Category Archives: Life

Boxpark Shoreditch

This weekend was one of firsts for me. The first time I’ve properly begun to celebrate Christmas and overdosed on mulled wine and mince pies and secondly the first time I’ve ever visited a pop up mall.

Five years ago if you asked me what a ‘pop up’ shop/art gallery/café meant I would have no idea. But today pop up shops and the like have become as popular as the concrete things themselves. Take Franks in Peckham – a pop up bar in an old multi-story car park. Something you think just can’t really work but somehow does. And because of the idea of it being pop up and temporary, people are streaming to see it because of the thought it might be gone at any moment.

So this weekend the long awaited Boxpark was opened in Shoreditch. It’s a bit of a mix between a market and a shopping centre and made out of 100 empty recycled shipping crates.

Not only does it look visually impressive, it’s also a great place to go if you’re in need of some retail therapy with a bit of a difference. There are 60 containers which are stacked two stories high and five rows wide.

It’s largely made up of fashion stores but there are also food and drink crates for when you’re in need of some sustenance. A favourite of mine is Pieminster, where I spent a little too much time and I highly recommend the Heidi pie – a delicious mix of goats cheese, spinach and butternut squash pie. After the pie I was also able to fit in some Frae frozen yoghurt with kiwi, blueberry and honey piled on top which left me feeling slightly holier than thou.

The fashion brands have been chosen carefully and there are many well know names included like Calvin Klein, Dockers, Vans and Puma but also some lesser known independent stores, such as Original Penguin and Palladium. If you’re looking for some lovely vintage pieces, Farah Vintage will be right up your street with collections from different eras. There’s also the Amnesty Shop to visit with collections for men, women and children with the money going towards the charity. This is a good start for Christmas cards and decorations which you know are actually helping someone else out rather than lining the pockets of a multi-national company.

On the opening day a massive party was held with live music and a DJ set from Dizzy rascal and it was packed with people there for the party but also curious shoppers wanted to experience the bizarre shopping set-up.

The man behind it all is Roger Wade who became famous when he created the fashion label Boxfresh in the 1990s.  He says Boxpark is the most environmentally friendly shopping centre ever. This is because there were minimal carbon emissions when the mall was created as there were minimal building materials and work needed. Also there’s the bonus that if one of the shops wants to move, or even the whole thing, it won’t take a huge destruction project as the containers can just be dismantled and then put up again wherever they next choose.

If you want to head down, it’s right by Shoreditch High Street station and around a 10 minute walk from Old Street and Liverpool Street tube stations.

It’s a little more exciting than heading to either of the Westfield shopping centres and you’ve also got the added benefit that it’s the first of its kind in the World – and you’re there.

You can find Boxpark at Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6JE

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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Tesco gets ethical

What was once an ordinary supermarket on the UK high street has now become a global company who are slowly taking over the world. On arrival to Pedang, a small island off the North coast of Malaysia last year the first thing I saw was a giant Tesco extra store. Proof the company is set for world domination? Possibly.

Throughout the UK there are weekly battles against small towns fighting off, or failing to, Tesco extras and the company are well-known to buy huge areas of land to stop other competing stores building.

But…enough of the Tesco rant, it seems they might be doing something positive for once in the launch of an ethical fashion range in connection with the designer, “From Somewhere“.

The new clothing line was featured at London fashion week and consists of six different styles, created out of end of the line Tesco products (which would have previously been destroyed).

The collection is aimed at the twentysomething market, which until now has been slightly left out of Tesco’s clothing lines, and the range of body-con bright colours matched with a low price tag will definitely appeal to this market.

Not only do the clothes look fantastic, come at a pretty reasonable cost, but also they are produced in one of the worlds “greenest” factories in the world.  This is not just fabricated Tesco lingo either, the factory, in Sri Lanka, is actually the first in the world to be awarded a gold rating for environmental responsiblity by LEED, the international green building certification system.

The benefits for Tesco are obvious – a company traditionally known for not really caring about their carbon footprint suddenly goes green…and the people at From Somewhere are also happy to get a huge name behind them and to force the store to look at, and deal with its own waste.

It’s easy to slate Tesco, we all know the alarming statistics about £1 in every £7 spent in the UK spent in the shop, and however much this new partnership is a giant PR stunt – it’s also a very tiny step towards improving the planet.

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Sadie Bares All

As guest editor for Grazia this month, Sadie Frost has made a bold statement posing naked with no air brushing for the magazine. The 44-year-old model turned actress and ex of Jude Law is proud of her body and unlike most in the fashion world is prepared to show it unedited.

Despite the fact that her body is immaculate, Frost is sending a message to the media that she doesn’t have to go through Adobe’s photoshopping process to show off her figure. She is confident in her own skin and showing a positive image to women everywhere.

The mother of four said it was time for women to stop torturing their bodies into unrealistic shapes and start celebrating them.

“You can be naturally fit, yet feminine – happy and healthy in your own skin. You don’t have to have that perfect body, because that perfect body doesn’t really exist.”

By posing, Frost is telling woman to stop trying to look like the women we see in glossy magazines, as they have all been edited. The perfect size zero figure does not exist and we should be aiming for a healthy, and happy body instead.

The naughties were about an overarching obsession with size zero, surgery and suffering to obtain this unrealistic image.

Lets make the next decade about celebrating having a healthy, feminine body and being happy in our own skin.

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San Francisco – Best City in the World

This is my entry for the Independent’s latest travel writing competition…

Walking around the nauseously steep hills of San Francisco you could be mistaken for thinking you had travelled back in time. The streets are paved with history, from bright art displays, notorious book shops, characteristically strange people, and delectable cafes and bars. Several very diverse neighbourhoods give it a distinctive community aura.

From Union Square’s regally, fine hotels and giant deluxe shops, walk towards the Mission’s bars and restaurants and prepare to taste the finest burritos this side of the Mexican border. A 10 minute antique tram ride will plunge you into the beautifully unique gay capital of the world, the Castro.

A trolley up Haight Street and you can almost hear the music of the 1960s, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix have lived on this infamous street. Although its hippie roots have almost been forgotten you can still enjoy the endless vintage stores and health food cafes that now inhabit these streets.

Golden Gate Park is a forest of secrets stretching out towards the Pacific Ocean, from gardens, lakes, memorials and animal parks the park provides a variety of environmental treats and surprises with every visit. In the middle of the deathly cold, shark infested waters of San Francisco Bay lies the iconic prison of Alcatraz. While waiting for the ferry try locally sourced and delicious clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl – another one of the great eating pleasures of this city.

Above the water the Golden Gate Bridge, with its regal red paint, joins the city to the wine vineyards of Marin County. The bridge withstood the last major earthquake and is a symbol of the boldness and resilience of San Franciscans to endure anything thrown at them. Let your inner Kerouac out and enjoy this city of many historical treasures.

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A high-spirited Christmas

Everyone enjoys a drink at Christmas but when your last mulled wine leads to a stay in hospital or a black eye, who is to blame? Was it the pub’s fault for selling you cheap drinks, did the council make an error licensing said pub, or are the emergency services not policing the streets well enough? Cardiff has a well-known reputation for alcohol fuelled revelling but is it really any worse than other cites in the UK and can it cope with the mass influx of high-spirited people over the festive season?

Cheap drinks on offer in a club on St Mary Street

Nearly every article written about the capital refers to high levels of  alcohol consumption and last summer it hit the headlines described as being in danger of becoming the binge drinking capital of the UK.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’s Chief Medical Officer, released his annual health report on Wednesday.

A Wordle picture of Dr Jewell’s report, the words in the largest text are words he has used the most.

Dr Jewell said: “About 45,000 hospital admissions and 1,000 deaths every year in Wales can be described as alcohol-attributable.” Christmas is a time when people tend to drink more, but these figures suggest underlying alcohol problems in Wales are bleak.

The plan proposed to tackle this is to introduce more education schemes, starting at  secondary school level. When someone is admitted to hospital they will also be given advice on alcohol to try and change their drinking habits.

Jenny Wilmott,MP, believes the real problem is a lack of overall government funding.

She said: “Ultimately, we need to tackle the growing levels of alcoholism across the whole country, not just in Cardiff, and this includes substantially increasing the level of funding for alcohol treatment programmes and centres.”

A major issue is supermarkets charging low alcohol prices. Recently both Tescos and Sainsburys stores, in St Mary Street, were denied an alcohol licence. The licensing committee refused these because they felt it would only fuel the drunken antics of the public in this area.

St Mary Street has been designated a saturation zone because of its high number of problems with alcohol related crime and disorder. This means the licensing committee will automatically deny licenses in the area to bars and clubs, and the police have greater controls to confiscate alcohol.

Councillor Ed Bridges, head of the licensing committee, talks about his thoughts on Cardiff and his role within the committee.

The police ask people they find intoxicated which bars and clubs they have been to and if a club is named repeatedly for encouraging binge drinking steps are put in place to remove its license.

A Designated Public Place Order Act was introduced in October which gives police more power to take alcohol away from those who are being violent or anti-social.

The council and the emergency services work closely together and Councillor Simon Wakefield believes it is best to leave the policing to the police because they know the beat and the reality on the ground better.

Police Inspector Tony Bishop believes Cardiff is not any worse than other UK cities and it has gained a bad reputation because it has an international stadium and several busy streets in such a compact area.

Insp Bishop discusses why Cardiff is such a unique city

 

During Christmas and the New Year the Millennium Stadium is used as a temporary hospital for minor injuries while the more serious are sent to University Hospital of Wales, Heath, Cardiff.

The Street Pastor team spend most of their weekends dealing with people who have had too much to drink. Ruth Samways, a member of the team said: “We are in direct contact with the emergency services and are able to administer basic first aid, hand out flip flops to replace high heels, or sit with people who are lost, distressed or disorientated – due to too alcohol intoxication. This frees up the police and ambulance crews to deal with the most severe cases.”

St Mary Street

Cardiff is a thriving city and it seems everyone, from students, Cardiff natives and visitors from the rest of Wales and England love to party here. It is easy and cheap to travel to the Welsh capital and when you’re here – the night entertainment is compacted in a very succinct area making it easy for the media to portray the city as a zoo at night.

The truth is the council and emergency services work closely to stop areas like St Mary Street being over-run with clubs and bars and they are well-equipped to deal with arrival of people over the festive season.

Have your say:

 

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Sony Bravia San Francisco Bouncy Balls – advert of the decade?

San Francisco is light, airy, peaceful, eccentric, musical and at the forefront of several major technology brands, most famously Apple. But what I really love about it is the comfort and honesty of this famous city that brings together all generations and classes of society – from a homeless man sleeping in Golden Gate park to George Lucas strolling along Ocean Beach.

The city, with its nauseatingly steep hills, was perfect to host Sony’s Bravia colour tv advert in 2005. The sight of 170,000 multi-coloured bouncy balls falling down the streets is captivating.

The advert ends with the line ‘Colour – like no other’ and is successful because it is real. There is no CGI and Sony focusses not on the technology of the TV but of the experience a viewer has – the emphasis is on colour and the plenitude of colours filling the screen over a background of the city captures the fun, exciting and weird nature of the city.

Using Jose Gonzalez in the background lulls us into a relaxed state of calm. The simple soft vocals and classical guitar create a lovely, soothing antidote to the fast paced images.

A distinct move away from CGI, this advert deserves to be number one because of the effective juxtaposition of Jose’s comforting vocals with the originality and quirkiness of watching thousands of multi-coloured bouncy balls in the streets of such a lovely city.

And if you want to know how it was made look no further…

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Twitter is the word

Global Language Monitor (GLM), has named Twitter the most popular word in the print and digital media around the world this year, followed by Obama in second place.

Twitter has taken over in all aspects of our lives – even if you’ve never looked at it, the social networking site appears in the news every day and is rapidly overtaking sites like facebook.

Stephen Fry, a twitterionaire, believes it’s the twitterers who create a story and celebrities, like him, should not be blamed for endorsing them. Fry said:

“Twitter is about participating – by which I mean you tweet and read other people’s tweets. Then you understand it, and get its rhythm”

In a recent lecture with Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, I was reminded how important tools like Twitter are to modern journalists. When he started out in the BBC newsroom in 1983  the staff were distinctly separated into journalists and craft workers (camera, audio, etc). The stereotypical view of a Fleet Street journalist was confirmed when he described them as: “Men in their fifties wearing cardigans.”

The television audience of the 1980s was huge with the BBC and ITN the main providers. There was no dialogue with the audience and no real means of communication between the viewer and creator.

This has changed greatly; BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all compete for our attention whilst digital channels offer a plenitude of varying news from countries around the world. You can text in the programme, chat about it with fellow viewers online, complain about something on the website – the means of communication are endless.

Journalists now have to carry around a Mary Poppins style handbag and be able to  find a story, write it, sub it, create a video, attach some audio and upload it to the net – all in a few hours or risk being replaced.

Fry compared Twitter to the invention of the printing press because of the huge upheaval  it caused and criticises journalists for complaining too much about the twitter world taking away traditional methods of writing.

“There was no class more contemptuous of Twitter than the commentating journalists. Why should we care about what Britney Spears had for breakfast, they said. So may I ask you, why do you write about it in the paper? The journalists said, ‘Who needs this Twitter thing?’ and in the next moment you read: ‘Follow the Daily Mail on Twitter at …’,” he added.

What Cellan-Jones told us is to embrace and nurture these new technologies and they will help you succeed and stand out. He appears regularly on UK TV and is also part of the blogging world with his blog dot.life.

Twitter directs you to the story and connects you with the news. Cellan-Jones’s speciality is technology and he has made himself one of the best in the business. By creating a specialism you stand out amongst fellow journalists and you will be more likely to survive in this cut-throat media world.

And if you were wondering:

GLM’s top 15 words of 2009

1. Twitter

2. Obama

3. H1N1

4. Stimulus

5. Vampire

6. 2.0 (term borrowed from computing, meaning ‘next generation’)

7. Deficit

8. Hadron

9. Healthcare

10. Transparency

11. Outrage

12. Bonus

13. Unemployed

14. Foreclosure

15. Cartel

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Album of the decade: Youth and Young Manhood

Sons of preacher men who have torn up the rule book and rejected their religious roots in favour of sex, drugs and Tennessee style rock and roll. With four albums under their belts, Kings of Leon have well and truly proved their place in the album of the decade charts.

Headlining Coachella in 2006, I watched the hairy rockers perform in front of millions of excited fans – a year later at Reading, with three albums released; they performed BEFORE Razorlight – the biggest kick in the teeth ever?

Despite the fact they have been around almost a decade it sadly seems their latest album and in particular, the commercially polished Sex on Fire, have finally made them noticed (and a lot richer) in the UK.

Their debut album, Youth and Young Manhood was different, edgy and its Dylan-inspired notes got us all singing along in our own southern drawl. The title misleads as although the band were aged between 16-23 when the album was released, they exuded long time greased-up rock etiquette from the start.

Caleb Followill’s raspy, voice varies significantly as he slurs through the mellow, laid back Dusty which oozes jazzy blues, to the shambolic, enthusiasm of California Waiting.

My favourite song on the album, it epitomises the band’s personal lives and the energy and passion of the lyrics never falter to leap into your soul.

A piercing lead guitar in Red Morning Light awakens every hair on your body. Allow yourself to be taken over by the scuffy honest sound and join the country rockers at the very start of their journey to stardom.

The Kerouac-style narrative of the band’s journey into adulthood is irresistible and the fuzzy lyrics pull you in until you are rocking away to the likes of Molly’s Chambers and tumbling down your own Spiral Staircase with the same Rolling Stones-esqu finesse as the southern rebels.

Country sweetness, filthy guitar licks and hard rocked up catastrophes – Youth and Young Manhood IS the album of the decade and KOL have succeeded where other Stokesonian counterparts have failed. They have created lasting legacy but their debut number’s mystery, honesty and passion grinded with rocked up-greatness ensures its place as number one.

Vote for your favourite here:

Don’t Agree – check out the other contenders:
At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command by Tom Victor
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm by Joe Curtis
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am… by Ciaran Jones
The Libertines – Up the Bracket by James Franklin
Brand New – The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me by Hugh Morris
The Killers – Hot Fuss by Nick Moore
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago by Ammeilo
Daft Punk – Discovery by Will Gilgrass
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night by Caroline Cook
Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope by Fiona Roberts
Bright Eyes – Digital Ash in a Digital Urn by Emma Davies
Coldplay – Parachutes by Dan Bloom
The Strokes – Is this it by Alfie Tolhurst
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around by Mike Brown
Snow Patrol – Eyes Open by Sarah Scott
Arcade Fire – Funeral by Rob Goodman

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How to be a better blogger

Everyone is blogging – from Jon Snow to the local gossip – conversation is online and after you sieve through the wades of angry rants, there is some useful stuff about.

As a student being made to blog I have actually come to quite enjoy it and in a recent lecture with Adam Tinworth, head of Read Business Information (RBI), I realised how a blog can potentially make you a lot of money.  I have compiled 10 tips for successful blogging to ensure you rake in the viewers and possibly the cash…

This video from a London Bloggers Meetup gives some helpful pointers to get you on the right track:

1 – Keep it regular. To have a popular blog people will want to read you should post about four times a week.

Tinworth recommends you are:

  • Inquisitive
  • Communicative
  • Honest
  • Enthusiastic
  • Social
  • Informed

2 – Start talking. You have to put work into your blog if you want to get something back from it. Adam’s blog, One Man and His Blog, has gained a lot of traffic because he is fully involved with the online discussion. Comment on other blogs, especially those of a similar subject to your own, and respond when people comment on yours.

3 – Find a niche and cultivate it. The journalism world is highly competitive and to stick out you need to be different. By finding a specialist subject that you are also interested in you are proving you have something unique to offer to the blogosphere. Whether it is unusual food, dress making, cricket, or independent music – find a topic, nurture it and you will be rewarded.

6 – Post a wide range of content, in different formats.  Big Lorry Blog and Flight Blogger are examples of popular blogs that have made money through providing their readers with a range of stories, videos and audio within their niche specialities. If you are getting a fair amount of hits (around 5,000 a month) then call up local companies and offer them adverts for a small fee.

7 – Adam’s main ingredients for a good blog:

  • links
  • photos
  • video
  • discussion
  • opinion

A blog should be varied and engaging with all these points included to make it visually pleasing and interesting to a reader.

8 – Don’t be too opinionated. The view that blogs are: “rants written in bedrooms by losers” can be seen everywhere. The point of a blog is to talk about something and raise questions on the subject  – not just complain about how much you hate it.

9 – Traffic = money in the blogging world so once you have a well-visited site – look into advertising to make some money.

10 – Tag your posts with searchable topics and try linking to other sites. A group debate is a good way to increase traffic to your sight.

Still looking for inspiration? Check out the Independent Newspaper’s pick of 10 innovative and exciting new blogs here.

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Is the end of print newspapers inevitable?

The print industry is in a rapid decline, online news is more popular than ever, and Rupert Murdoch is proposing making people pay for his online papers from next year.

Are we just waiting around for ink to dry up – or will Murdoch’s plan actually push people who are unwilling to pay for online news back to their newspaper?

Online news is growing rapidly but in a lecture with journalist Rob Andrew, editor of Paid Content.co.uk, it became clear that at the moment people are unwilling to pay for it. A yearly subscription to The Guardian can cost around £350 but in a recent PCUK/Harris Poll, it was found that only 5% of people asked were willing to pay to read news online.

Newspapers rely on advertising but unlike online adverts – there is no guaranteed return – and more and more advertising companies are moving away from print for this reason.

Rob, worringly but accurately, describes newspapers as being in a perilous state and compares this to the music industry.

Music is now accessible free online and the only way to make money from it is through live performances – as the experience of watching live music can’t be replicated online.  The industry tried to introduce copy protection to stop music being shared online but abandoned this after sites like Spotify and We7 have made music instantly available for free.

Newspapers are looking for a short-term answer to this crisis to appease shareholders but what they should be doing is finding a long-term solution.

Specialist papers like the Financial Times and European Wall Street Journal currently charge a subscription. The FT has 128,000 subscribers paying approximately £90 a year. I find it highly unlikely people will pay for The Sun, News of the World or even The Times – but Mighty Murdoch is dead set on introducing these charges and if they are no longer available in print form the only option may be to buy online.

Surely if one paper charges online, people will just go to a free newspaper’s site instead? It would be impossible to implement a pay wall system unless all the papers agreed to do this. People do not want to pay for online news and most public opinion polls go directly against Murdoch’s plans.

The Guardian has a different ownership model to papers in the Murdoch News International empire and this allows it to put more into being innovative and exploring and developing it’s online version.

The future of print is very uncertain – if Murdoch does introduce charges will other paper’s follow? or will this backfire completely and will people just go somewhere else for their news?

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