Want instant blog marketing and PR advice?

Saturday, 13 September 2014
Well, you're in luck. I've set up a six out of ten Facebook page, to share bits and pieces that may help other bloggers.

Twitter's great. But things happen so quickly on there and I'm limited as to what I can say. 

So head here and leave your questions, and I'll be happy to help.

In return, a like and a follow and a share would be awesome! 
Interested? Read on...

We Ask A Boy: Is going to university worth more than a degree?

Thursday, 11 September 2014
Is university cat right to take it easy?

Uni is seen as the natural progression for most people. And it can lead to an amazing career. But is that all there is to higher education? We ask a boy whether uni changes people for better or worse, and whether it's worth considering a course for more than just learning.

From a relatively young age, I knew I wanted to go to university. Not because it was the done thing, or because my parents rail-roaded me into it, but because I knew at the other end I would have a set of skills that would help me get to where I am now.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn't to say if you don't go to university you'll end up being a social moron. Far from it. I know plenty of people who struggle in social situations, even with the experience of university behind them. It is also not an implication that if you choose college at 16 then you’re doomed forever. There are success stories from both angles.

Let me explain. Prior to university, I was a shy, retiring chap who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. To be fair, I wouldn’t do so now. They terrify me. I was a creative writer, but wanted a career in journalism. Would a shy, retiring guy succeed in the bull-pen? Absolutely not.

So. I packed my things and shifted my life to Preston for three years. Besides the qualifications I left with, I also had a set of life skills and experiences behind me that I will never forget (which is ironic given most of those start with ‘when I was really drunk’).

One of the biggest reasons I would recommend university is your personal development. You learn a lot about yourself, how you can survive without the immediacy of mum and dad and what kind of person you really are. The difference in maturity between Child A that went off to university to fend for themselves and Child B that stayed at home to have the safety blanket of mum and dad can be stark.

I actually believe personal development is just as important as further education. For example, I have always held the opinion that you cannot train a journalist – they either get it or they don’t. No exams or dissertations or studying can bring that core talent out if it's not there to begin with.

But university forces you to become a different person. If you're already loud and confident, it's about finding a place and maturing without being overbearing. If, like me, you're timid and need a bit of coaxing to make conversation, it gives you the opportunity.

For those of you ready to embark on Fresher’s Week, I salute you. Don’t hold back. Do things you regret – it’s much better to regret something you did than something you did not, with no chance to rectify it. Mistakes will be made, but they make you a stronger person. University really is the best time of your life.

Cat in a yearbook

Laura, of Heroine in Heels fame, says she felt exactly the same:

Laura was born and raised in Warrington. At 22, she says only half her class ended up at uni, due in no small part to its vocational college which offered hands-on training for skilled workers.

"University was driven into me from day one by my parents though," she says. "Neither went to college and so they wanted me to better myself and get a good career. It was never not on the cards."

Like our A Boy, Laura's parents advised her to go on a summer pre-university camp. "Basically it was four weeks living on campus and attending a few lecture style classes with around 100 people. They made me go as I was shy and nervous, so they thought it would ease me in."

This changed everything. She explains: "I used to feel quite bad about myself and I couldn't talk to a lot of people as I thought they'd laugh at me. I was the quiet and reserved one in my group back then. University threw me in at the deep end but surprisingly I took to it very well."

Instead of worrying about what people thought, she let herself come out of her shell. Gradually others started noticing her talking up more, and could see the change in her confidence. And then of course, there were the boys. A Boy puts his confidence with women - which he discovered during his first year at university - down to similar reasons.

Laura carries on: "I was late to the game as again I didn't think I was pretty or that boys would want me. Well I discovered that some boys do! Ha!" Laura actually met her boyfriend at university during her first year, which she says "worked out quite nicely."

Now, she works for JP Morgan as a technology analyst. "I got my job by working so incredibly hard. I did internships at various city companies, and I was applying for if not close to 50 jobs. Graduates say there aren't any jobs, but that's not strictly true. You just have to apply again and again and again."

Laura knows without her degree she wouldn't have her job. "But also university as an experience changed me as a person. I know have so much confidence, energy and the ability to go for things if I want them. The degree is essential for my role, but the best part is the way I've changed."

Her advice? Live with a big group of people and join a few societies. "It's a great way to meet people in an environment that you feel comfortable in."

What do you think? Did uni change you? Stay tuned for our next feature, on getting your dream career without a degree.

Interested? Read on...

Why you should remove PR Friendly from your bio and blog. Now.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Why you should reove PR Friendly from your blog and twitter bio

I think of all the gripes I have about the blogger/PR relationship, this is one of the top three. Maybe even the top one. When bloggers call themselves PR Friendly it's actually counter-intuitive to the message they're trying to get across. It's not necessary at all. In fact, putting PR Friendly in your twitter bio or in your blog's intro is actually something that will put a PR off working with you. Why? In my true ranting style, as usual, here are five reasons you need to read.

It's a little bit of desperate and a lot of lazy

You accept reviews, great. But there's no need to shout about it, and especially not in your bio. Save those precious, precious characters and use them to describe your blog a bit more, or link to another social channel. As for being lazy, you know those same-olds who constantly spam #prrequest for free holidays, buggies, kids toys (why do the mummy bloggers seem the worst at this?) and cars? PR Friendly, to me, is on the same level as that. We don't need to be told, so don't waste your breath. Work for your collaborations, don't just wait for them.

It shows you won't be loyal to me

I want to build a relationship with bloggers. I want it to be monogamous, ideally. I don't want to leave one night and come back in the morning to see a blogger's basically just accepted everything from all and sundry and who know where else they've been. This is no place for slutty board games. PR Friendly suggests you're happy to accept anything and everything. And that's actually not very good to PR folk. We all love a freebie, sure. But there's more to blogging than free stuff, and we need to make you're you're going to shout about us, rather than everyone.

It's seriously unoriginal and means nothing

We work in a really creative industry. We're constantly thinking of new angles and way to reach the masses with our client's message. Whether it's the #nomakeupselfie, the Ice Bucket Challenge or Paddy Power style virals, we need to work with people who can tell a creative story. So sorry, but when you say PR Friendly all I think is that you're like every other lipstick-smearing, flamingo-posing blogger out there with reams and reams of asterisked features and freebies you're seeeeeeeeh thankful to have received. THANKS MR POSTMAN OMG YOU MUST HATE ME WITH ALL MY PARCELS!!1!1! Bore.

It makes no sense

Every blogger who values their readers is PR friendly. Every. Single. One. Because whether it's a friendly 'no thanks!' or a 'sure, I'll try your product,' there's rarely anyone being out and out unfriendly to us PR folk. The ones who are unfriendly to a PR stranger asking if they want to be added to their press list are ones who are unfriendly to chuggers, and sales callers, and any other unsolicited contact. They probably kick puppies too.

It screams amateur

Look at any bigger blogger and you'll find a well-crafted PR page, and no mention of it anywhere else. We're by no means anywhere near as big as a 'big' blogger, but we have a press page for any fellow folk who want to get in touch. It's clear, easy to read and accessible from any post. Even better, this explains to PRs your terms and conditions there and then, and how you work. Saying you're PR Friendly is basically the online equivalent of begging. No sophisticated blogger would dream of including it in such a brash manner.

So what subtle, professional hints can bloggers give to consumer PRs to say work with me?

1. Remove the banners, and delete the bios. You don't need to mention you're PR friendly, because if your blog reflects who you are, PRs will be clamouring to get in touch regardless of that label.

2. Be contactable through a contact us box, and if you want it online have your email right-clickable (which means no JPGs) so I can access and copy it easily.

3. Tell me your name. Just so you bloggers don't get one of those oh-so-annoying Dear Blogger emails.

It's as simple as that! Want to read more about working with PRs? Find out how to use Twitter to get a job, how to create a media pack/press kit for your blog and how to avoid finding yourself on a PR's blacklist in our series of blog marketing features.

Interested? Read on...

We ask a boy: What's it like for the groom on his wedding day?

Monday, 8 September 2014
What's it like for the groom on his wedding dayWhat's it like for the groom on his wedding dayWhat's it like for the groom on his wedding day

Some things in life make you nervous. Getting your GCSEs or your A-Level results. Your driving test, starting a new job. Even opening that jack-in-the-box (yes I’m thinking of Will Ferrell in Elf. SO SUE ME) can be perilous.

However, I can guarantee one of your major life events will top these, and it’s the day you get married.

Now, I’m not a nervous ninny. I watched Chelsea’s Champion’s League penalty shoot-out from the safety of behind my shirt. But I cannot begin to tell you how rampant those butterflies were the week of August 25. The problem is not many blokes offer their two-penneth on what to expect. I’m the first of my ‘group’ to get married, so they were as useful as a chocolate teapot.

But there’s something deeper that troubled me. It’s a human trait to mask fear with bravado. I should know. So by the time Monday passed and Tuesday happened, it was time to head to Edinburgh and I was becoming more and more nervous as the minutes went by.

Granted my dad had been through the whole process before, but somehow the advice of someone who has been married 27 years (and counting) just didn’t seem to go in.

After a few (I say a few. I knew there was something suspiciously strong about those JD and cokes) drinks the night before to settle my nerves, it only fuelled a decent night’s sleep. A rude alarm call at 7am didn’t help matters, so by the time the big day was upon me, I was still none the wiser about what to expect.

After tottling downstairs in a dressing gown, there was no going back to sleep for me. I tossed and turned in bed for a bit before deciding to go for some breakfast. I think I managed a few pastries and nothing more. I took my niece for a walk for an hour or so (or at least it felt that way. Damn my long legs and her three-and-a-half-year-old stumps) before getting back to the hotel. I sat and listened to a few of ‘our’ songs, before requiring whiskey to calm to the nerves.

I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was while getting ready.

Not because I had doubts over my soon-to-be wife, but because I didn’t know what I was nervous about. It’s the not-knowing part that made it worse. I suppose it’s like being ill and not knowing why. I dispatched my dad off for whiskey number two while getting into my suit which didn’t take nearly as long as it did to do my hair (OK so I’m a bit of a magpie. But it was my wedding day so that’s ok), and before I knew it I was ready.

During all of this Jacob, one of our photographers, was capturing every moment between me and my dad. Later on he said he’d never seen anyone look as nervous as I was, so I guess I’m memorable for that reason alone!

We headed to the registry office, but we were so early I found time for whiskey number three. I waited in a little area with nothing but open, bare benches for what seemed like a lifetime before Tom the registrar popped down to have a chat with me. Everything from here on in seemed a blur.

Some of my married female friends had said this would happen, but I was well aware a bride’s world is totally different to the groom’s. True to their word, the day passed before I knew it.

I paced and waited, and I’ll never forget the goosebumps I had when Tom said ‘could you all please stand for the bride’. Now. I’m not ashamed to say as soon as I saw Mrs W, I cried. I was exhausted. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. It had all come down to this moment, and finally it was here. It felt like popping that hard spot – a huge release of pressure, and the day was now ours to savour.

There’s nothing wrong with being nervous. It’s perfectly natural, and it’s to be expected. It would be more of a surprise if you weren’t nervous, to be honest.

So what’s my advice? It’s two-fold.

Firstly to the men lucky enough to be committing themselves to the woman of their dreams. It’s ok to say you’re nervous. Bravado and joking around will only release the tension on the surface. Think of the duck. Furious underneath the water, serene above it. Talk to someone on the morning. Try and have some breakfast. If you’re like me it will only seem to make the butterflies worse, but it’s a long day. If you need to go for a walk on your own then knock yourself out (not literally), just remember to tell someone so they don’t think you’ve done a runner.

Secondly, this is for the brides. Yes, we appreciate it’s a rather stressful time, but do take some time out to consider the effect it’s having on us. I am fortunate enough that Mrs W knows me inside out, so could tell. Have some time together the day before the wedding away from wedding stuffs just to remember what got you there in the first place. If you think you’ll be too busy then make time. It will help more than you will ever know.

Enjoy your day. It’s your day, and never lose sight of that.

Even if she is a bridezilla.

Interested? Read on...

The real world of tabloid journalism - one inexperienced writer's opinion

Friday, 29 August 2014

You may have remembered a shout-out on social media looking for a young aspiring writer to head up a new column for The Sun. The lazily named Column Idol (why. Why does everything have to be like this) competition saw young people all over the UK vie for the chance to see their words and byline in print. We spoke to ArrayO'Style founder Kheira, 16, about her experience as a finalist, and why tabloid journalism has left a bitter taste in her mouth.

As part of the Media Trust's Column Idol competition,­ I featured in The Sun newspaper and received a mentor to help critique and finalise my article. But I'll be writing about how I felt let down by the whole process.

With credentials as shiny as their glass desks­ it's clear to see how fascinating it would be to work for such a prestigious newspaper and how featuring in it would be a dream. However, whilst sitting in a plush, classy conference room with the other competitors I felt weak and insecure.

I was the youngest there, and while that would be classed as an advantage to some, everyone in the room had degrees from the most sought-after universities in the world... and I was sat there anticipating my highest ever level of education, my GCSE results.

After discussions it appeared there were two candidates from Essex,­ myself and another chap four years older than me. While breaking the ice, which involved stating your location, educational achievements and just general status, it became evident after a few sniggers from the word 'Essex' my heart thundered, ferociously and spine shuddered. Was this tokenism, I wondered?

My mentor (a high up editor) was not present on the day, and with only a week to write the article  panic struck and it felt like bad luck was going to be accompanying me throughout this journey.

To date I still haven't met my mentor and have had no telephone communication with her. But to be honest, as we're both nine to fivers­ it was obvious we would rarely share words. The organisers knew of our employment commitments prior. We exchanged about four emails­ of which it was mainly me writing drafts and her reading through them.

She stated she thought my idea, entitled The Perils of the Pretty Faces 'really captured the reader's intention and makes them want to read on,' before mentioning I couldn't chose which pictures were selected alongside the article. I thought this was a crude decision as I wrote about model apartments - girls sharing with up to eight other models - and needed factual pictures­ which I gathered for the piece.

The article also mentioned many case studies but no actual model in particular. Nothing else was said before the article went to print.

The features were written and placed online.

Watching the other articles being fiercely retweeted and exposed on Twitter I had a clear list of contacts ready to help publicise the article's digital copy. During the Column Idol fortnight, the first week of contestants had their digital PDF copies posted on three different Twitter accounts under The Sun's stable, with total followers topping almost a million. They even had their web link directly placed in those tweets, one of which has over 500,000 followers alone.

In contrast to mine, where I was desperately asking The Sun to retweet. My picture was just a snapshot of the feature­ in their newspaper. And still no appreciation.

Had I wasted a week of my time writing something even the publisher didn't want exposed to others?

It was tweeted by one account; late at night, with no digital copy or web link. I had to keep emailing my promoters to wait, it was coming. It came a week and a half later and the model agencies weren't interested in passing it to their girls for exposure as it wasn't current.

On press day and feeling like a child at Christmas, I ran to the local corner shop to purchase the copy and see my words in print, words of which I agonised over for too long. Unbeknown to me, the dreaded had happened. Instead of my carefully chosen headline, I saw a different title, 'Ugly Side to Glam Lifestyle of Top Models.' It didn't even make any sense grammatically. A five-year-old could've picked that up.

Ok, it captured the reader's attention and made them want to read on­. But I had no mention of Cara Delevingne or Kate Moss, and it seemed only half of the words were mine.

I was heartbroken.

Yes, others were full of praise and recognition. But, it wasn't mine. Needless to say it was mine originally, but in my opinion it had been manufactured into a mess. Which I would then be judged on. How could so many negative feelings come from such an initially positive experience?

I remained silent then and have done since as the competition isn't finished. But I just can't help thinking: was this set-up really meant to be my dream come true?

Photo: Mark O'Henly/flickr ArrayO'Style
Interested? Read on...

Can your Twitter account turn a hobby into a career?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Whether it be blogging, vlogging, making music or creating your own business, we’ve all heard about the newly invented phenomena of certain individuals earning the title ‘internet famous’. But the real question is how did they acquire this level of success and how can you gain it too? How did these ordinary people manage to create a following of around 1 million people to anywhere up to 15 million?

Obviously personal traits (such as being hard-working, being dedicated and being able to persevere) need to be accredited to success, but social media plays a huge role in the path to creating a buzz around your online hobby.

For the purpose of leaving this list at a reasonable word count, I am going to use the example of creating a successful blog in the below tips, but they are applicable to any website you are trying to enhance.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are the top five points to have social media help transform your hobby into a career: 

Grow your Twitter audience

Before you create a Twitter account, make sure you have content already as nobody wants to be enticed into clicking onto a blog page that's as empty as a student’s bank account!

Once you have a few posts up and running, create a Twitter account. The way to begin your growth in audience is to search for a few blogs that are similar to your own and follow them. For example, if you are writing a blog about travelling, follow other travel blogs. This will get you noticed in the blogging community and the word will begin spreading about YOUR posts.

Interact with key individuals 

Key individuals can mean a diverse range of people, but put simple, they're people interested in your blog. They can be other bloggers, industry experts and just ordinary people with an interest in what you’re writing about. Make sure you regularly interact and develop relationships them because when it comes down to it, they will choose your blog to read first if they feel like they know you personally.

If you develop relationships with industry experts they're more likely to promote your blog if you've developed a friendly relationship.

Relationships are key when starting out so make sure not to underestimate the power of old- fashioned techniques evolving in a modern world. World of mouth (or word of tweets and status updates nowadays) can still be one of the most effective ways to get people talking about your website.

Write great content

It's all well and good growing an audience to share your hobby, but you need to provide good content for them to returning and to share your posts with others. Tweeting about your new post will generate a few clicks to your blog, but great content will ensure people are coming back to your posts on their own, without little nudges from you.

Interesting, well researched content will create loyal, regular followers for you who also share your posts with their followers and friends.

Hashtags and directing tweets

Hashtags are searchable on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr etc. so make sure you use hashtags that are searched often. Using general hashtags that are popular to search (such as #beautytips, #holiday and #bloggerswanted) will make your blog viewable to many people that may have not found it before.

Hashtags are a great way of getting your social media posts out in the open to be seen by new potential followers and also a great way of telling these followers what many of your posts will be based around.

For example:

With this tweet, many people now know that I am a beauty blogger and will be posting regularly about beauty products, reviews and tips. Also, directing tweets to specific people and companies can be a good way to boost the buzz around your blog. If you tweet people with a higher following than yours, they will reply or retweet your tweet and you will get noticed by their following.

This is the same for companies but usually with a much larger following than individuals – sometimes with a following into the millions. This kind of promotion can give your blog the boost it needs to gain a large following and for you to be able to make your hobby into a career.

Show individuality in your social media channel

You will lose followers if you spam people’s newsfeeds with persistent begging tweets. You have to put across your individual personality with your feed so you are personable and approachable. Showing yourself to be a three dimensional person in the sometimes-restricting platform of social media is imperative to get through to your audience and create a loyal following.

People will prefer to promote a real person behind a good blog instead of an annoying spammer.

If you follow the above points, your following WILL grow. But above else, you must believe in the snowball effect. A small snowball rolling down a hill grows until it is huge and has collected a large amount of snow to attach to itself. The pickup of people noticing your hobby will start slowly but the longer time you dedicate to growing your following and creating great content, the bigger the following you will attract.

Anything worth having takes time and effort, so patience is key to turning your hobby into a career.

Good luck! :)

By Charlotte A’ Court of Beauty and Bolder

Image: Doug8888/flickr
Interested? Read on...

Review: Getting a volumising perm at London's Karine Jackson

Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

I have a confession. I last had a perm when I was 14. It was the year 2000, which is one of the worst years for hair. My mum is a brilliant hairdresser, and with such skill at my disposal I was always asking her to trim a bit here, add a fringe there, or bleach that entire section a bit no actually dye it back I don't suit blonde.

I loved my very first perm, and although mum went weak with the solution, anticipating my ever-changing style, it make my hair look full of volume and life. I was the envy of all my friends.

Skip forward to now.

Sandra from the life-saving Sophie and Lola (more on that to come) has crafted me a handmade floral crown for tomorrow, which happens to be my wedding day, which is exactly what I've been looking for. It wouldn't work with hair up, so I decided to go for curls. And rather than worry about them dropping during the day, a perm was in order.

Karine Jackson's salon, who I last visited last year for my pixie cut, was the first port of call, purely because they use organic hair dyes and perms. This means less damage to my hair and no chance of it reacting to my existing dye job and leaving me with green-tinted hair as I walked down the aisle. Plus, they won London Hairdresser of the Year and have been nominated in the London Lifestyle Awards this year. All these accolades mean they're really at the top of their game.

I have to tell you guys, two days later, perms are definitely the way forward.

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

A week before...

I met with Claudia (CLOUD-ear) a week before my perm in their Covent Garden salon. She sat me down with a few magazines and asked me what I wanted from my perm. Like an idiot, I muttered something about liking my hair when I curl it with GHDs. Rather than laugh in my face, which she had every right to do, she explained a perm will make my hair curly, but nothing like the result you'd get after GHDs or when it's run through tongs.

I wanted to go ahead anyway, so we agreed on a plan of action.

She snipped a section of my hair to process in the solution, and showed me a few photos of how my hair will more than likely look. Happy with what we'd discussed, I left the salon full of excitement. My straight locks were on borrowed time...

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

On the day

I rocked up to Karine's and was warmly greeted by Sam, who led me to the back mezzanine area and got me a coffee. While waiting for the show to start, I said a quick hello to the friendly American sitting next to me. She's a KJ regular and was getting her highlights topped up.

"Oh hi there! I love it here," she said, in a typically American accent. "Usually my hair can't take going so blonde, but the stuff they use is like a miracle. All the mums from school pop in when they get a second to spare."

Before we could chat further, Claudia came over and said a warm hello before leading me down the spiral staircase for someone to wash and prep my hair.

As before, this was such a relaxing way to start the two hour treatment. The guy was great at the massage, and ensured I was comfy throughout (because sometimes those sinks can cause painful neck damage and terrible cricks, let's be honest). With hair all washed and me feeling suitably sleepy it was time to head back up and for Claudia to get to work.

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

The perm: part I

As we'd talked about the week before, Claudia used a mix of roller sizes to ensure I got a natural-looking result rather than Shirley Temple style ringlets - not a good look for anyone over seven. My hair was sectioned, rolled and clipped into place. After twenty minutes my whole head was covered and it was time to add the solution.

This was a weird bit. As my was scalp exposed and hair pulled taught, the feeling of dripping water sent shivers down my spine. With a plastic hair-bib draped on my shoulders, I have no idea how she didn't spill a drop as it felt like it was running down my back. The solution didn't smell anywhere near as strong as it usually does. Claudia explained this was due to the organic nature of the product. So clients can have a perm and head straight out without worrying they smell a bit like cat wee (my words, not hers).

Once the solution was applied I was wrapped in plastic while a heater was set to work for seven minutes. Once that was done, my hair was blowdried to make sure I was getting a good set. Then it was just a waiting game.

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

The perm: part II

Once the time was up it was back downstairs for the solution to be rinsed away. My head felt so strange after 45 minutes of being in the rollers, and the hair wash was wasn't as soothing as the first one. My scalp felt really numb!

Claudia explained the process a bit more to me: the perm will last for about eight weeks as it is, and then it'll gradually start to drop. Immediately after the treatment it'll look very, very curly, but this is normal and I can wash my hair after 48 hours. By the time it gets to needing a retreat, my hair will look like it has a gentle, boho wave to it. Not a problem! The perm is permanent, as its name suggests, but as it's organic, it's not going to ever be as harsh as people would think.

In fact, I can book in for a dye just ten days after treatment, something not possible with peroxide and ammonia. 

The perm: part III

Once the solution was rinsed away I was led back upstairs to the styling chair where the towel containing my new curls was removed and I experienced the big reveal. I was shocked. There were actual curls there, and although more ringlet than soft, bouncy waves I was thrilled. It was so strange (as you can see from the odd face I'm pulling there).

Claudia used organic mousse, which is more water-based than anything else and won't make my hair look sticky, and asked me to shift my head so the back of the neck was resting on the chair. Gravity is needed to make sure the curls don't turn to frizz and she expertly softened the look using a diffuser and her hands.

After I was done she assured me it looks better once left to dry naturally, that all of her clients feel they get a better result at home with natural curls than the made-up look I had at that time - a new experience from a stylist as usually I can never quite get the same look once at home.

I left the salon with a spring in my step and in my hair. The entire process took just under two hours, and on more than once occasion I nearly drifted to sleep, it was that relaxing.

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

Two days later...

Immediately after I felt like a totally different person. I couldn't believe how different my hair felt bouncing around, and when I showed David he said he absolutely loved it.

I still haven't washed my hair yet, being about 35 hours after treatment, but I'm sure I'll update this once the wedding's over and I've perfected my new style. All I know for now is I'll definitely be back come December to get my hair curled again. I'm definitely a perm convert, and with a system as kind as is used at Karine's I can do so without feeling like it's going to damage my hair.

Volumising perm at Karine Jackson's London SalonVolumising perm at Karine Jackson's London Salon

Home maintenance for permed hair

Use an organic shampoo and conditioner, or a gentle solution for coloured hair

Only comb hair when it's wet to run conditioner through it

Use organic mousse for best results, and twist it through hair before giving it a good zhuzh

Let curls hang to the ground and dry hair upside down if using a blow dryer

A diffuser will help, but can make hair frizzy

If you need to blow dry, use amedium heat and speed, and leave it 90% damp

Ideally, zhuzh hair with mousse and leave to dry naturally. It's the best and easiest way.
Karine Jackson Hair and Beauty |  24 Litchfield St, London, WC2H 9NJ | 020 7836 0300 
Volumising perm starts from £70.
Interested? Read on...

Covent Garden, Spitalfields and wedding rings

Tuesday, 26 August 2014
The other week I finally spent some time meandering around the capital and getting to know my lovely city again (I live in Essex but London is near enough so shhh).

Work, as I'm sure you're pretty tired of reading about because I'm pretty tired of writing about it, has been manic. Yes, it's doing so well, and we're getting more press than ever since I started heading up their PR and marketing *puffy up feathers like a proud pigeon* and new opportunities are opening up etc etc but it's come at a cost where I feel drained at the end of the day. Regular late nights and far, far too much Red Bull have left me more knackered than a sloth being chased by a panther. Maybe I'm getting old. No. No it's YOU that's the problem.

So, making the most of a sunny afternoon and some free time, David and I decided to whisk ourselves away for a day and head on down to London Town for some retail therapy (and perhaps a cheeky glass of prosecco).

My first stop was Karine Jackson's by Covent Garden. Ever since I first met Karine just under a year ago I haven't trusted anyone else with my locks. My hair is awful, thinning and broken, so I need someone sympathetic who can work wonders with what's essentially, nightmare hair. Like, Edward Scissorhands hair. Professor Weetos hair. The salon is literally a five minute walk away from Tottenham Court Road and minutes from Covent Garden itself, although you do have to question the sanity of anyone using Covent Garden station for, well, anything.

While I discussed all things hair, David treated himself to a Cornish Rattler and a Wetherspoon's breakfast. Because nothing says morning treat like a beer with your banger, right? That's not rude. Maybe a bit rude.

Once I was finished getting my tresses cared for (see sneak preview of tomorrow's review), we took a stroll throughout the side streets with the aim of heading to Covent Garden market. Yes. You read right.

Now, I'm not a fan of this place. At all. During the week and working hours it's tolerable. But at the weekend and after work it's full of tourists and day-trippers with all their kids and buggies and elderly folk strolling along taking up the whole pavement like they're back in 1950 and people didn't have to be places... being in London for so long I've perfected a hasty, mildly threatening pace of walking. It was IMPOSSIBLE to walk at anything other than funeral pace. This is how I feel about kids, and this place was enough to make me wish various forms of death on everyone and myself. And especially the man spray painted silver in silver pants standing still.

We had a look through a few stalls before heading to the confines of the Apple store, whereby we promptly embarked on a tour of every shop David NEEDED to go to. Fossil, Schuh, Office, TK Maxx x 2, Boot's. For a man, he makes a very good woman. Note to retailers: MORE SEATS FOR POOR GIRLFRIENDS BY CHANGING ROOMS NEEDED.

After David had bought yet another pair of shoes, we were getting pretty tired of people. I wanted to make one quick top at Spitalfields market, firstly because it's right near Liverpool Street and Liverpool Street is how we get home, and two because it's never nearly as crowded. Tourists must not be able to venture this far east, I guess (good).

After a pit stop at McDonald's for a chicken mayo we soldiered on and had a proper gander through the stalls. Sophie and Luna were away at a festival so I couldn't thank them for the flowers, but all the other usual stored were there. We ended up leaving with a gorgeous wedding ring, and two paintings of London that I just fell totally in love with.

Sensing grey skies we hopped back on the train and went home to covet our purchases. It's been an age since we had nothing to really go out for and no aim. It's something I need to do more often - even if certain parts of London are crowded.

Just kidding tourists, I do love you really.

It started out so well. Blue skies and flies...In the Fossil store. Notice the equally as bored dude with his hands in his pockets. We shared a look of boredom.One of two bags while waiting for my fiancĂ© to finish shopping. Again.This guy thought I was taking a photo of him. Notice the creepy gaze, then imagine his embarrassment when he realised.The Apple store's roof after climbing all the stairs to get to the bit I needed.My crooked photo, how this place didn't have laptop cases is beyond me. Not every men's retailer had changing room seats, but this one had a working piano with, most importantly, a stool.Also drum lights...And a wall of stuff.The guitar was real. I sound checked this.David, looking at someone who resembles his boss, also called David.Shoes. I think this was actually an accidental photo but it's staying. Because that's how I roll.Liverpool Street. We were held here for ten minutes while football fans/hooligans were ushered out of the place, or fed to the Creep, either's fine with meMore tube bits.An arty train.Spitalfields. Thank goodness it wasn't rammed or I'd have screamed (not really).More of the market, it's definitely worth a visit especially if, like me, you hate the public.Because we both refuse to allow each other to take decent pictures of ourselves Around the corner, and more stallsBeautiful bunting strewn about the placeDavid, haggling with the art lady to get two paintings for dirt cheap (£40)The hipster's wardrobes. Forget Ikea, just get an old classic car!By the amazing Traffic PeopleGrey skies started to head out way, it was time to leaveThe city has to be my favourite bit of London. The old with the brand new.More grey cloudsSuch rain and a kid in a fedora. Parents, why do you make this happen?
And the last train home.

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