Brighton: A Day of Running and Cheering (Mainly Cheering...)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Brighton Marathon
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Brighton: A Day of Running and Cheering (Mainly Cheering...)

One of my best pals lives in Brighton (oh hey Simon *waves*), so it doesn't take much for me to jump a train to the beach. This time, I was going with a purpose - head cheerleader. Simon was running the marathon for the second year on the trot and wanted to beat his personal best.... challenge accepted - I grabbed my pal Milla, warmed up my vocal cords (and northern accent, cheerleading switched me into full northern mode 'go on love, you can do it') and went to shout words of encouragement very loudly.

I suppose pom poms would have been more appropriate attire, but I went with pink velvet boots - let my feet take part in the action, you know? I loved the whole day, marathons bring out the best in humanity. Everyone standing on the sidelines was cheering (genuinely) for every single person that had made it to the last mile and you could see it in the runners face that it made every bit of difference. We saw one guy who looked completely ruined but the determination to finish was driving him on, we all started chanting his name and it was like he had been re-fuelled! He started running again like a complete badass.

Simon conquered the marathon and managed to beat his personal best (we obvs made it happen), we ate a lot of chips and I managed to locate the coat of dreams in the Brighton Marks & Spencer. The day was a good'un.
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Top - & Other Stories, Jacket - Missguided, Pants - Topshop, Boots - ASOS, Earrings - Toujours Toi Family Affairs, Ring - Made be ME!

South to East

Sunday, 24 April 2016

South to East
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This weekend was for adventures and exploration.

I left my south London cave and made the journey east to spend the day with Sheldo, sashaying around wearing the trench coat and tote bag of dreams. Work is busy... GREAT, but busy, with that in mind I wanted this weekend to involve a smaller quantity of booze than prior and a larger quantity of fresh air. I met Laura in Shoreditch, hotdog in hand, ready to head to our first destination - Anorak Magazines 'Drawing Imaginarium'.... It wasn't exactly what we were expecting... there were a lot less activities and a lot more children. In true trooper style, we gave the event a solid 30 minutes before giving up and heading to the Whitechapel Gallery. The main exhibit "Parallel I-VI" by Harun Faroki was super interesting, the space was made up of a variety of screens leading you through the evolution of gaming, it's actually amazing to witness technology growing at the speed it is. I still think I prefer the games that actually look like games, super obvious pixels and such... but alas, Assassin's Creed it is.

Although the pictures look pretty sunny, Saturday was freezing so we decided to base the rest of the days itinerary based on where the pockets of sun led us... we arrived at St Katherine's Dock and explored every small alley along the way. We found an open door to the Thames, a dolphin fountain, a peace garden where all faiths can congregate and be at peace, Morris Dancers, a building that looked like a remnant from War of the Worlds and a really good pub.

Overall, it was the perfect London day - oh hey Monday, I'm ready for you!

Laura Sheldo has a new collection of T-shirts, prints and totes out today - go, go, go! I 100% need this tote bag in a T-shirt!
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Trench - Marks & Spencer, Top & Pants - Topshop, Tote Bag - Laura Sheldon
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Podcasts: Essential Living 02

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Podcasts 02
Podcasts: Essential Listening 02

Since January's gush-fest, I have delved deeper into the world of podcasts and I am more hooked than ever, so here are my top six new podcast discoveries for April:

Call Your Girlfriend

Call Your Girlfriend ‘a podcast for long distance besties everywhere’ was a favourite in January and my love has only grown. Full debrief in January's post.

The Untold

The Untold is a documentary series hosted by Grace Dent, already that should have you running, headphones in, to your phone to download. The idea of The Untold is to explore compelling stories that would usually fly under the radar or go untold. This first episode that hooked me was 'Stacey Jackson: Chasing Dreams', which follows a pop star / mum / entrepreneur as she tries to crack stardom... it's fascinating.

If you like Grace Dent and are interested in people and their stories, this is 100% for you. 


Ctrl Alt Delete

Ctrl Alt Delete is a relatively new podcast from journalist, blogger, novelist and all around wonder woman, Emma Gannon. In the first 4 episodes Emma talks to super novelist Liz Gilbert, YouTube queen Zoella, writer and all round badass Ashley C Ford and the young feminist / activist Rowan Blanchard.

Social media, the online community and feminism play a big part in her choice of guests and topics - it feels fresh, contemporary and I'm eager to see what the rest of the series brings!


Along with the TED talks, this is one I listen to on a slow work day, when I'm lacking in motivation - you need to hear the voices of the successful, the badass, the driven, the career buffs and the young professionals taking on the world.

A kick up the career backside, all round thumbs up from me.


Guy's We Fxxxxxd

Listed on iTunes as the 'anti slut-shaming' podcast - it's brash, rude and unapologetically honest. The two hosts, Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson are comedians, so naturally it's hilarious, not only that but it promotes strong women, taking control and sex positivity!


Channel 33 'Jam Session'

I discovered this through Lunch Hour Links by Helen & Miranda (they offer out weekly inspiration in the best of forms, subscribe!). Channel 33 has a few different programmes under it's umbrella, all great, but my favourite is the 'Jam Session' - it's the go-to podcast for all things pop culture.

Episode 78 is a firm favourite up to now - I spent 1.5 hours listening to an in-depth discussion into Miles Teller and his somewhat confusing decision making. A gossip session well worth indulging in!


Enjoy, procrastinate and leave me your favourites below...

WOW Festival 2016

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

WOW Festival 2016

A couple of weeks ago I attended the WOW (Women of the World) Festival on the Southbank and it was bloody marvellous. I'm not going to lure you in with words right now as I have gushed about the festival for a whole 11 minutes on my YouTube channel - HERE.

If you went, pop my a comment with your opinion on the festival, atmosphere and speakers below :)

On Female Friendship

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

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Hey Girlll

This topic is huge, and it's something I think I will keep coming back to on here, but for now I want to talk about female friendship in relation to the three big, female focussed NY shows - Sex and the City, Girls and Broad City.

First up - Sex and the City... SatC created the original girl gang dynamic - four women, contrasting personalities and a killer friendship. I do love this show and at the time, talking so openly about sex, relationships and being an independent woman was innovative and mostly unheard of. The show in it's purest forms is based around friendship, real friendship. The gang love each other, stand up for each other, listen to each other being insane and somehow manage to help each other out no matter what. The show is pretty 'man hunt' focussed (life) but the show also strays from the norm by allowing a women in her fifties be single and says that it's ok, because despite popular opinion - being on your own isn't all that bad. Despite the film depictions of SatC being pretty shit, this quote is perfect, "I love you... but I love me more. I've been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that's the one I need to work on." - Samantha Jones. Preach.

It's unrealistic for the majority of the time - take Carrie - from what we see, she writes one column yet seems to keep a one bed flat in Manhattan, with a steady stream of designer clothes / shoes, whilst out every night and going for drinks at every opportunity... I don't think so... reality is that she would be shopping at Primark (they are moving to the UK in this scenario, obvs), house sharing with another five people and eating a lot more beans.... but despite my best efforts, I still love this show. I think it's stood the test of time. Oh, and the clothes, THE CLOTHES.

Girl's came on the scene like a younger, grimier version of SatC - although I don't think this was deliberate, it's hard not to compare when the set up is so similar. Girl's is more realistic - the gang live in shittier flats (although Hannah still manages to work part time and live in a two-bed.... nope, not happening - get in a six bed Hannah), they don't wear a wardrobe made up of designer clothes and posh restaurants are out, clubs are in. There is a core group of four pals, so far, so Sex and the City, B U T the friendship dynamic in Girl's is meannnnn.

The protagonists are unlikeable - they are all selfish and self-absorbed, they stab each other in the back, bitch about each other and are generally the worst. Each character seems to be the extreme / rubbish parts of a shitty personality without the good parts to balance it out. That being said, I can see parts of myself in each of the characters and maybe that's a good thing. We can all be nasty, selfish and hurtful, and it's important that we see that being played out, nobody is perfect after all. The friendships are toxic and sometimes hard to swallow, the sex is honest, the bodies are realistic and it's great.

For me, Broad City is the best show in the world (no exaggeration, well... maybe a tad). When I compare the three shows, BC is the most realistic is terms of the living situation and portrayal of friendship. The two female leads share small flats with housemates they don't necessarily like, they work crappy jobs, smoke a lot of weed, re-wear outfits and drink a lot of booze. Abbi and Ilana are ridiculously great, pot smoking, hilarious, feminist heroes! The storylines aren't focussed around finding a man, they are focussed on being badass as you are.

The two girls love each other unconditionally, as my with girl gang - they are supportive, funny, non-judgemental, understanding, loving, compliment giving, hype machines. That's what feels realistic to me - pals who tell you that you can do anything and will be there along the way, making life generally more liveable. They are my people.


Kew Gardens

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Kew Gardens
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Kew Gardens

My pal Hazel always highlights the importance of watching Country File on a hangover, it replaces that part of your soul that you quite possibly killed off the night before. Kew Gardens is the IRL version of this activity - super wholesome, restorative and refreshing. I actually wasn't hungover for this trip, but you catch my drift....

Anyway, my Nanna came to visit for the weekend and we decided to visit Kew Gardens in the rain (read: Manchester - same old, same old). I loved it - we devoured a lot of cake, drank a lot of coffee, explored the gardens on a land train and managed to catch this years Brazilian themed 'Orchid Festival'. The palm house was sweaty and incredible, trees are fascinating... super geeky but oh so true. I was also amazed to find out that the palm house in Kew was completed in 1844 - managing to survive two world wars!

Slightly off-topic story - there are a set of trees in Malaysia that decided to start working together. One of the trees was super tall but super skinny, and the other tree was weak and couldn't access the sun. So, in the spirit of true team work - the weak tree, wrapped around the other tree which meant that the weak tree could get sunlight and the super skinny tree gained strength. Incred.

The Japanese Garden was a firm favourite from the day - current addiction to Japan aside, these gardens were incredible! It boasted indigenous plants, architecture and had a distinctly different atmosphere to the rest of the gardens. I will definitely be making a trip back, maybe when the sun is being a bit more cooperative.

What are your wholesome London activities? I need more brilliant Sunday options.

Happy Saturday!
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Coat - Zara, Top & Pants - Topshop, Jacked - Missguided, Boobie Pins - Coucou Suzette
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Don't be so hard on yourself

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Don't be so Hard on Yourself Blog
Don't be so hard on yourself

Hello, I’m 29 years old and alongside most people my age, I’m partial to freaking out.

I currently live in London, in a two-bed flat (read: cupboard) with one of my best friends, I have a great job and a great group of friends. All the things that genuinely make life great. Why the sporadic freak outs then Ashley?..... Well, pressure. Not pressure enforced on me by anyone else, it's self conflicted. It's not switching off, it's constantly checking my phone, it's allowing myself to freak out that I should be doing more and doing it better.

For example, I received an email from my yoga teacher, I say that like I am truly connected to the yoga world, I’m not – I’m a flailing member. I’ve attended around five times in the past six months, which is why I emailed in the first place 'I'm sorry I missed the lesson, I'll make it Monday, blah, blah blah'… the reply simply said ‘don’t be so hard on yourself'.
My yoga (yoda) teacher was right, I am hard on myself. I irritate myself for not creating more, exercising more and generally not doing more. I berate myself for not moving quicker, for not being more motivated before / after work, for not losing weight, for being horrifically bored when I set foot in a gym and for allowing myself to binge on Netflix (and cheese and pizza and cider).
What’s with all the pressure? And it's not just me, (no whiners / self pity here) all of my friends (especially the ones taking the journey to the ever approaching 'dirty thirties') are feeling it one way or the other, right alongside me.
In generations before ours, at 29, your life would be pretty much ‘sorted’ – you would typically have a job, a house, a marriage and probably 2.4 children. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am cut out for half of those things, I am still unsure whether having kids will be something that I do and getting married in the traditional sense doesn’t particularly appeal either… but I can choose not to do that, there is no-one to push me to get married, there is no-one looking at me in disgrace for having sex out of wedlock and that fact on it's own, is incredible.
Now, we are so privileged – we have the world at our fingertips, the opportunities for what we can achieve and strive to achieve are endless. The choice on whether you want to settle down, have kids and get married is completely open – you can choose exactly what you want from life, people are pushed to make the decisions that are right for them and it’s fantastic.
We need to embrace all of the opportunity laid before us, the opportunity that people have fought for us to have, rather than being intimidated by it and we need to use it wisely to change our own lives and the lives of people around us. 

I've told my subconscious and it's pressure to get lost, I'm doing ok, and so are you.

**Just so you know - I realise that I am coming at this from a very privileged viewpoint!

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