I just really love doughnuts

All of my favourite foods are dough based; pretzels, bagels, bread but there is a special place in my heart for doughnuts. I love doughnuts, they’re my greatest vice and the last obstacle in my quest to being a (mostly) healthy human.

Although supermarket jam/custard doughnuts might satisfy a craving, the doughnuts that are my guiltiest pleasure are big, eccentrically flavoured and often frankly overpriced. Hence, they’re not a daily purchase for me. But when I’m in need of a pick me up, a celebratory snack or I just have a real craving I pick up an expensive, yet delicious doughnut.

That was a long ol’ preamble, but here are some of my favourite places to get doughnuts:

Upshot Espresso (Sheffield) 

Upshot began my love affair with big boujee doughnuts. The Sheffield based coffee shop only serves doughnuts on a Friday and that made them feel even more special. My flatmate and I would spend our week looking forward to Doughnut Fridays. Upshot Espresso was minutes away from our student flat and their doughnuts were phenomenal and up there with one of the biggest things I miss from the Steel City. Upshot’s Doughnut Fridays were always exciting because the flavours were different every week. We’d wake up on a Friday morning and check Upshot’s Instagram story and Facebook page to see whether we fancied that Friday’s flavours. To be honest, 9 times out of 10 we definitely did and struggled to decide between flavours. Sometimes we’d get two different flavours and split them because neither of us could pick just one flavour. Definitely would drive four hours back up the M1 just for one of these delicious treats.

The Bread Ahead stall at Borough Market (London) 

I’m very fortunate that I can walk to Borough Market. I have tried food from many of the stalls there, that’s a whole blog post in itself. However, I always find an excuse (and room) to stop at the Bread Ahead stall to pick up a doughnut from the Bread Ahead stall, they also have shops in Carnaby and Chelsea. There are normally around 3 flavours to choose from at the Borough stall, I am personally a big fan of their honeycomb doughnuts and if that’s a flavour you like I would definitely recommend it. It’s so good!

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Doughnut Time

I will be the first to admit that my first trip to Doughnut Time was because I’d seen it all over Instagram. However, my many trips back since highlight just how good their doughnuts are. These are definitely the priciest of the doughnuts mentioned in this post. All the outlets I’ve visited have been holes in the wall and you have to time it right if you don’t want to have to queue for ages. The flavours are all whacky, the first one I tried was a quintessentially British one, which combined an earl grey glaze with the flavourings of a jammy dodger. I would definitely recommend trying a different flavour each time, as there are usually lots to choose from, often with names you feel a little silly ordering. They are also very big so I would only ever pick one up if you have a real appetite, definitely not a light after meal snack. The three I’ve visited are all close to stations; Victoria, Shoreditch and Soho.

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Honourable mentions go to Krispy Kreme, Cross Town and Steam Yard.

Thanks for reading all about my love of doughnuts, and don(u)t come running to me when you’re addicted to!

Hannah x

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Job interviews, internships and interviewing an MP!

Let’s rewind to a month ago, teaching of my MA course was drawing to a close and despite the dissertation I still have yet to write I was intent on securing myself a job before term ended. I applied to many many different communications positions from grad schemes to charities to account assistant positions.

I went through rigorous applications for multiple positions. I definitely saw a trend in postings asking for CV-less applications. I created multiple videos, power points and answered streams of questions on myself.

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The title slide of my creative response to a brief asking to learn about the ‘real you.’ (I love a noughties reference.) The brief banned formulaic phrases like ‘time management’ and ‘highly motivated’ emphasising that they wanted so much more than a CV in a presentation. I wrote about my love of doughnuts and drama amongst things I wouldn’t include on a CV but they got me through the door and I got through to the second and final round of interviews, making it to the final 10 out of 200 applicants! I think the main thing I took away from that particular application was that companies care just as much about who you are as a person and whether they can work with you, than they do your qualifications (which are obviously still important!)

I got through to the final round of multiple positions but ultimately I was always met with ‘it was close but we went with another candidate.’ I once heard that the bronze medallist is always happier than the silver medallist because the bronze medallist is just happy to be on the plinth, but the silver medallist is frustrated that they didn’t do quite enough to get the gold. It was reassuring that I was doing something well, but just frustrating that there was always someone else doing it slightly better.

So for all intents and purposes I had given up on applying for jobs, I’d decided it was a sign that maybe I just needed to focus on my studies. Now back to that dissertation I mentioned earlier. I’m at the (very) early stages of writing a postgraduate dissertation on female MPs and how they’re portrayed in the media. I was fortunate enough to be able to arrange an interview with a female MP who is often on the television, Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley. Jess gave me thirty minutes of her time and as one of the most recognisable female MPs, besides the Prime Minister of course, she was an invaluable interviewee for my research project. We discussed a variety of topics including balancing a family with Parliamentary duties to appearing on male heavy television panels.

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So, I’d given up on the job hunt, was resigned to the fact that I was probably going to have to (temporarily) move back home when with impeccable timing a very promising email appeared in my inbox.

For context, throughout my MA I probably sent around 40 emails to PR agencies asking about work experience and opportunities to intern. As expected, many were left unanswered but I did land two placements from them. These placements allowed me to work on exciting accounts like Guinness, Naked and Haagen-Dazs. Are you sensing a theme? Anyway, in June one of the agencies I’d emailed my CV to in April got in touch and said that they were looking for a new trade intern and were impressed by the clients I’d worked on and would I like to come in for an interview. Now, I had next to no idea what ‘trade PR’ was. I had always worked on consumer accounts. It’s similar work but with a different audience. The aim of Trade PR is slightly different to consumer. Consumer PR is focused on magazines, newspapers and television programmes that everyone can tune into or pick up. Whereas Trade PR’s goal is to promote its brands and products to individual retailers who are deciding what they should stack their shelves with. Long story short, I’m in week 2 of a 3 month internship as a Trade PR intern and I’m loving it! It has all my favourite elements of PR, I’ve been given ample opportunities to write, work on exciting campaigns and of course media monitor.

I’m very excited for what the future holds and think it just goes to show that not getting a role can sometimes mean they were as wrong for you as you were for them, as I’m so happy in the position I’m in now!

Thanks for sticking with this (very long) post and sorry for their irregularity, but as you’ve read I’m a busy ol’ bee,

Hannah x

Share less, experience more

blackmirrorImpression Management as defined by Erving Goffman is the art of controlling how we are perceived by others. Whether consciously or not all that we do sends out a message to those around us. How we dress, how we talk, what we post on social media, all of these choices inform how others see us.

Celebrities will sometimes refer to their personal brand, choosing whether to take part in a project dependent on whether it is in line with their ‘brand.’ But do we all have our own personal brand? I think we do. Especially in an age of social media, we are all curating our personal brand image with the things we do and don’t post online. For example, in the last six months I’ve had some real kitchen floor crying low moments. But whenever I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while they’ll often comment on how ‘fun’ my life is, because they only see the parts that I choose to post online. My Instagram profile is very smiley. Does that mean I’m happy all the time? Absolutely not. But no one wants to see me crying in bed with a pint of ice cream, right?

Is it dishonest to only post the good parts of life? I don’t think so. You’d have to be pretty dense to genuinely believe that anyone’s life is all smiles all of the time. When people repost photos from their summer holidays last year, I know they’re not on one constant holiday, they just wish they were. Social media should be viewed critically, it is a far cry from reality. Instagram is a way we can curate our lives; who we’re hanging out with, where we’re going, what we’re wearing. No one wants to see photos from the office or the library, so no one posts them.

In 2014 I spent a summer in America and I remember everyone was so obsessed with Instagram likes that it was contagious. Suddenly it was the end of the world if the likes on my post weren’t in double figures within an hour. In 2016 I watched the Nosedive Black Mirror episode and wanted to throw my phone in the bin. If you haven’t seen it, the protagonist effectively loses her mind trying to gain social media power, which translated into real life status. I recently went to a concert and for the first time in a long time I resolved to keep my phone in my bag the entire time. I took photos of the stage before the show began but was determined to watch it with my eyes rather than trying to capture it on camera. It shocked me just how many people were watching the entire concert through their phone screens. It seemed to me that their goal was showing other people they were at the concert rather than genuinely enjoying the concert.  

We curate our image for our audience in real life as well as on online. Whether consciously or not we play different roles depending on who we’re with and the expectations that they have of us.   I wouldn’t turn up to a job interview in tracksuit bottoms, just like I wouldn’t swear around the family dinner table. There’s nothing wrong with managing your image as long as you don’t get caught up and forget the difference between your digital life and reality. One is false and curated, the other is real and should be lived to the fullest. We should be taking pictures of things that we’re doing, rather than doing the thing to take the photo.

Let’s all share less and experience more,

Hannah x

Fun and FREE things to do in London

London is globally notorious for its expense. It is one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Here are some of my favourite FREE things to do in the city.London-money-hand-cas_466

Watch a television taping  – Just like when you go on a diet and replace your favourite ‘treats’ with healthier alternatives, you can do the same with activities. I love going to the theatre but regular theatre trips are sadly not in my student budget. Since moving to London I’ve signed up to several audience mailing lists. These are easy to find online, I use Applause Store and SRO Audiences. I’ve seen a variety of television show tapings and the tickets are completely free! From concerts to interviews to panel shows, there’ll definitely be something that will peak your interest. It’s a fun experience. If you’re flexible with dates and shows you’ll definitely get into something.

Go for a swim – If you are lucky enough to live in the borough of Southwark,  you should definitely take advantage of the council’s free swim and gym initiative. Southwark Council, in collaboration with Everyone Active, have subsidised their leisure centres so that residents can swim and gym for free at the weekends. For true fitness junkies the leisure centre gym is probably lacking, however the pool should definitely be taken advantage of! I’d recommend going prior to 2pm on a Friday to miss the rush. I’ve lived in Elephant and Castle for seven months and have only just discovered this gem so thought I’d pass on my new knowledge! You have to register online first, then turn up to your local leisure centre with proof of address and an ID and then you’re good to go.

Visit a park – Definitely one best saved for a sunny day. London is full of parks. My personal favourites are Hyde Park and Clapham Common. Take a picnic, a football, a cider or two and enjoy a fun and free day out!

Explore the city on foot – living in London sometimes you forget that you’re surrounded by all these landmarks and tourist attractions that others fly thousands of miles to get a glimpse of. For me, one of the most expensive parts of London is transport. All my money seems to magically get swallowed up by my Oyster card! Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern the Millennium Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are all within walking distance of each other. I would avoid these during school holidays and at the weekends for obvious reasons! Look at a real map rather than a tube map and you’ll realise just how walkable most of the central line is!! If you want an excuse to stretch your legs and update your Instagram I would definitely recommend simply exploring the city on foot. It’ll also give you a new appreciation for the city, London is far prettier above ground.

Visit an art gallery or museum – most of London’s galleries and museums are free. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for special exhibits but you can spend an entire day in one of the city’s many galleries and museums without spending a penny! My personal favourite galleries are the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern. Art is very subjective though so google around and you’ll find somewhere that appeals to your tastes. If museums are your thing you definitely need to head to Exhibition Road, where you’ll find the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. All of which hold fascinating and free exhibitions.

Hope this gave you some fun and free ways to enjoy the city to save you some pennies and tide you over until pay day which is (fortunately!) just around the corner.

 

 

Pho’ sure my favourite food right now

Hi, my name’s Hannah and I have a new obsession. If we’re not going for pho, I don’t want to know.

For those of you unacquainted with the life changer that is pho, it’s basically Vietnamese noodle soup. But it is so good!

pho

Here we go, places I’ve been for pho:

(The rhyming will stop from now on, I’m just having fun turning this into a song)

Let’s start with the standard chain Pho, aptly named Pho Cafe. This was my introduction to pho. We randomly chose a restaurant and my love affair with pho began. I loved it at the time but having had much more authentic pho since I would say it’s a good gateway but you absolutely have to try the real deal. Would I go back again? Yes. But I would give Pho’s pho a 6/10.

Next up, my favourite local food spot Mercato Metropolitano. Mercato Metropolitano is an indoor food hall/market with lots of different stalls to try. I’ve been to the market many times but I’ve only tried the pho once. There are so many different options that I didn’t actually realise it was there for a while. Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that soup of any sort is not a good idea when you’re in a busy food hall full of people jostling around. Pho usually comes with a lime, beansprouts and chilli on the side so that you can add as much or as little as you want. Mine had clearly been out for a while and were not as fresh as I would have liked. Maybe it would have been a different story had I gone earlier in the day! I had high hopes but soup in a cardboard bowl just did not hit the spot for me and so I’d give them a 5/10 and will probably stick with my favourite pizza stand next time I’m back there.

Time to stop being a negative nancy. It’s upwards from this point on, I promise!

So far, Shoreditch has answered all my pho prayers. I’ve been to two places but annoyingly can’t remember the name of the first but it was good!

My favourite pho (so far) has been courtesy of Sông Quê Café. This lively restaurant served up some delicious pho! We nearly didn’t go in because the queue was out the door. However, we were only looking for a table of three so get seated almost straight away. My main advice would be don’t let the queue put you off!! It’s busy because it has rave reviews, it has rave reviews because the food is good! Final scores on the doors, a respectable 8/10. I’m still in search of a 10/10 pho, but I’m having fun searching.

If you’re still here thanks pho’ reading this far and apologies for the awful pho puns.

Hannah x

 

 

 

On Procrastination

What are you putting off right this moment? Writing an essay? Going to the gym? I’m procrastinating both by writing this post!

I’ve had coursework  and exams for the last  eight years of my life! That’s a lot of deadlines to meet and to procrastinate. However, I have never actually missed a deadline. I know it’ll get done because it has to. I also love my sleep far too much to pull an all nighter so my assignments are usually finished the day before they’re due!

I used to beat myself up for doing anything other than revising during both my GCSEs and AS Levels. But by the time I got to my second year of college (with the safety of an unconditional offer) I learnt a very important lesson. Sometimes it’s better to procrastinate and come back to your work when you’re feeling focused and refreshed.

Let’s imagine this like a flow chart: I have a series of questions I ask myself when I can’t focus, my number one question is always “am I hungry?” Chances are that’s probably the cause of my distraction. I get in foul moods when I’m hungry and that means that forcing myself to work on an empty stomach would just be an exercise in futility!  Even something as simple as stopping to make yourself a cuppa and a biscuit can give you the break you need to refuel and head  back with a focused mind! I like to take the time to cook a hot meal in the evening even if it’s something as simple as pesto pasta.  It’s always nice to focus your energy into a task that allows you to completely switch your mind off of your assignments.

Question number two: “Am I feeling restless?” This feeling normally hits day three of an intense revision period. I’ll realise that I can’t remember the last time I left the flat and I’ll start to get very antsy. When I am in this mood I like to treat myself like a toddler. I’ll make myself do exercise purposely to tire myself out. That could mean going outside for a walk or heading to the gym. Another solution to this feeling is mixing up your working environment. Staring at the same four walls can get pretty boring. When I feel this way I’ll take my laptop down to a coffee shop to get my work done. I have worked in many coffee shops and my main advice would be to always double check before you get there that the coffee shop has both plugs and free wifi. On that note another procrastination tip of mine is to turn off your wifi and only turn it back on when you need it for work-related searches.

Question number three: “When was the last time I spoke to another human?” This normally comes in around the same time as the restless period. I always find a phone call home or to a friend in another city is a great way to have some human interaction and provides an opportunity to vent especially if your assignment is not going the way that you want it to! Chances are your course mates are probably in the same boat so get in touch with friends that live nearby and see if anyone’s up for a coffee break, make the assignment talk off limits for a real break!

Question number four: “Is today a write off?” Some days there’s no rhyme or reason but I just cannot concentrate! Sometimes I really don’t want to do the work today… On those days I embrace the inevitable; catch up on Netflix and promise myself I’ll make up the time the next day. There’s no harm in switching your mind off as long as you know there’s still time left to get the work done.

 

 

 

A musical a month

London life is busy, busy, busy. My time is mostly split between lectures, assignments and my part-time retail job. However, it hasn’t been all work and no play. I have had some chance to explore the city. One of my absolute favourite things to do in my down time is go to the theatre. This term I’ve been lucky enough to see three shows, one each month. Two were very spontaneous and the other (I bet you can guess which show I’m talking about) I’d had my tickets for the last year.

I love musical theatre. My main memories associated with London before living here were of watching West End shows. I’m always blown away by the talent and calibre of the performers. So although I wish I could see a show a week, time and money are factors preventing me from living my dreams. But here’s a little summary of the shows I have seen since moving to London.

Let’s start at the very beginning….

  1. School of Rock was a fun interactive show that was all about its child stars. If you’re familiar with the film you’ll know that the story is about a classroom of children forming a band under the direction of a failed rock star posing as a substitute teacher. Impressively the children played all their own live instruments in the show. When a guitar strap broke they all acted very professionally and carried on as if it was part of  the show.  In the interval the theatre was full of props and photo booths that the audience could create memories with. School of Rock was a spontaneous show choice, I’d never listened to the soundtrack so had no idea what to expect and didn’t have anything to compare it to other than the film. If you’re ever at a loose end in London head to Leicester Square or Covent Garden to their discounted theatre ticket booths and as long as you have the time and an open mind you’re usually able to find a great deal. We went to a mid-week matinee and the theatre was nowhere near as full as it should have been considering the standard of the performance.  It was great fun and a real family show. Which was convenient as I watched it with my (not so) little brother! If you’re looking for a family friendly show that will make you laugh School of Rock is definitely worth a watch.schoolofrock.PNG
  2. Next up we have Les Misérables. I’ve been trying to see Les Mis for years. Every time we’ve tried at the ticket booths there’s been no availability. In November I had a friend visiting for a few days and we decided that it would be fun to catch a show whilst she was in London! We crammed lots into her few days in the city, from ice-skating at the Natural History Museum to visiting the Tate Modern. The last item to tick off of our to do list was watching a West End show. The last musical we’d seen together was an amateur version of Legally Blonde performed by Sheffield teachers (which we didn’t know when we bought the tickets) We are also both up for being spontaneous, from an unplanned day trip to Edinburgh to booking holidays a week before going, we’ve had the best memories when we haven’t planned and we’ve just headed where the wind’s taken us. Anyways, in light of our spontaneous (last minute) nature we decided to try our luck at a ticket booth in Leicester Square. Initially we wanted to see the Lion King but tickets were way out of our budget. We named several shows that we wanted to see and were surprised when there was affordable availability for Les Mis. The show was incredible and many tears were shed. The only  downside was that our seats were affordable because they were restricted so at times we were missing what was happening on the right half of the stage. Despite the restricted view the show was beautifully acted and choreographed and truly lived up to my years of expectations! There’s a reason it’s one of the longest running musicals in the West End, it’s because it’s brilliant. The theatre is also very close to Doughnut Time, an incredible doughnut store, providing us with a perfect evening snack!lesmis

3.  Earlier I mentioned that I’d had tickets for this final show for over a year. That show was of course the wonderful Hamilton. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t quite remember who introduced me to the soundtrack but I’ve been listening to it obsessively pretty much since it came out. Then when the mixtape came out I listened to that nonstop too. I studied US history at University, although I studied a slightly later period this show felt like a culmination of my two passions, US history and musical theatre. So when the West End show was announced I signed up to Cameron Mackintosh’s presale newsletter as quickly as I could. I was ready with my priority code and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the ticket booking system was! I tried for Cursed Child tickets the next day and they were an absolute nightmare. Anyways, I got through pretty much straight away and was able to buy tickets for my birthday weekend. It’s funny because back in 2016 I tweeted that my dream date would be a boy whisking me away to New York to watch Hamilton (lol) but when the time came I wasn’t risking waiting around for a hypothetical boy to take me to a show. Although I’m sure the show will run for years I wanted to see it as soon as possible so I bought two tickets, not knowing where I’d be, who I’d go with but I just knew I needed to see Hamilton. Fortunately for me I ended up moving to London and had a cousin in London who hadn’t been able to get tickets. The theatre’s renovations had taken longer than expected so our tickets were on the same date but we were now the first Saturday of previews!  Having listened to the original cast’s version so many times I was slightly apprehensive that would dampen my experience of the UK’s version. It was different but brilliant.  We saw the alternate Hamilton and he was incredible. The show was visually stunning. We laughed, we cried and I’ve never seen such a fast and well deserved standing ovation. I truly think Lin Manuel Miranda has succeeded in making musical theatre relevant again. For me the standout performance was Christine Allando’s as Maria Reynolds singing No To This. I’m not sure I can put into words just how wonderful the show was and how much it deserves the hype. It is a beautiful show and although tickets are currently sold out there’s a weekly lottery you can enter to win £10 tickets. I cannot stress enough how amazing the show was if you get the chance you must must see it. It covers so many relevant important topics from immigration to feminism and I truly believe it is the musical that will define our generation.

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Enough gushing from me! If you’re ever in London I’d always recommend trying to watch a West End show. You can find tickets for £20 if you’re willing to keep an open mind. New shows are always worth giving a go too, you’ll never know what gems you might stumble across. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, Bend It Like Beckham, a beautiful blend of Bollywood music and musical theatre is no longer on the stage because they weren’t getting enough bums on seats. It truly was a brilliant show and the fact that it’s no longer running breaks my heart.

If anyone has any musical recommendations of new shows to listen to or watch let me know. I’m currently loving listening to Dear Evan Hansen.