Supporting Small Businesses Safely

blog, budget, essentials, finance, instagram, life, lifestyle, lockdown, reflection, social media, socialdistancing, trend, twitter, UK, Uncategorized

Whilst the enforced closures of theatres, cafes, pubs and other venues is a welcomed step in the right direction to getting us through Covid-19, the decision has left businesses and those that support them looking for ways to adapt.

As someone who is taking social distancing seriously *click here for previous post*, I am aware that many shops and venues will struggle to cope with closures and want to find a way to support them safely during this time.

The Milking Parlour is a Yorkshire based ice cream shop that my family and I have loved since moving up here. Based in the quaint market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, it is the must visit location in town! This family run business offers a whole host of flavours, changing on a regular basis. Seeing on their Instagram account that they were moving to takeaway only, like many others, we felt it was only right to take a trip this weekend. milkingparlour

Anybody who knows the area will know that even on the rainiest of days, Kirkby Lonsdale is a bustling location with locals and tourists alike making use of the dog friendly pubs and cafes. Today, the town felt quiet. Signs in shop windows told of closures lasting indefinitely. It was a sad sight to behold and I suspect that this is a small representation of the nation for the forseeable future.

For many, switching to takeout only isn’t an option but for The Milking Parlour and others that remain open, this is the time for us to turn up. Concerns about social distancing have been addressed clearly on the sign post outside asking for customers to patiently wait and limiting numbers of people in store at one time. These are easy requests to adhere to and in doing so, not only are you keeping yourselves and those that are serving safe, you are able to continue to be there for those who need us.

When this is all over, I have no doubt that we’ll all be wanting to get straight back to normal life. Spending weekends at our favourites restaurants, going to the theatre and alcohol fuelled nights out are going to be that much sweeter, but we must do everything in our power to ensure that they can survive these times in order to thrive later.

I strongly hope and believe that this unprecendented journey we are on will lead to a new way of life for many of us. Appreciating the small businesses who take time to care for their customers, the arts industry who provide us with a much needed escape and the bigger brands who chose to make staff welfare a priority. So if you’re going a little stir crazy and are safe to take a quick trip out, why not make it to your local bakery or coffee shop for a takeout?!

In order to limit contact and allow these businesses to remain open, for now leave the reusable cups at home, pay with contactless card where possible and head straight back home. Let’s get this over with as fast as we can so that we can make way for a better way of living!

Sophie x

How To Keep Busy In Isolation

blog, books, event, inspired, instagram, life, lifestyle, lockdown, london, mindfulness, news, reflection, self improvement, social media, socialdistancing, trend, twitter, UK, Uncategorized, writing

Okay, so it’s been about three days since my place of work was closed for the forseeable future. At this point it feels a lot closer to three weeks. The days have all blended into one and weekends are but a social construct that fail to exist in this modern world!

Basically, I’m hopeful but deluded. I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet that this is just the start of a minimum, 6 week ‘holiday’. I keep waiting for Boris to pop up on the telly at 5pm and tell us we can all go back to work, Covid-19 has magically cured itself.

Of course, the reality is that this is a prolonged period of unknown and unnerving times. I fully expect it to be a rollercoaster of emotions. In preparation for the weeks ahead I’m following advice from Joey in that episode of Friends when he spaces out his to-do list over a full week. *I honestly don’t have the desire to find a quote or clip so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, take it up with Google*.

Over the next few weeks my priority is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m currently working my way through Season 10 and expect to be up to date within the week. Not only is it light-hearted and funny, the repetitive nature of the show provides my take on a routine. Let’s be honest, we aren’t all going to be setting our alarms for 7am or colour coordinating our calenders with frivilous tasks like showering!

I have begun to investigate online courses but I’m apprehensive to rush into something just for the sake of it. Whilst I want to value this time and make use of it in order to better my life and skillsets, I think it would be easy to pick something and then find it of little value past keeping me entertained. Like I said, we are in this for the long-haul so save the books and crochet and have something to look forward to in two weeks from now.

Baking. I’ve already seen so many people on my instafeed turning to their ovens in this hour of need and I think it is a fabulous way to occupy your mind and master a new skill! This leads me seemlessly into what is arguably the biggest part of this social distancing palava. Social media.

In recent years, social media has been the subject of much debate and argument. We’ve seen how it has transformed from an exciting new form of communication to a complex maze of mental health issues and cyber bullying. From my own experience, I can say that in the last few days I have spent more time enjoying the likes of Instagram than I have in years. Seeing friends and colleagues rally round to support eachother, share silly memes and spend time standing up for their industries and fellow workers has been nothing short of wonderful. It has demonstrated to me how we can use our pages for good. I can only imagine how difficult it would be if we were to remove the internet from our lives in these trying times. Despite being in ‘self isolation’ we are arguably more connected to one another and our emotional well-being than ever before.

If you have any suggestions for decent online courses or things to do, please do share them with me. You can find me frequently refreshing on Twitter and Instagram @sophieaiken.

Sophie x

What I learnt from posting every day for a week

blog, celebrity, inspired, life, lifestyle, london, makeup, mindfulness, question, reflection, review, self improvement, social media, trend, Uncategorized, writing

If you’re up to date with my most recent posts, you’ll know that I set myself a goal to upload content every day for one week. I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to stick to it! Here’s how it went…

Previously I’ve been somewhat inconsistent with blogging, a wave of inspiration every few months passing quickly by. Setting this goal gave me the kick I needed to dig a little deeper for content ideas.

Going forward, my aim is to post twice a week. Whilst it was fun to focus on writing each day, I found that I was compromising on the quality of content I was putting out. Being particularly proud of this social media piece, meant I felt like other topics couldn’t compete.

Having hoped to find a little more direction in terms of the type of content I want to create, I think I’ve found this but am keen to continue to write about whatever it may be that comes to mind on that day. Essentially, I’ve settled on the concept of a lifestyle blog in order to be able to cover a broad spectrum of interests.

Mostly, I found it rewarding to have a focus each day that was soley for my own personal gain and enjoyed the sense of fulfillment that came from completion. A little bit of structure can be a great thing and I’d like to redo this challenge further down the line, perhaps with a little more planning next time though.

What do you think? Are you a Queen of procrastination like me or is your diary brimming with tasks? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for staying on track!

Sophie

Theatre Etiquette

blog, celebrity, life, lifestyle, london, Musical Theatre, reflection, review, Theatre, trend, Uncategorized, West End

As a fan of theatre, I was pretty shocked when this article landed in my inbox the other day. With reports that Ushers are being fitted with security cameras in an attempt to deter angry theatre goers, it got me thinking about general theatre etiquette. So let’s take this journey together on how to behave at the theatre…

  1. Preparation – The only thing worse than being stuck behind someone in a queue who isn’t ready, is being the person holding everyone up! Have your tickets out and your bags ready for searching so that we can all get in a little quicker. Just like at the airport, you know security is coming so be ready for it.
  2. Timings – It’s pretty common knowledge within the theatre world that most shows have a ‘latecomers point’. This means, if you arrive once the show has begun, you’ll be taken to a viewing screen until you’re able to take your seats. If this sounds a bit shit, the solution is simple, get there early! Go to the bar, explore the store or take a seat and scroll through Twitter. If timing is within your control, don’t be the one who has to awkwardly shuffle down a row to a symphony of shushing.
  3. Food & Drink – This isn’t the cinema, let’s skip the crunch of popcorn and rustle of packets for something a little less distracting. Recently, I’ve noticed just how loud a plastic water bottle can be. It’s 2019, why not try a reusable option like ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>this one?!
  4. PHONES/FILMING & PHOTOGRAPHY – I could honestly devote an entire post to this topic. Nothing is more infuriating as an audience member than being distracted by the bright lights of a phone. If it’s that important, step out of the auditorium. Not only is it a distraction for those around, you also look a total tit to the actors on stage who see your face lit up in all its Facebook obsessed glory. Turn it off and enjoy two hours of peace. And if you have the misfortune of being sat near someone on their phone, remember that you have every right to tell them where to shove it!
  5. Alcohol – I think this is the thing I found to be the biggest takeaway from The Stage article. As a country, we are particularly bad for binge drinking. Friday night comes around and everyone is ready to get on it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but is the theatre really the place to be doing this? Personally, if I spend money on a ticket, I’d like to remember the plot. If alcohol makes you aggressive towards ushers or anyone else who is simply trying to make a living, it might be time to re-evaluate whether you should be drinking at all…
  6. Home Time –  By all means, go to the toilet, cloackroom etc on your way out. Do what you need to do. But spare a thought for those who work in the theatre and can’t go home until you do. From my supermarket days, I can tell you how frustrating it is to wait around for the last customer to leave.
  7.  Stage Door – I’ve seen so much debate surrounding this element of theatre recently. It’s a real shame when actors have to publicly ask for respectful behaviour at Stage Door. Utimately, you pay for a ticket to a show. There is no prerequisite for a meet and greet. Stage Door can be such a fantastic way for fans to connect with performers if it’s taken for what it is, an added bonus! Basic courtesy and understanding are key as is the respect for every performer who takes their time to say hello. Swings and ensemble are just as important as leads and deserve to be treated as such!!

I feel like this has been a theatrical rant of epic proportions. If you take one thing from this post, it’s this…Don’t be a dick. A night at the theatre should be a special occassion, one that leaves you with that amazing buzz. Yes the toilet queues may be long and the interval may be too short for you to smoke, drink and touch up your lipstick, but just enjoy the show for what it is and see everything else as the cherry on top.

Rant over!

Sophie

*This post contains affiliate links*

Writer’s Block

beauty, blog, inspired, life, lifestyle, mindfulness, question, self improvement, Uncategorized, writing

In case you hadn’t realised, I have been attempting to post content every day this week. I spent today trying and failing to write several different posts and couldn’t seem to complete any of them.

So in the end, I decided to write this one. Basically, I’m cheating my way into being able to say that I’ve posted every day for a week. I felt this was the only way to really get myself back into blogging on a regular basis. The truth is, it’s hard to constantly be coming up with new content whilst simultaneously finding a direction to take my site in. I think moving forward, a realistic approach would be 2-3 blog posts per week.

Do you ever struggle with motivation when it comes to hobbies? It’s a strange thing to not be able to come up with content when a million ideas hit me on an hourly basis! The difference between that initial thought and actually sitting down to write a post is vast to say the least. I’m keen to know what you guys do to get yourselves out of a ‘writer’s block’ or whatever your equivalent may be. Help me out and give me some suggestions!!

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more interesting.

Sophie

Lust List: The Skin Edition

beauty, blog, face, highend, inspired, life, lifestyle, london, look, makeup, review, skin, skincare, trend, Uncategorized

So I know my posts recently have been a bit mixed in terms of content but I thought I’d get back to a bit of beauty today. Recently, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to use up my current products before buying new ones. Of course there are a few exceptions, but for the most part I’ve been pretty good at ‘shopping my stash’.

Whenever I discover a new product that I’d like to try, I add it to the notes on my phone. By doing this, I can refer back to it once I’ve used up a current favourite. So here are the skincare/makeup items I’m lusting after right now. Let me know of any others you think I should try!

Glossier Skin Tint – As a self confessed lover of full coverage, this may be somewhat of a suprise addition. Having seen Anniecherrymakeup feature this lightweight foundation regularly in her videos, I am keen to give it a go.  Perfect for evening out discolouration, this appears to be the solution to no makeup makeup. One downside to point out is the small shade range. Whilst it does appear to cater to a range of skintones, there are only 12 shades within the range, minimal compared to the likes of MAC and Fenty.

Ole Henriksen Bananna Bright Face Primer – This particular product has been raved about by a number of successful influencers over the past few months. Packed with Vitamin C, it promises a ‘dewy, healthy-looking glow’.As someone who isn’t massive on primer, this product appeals more so for the promise of radiance. This is one of many products from Ole Henriksen that I’m keen to try.

Khiels Daily Reviving Concentrate – Admittedly, I have used this serum before but at £38, I haven’t yet been able to justify a repurchase. As a massive fan of the Midnight Recovery Serum, I was hopeful that this would deliver on the same scale and it did. Definitely time to add it back into my routine!

Do you own any of these products? Anything you think I should be trying instead? Tweet me @sophieaiken.

Sophie

Boots First Feel Good Session

beauty, blog, celebrity, event, inspired, instagram, life, lifestyle, london, reflection, review, self improvement, social media, trend, Uncategorized

Last week I was lucky enough to win a ticket to the first ever Boots Feel Good Session thanks to an Instagram competition ran by the wonderful Megan Jayne Crabbe *bodyposipanda*.

Upon arrival I was greeted by some lovely ladies who pointed me in the direction of a wall of positive quotes. I grabbed one of these in exchange for a free drink at the bar and readied myself to take part in a Body & Image Workshop.

This particular workshop was hosted by Natasha Devon MBE. Natasha is a body image activist, writer, speaker, campaigner and all round genius to be honest with you. In just fifteen minutes, she gave us a run down of how our brains work and the ways in which we view ourselves. In my last post, I told you all about how I filter my social media, below is a list of body positive influencers composed by all those who attended the workshop. So if you feel like you want a bit less filtering and facetune and a lot more real life, check them out.file-2

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend thePhotography Workshop hosted by Alex Cameron. Alex is a renowned confidence photographer who focuses on the use of natural light in her work. She has a beautiful portofolio and is well worth a follow!

We then moved on to the main event in which Megan, Natasha and Alex were joined by Youtube sensations Hannah Witton and Gary Thompson as well as Scottish footballer Claire Emslie. The panel spoke all things confidence with a particular focus on social media. The discussion was open and varied and really reflected the common concerns of six prominent figures. A big take away from the day was about learning to live in the present and making the most of where you are right now. As I mentioned earlier, there was also a focus on the use of social media and the ways in which we can make our own platforms as positive a space as possible.file-4.jpeg

And now for the best bit. The goody bag. As I looked through the contents, I couldn’t help but feel like some kind of trendy influencer. Full size products from the likes of Urban Decay and The Ordinary. Absolutely over the moon with that and I cannot wait to give them all a go.

I’d really recommend taking the time to watch the full panel discussion here.

If you do watch, let me know your thoughts!

Sophie

Why You Should Filter Your Feed

blog, celebrity, contour, inspired, instagram, life, lifestyle, reflection, self improvement, social media, twitter, Uncategorized

Something I’ve become increasingly aware of over the last couple of years is the need to filter the media we expose ourselves to. For me, this began with making a connection between the television I consumed and my overall mood.

I spent years as a self-confessed Soap Queen. Eastenders was my vibe and I lived for the Christmas Day tragedies. Nowadays though, the thought of sitting through an omnibus leaves me feeling like Shirley Carter upon finding out about the murder of her beloved Hev. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a total avoidance tactic, simply a curation of content. For instance, after watching the hit series ‘You’ on Netflix, I moved on to ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ for an easier watch. It may sound bizarre to some but I find it important to seek out lighthearted content in order to maintain a balance. It’s like when you watch a horror film before bed and have to follow it up with an episode of Friends after.

What began with television and film has now evolved for me and I am working to get to a point where my social media reflects a realistic yet uplifting view of the world. So with this in mind, I figured I’d share some of my methods for achieving a better relationship with the media.

As a former journalism student, for many years Twitter was my go-to place for news. I felt like I had to know about every major event going on in the world and be prepared to discuss such in great detail. I then realised that the news very rarely consists of positive stories. It’s okay to disconnect from these stories if they are having a negative impact on you. I find it best to follow broad news accounts such as BBC News and Reuters in order to know the top headlines without being overwhelmed by the details within them. Twitter is terrible for people Retweeting sad, disturbing or offensive content. I see people complaining all the time of the level of ‘trolling’ and scrutiny on this platform. Personally, I don’t see much of this side of the app thanks to my fondness of the unfollow button.

Instagram is amazing, I’m definitely a little too invested in it right now but I’m okay with that as long as I’m following the right accounts. I am particularly partial to a dog account, @tunameltsmyheart is a firm favourite. I’m making a more conscious effort to follow accounts that represent ‘real’ people with less facetune and more desire to inform and inspire. I can love the Kardashians and at the same time be totally aware that their fame and success have given them a platform unlike any other that we as ‘normal’ people could begin to comprehend. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with every sponsorship or brand collaboration they post, I am more than happy to support them for the monumental business empire they have created as a family.

One tricky thing to tackle when filtering your social media is real life friends. Often I see things being posted by people I know in actual real life that I disagree with or find to be somewhat negative. I’m sure there are those who feel the same about my pages too and that’s okay! There are many reasons why you may still want to maintain a connection with these people and so in that respect, an unfollow is probably not the right option. Instead, mute them. They won’t know you’ve done it unless they suprise you with a random Instagram related pop quiz and you can continue to flick through instastories without seeing their billionth Brexit related post.

If you take one thing from this post, let it be this. The block, unfollow and mute buttons are your best friends. Your social media is exactly that. It’s yours. Don’t let it be dictated be the views of others. I really do believe that social media is a wonderful thing if we just learn to use it in a more positive way.

Sophie

The Wish List Revisited

blog, event, inspired, life, lifestyle, lipliner, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, Uncategorized, West End

In this previous post, I listed out fifteen theatre shows I wanted to see in 2019. Now that we are half way through the year, it seems a fitting time to revisit the list!

I should begin by saying, since writing that post, I have actually taken on a job working at a theatre and in doing so, have limited my availability to Wednesday matinees and Sunday shows. Not particularly helpful when trying to tick off a whole host of shows but needs must…

So, where am I at? Well as of July, I have managed to see two out of the fifteen. These being Waitress and Come From Away. I could’ve given you a review of each but I didn’t and since there has now been a cast change for the former, it would feel a little outdated to do so. But seeing as this is an update, I will give you a quick run down of both.

WAITRESS

After the controversy of the cast change announcement, I booked a rush ticket via TodayTix to see the original West End cast. I had high expectations for the show and for sure the cast delivered on this. The stars of the show were of course Katharine McPhee, Marisha Wallace and Laura Baldwin. Three powerhouse voices playing well developed characters. Being honest, I felt a little underwhelmed by the time the interval arrived. With all the buzz about the show prior to its arrival on British soil, I’d been expecting great things and I wasn’t entirely sure that the show was resonating with us in the way that it had appeared to do so across the pond. However, the second act came around and the audience really seemed to lift. A flawless rendition of She Used to Be Mine by Kat McPhee completely stole the show. it honestly hit me that I’d have been happy to pay for a ticket just to hear her rendition of that song. Incredible. It is no surprise to hear that she received a 4-minute standing ovation for this at her final performance. Would I recommend this show? Yes, if you are a theatre fan and have a spare £20-£30 to spend.

COME FROM AWAY

There really are no words for just how amazing this show is. It seems impossible to fathom that such comfort and happiness could be produced from such a devastating  event. I think this show works because it shares the very real stories of passengers, pilots and Newfoundlanders alike. The skill in which this show has to take you on a constant journey of such contrasting emotions is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. It is simply stunning. Personally, I find that there are usually one to two songs within every musical that I would skip on Spotify. Come From Away defies this. You know you have a new favourite show when you immediately open the soundtrack upon exiting the theatre. If you see one show on the West End this year, make it this one!

Having unfortunately missed a couple of shows from my Wish List, I seriously need to get my act together!! I’m thinking next week will be the turn of Joseph for nostalgia purposes only. I’m going to need some convincing on this reimagining starring Sheridan Smith but having grown up listening to casette recordings *yes I’m old* of this show, I can never turn down the chance to watch it. I’m also hearing amazing things about Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican so let’s officially add that to the list in place of Noughts & Crosses, Small Island and A German Life which have all now sadly closed.

Have you seen any shows lately? Anything you would recommend? Let me know!

Sophie

 

Going It Alone

blog, inspired, life, lifestyle, london, mindfulness, museums, Musical Theatre, reflection, review, self improvement, Theatre, West End

To some, the thought of going to the Cinema alone seems proposterus. To me, it’s therapy.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to be able to enjoy my own company in public, the only thing left on my checklist is having the balls to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table for one (not there yet). I set myself this goal to shake the social anxiety that comes with needing to have people around in order to enjoy life. It worked.

These days, I regularly go to the cinema alone of a quiet afternoon and I bloody love it! I can get there nice and early to watch the adverts without anyone complaining that they’re bored, I can see films like The Greatest Showman more than once and really just switch off from the outside world for a couple of hours. It’s lush.

It doesn’t stop at the cinema though, I’m also partial to a museum expedition. I will say at this point, it’s best to be savvy with timings in order to avoid masses of school trips. I found the British Museum to be an utter flop thanks to the large volume of young children being marched around in high vis jackets. They were totally bored due to the lack of interactive exhibitions and were acting up accordingly. Personally, I like to get there early and be done before the mid morning/early afternoon rush.It is particularly brilliant that the majority of museums in London are free, you can literally walk straight in to the Natural History Museum (do take the time to drop something into the donations box if you can).

One of the best things about independent expeditions is the people you meet. For my birthday last year, I went to see Hamilton. An older, very well dressed lady sat next to me and we got talking. She was Canadian with an excellent life story and a strong dislike of Donald Trump. We chatted politely before the show and during the interval and it was so interesting to learn about a total stranger whilst sharing a common interest of theatre.

More recently, I won a ticket to a Boots event. Whilst I was slightly anxious about heading in solo, it turned out to be an amazing experience, I left feeling so inspired and proud of myself for going. I really think it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while. I plan on writing a seperate blog post about this event but given my track record with blogging, don’t hold your breath!

The point is, being able to enjoy the things you love in your own company is so rare these days. In a social media obsessed age we seem to be unable to disconnect from the internet at all. Our phones have become an extended part of us. Take a look at your little finger, does it have a dent in the side? That’s the ‘Smartphone Pinky’. And to prove it, here’s a super legit, scientific article from the wonderful Daily Mail.

So if you’re wanting to give this a go, start with the cinema. My top tips are to pre book your ticket, go to an earlier showing where there will be less people and turn your phone off as soon as you sit down. Take a break from the world for a couple of hours and just enjoy your own company.

If you give it a go, let me know how you get on!

Sophie