Is This The Death of Instagram & Can We Save It?

death of instagramIs This The Death of Instagram & Can We Save It?

Instagram is going through a bit a shit storm as of late, and that’s putting it nicely (sorry for the expletives). First it started with people liking old photos, then the confusing off topic comments came along, and suddenly a new algorithm. And now, well now we’ve got the constant following and unfollowing. And it’s left a lot of us feeling pretty jaded. Am I right, or am I right?

How & Why is it happening?

I’ve seen a lot of confusion on social, and people aren’t entirely certain what is going on. They’re seeing their follower numbers increase and decrease daily, whilst not actually moving at all. Big accounts have seen engagement drop (in fact we all have), and it’s left everyone asking why and how.

  • The New Algorithm Ever since Facebook bought out Instagram, they’ve constantly been adding and taking away features. The latest big addition was the new FB-feed style algorithm. Meaning we don’t get to see a chronological feed anymore. Instead we see the people Instagram thinks we want to see.
  • Follow, Unfollow Tools Yes, those people are not manually following and unfollowing 100 people a day. Well not the savvy ones anyway. For those of you that are up to date on your social tools, you’ll already know all about this. There are tons of sites and apps out there offering free or paid services that will automatically follow, unfollow, like, comment or send DMs for you via Instagram.
  • People Buying Followers This has become all too common. You’d be surprised at how many of the 10K+ crowd have actually earned their followers naturally and organically. The tell-tale sign is when someone has a lot of ‘ghost followers’. A ghost follower is an account that doesn’t have many photos, isn’t very active, but follows an awful lot of people. You can usually spot them by the lack of profile photo.
  • It’s Become Saturated There are just too many accounts now (over 600 million), which means it’s harder than ever to get yourself noticed.
  • But It’s Still a Big Accounts Game Even if people did want to get themselves noticed, it’s still pretty difficult when the big accounts are the ones being featured and mentioned.

Is This The Death of Instagram & Can We Save It?

Well this may not be the official death of Instagram, but it has definitely taken a fair few blows. It’s not safe to say yet whether it will come out of this whole, but with over 300 million daily users* it seems as though people aren’t completely tired of Instagram just yet.

Keep an eye out for my post on how you can save your Instagram account!

death of instagram

Celebrating Chinese New Year in London

chinese new year in londonCelebrating Chinese New Year in London

I am always up for celebrating an occasion, particularly those that involve food. You might remember Chinese New Year 2016, where I visited Yauatcha. Yauatcha is a dim sum teahouse offering contemporary Cantonese dim sum, and patisserie inspired by European culinary techniques and Asian ingredients. And every year their top chefs create a special opulent CNY menu. This year is no different, as it sees a variety of high-end ingredients and techniques make their way on to the menu.

I decided to stop by again with VA (chopstickpanorama), to check out what they had to offer for the Year of the Rooster – 2017.
Find out what we ordered below:

To Start
  • Red Cocktail
  • Truffle Crabmeat Dumpling
  • Fried Wagyu Beef Dumpling
Mains
  • Mala Lamb Salad with Jellyfish
  • Lunar Chicken Pot with Cured Pork
  • Seafood Braised Rice in Lotus Leaf
Dessert
  • Jasmine Honey
  • Coffee Hazelnut
  • Coconut Lime
  • Apple Vanilla Choux

My thoughts…

As per usual I’ve bolded my favourite dishes above, to give you an idea of what I enjoyed and would order again. Whereas a couple of the mains were too spicy for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the dumplings and the rice. The desserts – as always – were a delight, and it wouldn’t be a trip to Yauatcha without sampling one…or two. Our meal came to just over £140 (£70 each), including drinks. It’s certainly not inexpensive, but I can understand people parting with their cash for a special occasion.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in London

Yauatcha will offer their Chinese New Year menu through 16th Jan – 11th Feb. As well as their CNY menu, the restaurants will be laden with glowing red Chinese lanterns. It’s not all about the interior though. A traditional lion dance, said to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck for the following year, will be held at Yauatcha City on 27th January and Yauatcha Soho on 29th January.

If you fancy celebrating Chinese New Year in London, head to Yauatcha to view their Chinese New Year menu and make a reservation.

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This post is in collaboration with Yauatcha however all views, photos and words are my own.

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chinese new year in londonchinese new year in london

2017: A Year of Self Help & Making Big Decisions?

self helpA Year of Self Help & Making Big Decisions

2017 has started a little differently than 2016. Last year I decided I wanted to say “yes” to as many things as possible. That actually went pretty well…well, in the sense that I did it. Unfortunately it also meant my social calendar became pretty hectic. I had to balance my social life and work. And I burnt myself out. So 2017 has seen me saying “no” to things instead.

Why? Because I soon learnt that saying yes, and wanting to please everyone was really not the way to go. Unless of course I wanted to stress myself out to the point where I knocked 10 years off my life.

A Year of Self Help

You see, I’m highly susceptible to stress. The last few years have seen me manage it relatively well, but sadly last year I didn’t give myself the time to re-energise. Something which is extremely important when it comes to keeping my sanity. Because of this, at the end of 2016 I saw my mental and physical health plummet. This isn’t entirely to do with my social life, of course. There was a death in my family, a close family member was taken ill, and other factors came in to play (again, thanks Trump/Brexit).

So I decided that this year I want to make some big changes, and some bigger decisions:

  • Take better care of myself
    • Both my mental & physical health
    • Be happier
  • Travel more
  • Seriously consider moving abroad
    • London life is a big contributor to stress
    • It’s something I’ve been considering for a couple of years
    • Amsterdam & Copenhagen are on the table
  • Think about buying a house
    • Ben and I have been wanting to buy somewhere for a while
    • It would give us a project to work on
    • No noisy upstairs-neighbours

I might mess up a little along the way. In fact I can almost definitely say I will. But if I keep my main goal in mind – take better care of myself – then I believe I can make a difference in 2017. And at least I can say I had good intentions.

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I’ve got the travel bag…I mean bug! | 2017 Resolutions

travel bagMini Beauchamp travel bag by Knomo London *

Last year I made some travel resolutions, only they weren’t really resolutions. You see I’m not really into that. However I do like to set myself little goals and challenges throughout the year. Not only does it keep me motivated, but it gives me more of a purpose when I have something to work towards. In recent years, my main goal has been to travel as much as possible.

In 2016 I ticked off:

  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Osaka, Japan
  3. Kyoto, Japan
  4. Pembrokeshire, Wales
  5. Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. Naples, Italy
  7. Sorrento, Italy
  8. Barcelona, Spain
  9. Paris, France

It was pretty damn awesome, and I loved every minute of it.

I’ve got the travel bag…I mean bug!

Let’s get a little practical for a minute. Travelling, especially when you only have cabin baggage, is not easy. I’ve been trying to hone my suitcase packing skills in recent years. I wouldn’t say I’m a pro, but I don’t do too bad. Of course having a trusty travel bag that you can take on your holiday is super important too. I like backpacks because I can easily shove all of my stuff for the day inside (read: camera, snacks & phone).

However I’ve always gone towards large backpacks. These can be difficult when the airline you’re flying with only allows one cabin bag. So this year I’m swapping my big backpack, for something a bit lighter – the Mini Beauchamp by Knomo London. It has a ton of pockets, which means I can fit a whole bunch of stuff inside. It’s also small enough that no one is really going to make a fuss about you bringing it on the plane with your case. Not that I’m suggesting people ignore this rule, but a tiny backpack never did anyone any harm, right? And if you are caught out, you can always pop it inside your perfectly packed case.

2017 Travel Resolutions

So what’s in store for 2017? Well I already have plans to visit:

  • Cyprus
  • Slovenia
  • Aarhus
  • Copenhagen

and possibly:

  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Amsterdam
  • Prague

Phew, that’s a lot. Anyone would think I’ve got the travel bug.

Keep an eye out on my travel tag for more!

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24 Hours In Barcelona | A Barcelona Travel Guide

barcelona travel guide

Having friends in different countries can be heartbreaking at the worst of times, but incredibly exciting at the best of times. So when one of my close friends moved to Barcelona last year, I kept telling myself – this is just another excuse to travel. And I wasn’t lying, because this Summer we headed over to Spain to pay them a visit. It was my first time in Barcelona, but luckily I had the best tour guides in town. So here’s my Barcelona travel guide to 24 hours in Europe’s hottest city!*

barcelona travel guide

24 Hours in Barcelona: A Barcelona Travel Guide

  • The only place worth brunching
    • Caravelle is renowned for their brunches – and coffee – in Barcelona. If you love food, this is where you should start your day. I found them via BCN Best Coffee (they do other guides too).
  • Wander around Las Ramblas
    • It may be a bit touristy, but Las Ramblas has some great shopping, and even better markets.
  • Sip coffee with the Devil
    • Satan’s coffee corner is the perfect pit stop. Great coffee, and some interesting Japanese-inspired food.
  • Take a wander around the back streets
    • Satan’s coffee is perfectly located amongst some gorgeous back streets and alleys. Take a wander, you never know what you might find.

barcelona travel guide

  • Breathe in some art
    • Everyone and anyone knows Gaudi. So whether you’re a fan of art, architecture, or you just fancy walking around some pretty cool surroundings in the sunshine, Park Guell is a must-visit.
    • Tip: Book your tickets online before you leave. You’ll need to turn up at a specific time slot, and tickets sell out hours beforehand at the park itself.
  • Basque in your dinner
    • And your beautiful surroundings at El Nacionale. The Instagram worthy building features a selection of Barcelona’s best food. You’re spoilt for choice here.
  • End the night with a view
    • …and a gin and tonic, at Barcelo Raval Hotel’s 360 Terrace. Walk around and take in the whole of Barcelona by night.

Feel free to leave your own Barcelona travel recommendations in the comments.
And don’t forget to check out my other travel posts!

*As much as I’d like to, I can’t genuinely confirm whether this is the hottest city in Europe or not…it probably isn’t.

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How to Create a Hygge Home – In a Nutshell

hygge homeHow to Create a Hygge Home

What is a Hygge Home?

A home that is inviting. Not pretentious, ostentatious, or any other kind of -ious. It’s a place you can come back to and forget all your worries. It may sound silly, but it’s about creating a space where you feel safe and comfortable. Having a space where you are able to drop all of your work and social worries is tough. But I truly believe that your home can be a safe haven from this kind of stress. After a long day at work, I look forward to coming home to a hot chocolate, a comfy sofa, and some good food…with the occasional cuddle thrown in for good measure. That’s hygge.

Interiors and design obviously play a big part in this too though. If you have a home that looks good, you feel good. And no that’s not shallow or fickle. It’s scientifically proven that pretty things make us happy. They can even de-stress us! That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a ton of new stuff, or redecorate your entire home though. I’ve put together some some useful tips,

How to Create a Hygge Home – Tips

  • Functional, but stylish
  • Quality over quantity
  • Good food, good drink, good company
  • Craftsmanship – choose items with a story
  • Lots of plants – bring a little nature into the home
  • Lighting is very important! Keep it soft, and comfortable.
    • Yes, that means lots of candles…
  • Natural fabrics and materials
    • E.g. wood, cotton, stone, glass, wool
  • Soft furnishings
    • Go on, go buy that cosy throw you always wanted

There you have it. My how to create a hygge home…in a nutshell! This is definitely not the be all end all of guides, but it is a handy go-to for those who want to bring a little hygge into their home. Don’t forget though, it’s as much about the ‘feeling’ as any material object. And now is the perfect time of year to invite people over, and spend more time with your loved ones.

Check out the rest of my ‘How to Hygge’

Read more How to Hygge

hygge home

hygge home

Christmas Wrapping Guide with Marks and Spencer

Christmas Wrapping GuideChristmas Wrapping Guide with Marks and Spencer

Wrapping has always been an issue for me. I actually dread it every birthday, Christmas etc. Mainly because my best friend makes so much fun of my wrapping skills. I’m not that terrible, but I’m not great either. So I guess over the last few years I’d just given up trying.

So when Marks and Spencer invited me to a Christmas Wrapping event I automatically to yes. Whereas inside I was screaming “please help save my friends and family from poorly wrapped gifts this year”. And save them they did, because I picked up more than a tip or two, and I’ve decided to share them (ain’t I nice) with you below.

Christmas Wrapping Guide Tip 1

Create a gift bag out of wrapping paper, for hard to wrap gifts.

You know the kind of gift. The one with bits sticking out of it, rounded corners, it may even be fragile. Yes they’re also the bane of my Christmas too. Well they were, until Geraldine and Marks & Spencer teamed up to teach me how to make a gift bag out of wrapping paper. This works for literally any kind of gift. And it also means you don’t have to pay extra. Because let’s be honest, we all have a ton of spare wrapping paper lying around at this time of year.  Check out my attempt at a wrapping paper gift bag below, with an awkward soap and lotion set. No bad, ey?

Find out how to create your own with the Marks and Spencer wrapping guide.

Christmas Wrapping Guide Tip 2

Buy gift wrapping sets, to make it look completely effortless.

Following on from my previous comments; don’t you just hate it when you have a load of spare wrapping paper, but you don’t have any matching ribbon, bows etc. Well yes, I do actually have that issue sometimes. But not anymore! Because I have discovered wrapping paper sets. Sets of complimentary paper, ribbons, tags etc. Yes these are actually a thing, and they’re available at M&S. It’s definitely the easiest way to give your friends and family stylishly wrapped presents.

Christmas Wrapping Guide Tip 3

Make it personal.

We all know that a well wrapped gift will get anyones attention, and rightly so. But why not make it personal. After all, we do the same with people’s gifts. Why not go the extra mile and match the wrapping to the person too? My personal style is uber minimalist, and I know that works with some friends. However some of my family/friends like cute packaging, others super seasonal. So this year I’ve decided to match my gifts with their wrapping. Making sure I go the extra mile. You know, for those bonus points from Santa.

Check out more photos from the event, and my attempts at gift wrapping at home below.

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This post is in collaboration with Marks & Spencer however all views, photos and words are my own.
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