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*

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

The 2019 Wish List

blog, books, concealer, inspired, life, lifestyle, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, trend, West End

Last year was a good year for me in terms of getting to the theatre. I made the most of cheap deals and daily lotteries to see the likes of Heathers and Hamilton. This year, I’m hoping for more of the same with a few extra plays thrown in! Fifteen feels like a lot at the moment but no doubt this list will continue to grow and change.

So here is it is, my 2019 wish list…

Waitress – I don’t think I could create this list without putting Waitress on it. Currently starring Broadway superstar Katharine Mcphee, this show features music written by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles.

Come From Away – I’m all for a show with an uplifting narrative and if the reviews are anything to go by, this is the show to beat for feel-good factor! One quick warning with this one, there is no intermission!

Six – The music, the lyrics, the female empowerment. I am so excited to see this show. No doubt it’ll inspire a return trip to Hampton Court Palace afterwards!

A German Life – As a self confessed history geek, this one woman show starring Maggie Smith is right up my street. Based on the testemonies of Brunhilde Pomsel, Joseph Goebbel’s secretary, this is bound to be a sell out when tickets drop on February 26th!

9 To 5 The Musical – I’m all about the Dolly tunes.

Only Fools and Horses – I have low expectations for this show but I often find that when you go in with little hope, you are pleasantly surprised.

Noughts & Crosses – I am beyong excited to watch this novel from my childhood be brought to life on stage. An important and gripping love story.

Tina – Featuring songs from her incredible back catalogue, this show follows the life of Tina Turner from Nashville to stardom.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Having seen this at The Rose Theatre a few years back, Shakespeare’s only made it onto the list because I’m keen to experience the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

& Juliet – With 5 Grammy Awards under his belt, alongside a plethora of number one singles, Max Martin has turned his hand to musical theatre. Starring Miriam-Teak Lee, this is set to be an exciting twist on Shakespeare’s famous love story.

Witness For the Prosecution – If you’ve ever completed a stint on a jury, you’ll know just how boring the reality of the entire process really is. I am confident that this show will be anything but and cannot wait to find myself watching a case unfold in London County Hall.

Les Misérables: The All-Star Staged Concert – For a limited time, the longest running show in the West End is moving down the road to the Gielgud Theatre. With a cast made up of some of the biggest names in Musical Theatre, this is sure to be a ticket for the memory box!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – This show will always hold a special place in my heart. Having grown up listening to an *admittedly bootleg* tape recording of Joseph, I’ve always secretly held a dream of one day playing the Narrator. Having last seen Lee Mead take on the iconic role, I’m looking forward to this new production.

Small Island – Landing at the National Theatre in late April, this show is an adaptation of the prize winning novel by Andrea Levy.

Dear Evan Hansen – I am the most excited for this show to land in the UK. With a soundtrack like no other and a message that has never been more relevant, I’m certain that this show will be a phenomenon.

Panto –  I’m not sure which one yet but I haven’t been to a panto since I was a young and have forgotten just how fantastically camp they can be. Recommendations welcome!

I’d love to hear what shows you’re all looking forward to catching this year!

 

 

 

Parting Company

blog, celebrity, event, life, lifestyle, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, trend, West End

I must admit, I’m slightly afraid to post this one.

As a Disclaimer, if you’re thinking I’m going to be bashing any specific names in the next few hundred words, I’m not. The individuals involved in this show were all extremely talented and more than worthy of their place on a West End stage.

I am however going to have to say it…I’m Sophie and I hated Company!

I hated Company so much that I left at the interval. I know this will anger some so let me explain my personal standpoint on leaving shows. I rarely do this, in fact this was only the second time I have ever done so in my entire life. Now, with theatre comes a certain set of unwritten rules. For instance, you would be well within your right to loudly tut a person bringing a burger in as a show snack. You would also be within your rights to boot the bright phone screen of the idiot in front out of their hands should they decide to whip it out at a pivotal moment! But leaving a show has always caused me a bit of conflict. So I kind of judge it by my seating i.e. if I’m front and centre, I ain’t leaving. In my opinion this would be impolite. That being said, I would agree with the viewpoint that it is my money and time and therefore I can make the decision to leave should I want to. And on this occasion, I really wanted to…

Naively, I didn’t do my research on this one. If I’m honest, I was led by the 5 star reviews and glamorous posters lining the escalators of London Vauxhall Station. Company is the show of the moment, the must have ticket and I wanted in.

It was a quick realisation of regret, a bit like when you take a risk on an online order only to discover that the trousers are see-through and it’s less of a camel toe and more like a hoof! *I’ve taken a risk there in assuming that Camels do in fact have hooves and not feet* From the opening number in which various cast members sang Bobbie over and over, I was underwhelmed.

Call me cliche, but I enjoy a musical in which I leave with at least one song stuck in my head and a feeling that I’ve learnt something or taken a message from somewhere. Company is abstract, there is no beginning middle and end (well maybe there is in the second half, you’ll have to let me know). Abstract art and I are like oil and water, we don’t mix *another fact based risk for you there*. I’m very aware that this is a trait shared by some and that others will absolutely love the lack of structure, the audience around me are proof enough that the show is a success to so many!

I suppose I wanted to share my thoughts as the overwhelming feeling I had when leaving was that I lacked culture or intellect in some way. Like I was at a dinner party with a table full of people talking politics in Russian. Like I was left waiting for the punchline when the rest were already in stitches. Company is a beautiful show visually, the staging is phenomenal and I have no doubt that the audience as a whole was feeling that special buzz, I just didn’t.

There is something to be said about the, for want of a better word, ‘snobbery’ that comes with theatre. The idea that more commercial shows are in some way lesser to the ‘classics’. I don’t like that. In my previous post, I mentioned that I believe there is a show for everyone. Theatre is there to entertain and excite. For two hours, you are transported away from your daily life with no distractions and given a story to take with you. It left me wondering, did anyone else in that audience feel the same way as I did and were they perhaps going along with the majority in order to feel accepted in some way? Perhaps not. But personally, I’ll be keeping away from Sondheim in the future and looking for something a little more uplifting.

…Oh and if you’re wondering, the other show I walked out of many years ago was the diabolical, Never Forget. *I like to think that Gary Barlow would have my back on that decision*

Lolita II

beauty, celebrity, lipstick, look, makeup, review, trend

I warned you in my last post about my love of liquid lipsticks so here is another one for your enjoyment…

The Kat Von D makeup range has been much hyped over the last year or so and it is no wonder. One look at Kat would tell you that galdem knows how to wing that liner!! Unfortunately her makeup range isn’t readily available in the UK so it was at the top of my list when I headed over to the states last year. I picked up the coveted Lock it foundation and concealer and love both. I aimed to grab some of her liquid lipsticks but for some reason I got side tracked and ended up coming home without any. This left me feeling like I was missing out so of course I had to get online and hunt some down.

kvdLolitaIII found Lolita II on Rose’s Beauty Store. This website is a great place to look if you want American brands that aren’t stocked in England (Anastasia Beverly Hills I’m looking at you). I will just say though that the majority of popular stock tends to be sold out and I’m not sure how often it is replenished. Also my packages took a while to be delivered, arrived on different days and I was asked to change an order despite the site showing it was available. However the team were incredibly helpful and courteous when I got in touch and the matter was sorted out super quick! I originally wanted the Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Lolita but this is a well loved shade and very difficult to find in stock. I then saw Lolita II and decided to give it a go.

My thoughts? The shade is nice. A peachy/earthy tone. Nothing to scream home about. The applicator and packaging are lovely and efficient. The formula is fairly long-lasting and not particularly drying. But that’s about it. It didn’t blow me away. It’s just a nice, everyday lipstick. Do I regret buying it? Absolutely not. Has it changed my life? No.

What do you guys think? Do I need to try out any of her other shades? Perhaps there is another product in her range I need to give a go? Let me know!!

Sophie xoxo

Liquid Lipstick Love

beauty, lipstick, makeup, review, trend

Disclaimer: Prepare to see a fair amount of liquid lipstick related blog posts on sophiesnooks, they are my current addiction!

Flashback to November 2015. I was in New York and finally managed to get my hands on a couple of the notoriously brilliant Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks. I bought Heathers and Vintage. These aren’t the typical colours I would normally reach for but stock was somewhat limited in Macy’s and I just couldn’t walk away empty handed!!

abhHeathersAs soon as I got back to the hotel that evening I applied Heathers and I have to say since then I’ve been a lot more comfortable wearing a more diverse range of colours. Heathers has a very 90s feel to it which is very ‘in’ at the moment. If you want an alternative to the Kylie Jenner mauve/brown lips this could be what you’re looking for. It is a dark reddish/brown shade.This lipstick will literally suit the lightest to darkest skin tones. Very opaque. Very beautiful. Lasts ages and looks perfect with a simple eye and clean skin. abhVintage

The second shade I picked up was Vintage. This is very much a statement lip colour. I cannot speak highly enough of the formulation of these lipsticks, they are so soft yet incredibly pigmented. Vintage is a bright purple and I like to make it the feature of the look when I wear it. One thing I will say is that it’s important to get the application right with these. On one hand you need to take time to make sure that the shape is perfected but on the other if you take too long you risk any mistakes drying and becoming a nuisance to remove! Once on however, they are long-lasting, non-drying and just really lovely statement lipsticks.

Sophie xoxo