Power Suits

I'm loving a good power suit right now, especially the bold coloured ones.  

What about you?


ASOS - £76

ASOS - £105

ASOS - £80

ASOS - £100
Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

The Seven Year Friendship Itch

Sadly, as we go into our late twenties and early thirties we notice our friendship group growing smaller and smaller.  Everyone seems to be busy settling down, spending more time with their partners and families, saving for a house or a wedding or not having anyone to babysit.  This is perfectly normal and so don't threat if you feel like you're losing your friends or perhaps that you're a bad friend that never has time for anyone anymore.



I'm definitely guilty of this.  Some of my closest friends I have only seen once or twice this year!  But when I think about it we have been travelling so much and saving to buy a house. I've been studying for exams which takes a lot of my spare time up and then trying to keep up with my blog and Instagram. A lot of my friends got married last year and have had babies this year so it's not as easy to get together like we used to.

I think the most important thing, however, is communication.  Making sure you just pick up the phone and dropping your friends a quick text to check in and ask how they are.  It doesn't require much of your time at all but it is so important.



Some friendships though can't be saved and that's okay.  You grow apart and have different priorities and as much as you try to make an effort with them if they don't give anything back you need to just let it go.  Or sometimes you may change as you grow older and don't have as much in common anymore.  That is okay too because chances are you will meet new people that you do have stuff in common with.

What's your best piece of friendship advice?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Training For and Running My First Official 10K

I love exercise but I'm not a runner and never have been.  I've always had a gym membership but never went in the actual gym, always preferring to do classes (see my fitness regime here).  However, my boyfriend Tom is a runner, it's his 'thing' like classes are mine.  He's very good at it too.  He ran the marathon this year in under 4 hours despite the heat.

So when my friends (who are also runners) asked me if I wanted to sign up for the local 10k I was like errr nah.  I told Tom though and he was well up for it.  Easy for him to say as he can run 10k in his sleep!  In a moment of madness I thought maybe it might be good to train for something or maybe see what all the fuss is about with running.

The run took place this month and I sign up in June giving myself 4 months to train.  I did my research and found lots of training guides online.  This way I was able to build up to it gradually and hoped that by the time the run came around I could do it in under an hour. Tom was aiming for 40 minutes but forget that!


At first I did really well.  Running both weekend days and twice during the week at the gym. However, at the end of August I cancelled my gym membership because we were supposed to be moving house and travelling to that gym would be too far.  We then didn't move until the end of September and I still haven't signed up to a new gym.

So between cancelling my gym membership and moving house I tried to get in as many runs as I could.  I was doing 1 8km run a week which was tough at first but then got easier.  I planned out a few different routes which made it more interesting.  However, it was still taking me an hour to do 8km and I really wanted to do 10k in this time.

I tried the 10km about 3 weeks before the run and it really wasn't that bad although it took me an hour and 15.  I decided that maybe it wasn't about getting an amazing time but just finishing the run that counted so that's what I worked towards.  After moving I managed another two 5k runs which wasn't really enough but it's all I could do given the circumstances.


The day of the race came around and I was a little nervous but more excited as I was doing it with Tom and my friends so it was going to be fun and I realised I shouldn't take it so seriously and put pressure on myself to get a really good time, I just should enjoy it.  I decided I was probably going to get a time of around 1hr 10/15 and that was fine.

We headed off at 10.30 with Tom and my friends ahead of me, I was just going to take it at my own pace.  However, before we even left the park where the race started my shoe lace came undone and I had to stop to tie it up!  I also had my hoodie on because it was a bit cold when we were waiting around and then I had to tie that around my waist for the duration of the race which was a bit annoying.

Normally during my training runs I would stop every 1k for about 20 seconds to catch my breath, however, I didn't feel the need to stop until every 2k.  I think because I had everyone running around me it kept me going for a bit longer and I realised I could do better than I thought.  There were a few hills in this race which were tough but overall it was fun because you ran through woods and fields so it kept it interesting if nothing else!


I made it to the finish line after just 1hr and 2 minutes so I was so so happy with that time, even if Tom finished in 42 minutes and my friends in around 55 minutes.  I may even do it again next year if I can train properly and maybe get a personal best!  I've definitely picked up the running bug and now that I've moved to Greenwich will be running around the park frequently I think :)

Do you run?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

A Weekend in Newcastle

At the end of September I took a trip to Newcastle for the weekend.  The trip came about because we wanted to get tickets to see The Arctic Monkeys but as they sold out in London super fast we impulsively booked tickets for Newcastle instead and decided we would make a weekend of it.


This was the furthest north of England I'd ever been.  If I'm honest I'm always a little scared to go any further north than Cambridge, preferring my home comforts of the South!  I was pleasantly surprised though and would definitely go back.  Their night life is one of the best I've experienced in the UK!

We traveled on a Friday afternoon from King's Cross on a Virgin Train.  We get a third off our train tickets with our Two Together train pass.  Unfortunately because we had booked our tickets quite last minute we didn't have seated reserved which meant we were faced with standing for 3 hours along with all our luggage!


However, there were seats in First Class available so we paid £35 each to upgrade and had a nice relaxed journey up North.  First Class was amazing, the staff are so attentive, you got meals and drinks included and also free wifi the whole way which was great for me as I had a last minute project I was working on to finalise.

Once we arrived we checked into our hotel which was the Premier Inn Quayside.  It was lovely and had a great view over the water and bridges.  I love staying in Premier Inns because they are so good for the money and always so helpful should you have any problems.  I am planning to book with them again when I go to Cardiff in December.


The Arctic Monkey's gig was the Friday night so after chilling in the hotel for a bit we got ready and headed out.  We wanted to get food and drinks so we stopped at a place called Hop and Cleaver that did half price cocktails all night.  The cocktails were awesome too and the food was so so yummy!  I had the mac and cheese with a side of halloumi fries.


After several cocktails we made our way over to the Metro Arena along with thousands of other Arctic Monkey fans.  They were just amazing.  We had such a good time, singing and dancing along.  I saw them back in 2009 when they played Wembley and my boyfriend is such a big fan he saw them the week before in London at the 02.

On the Saturday we weren't sure what to do so my boyfriend suggested we catch the Newcastle v Leicester game.  I'm not a massive football fan but I do like watching live football for the atmosphere.  I agreed so long as we could check out the vegan place I'd found on my Happy Cow app.  I still try to eat vegan as much as I can but am not as strict now.


So that's what we settled on.  We made our way over to The Grumpy Panda for the most delicious vegan brunch.  I had the pancakes and Tom had the burger.  We also both had the milkshakes which were to die for!  Belly full and happy we took a slow walk over to St James Park for pre-game drinks and then entered the stadium.


If I'm honest I didn't really have a clue what was going on in the actual game but the atmosphere was great and it was a really nice stadium.  It was a beautifully clear day too so that definitely helped.  Once the game was over (I can't even remember who won!) we went back to our hotel to chill and decide where we wanted to go in the evening.

As we had already had a big night the night before (I'm in my 30s now!) we decided to just go for a nice meal and have a few quiet drinks.  I checked Tripadvisor to see what was around and we found an Indian restaurant called Raval which had 5 star reviews.  The food was very good and so were the cocktails although I wasn't overly impressed with the service, despite booking a table we still had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated.


The next morning we decided to just head straight back to London as we were excited to get back to our new house we had only moved into the week before!  We checked out of the Premier Inn which was nice and easy because you just had to drop your key card in the box by the front then we headed to the station to catch another Virgin train back home.

I would definitely recommend Newcastle for a city break.  There's so much to do, great food places and such a fun night out!  I really need to start visiting cities in the UK more often.



Have you been to Newcastle?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Misty At The Trafalgar Studios

Last week I was kindly invited by Official London Theatre.com to see a performance of Misty at the Trafalgar Studios in London.  Misty is a play performed almost solely by one man.  It describes what it is like to be a person of colour living in London today and the struggles they come up against.  The actor Arinze Kene did an amazing job of portraying this in the most powerful way.


There are various metaphors used throughout the play such as the reference to 'viruses' being black people, blood cells being everyone else and the orange balloon being his ego which he constantly fights with.  I don't want to give the whole story away but if you're looking for something different and very real then you should definitely give this one a go.  



The play was such an eye-opener and I think a lot of us (especially white people) are guilty of not realising how much of a blessing our 'white privilege' really is.  It made me appreciate what I have and although we have come a long way from slavery, we still have a way to go in proving #BlackLivesMatter.



Tickets can be purchased from Official London Theatre.  However, if this isn't your thing and perhaps you prefer something more cheery like a musical, Official London Theatre have so many great shows on offer.



What was the last thing you saw at the theatre?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

* These tickets were gifted to me but all opinions are my own *

My Favourite Street Style Looks From London Fashion Week

Animal print





Bright pops of colour

What were your favourite looks?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Halloween Costume Ideas

I'm not normally one for fancy dress parties, preferring instead to wear something more fashionable and on trend.  However, this year I have been invited to a Day of the Dead party (which I'm told is not the same as a traditional Halloween party) so I thought I would try to get into the spirit and find some inspiration for a costume.. that is maybe still slightly fashionable too.



Asda, as always, has a great range of costumes for affordable price budgets.  I don't want to spend much on a costume as I highly doubt I will wear it again.  I found this Day of the Dead dress that I may buy.




Missguided and Boohoo are also good online stores for buying affordable halloween costumes.  They sell more fashionable items that aren't necessarily fancy dress but logo tees and dresses with halloween slogans or motifs on them that you can just pair with jeans or a skirt and tights.


Or you can go all out and try places like Amazon or eBay for full-on frightful halloween get up.  




What will you be dressing up as this year?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Having Your Burger And Eating It With EatEnjoy Gluten

Nearly 3 years ago now I made the conscious decision to follow a more plant-based diet.  I did my research and decided that it was something I really wanted to do in order to help save the animals, our planet and most importantly my health. Before this I was vegetarian for roughly 7 years so the transition wasn’t too hard for me.

However, as much as I love eating plant-based foods and reaping the benefits of this lifestyle, I did find that as I introduced more gluten rich foods into my diet I became extremely bloated and uncomfortable at times which was not ideal at all. So, when I was approached by EatEnjoy Gluten to test out their new supplements I was more than keen to give it a go.



The supplement works by breaking down the proteins found in gluten which are extremely difficult to digest and helps ease the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity.  Therefore, it is perfect for anyone suffering from gluten sensitivity that stops them from enjoying their favourite gluten rich foods.  All you have to do is take one capsule a few minutes before eating gluten.  It’s that simple!

I tried the supplements for just over a week and during this time I cooked meals at home and ate out.  The product seemed to take effect straight away and reduced the bloating to almost none.  Now I can eat all the bread and pasta I want!  It’s also great for when I eat out and don’t have to sit there feeling uncomfortable, stopping me from having a good time with my friends and family.



If you are interested in purchasing the capsules by EatEnjoy Gluten they are now available in the UK and you can order them exclusively online here. I even have an exclusive discount code to get 20% off your first order and free shipping! Simply use ENJOY20OFF when you checkout. 

Please note: This product is suitable for those with gluten sensitivity but not suitable for coeliacs, IBS sufferers or anyone with a diagnosed medical condition.  This product is also not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



This blog post is in paid partnership with EatEnjoy Gluten but all opinions are my own.

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Sustainable Fashion and The Capsule Wardrobe

As much as I love going out and buying new clothes I have been thinking a lot about sustainable fashion lately.  It's currently a hot topic and especially with fashion week now on and the urge to buy more clothes as we transition into winter.  But is it really necessary to keep buying new clothes?  What's wrong with our old clothes or buying second hand?

As much as I love buying new clothes I must admit I am quite the hoarder.  I definitely think twice before throwing something out, especially if it hasn't been worn much and always donate a lot to charity every so often.

Adidas trainers - 3 years old

I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping an item for more than 2 years but for some reason people seem to be embarrassed or feel the need to constantly keep updating their wardrobe.  I get that obviously trends change and you don't always want to be seen in something 'so last season' but that is why I have tried to create a capsule wardrobe for myself.

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of items that are classic, timeless pieces that you can wear again and again.  I now look for this when I feel the need to shop; will it last forever?  will it go out of fashion quickly?  will I wear it a lot?  do I have something similar already?  These are the questions we need to be asking before purchasing something.

Here are some of my most loved items that I've had for over 2 years.

Faux leather jacket from Miss Selfridge - 6 years old

Vest top from Forever 21 - 7 years old

How do you feel about sustainable fashion?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

On Blackheath 2018

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend On Blackheath which is a music festival taking place on Blackheath, London.  I went on the Sunday and got to see the amazing Paloma Faith as well as the hilarious Lightening Seeds and the oh so funky De la Soul.  The weather was so beautiful and it was just such a perfectly chilled day.

We got there about 3pm by taking a train to Greenwich and walking through the park.  We went straight to the VIP area which had it's own bar and toilets.  There were also comfy seats and lots more room to sit and chill whilst listening to the music.  The only downside to the VIP area is the huge fence around the edge so whilst people can't see in, you also can't see the stage but it was nice all the same.



When De la Soul came on we decided to go out into the crowd for a little dance because how can you not when this band performs!  After a good dance we had worked up an appetite and decided we wanted to check out some of the food stalls.  There were so many to choose from I think this was the hardest decision of the day!

I was really pleased by the amount of vegan food that was on offer too and in the end decided on Vegan Vice as I'd heard good things about them from the Vegan Nights events.  I went for the truffle shuffle burger which consisted of a seitan patty which is the best alternative to meat EVER, vegan cheese and mayo.  It was honestly one of the best burgers I've had and I definitely want to try more from them.



Lastly we went to see the amazing Paloma Faith.  She has such an amazing voice and what I love about her performance is that she really interacts with the crowd.  She explained the meaning behind some of her songs and talked about a recent loss she went through which just made her even more relatable.  After that we walked to Lewisham and took the train home after an awesome day in the sunshine listening and dancing to live music.

This was my second time attending On Blackheath and I'll definitely be attending next year.  I would highly recommend it to anyone in the London area.  It's also super family friendly.




Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

How To Enhance Your Career

I recently got a promotion at work.  It was such a relief that my hard work had finally paid off because there were certainly times when I wanted to give up.  I'm no expert on how to work your way up the career ladder but I've definitely had my fair share of set backs and that is the inspiration behind today's post.


Don't give up

If I'd given up after every set back I had I would not be anywhere near where I am now in life.  In my early thirties I am just about to qualify as a lawyer and buy my own 4 bedroom house in London.  However, I can't tell you how many nos and fails I've had along the way but I'm now I can look back and realise I'm so glad I kept going.

There's no substitute for hard work

I didn't do particularly well at school and I thought this would never get me a good enough career to live the lifestyle I wanted.  However, it's not always about good grades and top education but hard work.  I did have to go back and study to get the qualification needed to be a lawyer but I did it all whilst working full time and that was way more beneficial for me than any degree and debts I would have ended up with.



Believe in yourself

This is one where I need to practise what I preach.  I am not very confident in myself, maybe because I've had a lot of knock backs and feel like I'm not 'as smart' as everyone around me but if you believe you can achieve.  Sometimes you have to be your number 1 fan and trust that you will get to be where you want to be if you just have a little more faith in yourself.

Learn from your mistakes

You're never going to get it right every time and particularly not the first time so don't be disheartened if you get it wrong.  Sometimes getting it wrong is the biggest learning curve.  Whenever I get something wrong it then sticks with me to never make that same mistake again.  Remember, that most people you work for will have been in your position at some point.

Ask questions

I was always so afraid to ask questions at the risk of sounding stupid but actually, there's no such thing as a stupid question.  What's more stupid is to sit there quietly not knowing what to do and wasting time.  Ask the questions and do the work.  There is no shame is admitting you don't know something.





What's your best piece of career advice?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Do We Still Marry For Love?

Today's society is such a strange one, with Millennials taking over the internet [world], feminists finally having a voice and veganism being the fastest growing movement of 2017.  But yet we still aren't anywhere nearer to getting world peace and it makes me wonder about love and whether we still even marry for love?

If we go back to the 18th century, no-one really married for love.  Girls from high society families would be set up with a man from a similar social class by their parents and would marry for money.  The girl would then be reliant on the man and his family to provide for her and any children she may have.  



Marrying for money, however, makes you very vulnerable.  If you are then reliant on the man to look after you you would have to be willing to turn a blind eye to his affairs or abuse he may put you through.  If you don't, you will be divorced and poor.  Obviously the situation is not as bad in this day and age because girls can go out and get good jobs and look after themselves.

Even so, it does seem like some people just settle and put up with stuff just because they think they will have a better lifestyle if they do.  I think as always the media is to blame for this.  They blast all over the internet these glamorous lifestyles and some girls think the only way to achieve this is by getting with a rich man.



Ladies, we are strong independent women, please know your worth.  Just look around at the #MeToo movement and see how strong some of those ladies are.  We don't need men to have beautiful things, we can get that ourselves.  Find someone who has a good heart and fall in love.  Once you have found that special person you will feel like you have everything you could ever want anyway.

What are your thoughts on love today?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Belgium

At the beginning of August my friend and I took a weekend break to Belgium.  I've been to Bruges before but I really wanted to visit Antwerp after seeing it on Lonely Planet's top destination for 2018. I mentioned this to my friend and, as a food blogger, she was game and said she would like to visit Brussels so I said why don't we do both!

We took the Eurostar to Brussels and stayed 2 nights at the NH Collection in Brussels and then did a day trip to Antwerp as it was only 45 minutes on the train.






Where to Stay

Belgium isn't a huge country so it's easy to get about.  We decided to do 2 nights in Brussels and just travel to other cities if we wanted.  We stayed at a lovely 4 star hotel in the centre of Brussels and it was so easy to get about from here.  The hotel which was part of the NH Collection group and the staff were so accommodating.  I actually stayed with them last year in Berlin so I knew I was in safe hands.

We left London early and arrived in Brussels around midday.  We didn't think we would be able to check into our room until 2pm but when we arrived at the hotel they said the room was all ready for us and we were able to go straight there and put our stuff down which was perfect seeing as we were tired from being up so early.



The room was a perfect size, we each had our own bed and when we wanted extra teabags (so British) they gave us a whole variety of them.  They couldn't be more helpful and even had a cute little sweetie trolley in the foyer to help yourself to.

Where to Eat and Drink

Now if there's 3 things that Belgium is known for it's beer, fries and waffles so obviously we had to make sure we tried as much as we could.  We were eating waffles for breakfast, lunch and dinner and every flavour of beer.  Literally heaven.



We went to an amazing place for brunch that did savory waffles.  We even went back twice.  It was called Peck 47.  I had the mushroom flavoured waffle with eggs, spinach and pyscho sauce.

In terms of the sweet waffles there are literally places everywhere.  You have the fancy places where you can sit inside and get tea with them or there are the little stalls that sell them from 2 euros.  Honestly, I would just go to the stalls because they are just as good and the service is way better.  We went to one of the famous places called Maison Dandoy and we literally had to wait almost an hour for one waffle.  Needless to say we ended up walking out.



For dinner I really enjoyed Manhattan Burgers.  It was an American joint which isn't exactly the most cultural thing to do in Belgium but sometimes you just want a good burger and this place did not disappoint.  I had the veggie option.  The famous fries place is called Fritland but unfortunately we didn't make it there because the queue was always so big but they basically do fries with a tonne of sauce options.

As with the waffles you can pretty much get a good beer everywhere and lots of places have offers on.  My favourite fruit beers were the strawberry fruli one and the cherry kriek.



What to do in Antwerp

On the second day we got up early and took the train to Antwerp.  It only took about 45 minutes and so we were there in time for brunch.  Perfect.  We visited a place called the Goodie Foodie where we had white chocolate malteaser milkshakes and omelettes.  Not as good as the food in Brussels but still pretty satisfying.

We then explored the city and the weather was beautiful.  Antwerp is a lot more trendy and cute than Brussels with lots of pretty alleyways, flowers everywhere and impressive buildings.  We decided to visit the Chocolate Line whilst we were there which smelt like heaven.  It was free to walk around unlike some of the museums in Brussels.



What I also loved about Antwerp was the fact that it had loooooads of shops.  You could definitely spend a good day just browsing the clothes stores and picking up the latest trends.  We then went and had a drink in a bar and chilled for a bit before getting the train one stop outside the city and walking to one of the parks to relax.

How to Get There

For some reason it didn't instantly cross my mind to take the Eurostar to Brussels.  I was just going to take a plane.  However, we got a much better deal by booking on lastminute.com any of the stops between London and Kent.  My friend lives in London so she wanted to get on there but as I live a little bit outside London in Kent it was easier for me to drive there and leave my car.



I took the train from Ebbsfleet and literally walked straight through check-in and passport control in under 5 minutes.  It was so easy and stress free, I couldn't recommend this station enough.  When I boarded the train my friend was already on it and we then headed off to Brussels.  On the way home I just jumped off at Ebbsfleet and she stayed on to London.  I left my car at the station for 5 pounds per day and was home in 30 minutes.  It couldn't have been easier.


Have you been to Belgium yet?

I think if I went back I would just do a day trip or 1 night as there isn't loads to see and do but it's definitely somewhere worth visiting, especially if you're a foodie!

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren