#37 Hungry For A Meal OUT

Enjoy consuming (HAHA I’m awful) this rewrite of my newspaper article, concerning food and eating, of course.

As chefs, waiters and managers prepared to reopen their restaurant doors, there was an intense hunger in the air for that restaurant experience we’ve all been craving since the 23rd of March – the start of the lockdown. Of course, a number of restaurants have still been available for takeaway over the past few months, but it’s just not the same. Now that takeaway has become a regular occurrence, the luxury that it once was, has seemingly fizzled out.

If your life is anything like mine, a takeaway night will start out with some technical issues, probably because some restaurants websites are not used to experiencing so much traffic. Once you’re past that hurdle, unlike the typical restaurant experience, the bill is immediately presented on screen, as a reminder that a hefty load of money will soon exit your bank account. Following this, there’s the long, impatient wait ahead, whilst the food is not only prepared, but also delivered. When it does finally arrive, it lasts a maximum of ten minutes; I can eat at an alarmingly fast rate when I’m hungry. This is one of my special talents that I’m considering putting on my Hinge account. What do you think?

Hinge is a dating app, for those of you that don’t know…far better than Tinder.

Actually eating out is a far more fulfilling experience. Right from the onset, it’s an exciting event to look forward to, scheduled into the calendar, perhaps on a wild Friday night, or just a chilled Tuesday brunch date. When the day comes around, you get all dressed up, because the quality food deserves to be consumed by only the best dressed. This is not a casual loungewear dress code, like it is for a takeaway. This is a restaurant. There is less of a long, mouth watering wait for the food and the wait is made much more tolerable anyway with some soft bread to start (I hate olives, ew, I am not part of the olive-eating gang, please join me). As well as this, the whole experience lasts far more than ten minutes (unless you have an exceptionally efficient waiter and chef). It’s spread across one, two or even three courses, ensuring the experience lasts as long as possible.

As of 4th of July, this is now all available, but how do you decide which restaurant to venture to first? As I’ve had a lot of spare time to think about this, I’ve managed to wittle down the numerous options to just one key restaurant.

My all-time favourite should not come as a surprise: Pizza Express. In pre-pandemic times, I’d say I visited this particular chain every three or so months, and it’s not hard to see why. With over 470 restaurants spread across the U.K. and 100 more overseas, I can’t be the only one with a borderline obsession.

Have you ever seen a logo that can symbolise such happiness?

Everyone loves a pizza, and as of last year, the restaurant chain introduced more vegetarian and vegan friendly options, meaning there’s a pizza for anyone. On top of this, they’ve added gluten-free options, ensuring absolutely no-one misses out on the beauty that is Pizza Express. Of course, pizzas can be made in ten minutes in the oven at home. What I love about Pizza Express, is that they don’t just use an oven. They cook their pizza properly and professionally, with a masonry oven, colloquially known as a stone oven. To add to this, it goes without saying that their ability to make doughballs is something that will never cease to amaze me.

So they’ve got the starters right. Their main courses are simply second nature to them, even when ordering a bowl of pasta rather than a pizza. With regards to their desserts, I’d confidently argue that they’re winning in that department too. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic chocolate brownie, or perhaps a Honeycomb Cream Slice, Pizza Express know how to satisfy even the most fussy customers.

Sorry to sound like a basic bitch, but this is the literal key to my heart.

Obviously, no restaurant can be successful with just quality food. Drink specials have been reported as one of the key persuaders for consumers to try out new restaurants, with millennials especially, ‘driving demand for innovation’. This is no issue for Pizza Express: as well as offering the basics, such as red and white wines, beers, and soft drinks (not my thing), they also offer a selection of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, acting as mocktails. For a cocktail, I’d recommend their Aperol Spritz; a combination of Aperol, Prosecco, soda and orange. It tastes like juice and is guaranteed to get you pretty bamboozled after a couple of those bad boys. For a more sober meal out, their Raspberry Sparkle is the perfect alternative; raspberry lemonade, served with mint and lime, and just in time for summer. Get in my belly.

Although Pizza Express has been my one and only recommendation, there were quite a few runners up when I was putting this blog together: Las Iguanas, Zizzi’s and Turtle Bay also hit the spot for me on an unhealthily frequent basis. Everyone has different preferences for a restaurant, but whichever eatery you’re gonna find yourself ending up in this month, be sure to make your first post-lockdown meal out a special one. I know where I’ll be; I’m itchy to watch a smiling waiter coming towards me, wearing the classic plain black T-shirt Pizza Express uniform, and hear them say, “Table for two?”.

#36 Why TALA keeps appearing in my bank statements

The other day, my sister demanded to know what I was doing, in order to work out if she could join in or not (she was very bored).

“I’m getting ready to snap up some items in the next Tala launch,” I said, matter-of-factly.

She gave me an unapproving look and then rolled her eyes. “You know you’re obsessed, right?” she sneered.

Like my true self, I went to defend myself because that’s what you have to do with siblings. Defend. Attack. Never admit they’re right. Never admit you’re wrong. But frustratingly, there weren’t any words exiting my mouth. I couldn’t defend myself. Looking down at the Tala hosta shorts I was already wearing, I thought, sh*t, she’s right.

For those of you who haven’t read blog #25, Tala is a new (ish) sustainable clothing brand selling mainly activewear, loungewear and accessories. And when I say sustainable, I mean Sustainable with a capital S. Oh, and ethical. And amazing. And sexy. And comfy. And amazing. Did I already mention that? As I discuss in blog #25, it’s a highly successful brand fighting fast fashion bollock brands like Gymshark, in terms of activewear, but they’re also winning at clubbing/going out outfits too. Now would be a really relevant point to link their latest collection, SOL, which includes their first skirts and dresses. Unfortunately, they’re sold out in most sizes because they’re just that good.

My sister judging all my decisions xxx

This all leads me on quite nicely to why I realised that my sister being right about this one thing is not a bad thing. I re-positioned my posture to a more Queen-like vibe, and said, “Yeah I’m obsessed, and what?” and strutted back to my room.

The main reason I’m obsessed, is because Tala is one of the very few brands that can offer me what I want (and probably what you want too, you just don’t know it yet). Of course, I could get a cute crop top from PLT, but that top also comes with a side dish of supporting the exploitation of garment workers. That doesn’t sound like a very cute top anymore, does it?

Another reason I’m obsessed though, is just because they’re bloody fantastic, and you’re about to find out why…*queue silent screams from all your bank accounts*

Porto hoodie

I think it’s only fitting to kick this party off with my personal favourite: the Porto hoodie, or as I like to call it, the blanket of love and cuddles. I’d say it sums up the brand nicely: it’s more than comfy, flattering in every way and the quality is on a whole new level you never knew existed. Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal – the country where the Tala factory is located, so I can only assume this is where the name originated from? Don’t quote me on that though.

At first, when it was initially released, priced at £50, I thought, suck my tits am I paying fifty quid for a jumper, forgetting that these higher prices are what they should be. We perceive this as expensive, when really it should be the norm. That money is rightfully being equally dished out to the Tala team, the garment workers, etc., rather than giving the factory employees about 32p, and the rest of the 50 quid to the ones in power (ahem, Asda, ahem, Zara…I could go on).

As the weeks went by, I noticed the hype on social media. Everyone was raving about how comfy it is and every single person wearing it looked like a snack. And then one of my close friends bought one, and that was the last straw for me. Fook that. If she gets one, I have to have one too! My 20th birthday was coming up – perfect. I asked my mumma for one and oh boy did she pull through. I have fallen head over heels, proper face planting the floor, in love. With an item of clothing.

I requested the black one, although it was a very difficult decision to make between the grey and the black, in the size medium. I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t anticipate or intend for the medium size to be as oversized as it is, but I’m not mad about it in the slightest. Although I’m a medium in their bras and tops, I could definitely size down if i wanted to in this hoodie for a more fitted look. But you know what they say – the bigger the better…it’s so snug to the point that I want to hug myself in it. With some oversized jumpers, they just make me look bigger than I am, compliment absolutely nothing about my body, hang down five metres past my wrists so I have to uncomfortably roll the sleeves up, and it takes me five minutes just to locate the two ends of the zip because there’s such a huge maze of material. But at Tala, they know how to ace the oversized look. They are the literal kings and queens of oversized jumpers.

So let me tell you, as I mentioned earlier, I never admit I’m wrong, but I’ll admit it now – I was wrong to think 50 squiddos wasn’t worth it for this jumper, because yikes it’s so damn worth it. Thanks mum xxxx

Fibre filter bag

This next item isn’t actually an item of clothing, but you probably guessed that from the word ‘bag’. Don’t be fooled, I’m not about to introduce you to a sustainable version of a Gucci handbag or anything. No, no, this is even better. At first glance, this is just a flimsy bag. In reality, it’s a bad ass weapon that fights off all the microfibres that travel to our oceans and damage them. Basically, you put all your dirty washing in this bag (yes it’ll fit, don’t worry it’s big) and then put the bag into your washing machine as normal. When it’s finished, you empty out your clothes, and then chuck the little microfibres in the bin that will be sticking inside the bag. Usually, these (very) tiny little bitches will find their ways into rivers, streams and eventually the sea. But not anymore, because Tala is here to save the day!

If you weren’t aware of these pieces of scum coming off your clothes and entering the sea, do not fret darling because you’re not the only one. Without Tala, I would still be yeeting microfibres into the ocean without a care in the world. Why the f*ck is this not general knowledge? Why, when my mum bought her Bosch washing machine, did it not come with a filter bag? Or at least a WARNING! Anyway, I’m here to let y’all know. The bad boys are priced at £24 and will last you a life time of saving all the turtles and the sea horses and the fishes (I know this isn’t plural, I’m an English student).

Zahara bra + Zinnia leggings

Here we have ourselves a matching set. I do love a co-ord – whether that be lingerie, activewear or trackies and a cute jumper. But then I also love a pair of non-matching socks, so I guess I’m a bit inconsistent there. But that’s besides the point.

The point is, if you wanna feel sexy rather than sweaty in the gym, fork out £70 for these beautiful babies. The bra is slightly padded to give your girls some support, and the leggings hug your waist at the top, giving you some sexy curves. The Arabic meaning of zahara is shining/flower – I sure as hell feel like I’m shining in this beauty. I got my set in the colour sea, which isn’t on their website at the moment, so the link will take you to baby blue instead (the closest available colour to sea). I’m not sure why sea isn’t available at the mo, because it’s a bloody gorgeous colour, but then so are all of their other colours. And what’s even better: if you’re not one for a matching set, you can mix and match, since they produce all their colours with the mix n’ match option in mind.

Aura bra

Now, in the heading you’ll read ‘bra’, but this is not just a bra. This is a sports bra, a gym top, a crop top and a clubbing outfit all in one. Its flexible function can be styled in endless ways…ways in which I will not go into right now because this blog is already long enough (are you complaining though?). According to google, the aura is ‘regarded as an essential part of the individual’, and, I’m most definitely taking the meanings too far now, but is this a coincidence? I think not. This bra is ESSENTIAL. The wondrous creation hugs the girls in, giving them a nice rounded shape, which is helpful for people like me who have triangle-shaped tits. I think that’s all I need to say really, because the picture does all the work for me…

Hosta shorts

The link above will take you to the neon yellow colour, as this is the only colour in stock – that just illustrates for you how popular they are. That’s right. We’ve reached the cycling shorts section. Neon yellow might not be your thang, being the centre of attention n’ all, but be sure to look out for a restock by following their Instagram, or pressing the notify me when available button on their website. To be honest, you’re still gonna be the centre of attention even if you pick one of the more subtle colours, because everyone is gonna want to get their hands on a pair of these once they see you rocking them.

I first tried on some cycling shorts in primark when the craze initially started (this was before I was aware of fast fashion), and I’ve never been more disappointed. I tried some other brands and they all looked pretty sh*t. I eventually came to accept that I’m just not a cycling shorts gal. My legs were having none of it – my knees looked like mouldy potatoes.

But the Tala shorts – hold up a sec. Not to toot my own horn, but I look f*cking fabulous. I don’t know how they do it. It might be some hallucinogenic drug they put in the shorts, forcing me and anyone viewing me in the shorts to perceive me as a sexy chic when really, my knees still look like mouldy potatoes. They might have some magic Harry Potter spell sh*t in them, that transforms my legs into some Victoria Secret model legs. Whatever they do, I don’t care, it works and I’m here for it. My bank account is ready and waiting for all their future collections.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of gardening, but after a quick cheeky google of the names, I noticed a running theme of plants (e.g. Hosta, zinnia, zahara). This could represent their ‘natural’ vibe, as they’re using what the planet has given us. Or, alternatively I’m an English student stuck in the habit of reading into things way too far and I just really need to go to bed now.

In total, if we’re gonna include what my mum bought me, other items I haven’t mentioned in this blog (otherwise I’d be here for a while), and all the delivery I’ve paid for, which I am gonna include because I want to fatten up this number as much as possible, I have spent well over £350 on Tala. That’s not to flex – I recognise that I’m very lucky to receive the tasty pay I get at my part-time job. And let’s remember that a good chunk of it was kindly gifted by my mum, and this fat number was spent over the course of more than a year.

So please chill out if you don’t have anywhere near that amount right now, because neither do I (damn you covid-19). I didn’t include this number to be an annoying little b*tch, rubbing my cool fashion sense in your face. I included it to illustrate just how much I love this brand and everything they work for. And now you’ll love the brand too. So, say bye bye to your money and hello to a funky, fresh, sustainable wardrobe.

#35 What’s the dress code for a worldwide pandemic?

After what has seemed like an endless waiting time in the queue for a pint and a haircut, the Prime Minister’s announcement that the hospitality industry will now be able to reopen, has shone through the U.K., brighter than our current heatwave, like a big light at the end of the tunnel. This includes the shops and services with the highest demand, such as restaurants and pubs. In the pre-coronavirus times, most people would typically dress up for occasions such as a meal out, or a pub crawl. However, as we’re now gradually transitioning into the post-lockdown phase, I think it’s fair to say that we might see less dressing up, and more dressing down.

The lockdown lasted almost three boring months, taking up a good chunk of the year (yikes). This resulted in a massive 322% increase in the sale of loungewear clothing in the U.K, according to BBC. Before lockdown, I thought any old jumper and oversized trackies that make me look like I’m wearing a nappy, would do as loungewear, since only my family would get this luxurious sight. But then Zoom meetings became a weekly thing, and suddenly I felt like my loungewear style had to be on fleek. Now, with most students’ wardrobes made up of mostly loungewear, is it possible that a more casual style will come into play at restaurants and pubs? Perhaps, the pandemic has made ‘trackies and a nice top’ the new way to dress up.

With many events cancelled and big fashion influencers confined to their homes, there’s also the possibility that there are less trends to follow at the current time. On top of this, the virus may cause delays for both big and small fashion brands to design, prepare and produce on-trend clothes, causing a lack of styles to follow. Already, most fashion brands buy and prepare clothes two seasons in advance. With a pandemic to add to this, there’s the potential for a huge backlog of wasted clothes, unless fashion brands up their game in terms of preparation.

The lack of current trends could cause a return to some older styles…but I don’t think so. In the current climate, it’s not trendy to recycle an out-of-date style. Fashion is so ridiculously fast-paced, no one ever seems to look back and think to re-use a once-loved piece of clothing. So that’s not happening. Rather than reverting back to older styles, it’s possible that individuality will be encouraged more across the U.K. (and potentially wider). Thank f*ck.

You should know by now that Tala is the best place to go for ethical loungewear, and more.

A great place to find inspiration for this new-found individuality is the app, ‘Depop’. The app allows anyone to buy and sell second-hand clothes, for a cheaper price than their original. Here, there are endless options to choose from and now, it seems that consumers have more choice than ever before, as, in April, Depop reported a 27% increase in traffic.With more time to spare due to the lockdown, many new users flocked to the popular app (e.g. me), to provide their unwanted clothes with a new home. Not only does this encourage more individuality, but it also encourages more slow fashion, rather than fast fashion. I’ll warn you though, you may get what I’ve dubbed a ‘DA’ – a Depop addiction.

The effects of the pandemic don’t just end there with Depop, though. After reports of brands cancelling large orders (due to the virus) and subsequently refusing to #PayUp their workers overseas for their hard work, many consumers have taken to social media sites to complain. For instance, Instagram users have posted comments such as ‘PAY YOUR WORKERS!’ and ‘oh so… disgraceful’ on some of Topshop’s posts. This has therefore increased the awareness in the unethical nature of fast-fashion, hopefully encouraging consumers to be more cautious in the future when purchasing clothing items.

You fu**ing tell em’ gals.

On the other hand, it’s possible that social events, post-lockdown, could see people dressing up more than ever before. To cure the boredom of lockdown, I know I’ve spent hours online shopping (only ethical brands don’t worry) and bought so many outfits. Now, as well as a lot of loungewear, it seems I have an overload in bomb ass outfits, raring to go. This, paired with the excitement of being able to go out again, is likely to make a meal out a bigger event than ever before.

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that the virus has caused a bit of a stir in the fashion industry. Only time will tell, when the doors of Wetherspoons, Pizza Express, and other popular restaurants and pubs open up again, if these fashion predictions swing more towards dressing down, up, or somewhere in between.

#34 Mental Health: the stigma

TW: Mental health

Last month involved Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. Hundreds of thousands went online to increase the awareness, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit angry, after seeing some celebrities, microinfluencers and some friends on social media post about it. What annoyed me was how loosely and carelessly the phrase ‘mental health’ was tossed around. They were using it as if it’s a soft ball to be chucked and played with, when in reality, it’s a sensitive, fragile little thing that needs handling with care. You could tell that some people were posting about it, without really taking the time to understand the scale of the problem, or the diversity of it – mental health is not just depression and anxiety. It’s a whole host of different issues.

So there’s me, feeling a bit meh about so many people posting about it irresponsibly, due to the stigma and subsequent misconceptions. And at the same time, I’m feeling angry about how little it’s posted about, due to the stigma. How not enough people are comfortable enough to be open about it. How, it’s still only deemed socially acceptable to discuss your battles with body dysmorphia, anorexia, PTSD, bipolar disorder or postnatal depression in this one allocated week, and then you must go about the rest of the year suffering silently again.

When you Google mental health stigma, it comes up with some of the most common misconceptions like ‘people with depression are just lazy’ and ‘suicidal thoughts are just attention seeking’. These comments are so problematic, because it forces people to doubt themselves, and for me personally, it only encourages the illness in my head further to tell me that I’m lazy, useless and worthless. Trust me, we want to get out of bed and not be ‘lazy’. We just physically can’t. Luckily, there are several groups of people and organisations worldwide that are fighting the stigma: microinfluencers, charities, celebrities, parents, etc.

Steph Elswood, an influencer I follow on Instagram, is one of those people fighting against the stigma. For the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, she created and shared a video, to reveal some of her close friends and families’ different mental health conditions. I found myself shocked at how common it is, and then feeling silly for being shocked. Of course it’s this common. I knew that. I’m just not used to being able to visualise it like this before.

Due to its effectiveness, Steph’s video was widely shared across Instagram, so that it reached a variety of people, rather than just her 244,000 (!!) followers. And thank f*ck for that, because I think it’s important to visualise how common mental health issues are in this way. She inspired me to try and illustrate the same thing in my own personal social circle – including myself. After all, it would be a bit rubbish of me to complain about the stigma on here, but then hide my own struggles.

Over the past seven years, I’ve suffered from: depression, anxiety, self-harm, intrusive thoughts, suicidal thoughts and issues with self-esteem, particularly regarding my body.

Within a similar time frame, some of my family and close friends have suffered from: depression, several different anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, OCD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, anorexia and bulimia.

And that’s only the ones I’m aware of.

If I made a similar list, but with regards to physical illnesses, do you think the length would be the same? Absolutely not, because there is no stigma or misconception when you have a broken your leg from a skiing accident, or low blood pressure, or the flu.

I dream of a world where mental illness and physical illness are treated equally. Saying that though, I’d even argue that depression is actually a physical illness too. It drains you of energy, it limits your ability to get out of bed, and in some cases, physically burns or cuts or bruises a part of your body. But, on a really bad day, if you called in to work sick because you were ‘feeling depressed’, would your boss take it as seriously as the flu?

The main message I want you guys to take away from this post is simply that you’re not alone. Forgive the severe lack of originality in that phrase, but it’s something that for me personally, helped a lot and still does now. With regards to depression specifically, feeling down for no reason and feeling like you’re the only one, feeds into a vicious cycle of then feeling like you’re being ridiculous, and beating yourself up about it, and then subsequently feeling worse and so on. With the awareness that what you’re feeling is very normal, it becomes a lot easier to accept your situation, and work towards feeling better again.

As more and more awareness is spread around, there’ll be less and less insensitive comments, conversations or posts about mental health. I can understand why some people sometimes struggle to discuss the topic properly – mental health is so complex. It’s currently estimated that how much we know (or should I say how little we know…?) about the human brain is about 10% of what there is to know. Everyday, we are constantly learning about the brain in general and mental illness. Everyday, more and more research papers are released, and new ones started. And with that, mental health awareness is also increasing. If you look back 20 years ago in terms of the awareness, we’ve come a bloody long way. In another twenty years, we will have made even more progress. And I can’t f*cking wait!

#33 Black Lives Matter

By now, you should be aware of the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent rioting and protesting. Most of you will also be aware of how important it is to be anti-racist. Unfortunately though, racism is still very much alive in the U.K., not just the U.S., which is why I’m writing this blog – because most of you is not good enough. I need all of you to be actively anti-racist. I strongly believe that each post/quote/website/action/blog/etc that advocates for racial equality and actively fights against the inequality, police brutality and systemic racism, is one little baby step towards the ultimate goal: worldwide equality.

When the news first broke out, scrolling through emails and social media, I viewed multiple videos, pictures, quotes, links to several different donation pages, links to different petitions and highly recommended books that were made to educate people about racism. I think a lot of people, including myself, felt a bit overwhelmed by this. I was of course so angry about the murder, and therefore passionate about making a change, so when I saw all these different kinds of amazing resources, I felt like I was behind. I felt useless because over 8 million people had already signed the George Floyd petition. I felt like I had so much work to do.

But I’m not useless. There are over 7 billion people in this world, so 8 million signatures is not good enough. After adding my signature, I felt a bit more relieved. But a signature that takes up 30 seconds of my time is still not good enough. I watched 13th on Netflix (highly recommend). This was not the first time I watched it. Back in 2016, for my media GCSE, my whole class analysed the documentary. To think that four years later, the issues that were highlighted so effectively in the film, are still happening today, is pure madness.

But me watching a documentary still isn’t enough. Posting on insta doesn’t cut it. Not even close. Can’t attend one of the protests because you’re a high risk coronavirus case? Donate to the different organisations. Can’t donate because you’re low on money? Leave this YouTube video to play, without skipping the ads, whilst you go and cook dinner or something. This costs you nothing and yet will still generate some money to go towards the organisations. Who knew that in the 21st century, it would be possible to donate money to charities, without any money actually leaving your pocket?

As my sister is a high risk coronavirus case, we decided not to go to our local protest. At first, I thought how inconvenient that there’s a pandemic going on at a time where we all need and want to protest more than ever. Seeing it in a more positive light though, I think the fact that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are still showing their support despite the risks, only helps to show how important this movement is.

What a pandemic can’t stop me, or anyone else doing, is reading. Many of the suggested educational books on racism are sold out on sites like Amazon, which really warms my heart. It also sucks for people like me who didn’t get their hands on them quick enough. Luckily, one of my course mates brought to my attention that, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is available online on my university’s library website (only for UoB students though). Whilst I know that not all of you reading this will be UoB students, it’s worth checking, if you are a student at all, your own uni library website. And if you are one of the lucky ones that managed to grab a book, give it to someone else to read when you’re done!

As well as using and engaging with all these resources, there’s also the option of posting on social media, or your blog page, to spread awareness and show your support. Due to how accessible the online world is, I think it’s safe to say that this was and still is the most used method in the movement. Although this is great that literally anyone with an internet connection can get involved, it does bring about the issue of performative activism.

At the time of writing this, there are 16.8 million signatures on the Justice for George Floyd petition. In comparison, there are 28.9 million #blackouttuesday posts on Instagram right now. I can only assume that a few million of those 28.9 million people, wanted to look like a good person on social media, but didn’t actually care enough to sign the petition, despite it literally taking 30 seconds of your time. Adding a signature rather than a black square is arguably far more beneficial to the movement, and far more likely to bring about change. So I urge you, if you haven’t still haven’t signed the petition, get off my blog and click here.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was just going on a run when he was shot and killed by 2 white men back in February.

Whilst I do believe that posting on social media is helpful in the Black Lives Matter movement, you should also be signing petitions, educating yourself, calling out racist friends or family members, protesting (with PPE) and making donations (even if it’s just a quid) – it’s all important.

I fear that after only a few days or weeks, a lot of people will maybe sign one petition and post a black square on their Insta, and then just go back to posting on Instagram as normal and forgetting entirely about George Floyd, and the many other POC who have lost their lives due to the colour of their skin. Already, this seems to be the case. So, I’m posting this as a reminder that the battle against racism has not stopped, just because your Instagram feed is back to a load of lockdown memes again. We still have a long way to go.

I’m not saying you can’t post on social media now. I’m saying that this is not just a trend that’ll fizzle out after a week. This is going to last for weeks, months, years, or however long it takes to end racism. We will fight until we see real change. And to be an ally, we must keep fuelling the movement. Donate every possible penny in your possession. Fight until your racist grandma understands. Sign all the relevant petitions until there is no more to sign. Educate yourself until you’re an expert. Shout about it until you’ve lost your fucking voice.

#32 Google, did you know…?

Yep. The answer is yes. Because Google knows everything.

During lockdown, I’ve been trying to listen to one podcast per day from Today In Focus, by The Guardian. I would highly recommend them – they discuss random but important issues like where our recycling really goes, and the horrors of what Jeffrey Epstein did. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

One episode, made back in August 2019, discussed how much data and information Google collects from us. It was slightly scary, learning that Google could know more about me than my closest friends do. If I go to a restaurant, they most likely know which restaurant I’m at, how long I’m there for, and who I’m there with. As with most scary stuff, my reaction was to laugh about it, as I usually attempt to find the humour in something, in order to make it less scary. After writing down my quality banter, I thought, this is blog worthy content! And so, here we are.

If Google saves all my data, which they do, that means they know a lot of shi* about me. For all I know, they could be reading this blog. They know that at 20 years of age, an age where I should really be aware of these things, I had to search for the following…

  • Meaning of equitable
  • Meaning of dynasty
  • Meaning of urbanisation (I’ve forgotten GCSE geography)
  • What posting bond is
  • Synonyms for ‘amazing’
  • Where gerbils come from
  • The lyrics for Boss Bitch (I should know it by heart by now)
  • Killing Eve actress (I forgot Jodie Comer’s name in the middle of a zoom quiz)

Oops. Here I am, a wanna-be blog writer, when I can’t even remember what continent Peru is in sometimes.

And then there’s the tracking aspect. The internet giant probably knows that I’ve been sat on my arse for quite a while and haven’t gone on a run for 3 days in a row now. Pre-covid-19, Google was probably getting worried for me after my third late night Tesco trip in the space of a week, just for some sour watermelon sweets (I was stressed ok).

I won’t forget her name now

Google likely has the potential to screw up a fair few marriages…like the fact that your wife spent 4 and a half hours at some rich dude’s house last week. Yikes.

But aside from the possibility of spilling some dirty secrets, how dangerous really is Google’s habit of hoarding so much information? I’d say I’m a pretty average woman. I’m not emailing any terrorists about our next move, I’m not snap chatting Boris Johnson about how to make our government even more corrupt, and I’m not part of a lads WhatsApp group chat making ill comments about a gang rape.

So I think it’s fair to say that Google is in no position to fuck me over. Yet, some people go to great lengths to avoid Google obtaining any information about them. One of the guys on the podcast mentioned how he uses DuckDuckGo as an alternative. This search engine is pretty much the exact same as Google, except, it doesn’t save any of your data. They take pride in respecting your privacy. Before this podcast, it had never really occurred to me that any other search engines existed. Why would they, since Google is so damn huge?

The only other one I’d heard of before is Ecosia. This search engine plants a tree for each time you search something. Pretty cool, right? Like DuckDuckGo, they also clearly state that they don’t save your data. Their Privacy tab promises to not only protect forests, but your privacy too – no information is sold to advertisers.

I have to agree, seeing an advert for HiSmile on Instagram after only briefly mentioning to my friend that I wish teeth whitening services could be cheaper (whilst my phone is just chilling next to us), is rather creepy. But then again, there have been a few times where an advert has cropped up on Facebook/Instagram, very obviously targeted at me, and I’ve clicked on it, realised I do actually need/want that product, and bought it.

So I’ll leave the question up to you – is Google a nosy little bitch, or your own personal assistant?

#31 Meet my BFF – Hygiene

Aside from it being not the most ideal word to spell, hygiene to me is one of the sexiest motherfuckers in town. It turns me on like the sex scenes in Normal People (BBC). And what better time than in a worldwide pandemic to rave about hygiene?

Allow me to list just some (and only some otherwise we’ll be here a while) of my worst nightmares:

  • Putting your headphones in your ears and then touching them. Sweating with headphones in. Sharing headphones. Anything to do with headphones.
  • Bodily fluids everywhere after some sexy time
  • Walking across a kitchen floor covered in crumbs and dinner spillage (I never walk anywhere without socks)
  • Putting a handbag/school bag/brief case/whatever bag on my bed – you have put that bag down in public toilet cubicles, on the floor, on other tables where people have spilt piss, poo, blood, cum, tears, sweat and possibly a bit of HIV.
  • Fresh washing or my towel being dropped or chucked on the floor
  • Any visible markings or imperfections on my cutlery or anything that touches my food to be honest
  • Sitting on the toilet seat in public – I just squat. Never EVER trust that a public toilet is clean, because it isn’t.
  • Fanny sweat – do I need to explain myself here?
  • Eating fruit or veg without rinsing them first

To many of you, these hatreds of mine will seem quite normal to you. Good! We can be friends. But I’ve been surprised by the amount of people who also don’t care or aren’t aware of how gross these things are.

The other day I read on Facebook that your phone has more germs on it than a toilet seat. People were commenting, completely shocked like ‘ew!’ and ‘OMG’, as if this wasn’t common knowledge? How that isn’t obvious to work out for yourself is beyond me? We all sit on the toilet playing candy crush, have a wank and then pick up our phone, touch anything dirty and pick up our phone. Duh? I’m always wiping down my phone.

And then came all the demonstration videos on social media about how to wash your hands properly, to fight covid. These weren’t made for kids. These were for ADULTS. There are adults out there who can explain to me what ‘imaginary numbers’ are in maths, but can’t understand the importance of washing their grim hands. Wild.

A lot of people tell me I’m a germaphobe, and sometimes I find myself agreeing. But I’m here to say a big F*CK YOU to anyone who thinks my habits are a bit abnormal. Me and my bestie Hygiene are living our best lives. Let’s see who lives the longest, and then try tell me I’m being ridiculous xxx

#30 Birthday Celebrations: Lockdown Edition

After a month off of writing articles for the uni newspaper, I thought I better get my ass in gear again. Jumping onto the Life&Style section, the issue of having a birthday in lockdown stands out to me, because A) my birthday is coming up this month (YASSS) and B) I’m here to tell you why you don’t have to make it an ‘issue’…

With the current pandemic in full swing, the world has seemingly come to a stop. Despite this, there’s no ‘pause’ button when it comes to birthdays: the time is still going to pass. Any late March, April or May babies (me) probably weren’t the happiest upon realising that the lockdown would inconveniently overlap with their birthday, because, worldwide, the safety risks and the legal measures put in place have likely caused (quite!) a few birthday plans to be cancelled. Although this is not ideal, there’s been numerous examples shared on social media of how to celebrate another year of life both in style, and in lockdown.

Yes PLEASE

Take the popular influencer, Steph Elswood, for example. Recently, it was her Mum’s birthday, and their mother-daughter bond became evident through the massive amounts of effort that the influencer put towards the celebrations. At precisely 7pm, Steph’s parents were greeted by three waiters (Steph, her boyfriend and her brother, dressed up as waiters). They had a ‘booking’ for 7pm, at the restaurant (their family home). The parents were sat down for a candlelit 3 course dinner. Even their menu was printed out, with the mother’s birthday printed as the ‘price’ for the main course. As predicted, this surprise turned out to be a success, putting a smile on everyone’s face in the Elswood home. 

But this impressive creativity is not necessarily vital in order to compensate for any cancelled birthday plans. Steph Elswood, originally ‘healthychefsteph’ on Instagram, has produced E-Books, detailing her delicious recipes and is therefore no stranger to the kitchen. The numerous weeks in lockdown may have created some budding chefs or bakers (absolutely not me), but we don’t all have a homemade banana bread to show off with, or a sudden talent of cooking. Perhaps, opting for a simple takeaway for some people is the perfect equivalent for a birthday meal out at a restaurant.

Yes PLEASE

Alternatively, being made a big English breakfast in bed never gets old, whatever the occasion. I already know that any of the small food-related gestures are gonna be what puts a big fat birthday smile on my face. Back in the more normal times, the sight of a Tesco delivery van, parent, or perhaps a housemate, coming through the door with big bags of the food shopping was always pleasing. But now, watching someone come in with the weekly food shop, or doing it yourself, feels even more exciting – like a weekly event to look forward to. A full-to-the-brim fridge has never brought so much happiness, so why not make your birthday the designated food shopping day?

Students who are lucky enough to have the resources for a BBQ have been taking full advantage of them: tucking into a good old burger on your birthday has the guaranteed power to distract you from all things lockdown.

Aside from the edible aspects of a birthday celebration, there are numerous other parts of a birthday that don’t have to be ruined by the lockdown measures. A BBQ is not a BBQ without decent weather. With a bit of luck, many birthdays have fallen on the exceptionally sunny days. This allows for the day to be started right: bright and warm, with a side of vitamin D (and possibly a slight tan!). With (hopefully) no lectures, meetings or deadlines, birthdays can be celebrated stress-free in the sunshine.

Yes pls

One of the more key, obvious aspects of a birthday, particularly when it comes to students, is the partying. What usually makes up a party, is the coming together of friends and family. This is now not an option, yet, this hasn’t stopped some people. Apps such as Zoom have proven that partying is still possible: you don’t necessarily need a club to go clubbing. Organise a time with your loved ones, send out the meeting ID, and you have yourself a party! 

Last month, on her birthday, my lil sis Alex enjoyed a small party of her own, by participating in a water fight with me and the other little shit (Immy). The increased family-bonding time as a result of lockdown is yet another positive feature to add to a birthday celebration: what better way to say happy birthday than to shoot 3-day-old rainwater into your sibling’s eyes?

You guessed it: yes pleaseeee

Finally, if breakfast in bed, followed by a water fight party, followed by a 3 course meal, a takeaway, or a BBQ, all on a sunny day, is still not quite enough to make the words ‘covid-19’ and ‘self-isolation’ temporarily disappear, what better way to end a birthday, than with a movie night? When going to the cinema is not an option, bring the cinema to you! The only required ingredients are: a good film, good company and good snacks – all of which are still legal in lockdown! I’d personally recommend Spy on Netflix, starring Rebel Wilson, all members of your house (don’t forget the pets), and 3 bowls of Tyrell’s sweet chilli and red pepper crisps.

#29 Reflection: The Lockdown Experience

Hi bitches, me again. Yep, it’ll be a month tomorrow since my last post – I haven’t done so in a while. Although Boris didn’t put a lockdown on publishing blog posts, let’s just pretend he did, because I have no other valid excuse as to why I haven’t written any blogs. For me, lockdown is all about doing fuck all, and that’s exactly what I did. On my shitty blog page.

Nearing the end of March, when Boris made that speech that sent thousands running into their homes, I was very close-minded about it. This isn’t like me at all. Usually, I love to embrace any opportunity that comes my way in life. I’m very open-minded, if I do say so myself. But the word ‘lockdown’ didn’t appear to me, initially, as an opportunity. It appeared to me as a lack of opportunities – I know I’m an introvert, but every human being needs to get out once in a while. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T LEGALLY LEAVE MY HOUSE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE?? The new normality was a metaphorical squishing of all the cool things I hoped to do over the Easter holidays:

  • Mini golf
  • A bike ride for the first time in yonks (I realise this is still legal in lockdown and yet somehow I still haven’t bothered)
  • Go for afternoon tea, like the posh Surrey hoe that I am
  • Go bowling, and win (lockdown or not, this is not possible, unless I’m the only one bowling)
  • Visit an aquarium and get a selfie with a creepy octopus

Now, as plans to ease out of lockdown are being put together, I’m not actually as excited as I would’ve originally predicted.

Upon reflection, lockdown has actually brought me more opportunities than what I would’ve had without it. For instance, I’m currently on a 15 day Duolingo streak – a number that would’ve seemed impossible in the pre-rona times. 15 days might seem pathetic to some of you, but you’ve got to give me a pat on the back, because I’m usually very lazy and give up on completing a lesson once I’ve come across more than 2 words I can’t translate (I’m very impatient). So, there’s that – an opportunity to develop my Deutsch. There’s the decrease in pollution levels, which, as a veggie, makes me very happy. There’s the amount of money I’ve probably saved in fuel.

I thought the song ‘Reflection’ from Mulan would be appropriate here. What a banger.

There’s also the development of my skillz on the trampoline. I’m currently teaching myself to back flip and then land in the splits (RIP my clitoris lol). And speaking of the splits, I’ve also improved on that, too. I’ve tried yoga again, for the first time in forever (yes, that’s a Frozen reference). I tried meditation. All that basic bitch stuff. It forced my butt to go do some marathon training. It got me learning to love education again, the voluntary kind, not the type where you have to because you’re paying 9 grand a year for it. I’m talking about teaching myself more about politics, Greek philosophy and the female reproductive organs, all that jazz, by using podcasts (something I probably never would have tried otherwise).

I think the most important activity that lockdown has encouraged me to do, is hella photography sessions with my pets. Are we surprised? No. And all the pets themselves, worldwide, are likely loving lockdown (pls give me a high five for that amazing alliteration). Dogs have never been on so many walks in their life. Cats are getting the attention they’ve been demanding their whole life. My rabbit has explored every inch of our garden. George the gerbil has used my handbag more than I have in the past few weeks (he enjoys shredding it to pieces).

Jesy says stay home bitches!! Ft. My lockdown hair

Of course, there are some opportunities that have quite literally been squished, like cuddling my boyfriend (hi Jack, I know you’re reading this). I mean, seriously, how is it possible to go 8+ weeks without the most endorphin-releasing gesture that is, hugging? Obviously I have my sisters, my parents, my gerbil and the rabbit to snuggle up to, but it’s just not the same. Sorry guys.

But my limited access to hugs doesn’t matter anymore, because of all the other opportunities I’ve come across. The increased sense of a community in my street, every Thursday, 8pm has been one of the most heart-warming experiences I’ve been a part of in a long time. I’ve built and gained stronger relationships with both my family, and the people I’m not living with, via weekly zoom quizzes. I’ve learnt a lot of (useless) cool shit from those quizzes – did you know that an octopus will lay between 200,000 and 400,000 eggs in one sitting? No, neither did I. And finally, I’ve come across so many new albums to listen to and enjoy…

How it took me so long to come across Kanye West’s song, Ultralight Beam, I will never understand. What a banger.

So, I invite you to reflect on all that you’ve learnt, developed or enjoyed in the past few weeks – even if that’s just that you watched all seasons of Money Heist in the space of 3 days – that is an achievement worth celebrating. That definitely counts. Don’t be hard on yourself just because you didn’t bake some bread, or learn a whole new language. Because, to be honest, who the fuck can learn a whole new language in a month? No one. And who needs to bake bread when you can just buy some beautiful bagels? (I’m on a roll with this alliteration thing).

And more importantly, I invite you to remember this little mistake I made, of being so close-minded: try to be open-minded in life. About everything. Whether that’s a meal your mum’s cooking that you don’t like the look of, an advert for some random book, or an email about a Uni event that you should probably attend: ‘Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Graduate Internship Application, a webinar’. What you may initially judge as useless, annoying, or trashy, may end up to be one of the most life-changing things you’ll ever know.

#28 I Don’t Know How To Title This

Hello, bitches. Guess what. I’ve given up on healthy eating for the 27th time? That’s not what I was going for, but you’d be right anyway. What I was going for, was the fact that, yet again, I have no idea what to write my next blog about. If I make it to #30, is that enough to quit and slap onto my CV? Maybe, but the truth is, I’ve come to quite enjoy chatting shit to the random 45 people (on average) that read these monstrosities.

So, in true What’s for dinner Gina? fashion, I’m just gonna write about not knowing what to write about, and if I ramble for long enough, I’ll reach the end.

What do you do when you don’t know what new series to start on Netflix? When you don’t know whether to wear your comfy Lion King panties, or something a bit more raunchy? When you don’t know whether to say ‘love you’ or ‘fuck you’ to someone?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll either, yeet, yolo, wing or fuck it. Like this blog, I winged it. I’m still winging it. Like yesterday, I said ‘fuck it’ and whacked the send button on an email to my supervisor, without being entirely sure whether the attached file was the formal one, or the rated 18 content one where I’d added in unnecessary evaluations like, ‘Ortony’s (1997) vividness hypothesis is so full of shit that you can almost smell it’. In case you can’t tell, I got slightly bored while writing a literature review on metaphors, but I would highly recommend expressing your academic frustrations in this way – it really helps. Just delete those parts before submission, unless you really are serious about dropping out of uni (a regular consideration of mine now).

Yeeting, yoloing, winging or just fucking it is a great method when you don’t know what the fuck to do. Risky, but great. Making an impulsive decision can sometimes help you to realise what you actually want. For example, if I can’t decide between Pizza Express or Las Iguanas, I might impulsively just decide on Las Iguanas. And then, whilst making my way to the Latin American restaurant, I’ll start thinking about all the pizza I now can’t eat. I’ll moan to my boyfriend that I won’t be eating Pizza Express’ Vegan Giahdinera Pizza (that’s absolutely not the correct spelling but it’s close enough). Walking up to the entrance of the restaurant, I’ll come to the realisation that this whole time, I wanted dough balls. Of course I wanted fucking dough balls. And with that, the correct decision is finally made – Pizza Express. No hangry Gina in the area.

My loves.

Obviously, winging it can also just get you into some deep shit. If you’ve got an interview with a big corporate firm tomorrow, I’d advise against walking in there as if you’re Lizzo, acting like you own the place. Because, hun, you really don’t own the place when you’re standing in the same building as the CEO of T Mobile or some shit. Here are some further examples of when you probably shouldn’t wing it:

  • Running your first marathon (diahrrea!!)
  • Spending £183 in one online-shopping sitting (how u gonna pay rent then?)
  • Attempting to cook a romantic meal for a partner (you’re not Jamie Oliver)
  • Setting up a trampoline, safely (fuck)

My preferred activities to yolo it are the following…

  • Socialising in general
  • Learning how to use a washing machine
  • Shotting vodka
  • Bleaching and dying my hair pink
  • How the fuck to do reverse cowgirl
  • Adopting a gerbil on the spot
  • Sending a risky text to my mum

So, in conclusion, if you’re bored out your mind in lock down, and you don’t know what to do, my advice is, take a risk! Ask your crush on a date (when we’re allowed out), dye your hair, chop your hair, confess your feelings to someone you really shouldn’t, steal your mum’s last Weight Watchers rocky road bar (yep I did that), send your ex a risky text, leak your own nudes, go mad…