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When is social media too much? Snapchatting on the way to work? Instagramming your meals to show all of your friends and followers when you’re out for a meal? What about live tweeting and vlogging the birth of your child, like Robbie and his wife Ava did just the other day? Is this the new norm or a sign we need to step into social media rehab?

Personally, I don’t think I’d mind my partner tweeting and sharing his excitement with others. Having gone through a labour which lasted over 24 hours and had us stuck in a hospital room for over 8 hours before Her Cheekiness finally graced us with our presence, it would have been nice to have taken a few pictures, maybe joined a Twitter party or checked in with friends and family over Facebook.

Times have changed. Whilst I didn’t share any part of my pregnancy on social media and went the traditional route of sending out physical announcement cards to introduce my daughter to people, if I were in the public eye I’d probably vlog throughout the nine months and live stream the whole labour via YouTube. Just imagine, a few thousand people all shouting ‘PUUUUSSSH!’ through the screen at the same time. Talk about taking a family to raise a child. Almost a bibical moment or what? And to think people moan and groan about community being a lost notion!

Last month I used 25 minutes of my mobile phone allowance but nearly all of my 5GB data. Rewind ten years and I’d have ploughed through 25 minutes in one phone call. How we communicate has changed but whether the value of that communication has become eroded is another issue. Ten years ago I was at uni, childless and only worked weekends. My time was my own. Now I’m lucky to find time to shower without being interrupted. Therefore, sending a friend a quick “what time shall we meet” DM or wishing someone a happy birthday on Facebook is ideal. Sure, I sometimes follow it up with an actual hand written card whenever I can, but it’s great to have the option to take advantage of the free wifi and send a quick, instant message via social media now and then.

Many parent and lifestyle bloggers have made interesting observations about how social media is putting an increasing amount of pressure on today’s youth to succeed and live life in a certain way. Nickie wrote about Youtubers and the emergence of The Gleam Team. The article and the resulting comments are well worth a read. With people choosing to show themselves only at their best, flooding social media sites like Instagram with artfully choreographed images of their holidays and everyday moments, is it only socially acceptable to be perfect? Is having a bad hair day or feeling down something to be bottled up and suppressed at all costs now?

Do you feel our need to share has gone too far? I love that I blog and use social media. I enjoy the sense of community I feel through my fellow bloggers and Twitter followers. Personally, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to click onto the world of social media as it would have been a great support during my pregnancy. Do I have less time to interact in person because I like to tweet? Nope. Do the likes of Zoella and The Slow Mo Guys make me envious? Nope, well, only their stats! Do I talk in emojis and hashtag the life out of things at work? Well, sometimes but not enough for my boss to worry why the hell he employed me. I think.

I do think social media may have created a new rulebook on what is normal. Though hopefully only in ways which will enhance our society, rather than erode from it. What do you think? Feel free to disagree! I like discussions!

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I’m looking for a house, or in this current climate, most likely a flat. Somewhere secure, attractive and safe to bring up my daughter and any new additions to our family over the years, somewhere cosy to snuggle inside on a cold winter’s evening with The King and to be able to invite our friends and family to for meals or general social gatherings. We know what we’re looking for in terms of space, proximity to transport links, catchment areas of good schools and open green spaces. It’s turning out to be much harder than we thought to tick our (reasonable?!) requirement boxes AND stick within our limited rental budget. Living in London and not being in the plus £50k bracket, we knew that it was going to be a struggle. What we didn’t expect was having to struggle with the fear of fraudsters at every turn! Keeping safe from fraud online is a thing – even with estate agents!

We’ve come across so many dodgy housing ads, both on reputable services such as Rightmove, and on the freer marketplace website, Gumtree. Ads where the descriptions don’t quite match up to the images, i.e talking about a spacious 2 bed, new build flat in a riverside apartment with concierge but showing photos of what is obviously an Edwardian house conversion….hmmm. When they seem too good to be true, things usually are. Which is why it;s so important to know the best ways to keep yourself secure online and off too. My spidey senses *cough* told me something wasn’t right with these ads. There were four in a row on Rightmove, all from the same bogus estate agent where the pictures didn’t quite correlate with the descriptions and where I knew from my local knowledge, these ‘flats’ couldn’t possibly be where the supposed estate agents said they were on the maps provided; on industrial estates and in one case, behind the IKEA Edmonton!!

What’s scary is the so called estate agents had gone so far as to make a fake website, I say it was fake because it was so poorly created and because the properties they displayed were all faked. We didn’t call them but can only imagine what would have happened if we’d have gone to view them, bearing in mind the ads all claiming to need no rental deposit, just the first month’s rent. Would they have insisted on cash? Made people transfer the money before hand then never turn up at the property? Are some people trusting enough to do that? I don’t know, but I wonder how they would explain you turning up at the proposed address to find a hand car wash and mechanics….

This infographic shows a disturbing fact.santanderI’m web-savvy enough to see through most scams I get through my inbox and those on websites/ through my letter box. But what about my parents, or their parents? Would they know that replying to a text message from a fake delivery could cost them dearly and that poor Prince Babatunde really won’t give you £14million in return for you sending £3000 to help with some paperwork surcharges? It may make you giggle because you know about these spammy phishing tricks but are you worried about your parents? What about your kids? If you have kids old enough to use the internet unsupervised (how old IS old enough?) are they aware of the different types of scams out there?

Personally, the estate agents with the fake property listings and probably fake estate agency itself, really threw me, I thought I’d seen it all until that point. Have you come accross any ingenious or particularly ruthless fraudsters either online or in the physical world? Let’s share our experiences so we can warn others!

 

*post contains sponsored link. All views expressed and scenarios are my own

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Glass half full or half empty? Personally, I tend to go with the glass half full approach, trying to see the best in every situation. You know, all that when life gives you lemons stuff? Yup! When life throws a spanner in the works, for instance being stuck on a crowded train on the way to work, I see the plus side – having an extra 45 minutes to finish reading my book. Getting in a grump, huffing and puffing with the rest of the carriage was of course an option, but I’m not a sheep and getting in a grump over something you have no control over is a waste of time and energy.

There are times when not even a positive attitude seems to fix my day and on those occasions when not even the thought of a bowl of ice cream or a cheeky mid-week takeaway can turn that lemon into something satisfying, I tend to call it quits on the day, recognise that I can’t win EVERY battle and just go to bed early, ready to fight the next day with a smile and a positive attitude.

I’m basically like the mum from Alexander and Terrible, Horrible,  No Good, Very Bad Day (out on  Friday 24th October, in time for half term! – read my review here) Nope, I don’t look like Jennifer Garner, but I share the positive vibes of her character, Kelly Cooper, the mother to Alexander. Totally taking things on the chin and trying to see the best in every situation, even when things start to go horribly wrong. This Disney offering really resonated with me and I found myself getting a little bit emotional. I’m going through a lot at the moment, in fact I can’t remember when ‘a lot’ began, nor can I see a the trees through all of the negative fog, but I really believe that whilst you can’t always control the situations you find yourself in, you have complete control over how you react to them. This seems to be the message shared in this film too.

Now, when things go wrong, say we miss a bus, break a glass or deal with umpteen tantrums in one day, Princess and I can 1) be happy that our day pales in comparison to the bad day Alexander’s family had in the film and 2) remind ourselves that you can turn EVERY bad day into a good one with a little bit of perspective. And ice cream. When perspective doesn’t work, ice cream will…

What do you do when you’re having a bad day? Do you have a particular coping mechanism? A film or song that gets you out of a slump or do you let it wash over you and hope that the next day will be better? As always I love to hear your views!

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Living in London has spoiled us. We are used to things being fast and free. Well usually one or the other really. Public transport is usually pretty fast, if we have to wait more than 2 minutes for a train on the underground or 4 minutes for the next bus, all the Londoners will groan in dismay at the poor service. Likewise, with an abundance of free museums and art galleries at our disposal, the idea of paying for entry can be a massive turn off. Which is why, although I’ve been coming to Covent Garden for years, this was the first time I (begrudgingly parted with my £15, ) took Princess inside of the London Transport Museum.
 
London transport museum sign

It’s really not a bad deal, children under 17 go for free, adults pay £15 per person and there are concession rates available for the elderly and students. The ticket allows the named holder to re-enter the museum as many times as they want within 12 months, so really, when you spread it over the course of a few visits, it more than pays for itself. Some would probably argue that keeping a kid entertained for a few hours in one sitting is worth more than £15 anyway. I’m broke, and have London sized bills to think about so I’m not quite that person. Free is always great, £15 is ok.

 

trams at London Transport Museum

The museum was really interactive and informative. When you enter and pay for/show your ticket, the kids are given a stamp trail card which they take throughout the museum and put into numbered stamping stations. It was a lovely way to get Princess moving if she became fixated on any one area, you’d simply remind her that there was another stamping station somewhere nearby and that it was probably the best time to find it. Phew. Clever. Probably not exactly why they were put up, but it worked for me!

stampe machine london transport museum
horse poop transport museum

Personally, I found it really interesting to read everything available on each exhibit, looking at what the first Omnibus (I’m not talking Eastenders here) looked like, looking at the horse-drawn trams and being able to sit in a very, very old train carriage, it was heaven to the senses, touching artefacts, listening to recordings of train workers, reading the informative boards which covered metre upon metre of exhibition space. It was actually a really awesome museum. One which we ended up in totally by accident, but which I am happy to take full credit for with the Mini Me, Princess. Really, I needed to kill an hour to make it a more acceptable time to suggest a Wagamama lunch, though in the end, I think we stayed for over two hours because we were having such a good time.old train car in museum Ticket art installation london transport museum bus

So, if you’re in the West End over half term, or need something to do with the kids on a rainy weekend, when it’s too soggy to be outside watching the fantastic street entertainers around Covent Garden, you should really give the London Transport Museum a go! There’s a lot you’ll learn about how far we’ve come as far as public transport is concerned. There’s also a lovely cafe and a gift shop inside too, which means you’re likely to keep everybody happy.

Have you been to the London Transport Museum already? Do you feel the £15 entry fee was worth it? Answers on a post card. Ok, no, your answers go down below this post… go take a look and leave me one! xxxxx

snowingindoors
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floating house covent garden
We went down to Covent Garden, London at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to visit the Apple Store to chat to their Genius Bar staff about my broken iPhone and iPad (my Macbook is broken too, but I think it’s beyond saving) and then found ourselves with hours to burn before London woke up and started to get busy.
Take my lightning Alex chinneck

Wondering around Covent Garden before the street entertainers had even set up was quite surreal. We wondered through the stalls as their owners set up their wares, took a peak through Build-A-Bear then set ourselves outside this wonderful art installation by Alex Chinneck, called TakeMy Lighting But Don’t Steal My Thunder.
alex chinneck covent garden

Princess tried to convince me that the building had always been there but somehow we’d never noticed it before. She also told me that it was blown in half by a bomb during the Blitz. You know that thing when your child looks at you like you’re really stupid and she wonders how you ever managed to keep her alive these past six years? Yup, that’s the look she gave me. Even when I pointed out that we’ve been to Covent Garden at least 50 times and really would have noticed it AND that even if a World War II bomb had blown the building in half it wouldn’t be floating in the air all of these years, she simply shrugged at me, in a “I give up trying to explain this to you” kind of way.

Sigh. Children a.k.a little know it alls!

IMG_4403 cart on covent garden art installation covent garden floating building

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Yesterday something very troubling happened to me when I was standing at a traffic junction after work. A rather well dressed, nice looking guy turned around, diverted my attention and tried to steal my valuables from my bag. In broad daylight, or as much as you can call that dim, dull 5pm sky broad daylight, but that’s neither here nor there really, in the bigger scheme of things.

Actually. He didn’t try to steal anything, or at least if he did, he didn’t succeed. He did talk to me though, which is why I was concerned that he was really a shockingly handsome, well-dressed criminal mastermind giving his ninja pick pocket crew a practical lesson in how to steal valuables from a normally street savvy, big black lady. Because they are the hardest ones to steal from*. This is how it went down:

Guy: Oh hi! (in that surprised, oh it’s you, long lost work pal tone)

Me: (never one to admit to not recognising a long lost work pal): Oh hello!

Guy: I love your look, your hair is amazing

Me: Oh thank you

I now think he’s realised he doesn’t know me and covering his embarrassment with a random compliment until this happens..

Him: May I ask you something? Are you single by any chance?

Me: I’m afraid not

Him: Oh what a shame, you’re absolutely gorgeous and your hair is just amazing.

Me (ever one to be polite): Why thank you very much, have a lovely evening.

At which point I walk into what I hope is slowing traffic and put some distance between us, slightly confused as to his motives, subconsciously checking the buckles on my bag are still closed and wondering whether to smile and accept what may have been a really nice exchange of words and dare I say it, a compliment?!

What’s concerning here is that I’d put more belief he was the criminal mastermind of a complex ninja pick pocket squad, , than that a man who in those 20 seconds or so,  seemed both sane and sober, wanted to pay me a compliment. Not because I think I’m terrible looking, but because I normally see myself as being slightly ‘different’. Not what most men would see as their type. Media and perhaps a tad of self-confidence issues may be to blame, but I’m not a size 10, don’t have ‘good hair’ (read: perfect spiral curled, not too kinky) and I don’t wear makeup that often. Not pretty enough for a total stranger to call out as being gorgeous. My hair rocks though. On that point I’ll agree, as I’d re-quiffed my quiff in the bathroom all of 10 minutes before this exchange and I remember making a mental note that I really do like my shaved hair.

When I was 18 or 19, being cat-called as I walked down the street was a normal occurrence and something I didn’t think much of. I had a rock hard arse you could sit a toddler on and abs for days at the time. All in all, I had a positive body image experience and was quite confident in my appearance. One time, a guy serenaded me outside of Chick King on Tottenham High Road. I don’t remember what he sang, just that it was really cool to be sang to and it reminded me of those dreams I used to have about marrying Hayden from Ultimate Kaos and having him sing to me every evening when I came back from work. At 29, if someone gives me the wink, I assume them to be having dirty thoughts about my big boobs or have odd mummy fetishes. But I’m more than a mum with big breasts. So why should it be surprising that someone other than my boyfriend would find me gorgeous?

My boyfriend said as much when I relayed the story of the pedestrian crossing incident to him, all of 1 minute after it occurred. It was really sweet of him to say so, seeing as when he tells me a woman hits on him, my default response is to ask him if he read the situation right and if perhaps she was  just being friendly. Mean Tinuke.

As someone who normally comes across as comfortable in her own skin, why was I not comfortable with being told I was gorgeous? Was it because he himself was what I’d consider to be very attractive and in charge of his faculties? If someone had came up to me who I hadn’t thought looked nice, or if they’d complimented me on my jacket or awesome way I walk, would it have been a big deal?

Do you have issues with accepting a compliment on your appearance? Would you have checked out if he was a secret ninja overlord who’d just swiped your iPhone from your bag too or just cracked a smile and thought “my God he’s right, I am gorgeous”

Answers on a post card. I like to hear your views. If you want to tell me I’m friggin gorgeous whilst you’re here, please go ahead, maybe I need to hear it from a few more people to get more comfortable with it all. I also need to get more comfortable with cake. So send me some….

*I don’t have any stats to back that up, but it’s believable right? If you take the way big black ladies are often portrayed in the media, we’re scary as crap, likely to cuss you till you cry and will smack you round the head with our umbrella if you have the audacity to try and  mug us. Or maybe, that’s just what I think I’d do.
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Always one to jump in front of a camera, Princess was happy to spend a few minutes answering some questions as part of my attempt to take part in last week’s #vlogchallenge, set by Kate from WitWitWoo. The task was to ask someone some questions, so we did a family interview. Nothing deep, just some fun, quick fire questions, in my bedroom.

You never realise just how messy your room is until you’re trying to find a space tidy enough to film in. The bed was a good choice because all I had to do was straighten out the duvet a little and taa daah- a ready made recording studio! *cough* OK, well maybe not quite the set of Housewives of Atlanta but it was kind of tidy and if you squint a bit, you can imagine the room is triple its actual size..and tidier..and somewhere exotic..ok stop squinting, it will never happen and you look a tad silly.

Take a look at our video and do feel free to subscribe to my channel! Or should I say ‘our’ channel now that Princess has taken part in so many of my videos now!?

So what do you think? We shouldn’t quit our day jobs right? But goodness, I really am enjoying making these vlogs! As you can see from my watched videos section on my Youtube channel, it’s mostly Princess who watches things on there, hence why I have loads of Barbie videos in my playlist. It’s her- not me!!! But I really like to find time to watch other bloggers and vloggers do their thing.

If you’ve got a Youtube channel and I’m not following you yet, let me know what it’s called so I can subscribe! If you don’t vlog, what do you think is preventing you? Lack if spare time, shyness? Let me know! Because I’m nosy, not because I’ve found a way to add another three hours to your day!

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Every now and then I log into Facebook and check out what’s going on in the various blogging groups to which I belong to. Generally, they are great places to share posts, ask niggling questions to do with plugins and SEO or to generally vent in a closed community where your friends and family won’t stumble on you having a moan about them, unless of course they also blog and you are part of the same bloggers group (awkward)….

Anyway, once in a while there will be a blogging opportunity that comes along that you applied for and didn’t get, or even worse, was never offered to you in the first place (sob). In the world of blogging this opportunity could come in many guises,  maybe a chance to be a brand ambassador for a cosmetics line , or to go on a dream holiday with your family and write about it, test out a shiny new car or be sent (insert whatever it is that the other blogger has been sent and you haven’t) in return for a blog post and the opportunity to flood instagram and Facebook with a million pictures of you really, really enjoying said item.

There are many reasons why that blogger has been offered the opportunity and you haven’t. The world isn’t conspiring against you, that blogger currently sunning themselves on the beach and becoming #instafamous didn’t bribe anyone to get there (well probably not, who knows, blogging can be a dark grimy place filled with secret handshakes and -oh no wait, that’s not true). Whilst there is a lot more to blogging than being offered a trip to Disney World with the family, or first row in Somerset House during LFW, I’m sure you’d like to know why that blogger got it and you didn’t.  So, here’s eight reasons you didn’t get that blogging opportunity.

1. The PRs couldn’t find you

How easy is it for a potential brand to find you? Do you belong to any blogging communities? Do you comment regularly other bloggers posts and play an active role on social media By active, I mean actually conversing with other people, not just scheduling your posts to auto populate different social platforms.

There are so many blogs to choose from, it can be hard for brands to connect with you, so it’s worth checking how visible you actually are. From a potential readership view too, making yourself visible by using social media, making sure your posts are search engine friendly and contributing to communities will all benefit your potential readership.

2. The PRs found your blog but couldn’t contact you

Where is your contact information!? Argh! If a brand manager has a list of 50 potential blogs and they can’t find an email address or contact form on your blog, they’ll most likely move on to the next name on their list, rather than try to seek you out via your social media channels. Make their life easy as you can by having a clear tab/ button/ SOMETHING to direct people to your contact information.

3. You weren’t the right fit for their brand or promotion

You weren’t what the brand was looking for. Don’t take it personally. Our blogs are unique and that’s not a bad reflection on any of us! What doesn’t work in your favour on one occasion may be the exact same thing that attracts another PR firm or brand to you in another instance. Basically, don’t change what you’re doing in order to attract opportunities, just continue to be you! If poetry is your thing, or baking, or nail polish tutorials, keep doing them! The right fit will come along, this opportunity just wasn’t meant to be!

Also, brands will send their blog outreach coordinator various specs. They may want someone with high page rank and pageviews or bloggers who live within a certain geographic zone. You may be too new or too well established, too niche or not niche enough. There are so many variations on the

4. The bloggers went to the brand directly

Now, some may think this is cheeky. I’m not one of of those people. Being passive doesn’t get you anywhere. Well it can, but not always as fast. There are thousands of blogs out there in the same genre as you, with new bloggers joining the scene on a daily basis, it isn’t possible for brands to get to know them all. If you know that your blog would be a great fit, perhaps you have a great idea on a collaboration, there is nothing wrong with politely dropping the company an email introducing yourself and your idea. The worst that will happen is the brand will say no thank you. The best? Well, you end up working with your dream brand! I’ve had many ‘no thank you’ emails from this approach, but what makes that short term rejection melt into nothingness are the enthusiastic ‘that sounds wonderful’ emails which hit my inbox now and then.

5.You work with a similar brand already

Not everyone is a fan of competition, though I find it can be very healthy. If you work with a similar brand already, this could very well be the reason why you didn’t get that blogging opportunity.

6. You have too many collaborations / sponsored posts

Some brands pride themselves on exclusivity, therefore, if you have a host of sponsored posts and a sidebar which resembles the Yellow Pages, it can be a turn off for some PR companies wishing to pair up their brands with bloggers. It might be worth trying to space out any sponsored / review posts you do in order to reassure potential brands that their product won’t get swallowed up in a sea of similar posts. Alternatively, just keep doing you! If that’s how you like to blog, don’t change it all in the hope of landing a brand op!

7. It boils down to luck and sheer numbers

As I mentioned in number 4, there are thousands of blogs out there and even if you pro-actively went out and applied to be a blogging ambassador  for a brand or collaborate on a project, there are only so many people they have the capacity to work with at any one time. You may have a brilliant post with engaging content, stunning imagery and be the social belle of Twitter parties and still not get picked. Don’t get green with envy, there’s no need (nor space) for bitterness, try to congratulate the members of your blogging community who were lucky enough or showed the initiative to get that dream product or experience.

8. God don’t like ugly (and neither do PR firms!)

Ooh that bitter, moaning rant you posted on Twitter about blogger X always getting blogging opportunities with interesting brands even though you’re sure your content is miles better than theirs? Yup, remember everyone can see them! EVERYONE. Personality is just as important in the virtual world as it is in the physical, if you’re publicly throwing your toys out of the pram every time you drop a place on the Tots 100 (blog ranking tool for parenting bloggers) or getting in a strop because London Fashion Week didn’t issue you with a blogging accreditation (there are only so many people..) it can be a turn off to both your blog followers and potential brand collaborators. Do as Leonardo Di Caprio did… work that Oscar nominee loser’s face. You don’t see him throwing twitter rants and declaring it all to be a fix. Though, how cool would that be to watch?

I hope this has been helpful. Have I missed anything out? Hmm, please feel free to add suggestions in the comment box!

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