Don’t forget to follow me at my new blog – Steph Style

19 Apr

Happy Easter weekend everyone! Just a little reminder that I am now blogging over at Steph Style - I would love it if you could make sure to start following the new blog!
Some of the latest posts you can find there are:

- Top links and tips for bloggers

- Mini-eggs inspired spring Fashion

- Some things I got up to in March 2014

Thanks!
x

My New Blog ‘Steph Style’ – Make Sure to Follow me!

8 Apr

Hello!

So, it has been a long time coming but I have finally re-launched my blog!

It is now called Steph Style and can be found on the link below:

http://www.stephstyle.com/

I will be popping an automatic re-direct on this page soon but in the meantime, please do take a look and start following the new and improved blog!

Thanks so much,

Steph

x

Steph Style blog

The Perfect Spring Coat for just £35

18 Mar

Pink Coat

H&M

H&M coat

Shard

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Powder pink coat – H&M

Black top – ASOS

Dogtooth Skirt – Boohoo

Boots – New Look (old)

Clutch – Primark (old)

This powder pink coat from H&M is one of the best spring coats out there in my opinion, especially as it cost just £35 and looks like a (lot more expensive) Zara version! It is lightweight and was perfect to wear for my Saturday night drinks up the Shard and anniversary meal at Gaucho (Tower Bridge).

What do you think? What are your favourite spring coats out there?

CEW(UK) Mentoring Event – Freelancers Guide to Flourishing in Beauty

8 Mar

I currently work alongside trade body CEW(UK) which means that I get to attend most of their talks and events geared towards women working in the beauty industry. The latest was the ‘Freelancers Guide to Flourishing in Beauty’ held on Thursday, which saw freelance beauty journalists Beatrice Aidin, Bella Blissett and Sarah-Jane Corfield Smith talk about what it means to be a freelance beauty writer in a competitive and rapidly changing media industry. Here’s what they had to say…

Beatrice Aidin, Bella Blissett, Sarah-Jane Corfield Smith

With the global beauty industry estimated to be worth £378 billion and projected to grow by 29%, the question was raised as to whether the future of beauty is freelance. The numbers of independent professionals has grown in the UK by 63% between 2004-2013 and it seems now more than ever it is essential to differentiate between types of freelancers as well as bloggers.

Each journalist began by providing a brief overview of their career trajectories and identifying the differences between themselves. Financial Times writer Beatrice spent five years in New York before moving back to London and now specialises in ‘intelligent beauty’, luxury and interviews for the FT’s Style pages and How To Spend It. Bella’s foray into beauty writing came during her time at the London College of Fashion where she was encouraged to die her long, brown hair blonde for a feature to be published in the Evening Standard. Now she works from home combining her role as YOU magazine Beauty Columnist with freelance features. Sarah-Jane has had ten years’ experience in the industry and now freelances in various magazine offices for varying lengths of time, getting a unique view of their different functions and processes.

The first discussion revolved around pitching. Sarah-Jane identified that there were no definitive rules when pitching as a freelancer to an editor but that it can help if you demonstrate knowledge of who you are pitching to, any buzzwords or ideas the editor is known to like, the key brands in the title and most importantly, the readership of that title. The best type of pitch was agreed to be ‘short and sweet’ and can always be followed up by a gentle email or a phone call.

Sarah-Jane then moved onto the pitching process for PRs to journalists and recognised that it can be overwhelming for a PR to keep track of all freelancers’ movements. With this in mind, she said that it helps if freelancers are kept on all call-out/media lists and that the small things count, such as getting the name of the freelancer right and being honest in an email if unsure of their work. Again, she agreed that a gentle nudging email from a PR is acceptable but never to hound, as a writer will be sure to be in touch if they find a story interesting.

Bella then discussed the pragmatism of life as a freelance writer, stating that the most important facets are reliability and being able to develop good relationships within the industry. She acknowledged that everyone works differently so it becomes important to design your own structure that works best for you, for example, she works best earlier in the morning and enjoys changing her scenery and location depending on the type of feature she is writing. She also recommended a well-rounded work/life balance in order to keep calm, making sure to separate work and play time as even leisure time can inspire new ideas. She finished by stating that although freelancing can take a lot of energy, the benefits of being released from monotony, working on your own terms and being the master of your own life are worth it.

Beatrice finished the session by discussing the relationships with PR professionals, identifying that the best relationships work when there is integrity, respect, positivity and manners on both sides. Beatrice agreed that each writer works differently and that she herself prefers a phone call and setting up meetings rather than arranging interviews over email. In regards to press launches, she argued that prompt meetings in convenient locations no longer than thirty minutes are ideal, as well as one-to-ones. She believed it is important for a freelancer to notify ahead if they absolutely have to cancel and also to be clear about what coverage is going to be generated, especially with press trips. If an editor rejects a feature, she suggested that best practice is to notify the PR with as much information as possible with a PR respecting the decision. She finished with her maxim: ‘Always apologise, always explain’.

February 2014 pictures

2 Mar
Roast dinner at the Cutty Sark Tavern

Roast dinner at the Cutty Sark Tavern

Valentine's Day dinner in

Valentine’s Day dinner in

Me and the Who's Jack team at LFW

Me and the Who’s Jack team at LFW

At the Jasper Garvida LFW after-party

At the Jasper Garvida LFW after-party

Orla Kiely LFW AW14 show

Orla Kiely LFW AW14 show

Weekend break in York

Weekend break in York

Staying in Hotel du Vin, York

Staying in Hotel du Vin, York

The Shambles

The Shambles

Lunch at The Good Life Eatery, Sloane Avenue

Lunch at The Good Life Eatery, Sloane Avenue

Poached eggs, kale, sweet potato, quinoa and almond pesto bowl

Poached eggs, kale, sweet potato, quinoa and almond pesto bowl

Sunday roast dinner at The Cutty Sark TavernI have written about this fantastic roast at The Cutty Sark Tavern in Greenwich in my Best Restaurants in London post so I was delighted to go again at the start of Feb. You can find the pub just a short walk along the river from the Old Naval Colleges – last time I also stumbled across a really cute cake workshop venue called Fair Cake nearby! It is best to book this place in advance or otherwise turn up when doors open at 12pm on Sunday as there is usually a queue. I had the roast chicken with beetroot, roast potatoes, swede mash, pigs in blankets and gravy which was so tasty and well cooked – heaven!  

 Valentine’s DayAh, the old V day. Some love it, some hate it. I think it is a fun excuse to do something whether you are in a relationship or not, even if it is just something like the cinema! This year I was full of a horrible cold so the boyf and I stayed in and cooked steak with salad and chips. Unfortunately the champagne in the photo stayed unopened as I couldn’t breathe to appreciate it!

 London Fashion WeekI spent the weekend at London Fashion Week writing for Who’s Jack magazine and one of my favourite shows was definitely the Orla Kiely AW14 collection – the ‘raining cats and dogs’ idea was so cute. I also got the chance to attend the Jasper Garvida after-party at Movida thanks to Felicities PR!

Weekend in York: The boyfriend and I had been given a hotel voucher for Hotel Du Vin as part of our Christmas present so we decided to use it on a weekend in York. The hotel was really stylish and we were lucky enough to get the Suite at the top which was completely fabulous! It included a big, squishy king-sized bed, a roll-top bath, a chaise-lounge and a long walk in-shower, as well as touches like a Bose sound system and proper coffee machine. It was probably as big as our flat in London! York itself was lovely – you can read more about my time in York here

Lunch at The Good Life EateryI took a friend from Manchester here after seeing it pop up on Tanya Burr’s blog and I’m so glad I did! Though it was super small and squished, the food was incredible and all completely healthy. We both went for poached eggs on quinoa, kale and sweet potato with an almond pesto and I can definitely recommend it. Plus, if you go on a weekend you can walk it off around the cute little Sloane Square market and perhaps pick up some malteser fudge, as we may very well have done…

What did you get up to this February?

A Weekend in York

2 Mar

One gift that the boyfriend and I received over Christmas was a Hotel Du Vin voucher, so we decided to put it to good use last weekend and have a weekend break in York.

After a three hour drive from the Midlands (for which I stayed awake for about 40 minutes!), we arrived at Hotel Du Vin which was based in a beautiful building on the outskirts of the town. We were lucky enough to get the Suite at the top which was amazing; there was a huge king sized bed, a roll-top bath, a chaise-lounge and a long walk-in shower, as well as a proper coffee machine and Bose speakers.

Hotel du Vin, York

Hotel du Vin, York

Me outside Hotel Du VIn

Me outside Hotel Du Vin

Our suite

Our suite

Roll top bath

The walk-in shower

The walk-in shower

After jumping on the bed and Instagramming the room to my heart’s content, we headed out to do some exploring. York is an old, medieval city and we had actually visited during ‘Viking Week’, so there were plenty of casual Vikings walking around adding to the vibe. We started by having lunch at the famous Betty’s – unfortunately there was a huge queue for the main Betty’s (which had a beautiful Easter window display NOM!) so we decided to try the smaller, more vintage Betty’s café down the road. This had more of a ‘granny chic’ vibe about it but a much smaller queue; after waiting for about 10 minutes, we were shown to a cute little table in the back where I ordered poached salmon & prawns on sourdough bread and the bf ordered the chicken club sandwich. Both meals weren’t super special but were tasty and good value, though they were both trumped by the gorgeous caramel egg that I bought from their shop downstairs! Apparently their chocolate is handmade and it tasted SO. GOOD.

Betty's window display

Betty’s window display

My prawn/poached salmon lunch at Betty's

My prawn/poached salmon lunch at Betty’s

Betty's caramel egg

Betty’s caramel egg

After lunch, we spent some time walking around the quaint Shambles streets, full of old, wonky shops, including an INCREDIBLE fudge shop which I would highly recommend, if just for the many free samples! We went inside the Minster, climbed up onto a little castle and toured the city walls before heading back home to freshen up for dinner. We had a drink in the hotel’s lovely conservatory area before heading to eat at Loch Fyne. This is a small chain seafood restaurant with plenty of dinner options for decent prices; both of us chose the option to have a fish of our choice, cooked to our choice, with a sauce of our sauce and two sides, all for £15. After dinner we went for drinks at the cool cocktail bar Evil Eye and All Bar One.

The Shambles

The Shambles

York Minster

York Minster

York castle

Museum Gardens

Museum Gardens

Casual Vikings

Casual Vikings

We started the next day with the hotel’s breakfast – I took full advantage of the ‘Pantry’ table which was piled high with fruit, pastries and most importantly, an incredible home-made sticky fruit flapjack. (I may have sneaked one into my bag too, shh)! After wondering around the town’s markets, we met my bf’s brother for lunch at the pub that he works at called ‘The House of Trembling Madness‘. This is actually next to the smaller Betty’s and is a shop selling all kinds of artistan, rare and local alcohol downstairs with a very cosy, rustic pub upstairs. Though we probably didn’t need anymore food, we decided to share one of their popular platters which came with olive bread, marmite bread, pork pie with black pudding on the top, salad, chicken and duck, amongst other things. Advice: if you want to get a seat, get there early!

Breakfast

Breakfast

The House of the Trembling Madness

The House of the Trembling Madness

 

Our platter

Our platter

After stuffing our faces yet again, we decided to call it a day and head home for another meal with my parents. All in all, a great weekend!

Have you ever been to York? Is there anything else you would recommend seeing?

Mother’s Day – ‘Experience’ Gift Ideas

24 Feb

When it comes to birthdays or special occasions, I love treating people to ‘experiences’, whether it be a day out, an activity or even a meal. I think experiences can be more memorable, special and don’t always have to cost a fortune. With Mother’s Day now just over a month away (30th March), I got to thinking about possible experience gifts for Mother’s Day for a range of budgets…

Recipease: Jamie Oliver Cooking Lessons

Jamie Oliver’s ‘Recipease’ lessons are a great idea for a mum that is into her food. All classes are taught by Jamie’s top chefs and typically range between 1 hour – 2 hours long, with prices starting from around £20 pp. With lessons ranging from ‘Vietnamese Street Food’ to ‘Bread Baking’, there is something to cater for every taste! Even better, some of the lessons have money off if two people come together, making it an ideal activity for mother and daughter/son! Classes are held in London or Brighton

Jamie Oliver Recipease

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is always a popular choice but it can also be difficult deciding where to go, especially with so many options and some places charging almost £100 per person! My all-time favourite has been the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea Party at The Sanderson Hotel in London which I think costs around £35 per person. Not only was the food fun, tasty and unique, but the staff were so lovely and the setting was gorgeous – you can read my review here. If a classical style tea is more your fancy, then afternoon tea at somewhere iconic like Claridges, The Ritz or The Savoy are special – if slightly touristy – options. (You can read my review of the Ritz here). 

Coffee and Walnut cake

The Sanderson

Lunch at a Ceramic Café

Why not get the creative juices flowing and have lunch at a ceramic café! I recently went to Biscuit-Biscuit in Greenwich where you can choose from a whole bunch of ceramic objects, grab your colours and get painting whilst you eat. Prices start from about £10 – you can read my review of that here. Not only is this something a little different, it also means you can come away with memories and a little souvenir!

Ceramic cafe Greenwich

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Outdoor Or Drive In Cinema

Outdoor cinemas really get going in the summer, though there are a couple that have heated marquees all year long and of course some drive-through cinemas where you can stay in the comfort of your own car! This might be a nice option if your mum has a favourite film or genre that might be showing. There is Press Play showing films across the South as well as the Rooftop Film Club which show films all year long, mostly at the beautiful Kensington Roof Gardens which has a heated canopy and lots of gorgeous plants, making it a lovely setting all year round. You can see the listings here.  Last summer I went to one of these at the Queen of Hoxton rooftop and it was so much fun – you can read my review of that here!

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