Monday, 20 March 2017

ATE AT: Fat Hippo Underground, Newcastle

I am SO excited to tell you about this place.
We came across it at Peddler. For those of you that don't know, Peddler is a street food market ft. food trucks, djs, bars (including a cocktail bar with THE best Espresso Martinis) and more. It's run by a uni friend of mine and his team in Sheffield. It's held the first Friday and Saturday of every month and it's 100% worth a trip. The food stalls change (often with some of the favourites returning) and...the point I'm making - this is where I discovered Fat Hippo.

Fat Hippo are (in my eyes) the King of burgers - and I feel that I eat enough burgers to make this kind of judgement. Their motto is "GOOD FOOD. MESSY FINGERS. JUICY BURGERS. FAT HIPPO DO THE GOOD KIND OF GLUTTONY." Yes, yes, yes!
When we'd decided we were having a night in Newcastle on our way up to Edinburgh, it seemed like fate that we tried our first Fat Hippo Burger two weeks prior *instantly books restaurant two weeks ahead*. They have 3 restaurants in the North - Newcastle, Jesmond and Durham and I'm pretty sure they'll pop up at Peddler again so you've got plenty of options!

Hidden just around the corner from the Theatre Royal, Fat Hippo Underground is located on Shakespeare Street in Newcastle. Look out for the hippo!

The interior is great - you can tell how out of sync I've been with blogging, I didn't get a photo - BUT let's use our imagination. Bare brick, a kind of speakeasy feel with hanging pendant lighting (is that what it's called?) and cool industrial-style tables and stools.

I know décor like this seems to be popping up all over the place - coffee shops, bars etc - but it really does work with this underground, cave-like spot.

We had a browse at the menus, both already knowing what burger we wanted...

H had a beer and I had this absolute dream. There really couldn't have been a more perfect drink for me - gin, elderflower and limoncello slush. Despite getting hideous brain freeze a few times, this is 100% a drink I will be attempting to recreate once the weather gets better.

We decided on a sharer starter of deep fried gherkins with garlic mayo to dip. Don't knock them until you've tried them! We both loooove gherkins and having tried them deep fried for the first time, I can't help but feel I've been missing out!

Onto the burgers...

We both went for the PB&J - a 4oz patty topped with crunchy peanut butter, bacon jam and cheese. No words can explain how amazing this burger is.
The peanut butter is more of a nut butter rather a standard PB. Nut butters are not as dry because of the natural oil and this PB is kinda the same texture. Maybe it's the heat of the patty that make it this way, who knows?! The bacon jam is really, REALLY tasty. Perfect consistency and full of flavour. The patty is cooked perfectly as well. So many restaurants overcook the patty and it's so disappointing when this happens but Fat Hippo nail it!

Really, they are SO good. Obviously, teamed with the standard side of sweet potato fries.
Another thing I really want to perfect making at home but it's impossible to make SP fries as well as the restaurants do!

Definitely want to try the Candy Man next. The candied bacon sounds like a dream! And those deep fried mac 'n' cheese balls mmm!

I won't ramble on anymore. Just please trust me when I say - if you're near a Fat Hippo or see them as a pop-up - go and try one of their burgers!

2-6 Shakespeare Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6AQ.
Book online - here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

LIFE: The Month Ahead - February

Why is it that when you get older, time flies by so much quicker?
I can't believe we are already in February. I know most of you will be saying that too!

I don't know if it's just me but I felt absolutely shattered for the entirety of January. It was a struggle to get up in the mornings then a battle to get to sleep in the evenings. I had no energy to even want to leave the house some days.

February is always a crazy month for me with work. I have the two biggest footwear tradeshows to attend in Milan and Vegas which means two busy, busy weeks with little sleep, lots of walking, lots of talking and probably (definitely) an achey body and probably some kind of cold. I also have a day trip to Dusseldorf, it's mine and H's anniversary and I need at least two Saturdays of fresh air somewhere!

Hands up who thinks my opening line to the next Month Ahead will be - 'oh my, where did February go?!' - or something along those lines *eye roll*.

Did I achieve my aims for last month?

Stay hydrated - yes I did. I bought a 1 litre bobble bottle from Amazon and made sure I drank at least two full ones everyday. It worked and I feel like this is something that's been missing from my life. Who knew I'd be so overjoyed by a plastic bottle.

Read a book - yes I did. With my first work trip of the year, it gave me two plane journeys to read as well as using it as a half hour wind down before bed each night whilst there. I loved reading something interesting again, this time it was Sophia Amoruso's #girlboss (so late to the party, I know!) This book inspired me so much. It made me feel like a girlboss just reading it. 

One meat free day per week - yes I did. I stuck with my quorn chicken pieces, my fave app - Deliciously Ella and the Leon Healthy Salads cookbook Emily bought me for Christmas. I can't say I felt massively better but I enjoyed not eating meat quite so much.

Proud of: finding motivation even when I have probably be at an all time low for motivation.
It's been really hard to keep going but I've done it and I've kept my workload up to date.

Grateful for: weekends.
I had to work one of the weekends in January - which was totally fine as I was in Riva del Garda BUT it's made me super grateful for my weekends. I must admit, working the odd weekend makes me a bit of a hermit for the rest of that month. Even though I work from home most of the time, weekends are different. I can get up a little later, watch something on Netflix, potter around the house etc. I don't really have time during the week and need to be really disciplined so I get my work done.

Letting go of: money worries and general anxieties
The thing that worries me most in life is money. I have never been good with money and I aim to improve this flaw during 2017. I do, however, have the odd day where I am like 'OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. I'M SO SKINT. I'M NEVER, EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO BUY ANYTHING AGAIN. I CAN'T EVEN AFFORD TO BUY AVOCADOS' but, in reality, it's never as bad as I think. I'm never looking at the bigger picture, only the sorry state of my current situation.

Committing to: a book a month
I absolutely loved getting this engrossed in a book. I have Amy Poehler's Yes Please to read next and a few others I've downloaded on to my Kindle so I'm hoping I can manage to read at least one book per month!

Excited about: some warmer weather
It is no secret that I absolutely DETEST the month of January. I hate the dark, grey days, the miserable weather, the fact all I want to do is lay under a blanket and pretend I'm into 'Hygge' (I'm not FYI - I probably partake in most of the things associated with the craze but I don't like the fact the people of the UK are now jumping on this bandwagon - people have been lighting candles, wrapping up under blankets and drinking nice, warm hot drinks for years...) Anyway, I'm going to Vegas with work in a few weeks time and am 100% looking forward to the 20 degrees+ weather.  

Looking forward to February...

Action Steps & Thought Provoking Questions:
1. Create a spending plan.
I have a monthly expenditure spreadsheet but only tend to look at it after I've spent most of the money in my bank account...can I stick to this with my frivolous spending problem?
2. Last month I decided I wanted to do 3 work outs a week.
I know, at the time, this was unrealistic. Can I set a more realistic goal of two exercises sessions a week? Whether this is 2 gym classes or a gym class and a yoga hour at home.

Aims for the month:
1.  Write one blog post per week - I used to blog nearly every day a few years back. Now, if I can write one blog post each week I'll be happy. I miss engaging in the blogger community like I used to.
2. Analyse my spending habits - and see where I can save money. This is such a boring aim for the month but, as I said, I have a spending problem and need to curb it this year.
3. Get up earlier - I have a terrible, terrible habit of waking up at 7am, getting up to make a drink and then go back to bed for an hour. As I work from home, I don't always work your typical 9-5 but I think, if I did get up, maybe did some yoga etc before starting work at 8.30ish, I would have a more productive day.

FEBRUARY MOTTO: Get up, get moving - solider on as lighter days will soon be here!

Definitely pleased with my January efforts. Although, I'll admit, getting back into the swing of things financially after Christmas meant I only saved £40 of my £80 for my 'save £20 each week' goal. I'm so so useless when it comes to saving money


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

LET'S TALK: Jobs and Careers

When you’re younger you always have in mind what you’d like to be when you grow up.

‘When I grow up I want to be a vet’
‘When I grow up I want to be a doctor’
As a toddler - ‘When I grow up I want to be a fireman’ – I loved Fireman Sam.
In my teens – ‘I want to be a journalist’
At university – ‘I want to go into children’s book publishing’.
The reality – you leave education and what do you do? Do you just get any job to save up, pay the bills? Do you carry on with education? GCSEs, A-Levels, Degree, Masters. Do you go off travelling? Do you pursue your career goals and do an internship?
It’s hard to know what is the right path to choose. But that’s the thing, I don’t think there is one right path. People get to different places in their life in different ways and at different times.
I went to a dinner for work, over a year ago now, that really inspired me. The guest speaker was the Sourcing Director of a world- renowned designer fashion brand. Like me, she’d done an English related degree – Language and Lingustics to be precise (mine was English Literature, Language and Creative Writing). She left University and gained a position on a graduate scheme with another world-renowned company, this time in footwear. She’d done various jobs, all for fantastic companies, later in life decided to go back to University to learn Chinese and find out all she could about business in China. Fast forward a few years, fantastic job offers left, right and centre and now she works in an unbelievable position for one of the most prestigious companies in the world.
Would you say that is a ‘typical’ route to finding the career you want? Probably not. But that’s my point – there isn’t one.
Individually we must create our own route to finding that job, that career. Maybe we don't even want a career.
Some of us might not be career driven and that really isn’t a bad thing.
Everybody is different.
I suppose my path so far has been fairly typical of many graduates, not just in the UK but around the world.
I attended school until I was 16, leaving with 12 A*-C ‘s. I left school and went to a sixth form college in the city, leaving with 3 A-B A-Levels and 1 AS. I went to University to study English Literature Language and Creative Writing – three years later, leaving with a 2:1.
I’ve worked since I was 15. First at a Toyota dealership as an Admin Assitant (with a bit of showroom hosting in there). I stuck that job out until I was 18 and  went off to Uni. I learned a lot about myself, my confidence blossomed and I think that was a stepping stone into making me the person I am today.
When I arrived as a fresh-faced 18 year old in Sheffield for what later will have been confirmed as the best three years of my life so far, I got a job at Topshop. Starting as a Christmas temp and soon becoming a permanent staff member.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the hours I wanted – my degree involved only 8-12 hours of actual time in University so I needed something to do other than read 5 books each week. I eventually rocked up at Costa for an interview, hungover from the night before but I was incredibly honest, I said I was thoroughly enjoying my first year at uni and I wanted a job with more hours, a customer facing job where I could rake in as many hours as possible and then go off home at the end without worrying about work.
I waited three months before hearing something, in the meantime returning back home for the summer and working every hour under the sun in a local village pub.
In September I got a call from Costa and was offered a Barista postion. Which eventually turned into a Supervisor postion and the coordinator of all charity related events at our store.
I loved that job. I loved making coffee, getting to know our customers, the team I worked with. It was a hard decision whether or not to leave.
Back in July 2015 I had an interview at Sheffield University for a marketing role. Coincidentally my interviewer was a customer at the Costa I worked at.
I was told I was great, there was little negative feedback other than that I needed to be less humble. But who likes to brag? I was pretty upset I didn’t get this role. It was my first interview for a full time role. And I’d always got jobs. I’d never been told no and I found that to be a little dent to my confidence.
But I’d graduated and Costa was still okay, I just needed more money. Shortly after I’d been interviewed for a job working for Jaguar as a Marketing Coordinator – a role I’d been near-harrassing them about getting back to me about for a while.
I got the job.
I left Costa in the August, had a couple of weeks off then began my new, full time role with Jaguar. My first ‘proper’ job, I suppose.
I have an amazing 12 months working for Jaguar, I loved the people I worked with and am still incredibly good friends with one or two of them.
I always knew that role wasn't forever. It was a branch level job with no real room for progression within the office.

I decided to leave to travel. I wanted to see more of the world.
I’d had a horrible break up. I needed to find my place in the world, as cliché as that sounds! But, that gave me the kick up the bum I needed to book a one way flight and have no real plan.
Whilst travelling I worked as a babysitter in Perth and in a café as a barista and focaccia goddess (self proclaimed, of course). I love working in hospitality. In those laidback, barista/café environments. I definitely wouldn’t have coped with restaurant work, I’m too clumsy.
I travelled for around a year, seeing South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. When I left Australia to return home, I panicked.
I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. But looking back, that was okay. Our minds can be changed in so many ways, so it’s easy to accept a job we once wanted to pursue isn’t right for us anymore. I’d started looking into jobs in publishing, mostly children’s book publishing. The best route? Internships. Mostly unpaid or for no more than £500. All in London.
I’d just come back from a year travelling around the world. I had zero money. How could I live in London with zero money on £500 or £0 a month. It wouldn’t even cover any rent.
Was it worth taking the leap to basically live a life I wasn't sure I wanted? At the time I thought no, it certainly wasn’t.
Of course, I was upset that, at that time, I couldn’t go down the path of the career I thought I wanted but sometimes it’s all about timing, isn’t it? I got a temping job as a Quality Control Administrator for an educational suppliers company. The position was for 8 weeks.
I hated it. So much.
Nobody was that friendly, apart from another one of the temps but we didn’t always see one another outside of lunch. Even then, he wasn’t always at the same site.
I was DESPERATE to get out.
Luckily the time went fairly quickly and I managed to save a fair amount. And, at the time, the money coming in was the important thing. It was also a role that didn't need to be thought about outside of office hours. Although, I did. I felt stressed about having to go everyday. Moral of the story? Having money and enjoying what you do day to day don't always go hand in hand.
At that point my ex and I were still together so I’d become applying for jobs in Northampton. We'd met whilst travelling, he didn't drive and I was back and forth to Northampton every weekend. It wasn't a long drive but it was tiring and, to be honest, I missed spending time at home.
I had an interview at Northampton College for a marketing position. Two positions actually. One more of an assistant role, one more of a managerial role.
I was told they had no negative feedback – for one role I was far too overqualified. For the other the chosen new employee had worked in education before.
I had a few recruitment meetings, all of those I met being pretty unhelpful. None of them understood the kind of role I wanted. None of them, I believe, really saw my ‘worth’. I was even told by one that it was unrealistic to anticipate getting a really good role at my age.
What’s age got to do with it? Yes, it’s about experience but it’s also about you as an individual. It's about personality, having life skills that can be adapted to learning a new role.
Anyway, one day I was in Nottingham after having a weekend in Northampton with then-boyfriend. And I was a wreck. I was questioning our relationship, I was scared to move away from home and in with him when I didn’t have a job and I'd pretty much confirmed then that he wasn't what I wanted in a boyfriend and I was pretty adamant I didn't particularly even like him as a person (but that's another story!) I had convinced myself nothing would ever be good for me and that I'd made the worst mistake coming home from my glorious nomadic life.
This was the day I had an interview with Marks & Spencer for a Marketing Executive role for their food side of the business. I cancelled the interview. I was a mess, I decided it wasn’t the right role for me anyway (London based – oh how I wished a year on for London based job!)
Then the phone rang. It was Donna from a recruitment company. They’d seen my CV online and she thought I was perfect for a role. A marketing assistant role, not great pay but with travel sometimes, great networking opportunities etc etc. But I felt so rubbish.
“I’m actually in Nottingham, is there any way I could come for an interview tomorrow?” I asked.
“Well no actually, the interviewers aren’t office based and are only there today until 5pm” Donna said.
My Mum looked at me when I got off the phone.
“It’s a sign. This is the job you’ve been waiting for.” She’d said.
It probably all sounds very silly and overdramatic, but she was right.
I hadn’t even heard of the company. I didn’t know what they did.
“I won’t get this. What's the point?” I cried.

I got in the shower as my mum read sections of their website to me. I got ready, drove down there within 2 hours, parked up and arrived, totally flustered.
I sat down, chatted to them. Well, rambled basically.
I used a lot of the material I’d read up on for M&S. Maybe it was relevant, maybe it wasn’t.
I spoke about my blogging, my travelling, my love of meeting new people and being in social situations.
They seemed really interested in what I was saying.
I thanked them for the opportunity and for seeing me at such short notice and left. Not thinking anything of it. 10 minutes later Donna from the recruitment place rang me and offered me the job officially. The pay wasn’t what I wanted but MAN, the job.
Travel, meeting so many new people, so many other things I can’t even begin to list.
I took it and I started a week later. Working from home initially on their website and then in the office the following week.

The start of my job there was rocky. I didn't always feel in control of what I was doing.
Even so, I still was enjoying myself. In February I had my first trip to Milan, which was great. Then I got back and the current Events Manager handed her notice in.

I was called into a meeting and, despite my lack of experience, offered the chance to have a go at the role. Of course, I said yes - ALL that travel and my first solo trip all the way to Shanghai in a couple of weeks time. Why wouldn't I say yes?

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and I'd clocked 30 flights, 10 new places and some very permanent bags under my eyes. Would I change any of it? Not at all. I love what I do, the people I work with, the places I go, the opportunities I've been given and the opportunities I may be met with in the future.

2016 begun and I was into the swing of things - booking the tradeshows, seeing new companies coming through, travelling on an almost-monthly basis. Yes, it is brilliant but it can be incredibly tiring and contrary to popular opinion, I do work while I'm there - long days and long evenings.

So why are you telling me this? I can hear you asking. Well, I had no idea where my career would begin or where my degree would take me. I had no idea where I'd have to move to, the friends I would make. So much is uncertain in life, let alone in jobs and careers. Sometimes you are given an opportunity. Sometimes you think you'll never get your big break, then one day, BAM - it's handed to you or all of that hard work you've been putting in leads opens a door. There is no shame in not knowing what you want to do with your future, or not knowing where you want to work, what you want to do or not being where you want to be at the moment. If you work hard and believe in yourself, it's true what they say, ANYTHING is possible.

I would love to go travelling again, I want to see the world with that backpack on, with my harem pants on, my messy accidental-dreaded hair, my freckled nose from too much sunshine. I want to get married and have my fairytale woodland wedding (with a kettledrum, non-negotiable), I'll have children (at least two, being an only child is lonely!) I hope to do all of the things I want to do, I have no fear in admitting that.  But I'll also kick ass in my job, in my career - whatever the next step is. One day, maybe my CV will read Louboutin or Mulberry, maybe it won't. But that's my point, you never know what's around the corner - it might be everything you've ever wanted, it might be everything you didn't know you wanted or it could be an experience to provide a stepping stone in the right direction.

One thing I will say - don't ever doubt that you can achieve the things you want or that you don't deserve the things you are able to achieve.