5 Delicious reasons to get yourself to Fulham this weekend

I’ve lived in Fulham for two and a half years now. It feels like the longest time ever but also like it’s absolutely flown. One thing I’ve done an awful lot of in my little corner of town, is eat. Fulham might not be an obvious choice for a Sunday stroll or somewhere to spend a lazy Saturday, but it should be. It actually has a fair amount to offer, especially in the eating category.

1) Moosh 17 Jerdan Place, Fulham

Brunch is basically my favourite thing. It’s eating, it’s not too early, it usually involves breakfast food (the best of all food) and you can have it with alcohol if you fancy. What’s not to love? This place embodies all my favourite things. Good coffee, delicious smoothies, fresh juices, amazing bread and pancakes. If you’re a bit of a health freak and like your brunching to involve some of your 5 a day and a hit of protein, Moosh have you covered. The banana and rasperry pancakes with natural yogurt make me so happy I could explode. They also do amazing superfood granola topped with a heap of fresh fruit. They ALSO do waffles with fro-yo and blueberries if you’re feeling fancy. All of the brunch stars.

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2) Chairs and Coffee 512 fulham road 

This is one for anyone who loves and respects coffee. These guys know how to put together a cup of caffeine. The best coffee I’ve ever had, easily. The service in here is also amazing, the staff are super friendly and the owner will tell you all you could ever need to know about the coffee bean, should you ask. They also do Aperol Spritz if you fancy a hair of the dog type affair. You can get banana bread to die for and some seriously delicious granola. If you want something to fill you up, they do amazing smashed avocado on toast and goats cheese paninis. I think I could probably move in and live here. On the cake table.

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3) Hally’s 60 New Kings Road

You’ll struggle to find a more chic lunch spot than this place. It’s like a pinterest dream come true. The cafe calls itself a ‘Californian style hang-out’ and it doesn’t disappoint. it’s so bright and breezy AND you can bring in dogs. It’s pretty much ideal in every way. The food is yum, the coffee is good and the decor is divine. Perfect girly catch up spot for Made in Chelsea cast spotting, if that’s what you’re into.

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4) The Harwood arms Walham Grove

This is currently the only Michelin starred pub in London, so you would go in expecting something quite special, and special it definitely is. The food, service, decor, drinks menu and quiet location make up a perfect up-market dining experience. They also do Sunday lunch and are famed for their scotch eggs. Easily one of the best meals out I’ve ever had and considering the quality it’s fairly reasonable. They also give you the most insanely delicious warm bread to tuck into while you choose your food. Free carbs.

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5) Del Aziz 

Moroccan inspired restaurant/bar/shisha cafe. Amazingly good burgers cooked however you want them, enormous slabs of cake, giant meringues and ALL of the cocktails. Go for happy hour, get some mojitos and try some red velvet cake. They do breakfast as well which includes Moroccan pancakes which I vouch for as being divine and covered in honey.

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If you get tired of eating (who are you?) you can wonder along Kings Road, take a walk to South park, stroll through Parson’s Green and just generally admire how the super rich live in this corner of West London. Oh and if you’re weird enough like me to be into really pretty front doors, Fulham has that covered.

10 things Overheard on the London Underground: Part 3

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Just over a week ago I was thinking how boring my tube journeys had been. No one had been acting absolutely outrageous, no one had said anything shocking, revolting or behaved in a way that made people move away and bury themselves even further in the armpits of strangers. BUT DON’T WORRY. The general public always prevail. And they do it in style on the District Line.

1) I do my bikini line every second Friday, it’s a good balance to beat the bristle.

2) I put my hand in my pocket and there was just marmite in there.

3) You could make a giant fire with all the Metros that get left behind. Imagine. A big underground fire of news.

4) The sausages are off now. I just cancelled on them.

5) We repainted the walls to get our deposit back but then Tim vommed up one after the beer festival.

6) My dad won’t pay for the private dentist if I miss tap lessons. He doesn’t understand how tired I am from working Saturdays.

7) (on the phone, very drunk, thick South African accent) You’re embarrassing me in front of all my fellow train riders. We ride together and now they all laugh at me as I phone you and you just sack me off like I’m shit on your shoe.

8) I bring a fresh spoon everyday.

9) Waitrose is just a cleaner shop. It has that sort of village feel, even when you’re buying lunch.

10) People will think we are a couple if you touch me there.

Image: victor Vic

Living with chronic pain

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There’s no easy way to ease into a blog post about chronic pain, so instead of trying to do that, let’s just begin.

Chronic pain is awful. It affects people for all different reasons and it can vary from mild to severe, it can come in waves, be constant, flare up, be related to a known condition or happen for seemingly no reason at all. I have it and I am largely unimpressed and annoyed by it, but I have grown to be used to it.

I suffer with it related to a suspected connective tissue disorder- Ehlers Danlos syndrome. There’s no genetic test, so I can’t be sure, and I’m no longer ill enough for doctors to see me in regular clinics or monitor me. There aren’t enough specialists for that sort of attention, and that’s a frustrating part of having rare conditions, as any fellow sufferers will know.

Chronic pain doesn’t have to come from a rare condition though, it comes from lots that we are aware of like arthritis and endometriosis. You probably know of someone who puts up with chronic pain, but like many people who know me, you most likely aren’t aware. In a lot of cases, the pain becomes a part of life. It’s one of those things that happens, usually daily, and there’s nothing much to be done about it.

Whether you’re sitting at your desk at work, trying to get to sleep, driving a car, in the shower, dancing on a night out, the pain sneaks in and takes over. I’ve learned to carry on and ignore mine unless it’s severe and that isn’t an option, because it’s easier than trying to explain to someone that a body part hurts out of nowhere and you need a break. Or you need to go home. Or you need to sit down on the floor.

People don’t get it. They can’t relate to it if they have never felt it and that’s reasonable. You can’t truly communicate how it feels to be in pain everyday, or get across the chaotic fashion in which your body treats you. One moment, you’re laughing away or getting your head down with some work, the next your staring really hard at the floor waiting for this latest pang to pass.

sometimes it doesn’t pass. Sometimes the only thing you can do to cope is to retreat to a bed or sofa and reach of the painkillers. sometimes it doesn’t pass for days. Chronic flare ups are NOT a fun time. It can be lonely and quite isolating too, to put up with something that in many ways defines your day to day life, but that you keep mostly to yourself or the confines of a select few in case people think you’re making it up, exaggerating or just being a baby.

Aside from the negatives and the physical impact and the fact it can quite literally get in the way of living at times, anyone who deals with pain on the chronic scale is brave beyond measure and you’re not alone. It’s easy to feel alone, as you might not know anyone else who suffers with something similar, you might have very few people or no one at all that sympathises with you and makes exceptions, but there are others out there.

The online community for ‘spoonies’ is quite something. I highly suggest getting on twitter or joining Facebook groups if you feel you need to connect with other people like you. You might have seen this term flung around recently in relation to Selena Gomez, who recently made it public that she has lupus. The ‘spoon theory’ is essentially that every person has a certain amount of spoons per day and different activities take up different amounts. Once you run out, that’s it. You’re done. You are absolutely done. I used to run out of spoons completely on a regular basis but thankfully I’m going through a long, good period with my condition.

If you have chronic pain I feel for you immensely, and I hope you know you aren’t the only one dealing with this unwieldy, random, debilitating symptom. KEEP GOING. YOU CAN DO IT.

Why you should book a winter staycation in the UK… Like right now 

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It’s cold outside. It’s late October. It’s dark before 6pm. Let’s call it winter.

What do you want to do? Go away? Have a holiday? Not be at work? CORRECT.

I’m as much into sun, beaches, pool side cocktails and all that other holiday jazz as the next person, but there’s more to travel than getting tanned and being miles away from home as I have discovered in the past couple of years.

Not so long ago I would have told you where to go if you suggested a staycation to me… I probably would have put you directly in the sea if you further suggested I do it in winter. HOWEVER, it turns out jetting off to tropical climates and beach resorts isn’t the be all and end all. There are actually other ways to holiday.

Who knew?

We have a lot going on in this United Kingdom of ours, and we should learn to ignore it less. I have friends who have always sung the praises of choosing to travel around the UK rather than further afield and while I’ll never stop globe trotting, I can finally see their point. The UK is bloody glorious. It’s got everything you could want in stunning views, pub experiences, sporting activities, cottage stays, camping locations, amazing roads to drive, cities to tour and sunsets to Instagram the hell out of. Or just look at. That works too.

We’ve also got heritage sights on top of heritage sights, the National Trust, a shed load of history and every sort of landscape you imagine.

If you want some winter sun I have some good recommendations, but how about staying here, doing it for a good price and being all blown away and amazed and refreshed? Very good. You absolutely should.

Since the rise of air B&B, the staycation has become a lot more enticing. You can check into cosy cottages or big, magazine worthy homes in idyllic locations for amazing prices. The more of you that are in on the trip, the better the price will be.

These sorts of trips have provided me with the most amazing views, sunsets, pub lunches, relaxing weekends and actually, been really educational without being a total bore. It’s nice to see more and know more about the country you live in. We don’t do it enough here, and that’s probably a lot down to lack of suitable beach days, which is why you may as well do it in winter.

Prices are likely to be lower, you can drink endless cups of tea, light fires, lay around under blankets, go in search of snow, prance around in your thermals on mountains and you can get there in your mates car and split the cost of petrol.

I’m never going to put a dampener on anyone’s enthusiasm to jet off to sun. NEVER. In fact I would like you to take me with you, but if you are looking to get away this winter, try staying here. It can work out rather beautifully.


  

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A recipe for the weekend- chocolate slabs with no refined sugar

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I’m two and a half weeks in to my new life as a recovering sugar addict. It’s not been that eventful, although I have noticed positive improvements to Ehlers-Danlos symptoms- anyone with a chronic condition, try reducing your sugar and see what happens. It’s also done wonders for my skin. Giving up everything sweet and nice is NOT easy though, but you obviously don’t need to just stop eating tasty things. You just have to google ‘things that are nice and contain no refined sugar’, which is exactly what I did.

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of a recipe from Livia’s Kitchen, which contained no refined sugar, gluten or dairy. I used to roll my eyes at things described as ‘raw’’ and ‘all natural’ because I was too busy sitting in my sugary bubble, stuffing Haribo in my mouth and queuing for coffees with syrup shots, all the while still suffering really quite badly with a out of control chronic illness and endless list of symptoms- some of these are genuinely better since I started this.

As soon as I saw Livia’s photos of what looked a bit like millionaire’s shortcake and was described as a ‘Snickers slice’, I was all in.

I modified the recipe a bit, as I think these things can work with a variety of ingredients, and you may as well do it to your taste preference. If you’re trying to be better at cutting out sugar and bad snacks, I cannot recommend these enough. They take no form of baking skill whatsoever, as they’re just essentially mushed together, and they taste delicious. Just like a peanut caramel shortcake but with a coconut twist.

I haven’t changed my recipe that much from the original, but the coconut I added was delicious. I also made them again and used Hazlenuts and it was almost like a Nutella slab, which is obviously an enormous win.

Base

  • 100g ground rolled oats or oat flour
  • 20g desicated coconut
  • 125g ground almonds OR hazlenuts
  • 30ml maple syrup
  • 10ml Manuka honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Peanut Caramel

  • 350g dates
  • 95g peanut butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 40g peanuts (Toasted preferably or raw)

Raw Chocolate

  • 100g coconut oil
  • 60g cacao Powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla Powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (50ml)
  • 1 tbsp honey

As Livia instructs, you just make these by creating each layer and popping them in the freezer before adding the next. check our her website for lots of other treats. She’s on to something.

Amazing moisturiser which wants to keep you cancer aware- say hello to Sniffy Wiffy

IMG_6614 I’m a massive sucker for pretty packaging, especially when it comes to beauty products. But how about packaging that looks good and looks out for you?

That’s what Sniffy Wiffy does and I love it. The packaging of these products have illustrated instructions on how to check for signs of cancer. Not only is it an amazing trigger to help us remember to check, the profits go to worthy cancer charities- Cancer Research UK and Ball Boys. I LOVE this so much. This is a cause that’s very close to my heart, so everyone I know can expect these in their Christmas gifts this year. It’s inspirational and the products are pretty lush too.

The body butter for girls comes with the option of labelling with instructions on how to check breasts for signs of breast cancer. This should be high on our ‘body admin’ to do list but it’s an easy task to forget when you’re busy, which is why I think this is genius. The simplest visual trigger to help us ladies remember something SO important.

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And it’s not just for girls! There are men’s moisturisers Available with labelling that instructs on how to check for testicular cancer.

The incentive alone was enough for me as breast cancer is most treatable when caught early, which is why we MUST check ourselves, but the products themselves will keep you re-purchasing. The coconut body butter is rich, absorbs nicely, isn’t sticky and smells divine. The products are available in loads of fragrances including chocolate, coconut, Guinness, blueberry, cherry, citrus and gingerbread, just to name a few.

You can also nab hand cream which smells just as good, lasts through hand washing and comes in the ideal handbag sized tin.

The product list includes body scrub and bath oil and pretty soon the brand will expand to cover children’s products with meningitis symptoms for parents. Just a helpful reminder and something you can use if you ever felt the need to check the symptoms of a little one.

I love this brand. I love what they stand for and I love how much engagement I’ve been able to have just from sending an email. I wasn’t sent these to review so this isn’t biased in any way, I just hugely support what they’re doing.

To give to a good cause the next time you need some moisturising goodness, head over to sniffy Wiffy and you can get 10% off by typing LAUREN in the discount code checkout section.

These came packaged beautifully so they’d make a good gift for someone else too.

GET SHOPPING.

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Five things to remember when it’s Monday and you just don’t want to 

  
1) It’s a cliche but you get to start a new week, so it’s the perfect day to try and be better. Having something to aim for makes crawling out of bed early and into the cold a bit easier. 

2) You’re another week closer to something you’re excited for. A holiday, a week off, a night out or even Christmas. Another whole week down, another week starting. 

3) You can start fully focussing on your next weekend. I do this regularly on a Monday. Get to work, eat something, settle down and think about the coming weekends plans: Sleep with a side of sleep and some gin, usually. 

4) You get over your first hurdle of the week just by getting out of bed. It’s Monday morning, getting up is an achievement right!? 

5) Your motivation peaks just before Monday lunchtime. Trust me. Look for it. Don’t waste the motivation. You’ve got a whole week to work with. 

5 problems with always wanting to achieve more

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If you’re the sort of person who achieves things, overcomes things and conquers challenges but then immediately wonders ‘but what next’, we are alike. I never feel like I’ve done good enough. I know I might not have done too badly at all, but I always think there’s a bigger achievement or a more satisfying reward somewhere out there. And I just have to have it. It can be an amazing trait, because you don’t need much of a push to be a go-getter, but on the other hand, it can bring problems. These are my main issues with this whole ‘never enough, can do better’ mindset:

1) Your best starts to mean less.

It’s hard to congratulate yourself when you do amazingly well and still feel like you missed something, or focus on the what ifs and missed opportunities. There might be a completely perfect outcome to something, but you wonder about a more perfect situation, and then you aren’t satisfied. Your best effort should make you content, but it does the opposite.

2) You probably have unrealistic goals.

I’m a person with a plan for just about everything. I like setting goals and I like working towards something, but when you do great things and pass big milestones but don’t see it for yourself, your goals become unreachable. You can end up setting yourself up for a loss, which hurts even more.

3) It’s exhausting.

Constantly questioning how to better, further and improve is tiring. It’s so, so tiring. Sometimes it’s a good kind of tiring, but a lot of the time it’s just full on brain fatigue.

4) You start to feel greedy

This is definitely something I worry about. I have more than enough and more than I used to think I would have at this stage in my life, but because of my ‘I can do better’ mindset, I feel like I’m greedy, because what more do I need to feel happy? I have more than a lot of others, but I just want EVEN more on top of that.

5) It can get in the way of happiness

To feel content is so relaxing and peaceful, but it can be a feeling that comes around a lot less when you’re trying to achieve more all the time. It’s hard to feel really happy when you never let yourself reflect on how well you’ve done, or how much of a good job you’re continually doing.

On the flip side of all of these points, being motivated and hungry for success is a great thing too, because it gets you places. Just maybe not in the most peaceful way. I like the way I am and I wouldn’t really want to change it, but I do wonder if they’ll ever come a time I can sit back and say to myself ‘well done me, I did good.’

I also think…would I have come this far if I wasn’t this way inclined? Probably not.

Swings and round-a-bouts I guess.

9 things I want to tick off by the end of 2015

  
1) Oil Pulling

I’ve read a lot of good about this, especially for whitening teeth, and as I’m currently off the sugar (yes, really, no more Biscoff with a spoon), I think now is a good time to see what it’s like. I don’t like coconut though, so that’ll be fun for me. I’m going to start this TODAY, so hopefully I’ll be blinding people with my pearly whites in no time at all.

2) Running a sub-30 5k

Doesn’t sound like that much of a challenge, but I’ve got the joints of a frail old lady. I also think I look a lot like a dying fish when I run, so that’ll be a treat for all those in the Fulham area.

3) Complete NaNoWriMo

This is part of National Novel Writing Month, which is November and encourages people to write 50,000 word in a month. Yes FIFTY THOUSAND. I’m really excited to try this, though given that I feel like I don’t have time to breathe enough during the day lately, it’s going to be quite the challenge. I have an idea and some random notes scrawled in my elephant notebook, although I realised I can’t read some because of my ‘on the tube’ handwriting. Also it’s like writing 5 dissertations. In a month. Lolz.

4) Try and develop a ‘capsule wardrobe’

Unlikely, as I have so many clothes my last wardrobe broke from sheer volume, but I really want to try this. I would love to be able to spend a few minutes choosing clothes and look acceptable, rather than chucking half of outfits across my bedroom in blind fury and looking like a rainbow explosion in the mornings. Winter seems like a good time to get stuck in. Black jeans are life.

5) Start learning to knit

Yeah, I am actually 72 years old. Surprise.

6) Self-host this website

I am scared to do this. Scared I don’t have enough time and scared something horrifying will happen, but I NEED to do it.

7) Learn how to apply eyeshadow properly

When I put it on now, I look like someone who has done their make-up after kicking back 8 or 9 gins. It’s a strong look, but I’d rather look like a normal, functioning 25 year old woman.

8) write a proper travel bucket list

I tend to go to most places on whim but I want to formulate a real list so I can have the satisfaction of ticking places things off. 

9) Succesfully do a week of Headspace. 

I need some calm in my life. 

Attention: it’s been 10 days since I last ate refined sugar

  
I’m not on a crash diet, trying to lose weight, or being used by aliens for an experiment.

 The reason no sugary treats have passed my lips is because I recently decided I wanted to feel well, more than anything else in my life. This might sound weird but for me it’s my ultimate goal. I have a chronic illness called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means I am in pain a lot, have problems with my joints, suffer from extreme fatigue totally at random and dislocate body parts for little or no reason. The symptoms are extensive, but you get the picture: I regularly feel crap. 

I need to be stronger, fitter and healthier to be able to get on with life to the best standard possible, and my bad, sugary, lazy habits were stopping that happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overtly unhealthy. I eat right but I snack wrong and I give in to temptation far too easily. 

I haven’t completely given it up, it’ll definitely make it’s way back in. I’m currently trying a plan from The Body Coach- you may well know of him. He makes Instagram videos of recipes called ‘Lean In 15’ and shouts about broccoli and is having a bit of a moment. I’m rubbish at following diets, but having motivation outside of losing weight, and the fact that I can’t actually handle the amount of food I’m meant to be eating, has made it seem not so bad. Plus some of the recipes are delicious and taste like dreams coming true all up in your tastebuds. 

I mean, I BLOODY MISS SUGAR. I am a sugar addict. Pick’n’mix is my favourite thing. I like eating Biscoff and Nutella with a spoon and few things make me as happy as fizzy sweets. The last 10 days have been no walk in the park, but they haven’t been as awful as I thought either.

My emotions have ranged from annoyingly cheerful to manically miserable. I’ve also found myself staring intently at the ‘treat box’ at work, which I happen to sit next to. I can practically smell the chocolate buttons from where I sit and type for up to 9 hours a day. There have been times when I’ve wanted to clamber under my desk at work and sleep for an hour, sugar crashes where my mood has resembled a dark cave of anger and screaming rage, and times where I’ve felt genuinely amazing and like I want to go on a dancey night out at 8am. Hello Waterloo station, where are your vibes? (There are none, because the District Line crushes dreams, just FYI) 

Overall though, 10 days in and I am quite astounded. The feeling cheerful and energised and ready for the world part is starting to become the dominant mood of my day. I’m sleeping a million times better, I’m not bloating, my skin has cleared up, my teeth feel so much nicer at the end of the day and I haven’t had any food guilt. Most importantly, my pain and fatigue have lessened. I feel like a better, more healthy version of myself.

My skin is the most notable change in appearance. It actually looks bright, like when you put an Instagram filter over your face to make photos look more ‘fresh to death’ and less ‘death is coming.’ I actually feel like I don’t need to do that. My skin looks like skin I want. Someone at work actually told me my skin looked really good, which never happens to spotty, lumpy old me. 

The cravings are strong. They do show up all singing and dancing and make me feel like I have to urgently face plant some maple syrup, but that’s where fruit comes in. I also feel like I’m tasting other food better, but maybe that’s just my mouth trying to find something nice about broccoli. (Sorry green tree faithfuls, I just can’t learn to love it.)

In such a short space of time it’s become clear that my bad diet habits were getting my body down. I’ve never been overtly unhealthy. Like I said, I just give in to cravings and snack on whatever is easy. Or within reach. Hello fruit pastilles.

I mean, it’s only been ten days. I might be found under the Lola’s Cupcakes cart in Waterloo station tomorrow with a face full of chocolate fudge brownie, but I’m hoping I can keep my sugar intake to a minimum going forward. If I continue feeling better like I do now, it’ll be a change for life. 

I want to be healthy and fit and strong and yeah, I do want to look good in a bikini. But when you start caring about wellbeing over thigh gaps, you realise you have more willpower than you thought. 

We’ll see what happens next. Hopefully not the cupcake cart.