IMG_6867I apologise that I have been exceptionally quiet online lately, but I have a huge life update to share with you. I have just moved to Amsterdam! That’s right, not just gone on a jolly for a few days but moved. Indefinitely. Packed up everything (well 44kgs) and jetted off to start a new life in the land of tulips. Why? Well, I was ready for something new, for an adventure. My Anthropological instincts kicked in and I wanted to see a new country and a different way of life and it felt like a good time to leave the UK for a little bit.  I wanted to choose somewhere cool that wouldn’t completely isolate me with a language barrier. So here I am, practising my Dutch and enjoying what is left of Autumn in this beautiful country.

If I am totally honest the whole move has not been a walk in the Vondelpark. Before leaving I had a completely idyllic view of my new life.  I pictured myself working part time in a cute vegan cafe for a little bit, making loads of new Dutch friends who happened to be artists in their spare time, maybe I would babysit for a great Dutch family who would welcome me with open arms and we would all drink Dutch beers in pretty glasses in my cheap utilitarian apartment with a cat I had rescued called Hans. In reality, it didn’t quite turn out like this. I have  probably never looked so haggard. I have huge dark circles under my eyes from working crazy hours on what is quite frankly an illegal minimum wage in an overpriced Japanese restaurant run by some of the most unfriendly members of staff I have ever met. The other day the assistant manager told me I was walking too fast and then just told me to stand still next to the people who were eating. Seriously. On the plus side there is often a lot of free Sushi leftover which really helps when your weekly disposable income can afford you roughly two flat whites. I am still persisting with my applications for other jobs though, and crossing my fingers that something a little more enjoyable will turn up.

Also accommodation? Not that easy to find! Whilst the rent is not as expensive as London, there is definitely more people than houses and trying to get a place is probably harder than job hunting if you are on a budget. I think I applied for over 100 different places and heard back from about ten and actually got a viewing for two, but fortunately I have a place (for 6 months) starting from November. So until then, I am living in an AirBnB with no living room, dinning room or oven, so the next month is going to be interesting. I will keep you posted.

On the plus side, Amsterdam is such a cool place. There are so many independent shops and cafes and quirky things going on. Everyone cycles and Amsterdam is small enough to get around but big enough to keep discovering new things. I am also loving exploring and learning about the country, Amsterdam is amazing and it is no wonder that so many people want to build their lives in this exciting city. To anyone out there who is finding themselves in the same situation, perhaps somewhere else in the world; remember that sometimes we need a good slap in the face from reality. We need to be pushed outside our comfort zone. Yes it’s difficult, but what an experience!

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IMG_6838Housemates. I could write a book on how many different characters I’ve lived with over the years, but perhaps a blog post will suffice. I am currently sitting in my local coffee shop, nursing a long black and hiding from my current housemate after he thought it was a great idea to lock his dog into my room to keep her out the way whilst he moved an entire tree through the house. She is very young, excitable and has a weak bladder (the dog not the housemate) and decided then and there to demonstrate her elation by urinating on my clean sheets. Despite this, I still prefer the dog to the housemate, who is probably the messiest person I have ever lived with, which I could forgive if it wasn’t for his quite frankly outdated views on the world, refusal to recycle and excessive consumption of meat and constant criticism on everything I cook, read and have an opinion on. We don’t really get along if I’m being honest.

London is home to people from all over the world, and due to a serious lack of affordable housing you will usually find yourself renting with complete strangers. It’s something I love about the city, you meet people you might never have otherwise met, and you end up doing things you might have never done before. I have lived with obsessive cleaners, obsessive disorderly’s, eccentric vegans, non-stop party animals ( I lived above a pub for a few years on minimal sleep) and complete couch potatoes. I once lived with a couple who would frequently have screaming rows and throw plates at each other whilst, but otherwise seemed to be completely and madly in love. My pal lived with a girl who used to collect roadkill and keep it in the freezer. He would find anything from squirrel to badger stuffed next to his frozen peas, stored in plastic bags until she was ready to make her next lasagna.

Some people I have been fond of, others not so much but I honestly don’t regret living with any of them. Admittedly, in my current situation I try not to be in the house most of the time (thank goodness I am only subletting for two months), but it’s meant I have managed to explore the local area, find places I might not have otherwise found on my wanderings and even make friends with local baristas. In a world that feels like it is becoming increasingly antisocial, it’s refreshing to meet people from all walks of life that I might otherwise not have hung out with. I think it’s healthy to step outside your friendship bubble, to meet people who challenge your views. I have learnt a lot from the people I have lived with (particularly patience) and the distant relationship means you don’t have to explain that sometimes just want some time to yourself. You learn to converse with all kinds of people and find things out from all different industries. I lived with a mid-wife who brought home a birthing pool one hot, summer evening and we filled it up and used it to have a dip/ a balcony beer cooler. I probably would have never considered a vegan diet until living with one guy who was by no means going to compensate on flavour in his diet and made the most wonderful and interesting things.

This kind of friendship is inimitable, it’s something that comes with hours of trawling through SpareRoom ads, through weird “interviews” in people’s houses and sometimes through a friend of a friend having a spare room. If you’re having doubts or finding it tricky remember it’s not forever. There is a load of us out there all going through the same questionable experiences, and you’ll never be stuck for a story at a party. As a generation of housesharer’s I hope renting with strangers will catalyse us becoming more accepting, more socially intermingled and find friendships in unexpected ex-council flats in Angel.

 

 

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Mooncup 2.jpgHaving a vagina has never been easy.

The average woman will use 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. Eleven thousand. The cost of a period over one lifetime for one woman is estimated at £18,000. Yep you guessed it, 11,000 tampons isn’t great for the environment. Sanitary products are not easy to break down and, for obvious reasons can’t be recycled. After some research, something I was pretty shocked at is how harmful tampons can be for women. Something I was pretty ignorant on. These little bullets of convenience can contain Dioxin derived from bleach which can lead to endometriosis. They can contain cotton pesticides which can cause infertility and chemicals in their fragrances which can lead to hormone imbalance. Which, when you think about it is pretty scary right?

What’s the alternative? Well, after some skepticism I have tried and tested the Mooncup, a medical silicone based menstrual cup and I have written a full and honest review, just read on my sustainable savers….

Okay so I will be honest, when I first took the Mooncup out of its little pouch, I was doubtful. How the hell was this rubber funnel thing going to fit inside me and better yet, how was I going to get it out? Well before you do anything with your Mooncup, read the instructions and have a little practice. It’s actually so simple. You have to fold the cup and slot it in- you soon get the hang of it. Once it’s inserted, the silicone creates a vacuum so that there are no spillages. There is also a little stem which you need to trim to get your best fit and it is good to check your size. There are two sizes one if you have given birth and are over 30  one if you haven’t so don’t worry you don’t need to get the tape measure out.

I took this little baby travelling and it soon became my best friend. I love that you don’t have to worry about packing enough sanitary products, and I didn’t have to try to learn Khmer for tampons or ask neighboring women in my hostel if they had any spare to see me through the night. You just use the one Mooncup throughout your cycle and give it a wash/wipe each time you empty it. I think it really depends on how heavy your periods are, but I tended to check on it every 4-6 hours, probably a little more on my heavier days. You don’t have to thoroughly wash it, just empty the contents into the toilet and either give it a rinse or a wipe with toilet roll and then pop it back in. I steralise mine in-between cycles in boiling hot water. Some people put theirs in the dishwasher but I am not sure how much my housemates would appreciate that.

I would say the only cons of the Mooncup is that you can’t be squeamish. Yes you are going to see your menstrual blood, yes in a small rubber cup. You also need to give it a wipe/wash so I much preferred taking mine out in toilets that had a sink in them but this isn’t vital. I would also just have a bit of toilet paper or panty liner in your knickers just in case of any spillages.

The Mooncup is really comfortable. I can’t feel it at all once it’s in. Since using the Mooncup I’ve saved money, space and time. It doesn’t leave any fibres behind and it’s free from perfumes, BPA, phthalates, plastic, bleaches or toxins as well as being latex-free and hypoallurgenic. For me personally, I really cannot recommend the Mooncup enough.

Make a bloody good choice and switch to the Mooncup!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So it happened. After a particularly boozy birthday spent in a Vietnamese restaurant, the topic of festivals emerged. Two of my friends revealed that they were planning to go to the last ever Secret Garden Party and my ears pricked up. Ten minutes and eight Summer Roles later and everyone at the dinner table had decided that we would most definitely be going to the festival together. It was the only reasonable thing to do. The wine had blurred out all the complications such as holiday allowance, expenses and travel and I was certainly not going to be the prick that burst the big Pho-filled balloon by admitting I probably did not have the cash to pay for a ticket. It was only the next morning, feeling groggy and opening my phone in a state of almost somnambulism to a confirmation email that I realised we had all decided then and there to book this thing, and I frantically travelled back to my mum’s in Kent to gather all the camping gear and fancy dress I could find.
 Here are the things that were my essentials for the festival (besides camping gear), I tried to be as sustainable as possible (before you ask yes I did take face wipes but they were Burt’s Bees ones and I didn’t be having a shower for four days so my water usage was definitely be reduced).
1. Toilet roll and hand sanitizer – because let’s face it the porter loos are pretty grim and no one needs to run out of loo roll.
2. A towel – I used my micro-fibre towel and I used it every morning to wash my face with, it’s also pretty helpful if you have any wine spillages in your tent.
3. Thick socks – these will be your best friend during cold nights/ to stop your wellies chafing.
4. Reusable water bottle – most festivals have drinking water points so don’t forget one of these! Also if you want to be REALLY sustainable, bring your own takeout boxes or ask for paper ones.
5. Wellies and flip flops – pretty much all the footwear you need for a British festival.
6. A waterproof – I have used the same one for years and they keep you pretty warm as well.
7. Sunglasses – your savoir on bright early mornings.
8. Earplugs– try to get the best quality you can, I owe all my good nights sleep to a pair I found on the internet that are designed for builders.
9. Face wipes– I don’t usually use these but no matter how sustainable you are, washing your face with freezing cold water at 3am in a muddy field can be somewhat unappealing.
10. Biodegradable bin-bags – you can use these to sit on, collect all your rubbish, and protect yourself in if you have forgotten your raincoat.
11. A backpack/ shoulder bag- do NOT leave your valuables in your tent unattended, even if you just need the toilet. Make sure you keep them on you at all times.
It rained every day at Secret Garden Party! We still had so much fun. Have you been before? Have you got any festivals lined up this year?
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IMG_6579.JPGI have been using Burt‘s Bees since I first discovered it pacing the aisles of Boots quite few years ago. At that point they didn’t have a huge amount of products but I loved the natural smell of their products, particularly their hand balm which I have a huge tin of.

 Since working in the beauty industry I cannot quite believe the use and waste of plastics. Companies don’t seem to have a second thought for the amount of waste they produce, and the sheer size of their carbon footprint. The cheaper, the better is a philosophy that is all too common in the beauty industry. There are exceptions out there, and it is becoming more and more apparent that as the consumer has been demanding more sustainable packaging and sources, the beauty industry has started to have a look at alternative ideas and more resourceful solutions.
Burt‘s Bees has been rocking my world since I first tried their products, and they are seriously dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint, something that is pretty refreshing in the beauty world. They have a zero waste dedication which involves their employees sifting through rubbish to make sure nothing is wasted. Their packaging also uses a minimum of 30% PCR (post-consumer recycled content) and is often able to be recycled again. They are members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition as well as being certified as Carbon Neutral and return millions of gallons of water to watersheds. Pretty impressive eh? They also gather a lot of their ingredients in sustainable ways, supporting smaller communities and they are pretty transparent on everything they do and admit themselves that there is still a lot to do and have some amiable goals for the future.
They are a pretty great example of a big company that does care about their impact on the environment. A company that listens to its consumers and is trying to make a business without causing a detrimental effect on the environment. I am a big fan of their hand cream and lip balms! Check them out!
On a side note, Burt’s Bees has not paid me in any way to post this. I doubt they know who I am, I just genuinely love the product.
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