TRAVEL BAG: The tech gear I take on holiday

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Whilst  I'm out here in Bali (currently in Ubud) and have a bit of downtime, I'm wanting to give you a quick update on some of the tools I've brought with me.

I don't claim to be the most proficient travel bloggers, there are people out there that do it for a living. However, I'm looking to escape London more this year, and already I've got some tools and tips to share with you.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL ANYWHERE! 

Get a Visa. I know it sounds obvious but some countries have only just introduced this. An example would be my friend Pete Brooker from Human Research who went to Oman and only checked the night before the flight that he needed a visa. He had to pay double to fast track it, so double check ahead of time! Even Visa on arrival can have prerequisites, such as for Indonesia you have to show a pre-booked return flight out of the country with the 30 day Visa on arrival limit - you’ll also need to show this at check-in otherwise you’ll not be allowed to fly.

THE CAMERA 

I’m obsessed with my SONY A7S2 camera, which I take with me everywhere. The video is full-frame 100 frames per second in 4k and the stills are amazing using ZEISS lenses. If you want a tutorial in setting up your SONY a7sii, I have written one here. I also use a Canon G7X (mainly for vlogging) and you can pick these up now for under £500 on Amazon. They record in 4k and are light and compact, perfect for traveling.  It has a flip round screen so you can document yourself if that's your style.

THE GIMBAL

I'm now getting into using a Gimbal, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is an awesome bit of kit that can be snapped up for just under £120. It's nimble light, easy to use and just takes those vlogs to the next level. The only pain is that it's Chinese and there are no English instructions, but I picked up everything as I went and there are plenty of online tutorials.

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THE ZOOM H1 

I always pack the little handy Zoom H1 recorder when I travel, it's a great way to keep notes on where you're going, how much things cost, etc. All these details will become priceless when you get home and you want to type up your blog.

I also like to just chat into the Dictaphone and describe the scenery, externalise and basically ramble my thoughts. This is also a useful tool if you want to conduct interviews. Other accessories you'll need for a decent close up sound will be a RØDE Lapel Mic and the RØDE SC3 iPhone Accessory. 

UNIVERSAL CHARGER & HARD DRIVE

It's nutty that these things make the essential lists but you don't want to be found out. Needing to charge your farm whilst on the go is key so be prepared. I use a Dynamode external hard drive that I've had for years. (Dropped and bandaged up plenty of times but still going).

More current ones can be found cheaply. Toshiba do External hard drives up  to 500GB now for £50. Remember video files are much larger than jpg's and you don't want to run out of space.

Of course a universal charger you can find at the airport. 

 

SIHH 2019 News: What Brand Ambassadors & Celebs Turned up

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I was gutted not to make it over to SIHH 2019 this year after being invited by IWC Schaffhausen. I've had a few events that I've sadly had to turn down, but I've told myself that I can't make them all and I have to make my peace with that. 

That didn't stop me checking out all the amazing chronographs and news from the red carpet, following the #sihh2019 in case you haven't already. 

A lot of the brand ambassadors turned out, if not all of them and I wanted to put together a little scrapbook of celebrities that rocked the red carpet this year. You can also find a YouTube video below from the event. 

Hugh Jackman

Hugh was there front and centre as always with Montblanc, sporting the Montblanc Geosphere 1858. He is the ultimate ambassador, never in a scandal, happily married for 20 plus years. His wife is 63! That shows you that he's got dignity people. What a champ. 

David Gandy 

It would be remiss of me not to mention my good mate David Gandy who was also there representing Montblanc. Decked out in his grey single breasted suit, blue woolen-fleck tie and grey cotton shirt. 

Bradley Cooper

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IWC had a whole host of celebs show up for ambassador duties. Rosamund Pike, Dev Patel and the man of the moment Bradley Cooper. Bradley chose to wear a midnight blue tux with hand stitched edges. A white shirt without a placket and a low-rise flat front trousers. The single button is too high up on the jacket in my opinion, I prefer a deeper shawl. But hey, who am I to judge. 

Michael B. Jordan

Representing Piaget was Michael B. Jordan. Some fan shots revealed Michael walking round in both a red leather overcoat with black piping and a black roll neck sweater. 

Pierce Brosnan 

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Ever heard of Speake-Marin? Neither have I. They don't have an atelier in London but Pierce is definitely helping them to boost the brands profile. He looks the business in his blue peak lapel suit. I'm guessing there is a little bit of mohair and silk in the blend to give it its lustre. Possibly from the Brioni collection. 

Did you manage to go to SIHH 2019? How does it differ from Baselworld?  I’d love to know what you thought of the event in the comments below.


Carl Thompson: All the Stats from my Blog Revealed

I was recently asked in an interview where will I be in 5 years. Currently I'm writing this on a retreat in Bali, with no return ticket, with no plans or agenda. The blog is a great platform for me to empty all my thoughts on men’s lifestyle. 

It's sometimes cathartic, sometimes a chore. But it's become an extension of me and I was thrilled to get nominated last year in the Top 6 UK Men’s Lifestyle Blogs by Vuelio. Today I want to share a couple of facts, stats and behind the scenes trivia. 


WHEN DO I WRITE? 

I normally get up at the crack and meditate on a particular subject or campaign whilst out walking Charlie across Clapham Common. By the time I return to the desk I hammer out 300 words, just empty my head and then leave it. That takes about 15 minutes. When you do this for as long as I have you realise that writers block is a myth. No one is going to read every blog, or every word in that blog. (I'm amazed you're still with me right now). 

I'll then come back to the article later in the day, mid-afternoon or dinner. Do a quick edit, fact check, tweak and post. All told I make sure that a blog never goes past the hour mark. 

WHO IS READING

I'm very pleased to have such a wide demographic of people that are tuning in to the blog. Naturally my audience is hugely UK and London centric. With over 73k users finding their way to my site I'm pleased to have developed a large contingent in the US, India and Canada. 

AGE AND GENDER

This is a very interesting one, and not uncommon in the male blogging industry. Women are tuning into my blog as well as men. I'm very pleased that women are reading my posts, finding style and gifting ideas for themselves or their partners. 

I read plenty of women blogs and tune into discussion lead podcasts myself.

The age range is very much my own, written by me for me I guess. But an undeniable peak of the 25-34 range. 

AN UNHEARD OF BOUNCE RATE

That's right, I've been burying the lead. The bounce rate on my blog is the statistic that I'm most proud of. What is a Bounce Rate? 

From Google 'It is the percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Google analytics calculates and report the bounce rate of a web page and bounce rate of a website.' 

In other words, people are coming to the site and having a mooch around. They haven't come there by mistake. They've not been put off by my mug and ran to the hills. 

According to an article by Go Rocket Fuel the most common bounce rate for blogs is between 35% - 40%. Anything above 70% is disappointing. 

QUICK THANKS

So a genuine quick thanks for everyone that reads and visits my blog. (Still reading this? Oh you are a saint, you know that you've just notched up my retention stats so thank you).

DISCLAIMER: All statistics are genuine screenshots from Google Analytics for the date range 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2018. My blog carlthompson.co.uk talks about everything men’s lifestyle.

TOM FORD introduces BEAU DE JOUR: the new fragrance for men & women from TOM FORD BEAUTY

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Whilst it's remaining all quiet on the James Bond front, (no mention of whether Tom Ford will be back to do the wardrobe for Bond 25) we at least have a new private blend to look forward to.

The BEAU DE JOUR bottle is in keeping with the other Tom Ford private blends, inspired by classic apothecary containers and crafted with satisfying bold lines and weight.

The opening will be an incontestable fervent entrance of Lavender. Fresh, evocative. The spicy cardamom and saffron initiate the journey at the opening, as floral desert tones reverberate in a constant shift with an enigmatic sweetness of jasmine sambac.

It's been described as maverick by some e-tailors. Which is a near truth. The blend has a very esoteric appeal, an unidentifiable yet palpable undercurrent of danger. Yet there's a classic sensuality to it.

Which kind of silver screen hard man would wear this? Sure James Bond, the maverick. The chancer. But it's less black tie then Bond, it has a tangible thuggery to it. I imagine Edward Woodward's Equaliser would wear this before leaving the house. (Deep pull Carl, I know).

Patchouli and Amber create an earthy foundation of radiant wood and sensual musky warmth, further elevating Beau de Jour’s refreshing notion of masculinity through the finish.

Classed as unisex, which is not unremarkable as it has a very soft, velvet-like dry down. However, I'm more than happy to class this as a masculine scent. The fougere notes, the patchouli and the oakmoss shifts this blend into my wheelhouse. 

Tom Ford continues to create effortless and unique blends that keeps him firmly on top of the heap. Nobody does it better, (touché Carl) nobody daren't.

@TOMFORDBEAUTY  #TFBEAUDEJOUR

RRP:

50ML – £162.00

100ML- £238.00

 

A Bloggers Guide to VAT Accounting | Making VAT Digital for Sole Traders

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The blogging industry is relatively new, full of individuals who have never run a business before or even worked as a sole trader. There’s little support & resources when it comes to best practices with invoicing, accountancy, tax etc, so today I’m going to give you a basic guide to VAT accounting. When working for a company, everything is just taken care of. Your NI contributions are taken from your salary, as is Income Tax via PAYE and you just get a payslip at the end of the month which equals the amount you get paid into your bank account…it’s a nice way to live! I’ve been a business owner with Hawkins & Shepherd for over 5 years and a sole trader with my main income coming from blogging and creating social/digital content for about 4 years.

So today I’m talking about VAT accounting. This is simply charging VAT on invoices for work you have completed and claiming VAT back against purchases you have brought. Please Note: this is separate from your self-assessment end-of-year return, which you pay income tax.

Making tax digital for VAT will come into effect from April 2019, so from that date, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to submit their returns through Making Tax Digital (MTD) software.

 

Are you VAT registered? Do you need to be VAT registered?

Regardless if you are a Limited Company or a Sole Trader, you have to register for VAT if you or your business turns over £85,000 during a 12 month period. Of course you can register voluntarily even if you do not reach this turnover if it suits you financially.

If you are VAT registered you will need to charge VAT (currently at 20% in the UK) on any sales invoices for work completed. You can also claim back VAT on any purchases that have VAT applied, such as IT Hardware and camera equipment. Please note that you can not claim back tax-exempt items such as postage, bank fees and purchases outside of the EU. Always check your receipts on goods you have brought; if VAT is charged, you can claim it back, if it isn’t you can’t.

As a business owner, you are responsible for keeping track of your income and forecasting when you’ll hit the £85,000 turnover limit. Please note that this is a 12-month rolling calculation and NOT a calendar year or financial year.

As a blogger, I was initially worried about going VAT registered because I was concerned that the brands wouldn’t work with me because my fees would increase by 20%. So for example, if you charge £1,000 for some work as a non-VAT registered business, you’ll of course invoice £1,000. Although now you are VAT registered, you’ll invoice £1,200 (£1,000 plus the 20% VAT). You just need to make the PR’s, brands or agencies know that your quotes are exclusive of VAT and that VAT will be applied to the invoice. You should also double-check any contracts are correct before signing them, as I’ve had one or two contracts that have said the amount is inclusive of VAT, therefore the £1,000 quoted will end up being £800 + £200 VAT. On the flip side most businesses that you are invoicing will already be VAT registered, so they can claim back the VAT on their accounts.

 

I’ve decided to register for VAT, so what next?

1.     Register for VAT.

2.     You’ll then receive your VAT registration certificate with your VAT number through the post which you’ll need to submit your VAT returns.

3.     Once you have your VAT number, you need to sign-up to use VAT services online.

 

What accounts software package shall I use?

Well this is entirely up to you, I’ve used Xero for 5 years and have found it easy and intuitive to use. Here are a list of the most commonly used accounts software packages that you can use to make your tax digital.

·      Xero - https://www.xero.com/uk/

·      Sage - https://uk.sageone.com/accounts/

·      Quickbooks - https://quickbooks.intuit.com/uk/

 

How to setup VAT in Xero Accounts Software 

Once you have signed up for VAT and if have chosen Xero, then the below will help you setting up VAT in Xero.

Creating an invoice template with your VAT number

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Click on Settings > Organisational Settings > Invoice settings.

Click Options > Edit.

Edit the invoice options as you wish, the below is an example of the invoice template that I created:

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Setting up your VAT Scheme and Financial dates

Click on Settings > Organisational Settings > Invoice Settings > Advanced Settings.

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Submitting VAT Returns

Make sure you have reconciled all of your bank transactions and sales during the VAT period and then review and submit your return.

You can review your VAT return by using the VAT Reconciliation report. You can submit a VAT return using the VAT Return report.

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Jo Malone London Release the Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense

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DRUM ROLL! Time for some Jo Malone London news. (One unfurls large reading scroll and positions himself on a balcony 20ft above the hordes of baying Jo Malone London fans). As a proud global ambassador of Jo Malone London I'm extremely blessed with the opportunity to trial at their news trials and fragrances. 

This month we have two new releases to get stuck into. Jo Malone London have not only launched a brand new intriguing fragrance to their Cologne Intense family, entitled Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense, they will also be extending their highly sought after Myrrh & Tonka Collection to include a Home Candle and Body Crème.

It arrives carefully presented  sleek black packaging. As a former student of the Jo Malone gift wrapping class of 2018, I can tell you it's an under-sung, lost art that goes on behind the scenes. 

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Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense fragrance

If you're like me and love leather as a note in your fragrances, then you'll LOVE this new blend, rich with precious ingredients. Perfect for the winter months; smoky and warm, enlivened with vibrant juniper and fresh grapefruit and finished with a mysterious twist of vetiver.

It's opulent, it's luxury, it's empowering. The perfect tonic for an evening date. I'm awash with a lot of casual and semi-casual fragrances currently so I'm relieved to have a scent that slots perfectly into evening wear. 

100ml Cologne RRP £120 50ml £75. 

Jo Malone London is available in 61 countries worldwide and will also be extending their Myrrh & Tonka offering to include the decadent new Home Candle (£56) and luxurious Body Crème (£62).

A top tip from Jo Malone London

You can layer your scents much like you can layer your winter wardrobe. Jo Malone London recommends that you moisturise with the new Myrrh & Tonka Body Crème. For the cherry on top add a spritz of Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense for an oriental, woody scent, enriched with deep, resinous myrrh and warmed with cashmere wood.

What's your favourite Jo Malone London scent? I'd love to know which scent resonates with you and how you layer yours. Feel free to drop me a comment or a DM on my Instagram if you have any questions regarding the Jo Malone London scents. 

 

Davidoff Cool Water Fragrance Review

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Have I told you how Davidoff are missing a marketing trick? They should simply sponsor a catwalk showdown between David Beckham and David Gandy! It will be coined the 'Almighty Davidoff'. You see that's why I get the big bucks people.

It leads me swiftly on to this classic scent from Davidoff, neatly entitled: Davidoff Cool Water.

The Gamechanger

It really was. Released in 1988 the Davidoff Cool Water fragrance came about and enlivened the aquatic range. 

The Notes

In the top note, a marine splash awakes the senses with a distinct floral opening. You'll get an immediate introduction to the main theme of Lavender, followed by a subtle push of Rosemary and Orange Blossom. 

I know these all sound like girls that will be linked to Jeff Bezos as he looks to seek solace from divvying up over $50Bn in divorce settlements. But trust me, the signature blend and vibrancy of this blend has stayed the test of time. 

On the dry down you'll get that relaxing flourish of sandalwood, cedar with an undercurrent of musk. A very reassuring masculine vibe. 

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What do I think?

Pierre Bourdin created and broke the mould when he introduced Davidoff Cool Water. Other flankers have saddled nicely, the Deep Dive and more recently Cool Wave have been notable inclusions to the Davidoff Cannon. But for my money nothing has usurped the original. 

When and where can I wear it?

It's a very casual fragrance, perfect for the office or out on a lunch date. It's not sophisticated enough for black tie or dinner events. I'll be wearing this to meetings with clients, coffee runs, even on my upcoming trip to Bali.

It's very Spring/Summer, it's fresh, youthful. I'd wear this with shorts, polo, tee shirt. My one reservation is that I'm loving the scent, but definitely feel like I'm at the high end of the demographic for its target audience. Because of the citrus/sweet notes, I'd say it would be too playful for anyone 45 and older.

Would I buy it again?

Absolutely, I've been buying it for years. I can't wait to roll this is out in the hotter months, that's if it lasts the course in Bali. It wakes me up, enlivens my senses. Makes me want to put on Pet Sounds and ride my little Deuce Coupe all the way to Lowestoft.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro | Why I made the switch

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For my critics that say I have little influence in the tech gadget industry, dig this. In the same week I announce I'm migrating over to Huawei, another monolithic phone brand has its biggest dip in share price in over five years. Coincidence? I'll let you decide. 

It's true, I'm now playing for the other team. And before all you ladies start asking 'what's the point in living?' I mean I've now switched over to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. (Blackadder gag). 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The highly anticipated Huawei Mate 20 Pro is now available in the UK, introducing a new level of highly intelligent performance to consumers with the world’s first Dual-AI powered smartphone.

The handset is more intelligent and efficient than any other Android Smartphone on the market. But why did I make the switch? 

A perfect fit for me

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro offers more versatility with the Leica triple camera and an ultra-wide-angle lens, meaning the phone has the most detailed macro shots available.

Part of my job is to attend a lot of press events. Many of them in the evening on a weekday, inside a bar or pop-up space. The lighting is always low and I'm always anxious that the light will diminish the quality of the shot. 

The Leica triple camera works brilliantly in the low light. There is a special night time mode that brings your nightlife pics to life! I'm enjoying playing around with the Pro Mode that enables you to change the ISO's and the Shutter Speed etc. 

The Battery Life! 

However, I'm burying the lead here. The truly remarkable feature I've found is the battery life. It can go for 2 days with no charge. With moderate to low use it can go all week. 

I was getting very tired of schlepping the extra battery pack around for my previous phone, knowing it wouldn't last the course of the day. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro even has a unique wireless reverse charging feature that shares Huawei battery performance with others that own non-Huawei devices – a feature only available the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

It can go from 0 to 70% battery life with 30 minutes of charge time. I know! This is like something that Phillip K. Dick would dream up. 

Should you make the switch? 

I've only just scraped the surface with this phone but I can't recommend it enough. The battery life, the quality of camera, not to mention the sleek slimline design, advanced waterproofing. 

If you're coming to the end of your contract, maybe disenchanted with your current smartphone and its overall performance, look into the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. I'm happy to answer any questions on my Instagram or in the comments below if you need further guidance. 


*The sponsored post was created in collaboration with Huawei.

 

 

The Best Dressed at the Golden Globes 2019

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It's amazing how just one selfie can be at the sole talking point of an awards ceremony. The internet went into melt down as Idris Elba saddled up to Daniel Craig and posted an image to his Twitter account with the caption, 'awks'. 

Thus, fuelling speculation once again about him being favourite to play the next James Bond. It seems to go largely unnoticed that Idris will be 50 by the time Bond 25 is likely to roll around at the earliest in 2022. But hey-ho. 

I wanted to shine a light on some of the tuxedos that dawned the red carpet for the 76th Golden Globe Awards. In no discernible order. 

Ben Whishaw 

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Winning Best supporting actor for his role in 'A Very English Scandal'. Looking the absolute nails in an Alexander McQueen tuxedo, with the typical McQueen hallmarks and embellishments. The crystals that make a bird and floral fabric are Swarovski and the fabric is a deluxe and subtle velvet. Great work Q. You can buy that for just under £3,000 from Mr Porter. 

Christian Bale 

Picking up best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, and being the only award winner to hint at anything political during his acceptance speech, Golden Globe winner Christian Bale walked the red carpet with wife Sibi Blazic wearing a Brioni bespoke wool and silk tuxedo, black cotton shirt and black silk tie. 

Taron Egerton 

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Looking all grown up! Taron arrived at the Golden Globes Awards wearing charcoal grey wool evening tux with black velvet trim. Jetted pockets and a suppressed wait keep the lines clean for a very polished look. 

Richard Madden 

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You know him from The Bodyguard. Yes that one where Kevin Costner gets asked back for one last job because some damn fool said he was the best. Or wait was that in Predator. I get so confused with people getting called the best in movies. 

Richard won for best actor in a TV Drama, and with velvet being the theme again this year as he rocked an Armani velvet suit. 

Idris Elba 

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Ok so it was inevitable. For my money he wore the ballsiest number on the night, a 3 piece from Savile Row trailblazer Ozwald Boateng. Ostentatious, daring with a blue-black Aztecan kaleidoscopic shawl collar tuxedo with a button down shirt and narrow black silk tie. For sure the name, Elba. Idris Elba. Oh shut it Carl. 

Warm Day Winter Styling | Men's Style Edit

Has winter even started here in the UK, come on ice, snow, wind and rain….lets be ‘aving ya! Actually ignore that, I’ve been enjoying leaving the door open whilst working from home and saving money on heating bills. However it’s my fashion this winter season that has benefitted most. I’ve been able to wear a lot of my existing wardrobe and brought less knitwear and bulky jackets, saving pennies in the meantime.

With that in mind, I’ve created this Men’s Style Edit which is wearable on the warmest of winter days, yet can be transitioned simply by adding socks and a tailored overcoat on the colder snaps.

The black t-shirt is from ASOS, over-shirt from A Day’s March, the grey trousers are Zara, the white trainers are from Nubikk and finally the sunglasses are from Emon Eyewear.


SHOP THE EDIT


EAST LONDON v WEST LONDON | The pros and cons of living in both

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If you're thinking of visiting or moving to London anytime soon no doubt you'll be checking house prices in the different boroughs of London, which places in London has the lowest crime rates, what parts of London have the best schools etc. 

In this article I'm going to pit East London v West London and add to it over time with recommendations for restaurants, theatres, places to watch the footie etc. I'll invite you all to do the same in the comment bar below. 


WEST LONDON 

Pros of living in West London 

West London is generally conceived as the safest part of London, with Richmond on Thames topping the list with the lowest crime rates. In particular Chiswick is a little slice of heaven, to both work and live. 

The Chiswick Business park in particular is adorned with mini lakes, waterfalls, brimming with outdoor activities, very modern and 'Singaporian' in design. 

Cons of living in West London 

You are slightly removed from the rest of London. The District line is the main service and if that capitulates then your daily commute into the centre of London can be a case of trains, planes and automobiles.

Hopefully with the advent of the HS2 or Crossrail there will be greater social mobility in 2020. 

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EAST LONDON

Pros of living in East London

Really does live up to its traits and stereotypes of being the place where the cool kids hang out. The artists have long since migrated further east to places like Hackney since the gentrification of places like Shoreditch. Ironically the artists made the place what is, then could no longer afford to live there due to inflated house prices. 

That said there is still great places to shop for clothes, Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market have great vintage and pre-loved collections. Beyond Retro is tucked away on the outskirts of Bethnal Green, All Saints sits at the top of Brick Lane and there are an abundance of leather ateliers to choose from. 

You have the Olympic Park also which is an awesome location for a first date, or a trip to the O2 for when the big acts come to town. 

Cons of living in East London 

It has its unsavoury areas. Without wanting to sound elitist you only have to stretch out beyond Brick Lane, past Boxpark, and 10 minutes towards Bethnal Green tube you've reached the arm pit of East London. 

You do have great locations like Columbia Flower Market, but even that is a zoo nowadays. The disparate elements that gave East London its uniqueness, have sadly compounded its downfall by becoming too touristy, over populated and not an overly enjoyable place to visit. 

 

Healthy Appliances for Those That Can't Cook

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Much like Robert De Niro says to his missus in Heat, "I am alone, but I am not lonely". Really sums up my current mood right now. I'm relying on some basic 'man alone' survival tactics to help me get through the festive season, notoriously the busiest time for bloggers.

The trouble with being on the move all the time is that your diet normally turns to crap. It can be so annoying when you train as much as I do, but then get subjected to the lack of optionality in the discount chains. Ready meal pizza's, microwave burgers, the crisp and cereal aisle alone compounded my decision to book a health retreat to Bali in January (which I’ve now had to cancel, I’ll explain another time).

However, I've put a mini listicle together for you, highlighting some tried and tested appliances that will help you stay on the right path.

Steamer 

A good friend once recently told me he survived 3 years living above a shop with no basic amenities. No shower, no kitchen etc. He told me that he bought a steamer on the first day of moving in and lived off a diet of salmon and broccoli and was the healthiest period of his life. 

Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) but it is their content of omega-3 fatty acids that makes them most renowned. Otherwise known as brain food. 

What is remarkable is that you don't need to be a decent cook to eat healthy. Though there are some steam food cook books available for the sake of variety. The Magimax is a great reputable brand and served my friend well for his insulated years. 

Blender

No better way to start the day. Also one of the best ways to ensure that no food goes to waste. I'm not suggesting you pull a Schwarzenegger from End of Days and start puree-ing last night’s left over pizza, moreover the fruit and veg that is on the turn. 

Also how many times have you bought fruit and veg from the supermarket in a bid to kickstart a healthy diet, but when it comes to preparing and actually wanting to put the damn things in your mouth the will immediately deserts you. 

The Vonshaf is a great bargain blender that creates minimum amount of clean up. It's also a blender, not a juicer meaning you keep the pulp and fibre that contains a lot of nutrients and bypass the immediate sugar hit found in citrus fruits. 

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Popcorn Maker 

Look Dynasties just wouldn't be the same without being curled up with a bowl of popcorn. A popcorn maker just gives it that special cinematic experience and a great gift for someone with kids. 

Really go all out with that cinema experience by having your young nephew sat behind you and kick your chair every five minutes, similarly you can tut loudly and obnoxiously each time your girlfriend gets her phone out. 

Soup Maker 

This is soup season gentlemen. Those salad days are done and done for another 6 months so why not invest in a Phillips Soup Maker. It basically serves as a blender with an inbuilt  thermostat. The Z-shaped blade design together with the optimised heating profile allows you to create your favourite soups with the perfect texture in 18 minutes or less.

Healthy Grill Maker 

The biggest ball-ache of having to grill food is cleaning up the debris after. Now I'm very emotionally attached to my BBQ outside on my patio, it's been a terrific servant over the years and somehow buttresses my cave man stature. 

However, it's been raining solid here in London since, forever basically so I've since had to move my culinary efforts indoors. There are many healthy grills on the market, this Cuisinart can also double up as a sandwich maker and is discounted right now on Amazon. 



Dressing For a Date: Where do mature guys go wrong?

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There is no such thing as over dressing for a date. There is such as thing as dressing too casually. The biggest mistakes grown men make on dates is heeding the advice of girls when they tell you 'just be yourself'.

Sound familiar?

My advice for dressing for a date is don't be yourself, because 'yourself' is single and gives you horrible advice.

You might think fashion isn't important. Even one of the greatest trailblazers of the 60's peacock fashion era, Mr Fish, was quoted as saying, 'people get hung up on fashion, it's really not that important'.

Don't be duped. Your style and what you wear on a date could be the deal breaker. I remember on a lousy date back in the day (before I really took much notice of fashion), I took a girl on a date on a bitterly cold winters night in South Putney. When it came time at the end of the night she rebuffed my advances.

Somewhat crestfallen I asked why? She said bluntly, "Well I've turned up in this," highlighting her gorgeous figure hugging black sequin dress, "and you've turned up in that," pointing at my generic black gilet.

The enormous golf between us immediately evident, and it wasn't just disparate worlds of style, it was that she had gone to the effort of looking nice. So where are mature men going wrong with style? Not putting in the effort.

Women have uncanny knack of knowing whether you've just come from the office, or you're wearing the same outfit you'd wear to your friends BBQ. You need to first and foremost, make the effort.

SHOES

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Women notice these before anything else. Well, they notice a man’s height first, then it’s the shoes. Then it’s the ass, your face is somewhere in the mix but believe me, your shoes usurp most boxes to be ticked.

I was in the room once when a girl gave a friend of mine an excoriating review of a friend's style. I asked the girl in jest, 'You would date Tom wouldn't you?' She fired immediately, NEVER!

Poor Tom, "WHY," he asked broken hearted.

"Tom you wear shoes that looked like they were bought in the 80's and last cleaned in the 90's." The next day Tom text me a picture of a pair of wingtip brogues he had just purchased from John Lobb on Jermyn Street. Tough love is some medicine.


TROUSERS

Where guys go wrong on dates is not so much the style of the trouser, but the fit and the colour. Women tend to hate corduroy. In fact I've never met a woman that likes corduroy on a man so keep those tucked away until you have your feet under the table.

If you're going Chinos, don't gamble on what Steve Coogan refers to as "Those twat colours." Personally I don't mind "twat colours." I wouldn't wear them per say, but people can be overly sniffy about these kind of things. New & Lingwood do a quite exotic collection of multi-coloured chinos and they look fantastic.

My point is, don't gamble on dates. Don't run the gauntlet of trying to looking young, hippy, happy-go-lucky. Mature women don't want chancers, they want virile men. They look for resourceful men. That's why the whole Crocodile Dundee film is flawed.

Sue would never ditch money bags Richard for some penniless chain-smoking Aussie who had zero utility in the city.


SHIRTS

It's the fit gentleman. That's all I want to say on the matter. Where a shirt on a date to prove you made an effort. That this isn't just a stop gap on the way to see your mates at the boozer.

A fitted shirt you can find quite readily at Hawkins & Shepherd. I have an unbelievable amount of shirts, all varying styles and fits for all occasions.

Failing that, get a shirt from a shirtmaker that will be absolutely nailed on to your body shape. You will pay a premium, but see it as an investment for your future. If you want express some individualism why not try Turnbull & Asser and have some fun with the cuffs. Their signature cocktail cuffs are the best.

BLAZERS

Nothing grey! No woman I've ever encountered has told me she finds a grey suit jacket on a man attractive. You might have some misgivings about putting on a jacket for a date. Seems a bit stiff right?

Wrong. Dead wrong fools! You're a grown up now. No denim jackets, no biker jackets, no bomber jackets. You have to prove to the lady in question, that after this date, you can go on to any members club in London. In fact you're dressed so well, it becomes like a scene from Goodfellas where they welcome you with open arms like and give you a table at the front by the band.

Please Note: I’ll be one of the men’s coaches at the Dating Show Live in June if anyone would like some one-to-one advice or support.

The Year That Was in Fashion: My Fashion Highlights for 2018

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You might be thinking back on this year and wondering, where did it go? What did I achieve? What were my highlights? When did I start asking all these rhetorical questions like that woman from Sex and the City? 

Here's the fashion news that made the waves in 2018. 

January - Valentino new logo and pop-up shop craze 

Valentino made an a retail play straight out of left field for its resort 2018 collection. A capsule collection was sold in a series of pop-up stores in Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong, whilst they resorted to an 80's aesthetic logo; VLTN.

A slightly nostalgic normcore-noir slotted perfectly into current 2018 trends when streetwear’s hyper-branded and irony-laden aesthetic is pivotal.

February - Lululemon CEO steps down 

Lululemon Athletica CEO Laurent Potdevin is resigned from the retailer citing that the company “fell short of ... standards of conduct” to respect employees and show integrity.

Potdevin was also be removed from his position on the board.

It was a turbulent year for Lululemon with various nefarious remarks from founder Chip Wilson regarding the company’s policy on not manufacturing plus-size clothes. 

That all said the Lululemon store on Oxford Street is awesome. The upstairs menswear division is a little well-kept secret for meetings, coffees and a yoga studio. 

March - Burberry hires Ricardo Tisci 

Riccardo Tisci, left his role as creative director at Givenchy for what many presumed was the top job at Versace, only to be installed at Burberry as chief creative officer.

Riccardo Tisci succeeded Christopher Bailey who’s departure was announced in October 2017. 

Burberry would continue to make the headlines when it was revealed they annually burn millions worth of unsold stock to prevent them landing in the hands of counterfeiters. 

April - Karl Lagerfeld opens in Soho

Karl Lagerfeld opened its first U.S. flagship store in the heart of SoHo at 420 W. Broadway in New York City. 

The flagship will features a combination of both Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Lagerfeld Paris women's and menswear, as well as accessories and footwear galore. 

May - Balenciaga 1200 shirt

This one made Twitter implode. The £1200 tee-shirt/shirt from Balenciaga.

Some Twitterist's went into meltdown  responding with a mix of disparate confusion and some pretty great witticisms. I like the one that comments it looks like it got stuck together in the tumble dryer. 

June - Kate Spade dies 

Yeah sad this one. I know it's not Menswear but Kate was a trailblazer and her suicide effected the fashion community immensely. 

The handbag and fashion designer was found by housekeeping staff inside her Park Avenue apartment, a note was left at the scene.

It's been a big year for mental health, don't struggle alone people. 

July - Dior announce exhibition at V&A

Shit the bed I can't wait for this one. Spanning 1947 to the present day, this exhibition will open on the 2nd February 2019 and trace the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house, and Dior’s relationship with Britain.

Book your tickets online. Anyone fancy being my date for this one comment below. 

August - Love Island great for clothing

This is how you sell merchandising  folks. Thanks to the scantily dressed contestants on Love Island such as Georgia, Laura and Megan, searches for thong bikinis, and even thong swimsuits, have increased by 68 per cent in the past two months alone, with an overall 41 per cent increase year on year. 

Year on year the show amps up the ratings and brands get to see a considerable return on their sponsorship. Great TV, great concept, great distraction to a productive day also. 

September - Michael Kors buys Versace

Woah who saw this coming right? Out of nowhere Michael Kors just swallowed up Versace in a ¢2.1 billion dollar and didn't even blink. A couple of Versace purists thought it would cheapen the brand, but so far there's of Versace bags finding its way into TK Maxx. 

The story of Versace on the iPlayer was also some of the best TV I saw this year. 

October - Melanie Trump in Africa

Well it's not a news round up without some kid of mention of the Trumps. Say what you like about the First Lady, but she likes to put on a show right? Not entirely sure if her colonial inspired wardrobe was the right time and place on her tour of Africa. 

November - Dolce & Gabbana

Oh Jesus guys. Why even go there and make a woeful attempt at humour at the expense of a 200 million hammering in the Asian market? 

Overall, Chinese consumers spend over $7 billion each year on luxury goods, according to the consultancy McKinsey. That's nearly one-third of the global market. 

The advert is not racist, just culturally tone death and not at all funny. Such a misstep, will cost them dear. 

December - Ted Baker 

Oh Ray, and his amorous hugs and ear massages. The founder of Ted Baker has now taken a  leave of absence after a petition was rolled out denouncing forced hugs in the Ted Baker workplace. 

Soon only footballers will be allowed to hug in the workplace. 

 

Small Things we can do to Improve Sustainability

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Yes it's been the buzzword of 2018 but what can we do to improve sustainability in our day to day lives? For one I want to see more Bidet's in the UK. Put a stop to all that wasted paper!!

It's one of the true joys of travelling abroad is staying in hotels that truly manage to capture the vigorous sensation of having a warm jetted pool of water clean the, well you get what I mean. We all have our favourite past times. Here are 5 tips and hints on things we can do to improve sustainability. 

Watch and Follow Stacey Dooley

She presented the BBC show Fashion's Dirty Secrets, which blew my mind and the lid of some of the secrets the big supply chains would rather you not know about. Such as the reduction of natural water in the Kazakhstan, in particular the river Amu Darya being sucked dry for cotton production. 

Follow Stacey Dooley on Twitter and seek out the documentary where you can, sadly no longer available on iPlayer. 

Reusable Coffee Cups 

It's absurd the amount of coffee and cardboard cups we get through every day. Think a little greener and save money in the process by investing in a reusable coffee cup. Think how sexy you'll look also in front of the good looking Chica at the Starbucks when you hand her your cup and ask her to 'filler up please'. 

No more Fashion hauls from Zara 

That's right I'm talking to you kids. OK admittedly in the past I may have been guilty of splashing out on a couple of ten pound tee's from H&M and eulogising about it. Nowadays I'm singing from a greener hymn sheet. 

I'm investing in statement pieces and rhapsodising about brands that are in it for the long haul. Check out my article on the pack leaders King & Tuckfield and see how they do things differently with eco-denim. 

Sublime Magazine 

There's quite a few magazines that you can subscribe to within this sector of sustainability. The obvious one is Sublime Magazine, a sustainable lifestyle magazine that is bi-monthly. 

Naturally you might want to source your own and there is a listicle of Sustainable Magazines to be found online here

Plastic Straws 

Plastic everywhere man! Just think on all that cruddy plastic in the supermarkets. It's completely unnecessary in my eyes. Just think on when the plastic bag was invented in the seventies, most end-users detested it because they couldn't get beyond having people licking their fingers to peel them apart. 

Nowadays those thoughts have turned to a much larger problem. So why not get the grapes from the farmers market where you don't find every bit of fruit under the sun cased in use-once plastic. 

Take your own bag to the supermarket. Bin off those plastic straws on the post work out shakes and politely ask the manager not to stock them. 

It's not too late to make a difference guys. 

2019 is the Year of Discerning January

Let's face it, January is the most miserable month in the calendar. It's cold, everyone is skint, and everyone is posting pics of Robert Downey Jr mid-eye roll with the caption, 'new year, new me'. 

Worst of all, people’s procrastination of doing the dry January (whilst admirable) withers after the first week when they realise that they don't have the intestinal fortitude to stay indoors for 30 days straight and not drink. 

So my question is, does drinking have to be dry? 

Since I've been working alongside DiscoverBrew, a monthly beer subscription service where each subscriber gets six beers delivered to their door complete with a personalised video and tasting notes, I've actually started drinking less! 

Drinking less and also in higher quality, becoming more discerning about my beers and introducing my friends to new experiences. (Because that's what it's all about right? Showing off a bit!) 

Yes everyone can still complain about being on their knees financially, which still makes this a great option as I can invite friends round for a cost-effective night in, drinking responsibly like the grown-ups we are. We all have to become grown-ups eventually and DiscoverBrew is a step towards adulthood, believe me. 

Also, by drinking quality beers moderately and enjoying the process, you circumvent those feelings of failure when it comes to skidding off the dry January slopes. You never told yourself you were going to stop drinking completely, so you’ve not failed at anything! It’s a positive mindset as well as a pastime.

The personal touch

Each beer in the box is hand-picked from hundreds that are tasted by the DiscoverBrew team, and only great beers make it into each box. 

I love getting my tasting note tutorials and the personal messages from Conor, the ‘Brewmellier’ of DiscoverBrew that comes with every monthly Brewbox. It heightens my tasting experience by pairing each beer with something that will complement, whether that’s a snack or a meal or simply to be enjoyed by itself.

So here’s to a less dry, more discerning January. I’ll drink to that…

Switching off over Christmas

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If I could ask one thing of all my readers this Christmas, is to take a break from checking your social feeds. Be present and respect the company of your family and friends whom haven't seen you in a long time. I'll be looking forward to a digital detox in the next couple of weeks and reflecting on what has been another incredible year. 

Whilst my career and public profile has steadily climbed, it's not been without personal sacrifice. Another spurned relationship, more fledgling friendships have materialised, only to turn out to be just that; materialistic. 

My Mistakes

I've made some mistakes with my e-commerce site as I relied heavily on one supply chain that let me down badly, which consequently left me out of stock. I've made those tweaks and the business is continuing to grow now in its 5th year. 

Tips - Make sure you're not being held hostage by anyone in any collaboration. Imagine what you'd do if your business partner walked out on you. Imagine if you're employer makes you redundant tomorrow. What transferrable skills do you have? What options are out there should the worse come to the worse? 

How to be more independent - I've learnt the hard way and one of the best words I learnt this year is called 'optionality'. Meaning if one of my videographers calls in sick, my entire campaign isn't going to fall down like a house of cards. I've networked furiously and built my rolodex so now my round table is filled with knights that bring value, different skills, different opinions and counsel that I depend on deeply. 

Plus points this year

The campaigns have been truly wild and humbling. From working with Reiss, to BMW, (more on that next year) the calibre of brands that resonate with my personal style are reaching out to me is very exciting. I know that might sound a little big-headed, but if I don't blow my own trumpet who else will? 

I also got shortlisted for the Vuelio Menswear Blog of the year for the first time. I lost out in the end to a worthy winner in Ape to Gentleman, but it was an honour to be shortlisted, but next time I'll simply have to lobby harder and pay the judges more. 

The year ahead

After listening to a few development classes I aim to lead a more fulfilling life in the new year. What do I mean by fulfilling? Have you ever wondered how rich people in western society can be miserable, yet some of the most impoverished people around the world have such a buoyant approach to life? 

It's because whilst money can make you happy, it can't fulfil you. Only by leading a life that has value, that has meaning, can you feel fulfilled. 

 Anyway, stay tuned for more 'new man' hokum from me in the new year. Thanks again for reading and for all the engagement on my social platforms. I read every comment and appreciate them all. 

Hammond & Co by Patrick Grant devises 'Gentleman's Essential Kit List' for Debenhams

Hammond & Co by Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant has launched a brand new AW18 collection entitled 'Gentleman's Essential Kit List'. 

The ‘Kit List’ is the tailored suit that echoes all the hallmarks of the Hammond & Co brand which has been sold exclusively under the Debenhams umbrella since 2013. 

As some of my readers will already be readily aware, I've had a pathological obsession with Patrick Grant for an indeterminable amount of time. He has successfully rejuvenated Savile Row's Norton & Sons in 2005 before relaunching E.Tautz & Sons as a ready-to-wear label in 2009. 

This current release alchemises the belief that the modern gentleman can simplify his existence with the adoption of a simple versatile wardrobe.

The cut is inspired by classic Savile Row tailoring. The range includes a jacket in single-breasted and double-breasted styles, a single-breasted waistcoat, and two styles of trousers, one at fronted and one pleated, both available with either belt loops, or side adjusters for true English style.

“Hammond & Co. has brought together what I believe are the essentials of every modern gentleman’s wardrobe in one simple kit list.

Seven simple staples that will ensure he is always stylishly and correctly dressed, whatever the occasion. At the heart of our kit list is the essential Savile Row suit; perfectly cut and never-changing in two different colour British-made wools."

Patrick Grant, Hammond & Co. designer

The Savile Row suits are available in two beautiful English-made 100% pure wool fabrics; one a classic mid-grey flannel, and the other a lightweight navy panama, and both fabrics will form an ever present part of the collection.

I've opted for the Charcoal Flannel Savile Row jacket, Trousers £90, Waistcoat £70, Shirt £39, Tie £20, Oxford Shoes £95. It's a modern crisp look. I'm in utter bewilderment of the supreme fit. For sizing I've gone: Suit 38" Trousers 30" Shirt 15.5" Medium, Shoes 8. 

And what I love also about this collection is that these fabrics will always be available. So often I get a suit and of course the seat is the first to show wear, or maybe the elbows on a blazer. When I go back to source a matching pair only to find the supply has been exhausted, I'm left infuriated. 

With this collection, hence the name 'Gentleman's Essential Kit List' you can simply replace the piece you need, ensuring a long and happy life for your suit. Much like you would if you had invested in a suit from Savile Row. 

SHOP THE LOOK

The Top 10 Best Christmas Films of all Time | Must see films this Christmas

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As much as I like to eulogise about spending time with the family, disconnected from all the gadgets and tech, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Thompson family tradition of watching films on the box. 

Especially after a crippling Christmas dinner where one resigns to a horizontal state, utterly enveloped by the couch or beanbag for an indeterminable amount of time. 

I've etched out a list of most Christmassy films I like to watch every year and have done year on year for as far back as I can remember. Leave comment in the section below if you have a favourite. 

Home Alone 1&2

This has a disturbing brilliance. It magically encapsulates everything that I felt as a ten year old growing up watching this. How we strived for independence, freedom to anything we wanted without restraint. The director Chris Columbus has a wonderful, inimitable sensibility for the importance of family, as he demonstrates here, the sequel and in other films such as Mrs Doubtfire. 

Elf

'He's coming here? I know him!' 

It's one of the most highly quotable Christmas films. Also, Elf is showing at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, if you fancy an afternoon of unbridled belly laughs. Who can beat Will Farrell is a comic-weapon in this disarmingly funny holiday comedy.

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Does the spirit of Christmas goes much deeper than tinsel and toys? Jim Carrey swamped in make-up is hacked off and miserable as The Grinch, but gives a lithesome and typically hyperactive performance. It's smartly stylized and truly crowd pleasing. 

The Holiday

We all know what it’s like when you have to family swap at Christmas between partners. It's not easy to be apart but sacrifices sometimes have to be made. The Holiday taps into that sentiment as each agrees to spend the Christmas holiday at the other's home.

Ok so it might be something of a chick-flick, but I'm a self-confessed voracious consumer of chick media. If you're looking for a bit of corny in your life, you've come to the right place. 

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Love Actually

Genuinely one of my favourite films of all time. Not just for Xmas. When that dude starts singing Christmas Carols behind Hugh Grant, just has me in stitches every time. 

It's Bill Nighy's uproarious turn as an over-the-hill rocker promoting a novelty record that really delivers the laughs. 

A Christmas Carol 

This is the Muppets' finest film. In fact when I've been chasing brands for payments recently I've started my emails with 'Tiny Tim stocking is looking a little slim-jim'. People can relate to that. Its mashup of slapstick, songs and literary adaptation is suitably anarchic and no party is as joyous as a Muppet celebration.

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The Snowman 

Amazing to think this film has no dialogue. The 1982 Snowman gently relates, via expert pantomime and orchestral score, a young lad's overnight adventure with his brought-to-life pal. Magical, beautiful and even has David Bowie in it. (Introducing it in bonus versions). 

Miracle on 34th St

Oh Dicky, the late Dicky. Somehow this feels like the role he was born to play right? This film feels like a warm fire at night. Admittedly I've not seen the original, but this one is a satisfying big-screen event for holiday family viewing

The Santa Claus 

Hard to believe that this was Tim Allen's movie debut. There's an effortless quality to his humour that easily translates from the US to the UK mainstream. Despite him being roasted by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes some years back, I've always found him funny and this is a hoot. 

The Harry Potter films

Look these films might not scream Christmas, but they're so much fun and the whole family can watch them. Unlike Die Hard, which is a more enjoyable watch but often lost on the under 10 year olds. 

The wonderful Alan Rickman however, features in both and we should all just take a minute to remember those that won't be with us this Christmas. 

If you think there are any missed off this list that deserve a spot in my Top 10 Best Christmas films of all time, then leave a comment below.

Getting a dog for Christmas? Here are the Pros & Cons from a Dog Owner

It's not a nice thought, but so many dogs are abandoned this time of year and as a dog owner I feel like I need to champion the cause for adoption. The logistics can be daunting, stepping into unchartered waters can also come with its own trepidations, but the positives that come with being a dog owner are insurmountable. 

However, it's only fair to give you a balanced view on what both the pros and cons are for being a dog owner. 


CONS 

Training

  1. Training a dog can be time consuming. You'll need to have patience and develop skills of understanding that as much as we like to humanise our pets, they are still pets at the end of the day. 

  2. You might seek professional help from dog trainers to instil some obedience. This could cost more time and money. 

Mishaps 

  1. You may have to forego that precious rug you brought back from India. Dogs will have accidents, every now and then they will remind you that they are still dogs and if left unattended, will proceed to empty the trash bag in the kitchen, chew through the bean bag, eat all your Easter eggs including the foil. *Chocolate is bad for dogs, so here is a list of foods that can be toxic to dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Costs

  1. You simply cannot have a dog without insurance. It will cost you a fortune in the long run when things start to go wrong and horrible, inevitable decisions need to be made. 

A quick Google search will give you some indication on how much does it cost to insure a dog. With reference to an article on Bought By Many, "The average annual premium for pet insurance costs UK dog owners £287 - equating to just over £23.90 per month, according to Consumer Intelligence data from quotes between May 2017 and May 2018." Although pedigree dogs such as my Charlie (French Bulldog) can cost more, mine is currently at around £120 per month and increases year-on-year.

  2. As well as insurance you'll need to fork out on food, toys, dog sitters, especially during the holidays. 

All weathers 

A dog doesn't have the words 'but it's freezing out there' in its vernacular. They love a walk, they're indifferent to the temperature and they somehow revel in finding puddles to wade and roll through. (Charlie gravitates to all puddles). 

Ok enough depression, let’s talk about some of the positives of being a dog owner? 

PROS

No need for an alarm clock 

Dogs have an amazing internal clock and love routine, so therefore they can act as your alarm clock. You will find yourself becoming a morning person and reaping all the benefits of getting a head start, getting yourself centred before the tirade of Monday morning emails arrive. 

Cheer you up

Dogs are wonderful, doting companions when you're down. I've had a few rough serves this year that has left me down in the mouth. Charlie has become a great wingman in getting me out of the house and bringing a little sunshine to my grey skies. 

Great for fitness

Why else would you want to go for a walk at 7am in the morning in the freezing cold? A dog will leave you no choice and you will easily get to your 10,000 steps a day if you're walking your pet day and night. 

Community

Charlie is a great icebreaker when I'm out in public. He has no agenda and people love to come up and pet him and introduce themselves. Having Charlie on Instagram also is a lot of fun. Sharing tips with other dog owners and engaging with other people outside of the influencer world brings a little levity to my day.