Things to Do – March

March

It’s been a bit quiet on here lately because I’ve been out of the country on holiday. (More about that next week.) Since I’ve come back from holiday, I’ve noticed a big difference in how sunny and brighter it is outside so this month I thought I would celebrate the start of Spring with some good things to get everyone outdoors in March.

Visit London’s parks: All I want to do at weekends in London is spend time in space that resembles a slightly higher percentage of green than grey. Since its getting warmer, its not a more enjoyable experience spending a decent amount of time outside. I’l be heading to the park for a picnic with University friends this weekend, I’m thinking either Victoria Park or Regents Park. For a list of the best parks, see here.

Head of the River Race: This is one of London’s longest running sport traditions happening on the 29th March. Every spring, 400 crews come to race along the River Thames. This is a great excuse to find a cosy pub along the river somewhere, drink in hand watching the boats go past. Something to do on a chilled Sunday. Apparently the best places to watch the race from are Chiswick Bridge where they start, cheer Barnes Bridge as they gather pace, or Hammersmith Bridge. Find out more here.

Columbia Road Flower Market: Not forgetting Mothers Day in March on the 15th. Flowers are always a good option, and getting your mum a present this year can be a day out in itself! Head down to Columbia Road Flower Market in Bethnal Green, its got some amazing flower stalls as well as some cute chic boutique shops that you could peruse for houses… perhaps to purchase a vase. Columbia Road Market is open from 8am – 3pm every Sunday. Find out more here.

Fire and Stone: I visited Fire and Stone in Covent Garden in the past week and it will definitely be somewhere that I shall be revisiting more than once again given the number of pizza’s I wanted to eat all at once last time. The menu is so good and so far from the obvious pizza toppings, it also has some great cocktails! Find out more here. 

Saatchi Gallery: I’ve been recommended to come to the Saatchi gallery near Sloane Square by some friends who came down to London for the day. It showcases pop art that has exploited identifiable imagery from mass media and everyday life to reflect on the nature of the world we live in. It’s my kinda art – I like my art to make a point.

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Grads are like reception class at school…

life as a 4 year old

Last night I watched the secret life of 4 year olds which was super cute by the way; watching how each 4 year old was so different to each other and how they learnt from their mistakes. And then today, I met with my mentor and spoke about the graduate scheme. And it made me realise that the playground of 4 year olds trying out new things isn’t that far from what it’s like being on a graduate scheme. And if you don’t agree, here’s why you should:

Any grad scheme is the perfect time to experiment. Try new things, try different ways of working, see what difference you can make by using what you’ve learnt at university and seeing whether anything works just as well in the workplace. For example, at university I organised action meetings where my coursework group would all sit together in a room and work together. That way, if we had a question for each other, all we had to do was ask across the table instead of waiting hours for a reply from an email. You may think in a work situation, this is just everyone sat at their desks doing their work. But by bringing people together onto one task all together, it brings focus and speeds up progress a lot more quickly.

Nobody knows who you are yet. Just as in a playground, 4 year olds will play mums one day and nurses the next; they know how to go about changing their style. In work, you are meeting new people all the time, especially if your graduate scheme rotates often, giving you the chance to reinvent yourself each time. I’ve always been quite conscious of other people’s styles in my team and worked out which ones I would like to be similar to. On my next placement, it is my chance to try emulate some of these characteristics and see whether they agree with me. You may think its just an act, but fake it until you make it. Side note: There’s an amazing TED talk about faking it until you make it here.

So when you next go in the office, choose the type of person you want to be that day. Once you’re confident and happy enough with it, it will become natural and you’ll just be you!

Best Brunch Ever

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A couple of weekends ago, i saw some university friends which led to an all nighter talking so when we finally graced Sunday morning, we were hungry! After googling a few brunch places, we settled on visiting a place called Dishoom in Shoreditch. (They also have places in Covent Garden and Kings Cross.) My friend and I have never made a better decision. Brunch was a popular thing to do at university so I’ve had my fair share and can vouch that Dishoom is my favourite place so far.

The menu is just so different to anything I’ve had before but still has the same typical dishes that you would want for brunch including a full English, a twist on sausage and bacon balls as well as porridges and granola. One main thing that stands out is the breakfast Lassi which is a smoothie with yoghurt, banana, mango and oats which tastes amazing. It went so well with my ‘Big Bombay’  which included masala beans and akuri which are spicy scrambled eggs. Considering I don’t even like eggs, I wolfed these down. All food has an Indian twist to them. You can see the breakfast menu here.

The next thing that makes Dishoom the best place is the cafe style. We were sat in a conservatory style building which was really refreshing. There were an abundance of comfy sofas and plants spread all around. It was the perfect atmosphere where you could easily slouch for hours chatting away or even get some work done. Which I definitely took advantage of! I will definitely be returning here to try out everything else out on the menu and to share it with as many people as possible. This is without doubt the best find since I first moved to London in September!

How to Switch Off after Work

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Since Christmas, my work load seems to have quadrupled meaning I’m getting in earlier and coming home later. And because it feels that I can’t leave work with a smaller to do list than when I arrived, it means when I get home all I can think about is work. Especially when my head hits my pillow and I try to empty my mind – all those things to do rushes to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve felt like this before in a previous summer internship, and I never really found a solution. However, I seem to have found a way for me to switch off a lot easier! So here are my tips:

1. Before you can relax, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with the amount of work that you have achieved that day otherwise it would stay on anyone’s mind. I have a rule that I won’t stay past around 6:30pm. If I’ve worked until 6:30pm, I can justify that I tried my best and unless that task was critical for 9am the next day, it can wait till tomorrow. It’s all about being realistic about the expectations you set at work. I know for me, that this keeps me sane.

2. This may be obvious… but once you’ve left work. You’ve left work. That means no turning your laptop on, or even checking your emails. Make this easy for you, leave your laptop at work; locked up!

3. Now do whatever makes you feel relaxed, for a lot of people, this might be slothing out in front of the TV, but personally, I think weekday evening TV is not that entertaining. So, instead, I’ve found that I like to take a lot of time over getting ready for bed. On a normally day, I get ready for bed in around 10 minutes. But when I do it properly, I’ll take about half an hour over it. So here’s my step by step guide:

Step 1: Put on some relaxing music. I found this on youtube and I find it really relaxing and forces me not to rush getting ready for bed. I’ve tried listening to others but this one is still the best despite its on the top of the list when searching ‘calming music for stress’ and is probably the most listened to out of the list. I’ve used this enough times so that now when it’s played, my subconscious almost knows what I’m trying to do and I’ve found that it’s really effective.

Step 2: Get into your most cosiest pyjamas ever. I’ve got the softest pair from Primark, they have elastic bottoms so they hug my ankles and even have pockets to keep my hands warm in.

Step 3: Remove my makeup. I use the ‘Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil‘ from Sanctuary Spa. What I like best is that it has lavender in, which I find really relaxing and calming and makes me feel really sleepy. You massage this into dry skin and then add water to remove all your makeup.

Step 4: Brush my teeth!

Step 5: (Optional) I use the ‘Clear Start Overnight treatment’ from Dermaloglica.

Step 6: I then use the Lush lip scrub which I have found to be so useful this winter. My lips have got so dry and chapping really badly. But I have got into the routine of using this lip scrub and it has helped so much. It’s basically sugar but tastes of chocolate so it’s all good!

Step 7: Then I use the ‘You won’t believe your eyes’ by Soap and Glory. I always get told by people that I look tired when I don’t actually feel it. So I’ve been testing this out to see if it’s getting rid of my massive bags under my eyes. So far, no more comments so it’s looking hopeful.

Step 8: Finally, I moisturise using the ‘Wish Upon a Jar’ night moisturiser by Soap & Glory. I really like the feeling of this product on the skin, its just the right level of thickness that it doesn’t take too long to sink in but feels really moisturising at the same time.

Finally, I curl up in bed with a hot water bottle if required and either read or watch youtube videos, and by this point, my eyes are pretty much closed already! And off to sleep I go!

The 5:2 split

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The biggest thing that springs to people’s minds when they hear the words 5:2, is the 5:2 diet. But I’m talking about the a typical 5:2 week. Five days working and two days off. During my internship, I was working pretty intensely on the top of commuting a total of three hours a day on three different methods of transport, I was beat by the weekend. The whole balance of five days working and just getting two days off just didn’t seem worth it.

Now that I’m more used to working life, it doesn’t seem too far out of kilter anymore but it largely depends on how busy you are at work not necessarily the amount of hours that you do in my opinion. But I’ve set myself a target to try make the most of weekday evenings after work and to enjoy them so it doesn’t feel like 5:2 but perhaps 4:1:2. A total of 4 days working, weekday evenings totalling up to one extra day off plus Saturday and Sunday. Here are my tips on how to make the most of those weekdays and have a positive halo effect on the weekend.

1. Life Admin: The one thing I dread about weekends is spending the majority of my time sorting my life out, getting my washing done, doing the weekly food shop, washing my hair… (Don’t worry the latter isn’t just a weekly occurrence. Therefore, I try to get these things done on one weekday evening. I clean my room, and do my food shop on the way home from work, that way at the weekend I can just have fun and enjoy myself.

2. Have some chill evenings: Just as much as I enjoy being productive at work, I also enjoy getting stuff done at weekends, otherwise it can feel like a bit of a waste of a weekend if I lounge around all the time. (Each to their own) I know everyone needs downtime at some point during the week so I make sure that for at least one evening, I will take it extra slow, cook something really nice for dinner, have a bath, and have a little pamper session. Hair masks, face masks nails – it all gets a look in. By doing this, by the time it gets to the weekend I already feel decently refreshed for me to take something else on bar work!

3. Have fun! I guess the biggest advice could be make sure you don’t limit fun to post 5pm on a Friday. Go for dinner with friends one evening or head to the cinema. But head quickly because Orange Wednesdays are ending soon! I’ve always found this really splits the week up and those 5 long days just don’t feel like a long distance race anymore where you’re not allowed to stop.

4. Start your own project: I realised through university that I want to achieve a lot of things in my life, and I don’t want the only thing I achieve in life to be related to my career. I really enjoy side projects because they can provide you with things that work just doesn’t. For example, I volunteer for a social enterprise running in London where we help current or ex homeless people.

I know that these may only sound like tiny changes, but I’ve found that they make a massive different to how I feel at weekends; refreshed, how I feel throughout the week and Sunday nights because I have something to look forward to during the week making me a happy bunny. Sitting in front of the TV every night after work gets boring and there is never anything good on TV, so I’ve found that this really works for me.

Things to Do – January

January

It seems the new year came around so quickly that I completely forgot to scour the world wide web to find the best things to do in London in this sometimes dismal month! Appropriately, this month, I’ve tried to find the best things to do that can help us all keep up those cliche new years resolutions.

I want to eat healthier“: Whenever I focus on being healthy, I’ll go out to the supermarket and stuff my fridge shelves with a multi colour set of vegetables. However, when I go out for dinner and I try to go out for dinner A LOT (my excuse is that there are too many restaurants to get round in London) the whole healthy meals goes straight out the window. It’s just too difficult in restaurants. So that’s when I tried to find some healthy-ier restaurants in London. And I’ve found this, first of all it’s got natural in the title which sounds goo and the dishes look pretty too. Now I know natural doesn’t necessarily mean healthy but at least they sound healthy. That counts right?

I want to get fit“: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given and I could give to others with exercise is to battle it together! It makes it less of a bore and actually a fun activity! Then you can go celebrate together once you’ve achieved your goal! One of the other things that bugs me about exercise is the number of expensive exercise classes. Mainly due to the fact that it’s just another reason to put it off! I think it’s a well known thing but there are several free 5km park runs organised all over London. I believe the majority of them are on Saturdays at 9am which makes a perfect start to your weekend! Click here to find you’re nearest run! It’s also a great way to meet new people near where you live. Who knows… it may not just be something to do in January.

I want to save more money“: Out of all of my friends, I definitely feel the pinch in London all year around, not just after the big Christmas spending session. I’ve even missed the post Christmas sales this year. But in London, when you want to do stuff, it’s hard to do much without emptying your purse every 5 damn minutes. So I’ve had a look through the free events throughout the month of January and my top pick is this, it’s free entry to an evenings of Blue’s music at the Silver Bullet (near Finsbury Park underground station). People are welcome to come jam or alternatively to sit and soak up the music. I’ll most definitely be doing the latter.

I want to do Dry January“: Now I’m not the biggest drinker in the world so this applies less to me but several of my friends commit to not drinking any alcohol in January. With the option of pubbing it up one evening out the window, instead of going for a drink in the evening, why not go out for pudding instead? Secretly, its something that I’ve been doing for years. Pudding is so much better than main meals and sometimes better than a glass of wine in my opinion. Pudding not pubbing if you will? And I reckon this place is a winner being appropriately named, ‘The Pudding Bar’. I will definitely be checking this out this month. The only thing being, perhaps this isn’t the best idea if your other resolution is to eat healthier. Pickers can’t be choosers!

I want to learn something new“: Well then, its back to school and get studying those books. I joke, but visiting the British Library wouldn’t go a miss. It’s one of those places that you have to visit at least once while you live in London. So this gives you the perfect excuse, now go get lost in exhibits, books, and poetry readings.

Enjoy January

Happy New Year

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2014 has definitely had its highlights. I’ve graduated, got a good degree, had an amazing summer in Vietnam and landed my first job in London. And I have enjoyed every minute. 2015 will be my first ‘proper’ year as a ‘young professional’ and I’ve been thinking how I can make the most of it especially considering I move between teams every 3 months. Which makes it sometimes difficult to learn everything there is to know about the team I’m working in. So on one of my working from home days during Christmas (I wrote a blog on how to get the most out of working between Christmas and New year), I found out some interesting facts about our business. This made me realise that to push myself to become an expert in my field by the end of my graduate scheme that I should make a rule that for everyday that I’m at work, I should learn something new about our business.

I realise that ‘to learn something new everyday’ as a New Years resolution is hardly anything groundbreaking or new but I’m hoping that it will be quite effective as long as I keep it up. It will encourage me to always talk to new people within the business hopefully spreading my network and start having people within the business to know me. What’s better is that one of my areas for development is to be more challenging to what people say, so this will also help me achieve this personal target.

What is your New Years resolution? Is yours going to be related to work? Whatever your year entails, I hope you enjoy 2015!