40 goals for 2016

After my last post unveiling things that happened in 2015, here’s a bunch more shit that I’d like to achieve in 2016:

1. Stop assuming every twinge in my body is the beginning of my journey to death
2. Eat more grapefruit
3. Stop snoozing my alarm
4. Devise a shorter response to the question, “so what are you doing now?” to avoid trapping people by having to journey back to “so I met this Australian guy” circa 2013
5. Moan about Taylor Swift less
6. Never play beer pong when Captain Morgan is being added to the shit mix
7. Try a different club on Chapel St that isn’t Revellers
8. Moan about Metro Trains less
9. Actually decide whether or not to stick to soy milk
10. Stop buying specific individual items that I’ll never wear, just to recreate an outfit I saw on Pinterest
11. Stop thinking I like baking
12. Stop spending days baking and then throwing a tantrum that I can’t eat the cakes because I’m fat
13. Accept that Shapes aren’t a healthy snack
14. Remember that Kiwi fruits are a natural laxative before going into work
15. Learn when not to make jokes
16. Remember to buy my passion pop in advance of wanting it so I bag it for the reasonable fee of $4.90 and avoid the tantrum in the local bottle shop upon seeing that they’re charging $10 for it
17. Throw less tantrums – a newly added item after writing this list and realising I have them too often for a 24 year old
18. Don’t try on new clothes after a big dinner and then cry about being a pig and storm off to the gym
19. Join a gym with air con
20. Actually do my posture exercises and try to sit up straighter to get off the road to being a hunchback
21. Try to accept that just because I have a headache, the chances are it’s not a brain tumour
22. Stop telling people the story about how David Lloyd wouldn’t let me join the gym over Christmas
23. Accept that Starbucks in Australia tasted like crap and stop buying it
24. Decide whether or not to buy an iPad
25. Decide what type of writer I want to be
26. Take a digital marketing and SEO course
27. Stop thinking that my financial management elective and my AS level in accounting is enough, and just get an accountant
28. Either stop telling people I can speak Spanish better than I actually can, or learn it properly
29. Stop insulting Australians
30. Accept that I’ll never be able to pull off “sick” as an adjective
31. Find something new to be cynical about now that Downton Abbey is over
32. Get more manicures
33. Stop comparing how much things cost in the UK
34. Tell more people about how cork hats were designed to keep flies out your face
35. Skype friends more
36. Mention my boyfriend’s dad in more blogs because as it turns out he bloody loves it
37. Actually use insect repellent
38. Stop offering to bring a dessert to family dinners and then end up in tears after failed tart number four slides shamelessly into the bin
39. Understand that it’s really not the right time to get a Corgi yet
40. Stop boring people with talk about what visa I’m applying for

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and are still yelping in physical pain on your sofa at the sheer volume of food you ate. Good job. New Year is coming, so drink to a brilliant end to 2015 and a year ahead of health and happiness to all.

Love always,

Coco xx

soymilk

43 things that happened to me in 2015

Wow, what a crazy year. I thought no year would fly by as fast as 2014, but hey there 2015, you’ve gone and trumped it. It’s been a great year for me – here’s some things that happened on the ride:

  1. I finally realised I’m too old to remain in love with One Direction. Zayn’s departure didn’t break my heart the way it should have done, and I came to the sad conclusion that I could’t really give two shits about them anymore.
  2. I accepted that a bowl of bran flakes and four Ryvita crackers is not sufficient nutrition for the day.
  3. I realised how much I truly hate winter. I used to sort of love the cosiness of it all – the jumpers, hot chocolates, fluffy socks and layered clothing. But at some point around July in Melbourne, rain-sodden and snivelling, I announced I could not go on. My search for eternal sunshine began in Northern Queensland, where I had two tantrums and shouted at my boyfriend declaring that the cloud that had appeared on our second day was his fault. Obviously.
  4. I ate wallaby… and enjoyed it.
  5. I gave up red meat (a very recent development – for those of you who are questioning whether or not you did in fact see me chug a burger two months ago).
  6. I stopped lying to myself about enjoying clubs less than I used to. I started to realise I was getting too old for it when I stopped recognising the music, and I’m now 100% certain that I am over the hill.
  7. I made my peace with Aussie television.
  8. I learned the truth about Australian winter. No. It absolutely is NOT like our summer.
  9. I learned to drive an automatic car without flapping my left foot about in search of a clutch.
  10. I learned that sucking tea through a Tim Tam has to be done incredibly quickly before it all goes soggy and plummets to the ibis that is the bottom of your teacup.
  11. Apparently having a headache doesn’t always mean you have a brain tumour.
  12. I become a professional writer after years of writing content for free (yay me).
  13. I allowed my boyfriend to see me removing my upper lip hair.
  14. I discovered I am truly dreadful at market research interviewing.
  15. I survived an 8 hour drive to Adelaide (and back) without a freak out (bar one tiny blip on the final 3 hour stint of the return journey when we were further from McDonalds than we thought).
  16. I realised I don’t actually like Victoria’s Secret stuff that much.
  17. I sent so much stuff home from Melbourne over the year that the man in the Post Office said “to England?” every time I went in with a parcel.
  18. I realised I need to know more about politics.
  19. I discovered the true need to wear socks with my running shoes.
  20. I found a hairdresser that actually cuts off the amount you want, and doesn’t ask me how I blow dry my hair when she knows the answer is I DON’T.
  21. I found that when you exercise a lot, your hair and beauty game takes a serious hit.
  22. It seems that 5k in a beachfront race feels a lot further than 5k on the treadmill.
  23. It turns out I don’t like chia seeds. Or cacao powder.
  24. But against all odds I do like courgetti and natural peanut butter.
  25. I finally found the perfect eyeliner brush.
  26. I started saying no to cream on my Starbucks Christmas drinks for the first time EVER.
  27. I learned both verses of the Australian National Anthem.
  28. And upped my level of defence and respect for The Queen.
  29. I discovered that working from home is not always the dream your 9-5 office job leads you to believe it to be.
  30. I realised I’m over Lucy Watson.
  31. But made my boyfriend follow her on Instagram.
  32. Despite having fallen somewhat in love with mine and boyfriend’s long distance, novel-worthy existence, seeing some couples popping round to each other’s houses for the evening and having mutual family gatherings made me realise I do sometimes wish it was normal.
  33. I found that I will forever compare every mode of transport to The Tube.
  34. Taylor Swift got too cool for me. Bring back the country pop, gal.
  35. I heard the phrase ON FLEEK and quickly developed a seething hatred for its entire being.
  36. When I was new in Melbourne I made conversation with someone by telling them I thought I was allergic to my toothpaste.
  37. I learned never to make conversation by telling someone you think you’re allergic to your toothpaste.
  38. I cried at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
  39. I also cried at Masterchef Australia.
  40. I realised how sad I am that the early-twenties stage of my life where you live with girlfriends is over.
  41. I realised that Corgis are my spirit animal. And that I must have one.
  42. I went to JB HIFI and Harvey Norman in excess of one hundred times with my boyfriend while he stared at the same TV for hours on end. That’s love.
  43. I discovered the reason I am so unhappy after going to Pancake Parlour is because I don’t actually like pancakes that much.

2015, you were pretty rad. Bring on 2016.

Coco xx

fleek

Another Year Over…

Hey there. So here we are, at the end of another year, ready to raise our glasses, stuff our faces, and fester neck deep in turkey and Quality Street for a solid week – before vowing to lose weight and hit the gym in 2016, of course. And by 2016, we mean from the first Monday of 2016, because the few days preceding one’s return to work are nothing if not buffer days to delay the new and improved selves we vow to muster.

My transition into from 2015 to 2016 is going to go a little something like this. For the next few days I’ll be sailing through a limbo period of my healthy eating and gym routine, where I’ll more than likely rise feeling great, make my usual brekkie of oats or fruit, hit the gym, grab a coffee, and come home and write (often interspersed with a brief social encounter). Then, almost as the laptop closes, the lid to the biscuit tin magically lifts itself from grip, clinks down on the table, and those chocolate dipped beauties that we get graced with but once per year will fly into my mouth with little hesitation. Before I know it, Christmas Day and Boxing Day will roll around, also known as THE DIETER’S HALL PASS. That’s right. The gym is closed. CLOSED. I’m not allowed in. The sign on the door may as well say “bathe in turkey” because quite frankly, the six letter word they opt for translates as such in just about any tongue I have ever known. Yuhuh. I plan to eat what ever I can cram into my mouth, barely stopping for breath for the entire 48 hours, before I crawl back to the gym on the 27th with my tail between legs, ready for the meat sweats.

Anyway, enough about my – albeit somewhat problematic – eating habits. Once the colossal feast is over, I’ll be packing my suitcase and dragging my poor mother off to Heathrow AGAIN to drop me off for a tasty 9am flight. 9am you hear? Not bad, right? Weeellllll, when you live two hours from the airport and overestimate the timing of everything, a 9am flight is actually code for “hey Mum, I think we should leave at 3am”. Oh, and don’t forget those magic four words – JUST TO BE SAFE. Leaving 6 hours before your flight, at a time of day when traffic is incredibly unlikely, is absurd. But. I’ll be doing it anyway.

I’ll be rocking into Melbourne at the even tastier hour of 1.55am (so my poor Mum isn’t alone in the awkward airport drop off/pick up time warp). That’s right, boyfriend. Come on down.

As a sufferer of intense jet leg (the kind where you wake up at 4am, lay in bed restless and then race out to the kitchen the second you hear movement because the prospect of eating toast with your boyfriend’s Dad is simply SOMETHING TO DO), the prospect of landing in Melbourne on New Years Eve fills me with dread. Fly in for New Year they said. It’ll be fun they said. FALL ASLEEP AT THE PARTY THEY SAID. Let’s face it, it’s going to happen.

So post pyjama party (not everyone else, just me), the reality of 2016 will set in. Both my mum and boyfriend are cracking on with brand spanking new jobs, so they’re both killing the classic ‘new year, new start’ mantra that drives multimillion pound marketing campaign for the entire globe every year. But here I am, heading back to Melbourne, to an incomplete life. After having to leave my main contract job due to visa restrictions, I’m somewhat of a nomad again. Roaming free with little purpose, I’m already beginning to get flashbacks of when I first arrived in Melbourne – though granted it’s much less of a culture shock as many aspects will have remained constant while I soaked up the balmy fifteen degree ‘heatwave’ England had on offer.

So, I decided to make myself a killer New Years Resolution. Well, my main one is to be able to do ten push ups. Proper boy ones. It may sound like nothing to some people but my upper body and core strength is nowhere where near what it needs to be (partially due to an old injury, partially due to me just having the natural strength of a artichoke). But a better one. A fun one. One that’s actually a bit backwards. Yeah sure, I’m taking 2016 as my second chance to keep my fitness up while I’m overseas, but I wanted a fun resolution, too. Over my 8 months in Melbourne I slowly piled almost a stone back on of what I had lost in 2014 – and lost A LOT of muscle, but I’ve been working hard to kick 8lbs of that in the past 6 weeks and I intend to keep it that way. By the way, those of you who nailed the “What? What weight? You look the same to me” charade – your Oscars are in the mail. Top drawer.

ANYWAY GET TO THE RESOLUTION. You’re all thinking it.

Drink. More. Champagne.

Yep, drink more champagne. And prosecco. And bellinis. Basically anything bubbly in a flute. Why, you ask? Why is this weirdo vowing to drink more champagne in the same breath as vowing to keep her fitness up?

I’ll tell you why. Champagne, in the literal sense is utterly divine (and I do whole heartedly intend to actually consume more of the bubbly stuff, in moderation, of course) it’s more of a metaphor for the celebrating I intend to do. I’ve realised I’ve got a hell of a lot to celebrate, and I don’t glug the proverbial champagne as much as I should. Everything’s pretty damn good, so for 2016 I intend to raise my glass to everything I love more often. Sure, sometimes that glass will be full to the brim of Moet & Chandon, sometimes it’ll be filled with Passion Pop; sometimes it’ll be an empty hand fist pumping to mark the end of a great run, and sometimes it’ll be a high five for completing a killer piece of writing. Either way, the champagne – however real – will be consumed.

Here’s to a great 2016. Enjoy the last few days of the “It’s Christmas” excuse, make resolutions you want to keep, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to change next year. Quite often, it’s the things you’re doing right that deserve some recognition.

Over and out.

Coco xx

drinkmorechampagne

 

27 things you will have said if you’re from Ringwood

Bonjour. I’m bashing this post out from my warm, toasty couch on a Saturday evening full to the neckline of prosecco and cheese after a corker of a lunch at Renoufs in Westbourne – so please excuse any omissions in grammar perfection, won’t you. For anyone who saw my recent Facebook status, you’ll know where the inspo for this has come from. On my way to lunch today, I was pootling along the forest roads out of Ringwood when me and my little Peugeot were reduced to the hair raising speed of 5mph – because two horses were trotting along the side of the road. As I was picking my friend up from the train station, I was concerned I was going to be late. Chuckling to myself, I thought, wow, I’m going to have to say I’m late because of a horse. Yep, a HORSE. This got me thinking – what other hilarious sentences come out of the mouths of those of us from Ringwood? Here they come:

furlong

Image via thenewforest.co.uk

  1. “Sorry, I’m late, I was stuck behind a horse on my way here”.
  2. “I GOT A PARKING SPACE AT WAITROSE ON A SATURDAY.”
  3. “Well Jules, I was going to pop to HSBC yesterday but of course, I couldn’t – it was market day!”
  4. “Gosh, The Furlong is really coming up isn’t it.”
  5. “I just don’t understand how TOYS is still in business.”
  6. “Remember when Caffe Nero was Cosmetique!?”
  7. “Oh, that car mechanic is in Parkside” Where’s that? “You know, off Christchurch Road.” Nope? “Near Texaco.” Nope. “Where the carnival starts.” OH YEAH THERE. 
  8. “Remember London Discounts?”
  9. “Well the problem was, Jemeima’s friend Molly was out of catchment for Ringwood school. She ended up at Twynham”. Oh gosh how terrible for her. 
  10. “I saw Howard [Donald] yesterday” Oh really, where? “Waitrose”.
  11. “You’ll never guess who I saw yesterday – John Clees!” Oh wow, where? “Waitrose”.
  12. “I had to pick up some lightbulbs, masking tape, a watch battery and a dog toy, so I popped into Johnny Junks”.
  13. “Whoops, I mean Ringwood Surplus Stores!”
  14. “FREE PRAWN CRACKERS FROM THE CHINESE. GET IN”.
  15. “I STILL just can’t believe it’s not a 50mph limit on the A31 yet”.
  16. “I still look at Iceland and think of Woolworths.”
  17. “Christmas just isn’t the same without Woolworths is it?”
  18. “I knocked my exhaust off going over the cattle grid last week.”
  19. “Well we were going to book Disneyland for September but of course it’s Carnival isn’t it.”
  20. “I miss walking round the corner, seeing Cat Weasel and almost crapping my pants”.
  21. “Don’t get me wrong, I like the new Framptons, but I miss the old one”.
  22. “Who actually goes in Jaeger?”
  23. “Where are you watching the Carnival?!”
  24. “Those public toilets have come a long way since there used to be diarrhoea up the walls”.
  25. “I’m surprised the back entrance of Boots lasted so long! Woolworths had to shut theirs because of break ins incase you didn’t already know!!!!!”.
  26. “The Santa parade has been called off due to bad weather”.
  27. “I bloody love Ringwood!”.

C xx

What ‘plus size’ looks like according to 5 retailers

So, there I was, fresh off the boat (and by boat I mean Qantas Airbus) from Australia, ready to sink my teeth into some good old British high street shopping (and by high street I mean not outside, not on a street, and definitely inside my bed).

“I’m back in the world of next day delivery”, I thought to myself gleefully. The sheer size of Australia means waiting 3-5 business days for something (on a good day)… AND there’s no post on Saturdays. It’s as though they think I plan my outfits in advance or something. Anyway, primed with my MasterCard and ready to plonk a hundy in my cart (£100 for those who need translation), I scrolled through the likes of Asos and Missguided with a grin from ear to ear. Until I saw this. APPARENTLY PLUS SIZE MODELS ARE SKINNIER THAN I AM.

Now this struck a nerve with me in particular as I spend most of 2014 on a treadmill shedding the lbs. Despite slowly but surely tronking my way through enough hamburgers to pile 11lbs back on in Australia, I was still proudly stomping about in a good dress size or two less than pre-treadmill love affair, so I still considered it a mild victory. That was, until I saw myself exposed to some slender little filly with a great big plus sign plastered across her face on a website. And not just ‘a’ website. The shock of the first exposure lead me to explore a few other similar sites, and I didn’t like what I saw.

‘Sizes 16-24’ they claim. Funny that, did you haul the clothing in at the back with a giant bulldog clip as you photographed it on this size 10 rack of ribs I see before me? Why are brands taking the credit for providing a plus size range, yet promoting the clothes on a girl who is far from the size range? Here’s what ‘plus size’ looks like in five different UK online retailers:

ASOS CURVE: Claiming to cater to the curvier lass, the Curve range comes in at a size 18-30. Which is why it obviously makes total sense popping this LBD on a girl no bigger than a size 12. Exhibit A. SHE PRACTICALLY HAS AN EFFIN’ THIGH GAP.

AsosCurve

 

MISSGUIDED PLUS: Probably the worst of the bunch, these cheeky little buggers have slipped this olive skinned stunner into a teal tea dress claimed to be for a size 16-24. As suspected, not a thunder thigh in sight. *crys into size 12 jeans*.

MissguidedPlus

BOOHOO PLUS: Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, OH HELLO BOOHOO. This little chica is wearing a crop top (YES, A CROP TOP) and maxi skirt and claims to be a size 16-24. Well. Let me just crawl into a hole and weep, then, because if that’s a size 16, then I sir am Camilla Parker Bowles.

BooHooPlus

NEW LOOK INSPIRE: New Look faired slightly better in my assessment of their choice of models for the Inspire range for women sized 18-32, but there of course was one or two stragglers. Presenting the furthest thing from a size 18, ladies and gents. Chunky knees? No. Bingo wings? No again. Yet here I am rocking both, thinking I’m a size 10. Well, more fool me. Here she comes:

NewlookPlus

H&M+: Ah, the Swedes. Known not only for their tasty (if not somewhat horsey) meatballs and creative furniture naming skills, they also spat out our old fave H&M. Our go-to guys for a pair o’ leggings or a quickie outfit for a last minute night out, and oh, oh, YEAH YOU GOT IT IN ONE – an inconceivably slim ‘plus size’ model. Their selection of girls for their +18-28 range was commendable, but it what have we learned today? It wouldn’t be a plus size range without an absolute corker of a skinny bitch in there would it. As promised, here she is. Probably a creative who sips skinny capps while painting on her balcony WEARING SIZE 12 CLOTHING:

HMPlus

Food for thought, women of the world. Before this post gets completely misconstrued and I get trolled for hating on plus size women, that’s totally not what this is about. It’s about retailers supposedly supporting positive body image by providing a plus size range, and then totally wrecking it by using models that fit a size that the range doesn’t even carry. Sort it out!

Love (and now probably doughnuts) always,

Coco x

Safe Journey Home

“Next waiting”.

I scuttled up to the border control desk, patted my passport and boarding pass down on the desk and looked up. “How was your time in Australia, darl?” uttered the Aussie-as-they-come teller. “Great, thanks” I replied, choking slightly on my words; the goodbye behind the departure doors still freshly forming that wrenching lump in my throat that I knew all too well. Bleary eyed and puffy as a Pokemon, I looked up and caught Aussie-as-they-come teller’s eye. “Safe journey home, miss”, he muttered, donning a slightly crooked grin on his face that sort of said ‘enjoy the 24 hour flight to freezing winter’.

Home. Safe journey home. As I picked up my maroon passport with those lions so dear to my heart plastered across the cover, I retreated. Home? What a fool that man was. I live here now. And then I realised. No I don’t. There it was staring me in the face. I’m leaving my ‘home’, to go ‘home’ (the somewhat obnoxious inverted commas being the operative and soul defining punctuation in that sentence). Here I was patting myself on the back for making a life for myself on the other side of the world, feeling excitement – albeit sewn with sorrow – to be heading back to the UK for Christmas. I’ve got two homes now – the words I’d been foolishly serenading my days with. It wasn’t until Aussie-as-they-come teller wished me a safe journey home, that I felt like I’d stripped myself of a home. Suddenly neither place felt like the ‘h’ word, and it made me wonder – what makes a place a home?

With the woman to whom I owe my entire existence, my Mum, on one side of the world, and the person I love on the other, I found myself literally torn between two places. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly the first time I’ve felt torn. This was inevitable, and a somewhat familiar feeling – but never before like this. My solid allegiance to my home country of England had always reigned strong in these situations. Sure, Melbourne was fine, but it’s not home. But when you’ve been in a place with a person you love for so many months, you create a routine, a day-to-day existence, and a soft spot for the things that make it what it is. Every step closer to comfort in that place, takes away from the comfort of the old place. And so I’m asking, can you call two places home, or does every extra ounce of love for one unstitch a part of your love for the other? You feel like you’re cheating on one of the places by missing the other, yet we can’t go about our lives longing for another place, either. How do we juggle a love of two homes? Is it two homes, or are we actually a wanderer, seeking validation and confirmation of one decision?

A sombre thought to ponder, fellow nomads. I apologise. Upbeat and humorous sequel to this post to follow. Promise. Spoiler alert – I’m going to review an American reality show that I found called Dating Naked. (Don’t panic. It’s clean.)

Love always,

Coco xx

homessign

22 things your English friends say when you live in Australia

Okay, so while I’ve taken somewhat of an absence from the blogosphere lately – attributed to being flat out bashing my fingers against the keypad working on other projects, and basking in the Aussie sun (more on that later) – it’s generally common knowledge that I’m living in Melbourne at the moment. Living in a country with such a globally misunderstood reputation has allowed me to notice a few, er, let’s say patterns in the things my friends and family back in England say to me about being here, so today, I’m setting the record straight. Don’t get me wrong, obviously I’m utterly elated that my pals are even communicating with me from 11,000 miles away and haven’t forgotten the essence of my existence since I left 7 months ago – but some of these perceptions of this country need clearing up once and for all!

Crocodiles

So, what even is the time there? Is it like, the middle of the night? I just can’t get my head around it!

It’s 11 hours ahead, just like last time you asked. You know that smartphone that you’re glued to? It has a world clock. Try that. 

Wow, you must be soo tanned!

Nope. Not really. I actually have a job and a house that are inside. I’m not just cruising around Byron Bay in baggy trousers and a crop top in a knot.

Have you got an accent yet?!

….Maybe 😳

Are you going to come back and keep saying BONZA?

Nope. Nobody says that. 

What’s a ‘cool change’?!

This weird thing when the hot weather stops for a day or two to allow you to breathe again. You’re outside and its 35 degrees, then suddenly a huge gust of cold wind comes and the temperature plummets 10 degrees in about 6 minutes. 

Wow, you must be ‘throwing shrimp on the barbie’ for dinner every night, right?

Again, nope. Funnily enough there are calories here too. And ovens. And normal food that isn’t barbecued. 

What do you mean it’s raining?

Yep. It rains here. Imagine that. 

Hahahaha, you said #winter the other day on Instagram. Their winter is like our UK summer though, isn’t it?

NO. I’m in Melbourne, it’s 8 degrees and raining, and I’ve just bought a coat and scarf. 

What does 40 degrees feel like?!

Imagine 30 degrees. But a third hotter. Bingo.

But there’s air con everywhere right?

Ask Metro trains what they think about that statement. 

Work? I thought Aussies just chilled on the beach all day.

Yeah and rent is paid for by the state. Not. 

*I’m going to Adelaide* Where’s that? Near Sydney?

Not quite. Imagine the entire length of the UK. Double that. That’s how far from Sydney that is. 

What’s a suburb?! Like Hammersmith or Clapham?

No. Not really.

How often do you eat kangaroo?

About as often as you eat cat. 

So are there spiders like EVERYWHERE?

There are no spiders here. 

Do you feel like you’re in the Inbetweeners movie?

None of my friends work in nightclubs and I’m not frequenting Surfers Paradise with a backpack so again, no. 

Have you been bitten by a spider?!

No, haven’t done that either. 

Are there snakes in your back garden?

No, I do not live in the outback.

Are there kangaroos fighting as soon as you open your front door?

Afraid not.

Do you feel like you’re on neighbours?

Occasionally. And no, I have not been to the Ramsay St set and I do not intend to.

Does McDonalds taste different?

Unlike Europe, it actually doesn’t!

I bet you don’t miss England at all!

ACTUALLY I SO TOTALLY DO! I MISS SAINSBURY’S, I MISS TESCO, I MISS THE BANK NOTES, I MISS THINGS BEING OPEN LATE, I MISS THE TUBE, I MISS MY OYSTER CARD, I MISS STARBUCKS NOT TASTING LIKE DIRT, YES I DO MISS ENGLAND! 

TOMB BRAIDER

Like the Lara Croft pun? Thought you might. To clarify, today I’m waffling on about BRAIDS! You remember, they frequented your dreams when you were counting down the sleeps until your holiday to Costa del Sol in the 90s, and were all you wanted for from your parents for the entire week (or ten days if you were an utterly posh and loaded middle class fuck).

You’d tire over deciding what colours would most impress your fellow year four groovy chicks, and which would most complement your Tammy Girl dress for the Valentines disco (where you were so totally going to dance to Titanic with your ‘crush’. – which obviously meant standing on the opposite side of the room to all the boys for the entire duration of the disco until your friends mum picked you up at the scandalous hour of 8.15pm).

You MIGHT have even been lucky enough to own one of these BAD BOYS:

Babyliss CrazyBraid

YES FOLKS THATS THE BABYLISS CRAZYBRAID – which didn’t produce the results quite as promised but you could usually manage to rustle up a half arsed plait with a few beads on the end to match your stick on earrings and body glitter, so all’s cool. Usually I’d link you to a purchase site, but unsurprisingly Amazon have dubbed it ‘currently unavailable’, which loosely translates as ‘caught up in a timewarp waiting for the world to be ready again’.

Anyway, if you’re nodding your head and snorting laughter at any of this (who am I kidding, I’m not THAT funny), you’ll be over the moon to hear that BRAIDS ARE BACK. Yes that’s right. Tommy Hilfiger is bringing sassy back with the hair braid – which is ironic really as Tommy Girl was likely the fragrance that you would spray on to complete your ‘stick-on-earringed-body-glittered-sass-pot’ look (if it wasn’t of course Glow by J-Lo, though that was mostly because of the totes gorge and classy necklace that came free).

At New York Fashion Week this week, Tommy Hilfiger hit the runway with its SS 2016 collection, rife with Caribbean colours and elaborate bikinis. But wait, wait, WHAT IS THAT WE SEE. Yes that’s right, hair braids. BRAIDS. THE MODELS ARE WEARING BRAIDS IN THEIR HAIR.

Tommy Hilfiger SS16 Braids. Credit Grazia UK

Image credit @GraziaUK on Instagram.

Life complete. The accessories have properly come full circle, what with flares and platforms being fully acceptable. By this logic, it’s basically 100% fine to wear that ever gorge skirt-over-trousers combo. Just sayin’, it’s sure worth a try.

Anyway, given Tommy boy’s permish, I’m off to find any random lady on the street with all colours of thread from god-knows-where and pay a moderately reasonable fee her to pull my hair – what has to be an unhealthy amount – and wrap as many colours round it as possible.

I’m pretty sure that BRAIDS is all you really need to know about the SS16 collection, but if for any reason you’re keen to see the rest of the show, head to Hollywood Life (as they have an awesome 43 image strong gallery of the all the looks).

Love always,

Coco xxx

Thoughts after my first week as an Aussie

Hello world. This post is coming from you live from Melbourne, which for the time being, is the place I call home. While I like it here, and love exploring all that this glorious country has to offer, its a well known fact that I am a complete amalgamation of everything British. I’m known to break into chants of “I’m England ’til I die”, or God Save the Queen at random intervals, defend our awful weather and annoyingly pick apart any accent that isn’t that of the Queen’s English. Its for these reasons that its hard for me to adjust to a new country, so here are some of my thoughts after my first week as an Aussie resident, some good and some bad!

1. The prevalence of avocados on restaurant menus is DELIGHTFUL. Smashed, sliced, coupled with perfectly crisped bacon…you name it, its there.

2. People are kind of rude. Restaurant staff in particular. Conversations aren’t modelled on the standard British “sorry, hi, yes, please thank you sorry, thanks, cheers, see ya, yeah cheers bye”, and its quite unsettling.

3. 29 degrees is apparently the appropriate weather for donning head to toe fleece.

4. Every single road is like driving on the M25 (even in the suburbs the roads have a billion lanes).

5. There are actually ample bins. Its not like London where any sort of rubbish disposal is considered catnip for terrorists. I can dispose of my litter in peace.

6. Trains seem to come when they damn well please.

7. Coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Great coffee everywhere. Even at McDonalds.

8. There’s a genuine place called Waffee. Waffles and Coffee. Enough said.

9. Frozen coke. Frozen fanta. Frozen sour watermelon. Slurpees. FROZEN ERRYTHANG.

10. They haven’t yet grasped the concept of free cash withdrawals. $2.50 charge for using an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank. SAY WHAT?

11. People repeatedly tell you that Melbourne has unpredictable weather and that you can have all four seasons in one day. I’m from the UK. I am fully used to unsteady climates. I don’t need it to be explained to me.

12. TV advertising is hysterically cringeworthy.

13. Nobody says “pay with card”. Its apparently Eftpos (some sort of unnecessary acronym)

14. Any word that can be shortened, is shortened.

15. The prices of stuff is messed up. A McFlurry costs $5 (about £2.75). Yet a McDonalds ice cream cone (with almost the same amount of ice cream) is 50 cents (30p). WHAT?

16. The fast food monarch we call Burger King has been replaced with a young boy named Jack who requires food. Burger King = Hungry Jack’s (no idea why)

17. The food at Starbucks is far better than the UK. No stale blueberry muffins or dry panini in sight

18. Ive spent a fortune on water. I drink bottled water a lot, and here they cost about $3.30. I miss my 40p Evian from Sainsbury’s.

19. THEY STILL HAVE CADBURY DREAM. That white chocolate that was discontinued for sale in the UK when we were about 12. IT LIVES ON.

20. Everything. Is. Massive. Forget your regular sized shampoo bottle at about 250-400ml. No no no. EVERYTHING IS HUGE AND HAS A PUMPY LID. Litres and litres of toiletries line my shower now.

So those are my initial observations upon spending my first week as an Aussie. More musings to follow….

Ciao x

Eating Healthily in Restaurants (an insider’s guide!)

Hello! Goodness me, how on earth is it March. It was Christmas five minutes ago. Lets just take a moment to absorb that we are almost a quarter of the way through 2015. Yep. ONE QUARTER. But its a new month, another of the 12 new starts we promise ourselves each year, and your ‘third time lucky’ stab at your New Years Resolution to be the new and improved hybrid version of your already oh so fabulous self. SO. On that note, I can bet  my life’s worth (which isn’t a great deal more than the laptop I’m writing on, an economy seat on an upcoming Qantas flight, and a coffee-cup filled Peugeot 206 with no stereo I’m afraid) that a good 50% or more of you made the resolution to shape up and be healthier this year. Whether its for weight loss, general well being, or getting toned for summer, we all have such grand expectations at the beginning of the year, but more often than not, something gets in the way. Be it a friend’s birthday, a wedding, an emotional event, a break up, or just a bad day at the office, we always seem to find ourselves back in the arms of our favourite chocolatey snack, or reunited with the only man who ever truly stuck by us, Ronald McDonald (great guy, the cheeseburgers are just a happy bonus).

Anyway, working in a restaurant (spoiler alert, its Pizza Express), and being the nosey little ratbag that I am, I often find myself not-so-accidentally overhearing customers’ conversations about their weight loss flops, and the traps and pitfalls they’ve encountered. Having been on a fitness and healthy eating spur for almost a year now, during which time I have shed around two and a half stone and kept it off since September *takes bow*, I somewhat know my way around the ol’ nutritional values chart of the Pizza Express menu, so I am still able to take advantage of the free food they fling at us daily, without drowning in oil, cheese and carb heaven. BUT, with knowledge comes great responsibility. That responsibility being holding my tongue when customers order things that they THINK are healthy, but are actually marinated in a mountain of hidden calories. Ive found a few common patterns, and its incredibly difficult not to start reciting the nutritional value chart to every customer I hear is on a diet. They are out to dinner with a friend or their partner, they do not want to hear me bang on. If they do, they can ask. Thus, I keep schtum. But all this pent up frustration towards what people THINK is healthy, has lead me to this blog post. Here I will tell you the best ways to eat healthily at Pizza Express, and what to avoid at all costs due to the hidden calorie content!

STARTERS

The Pizza Express starter offering is similar to that of other popular Italian restaurant chains, and to some people’s dismay, yes, a lot of it is dough based (shock, we’re a Pizza chain). Obvious things to avoid are the Bruschetta, Bruschetta con Fungi, and Garlic Bread with Mozzarella. While delicious, they each use half a pizza dough, and are laden with pesto, butter based béchamel sauce, and fatty mozzarella (respectively).

The obvious healthy option is the Leggera Gambaretti Picante, coming in at only 200 calories per serving, packed with metabolism boosting chilli, and carb and gluten free. If you don’t eat prawns, switch them in for chicken (my trick as I harbour a severe seafood allergy!).

Now for the devil. The devil item on the starter menu is the Melanzanine. Served in an adorable mini al forno dish, this gluten free starter layered with vegetables sounds like your friend. NO NO NO. Do not fall for its charm. This starter is like the guy you met in that club one night that ended up playing you for three months. It is not what it seems. Inside that innocent looking al forno dish is layers of fatty mozzarella and oil, all neatly wrapped up in almost 17g of fat. The bad boy older brother of the devil starter is the Mozzarella and Tomato salad. Yeah salad. I was fooled too. How dare they call it a salad and then pack in THIRTY NINE grams of fat. Yep. 39. What you are actually eating is an entire full fat mozzarella ball, tomato slices, drizzled with oil and pesto. Sure, it tastes divine and feels light and fresh, but stay away from this if you’re watching the waist line for sure.

PIZZA

This is a fun one. A lot of people opt for the Classic pizzas, upon hearing that they are a meer 11 inches wide in comparison to the 14 inches that the Romana base boasts. What some waiters won’t tell you is that the same dough is used uniformly. The size difference purely depends on how far the dough is stretched. Conversely, some people choose the thinner Romana base thinking that’s healthier. Its actually a tad worse for you as you’re getting three extra inches of toppings. Similarly, the two pizzas topped with lots of vegetables on the menu, the Giardinera and Il Padrino, are both made with pesto bases, so while you’re getting your greens in, you’re also eating added fats from the pesto base, while the rocket topped Emelia and Rustichella pizzas top out at over 1000 calories due to their added truffle oil and caesar dressings. Most of the pizzas come in at around 750-1100 calories, depending on toppings, but thats not really here nor there. Pizza is what it is. I do however recommend trying one without cheese sometimes. Its actually not as bad as you think. But anyway, what I’m really trying to say here, is if you want a pizza, have a pizza. The low cheese Four Seasons stays under 700 calories, and the Veneziana and ever popular among young females Pollo ad Astra pizzas keep their junk packed in tight under 800 calories. The Devils: the Calzones, both topping 1100 calories each.

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LEGGERA PIZZA

My issue is the poor lost souls who come in and have a tomato and mozzarella salad for starter, and then fall into the trap of having a leggera pizza for main course. Sure, this sounds healthy. The leggera range is all under 500 calories, its a half base of dough, rolled thin and with a hole cut out which is replace with mixed salad. The issue is, combining these 500 calories with the 450 from the starter, not forgetting those 39 grams of fat, you may as well have had a main course pizza!!

leggera pizza

SALAD

Its not news to you that salads are one to watch in restaurants, and Pizza Express is no exception. While the Superfood Salad and Salmon Salads stay true to their word at under 350 calories (roughly), I present to you The Devils of the salad offering: Pollo Pancetta Salad, Warm Vegetable and Goats Cheese Salad, and Grand Chicken Caesar Salad, which are all laden with rich Gran Moravia (like parmesan) cheese, dressings and worst of all, dough sticks. While dough sticks are a fine accompaniment to your main salad, if you’ve already had a dough based starter (garlic bread, bruschetta and so on as mentioned earlier), you’ve actually eaten an entire pizza base PLUS your dressing and cheese packed salad. If you’re having a starter, ditch your dough sticks and ask for your dressing on the side.

superfood

PASTA

The pasta category is a fun one. Generally, most guests watching their weight will completely ignore the pasta section of the menu, as its no surprise that these cheesey carby letharios are just waiting to sit firm on your hips and not budge for months. The Devils are the obvious Pollo Pesto, coming in at almost 1000 calories on a good day, while the main course sized Melanzane Parmigiana as mentioned in the starter section packs in almost 800 calories and 56g of fat (so yes, it is just as bad if not worse than the starter portion. Do not be fooled by its gluten free vegetable packed puppy eyes). However, most of us would probably, upon reading this, shun the layered favourite Lasagne Classico, too. However, sitting pretty at only 650 calories, and with the lowest fat content of all the pastas, this isn’t actually a bad choice if you fancy something a little bit naughty.

So, the lesson to be learned here, is THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Often what sounds healthy really really isn’t, and you can sometimes even have something totally gluttonous and indulgent for the same amount of fat and calories as your so-called healthy option!

I hope this has been somewhat helpful to people looking for healthy options at Pizza Express (though really all i’ve done is tell you that all your healthy ideas are rubbish).

What I’m trying to say is, you can totally eat out when on a calorie budget, but I hope this post will help you avoid the common pitfalls of what sounds healthy, and what you can actually get for your calories! Your favourite naughty meals are back on the menu! Buon appetito!

Over and out,

Coco xx