Ozone Coffee, Shoreditch

One of the things my job entails (alongside a capability to multitask I never knew I had) is knowing where to find the best of the best, of almost anything, in London. Now I’m still learning, but I do have an array of more experienced colleagues with an impressive bank of knowledge. When the team says that Ozone Coffee is one of the best coffee places in the city – they are probably right.

After an attempted visit to Bad Egg (who aren’t open on weekends – what?!) last Saturday, M and I found ourselves wandering around the Old Street general area. In a flash of inspiration, I remembered that Ozone is just off the roundabout. Taking a gamble that they probably did food and weren’t overly busy, we headed down Leonard St.

We ducked inside to find an oh-so-Shoreditch huge, industrial space and a short queue. By their own admission, Ozone specialise in coffee, brunch & bloody Marys and I knew immediately I was at home. Just a few seconds later, we were led by a smiley Australian waitress to our seats, which, I was delighted to find, were at a counter looking right into the kitchen.

After a good few minutes gawping at the kitchen and eavesdropping on the waitstaff’s conversations, we couldn’t not order a coffee. I’m no expert, but even I could tell that this was not your average Starbucks latte.

Being able to see all the other dishes in progress and coming out is so useful when faced with such a delicious looking menu, and we had fun matching what was being cooked to the descriptions. In the end, I went for the cassoulet baked eggs with duck confit (not sure I’ve ever resisted duck), while Matthew opted for the Eggs Benedict, which came with an intriguing bubble & squeak “cake”, and pork belly on top.

Soon enough, our food arrived and I dug in to my cassoulet. As well as duck, it included pork belly and Toulouse sausage, and was served with a healthy portion of bread. The dish was delicious, with a gremolata crust on top and plenty of meaty chunks inside. My only slight criticism would have been that my eggs were a tad overdone for my liking. It didn’t stop me eating almost every last bit though!

As for Matthew’s, his looked equally good. I have a deep-seated fear of Hollandaise so I didn’t try, but he seemed happy and we both polished off our plates and even somehow resisted the delicious looking cakes & Crosstown doughnuts in the front counter on our way out.

Overall Ozone proved itself to be such a find and it is more than decently priced, with service as relaxed as the atmosphere. They have a separate cafe menu on weekdays and serve brunch all day on weekends, which makes it the perfect spot to languish over a latte or three and a plate of eggy goodness with your best pals.

A New Look

As you have hopefully noticed, I’ve given the blog a dramatic new overhaul.

My life has changed a lot over the past 6 months, and I think probably so have I, and I wanted the old blog to reflect that. I’ve gone for a super minimalist look, which is hopefully going to remind me to focus much more on my content. I’ve always tried not to be super fluffy or super gushy, but I think this more “grown up” look is going to encourage even more grown up content, and I kinda like not having the distraction of all the flashy banners and widgets (my favourite word!) on the sidebar. That said, all that stuff can still be found up top (click the little black box in the top right corner), so don’t worry, you can still keep up with me all the usual ways. I’ve also been working on Instagramming more so a follow or two there would be much appreciated!

I’m going to be making a real effort to put out quality content and quality photos, which should be easier now I have a shiny new iPhone 6 to double team with my camera. Since I finally managed to clear out my bloglovin (250 – 300 unread posts is intimidating to say the least), and actually sit down and read some of my favourite blogs, my inspiration has come rushing back and now that I’m more settled in my job and flat I’m hoping to be able to keep to more of a regular posting schedule.

I’d also like to do some more thoughtful posts. Now that I’m not being forced to write essays every 6 weeks about the intricacies of modernist interior design or other such rubbish, I’ve been…kind of missing it? Now I’m not going to bombard you with my thoughts on said modernist habits or even my true passion, the cultural value placed on American sports stars, but, you know. I’m thinking more writing, less photos, in the occasional post. I’ve got some strong opinions on Ariana Grande and I might want to express them some time, ya know?

ANYWAY, in short: I think blogging is probably changing, and I’m definitely changing with it, or at least this blog is. Let me know what you think and if you become hopelessly bored…I’m sorry! Happy weekend!

The Weekend Agenda: God’s Own Junkyard

London is full of fab things that are forever popping up and then popping back down again, and to be honest, my life lately feels a little bit like a constant stream of adding things to my mental bucket list and never really getting the time to do them. This year, though, I’ve decided that’s going to change. #newyearnewme?

God’s Own Junkyard’s Lights of Soho has been on my radar forever, but it was only when I realised that it is shutting on January 18th that I realised I had to make it a priority. I dream of having a house filled with exposed brickwork and neon art (doesn’t everyone) so the thought of a whole exhibition filled me with glee.

Situated in Soho’s seediest heart, Lights of Soho somehow manages to stand out in a midst of peep shows and sex shop neon. The exhibition has been erected as something of a memorial to Chris Bracey, the “Neon Man,” who died in November ’14. Bracey renewed, re-used and recycled in order to bring parts of old LA and vintage London to life and stepping inside Lights of Soho is a bit like stepping into heaven – a brightly lit, neon-kitsch heaven. Safe to say, I was in my element.

The ground floor is a collection of works hung here, there and everywhere, a total chaos of neon and a treasure trove to wander around.

The low-ceilinged cellar downstairs has the more “artsy” pieces, set out individually with information about each piece. I found this Mickey Mouse for Marc Jacobs particularly interesting, in an eery sort of way:

The “infinity coffin” is straight out of Harry Potter and SO clever.

And there are plenty of little side nooks and crannies to peer into:

But my very favourite is this “error” piece, which had rightly attracted the biggest crowd as everyone craned to read the endless lists of everyday mistakes behind the lights. One of the most relatable things I’ve ever seen (which was a relief after we spent the previous Saturday puzzling through the Tate Modern) – it reminded me of Girls in neon art form.

As I mentioned, Lights of Soho closes on the 18th Jan (Sunday) so if you have a chance this weekend, seriously, get down there. It doesn’t take long to get around but it’s such a little pocket of retro greatness that it’s well worth seeing, and it’s easily one of the most Instagrammable spots in London!

The Paddington Trail

So as some of you may have noticed, in the (few) posts I managed before Christmas, I became a little bit obsessed with the army of Paddingtons that had sprung up around London. I set myself a mission to see as many of them as I could, and so it was in these interests that Matthew and I set off to Paddington itself one day in early December in order to cram as many as possible into one day.

We started, of course, with a traditional Paddington. Having since seen the movie (which is GREAT), I was very pleased to note that actual Paddington stands in this exact spot!

There were, obviously, a lot more Paddingtons in the area around the station. I’ve never really explored it very thoroughly so it was nice to walk around and I fell in love with Little Venice. It may be an hour’s trip by tube but it is so nice and I am excited to go back in summer.

I particularly enjoyed this stylish Lulu Guinness suitcase…

…And Johnathan Ross’ contribution was interesting.

Our stroll took us down into Hyde Park, which we hit just before sunset. It was suitably stunning!

This is Hugh Bonneville (Mr Brown in the movie)’s design, which I loved (and which also has one of the best locations, in my opinion)

And from there, it was down to the Palace to see one of my most-anticipated Paddingtons – one Mr David Beckham’s.

And finally, into Soho and Central London. I’m still not entirely sure what I made of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” Paddington…

Leicester Square was eyewateringly busy but we battled our way through to find this gold number.

I had a bit of a I Love London moment in Trafalgar Square, standing watching everyone come and go and all those endless “floating” street entertainers: it had been the most perfect day!

Our final stop was Covent Garden, where we spotted our last 2 Paddingtons of the day. It was dark by this point and Covent Garden was suitably packed, so my photographs were suffering!

We wrapped up our day with a visit to Shake Shack, where I had an incredible (although very small) hot dog (celery salt = my fave) and we then “accidentally” bought 7 Ben’s Cookies between us, and headed home. It was the kind of day that made me feel very lucky indeed to be living in a city where you can walk from canal to park to palace to Theatreland all in the space of a few hours, and I guess I have Paddington to thank for reminding me!

The Paddingtons have sadly disappeared, but if you get a chance to see the movie, you definitely should because it is funny and wonderful and great.

How To Get A Job

On my 2014 round up/looking forward to 2015 post, the lovely Hannah left me a comment asking if I had any tips for getting internships/jobs. I have to admit, when I first read this I was surprised. I’m no expert and didn’t think I was particularly qualified to give advice! However, when I thought about it I figure I have now got a job in London after all, so I guess I am as qualified as anyone else.

Despite the horror stories you hear about having to do a year of unpaid interning before even thinking about permanent employment, my internship with my current company was actually my first ever one. However, that’s not to say I hadn’t applied for any. I had applied, for a lot of positions, and I’d had a good amount of success, actually. I’ve compiled some tips based on my own experiences, and I hope they might help some of you!

  • Figure out your limits. One thing I did which may or may not have been a mistake was apply for a lot of unpaid positions that, when it came down to it, I knew I couldn’t actually take. Unpaid internships tend(ed) to be easier to get because a) I imagine slightly less people applied and b) most companies are more likely to take a bit of a risk on someone who’s not on their payroll. I was offered a couple that I ended up not taking, but (while I imagine the companies in question might have been a bit irritated), I wasn’t willing or able to get myself in tons of debt for the sake of a couple of months’ experience that didn’t guarantee me anything but the end of my overdraft. Luckily, things are changing fast and it’s now much more “the norm” for positions to be paid, even if it’s minimum wage.
  • Stick to your guns. In the end, I resolved to only apply for paid internships, and grad schemes that promised at least a year of guaranteed employment. I had varying degrees of success with these. Some companies, I didn’t anything from at all, which is to be expected. Most often, my CV and cover letter passed the test and I was invited to a fair few interviews, whether they were phone, skype, or in-person interviews.
  • Go the extra mile (to the office). I fared much better in “real life interviews” than anything else. It might be a pain to pay for & organise travel, especially when these interviews often last 30 minutes max, but it is so, so much easier to make a good impression in person than it is over the phone. I also think that in-person interviews show commitment both from you and the company, and it’s also an invaluable chance to assess the atmosphere in the office, and maybe even meet the team – not to mention see how easy the commute might be.
  • Keep your options, & your mind, open. As I said, I applied for a LOT of positions. Some were at companies I knew would be a good fit; some were companies I hoped would be; some were prestigious names I knew would look great on my CV. It’s easy to decide that one career path is the one for you (I had my heart set on food PR for a long time) but without stepping foot in an office, it’s impossible to know. Apply for a range of roles and don’t rule anything out (within reason! Keep within your interests and talent range, obviously).
  • Sell yourself. At uni, I wasn’t on a sports team and I wasn’t particularly involved in any society. For a while, I was convinced that this would be my downfall. But then I had a think through all the things I had done throughout my 3 years at uni and I realised that I could definitely make something of them all. I helped out at open days in my first and 3rd year, in both voluntary and paid positions, for both the uni as a whole and for my department. In my 3rd year, I was also put forward by a lecturer to act as a 3rd year rep for English, which meant giving a series of speeches to prospective students & parents. None of this seemed like a big deal at the time but in terms of my CV and in interview, it was a great thing to talk about as it showed commitment, enthusiasm, public speaking ability, and so on and so on. Likewise, I was surprised by the positive reception my blog got. I thought everybody applying would have a blog but it turns out not. Researching & writing regular posts, editing photos, taking part in social media and learning basic SEO are all skills that are super helpful in the real world so make the most of it and tell people about them!
  • Don’t give up hope! I tried not to set my heart on any one position, and to put equal amounts of effort into every application. This is really important because it means you can gauge your success more accurately. As I said, some companies didn’t get back to me. But plenty of others did, and I took this as a sign that my CV and cover letter were not completely hopeless or misdirected, or that I didn’t interview horrendously. If you are consistently failing at the same stage, then read up (on interview techniques, or CV tips), and if you have someone you trust, get them to tell you honestly how they think you could improve.

Well, that turned into an essay! I hope it helps any of you recent graduates or 3rd year students (or keen 2nd years looking for summer work!). 18 months on from our undergraduate graduation, all of my friends are now happily settled in their first jobs and many have even started thinking about, or moved onto, second jobs. Finding a job/internship takes effort and commitment but it doesn’t have to be the nightmare that the media would have you believe, I promise!

Exploring Greenwich: Greenwich Park

I’ve been living in Greenwich for almost three months now, and we’ve spent enough lazy weekend days wandering around its streets for me to have developed some of my favourite spots. Greenwich is pretty much the dream because it’s cutesy and old-timey and dotted with pubs, boutiques and bakeries, but it’s also ten minutes from the hustle and bustle of central London – and on the river to boot – but without a doubt one of its highlights is the gorgeous Greenwich Park.

My current favourite time to visit is at about 4, when winter sunsets are just beginning. On our last visit, Matthew and I took the more roundabout route, going all the way around the park rather than straight up the hill. The observatory is even more impressive from afar, if you ask me!

There is also a fair amount of wildlife to be spotted. I amused myself trying to get pictures of the multitude of fat little squirrels running around. They are so tame it’s unbelievable.

There is also a deer enclosure in the park which might be one of my favourite parts. It’s difficult to get a picture through the fence, but you can just about make them out I think…

We took a stroll down “Lovers Walk” which was looking suitably autumnal and lovely.

You might remember that Greenwich was home to the Equestrian events at the 2012 Olympics, and it is super easy to see why they picked this location. I especially love the contrast between the old-time splendour of the Queen’s House & Royal Naval College buildings, and Canary Wharf poking out behind.

But of course, the piece de resistance of Greenwich Park is the view from the top of the hill itself. Time it right with a sunset and it makes for one of my very favourite London sights.

Having this on my doorstep is one of many things that makes me stop at the top of the hill and remember that I am so lucky to be able to call it home (cringe alert). I already can’t wait for summer weekends full of picnics in the park, and in the meantime I’m having fun wrapping up warm and living vicariously through all the dog-walkers and their adorable puppies!

Have you ever been to Greenwich? What are your favourite parts? Like I mentioned, I want to make this a bit of a series of my favourite areas, eateries and so on, so let me know if you have any recommendations!

Tis The Season

If your surname is Jolly, you are basically obliged to love all things Christmas. Shop assistants, colleagues, distant relatives: basically anyone I encounter in the months of November or December literally cannot resist commenting on my name.

After 22 years, though, I’m more than used to it, and actually I kind of love it. I definitely love Christmas and this year, I packed in as many festive London activities as physically possible (hence the reason I was too busy to even think about blogging). Now that the whole thing’s over, it seems a bit tragic to ply you with pictures of sparkly lights and trees and so on, but I wanted to at least document the event itself.

This year, my Christmas really began on the 20th, when Matthew and I had our own mini Christmas day. Now that I’m a professional gift giver and earning a real salary to boot, I’d finally been able to put new wrapping skills to the test and I loved how my presents looked so much that I was reluctant to let anybody open them at all.

Unfortunately M wouldn’t let me have mine unless I agreed to let him have his, so I relinquished all my pretty bows and let him at them. I didn’t photograph the actual presents, but I was completely and utterly spoilt, with a Jo Malone candle in one of my favourite scents (wild fig and cassis – yum), a cute Kate Spade notebook, a gorgeous maple leaf necklace I spotted on our first weekend in the flat (and which features in almost all of the following Christmas pictures), the Kate Spade bangle I have been lusting after for literally years and one of Anthropologie’s much coveted gold initial mugs.

For actual Christmas, I headed home to spend it with the family. Usually (as you might remember from previous years’ posts), Christmas is a rowdy affair where the whole of my mum’s side of my family get together for lots of fun, festivities and Prosecco. This year my sister had to work on Christmas day, which meant that it would be just the five of us (four for most of the day). I have to admit I was worried this would feel weird and unnatural, but actually it was such a lovely, relaxing day! Having ventured out for a pantomime the day before and reverted to a childhood tradition of Pizza Express pizzas for dinner, we were up bright and early for presents.

I was just as spoilt by my parents as by Matthew, and mum had done a brilliant job of scouting out my Pinterest for ideas. I got some gorgeous bits, but by far my best presents were the gorgeous ponyskin black boots (which have barely left my feet since), and my big surprise: tickets for me and my sister to see One Direction later this year. I’m not even sorry – I was delighted! This was also the first year I’ve had enough cash to buy really nice presents for the family, so it was nice to see those going down well too!

After presents, there was just time for brunch before Milly had to leave.

And then followed a lovely relaxing day of playing games (playing Cards Against Humanity with your parents is always going to be interesting…), and a gorgeous Christmas Day walk around the lakes with Jimmy. I think this is the first time I’ve done any sort of exercise on Christmas Day and I have to say I really enjoyed it!

Finally, my sister returned and we sat down for Christmas dinner. I did miss my role as my aunt’s official sous chef (usually more champagne drinking than cooking is involved in that job) but we all chipped in with peeling potatoes, cutting vegetables and so on and it was utterly delicious!

As I said, I thought I was really gonna miss the chaos of previous years, not to mention the littles running around, but there is definitely something to be said for a low-key, grown up Christmas and with me living in London and my brother at uni it’s not often all 5 of us are together. Plus, we had everybody down on the Saturday for Christmas round 2 and my littlest cousin’s 7th birthday – so I didn’t miss out on much chaos after all!