Tag Archives: christmas

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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Too fat to be beautiful?

The Christmas and New Year period are all about indulgence, just looking at the bombardment of food adverts on TV is enough to induce a heart attack. Mince pies, yule log and all the trimmings are served again and again and as it’s only once a year people tend not to hold back on this guilt free dining.

Not however if you belong to world-wide dating site Beautiful People. The site axed almost 5000 people after christmas because they no longer met the strict requirements of being beautiful. The members were emailed to say they had put on too much weight and would only be welcome back after shifting the pounds. A selection of recommended bootcamps were also sent out.

The website is described as ‘the sexiest in the world’ and promises to only set you up on attractive dates. It is superficial and materialistic but at least upfront.

Members in the US, UK and Canada were voted off the site by fellow members for piling on weight over the festive period.

Robert Hintze, the site’s founder said: “Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded.”

The US came out particularly badly but the UK wasn’t far behind. It’s a western tradition to over-indulge at christmas and eat on mass while sitting around not doing much. But it is only once a year and surely everyone deserves a break in the holidays?

1,520 US  and 832 UK residents were judged too fat to fit in. The company still has 550,000 members in 190 countries around the world looking for love. The website promises glamorous parties and a jet set global network,approaches by leading film and TV companies and potential contracts from top modelling agencies…

If you want to join this exclusive network be prepared to face the critics. Existing members look at submitted photographs and profiles before passing judgment and if you don’t make it through a banner on the front page says: ” Too ugly to join? browse our beautiful members”.

The fashion world is about beautiful people, you can’t glance at a something like Vogue without being dazzled by the flawless models.

In 2010 is it really ok for a dating website to equate being over weight to being ugly?

Yes the UK has an obesity problem and being seriously over weight is a major issue, but becoming ugly because you’ve gained weight at christmas seems a little extreme.

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Too Fat? Too thin – who cares?

Copenhagen is the subject that should be on everyone’s minds. The world is dying – global warming is the single biggest issue to affect us and still world leaders can’t commit to doing anything about it. Instead of getting up and demanding action – most people don’t seem that bothered.

Most papers and magazines make mention of the issues but nearly every magazine, and most tabloid papers, instead are filled with pictures of celebrities. Beyoncé has cellulite, Jennifer Anniston is too thin, Keira Knightly needs a burger – this kind of drivel is everywhere and these publications are flying off the shelves. 

Our nation appears obsessed with weight and tabloids hound celebrities to lose weight or gain pounds on a day-to-day basis.

It’s nearly Christmas time and the mounds of mince pies, Yule logs and all things festive, sweet and bad for you are piling up. In the lead up to Christmas there is a never-ending supply of sugar filled goods around in most offices.

As it’s only once a year everyone forgets their strict dietary regimes and puts off the scales until the New Year resolutions set in, and why not – we might as well enjoy the festive season as it does only come around once a year.

Our obsession with weight has once again riled its inquisitive head and the pro-size debate has emerged with more force than ever in the January ‘Size’ issue of V Magazine. Following pro-size publications in both the US Glamour and the German Brigitte another magazine is following suit.

Crystal Renn, a plus-size top model, and other slightly curvier than your average models will be appearing in the January issue, which is aimed at all shapes and sizes.

In a month when most of us are desperately trying to lose extra Christmas pounds, it will be a refreshing change to see real women in the magazine instead of the impossibly thin waifs that usually fill the pages of most mainstream mags.

And guess who will be photographing these normal sized women – famous photographers including Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Terry Richardson, Bruce Weber and you guessed it Karl “no one wants to see curvy women” Lagerfeld. It seems the fashion don has joined the bandwagon and no longer thinks curvy women should stay out of the catwalk – a Christmas miracle? or an excellent publicity stunt?

V Magazine’s editor-in-chief , Stephen Gan, said: “Big, little, pint-size, plus-size – every body is beautiful. And this issue is out to prove it.”

The fashion industry and its critics are forever obsessing over the weight of celebrities and models alike, and by creating this special issue the magazine is highlighting the fact that these women are different from the average model.

Fashion and celebrity blog Jezebel said:  “The flip side of highlighting one kind of model in a ‘special’ issue is that they’re actually being segregated, placed in a ghetto, away from the other ‘real’ models.”

However much this is true I still think it’s a good move towards making the fashion industry more acceptable and allows much of the female population to feel a bit better when glancing through the latest edition of their favourite fashion magazine.

Glamour‘s and Brigitte‘s plans do seem to be more long-term than V’s one off edition. Brigitte is to replace size zero models with normal women  from next year, and Glamour has stated  it would be “committing to picturing a wide range of body types in our pages.”

The plus size models in V’s January edition are an average UK size 12-14 and as the UK average female size is a 16 –  it’s hardly representative of our nation.

But the fashion industry, which stringently clings on to it’s size 0 models, is beginning to change – it is a tiny step but we can hope, while writing our new years resolutions, that in  2011 models will include more normal sized women.

Maybe in the new year we will stop talking about weight and start worrying about the future of the world…however, if this year’s headlines are anything to go by it’s unlikely we  will get bored of this compulsive obsession – the issue will rage on well into 2011.

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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.

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Stitch and Bitch…

It is so easy, satisfying, productive and apparently an excellent weight loss technique.


Knitting is the new cool and although it’s hard to imagine the likes of Sienna Miller, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Cameron Diaz, sitting back in her LA apartments with a ball of wool – they all swear by its relaxing qualities.

It’s very easy and addictive. Once you get the knit/pearl system going you will be reeling off enough scarfs to set up your own winter woolen land….

The best way to learn is by watching someone else, and start on simple things, like scarfs or iPod covers. You can find cheap wool to practice on from your local market, but if you’re intending to give away your knitting delights – make sure you buy good quality wool from a recognised store.

Knit Stitch: this is the most basic stitch you need to start on:

An excellent item to start on and something everyone will appreciate for a home-made Christmas present is a scarf:

When you’ve had a bit of practice, this iPod cover is a good step up:


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All that glitters…

The 80s are well and truly back, we’ve had the leggings, leotards and lycra and now comes the glitter. The party season is almost here, so to get in the mood here is a sparkling of glittery delights …

peacocks £14A steal at £14, from Pri-mark’s not so well-known friend – Peacocks

asos £5

The online shop we love, ASOS, brings us this little head band of joy for only £5.00

mango £22

Also comes in white, Mango’s zebra style sequined t-shirt is a must at only £22

asos !75

Out of the budget but beautiful, ASOS, £75

french conn £155

One for the wish list, this French Connection is sequined dress is £155

£24 u outfitters

A little bit of luxurious extravagance but will definitely make work more fun, Urban Outfitters, £24


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