3 Reasons Why I’ve Stopped Reading Blogs

Stopped Reading Blogs3 Reasons Why I’ve Stopped Reading Blogs

Well, ok that title is slightly clickbaity. I do still read a few blogs. But whereas I used to have an RSS/Bloglovin full of them, I can now count the number of blogs I read on one hand. And lately I’ve been wondering why that is, and thinking about some of the little things that bug me about the ‘blogosphere’. So I decided to pop them down in a post, and give you ‘3 Reasons Why I’ve Stopped Reading Blogs’.

Bye bye originality

Time after time, I see the same features and campaigns popping up. The same layouts and designs. The same styles. It’s almost as if they’re blending into each other. Now that’s not to say people can’t follow trends, but it gets eerily creepy when a blog or social channel is a carbon copy of another. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it makes for a boring blog.

Blogs are no longer genuine

I’m tired of seeing bloggers doing something purely because they think it will get them more hits, subscribers, likes etc. That’s to say there are some of the people out there who are no longer genuine in their efforts. I’m talking about the people who only hang out with ‘high-profile’ bloggers just to further their own career. Or those that only visit a place because it is Instagram-friendly. I’ve actually seen people say that they care more about how a restaurant dish looks than how it tastes, because if it doesn’t look good they can’t put it on social. It’s all just very sad.

Not disclosing paid for

This is one thing that will automatically put me off a blogger. Paid-for campaigns are not hard to spot, especially for someone like me who works in marketing. I’ve seen bloggers called out for it in the comments of their Instagram post, and then promptly delete said comment, before later adding #SP. No one is going to hate you for making money, it’s only when you’re shady about it that people are going to get mad.

Why I’ve Stopped Reading Blogs…

I’d like to stress that this post does not mean I think every blog is the same. Far from it, there are some amazing blogs out there that are doing their own thing, and working it. And I understand that some people make money from their blogs, and that’s awesome – power to you guys. But I believe that with a saturated market you often lose quality. I just hope that these blogs continue to do an outstanding job, and don’t get lost along the way.

A Rainbow of Art at ARoS | Aarhus Travel Guide

Aarhus Travel GuideA Rainbow of Art at ARoS | Aarhus Travel Guide

I couldn’t decide where to start when it comes to gushing about my recent holiday to Aarhus, Denmark. The city captured my heart, and my camera (duh, I’m a blogger). So after much deliberation, I decided that my Aarhus travel guide should start at the beginning of my trip. And if it also happens to be the most colourful part, well that’s a bonus.

Aarhus Travel Guide

You may ask me “where?” when I mention Aarhus. But for fans of the Danish life, you’ll recognise it as Denmark’s second largest city – after Copenhagen, naturally. And it just so happens to be European Capital of Culture 2017. So after falling in love with Copenhagen, I decided to see what else Denmark had to offer. And with a title like the capital of culture, Aarhus seemed the perfect place.

My first stop in this new city, was the famous ARoS art museum.

ARoS

ARoS is one of the main attractions at Aarhus, and you can understand why when you notice the ‘Your Rainbow Panorama‘ at the heart of the city’s skyline. But it isn’t imposing, nor is it ghastly against the traditional red roofs. In fact it’s beautiful. Of course it’s open to your own interpretation, but to me it felt like it was saying everyone is welcome in Aarhus. However whilst it may be incredibly Instagram friendly, there’s much more to ARoS than Olafur Eliasson’s colourful masterpiece.

The museum really does feature a panorama of art. For a city that isn’t exactly on the top of the art critics list, I personally loved the installations and exhibitions currently on show. The quality of artwork and artists featured is some of the best I’ve seen. ‘No Man is an Island – The Satanic Verses’ features some big big installations, and they are certainly impressive. Yet it was ‘THE GARDEN – End of Times; Beginning of Times’ that won me over. Not only is it incredibly immersive – without becoming a novelty – but it features some thought-provoking messages, such as man’s relationship with nature.

If you’re in Aarhus, the ARoS art museum is a must visit for any culture fans.

Don’t forget to check out more of my travel posts.

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Afternoon Tea with a Dim Sum Twist, at Hakkasan Mayfair

Hakkasan MayfairHakkasan Mayfair | Dim Sum | Nearest Tube: Green Park | Map

If you’re a foodie, or simply a dim sum addict, chances are you’ve heard of Hakkasan. And if you haven’t, then where have you been? The Michelin star award winning restaurant group has locations across the globe, but it all started in little ol’ London. I was invited recently to visit their Mayfair restaurant, to try out the new Tea & Dim Sum Lunch menu. With an empty stomach, and an eager eye, I accepted (duh).

Hakkasan Mayfair

First impressions of Hakkasan Mayfair are impressive. Moody, atmospheric lighting guides you down the candle-lit hallway. Awaiting you at the end are the restaurant’s conscientious staff, who are more than happy to show you to your table. The staff here – like at many of their restaurants – are very friendly, and more than happy to explain any dishes or menus. However we were here to try just the one, the new Tea & Dim Sum Lunch menu:

  • Choice of Fruit Blend (non-alcoholic cocktail)
  • Dim sum
    • Char sui bun
    • Har gau
    • XO scallop and prawn dumpling
    • Black truffle and chicken roll
    • Baked venison puff
    • Crispy beancurd cheung fun
    • Stir-fry asparagus
  • Dessert
    • Matcha Custard Doughnut
    • Seasonal fruit platter
    • Macaron
  • Choice of tea
    • Dragon’s Well green tea or White Peony tea

At £42pp the menu is available from 12pm to 6.15pm for parties of 2-7 people.

More than just a pretty face…

Let’s not beat around the bush here. I was impressed. The menu felt like a slight nod to the British past time of afternoon tea, with a dim sum twist. It includes more than enough food for two, but…oh, the food! Strong, comforting flavours are accompanied by a myriad of textures across the menu, with my favourites including: Black truffle & chicken roll, Baked venison puff, and the Crispy beancurd cheung fun. The dessert platter is a great end to the menu; light and sweet. Just make sure you accompany it with one of Hakkasan’s signature teas.

Priced at £42 per person, this is averagely priced for those looking for a slightly more luxurious lunch. And taking the whole menu into consideration, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth for a lunch at Hakkasan Mayfair. We were pleasantly full when we left, and as my friend stated, this really is a contender for ‘…the best Chinese food in London’.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Caffeine and Kicks, at The London Coffee Festival

London Coffee FestivalLondon Coffee Festival 2017

Five. That’s the amount of coffees I can safely consume in the space of one day without wanting to die. Of course I don’t make a habit of this, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team. Such as when the London Coffee Festival rolls round. Every year I prepare myself for a day of caffeine, innovation, and…food? Yes, you heard me right, food. Because the London Coffee Festival has way more going on than just serving up a cup of joe.

London Coffee Festival 2017

Whether you’re into latte art, artisanal coffee, coffee-flavoured alcohol, whatever, LCF has it! Honestly I could just sit down with a bag of coffee beans and smell them all day. But I do like to dig a little deeper into the process every now and again. And that’s part of why I love wandering around LCF and discovering new products, techniques and brands. Including South Korean start-up Cafflano – who are producing the world’s first portable all-in-one pour over coffee maker.

But by far the most fun I had was with Union, and their Ultimate Flavour Challenge. We were given a tray of coffees, and asked to place them with the correct flavour pairings. Now I’m no expert on this, but we got 2/4 correct and I’d like to say that it would have been 100% if Ben hadn’t suggested we change two of the coffees at the last minute. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but maybe I have a future in coffee tasting?

Coffee & Food

Ok I couldn’t do a post without talking about the London Coffee Festival, and their dedication to pairing coffee and food. Two of the things I love most in life, together. This year LCF did not let me down, with the appearance of The Chef’s Table & Restaurant by Grind (the same people behind Shoreditch Grind etc), alongside the White Label Kitchen. And of course a delicious meal wouldn’t be without an equally scrumptious dessert. That’s where Hotel Chocolate and their School of Chocolate came in. Although I would like to also give a shout-out to the companies who were exhibiting but not hosting any events, because you are equally awesome. Especially the Danish Bakery – who you can currently find in Selfridges food hall.

The London Coffee Festival may be over for another year, but you can find year-round coffee love on my Instagram.

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Monocle Cafe – More Than An Instagram Trend?

 

Monocle | Cafe | Nearest Tube: Baker Street / Bond Street | Map

Most of us on Instagram have come across a photo of the Monocle cafe and it’s trendy storefront. And if you haven’t…do you even social media, bro? Seriously, this place is a hive of iPhone activity every time somebody walks by. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s been Instagrammed more times than it’s celebrity neighbour – The Chiltern Firehouse. Now that’s an achievement! And can you blame people when the facade is this lovely?

But wait a minute, isn’t this a cafe? People do actually eat here…right?

Monocle Cafe – More Than an Instagram Trend!

Contrary to popular belief, I have actually eaten at Monocle. I don’t just stop by to take a photo every few weeks. In fact I’ve eaten here several times, and I keep coming back for more. Much like it’s namesake publication, the cafe offers up a variety of eclectic and delectable treats. High quality, authentic Japanese and Scandinavian dishes dominate the menu, alongside cakes, pastries, and a really great drinks menu – (Allpress) coffee, wine, matcha, check!

The interior is ridiculously cool too, with Monocle branded goodies lining the shelves. You’ll always find the latest issue here, and you’re more than welcome to peruse it during your stay. Which is perfect, because you won’t feel pressured to rush here. Nor will you feel ‘out of place’ like some London establishments – cough, hipster cafe, cough – as the clientele varies greatly. The atmosphere is relaxing, and the staff incredibly accommodating. Can I talk it up any more? So go on, venture inside next time you’re nearby. After you’ve taken your Instagram photo, of course.

You can find the Monocle Cafe at 18 Chiltern Street.
Don’t forget to check out more of my Where to Eat in London series.

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monocle cafe

5 Male Lifestyle Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following

Instagram has had it’s ups and downs over the last few months. So I figured now was as good a time as any to bring back my ‘Instagram 5′ series. I’ve featured travel, lifestyle, Japanese fashion etc. However this time round I’ve picked out 5 of my favourite male lifestyle Instagram accounts.

Male Lifestyle Instagram

Who? @mklyns
Where? Chester, UK
Why? I only started following Michael recently, but it was an auto follow as soon as I saw his first three images. You’ll find cafe recommendations, travel and architecture shots, alongside male fashion. I particularly like the way he plays with shadows in some of his photos.

Male Lifestyle Instagram

Who? @jordanbunker
Where? Leicester / London, UK
Why? With so many Instagrammers going for the ‘all white’ look, Jordan’s photos are a breath of fresh air. He prefers darker colours, and sometimes the absence of colour entirely. It makes for a very moody – in a good way – and artistic Instagram.

Male Lifestyle Instagram

Who? @tibods
Where? Antwerp, Belgium
Why? 
I started following Tibod’s after falling in love with his interior shots. Not only does he had an apartment to die for, but an Instagram that matches too! I love his colour palette, and how put together every photo appears.

Male Lifestyle Instagram

Who? @mat_buckets
Where? Lancashire, UK
Why? I’d be crazy not to include Mat in this list. He was the first male lifestyle Instagram account I started following, and I’ve never looked back! He’s a very relatable, not to mention personable, kinda guy. And his photos are always on point. I love the pop of colour his Instagram brings.

Male Lifestyle Instagram

Who? @shaunyness 
Where? UK
Why? Shaun is still pretty new to Instagram, but I saw potential as soon as I landed on his profile. He’s got all the staples down – the pose, the lifestyle, the eagerness… But what I really like is that he often features some of his favourite Instagram accounts and photos on his profile. It’s always great to see someone sharing the love.

Do you have a favourite Male Lifestyle Instagram account?
Let me know in the comments!

Source: Please see the individual Instagram accounts listed above.

The Blogger Card: Does It Exist, and Should We Use It?

blogger card

What is The Blogger Card? For the purpose of this post, I’m using the term to refer to bloggers who use their status as a means to get what they want. I’m not using it in a overtly negative or positive way. There are the extremes such as turning up at a restaurant and claiming “do you know who I am?” – something I’ve heard happen in several well known establishments in London. Then there are the slightly more subtle uses of it, such as contacting a PR about featuring a product you fancy trying out.

Let’s start this article by being truthful, and admitting that we have all used the ‘blogger card’ at some point. I’ll openly admit to using it when I’ve wanted to work with a company I love. And why shouldn’t we use it for our own gain? Why should it only be one sided? PRs and brands contact bloggers for advertising all the time, and a lot of the time they expect it for free.

Should We Use The Blogger Card?

If you ask most people they’ll say that holidays, dining out, and experiences are a form of luxury and relaxation for them. But as a blogger, we’re invited to do a lot of these things for free. Free meals, press events, gifts, sometimes even free holidays. Albeit in the hope that we will feature it on our blog or social media platforms. And it’s pretty awesome. I really appreciate everything that blogging has brought me, and I’ve worked hard for it. But I can say that it isn’t always the greatest. And I’m sometimes left wondering, do these opportunities take away our appreciation of things?

Let’s take the example of someone saving up for a new phone. Not only is it satisfying, but it builds character. But if that same person is handed one for free on a regular basis, eventually the significance fades. Now I’m not saying that bloggers don’t appreciate the things they’re given, in fact I think 90% of them do. However I do wonder if we get to a point where we care slightly less for the things that are presented to us. i.e. they lose significance.

Why am I rambling?

I happened to be in the same room as a ‘big blogger’ recently, who had won an award for their blog. They bitched away, complaining about the awards, how they probably wouldn’t turn up, and that they didn’t even care about the award. It’s an extreme example, but it really stuck with me. This was coming from a blogger I used to admire. But it just seemed that they were so – dare I say – privileged, that this award had lost all meaning to them.

I definitely think the Blogger Card exists, but I think the use and knock-on effects differ per person. However I do think that in general, the lifestyle can become overwhelming, and slightly toxic. After a while it all becomes about the numbers, how many events you attend, who you’re hanging out with, and whether or not you were sent the latest ‘it’ product. Which is not good for anyone’s mental health.

I’m on the fence about whether we should use our status or not. I think, like most things, we should use it in moderation. On one hand I see it as empowering, and useful in business. On the other, I wonder if it sucks away at our humanity a bit. Maybe that’s just the way the world works. But even if it is, it doesn’t mean we have to go along with it, right?

What do you think?
Does the Blogger Card exist, and if so should we use it?