It doesn’t feel like two minutes since I was typing my last post about new beginnings. Since leaving teaching full time, I’ve enjoyed a glorious summer working in Manchester city centre in the field of social media. Now that this chapter has reached its natural end, it’s time for another new start… only this time, who knows what it will bring? To celebrate the end of my internship, the office girls and I headed to one of Manchester’s newest restaurants, Pho.
Since opening its doors, we’ve visited the Vietnamese street food restaurant twice. Visiting one lunch hour, we took advantage of Pho’s free food offer (yes, complimentary food in return for our patience whilst they smoothed out any teething problems) Needless to say, we were smitten and so, planned a return based on the excellent experience we’d had the first time.
Arriving shortly before 6, we were seated in the heart of the restaurant at a long table clearly intended to help keep the conversation flowing. It didn’t take us long to choose starters and mains, with most of us opting for Nem Hải Sản, large crispy spring roll of king prawn, crab & pork with cham dipping sauce.
Now, it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. When arriving with our starters, the waiter explained how to eat Nem Hải Sản, just wrap the gem lettuce around it and dip into the sauce. Easy! What a taste explosion! Light, flavorsome and simply delicious.
Suitably sated, we were ready for our second course and needn’t wait long. Whilst talk turned to the inevitable question of what life holds next, our steaming plates of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), Cơm tấm (broken rice) and Bún (vermicelli noodles) arrived and gave me some time to think about my answer. We also ordered a bowl of Phở tái to share.
As you can see, I opted for a rich, fragrant Vietnamese curry called ‘Ca-ri’ served with broken rice and topped with nuts. If you saw my Instagram snaps from the first time, you’ll know I ordered this the last time we visited… it really is that good! Although it does hold a spicy kick, it’s mild enough to enjoy if you’re fearsome of hot curries!
If you’re looking for a place to eat that’s a little different from the usual, try Pho. Feel comfortable, lay back and enjoy amazing food, with no airs and graces and no high prices. Most main meals are priced under £10 and starters are around £6.
So, back to the big question: what does life hold next? While I loved each day of my internship, it paid minimum wage. Better than nothing, but not enough to pay the mortgage! However, it ignited my love of social media and digital marketing too much to simply let it go. In the meantime, it’s supply teaching as a way to make a living whilst I chase the dream. Looking back, would I do it all over again? Hell yes! I met some amazing people, true diamonds that I miss working with daily and planning impromptu diner trips with! But for now, it really is time for the next chapter.
I’ll leave you with some of our outtakes…
Are you already a fan of Pho?
What do you order?
The comfort zone: that wonderful feeling of confidence, security and general well-being. Oh, it’s a splendid place! It takes a while for me to feel truly comfortable; I may fake it by plastering on a smile, or tackling things head on, but inside the shy, coy girl I once was, is screaming to be a wallflower again. So, when I was asked to host a fashion workshop and co-present a catwalk show, you can imagine how much this was out of my comfort zone, right?
Totally and completely. To think, a few years ago I’d have been too shy to seek help from a shop assistant. So, when I received the offer to host two fashion events at a local shopping centre, I fired a very quick email back in response politely declining the work as I believed they’d emailed me in error. I wasn’t a fashion expert, nor a stylist! However, when I received a reply saying they were seeking bloggers with an interest in fashion and the ability to present, I started to think about it more.
You see, my internship had reached its natural conclusion and with supply teaching rumored to be quiet in September, completing this work would mean I’d have an income that month. I simply couldn’t say no to paid work. In the weeks leading up to the event, naturally, my anxiety was growing, but then I read a wonderful post by Sophie entitled, ‘Why you should do the things that terrify you’ and it convinced me that I had made the right choice.
There’s a post to come shortly telling you about my wonderful, but terrifying, experience working as a fashion expert but for now, I wanted to share an outfit post with you. Specifically, what I wore for one of the fashion events.
So, what does a fashion expert wear? In all honesty, I cringe at the term ‘fashion expert‘ used to describe myself. As long-time readers of my blog will know, I’m a fashion enthusiast but my style is strictly personal. Throughout this work, I grew to understand that I have an interest in fashion, but I don’t choose to dress in the trends. I dip into them, choose items that catch my eye and this glorious, printed skirt certainly did so.
Whilst I’d never advise anyone to change their individual style, I’ve thrifted so many items lately that I felt like my wardrobe needed a boost of fashion, a splash of colour in something I’d wear over and over again! When I spied this 70s infused print in H&M, I naturally made a bee line to the smock dress featuring it. However, when I considered what I needed, yet another dress just wasn’t on the list. At £19.99, I chose this affordable skirt knowing I’d wear it again and again throughout autumn and eventually into winter.
Knowing how hot the shopping centre could be throughout the day, I teamed it with a simple black, slightly oversized tee shirt and of course, no 70s inspired outfit would be complete without my Orla Kiely for Clarks shoes! I bought these last January, in the sale, for £50. At the time, it felt like a real splurge but they’re so on trend for this season I feel like they were a solid investment!
These days, no outfit of mine would be complete without something thrifted. Enter this Toast jacket that I purchased in May from Cancer Research for £12.50. It was brand new with the original tags attached, it should have been £189! I’m bowled over by its warmth, but I think it has a real vintage feel to it too! What do you think?
// Floral print skirt :: H&M //
// Wool jacket :: Cancer Research (Originally Toast) //
// Shoes :: Orla Kiely for Clarks //
// T-shirt :: Warehouse //
I’ll definitely be restyling this skirt for winter, I’m thinking roll neck sweaters and knee high boots! Being the retro loving girl I am, this skirt is going to see me through many seasons. After all, isn’t that the beauty of personal style?
So, what do you think?
An outfit fit for a stylist?
This post has taken days to escape my drafts, huge chunks of text have been deleted, rewritten, then reworded. Please note, these thoughts are just my opinions. I’m not intending to be an authority on Dismaland, I’m just writing from a lifestyle blogger’s point of view. Be warned, you’re in for a truly dismal post.
(Warning: This posts contains spoilers related to Dismaland. If you intend to visit the bemusement park, please bookmark this page (of course), return to it at a later date and tell me what you thought!)
“Welcome to Dismaland, have a terrible time“
You have to admit, these aren’t the words you expect to be greeted with on entry to a theme park, but then you’d be forgetting that this is a bemusement park, an ironic, subversive spin on your expectations from street art darling, Banksy.
After my internship finished at the end of August, I was filled with the sudden realisation that because I wasn’t going to be teaching in early September, I was free to take a break. Honestly, the sense of freedom I felt was overwhelmingly joyous. John and I had always wanted to visit Bristol, but somehow, we’d never visited due to the distance to drive and the costs of train fare. Feeling that it was now or never, I offered to drive to us to Bristol if we could get tickets to see Dismaland. Both at work, with 50 miles between us, we secured three pairs of tickets. It was official, we were going!
Arriving in Bristol late afternoon, we hopped on a train to take the short journey to Weston-super-Mare. Yes, we’d read the articles, saw the tweets, but with tickets in hand, we honestly didn’t expect to have to wait in line for an hour. I guess you could say, this is where the dismal experience started. As dusk descended, we reached the end of the queue to security, where our rucksacks were casually checked without the least sense of care if we were smuggling spray paint or Disney lawsuits.
“Your bag is too yellow. Burn it.”
On entry to the bemusement park, you’re lured into a false sense of security; the brightly coloured deck chairs, the contrast striped top attractions, the carousel where each horse has a sparkly name painted on it, the Disney-esque castle at the heart of the site. But take a closer look and you will find that there shall be no signs of cheerfulness here, no smiling customer service (the customer is never right), the burnt out castle, balloons depicting ‘I am an imbecile’. I mean, do you think you’re here to have a good time?
Once inside, we couldn’t escape the parallels between Dismaland and its alter-ego opposite, Disney: queues. Queues for the galley, queues for the castle, queues for the attractions. On our second visit, we headed straight for the castle and nothing, not even an Instagram sneak peek, could prepare me. Like a rotted apple, its contents disturbed me to my core.
Instantly, you’re likely to draw parallels between Cinderella’s crashed pumpkin and Princess Diana’s death . I mean, how can you not? However, dig a little deeper and it’s the swarm of paparazzi that’s truly the uncomfortable sight here. Only their flash illuminates the tragic scene, without them, we’d be standing in a darkened room blind to the event that appears to have taken place: the press enlighten how we see the world.
Whilst the topical issue of migrants and refugees has been placed under the media spotlight, it certainly wasn’t left out from Dismaland. I couldn’t ignore the obvious symbolism screaming at me: those with money in their pockets control the lives of others. Whilst others played merrily, I could barely look at the boats crammed with figurines.
Then there’s the carousel of colour adorned horses, cheerfully greeting its next rider but look closely as it turns, blink and you’ll miss the unexpected butcher. What’s he doing? Packaging horse meat into lasagne, of course.
So, the big question. Would I recommend you visit? Yes. Both John and I were glad to have made the journey to experience Bansky’s subversive collaboration as an exhibit of art. Despite it making uncomfortable viewing in parts, it does make an interesting sight to behold. We decided to give our third pair of tickets away to a local couple who were strolling on the promenade? Why? Well art is for the masses, surely? Although now, I can’t help but wonder what they thought of it…
What’s your opinion?
When George at Asda got in touch with a fashion challenge involving dresses, I didn’t hesitate to get involved. As you know, pretty dresses are the foundations of Polkadot Pink. As part of their Georgeous dresses campaign, they challenged me to choose just one dress and show how versatile it could be. Easy, I thought. Until, on arrival, I realised that my chosen dress was bodycon…
I mean, bodycon, what’s that again? Oh, an adjective: to describe a very tight-fitting style of clothing. A quick Google search did nothing to alleviate my fears (check out The Mirror’s delightful article, ’10 women, 10 awful outfits, three reasons why bodycon dresses are OVAH!’ With a title like that, I should be fearful! I mean who over the age of 19 uses the word OVAH? And, in print too?) So, back to being body confident!
Having confidence in my body is something that I’ve always struggled with. I’ve never worn tight-fitting clothing in my life, EVAH (sorry, slipped that one in for lolz) and the mere thought of tight-fitting around the hips strikes fear into my heart. THAT SAID, I’d handed myself a lifeline when I ordered this George dress, a size up from my usual dress size, in a 12. THANK GOD I DID!
…I mean, come on, even the model is hiding her midriff in the product listing shot! However, with the help of shapewear (hallelujah!) I happily wore the first stretchy, tight-fitting dress of my life! In almost 31 years, that’s no mean feat!
Back to the brief, one dress, versatility! I chose monochrome, because for me, it’s a style basic that never goes out of fashion and let’s face it, you can put black and white with anything and it’s a match. So, I chose to adopt a summer feel first. Wearing those lilac heels I panic bought in the New Look sale for the Irish Wedding (and swore I’d never wear), with my beloved River Island grab bag and YOSA neon necklace.
// Look One //
// Neon necklace :: c/o Rachel the Hat at Yosa //
// Lavender grab bag :: River Island (old) //
// Lilac heels :: New Look //
If you remember, this is the necklace that Rachel gifted me quite some time ago. I’d been saving it for the perfect monochrome stripe and I had a mini Eureka moment before slinging it round my neck and adding my beloved pleather jacket!
LOOK 2! Day time casual. Now, I can’t ignore the fact that autumn is about to thrust itself upon me in the most unwelcome way. Ooer. With the seasonal change in mind, I also chose another staple piece. The mac. Weighing in at £25, this raincoat will see me through those days when I need a practical coat to run a million* errands.
// Look Two (all c/o George at Asda) //
*Mightn’t be a million errands, but certainly feels like it some days.
One of my style basics is mixing a neutral palette with bright pops of colour. I posted a picture of this bag on my Instagram on Monday and received so many comments! For £4, it’s such a bright and cheerful burst of colour to any outfit.
So, there we have it. Two very different looks, for two very different seasons and occasions, but weighing in at a virtual spend of £51 for the key items.
Which is your favourite look?
*Post produced in collaboration with George at Asda, just incase you missed it*
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have spotted small parcels wrapped in monochrome stripes, multi-coloured chevrons and tied together with pink, velvet ribbon. The effort taken to wrap these presents can mean one thing and one thing only, it’s my mum’s birthday.
Each year, it gets progressively harder to impress my mum: she’s not ungrateful but has a specific taste (you know, the kind of taste that makes it impossible to know what to buy? Yeah, that.) Last year, I got it all wrong, choosing gifts that just didn’t work and I was left with a disappointed mum on her birthday. This year, Blossoming Gifts got in touch and helped me to get it so, so right. They offered to send my mum a bouquet of fresh flowers, of my choice, from their summer range. Here’s what I chose:
The ‘Summer Meadow’ bouquet features blue veronica, delicate lilac eustoma with avalanche roses and daisy like tanacetum single vegmo. In layman’s terms, that’s flowers that emulate the look of wildflowers, but wildflowers in a colour palette of your choosing. Now, I’m no florist, but I can confirm there are also roses included.
I’ve never purchased flowers by post before and it’s likely, had I not received this bouquet for free, I would have continued to live a life unaware of what’s on offer. The bouquet comes packaged in a cardboard box, once opened it reveal tightly packaged flowers that need to be gently unpicked. Once complete, they’re make a strikingly beautiful display and not one that can be rivaled by supermarket flowers.
The retail price of the Summer Meadow bouquet is £34.99, which is more than I would usually be willing to pay for fresh flowers. However, my mum was delighted by the surprise and novelty of receiving flowers by post and even more so when she noticed they came with a small box of chocolates included. A happy mother on her birthday? Well, that’s priceless!
If you’re strapped for cash, or buying flowers in addition to a wrapped present, then you’re in luck: there’s a cheap flowers section with bouquets costing under £20, delivered and some even include free chocolate. What’s more, most flowers are eligible for a 33% discount! Just enter the code at the checkout! That’s more like it!
What do you think of the ‘Summer Meadow’ bouquet?
And, is your mum hard to buy for too?
(Please tell me it’s not just me!)
*Thanks to Blossoming Gifts for sending this bouquet free of charge and helping my title as the ‘golden child’ to remain sparkly*