Am I Edgy?

I’m not a trend setter. I learnt that at Leeds. Well I didn’t follow the trend – the high tops, the tiny denim shorts, the baggy t-shirts, the unwashed and out of condition hair – I went for a more manicured look, the high heels, the cocktail dresses and the curled hair. In some respects therefore, by not following the alternative fashion trend, I was actually the one being alternative. I can assure you that I was a minority.

In my last year of Leeds a large portion of my female contemporaries, as ever ahead of the game, started to dye the ends of their bedraggled locks. Half one colour, half another. ‘This’, I remember thinking ‘is the final straw, I need to get out of the North, its addling peoples brains.’ And I did, I left Leeds homeward bound, to the un-edgy greenery of Hertfordshire. I worked the summer at the cafe of an antique shop in Debden. I served carrot cake to the elderly, smartie cookies to the young. I was happy in my rural bubble – no high tops in sight.

September arrived and with the money saved from the summer, I set off on a 6 month adventure around India and Kenya. Bollywood stars, tigers, beaches, mountains, forests, plains, lions, crocodiles, leopards and a great deal more flora, fauna, people and wildlife wove into the expedition. But no dip dye.

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March swung round and I returned to the promise of spring. I enrolled in the London School of Journalism, and embarked upon a new urban lifestyle. It was here, that I encountered what I had glimpsed at the end of my time in Leeds. It was back. The lighter tips, the blended blonde, the dip dye. But something had changed – these women didn’t have the strawy lids of their predecessors, these women were groomed and looked, well, actually rather good.

But though it had been a year since I’d first seen it, it still felt too soon. I needed to be sure that I could handle it, that I wasn’t at risk of being original, or the unthinkable – of being edgy. So I was patient, I finished my postgraduate diploma, I finished writing my novel on India, and I sought out a job in Journalism. This was a struggle. I’d assumed that with a degree in English and a post-grad in Journalism, that I would walk into a writing job. I was wrong. Months passed, a stint of head-hunting happened, before finally I got a response – the online magazine The Upcoming wanted me to write for their culture section.

I investigated their website, they really were a real magazine. They were a young, trendy and fashion heavy magazine. I had a meeting with the editor the following week. It was now or never. Time to ditch the preppy blonde highlights which I’d been donning since puberty. I needed change. This was demonstrative of the new section of my life – Alice Audley, writer. Not Alice Audley, overqualified, desperate and unemployed. And I did it. I went from:

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photo (19) - 2And I had it redone yesterday. So herein lies the question – if I followed a trend, when the trend was pretty much over, does that make me trendy – sorry edgy? Or does it make me a sheep – an injured sheep that is desperately clinging on the noises of the herd that it can’t keep up with?

I suppose by getting it done so late is alternative…whatever the reason, I have done a full circle – what I saw in Leeds and disdained, I now sport on my head. I’m Alice, I have a dip dye and I like it.

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Polo in the Park

Going to the polo is apparently my new thing. I’ve been more times in the last month than in the past three years. Gaucho at the 02, Silver Leys and most recently Polo in the Park.

By recently, I mean very recently – I mean yesterday. Offered a complimentary ticket earlier in the week, I eagerly accepted and joined the forces of Sophie C, Tom C and Elliot D, for a day in the sunshine at Hurlingham.

IMG_2333The park was packed, and women dressed in their finest smocks swanned around from all angles. Long floaty dresses, short summer skirts, even a few fascinators flitted through our midst. In my jacket and jeans, I felt rather under dressed.

cary, el and aliceAfter stocking up on a jug of rum punch from the Mahiki tent, at a rather costly price of £40, we meandered through the crowds and blagged our way into the grand stand to watch the Sydney/Buenos Aires game.

grand standIMG_2340alice and cranThough we were rooting for Australia, we were still rather surprised when they won. I thought Argentina were unbeatable? Anyway, to celebrate our victory we bought a bottle of wine, a jug of Pimms and another bottle of wine. Sunshine, friends and alcohol made for a splendid afternoon…and before we knew it, the Polo was over and we were on our way out clubbing.

I’m not normally a fan of clubbing, but Kensington Roof Gardens proved my negative predisposition to nightclubs wrong. Not only did we bump into a crowd of fellow friends, but I also enjoyed the music, and completely out of character, the dancing. We had a whale of a time!

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IMG_2409All in all, a fantastic day out. A new thing and a good thing, Polo and my summer will go hand in hand.

Legs, Bums and Tums

Yesterday, in a bid to shed some pounds before I jet off to the South of France, I decided to accompany my younger sister to her new hang-out – the gym. After a 9 a.m wake up call, on what should have been the day of rest, I slithered out of my bed and rummaged through my wardrobe to find some kit. Sister was already glowing in her brand spanking new Nike compilation, looking every inch the gym bunny she has become. I pulled out a moth-eaten t-shirt, which on very close inspection I found had the remnants of a Kappa sign on it (I know, Kappa?!),  and a pair of shorts.

And off we went. Now, I am partial to a nice jog and have been running 5 miler’s at the weekend for about a month. I was thinking about this as we entered the studio and met our class colleagues – all of whom were a good 15 years or more senior.  An hour fitness class is going to be fine, I’ll probably put these women to shame, I thought.

I thought wrong. Indeed, even now as I write, my shoulder blades are seizing, my back twitching and my legs aching. Oh I was taught, I was shown the error of my ways; never underestimate the fitness class. Are all classes like this? Barely able to breathe, running forwards, running backwards and then squatting, I thought I was going to faint. When I tried to disclose this information to my sister, I was shouted at and made to do 20 press ups – not even the girl kind. Jumping jacks, leg kicks, grape vines, more squats, lunges (when you jump from lunge to lunge), were exhausting but bearable, but then came the plank. Now I’d heard of this before, well as planking – when in a club or bar you pretend to be a plank (a classic game, trust me).

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Sadly, I was wrong again, this was a different type of plank. For one, you don’t get to lie flat on the floor. No, this did not entail relaxing on the floor at all. This was torture –

13/1/09 carla pic david poole exercise number 1For some reason, despite the fact that I thought my lungs were going to implode and my back break, I still wanted to impress the coach. So even when the shaking of my abdomen became increasingly sporadic, I continued. But 30 seconds after this point, the pain became unbearable, and even though the 45-year-old woman in front of me hadn’t broken into a proper sweat, I decided that I had no choice but to give up. I made my decision, started to lower myself and then…then came the piercing shout of the coach in my ear. Back up I went, and then for added punishment she pushed down on my back. I would not let her see me fail, I would not let her see me fail. Alas, then came one exceptional arm twitch and I collapsed – right onto my face.

It’s been just over 24 hours since I returned home, dripping with sweat, recoiling at the muscular horrors that were inflicted upon me, but even with the lapse of this short amount of time, I am starting to look back at yesterday in a decidedly different light – exerciser’s amnesia?!. I may be stiff and aching, but I also feel good. In fact, I’ve already booked myself in for this weekend.

Tonight’s the night!

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My first online date is just 7 3/4 hours away. After numerous postponements (on my behalf thank you), I’ll finally be meeting with the Doctor. I’m feeling okay about it all, nerves haven’t kicked in yet, but I am slightly worried about the fact that I don’t know his name. I have a feeling that it is James, but I’m just not sure, and the problem is, unless I upgrade on POF to see older messages (aka the one’s from the friend to him, which include said name), then I’m not going to.

I’ve signed off the last few Alice to try to coax him into signing off with his name, but he just hasn’t taken the bait. It’s not going to look particularly good is it? ‘Alice,’ he’ll say – and what will I do, ‘Hi?’ God this has the propensity to go horribly wrong. ‘Hi, I’m Alice and I go on dates with people from the internet without even knowing their name!’ – Well, it doesn’t look overly classy does it…

Maybe I’ll just go with James, I mean it’s quite a common name isn’t it? And if his name is Jack, or John, or Jim, or Josiah (okay that’s pushing it), I can just pretend that he misheard me. I’ll smile while mumbling the name, that will work. Well, that’s the only choice that I’ve got.

Oh dear, perhaps I am nervous.

 

 

A new place for drinks in Sloane Square

When you work in Victoria and have a dinner party in Putney, but are meeting friends for drinks after the former and before the latter, it makes sense to meet at Sloane Square. Everyone knows where it is, you walk straight out of the tube to the square, rather than getting confused with the circle of options that meets you at South Ken. It’s got a lot of selling points.

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This is what I decided on Friday night, when I was doing the aforementioned (drinks before dinner party) – I suggested going to Sloane Square. The problem was, I wasn’t the only one that had decided to go for drinks there. Oh no, what seemed like half of London had, had the same brain wave, and even arriving at 6 p.m, I was faced with a queue to rival Disneyland’s when trying to get into The Botanist. It was absolutely jammed, to the point where not only was getting a seat not a possibility, but the odds of getting a drink within half an hour were not worth a flutter.

Now not being able to get drinks, when going for drinks, obviously posed a problem, but a greater issue for me was the fact that even if we did manage to lure the barman into serving us, we would still be hovering by the bar, squished between the rest of London. When I go for drinks, I don’t want to hold my handbag, hold my drink, be pushed left and right by a jostling crowd, no, when I go for drinks,  I want to sit down, put my drink of a table and have room to gesticulate. So after battling to get into the Botanist, I turned promptly around and left.

I was the first there; I wanted to stay in Sloane Square near the tube (and the District line to Putney), hmmn, what should I do? Where could I go? I looked around and tried to rack my brain – where had I been around here – Barts, not that close and too spenny, the Duke of Wellington, no don’t fancy it. I turned and the red lights of the Royal Court Theatre caught my gaze, I’d reviewed The Low Road there a couple of weeks before…and I’d had a drink there, I’d had a drink in The Royal Court Theatre’s bar and restaurant. YES! A big room, with lots of tables and not over-priced – FABULOUS.

I went, there was a table, the other two met me and we had a jostle free catch up. So, if you are in the vicinity and want a drink without excess human company, head to The Royal Court Theatre Bar – a hidden gem of  space, in an overcrowded square.

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A healthy start to Easter…

Why do all Christian holidays revolve around food? Advent: Oh let’s fill a calendar with chocolate, Christmas: let’s stuff ourselves with turkey and all the trimmings, Easter: let’s gorge on pancakes lathered in syrup, hot cross buns (they have a cross on them after all)  and eggs – made of chocolate. It’s ridiculous.

Christianity and gluttony seem to go hand in hand, and here’s my personal evidence:

Number One) The ‘Creme Egg’ Brownie that was forced upon me last week – a practice before Easter hit.

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Number Two) The Chocolate Fudge Cake coated in Lindt Bunnies and caramel eggs that met me when I returned home yesterday.

253675_10151402317254472_1831945192_nNumber Three) The pantry, which is hoarding an absurd amount of Easter eggs.

IMG_1960After being subjected to this extreme mount of cocoa everywhere I looked, I decided to fight back with something healthy and something savoury…

Well, I achieved the latter:

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Fillet steak topped with grilled halloumi and mushrooms glazed in an Oyster Bay Sauvingnon blanc and blue cheese sauce

IMG_1935Oh lay off, I’m a Christian – this is what we do! And this was absolutely delicious, halloumi and steak work uber-well. I guess healthy eating will have to wait until Tuesday…

Am I turning into a Sloane?

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Last night I found myself in Sloane Square yet again; the third time in a week. What is going on? Is fate toying with me and my morals? Can I put a stop to it?

Well I probably could, I mean ‘just don’t get on the tube Alice’, but the problem is I don’t want to put a stop to it. So enjoyable is each visit, that rather than trying not to go, I seem to be finding myself making excuses to go.

Last night was an easy one though – my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday party. You can’t hold that against me, can you? Anyhow, after a stop-over to review the Colla, Pinna and Pomodoro exhibition in Bond Street, I set off back on the jubilee line and then picked up the district from Westminster (look at that tube knowledge). I then met my two sisters at the one an only Sloane Square and then the three of us set off to the Chelsea Cloisters – to Barts.

I’d been to Barts once before to celebrate another friend’s birthday. That was last year and the memory still errs me. At first there were the two of us, then four and then ten – and the drinks were being bought in rounds. I, a poor journalist student at the time (not that I’m not equally poor now), somehow landed buying the last round – after a particularly mouthy individual said something along the lines of: “Standard, such a typical girl. Let all the men buy drinks for you and then don’t buy any back.”

Well I am not scabby and I thoroughly believe that if you can’t afford to buy drinks back for people who have bought you drinks then you shouldn’t be out in the first place (unless it’s your birthday). However, I had been bought three drinks, not ten. My pride rather than prudence got the better of me and I proved the individual wrong and bought a round.

It cost me £90 and I had to go home.

However time had moved on and the fear of being bankrupted again didn’t alarm me too much. I would spend £40 and not get into any large round-buying scenarios, of that I was adamant.

I was also meeting my good friend Tom Cary for a nice catch up, not a piss up. I had neglected to mention to Tom that he would be attending a party, but true to character he took it in his stride. That was once he’d got in. Barts is another bar of the speakeasy genre that is flourishing around London (la bodegra negra, the box, the luggage room, the experimental cocktail club – to mention but a few) and to be admitted you first have to give the attractive doorman a password. Tom didn’t know the password.

A few missed calls later and I had rescued him from the Cloisters’ foyer, by which time the night was in full flow. A silver-gilded teapot streaked across the room and soon the party-goers were clinking mugs merrily. A passion fruit jazz cocktail woke my palate with a citric burst only to be mellowed, a short while later, by a coconut milk and basil potion that the flapper waitress suggested Tom try. There were also definitely a few Moscow Mules thrown in somewhere…

A small bar with an undercover atmosphere – like Don Corleone could walk in with a cigar at any moment – Barts is exciting, intimate, quirky and…as I looked at my £45 bill…expensive.

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The blissful basil cocktail

Chelsea Cloisters  87 Sloane Ave, London, SW3 3DW
020 7581 3355

Bang with Friends

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Would you? Wouldn’t you? Would they? Wouldn’t they? In 2013 there’s no need to wonder any longer, for staying true to our technological era, we have invented an app to solve our curiosity – to solve the predicament of whether the friends you would like to ‘bang’ would ‘bang’ you back. Who invented it and where’s the app? Who and where else would it be…

Yes, almost ten years since social network phenomenon Mark Zuckerburg created ‘facemash’ from his Harvard dorm room, his minions have returned to his roots with new facebook app ‘Bang with Friends.’ Though still working on the premise of a click for yes/a click for no, a decade in the industry has softened Zuckerburg and ratings are anonymous. Indeed, you will never know who passed you up and you will never know who is interested in you – unless you are interested in them too.

You and the friend that (for story’s sake) you have always secretly desired will know about eachother ONLY if there is a positive match. You will know if there is a positive correlation.

Zuckerburg has thrown us yet another curve ball; yes, now we can beat around the bush, but isn’t it the courting and not knowing that gives romance its allure?

Whatever your opinion, the app is here, the app has gone viral (gathering over 20,000 users in its first four days) and with Valentine’s Day looming around the corner perhaps this will prove the perfect cure for the dateless.

Willyfinder

It’s that time of year again. Time to find the willyfinder. The ski season is well and truly upon us and in exactly one month I’ll be heading to the Austrian Alps. This is exciting in itself, but what makes it even more exciting is that I’ll be able to wear my willyfinder again!

What is the willyfinder? The willyfinder is an all-in-one ski suit that has taken the slopes by storm. Yes my friends the onsie of the 80s has come out of hibernation – the onsie is back – and with the uber-chic willyfinder designs it looks like it’s here to stay.

Coming in fluorescent pink, yellow, green and a more subtle blue and white stars, the willyfinders are easy to pack, comfortable, fun and very, very cool. Not sold yet? Well just look at my family and me wearing them last year:

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Trendy? I think so…

I also managed to  borrow the green one for the day, which, in retrospect, I think I like the most:

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They are also great for attention-seeking. So when you get that gnarley air – you can guarantee that you’ll be seen:

531345_10150775823351085_414438239_nJust make sure you land it.

Where can you buy one? It’s simple, just head to: http://www.willyfinder.com/

My Deepest Darkest Secrets

178390_10151026565050874_1721448280_oE4’s My Mad Fat Diary

‘Statistics,’ ‘advice,’ ‘nurture,’ ‘nature’ – over the past month England’s broadsheets have been preoccupied with debating childrens’ privacy policies. David Cameron’s new advisor on childhood, Claire Perry, has said that ‘parents should not be afraid to snoop on their children.’ Meanwhile, a study showed that 83% of 16 – 19-year olds keep a pen-and-paper diary; up from 69% in the 90’s.

So, on the one hand you have got 14% more diaries floating around the UK and on the other you have got government officials advising parents to ‘snoop.’  Therefore, statistically-speaking, being under-18 in 2013 doesn’t bode well for one’s privacy.

‘Thank goodness I was a 90’s child and a 00’s teen, before the government spawned these Big Brother parenting ideologies,’ I thought as I flicked through Bryony Gordon’s ode to her Winnie-the-pooh diary.  But then I thought about it some more; though my diary days predated this spying phenomenon, is not to say that spying didn’t exist back in the day – it just wasn’t as accepted.  Evidence:  my mother read my diary.

Pink, covered in smiley-faced stickers, my first (and last) diary was bought for me by my Kenyan friend Camilla, back in late 2003. My mother read it in early 2004. I remember walking into the kitchen as she leafed through at the kitchen table while drinking a cup of tea. She looked up, saw me and laughed. “Alice, you don’t need to worry about having bigger breasts. It will all happen in good time.” I ran to my room and cried.

Almost 10 years have passed since that encounter and after these privacy/diary articles were trending, I decided to hunt the diary down and have a read.  Stuffed down the back of my bookshelf, I found the tattered artifact, smiled at my youthful scrawl and started to dissect. Milla had written instructions on how to keep a diary on the first page: ‘you don’t have to write in it all the time,’ ‘stick things in,’ ‘write down all the amazing days,’ etc.

By page 20, it was obvious that I hadn’t followed Milla’s guidelines; I hadn’t followed them at all. My 13-14 year old diary is the most miserable read I’ve had in a very long time. Tear-splattered letters begging my mother to let me leave boarding school are juxtaposed with hideous monologues about my teachers and enemies (now friends).  There are the occasional rants about how much I loved my brother’s best friend which are seasoned with badly drawn love-hearts and a few pre-digital photos of my black-haired, red-eyed (from a year spent crying) translucent-skinned, self.

There are no happy memories in my diary; on all accounts it is a year of my life that I would rather forget and after thinking it over, I don’t want to run the risk of my mother, siblings, friends or even me being able to read it again; so I have decided to burn it.

Milla finished off her introductory page with: ‘when you’re old you will look back on this and say ‘I remember that girl’ in a croaky old voice.’ No Milla, I’m afraid I won’t. But I will look back on our other memories, our happy memories, and remember them instead.

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