Plus I always love having my hair styled after a trip to the hairdressers! Then it was all over. My old identity laying on the ground beneath my chair, a new colour and fringe that takes me back half a decade. Plus a lovely donation for The Little Princess Trust. It definitely makes me want to look after my hair, not just because you should, but so I can do this again with longer and healthier hair to donate for wigs.

At the moment my Just Giving Page is still open if you are able to donate! Anything will do to help an amazing cause.

Thank you x

Links to information and social media pages:


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Sunday, 9 August 2020

25 Things I've Learned Before Turning 25

Hello it's my birthday! 

The big 25. It's a bit weird to think I'm now the equivalent to a quarter of a century...And also edging ever so closer to 30. I'm trying not to worry about it because life happens. To enjoy the moments that I do have. I thought now is a good a time to do one of these "lessons learned" things. I love reading other people's posts, because we all have different journeys that means we all learn slightly different things. 

Well here's what I've learned so far (and probably missing a few but my memory is awful lol)...

Taken by Connor Cleary

1. You can have different friendships of varying qualities, you don't have to be best friends with everyone.
2. Treat yourself like a plant, you need watering, feeding and sunlight - but also exercise...so maybe like a dog?
3. You don't need to wash your hair everyday. It's too much effort and is bad for your hair.
4. You are the only one in control of your happiness, don't push that responsibility onto anyone else.
5. When you feel like you're going to explode with anger, take a minute and breathe. Let your rational thoughts have time to surface. You don't have to react to everything right away.
6. There is no set path for life, everyone's is different. So stop comparing.
7. Stop living month to month, prepare for the future.
8. Even though having a skincare routine and moisturising your body is a hassle, it's worth it and you'll feel great afterwards.
9. Only buy one extra of essential items. There's no need to clutter cupboards and drawers.
10. You can really do it if you put your mind to it. JUST DO IT.
11. Take breaks from social media, I promise you no one will even notice that you've gone.
12. Sing and dance your heart out in your car, if you don't make eye contact with anyone it's like no one can see you.
13. There's always another side to a story. 
14. Believe in second chances, but always be careful.
15. SPF moisturiser is a game changer.
16. Always make time for self care, whether that's reading, meditation, exercise or face masks, it will make you feel more human. 
17. Family is important. Make time for your loved ones, get off that couch and go grab a coffee with them.
18. It's ok to say no to social events, sometimes it's best not to force yourself to go out.
19. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is ridiculous, only go somewhere that you really want to go.
20. Laughter is the best medicine, be it if it's from a comedy, funny video or out laughing with friends.
21. To do lists are a lifesaver, and really help you stay on stop of things.
22. If you can do it today, do it. Save tomorrow-you the task, you never know what tomorrow will bring.
23. Actions speak louder than words. There are plenty of nice words to say to people, but if you prove it in actions, it's priceless. 
24. Don't be afraid of ageing, it's a blessing to have the opportunity to grow old.
25. Be humble, sometimes you have to realise there's so much more than you in this world.

I hope you've enjoyed my post, I still have plenty in the works (I know even I'm tired of hearing this from me). I have had a lot of little projects going on so certain things have had to take a break but I will be getting more posts out on a semi-regular basis!

What's on your list of things you've learned? 
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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Visiting Restaurants in a Pandemic When You Have Anxiety

I don't know about you, but this whole pandemic has really been feeding my anxiety. I've had a lot of moments where I have been feeling quite agoraphobic. Which I haven't felt in quite a few years. In the height of my mental health problems I often felt scared to leave the house, and I had to use public transport a lot which would also set off the feeling trapped part of agoraphobia. I have only left the house when necessary; for work or essential errands. Even then I'd wear a mask and take my hand sanitiser everywhere, and would start to get panicky feelings when someone got too close. Most of the shops I have been in were quick in and out jobs. That is until I had to queue in Wilko's and the system wasn't very clear, a few customers nearly got into an argument over it. That feeling of knowing that people were behind me and too close had me on edge. The queue was going down an aisle, and I started to feel nervous if customers wanted to get to the products next to me. It also didn't help that when I was walking round the shop, the staff didn't seem to care if you were there or not. When I'm wearing a mask it makes me really claustrophobic because it can feel like my breathing's restricted, but it's not. I wear one to protect myself and others, and would rather deal with feeling uncomfortable for a few moments than risk catching or spreading Covid-19.

I know that shops and restaurants have to open up so that people can keep jobs and the economy can keep going, but going to them just terrifies me. I've seen the lack of social distancing and lack of common sense from some of the public. We've all spent three to four months mainly confined to our homes with the same people. I found it really jarring when I could meet up with my friends and family members, because it felt kind of weird. At least in shops and socialising there's usually an easy exit. I just feel like in pubs and restaurants it might not be that easy. I don't want to be in a busy environment. I don't want to feel trapped.

As much as I miss "normality" and going out for food and drinks, I'd rather be cautious about returning to that way of life. To me, nothing about this is normal. This is a whole new world for most of us, and it's better to be safe than sorry. I have made myself relax to a certain extent, to test the water and visit a few places and thought I'd write about my experiences here for you.


My first mini trip out was to Whiteley, Fareham where my other half and I had a meeting at Starbucks (we sat outside), and afterwards we were a bit peckish and stopped by Five Guys. We love their burgers and fries, we usually only have this as an every now and then treat, as we don't indulge in a lot of takeaway food. Whiteley have tried to limit the amount of people visiting their shopping centre by closing off some of the car parks. It was really quiet walking around, and they had a pedestrian traffic system, by keeping customers to the left and having barriers in the middle of the walkway. There were only a few small groups of customers in Five Guys and plenty of spread out seating, we decided it would be ok to sit in as it would be quick. We sat in a booth near an open door so it felt nice and open. I didn't feel worried about sitting inside at all, and the staff were really friendly. Usually at Five Guys, you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called further along the counter. This time however, they gave you a number placeholder to take to your table and brought your order to you, whether you were taking away or sitting in to stop people gathering in the same spot.


Our second trip out was for a nice cheeky lunch meal, we walked from Fareham to Portchester to visit the Salt Cafe as I had heard so much about it online. Unfortunately, it was really busy with their outside seating and I felt uncomfortable being so close to other customers. They had also stopped serving lunch when we got there so we looked for somewhere else nearby for some pub grub. The Wicor Mill was only just up the road, and we had never been there before. When we walked in we were greeted by a member of staff and asked if we had booked, we hadn't but that was fine as there were plenty of tables at that time of day. They took our details for the track and trace of Covid-19 and showed us to an outside table, which was more than 2 metres away from the next tables; perfect. You could either order through the app or order at the bar and the staff bring your food and drinks to you. For some reason the app wasn't working for us so we had to order at the bar, but that wasn't an issue as I said before, it was quiet.

It was a much needed little treat out, and so great to have a couple of pints and enjoy the sunshine. We are both so busy at the moment juggling work and a few other projects, so it was nice to take some time out and get out of the house. We both had steak and melted cheese ciabattas and shared a little portion of chips, it was a gorgeous little lunch meal.


Last but not least, my friend and I had been having some coffee dates at CrumbleJack down Fareham high street. Before lockdown this was one of my favourite places to have avocado and egg on toast, I have no idea what they do to it, but it's so damn delicious. At our first coffee meet up we were able to sit outside (you can see a pattern here) and it was really comfortable. Next time we thought we'd have a bite to eat, and we indulged in their masterpiece. They had perspex screens by the tills and brought food and drinks to the table, and had a little hand sanitiser station as you walk in the coffee shop.

Even though I've only been out a handful of times eating and drinking out, I've been fairly happy with those experiences. A lot of my friends have had successful trips to pubs and restaurants and it's good to hear people enjoying themselves again. I'm just not ready to be sat inside a busy pub or restaurant yet, but I'm getting there.

My advice to you if you haven't been out yet, and are feeling apprehensive is to research the places you want to go to first. I find it helpful to read about how the businesses have altered their establishments to make them safe for customers, and if they have photos of these then that's a bonus. If that doesn't make you feel calmer, then why not pop them a message or call them up? Most independent businesses will get back to you really quickly. If that also doesn't work, just be cautious and have a look from outside when you go to visit. You don't have to commit to staying there if you have walked in and gotten a table, you have the choice to leave if you're uncomfortable. If you do book a table and change your mind before going, please contact the business to let them know so then they can give the table to someone else. I've seen a few posts going around social media where restaurants have lost out on money because people didn't cancel their booking.

Have you been out to any pubs and restaurants yet? Pop me a message in the comments, I'd love to hear about your experiences!
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Friday, 5 June 2020

I Am An Ally | Black Lives Matter Portsmouth Protest

Peaceful protest organised by Stand Up to Racism Portsmouth
Over the past week a lot of events have unfolded in the UK and around the world. Everyone's been cooped up and on edge in lockdown. My timeline of hearing about some of the events went like this: Amy Cooper using her white privilege against an African American man in Central Park (US), George Floyd murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis (US), Ahmaud Arbery shot whilst jogging (US), police officers killed Breonna Taylor with eight shots to the chest in a drug raid - they had the wrong house (US), and Belly Mujinga passing from Covid-19 after a member of public claiming to have the virus, spat and coughed at her and her colleague (UK).  

As some of you may know, this is not the correct timeline of events. Whilst the media across the world has been consumed with the current pandemic, these horrific acts of violence have taken place since the end of February. I heard about the Central Park birding incident on Tuesday 26th May first, and was so angry at seeing the video footage (of a middle class white woman threatening an African American man by calling the police, because her dog was off the leash in a bird sanctuary where it was illegal). I couldn't believe that this woman had the balls to feign distress on a 911 call, of which could end in this man getting attacked or assaulted by police. We've all seen evidence of this before on the news, police hear a black male may have a weapon or may be a suspect and they adapt the "shoot first ask questions later" approach. Luckily, in that case no one was harmed (except the dog being practically choked by his owner as she still had not put the dog back on the lead). I was already high on emotions, and then the next day I saw the video of George Floyd (he passed away on Monday 25th May). Pinned down by an officer Derek Chauvin's knee, handcuffed and unable to breathe. This lasted for nine minutes until he was unconscious or near death.

Everyone became outraged as the video and news coverage made the rounds. Rightly so. The four police officers involved knew they were being recorded, and it didn't phase them or make them change their behaviour. At the time of writing this all four officers have been fired from the police department, and they are all facing various charges in connection with George's murder.


In the following days #blacklivesmatter rose to the forefront to use these unfortunate events to again bring around our attention to the unjust treatment of black people and people of colour. It's been nearly seven years since BLM was founded, because of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman of which he served zero time. It does not feel like it's been seven years, but I imagine for black people who have to see and suffer from acts of racism daily, it feels like forever.

People around the world have snapped. They want change. They want laws. They want justice. Too many people have died, especially at the hands of police and not had the justice they deserve. They are supposed to be here to protect us, not kill us. Not be judge, jury and executioner. You might be sitting there thinking "well it only happens in America", you would be very wrong. Racism isn't just calling someone a racial slur, or abusing someone because of their skin colour. There are also micro aggressions that can affect black people from day to day. This all builds up to a misconception of black people and people of colour.

The Protest - Thursday 4th June 2020 1:00pm


I had seen and heard of various protests being set up around the country for George Floyd, but also for everything that happens on our own soil. If you think the British people are just protesting for America, then you are clearly blind to the events and treatment of black people here. I thought about this a lot, and was nervous to go. I've been very vocal about following all of the government rules during lockdown, but I made the decision to join in the protest (which we are well within our rights to do) to show my support as an ally. I got myself a fabric face mask (so I can wash and re-use it) and approached the protest apprehensively, as I wasn't sure what it'd be like. I've never been to a protest before. For the whole hour or so leading up to the protest my anxiety levels were through the roof. When I parked up near the city centre and put my mask on, it got worse. The fact that my mouth and nose were now covered up made me feel claustrophobic. I tried to keep as calm as possible as I knew I was slightly overreacting.

When I joined the back of the protest in Portsmouth Guildhall, I could see that everyone was socially distanced and it wasn't overcrowded. There were two police officers (wearing some pretty hefty blue vests, potentially stab proof) on bicycles interacting with some of the attendees. I heard one say "you alright?" to a middle aged gentleman behind me, I turned and heard him say "oh well it's not very aesthetic is it? Lots of white people here" to which the officer replied "well that's a good thing isn't it?". The officer is right. Not just black people had to attend to fight for their rights and their voice, white people have a job to do as well. It was good to see that so many people from all races and backgrounds came to show their support. With so many variants of messages on signs. Almost everyone had face masks on and was social distancing (obviously it's unclear whether small groups were from the same household but they kept to themselves).


Portsmouth Guildhall knelt in complete silence
I was born and raised in Portsmouth for around five years before moving off the island, but I still attended school in Portsmouth for another year or so. It's always been a multi-cultural place to me, with people from all races and backgrounds. I saw their race, their religion and I saw them as human beings. I played with them in the playgrounds regardless; how were they any different to me? Admittedly this observation is partially incorrect. That's just how I saw it as a five year old. I didn't and still don't judge people on their race or religion. I judge people on their actions. We need a better education system, to teach us about our differences; but not to treat people differently because of it. This is everything that I'm learning now. As a twenty four year old white woman. This is what I heard from the passionate speakers at this protest. Yes, I was shocked when I saw a police officer in America kill a man with his knee. Yes, I was shocked to hear how justice is not always served in these cases. Yes, I was shocked to hear the truths of racism and abuse received in my hometown. I didn't want it to be true. The city that I grew up in, the city that I'm from was racist? People getting beaten up, turned away from job interviews because of the colour of their skin? On my doorstep?! No, this isn't right.

Here are some notable moments from the speakers that stuck with me:

"We are told to go back to our country when you brought us here, you took us from our country and made us slaves, profited from us. Now you want us to go back to where we came from?"

"Please stop touching my hair"

"Portsmouth has the highest rates of stop and search by police in Hampshire"

"I'm 14 and I'm having to stand here and fight"

"Where is the love?"

"I got beaten up for being the only black person at school"

"This girl kicked me, so I kicked her back. Guess who got in trouble"

"When I was younger and I pictured myself as an adult, I saw a white blonde woman. I made all of my Mii characters white, blonde with blue eyes."

"My hair is damaged from chemicals trying to straighten my hair to fit in"

"You look more white with straight hair"

"I didn't see another black person until I was seven years old."

There were so many passionate, angry and upset people speaking. It really moved me and helped me try and understand what it's like to live in this part of the country as a black person. I had no idea. I was so confused and outraged at what had been done or said to them. One of the men was technically a white British male, but has black skin. His parents are both white, his siblings are white. He grew up in the area I'm living in now, a mostly white middle class populated area. He's thirty years old now, and at the time he was born the world was even more backwards than it is now. We keep thinking we are "woke", we aren't. We might be more now, as more people are standing up and speaking out about this. We need to keep it moving and enforce change. This is a movement, not a trend. Posting black squares on Instagram had good intentions but drowned out the black voices, and it means nothing if you don't try to change. If you don't try to challenge not just your own, but other people's behaviour and language. This is an every day battle for black people, and we need to make it everyone's battle for equality.



We all have experienced fear in this pandemic. Fear of leaving the house and catching Covid-19, and scared to get within two metres of another human being. Imagine what it's been like for black people having that feeling every single day. Not feeling safe, ever.

It's time for change, it's time to educate and it's time for equality.

No justice, no peace.

Helpful resources, petitions and fundraising:

Black Lives Matter
Justice for George Floyd (if you need a zip code for petitions use 90015)
Daughter of George Floyd Fund
Memorial Fund For George Floyd
Glamour: How to Support Black Lives Matter
Glamour: How To Be a White Ally
Glamour: Racism in 2020
The Trayvon Martin Law
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Justice for Ahmaud Arbery
Justice for Belly Mujinga

*All photos used in this post were safely taken by me.
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