Tips & Research on the Latest Instagram Algorithm Updates in August 2019

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Today I'm going to share some research notes on things going on with the Instagram algorithm. Instagram are targeting a lot of proxies and automation services. We know this because they only used to do 5 updates a year. In the last 2 months they've done 8 consecutive updates every week. Every time on Friday so 3rd parties have to work over the weekend (or in most cases don't) to fix compatibility issues.  

TIP: Don't use 3rd party engagement funnels, especially don't give away your password. Instagram detects each time you enter your password and if you're doing it more frequently then it will target you and more than likely block you. 

If you've experienced a drop off recently in your engagement levels its time to look at some ways to get your spurs back. 

At the end of April Instagram announced there is a connection between followers, friends and stories. These are the most important factors. 

MORE ENGAGING STORIES

You need to level up with your stories and make them more engaging. Polls, questions, share peoples responses and answers. 

The story algorithm has taken over. 

This gives you a greater chance on getting on the Instagram explore page. Previously it just used to be grid posts on the explore page, now they're publishing stories. If you're on the Instagram explore page, you're in a pretty good place. 

Instagram want you to stay on the platform for longer. 

We've always known this. The longer you stay on the platform, the more adverts you'll see, the more money Instagram make. 

So wow does the instagram algorithm work? 

One theory is the 'Casino Effect'. IF you lose every time you hit the slot machine, you'll not get sufficient amounts of dopamine (the feel good chemical that your brain secretes) and you'll lose interest. Same if you win every time, you'll feel like a 2 year old at Christmas that gets too many gifts.

The idea is that you have to keep guessing how your posts will fair. You don't know if you'll get sh*t tonne of likes, or a remarkably low score. Instagram even delay the amount of people that view your stories so you keep checking your feed to see how many people are looking. The reward is more intense when it finally arrives. Genius. 

TIP: Start dm'ing your followers more. Develop better relationships. Even if it's with a couple of emoji's. People get wow'd that you're checking out their stories, they often wonder if they're getting viewed at all! 

Also keep your grid clean and consistent. We like to look at pretty things. We like to see the same filters if its on a page we follow. Don't suddenly switch to black and white for a few weeks and get arty if your audience are craving your unique formula. 

TIP: Ask questions in your captions. Ask them for their thoughts, ask them to rate an idea. Engagement keeps people checking you out and makes sure that your latest content plonks straight to the top of their feed. 

TIP: Check out your insights if you have a business page. See what time people are active and make sure you upload your posts around that time specifically. 

TIP: Tag other users. They will start tagging you in their images and you'll develop stronger relationships and more traction. 

References and research 

How the Instagram Algorithm works

The future of Instagram Growth

Huge Instagram Algorithm Updates 

 

11 Best Fashion Books You Need on Your Shelf

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Today I want to breeze through some of the fashion books that I've read in the past year. Some I use as reference books for blogs, others I use for design inspiration, some I just the like pictures ok? 

I think these fashion books offer something for everyone and I'd love to get some recommendations from you in the comments below. 

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DRESSED TO KILL - JAMES BOND THE SUITED HERO 

The impact of the Bond films on popular culture is impossible to overestimate. (BTW if this is your cup of tea then I can recommend  my friend Pete Brooker's podcast From Tailors With Love where he dedicates an entire 30 minutes every week to the style of James Bond). 

Dressed to Kill follows the sartorial transformations from the 1960s chic of the Nehru-collared jacket in Dr No to the classic Italian tailoring by Brioni in Goldeneye. 

Dressed to Kill is available on AMAZON: 25 GBP

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FASHIONPEDIA 

The visual dictionary of fashion design. This is very much a reference book for me that I must turn to at least 2-3 times a week. It has everything from flat designs, collar types to the anatomy of a mans dress watch. 

From the Fashionary Website: 49 USD (I purchased mine in the Saatchi Gallery).

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ICONS of MEN'S STYLE - JOSH SIMS

I probably started my modest collection with this beautiful book a few years ago. Again this is a great reference guide for me. Behind nearly every item in the modern male wardrobe is a 'first of its kind' - the definitive example., often designed by a single company or brand for specialist use, from which all subsequent versions have evolved (and originals of which are now collected in the booming vintage market). 

Icons of Men's Style: Available from Waterstones for 10 GBP 

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FASHION IN FILM - CHRISTOPHER LAVERTY 

Christopher Laverty is a costume and fashion writer and consultant. Fashion in Film celebrates the contributions of fashion designers to cinema, exploring key garments, what they mean in context of the narrative, and why they are so memorable. Be sure to check out Christopher's blog

Clothes on Film is available through his publisher Laurence King: 30 GBP

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HOUSE OF NUTTER: LANCE RICHARDSON 

House of Nutter tells the story of two gay men who influenced some of the most iconic styles and pop images of the twentieth century. A fascinating read and wonder through 60's, 70's menswear. Anyone who loved Rocketman and is interested in the suits Elton John wore would definitely be interested in this book. Tommy Nutter also designed the clothes worn by 3 of The Beatles on the cover of the Abbey Road album. 

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A HISTORY OF FASHION - J.ANDERSON BLACK & MADGE GARLAND 

This is a real comprehensive view on the subject of fashion. Maybe you'd struggle to take this on your summer hols, it's quite hefty. However, it's a glossy treasure-house of information. I was lucky enough to pick this up in a charity store. Sadly I've not managed to find one online. 

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THE KING OF CARNABY STREET - THE LIFE OF JOHN STEPHEN - JEREMY REED

John Stephen first came to London in 1952 at just eighteen years old, but his expertise and unerring eye for cut and detail propelled him to the front of the fashion brigade. You'll find his blue plaque on the fringe of Carnaby Street. 

Available from Waterstones for 20 GBP

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BOUTIQUE LONDON: A HISTORY: KING'S ROAD to CARNABY STREET - RICHARD LESTER 

To any style conscious Londoner in the sixties just two places mattered: the King's Road and Carnaby Street. By the end of the decade the whole world came to be seen, to take part in the theatre that played out of the new boutiques and onto the street. 

This book is beautiful, wonderful images and really captures the essence of the time. 

By this used on Amazon right now for 15 GBP 

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MAKING THE CUT: RICHARD ANDERSON 

Master cutter Richard Anderson has worked on Savile Row for over 35 years. He started his career at the age of seventeen as an apprentice at Huntsman. In 2001 he co-founded his own Savile Row company, Richard Anderson LTD, with Brian Lishak. 

I learnt a lot from Richard in this book and its beautifully presented. 

Available through Thames and Hudson for 30 GBP

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SAVILE ROW - THE MASTER TAILORS OF SAVILE ROW 

James Sherwood is currently working with Henry Poole I noticed. He did a book with Turnbull and Asser and it's hard to believe that this book is nearly 10 years old. It's the real almanac for Savile Row tailors and it's elite and lustrous history. 

Available on Amazon for 30 GBP. More information on James Sherwood can be found on his website

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THE WORLD'S MOST INFLUENTIAL FASHION DESIGNERS - NOEL PALOMO-LOVINSKI 

Another great reference book for the history of inspiration. Each of the 50 designers is analyzed according to his or her most significant contributions to the dialogue of fashion. There is a special emphasis on who and what influenced each designer, as well as how the designer has inspired others, thereby revealing connections that have helped to shape the history of fashion. 

Buy used from AMAZON for 2 GBP 

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The Perfect Shirt | Top 5 Ways to Know if You’re Buying a Luxury Shirt

Today I’m going to give you 5 things that make the difference on a luxury dress shirt. I’ve been running Hawkins & Shepherd for around 6 years now and have acquired a lot of knowledge and experience in the shirt making industry. Here are some things that I look out for immediately when determining the quality of a shirt.

THE COLLAR

The collar on a man’s dress shirt needs to be high quality. The first thing I look for is edge stitching. What is edge stitching? This is a term given when the stitching runs to the edge of the seam It’s harder to do as a tailor because there is less room for error so therefore it takes longer. It’s a technique that takes greater skill.

Most shirts will have quarter edge stitching.

Another thing to look out for on the collar is whether the collar is non-fused. There will be a lining in a collar that is sometimes fused to the fabric on one if not both sides. It’s a cheaper and quicker way to manufacture shirts. Sadly that adhesive used to fuse the collar can perish and react with the fabric over time and washes. You may have recognised a bubbling effect on your collars if you’re buying entry level shirts. To test whether you are buying a quality dress shirt you should be able to pull the fabric away from the lining on both sides. 

Lastly don’t forget about the removable collar stays. Entry level shirts will have them fused in which can be problematic when ironing. Plus ironing over plastic is not desirable and over time will leave nasty indentations on the collar.

STITCHING

Let’s talking about stitching on a dress shirt. Stitching is the most expensive part when it comes to manufacturing. Especially if the shirt is composed using single needle side seam stitching. (Try saying that after one too many Heinekens). A cheaper method of manufacturing is to use the double needle. But single needle leaves a beautiful finish.  

THE SPLIT YOKE  

The all-important split yoke. I’m talking about the block of fabric situated on the back of the shirt that sits over the shoulders. A split yolk means that 2 pieces of fabric lay over the shoulders. It fits better on the shoulders and there is more flow if you have a split yolk. If there is a pattern shirt then it’s more of a design aspect as to whether you chose to have a split yoke.

Personally I like a non-split yoke when its striped or checked. Watch for a split yoke on a lower quality shirt, quite often the patterns will not match up. 

FRONT PLACKET 

I love it clean no stitching. These might come down to personal preferences but there are certain features that will distinguish a luxury dress shirt.

The front placket should without question have mother of pearl buttons mother of pearl buttons, tightly sewn to the placket.

 Every buttonhole should be sewn vertically, apart from the bottom one. This needs to be sewn horizontally which will allow freedom of movement. The bottom button hole will often be the one that sees the most action and needs to flex with the body.  

Talking of movement, look at the gusset of the shirt. A well-constructed shirt will have the triangle area to allow for more movement. It also cleans the hem to a nice finish.

 Some shirts are over engineered with different fabric on the front. I personally don’t see this as a luxury choice. Just extra fuss and a distraction.

The fabric entry level for a luxury shirt will be a  cotton twin 100's. The higher you go up in the yarn count the finer is going to be and more often the softer. Lower yarn count like 40’s, 60’s will be a thicker fabric and not conducive for a dress shirt.

SLEEVES

It’s crucial that the shoulders line up pattern wise with the arms. Again there should be no fused linings in the cuff. I also look for a smaller button on the sleeve placket. I love double button cuff personally, but that it not deemed a feature of luxury, more tradition. If I have a sharp cut in the collar I would also look the same in the cuff, rounded cuffs and collar. 

The Oblique Life: The Ultimate London Community

Today I'm very pleased to announce the news that Hawkins & Shepherd are now on the Oblique Life platform. People that have subscribed to the Oblique Life membership can now enjoy 15% off Hawkins & Shepherd shirts. Let me tell you about the Oblique Life and why you should sign up. 

The Oblique Life is a lifestyle brand that receives access to an array of high-quality experiences, unique editorial content, and benefits from hand-selected partners. 

The Oblique Life was originally created around a shared vision of helping Londoners meet, connect and engage like they used to, before the days of dating apps and social media. 

London can feel quite all-encompassing sometimes. I can't remember the quote, maybe it was Pepys, but London was once referred to as being something and nothing to everyone at the same time. Meaning, London is your oyster. But it can be all encompassing too. Overwhelming. Disconnected. 

If your family is not in London you can feel like they're on the other side of the world. That's the London bubble effect. 

Life moves faster here. It's 6am starts. It's moving between the raindrops and rush hour on the tube. It's breakneck on foot and gridlock on all roads. 

Whether it’s an exclusive discount or a queue jump, complimentary tickets or special access, they have a commitment to customer service that mirrors the merits of my own brand. Personalisation. 

They have a concierge and lifestyle management service, which helps members save time on researching, planning, and booking, thus enabling them to spend more time doing the things they love. 

Like watching Love Island. Wait, what happened? I meant going to the National Gallery, and stuff. 

Members of The Oblique Life can access their Make It Happen (concierge) service 24/7 via the live chat built into The Oblique Life mobile app.

They organise over 150 experiences a year across all areas of lifestyle; Food & Drink, Music, Culture, Fashion, Travel, Health & Technology. 

How is Hawkins & Shepherd involved with The Oblique Life? 

Yes let me get to that now. Plenty of information is available over on the Oblique Life site about the experiences but here are some of the other benefits you can receive through the Oblique Life platform. 

As a member you'll be offered exclusive discounts with over 70 carefully selected partner brands. 

These include: Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour | 20% off drinks every day. Goat Chelsea | 20% off total bill every day. Little Yellow Door | 15% off total bill every day. Anami London | 20% off all treatments and packages. Elliot Rhodes | 15% off products in store. Appleyard Flowers | 20% off all bouquet deliveries. Laundrapp | 10% off Laundrapp services. 

The Oblique Life Digital Magazine is also an online lifestyle publication. (I'm sure you guys are already aware).

From in-depth editorials and curated guides to videos and podcasts, it's quite something that these guys are doing over there and I'm excited and honoured to be invited into the community.

They accept membership applications throughout the year. If you would like to apply, please visit the following URL to submit your online application: www.theobliquelife.com/apply

Jocks&Nerds Revival: Can Print Magazines go Advertisement-Free?

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Jocks & Nerds returns after a 2-year hiatus. Founder and Editor, Marcus Agerman Ross spoke to one of my contributors Pete Brooker about why he has revived the brand and got his take on the current climate for the print industry. 

Why did we take two years out and what have you learnt in your two year sabbatical?

I was forced to close it down because the business didn’t work anymore. When I realised I had to shut it down I realised I was exhausted, physically and emotionally - aside from the financial pain of it all. I always says there’s only one thing harder than running a business and that’s running a business that’s failing. It’s a horrible place to be.

I started working over 20 years ago and, for better or for worse, I saw what I did as journalism and that journalism was something independent - an important view on the world.

That has all been stripped away before our eyes - I don’t think anyone really understood how it happened or how quickly. (When I started Jocks&Nerds Instagram didn’t even exist and smartphones where a totally new thing!!)

I found myself in a tough situation. Middle-aged with professional experience in only one industry - one that essentially no longer exists. The skills people want today are brand new and I find them really boring.

(I was actually looking at the site of a fairly creative company recently - not for work but for something else - I clicked on their jobs board and all the jobs were things like UX developer, coder, etc!!) I genuinely think it’s very hard to be a creative professional right now. There used to be outlets for creativity that might not have paid so well as the commercial work but all of those avenues are being torn down by the new technology.

I looked for work in places where I thought my skill sets and experience would be really valued but I got nowhere. I also looked at working in totally new sectors but nothing was really coming together.

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In that time, I decided to start a Jocks&Nerds radio show on Soho Radio so that we could keep the name alive and some connection with our audience. I think radio/podcasts are about the only place where you can be journalistic and independent right now. There’s no money in it but there’s essentially no cost either so you can reach people fairly easily and say what you want. It doesn’t tick every box for what I want to say as an editor but it is very useful.

Over that period I kept meeting readers and fans of the mag who told me how much they missed and that there was nothing else out there. I realised that although the advertising had gone, the readership still remained and I started to think how I might be able to put something back together. That was really the start of it.

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The word is there will be no advertising this time around in Jocks & Nerds, how do you expect to finance the publication?

I’m incredibly lucky that I have managed to build an incredible team of contributors around Jocks&Nerds who believe passionately in what we are trying to do and that we stand up for something important that no one else is doing right now. They give up their own time, money and energy to help make it happen.

Now I’m printing the magazine digitally which means I don’t have to print more copies than I can sell. The downside of this the unit cost is really high hence the higher cover price but it is the only way to get it out.

In reality I’ll lose money doing it but I can’t see any other way right now. I value complete control and the ability to do something of value over advertising. Besides, advertisers ultimately destroyed what we were doing in the first place so it’s much better not to have them.

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Were you tempted to completely rebrand?

We already have a recognisable name and we’ve built a sizeable, loyal audience over the best part of a decade so it makes sense to continue as Jocks & Nerds. But we have redesigned the magazine and made a new logo.

This is partly down to the fact that the content is slightly different now and we want people to regard it more as a book or periodical than a magazine - it’s designed to be archival and of value on the bookshelf.

I was lucky that the art director who worked with me at the very beginning, Phil Buckingham, was keen to get involved again. He knows the ethos behind the magazine inside out and knows how to work with me so that was really helpful in this process.

What part of the physical print format did you miss most whilst you were away?

I’ve said this many times recently but I think it’s a really important point. Magazines are in many ways completely anachronistic today whilst also being vitally important. There are issues about them being hugely expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, slow, bad for the environment, etc.

Equally, they are important because no new media format is able to do what magazines do. By that I mean if you think of audio (music, radio, etc) and visual (TV and film) the end user experience isn’t really altered. If anything some things are better. Digital radio is crystal clear and podcasts can be listened to on the go.

But magazines which are edited around a theme, idea or view on the world, that use design as an integral part of the editorial voice, that combine imagery and text in a considered way, that have scale and impact - nothing else exists that can do that - so they are important if those things are valued and I mean that from an editor/journalist point of view.

As I said at the top, the business model is broken so I hope there can be a new way forward with printing costs, distribution, etc and a break-up of the tech oligopolies somewhere down the line. Independent voices like ours are being crushed and I think it will set a dangerous precedent for media going forward.

More of this interview can be found on Pete’s site, Human Research.

 

You can find all available stockists for Jocks&Nerds through their website.

Introducing Sniph: Explore the Scents

Today I'm going to introduce you to a new fragrance company out of Sweden called SNIPH. I flew out to their Headquarters in Stockholm for a couple of days and was introduced officially to the brand.

SO WHAT IS SNIPH? 

In a nutshell it is a monthly fragrance discovery service. They cater for men’s, women’s and unisex perfumes so this is truly something for everyone.

The idea is quite simple. The expert perfumers at SNIPH have already sampled hundreds of artisanal scents from the best boutique perfume studios around the world and keep searching globally to find new niche and exclusive fragrances for you. They then select the ones they think you’ll like best and sort them out in their 6 distinctive collections.

Gradually your selection gets more refined as SNIPH comes accustomed to the scents that you prefer.

Finding a new perfume can be tedious. Sniph is a discovery service for perfume that enables you to try new perfumes. Every month they deliver carefully selected perfumes from exclusive brands in a smart and chic 8ml bottle. With 6 distinctive collections to choose from, you’ll receive a new fragrance that is perfectly tailored to you every month, directly to your door. With no commitments and always free shipping. Basically, they are here to make it simple and fun for you to explore new scents, for you to fall in love with and for any mood or occasion. Perfect for finding your new signature scent, or building a scent wardrobe.

They don't do high-street brands, instead they celebrate uniqueness and are welcoming you into the hidden world of scents to let you enjoy carefully selected perfumes from exclusive brands. Sniph partners with amazing perfume houses worldwide. This means the scents in your subscription may be available in the UK or exclusively available through Sniph.

BUT I LIKE MY OWN FRAGRANCE, WHY WOULD SNIPH WORK FOR ME? 

Firstly, it's always good to mix and match your fragrances. I'm a loyal lover and brand ambassador for Jo Malone London for example, but my shelf is not exclusive to their scents.

By experimenting with different fragrances from SNIPH this enables you to 'explore the world of scents' (to coin their campaign slogan).

You also might like to have some of the heavy lifting taken away from you when it comes to shopping for fragrances. Let someone else with experience select a fragrance for you.

Another thing, that I learned during these days with Sniph in Sweden, is the power of scent. Scent has the power to stir emotions, awaken memories, set moods and captivate the imagination.

Think about it, would you want to smell the same at an important meeting and at a date?

 With this being said a scent wardrobe, where you choose your scent after mood and occasion, is the new way of looking at scent. And to be honest there is a full world out there of amazing scents that would be a shame to miss out on. 

ANY OTHER BENEFITS FOR USING SNIPH? 

Sure, they come in very handy travel vials together with a neat and smart case. Less than 100ml which is also convenient for the bathroom. I know it sounds like woe is me sometimes, but I don't always have the space for all the fragrances on my nightstand or bathroom shelf. (Remember this is London, no walk-in wardrobes here).

They are also really hear to share their love for scent with the world and invite people in to their world. To educate people about the world of scents is one of their missions which means that you will never just receive a random scent with learning about it as well. 

HOW WAS THE TRIP CARL? 

Thanks for asking guys, it was short and sweet but a very interesting and relaxing affair. You may have seen from my stories I enjoyed some yoga sessions at the Djursholm Country Club.

It was a perfect induction into sensory awakening. How often do we close our eyes and listen to what it is we're smelling. 

So much focus is on the visual. Instagram is a proven benefactor of that. Imagine an APP that delivered a scent to your phone. (Jesus that's a great idea, Zuckerberg lets schedule a meeting).

After that we made a flower crown and had some drinks. You know, standard Swedish customs. 

In Sweden they have a Midsummer tradition where you place 7 different flowers under your pillow. You then dream of your one true love.

SNIPH had a neat twist on this tradition and left 7 different fragrances for us to spray on our pillow. I dreamt of ice cream!

I'd like to thank SNIPH for inviting me to Sweden and introducing me to their brand. I had a real sense of community and kinship with the founders and staff. I'll be writing more about SNIPH and the fragrances I receive in later posts.

SNIPH offer subscriptions for 14 GBP a month with free delivery. I am very pleased to be a SNIPH ambassador and all thoughts here are my own. 

DISCOUNT CODE: Use my personalised discount code below which will give you 25% OFF.

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Is it Too Late to become an Instagram Star?

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Are you thinking now is the time to make a big push on your Instagram account? It's getting a lot of traction but now we need to monetise the traffic?

I think a lot of people have that leap of faith moment, but are unsure on whether they've missed the influencer boat. 

Is it too late to enter a saturated market with only a modicum of the following that some of the big boys have?

You might want to first ask yourself the following questions such as Why do you want to become an Influencer? 

  1. Is it to get freebies?

  2. Is it because your current job sucks and you need a way out that doesn't involve study or rebranding?

  3. Did you just catch your own reflection and think you're too good looking to be working as a cashier or flipping burgers?

Ok so you whatever the reason, let me just emphasise that I know very few influencers, even the big ones, that have given up the day jobs to leverage their social media accounts. Especially a lot of friends I have in the industry will often utilise other content related skills. Videography, podcasting, ghost writing etc. 

My short answer is, NOPE, never too late.

I like this article from Nicolas Cole who posed a similar question in INC magazine. Basically none of the monoliths in the tech industry today knew their terrain when they first started out. 

Even AMAZON started solely selling books. Facebook was exclusive to University students. Let's just say when you started your page you might have been posting pictures of your chicken dinner, now you want to focus on fashion or beauty products. 

Who cares, what you want to post about. So long as it's a genuine interest of yours. 

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Here are 3 chunky facts for you to take away:

1 billion people use Instagram every month

I recommend you check out this article on Hootsuite that gives you the skinny on some Instagram facts for 2019. 500 million people use Instagram every day. That's a huge global resource and if you're telling me that your genre is saturated then perhaps you need to find the niche within a niche. 

OR just think logistically, that you have the potential to reach 500 million people. No matter if there's a bunch of you all focusing on the same thing, no one is doing it the way you're doing it. 

Instagram Posts That Include a Location Receive 79% More Engagement

Check out some more statistics about Instagram in an article on Influencer Marketing Hub. What does this tell you? That some people still don't know how to truly leverage their audience potential.

Imagine if you somehow did shed tonnes more research than the person who is competing for your campaign, on how to capitalise on a theme or product, then all of a sudden it's not such a saturated market after all. You can climb the ladder and get a bigger market share. 

Photos With Faces Get 38% More Likes

I pulled this one from Omnicore. So imagine what people are engaging with? People. The personal touch. The human element. No matter what your face looks like statistics show that it’s what people are more interested in engaging with. 

I hope this has helped. I hope you find what you're looking for on Instagram. Remember it is work, although not real work

The Best Wildlife Instagrammers to Follow

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Awhile back I did an article on The Best French Bulldogs to follow on Instagram. Sure I was just killing time between flights, but it actually got a great response. It's prompted me to do another one in a similar vein, this time the best Wildlife Photographers on Instagram.

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WILDLIFEPHOTO.NATURE

Wow. Simply wow. Just makes you thankful that you're an apex predator right? Can you imagine sharing the same postcode as some of these guys? Your head would be on a constant swivel, wondering if today's the day you're going to be eaten alive.

Also I heard the lions always start with the wedding vegetables because it’s like a delicacy for them. What a way to go eh?

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WWF International 

A very important account to follow if you want to support the protection of wildlife. I used to sponsor a Tiger back in the day through the WWF. His name was Rocky. It was actually quite rewarding. Rocky would send me letters letting me know how my five pound a month is helping him sustain a better life in the wilderness. Although I suspect he just spent it on fags and booze. Who can blame him.

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KEVIN MITCHELL PHOTO 

From Kevin's bio. 'Landscape, wildlife and travel photography. Prints available through my website.' Kevin centres heavily on the birds. As we all do I suppose. A lot of owls in his photos.

Do you ever wonder why we consider owls to be wise? They really flatter to deceive owls don't they? They look clever, but really, have you ever seen an owl on Countdown? Ever seen an owl in a lab coat working on a vaccine to prevent the common cold?

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Varun Aditya

From his bio. 'Natgeo Nature Photographer of the year 2016 (1st prize)' His photos are truly spectacular. What's more amazing is that someone else must have beaten him to the NatGeo pic of the year 2017/18. I wonder if I send in my pictures of Charlie chewing on the recycling I'd be in with a shot of winning that thing.

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Florian Schulz Visuals

From his bio 'Florian Schulz. Photographer | Filmmaker | Speaker Contributor to National Geographic. Passionate about protecting earth’s wilderness areas and its wildlife.'

There's something fascinating about bears right? I mean more so than any other animal. I love the fact that in all the survival guides that tell you to puff your chest out and make yourself big if confronted by a bear. Whatever you do don't run.

Does anyone believe that a Kodiak Bear weighing in at half a tonne in pure muscle is going to think twice about running scared just because mini-me is flexing his 38" chest? I'll run for the hills if it’s all the same.

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Laurent Ballesta

From his bio 'Laurent Ballesta - Leader of GOMBESSA Expeditions - Underwater Photographer - Marine biologist.'

Does anyone have an unhealthy fear of the ocean because they saw the movie Jaws way to young? Makes sense thought right? The land is our domain, the sea is theirs. Think of it this way. If you saw a Japanese Spider Crab at the bottom of your local swimming pool, you'd have the lifeguard remove it before you went anywhere near it.

Same but different in my eyes.

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Beverly Joubert

From her bio. 'Award-winning photographer & filmmaker. @dereckjoubert & I produce African wildlife conservation documentaries. More images at Natgeocreative.com'.

What's your favourite nature film? Mine has got to be Bigfoot & the Hendersons. Only messin'. Although that was a great film from what I remember. Did you know that the guy who played Bigfoot also played Predator? Anyway what was I on about. OK top of my head, best three wildlife movies:

  1. Turner & Hooch

  2. Planet of the Apes  (any of the Andy Serkis ones).

  3. The Incredible Journey

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Wildlife

Do you know what I completely forgot about that Grizzly documentary. About the dude that took his wife to Bear land and got eaten. Apparently the woman tried to stop the bear from eating him and gotten too.

Now THAT is the kind of woman I'm after. A woman that will jump on the back of a Grizzly Bear and stop it from eating me.

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Tommas On Photo

From his bio. 'Wildlife Photographer. Tom Mason. Wildlife Photojournalist. YouTuber. Nikon Europe Optics Ambassador.'

Guys I'm running out of steam with the wildlife captions here. Forgive me, I'm just gaging to get a top ten listicle together. Does it really matter what I write? Nothing is going to trump to Elephant Seal head-butting each other right?

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Mp Wildlife

And that's a wrap folks. I hope you've enjoyed this one. I think after this I'm going to book some tickets and get over to South Africa for a Safari.

My Thoughts on 3 Month Achievable Body Goals

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Is anyone else feeling the footy void? Luckily we have the women’s World Cup to carry us over for a few weeks but then what happens after that?

Maybe instead of looking around for discounts on your Sky Sports subscription, it's time for some physical action.

What can we do before the start of the next season? What kind of body goals are achievable before the start of the Premier League's 2019/20 season on Saturday 10 August 2019. How do we achieve them?

Try for 3 months

Cut out bread. Cut out sweets. Get off your phone and take control.

Plank Challenges: 

You've heard of the 30 day plank challenge? Well why not stretch that out. The plank challenge encourages routine, discipline and is one of the best exercises for developing your core. Grab a matt, do it first thing while the kettle is boiling, add more time incrementally for better results.

Regain Your Fitness Plan:

Take a look at other plans that are specifically designed to help you shed weight. Regain Your Fitness’s online fitness programs for women and men boast that past clients have lost 7 – 10 kg in the first 30 days. I'm not affiliated but I've done some HIIT training before and I can tell you it's gruelling, but worth it.

Start KOBOX

I am a brand ambassador for KOBOX and I can tell you that the classes are fantastic. The instructors are like family and it's a very sociable way of working out. If you stick to weekly classes you will not only increase your overall stamina but will be well on your way to learning a new skill.

Personal Trainer 

As a rule of thumb, the average amount a personal trainer in the UK will charge is around £30 an hour. Though if you're London based that can rise quite steeply.

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Set aside a budget. Develop a plan with a personal trainer and explain the body goals you would like to achieve. Have pictures of naked dudes at the ready to help your trainer. Only kidding. Don't be weird.

Remember the Diet

So how much weight can you realistically lose in 3 months? You can possibly lose as much as 30 pounds according to this article by Live Strong.  But so much centres around your ability to maintain discipline around your diet. A low-calorie, highly nutritious eating plan combined with increased physical activity brings about weight loss.

Gadgets that will help you lose weight

Lemon squeezers, blenders (not juicers) veggie steamer and salad tossers. You can find a bunch more on the Everyday Health site. I'd say out of all the gadgets, the best one is the alarm clock. Get up early, don't dodge the best part of the day when no one is around.

Best Apps to help you lose Weight

Check out all the fat-busting apps in this article by Gotta be Mobile. Personally I'm always keeping an eye on the step count and know some friends have eulogised over Tabatas which is themed around more HIIT routines. (High Intensity Interval Training).

If you so happen to find yourself in a Novotel hotel like I was last week, check out the CALM app they have which helps facilitate sleep, positivity and meditation. All crucial ingredients if you're serious about achieving your body goals.

Document your 3 month work out

Be honest with yourself. Set yourself some very open goals with your online audience and pictures of yourself naked. Only kidding, come on, liven up!

But take personal pictures of yourself in the mirror. It's not easy to see gradual improvement but you will come a long way within 3 months and before you know it your body transformation will be there for everyone to see.

Your Fail-Safe Father’s Day Gifting Guide

Father's Day is upon us people. This year I've collaborated with Boots to provide you with a Fail-Safe Father’s Day Gifting guide for the ultimate Father’s Day gifts. All the products that you see featured I've selected as the gems I'd personally buy for my Father.

I'm also running a competition that you can enter by leaving a comment on this post. The competition winner will receive a free gift from the Boots Father’s Day page. All you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of the Blog, Mention one thing you're going to be doing or gifting your Father this Father's Day. 

We'll pick the names from random and will announce the winner by email. 

What are the best Father's Day presents? 

It can be a nightmare to know what to get your Father for Father's Day. Ok you might have the box of Hazelnut Whirls already in the bag, but once the sugar spike is over what else surely your Dad is worth more than a fleeting spike in his blood sugar levels? 

I'll get to the Boots gifting guide momentarily, but first here are some suggestions for places and activities that you can enjoy together with your Father. 

RULES RESTAURANT 

It's the oldest restaurant in London and right in the heart of Covent Garden. It has plenty of game dishes (which all Dad's love). Proper British cuisine like Pie and Mash, Steak & Ale pie, Pheasant etc. It's typically very busy and you'll have to book. 

BOND IN MOTION 

And what Dad doesn't like a James Bond movie. Just over the road from Rules Restaurant is the London Film Museum. In the London film museum you can see all the cars featured in the James Bond movies. There's also costumes worn by Roger Moore and Daniel Craig, as well as a fantastic gift shop.

LONDON WALK

If the weather is good you should treat your Dad to a London Walk this Father's Day. There are many walks to choose from to match his predilections. The Beatles Walk, The Jack The Ripper Walk, The Hidden London Walk etc. It's relatively inexpensive (10 GBP per person last time I checked). Each walk brings a fascinating insight into London's beautiful history. 

A COCKTAIL AT THE CONNAUGHT 

Yes you can take your Father anywhere, so why The Connaught? Well the interiors are just extra special. They have their own Martini Tray and bespoke bitters so you can have a very personalised tailor-made Martini experience. All the mixologists are consummate professionals with an encyclopaedic brain for remembering cocktails. However, ask for Walter, I've found him to be the most flamboyant. 

There are some activities you can contemplate. Now for the Father's Day gifting guide. Neigh, The FAIL-SAFE gifting guide. You can't go wrong with these items. 

THE FAIL SAFE FATHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE

L'Oreal Men Expert The Daily Expert Gift Set

Your Dad will thank you for levelling up his grooming routine with this Daily Expert Gift Set from L'Oreal. It has the essentials, the Deodorant, the moisturiser and the all-important eye-roll on to help combat fatigue. It's a giveaway price, currently at 9.99 GBP. 

L'Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Anti-Fatigue Face Wash 100ml

Sticking with the grooming line, this L'Oreal anti-fatigue face wash is just what your Dad will need to get him through the day. After all he has to put up with us right? Not to mention he needs to look his Sunday best when you take him out for that surprise London activity. 

L'Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Deep Exfoliating Face Scrub 100ml

If your Dad is anything like my Dad he's not one for spending much time in front of the mirror. But that's all going to change and my Dad is now dependent on me when it comes to providing him grooming advice. The Hydra Energetic Deep Exfoliating face scrub deeply purifies and cleanses the skin, removes impurities and excess shine, and helps to unblock pores.

BOSS Bottled Eau de Toilette 50ml

This is the true embodiment of Fail-Safe. A fragrance which remains as contemporary and relevant today as it was at launch 20 years ago.

A very woody, - citrusy fragrance that has great silage. More notably it's not overtly sweet. A very saccharin sweet fragrance doesn't sit well on the seasoned gentleman. BOSS Bottled Eau de Toilette has all the character synonymous with tradition and masculinity.

Gucci Guilty Cologne Pour Homme Eau de Toilette 90ml

If you want to go slightly up market then how about the Gucci Guilty Cologne Pour Homme Eau de Toilette. This has a medium intensity that is a bit more exotic than the Boss one. If your Father is a fan of the Mediterranean then this Gucci fragrance carries all the hallmarks with the intense heart of Spanish Cypress Essence, its heady resinous tones uplifted with elegant floral notes including Heliotropine and Violet. 

The Father’s Day Essentials

Treat your Father with the all-in-one gift set designed to start off your day the right way. The gift set comprises of 3 male grooming entry level essentials, moisturiser, eye-roll on and deodorant.

Does your Dad have a short beard or stubble? Then why not treat him to a ‘The Beard Club’ essentials gift set by L’Oreal. Wash, moisturise and style that beard with this grooming set which is enriched with cedarwood essential oils.

So your Father may not be a fan of facial hair, which means he likes to be clean shaven. Treat him to Harry’s shaving products direct from Boots. I personally would recommend a trio of Harry’s Shave Gel, Harry’s Post Shave Balm and Harry’s Face Lotion.

Imagine you and your Dad spending some rest and relaxation time watching something on the Discovery channel whilst wearing the L'Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Hydra Energy Face Masks. A great talking point and a bit of fun, plus your skin will be feeling refreshed for good measure.

Now on to three fragrances that will be a guaranteed Father’s Day present success story. All three are popular and mainstream for a reason; affordable and luxurious, your Dad will love them. Paco Rabanne 1 Million EDT is a fresh, spicy, leathery fragrance. Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male EDT is sweet and spicy. Whereas Gentlemen Givenchy EDT would be described as masculine and woody.


ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

*This post is an advertised collaboration with Boots but all thoughts are my own.

13 at KOBOX: The New Boutique Pay-As-You Gym Studio

As a proud ambassador of KOBOX I'm very pleased to announce a new option to their work out schedule.

For anyone not wanting to be tied to a gym membership this is for you. For anyone fed-up with not being able to access their workout station due to overcrowding, this is for you.

At KOBOX 13 you have all the space and time to train how and when you like. It's festooned with all the trimmings you'd expect from a KOBOX gym. There's state-of-the-art equipment as well as a full size boxing ring as its centrepiece.

The concept is brilliant. I'm not claiming it's solely original or exclusive to KOBOX, you'll find others like Barry's offer a similar format. But Barry's have a PT that offers a pre-programmed schedule to around 40 people. KOBOX has more flexibility, you can work out at your leisure or have the KOBOX team organise your station before your arrival.

I had the option of having a programme put together for me by either Toby or Shane the trainers, targeted towards my body goals. It's a unique and holistic approach to working out.

This is the response I got from KOBOX when I booked a 13 Class.

“Hi Carl

Hope you are good? I see you’re booked in with a few space for a session with us tomorrow. If you need help planning what you want to do when you’re here then please let us know. We’d be happy to prepare a training plan that will make sure that you get the best out of your visit. Just let us know what you want, maybe you want to sweat, maybe you want to lift, maybe there is a specific body part you want to work on, or a sport you are training for. Let us know and we’ll have it ready when you arrive. 

If you want to come and just use the space yourself that’s also cool."

FINAL THOUGHTS

What I loved was the freedom it gave me. I felt like I owned the place. Very few people, easy access to all the equipment. It allowed me to focus on what I came to achieve. It's a perfect way to train if you're working out infrequently, maybe you're not in the City that often. Perhaps you just enjoy the freedom of space and don't want to hang around waiting for your station to free up.

It's located on the first floor of KOBOX's new flagship Chelsea studio - 107 King's Road, SW3 4PA

https://www.koboxboxingclub.com

Top Quotes & Thoughts on Couple Goals

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We all see the hashtag of the perfect couples chinking champagne flutes on the veranda overlooking the perfect sunset, #couplegoals. Surely there's more to life than trying to outdo our neighbours with staged aspiration? And since when did the zenith for couples become sharing a daiquiri in a beach hut somewhere off the Maldives?

I guess we all have our own couple couples. Our own enshrined image of unachievable perfection. I've put down some thoughts, researched other blogs, quotes and notes and where relevant have tried to cite the authors best I can. 

  • 'The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.' - Ernest Hemingway

  • 'The secret to a lasting relationship? Plenty of square footage and two Tivo's.' (Television recorders) - Adam Carolla 

  • 'What I want in a woman is protection. Loyalty. Companionship. Loyalty, friendship, companionship, ferociousness. I want her to protect me, and have my back to the bitter end. If I have a fight, I want her to jump in. Even if I'm winning; even if she's ninety pounds.' - Mike Tyson

  • 'Most relationship fail because of lot of assumptions, accusations, jumping into conclusions without confirmation.' ― De philosopher DJ Kyos

  • 'It’s a topsy-turvy world, Jane, and maybe the problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans, but this is OUR hill, and these are OUR beans.' - Frank Drebin 

  • 'Grab her by the waist, push her up against the wall, kiss her and tell her she's beautiful. It's all every girl wants. You just need to find the courage to do it.' - Pinterest

  • Leia - 'I love you.' Han - 'I know.' The Empire Strikes Back 

  • 'I'm getting stronger in my weakness because of you.'  - Rob Johnson 

  • 'I didn't need you to fix me, I needed you to love me while I fix someone else.' - Pinterest

  • Paulie - 'I don't get it, what's the attraction?' Rocky - 'Fills gaps I guess.' Paulie - 'What's gaps?' Rocky - 'I've got gaps, she's got gaps. Together we fill gaps.' Rocky 

  • 'I may not always love you, but as long as there are stars above you, you never to doubt it, I'll make you so sure about it. And God Only Knows what I'll be without you.' - Beach Boys

  • 'You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.' Gone With the Wind 

  • 'You make me want to be a better man.' - As Good As It Gets

  • 'George has got a love in his life and she's sticking with him. Do you know why? He bought her chairs. That's pretty smart to me. Every woman has her chairs something she needs to put herself into.' Phenomenon 


Some Positive Quotes To Get You By

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Sometimes you just need a mantra. A saying that you repeat in your mind until it becomes fused to the walls of your cranium. We all tend to slap ourselves in front of the mirror from time to time and call ourselves champs. 'You can do it Bro!!'

But there must be more positive sayings out there other than 'you got this' or 'man up p*ssy'. I've done some research, pulled together some notes, quotes and funnies that you can take on and make your own. Enjoy.

  1. 'Think big, be big my man'. Freddie Bauer, Splash

  2. 'I walk into the room expecting the best.' Pinterest

  3. 'Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f*ck the prom queen.' - Mason, The Rock.

  4. 'We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!' - President, Independence Day. (Modified from Shakespeare Henry V).

  5. 'You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!' Rocky, Balboa

  6. 'Once you carry your own water, you'll learn the value of every drop.' Pinterest

  7. 'Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.'– Ray Kroc

  8. 'Let's make this the best show we've ever done.' Jerry Springer, ahead of every meeting for every show he recorded.

  9. 'My style motto is pretty classic: you give off a positive energy when you wear what you're most comfortable in.' Petra Collins

  10. 'One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don't feel like doing it.' – Unknown

  11. 'I will not apologise for who I am. I will not apologise for what I need. I will not apologise for what I WANT!' - Frank T.J Mackey - Magnolia

  12. 'Every passing minute is another opportunity to turn it all around'. - Sophia, Vanilla Sky

  13. 'Fake It Until You Make It! Act As If You Had All The Confidence You Require Until It Becomes Your Reality.' – Brian Tracy

  14. 'Act as if you are the president of this firm. Act as if you have a nine inch c*ck'. Jim Young, Boiler Room.

  15. 'Don't let the bast*rds get you down'. Kris Kristofferson

  16. 'Don't let the bad days make you think you have a bad life.' Pinterest.

  17. 'You got the prospects comin' in; you think they came in to get out of the rain? Guy doesn't walk on the lot unless he wants to buy. Sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?' - Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross.

  18. 'The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.' Pinterest

  19. 'I am a very positive thinker, and I think that is what helps me the most in difficult moments.' Roger Federer

  20.  'Take a deep breath and remember who the f*ck you are.' Pinterest

 

Top Quotes About Coffee

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Have you ever tried giving up caffeine for week? It's just hell on earth. I can quit drinking. I can quit the Vienetta buffet size packs. But God damn the last thing I'll give up is caffeine. When I visited The Farm in San Benito last month I managed to kick the caffeine to the curb for a few days.

That was easy. I was horizontal for 90% of the time. Now I'm having to engage my brain, get early flights, write on the go, the caffeine is a crucial ingredient to me functioning. I've since picked up some interesting notes and funnies on coffee that I wanted to share with you all today. 

  1. 'As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?' ― Cassandra Clare

  2. 'I take it black, like my men.' - Young girl. Airplane

  3. 'I like my women like I like my coffee, in a plastic cup.' - Eddie Izzard. 

  4. 'If you like decaf then you don't like coffee.' - Adam Carolla

  5. May your coffee be strong and your Monday be short. – Unknown

  6. 'If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.' - Abraham Lincoln. 

  7. ‘I don't drink coffee at work, I don't need to be stimulated for that job.’ - Anon. 

  8. ‘I KNOW I'm a team player because I always ask if anyone else wants coffee.’ - Anon.

  9. ‘The only people that think coffee is overrated are cocaine addicts.’ - Anon.

  10. 'Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.' — David Lynch

  11. 'Way too much coffee. But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever.'David Letterman

  12. 'I'm the best at making coffee. If only I could make love like I make coffee I'd have them queueing round the block.' - Anon. 

  13. 'I don't drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.' - Pinterest. 

  14. 'She reeked of coffee. And I respected that.' - Anon.

  15. 'The guy who tells he can't have coffee after 2pm because he won't sleep at night. I can't hang with that guy.' - Anon 

  16. 'Last night I wanted to drink coffee. This morning I am drinking coffee. Follow your dreams people.' - Pinterest. 

  17. 'Two things I want to know on a first date. Does she want kids, does she drink coffee. The rest can be worked on.' - Anon. 

  18. 'Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your coffee cup glued to your right hand.' - Anon. 

  19. 'The fact they always provide an equal amount of coffee and decaf in hotel rooms and breakfast bars, is just a sign of how much we still have to learn as a society.' - Anon. 

  20. 'You can't technically call this first class if you're out of coffee.' - Anon. 

  21. 'I've made it from the bed to the coffee maker. There's no stopping me now.' - Pinterest

  22. 'All geniuses like coffee. Beethoven even counted his coffee beans for every cup for Christ's sake.' - Anon. 

  23. 'I make coffee disappear, what's your super power?' - Pinterest. 

The Things I've Learnt From Russell Brand

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Whilst on my travels I've been watching a few Russell Brand YouTube videos recommended by a friend. Russell has got deeply bearded and philosophical about life, like we all do when we encroach on middle age. 

I thought I'd share with you some of the things I've picked up from listening to his podcast, Under the Skin, and his counselling sessions on YouTube. 

ON ATTACHMENT 

From Russell..

"People forming attachments to people. We only notice the negative ones. Negative attachment suggests that you're drawn to people that don't make you feel good about yourself. 

We then get involved in a cycle of relationships that you're unable to break often through fear. 'If I leave this relationship I won’t survive'. You need support from your need mentors that have been there and have overcome it. You need to help cultivate your sense that you have the resources in you to overcome it. A bit of self-belief, a bit of intestinal fortitude." 

What I did

It was an eye opener for me. I've been drawn to the wrong flame for a while. Constantly going back for more hurt, like I know it awaits. Like it has a welcome mat laid out for me alone. 

So I took Russell's advice. I called on some people I knew that had been through this. Asked them what kind of resources did they call upon to get over such mental hurdles. One friend said he forced himself to write down 100 things about himself that made him unique. 

He then made a list every day of ten positive things he had done. Even if they were little things like 10 press ups. Or called an old friend. It filling out that list it would make him look for positive and productive actions. 

That's what you need to turn things around. Change your mental landscape. 

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HOLDING A GRUDGE 

What Russell says.. 

"Holding a grudge. It's a resentment, its serious thing. If you have a grudge, loads of people in my past, the relationships I had, didn't end it the way I wanted it to. 

People live in a world with instincts, people have collisions. 

We forgive them. It's our job to forgive them. We forgive them. Don't say it to them, say it to yourself. 

Got a grudge you used to be in a relationship with, did I do anything to them, was I negligent? If you're willing to make amends, then you'll find you move forward in your ability to forgive." 

What I did.. 

I have been thinking recently of people that have done me a 'disservice'. People have come after me this year, I've spoken about that in previous blogs. I have to forgive them. I can't waste any more energy on bitter thoughts. 

I am capable of forgiveness so I've employed that facet of my nature. Conversely I've also talked openly about my misgivings. My flaws and the things I've done wrong that might have invite this level of hatred. I feel like I've forgiven myself in the process. Time to move on. I'm a shark baby, need to keep moving forward. 

LAZYNESS

What Russell says.. 

"What about the Rock and Mark Wahlberg getting up at 3am to do push ups in cryo chambers. 

It’s hard to get up at 7am. I'd like to stay in bed. I love to be cosy and snug. Don't we all. But then those feelings are always followed by anxiety and depression that you should be doing something else. 

There's moral attachment to actions and objects. The work ethic is intrinsically linked to morality, the dream of individualism from inner self you manifest these great lives, the apex of human achievements. It's very American isn't it. 

But then you look at cats and dogs doing nothing bugger all. And they're doing as good as you.

Laziness a nihilism. A personal nihilism. What's the point in doing anything. It's ok to rest, relax, important to have discipline. Find your own standards, abide by them. 

Laziness is only relevant if you feel you're not fulfilling your potential."

What I Did.. 

I've learned to accept that I can't get around to doing everything. I've made my peace with that. I wanted to release a podcast last year. Bought all the gear, did all the research. even interviewed my first guest. But there are only a certain amount of hours in the day. I couldn't allocate any time to it. 

This isn't because I'm lazy. I didn't do it because I couldn't be arsed. Similarly I'm not on holiday to avoid work. I'm working believe me. I just post the idyllic Instagram posts to throw you all off the scent. 

What I learned from Russell Brand was to abide by my own rules. Implement my own disciplines. I won't ever be lazy, but I need to learn that it's ok to sleep in once in a while. Not all of us want to get up at 3am. Screw that. 

 

How to Completely Renovate Your London Home in 6 Weeks

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I've now finished my Asian tour and now back home in London as I'm missed my dog Charlie, family and home. Talking of home, I recently saw a 3D property scan by my friend and guest editor Pete Brooker from 3D Property Scanning.

After a quick chat we agreed it would make for an interesting feature on the blog. Rather than regurgitate everything that Pete and I spoke about, I wanted Pete to tell his own story on how he managed to completely revamp his 2 bed apartment in Chiswick.

Hi all. The flat was primarily sold to us on ideal location, close to where my girlfriend works in Chiswick. You can see in the before 3D scan, that there was a lot of work to be done.

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KITCHEN

We had a great team of contractors in and they noticed immediately that the Gas Boiler was buried in a cupboard, barely accessible in the kitchen. We had to raise that out of the floor and rehouse it directly above.

The kitchen had some hideous blue tiling, fit for a bathroom not a kitchen. We completely retiled the kitchen, added a breakfast bar and installed a dimmable helicopter.

(If you’d like to purchase any of these products you can find the links in the 3D property scan. For transparency I’m not affiliated with any of the brands and all the products were paid for, not gifted).

Yes it was a bit of a crazy idea, but we wanted the kitchen to be a fun place to be. The faux brick wall wallpaper was added, a slight homage to the last act in Skyfall. 

TOP TIP

Don't throw anything out. We bought the wood for the breakfast bar and used the offcuts to make the shelfs above the sink. When we asked the builders if this was possible they had to go back to the skip and dig out the offcuts. Ask your builders and contractors to not throw any offcuts away without asking you first.

BEDROOM 

We got some bespoke mirrors made with concave framing to bring the illusion of space. The bed is an Ottoman from Dreams and I can't recommend these type of beds enough.

Perfect for storage and very accessible. We haven't had a chance to fit the blinds at the time of writing this, but have discovered that John Lewis are very competitively priced.

TOP TIP

If you're mounting a TV in your bedroom, always check the bracket compatibility. If in doubt contact the manufacturer, we did. Also plastic boxes from Muji are perfect for storage in cupboards. They do multiple sizes.

BATHROOM 

We completely gutted the bath and installed a bespoke fitted shower. We put a mirror on the back wall again to offer the illusion of space. Also if there are two of you, extra mirrors and dual sinks are a must.

We also installed under-tile heating which will be perfect in Winter and for any household pets to lounge on. A heated towel rail is also very convenient, no more arguments over damp towels.

TOP TIP

Get a shower douche. We didn't have no space for a bidet but a shower douche is the next best thing. The amount of time and toilet paper I now save is just unbelievable. Plus it's a nice feeling, down there.

STUDY

We got a corner desk and married the wood close (but not exact) to the shelfs. You'll notice throughout the flat there is a running theme of dark wood, walnut or black trims. Such as on the dining lights or myriad mirror.

The myriad mirror by the way is fantastic. A real wow factor for the room and I can't recommend the customer service at Habitat enough. Ask for Dawn at Habitat on Tottenham Court Rd, she is fantastic.

The sofa bed is also convenient for guests that come to stay.

TOP TIP

Don't be too precious in having all the wood matching. It was a big fear that the room would look naff with different wood themes. As long as they're closely matching in colour, it's not imperative to get matching wood.

ATTIC  

This was the biggest challenge in many respects. We have a lot of storage space in the eaves so wanted to house a chest of drawers and have them accessible from the outside. The contractors were indifferent at first.

We went and secured the drawers cheaply and had them framed and put some good handles on them. Rather than hide them discretely, we made a massive feature and it works really well I think.

The dining furniture we sourced from Barker and Stonehouse. We really mix and matched all the furniture. I recommend you visit their store in Guildford and spend an hour or so in there. Don't be afraid to rearrange the furniture in the showroom. We did.

MASSIVE TIP

When shopping for furniture ensure that the delivery men are insured to deliver to a second floor flat. (If you're no on the ground floor that is). We had great issues with this from another buyer and it got quite ugly at one point.

The couch we sourced from DFS. We do love the couch but have had some issues with the customer service team. That aside, be sure to put the L of the couch in the best possible position so it can add flow to the room, rather than corner of any space that will see a lot of traffic.

The fireplace also made for a great feature. Be sure to do your research and read all the terms and conditions before buying. Warranty, delivery, installation etc.

Lastly the TV, or as I call it 'the anti-gym' is a curved Samsung Tele 65" from Amazon. We shopped around for the best price versus quality and thought this the best. It does reflect quite a bit of light, but we only view in the evening with the blinds closed.

TOP TIP 

If you're having SKY TV installed, get friendly with the engineers and ask for what engineer discounts are currently on offer. We got the sports package the same day of installation much cheaper than if we paid for the package before or after.

Be sure to check out the video of the before and after renovation and if you need any advice or wish to discuss anything 3D property related I’m available on peter@brookerpublishing.co.uk

The Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram

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Instagram is still a wonderful place to hang out. Despite the negativity and influencer backlash that was doing the round earlier this year. I've really tried to turn my account into a place for positivity. It also gives me a chance to keep abreast of people’s lives that I would otherwise struggle to keep in touch with.

I'm going to be in Bali for a couple more days then it's back to blighty. Which I have missed. London has everything. It's home and I can't wait to see Charlie and the folks again. I've made a list of some London centric Instagram accounts that act as cosy reminders. Almost like love notes in my lunch box.

Here are some of the Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram.

ALEX COCKWILL

(Images above) Alex is an occasional engineer and has international imagery from New York, Sweden and soon Hong Kong and Sydney. You can check out his Instagram grid here.

There is something very gritty and urban about Alex's work. You can almost taste London through the photos. 

London Tip #1

You should definitely head over to the ArcelorMittal Orbit in East London. The area near Stratford has been rejuvenated since the London Olympics in 2012. A great place to shop, eat and abseil. 

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LONDON 

Simply @London. Wow there is a guy that got in there quick with the Instagram handles. With over 2.2 million followers it's going to be top of most searches. It's an Editorial Platform & Creative Agency and for your chance to be featured you can tag #ThisIsLondon.

London Tip #2

If you're coming to London and you so happen to be a James Bond fan. There are numerous James Bond locations in and around London. I've posted a blog about those here.

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UK SHOOTERS 

They shoot a lot around the UK, not exclusive to London but their London content is sublime. And through the prism of UK Shooters its highly distinguishable. With regular meet ups it's a great community spirit. Tag #uk_shooters and shop the merchandise here.

London Tip #3

If you're in town for a few days, maybe your hotel doesn't have a gym but you want to keep your fitness levels up, then check out KOBOX gym. I am an ambassador for the club, very proud of that. You can find them on Baker Street, The City and Kings Road, Chelsea. I've included them in my blog why I love London which you can check out here.

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BEN VISUALS

The shame of it is Ben hasn't posted for a while. Come back Ben!! However, there are 156 posts on his feed and they're all a mini slice of escapism. Shot through obscure frames, with art nouveau eye, disruptive picture plains. I like this guy, shot on a Canon, only 16 apparently.

London Tip #4

You might be looking to get some nice scenic shots along the canals. The Thames isn't the most picturesque of city rivers. This isn't Lucerne you know. But I've mapped out a few nice canal walks where I've taken Charlie before. You can check out that blog here.

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SHOTS DR

The infamous yet elusive Damien Rivoire. Specialises in London's streets and towers. With a penchant for the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. All taken with a Nikon D3200. 

London Tip #5

Coming to London and need a trim? I recommend Ruffians who have 3 barber stores in London. 

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HOLBROOK SHOTS

Luke Holbrook takes some of the most amazing photos of London. He uses a Sony A7iii and when he's on the move, a Galaxy S9+. I love the slow capture shots. Gives London a late night Bladerunner vibe.  

London Tip #6

Coming to London and want to know which hashtags to use? I always use #VisitLondon in my stories. Also tagging me will help as I will give you thumbs and buy you coffee! 

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TMNIKONIAN

You can buy his prints, contact details in his bio. Maybe I should start selling my prints. Leave a comment below if you think there is a market for me selling life sized cardboard cuts out of me without a shirt on. How about the Carl Thompson calendar, will surely fetch 50p on eBay right? 

London Tip #7

For an awesome place to shop and eat, where people might not find you, try out St Christopher's Place

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BASTAKE PICS

Basim (hope that's his name) is a London based Photographer (naturally) and a VFX artist. He has an eye for colour and architecture. But from unconventional vanguards. I love his innovations and the crispness of his delivery. 

London Tip #8

What about a Rooftop bar? London has some of the best in the world and I recommend the Santa Monica at Skylounge. I've made some notes over on the blog

 

Some Uplifting Quotes for Lost Love

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Today I want to share notes and quotes on lost love. Yes unrequited love. The achy break stuff that Billy Ray Cyrus would talk about. We've all been there. And if there are any kids reading this, don't be fooled with what people say, it doesn't get easier as you grow older.

Ironically, you're better off getting all the heart break out of the way when you're younger, although you're not emotionally equipped to handle it. You're like an open wound. Your skin will granulate when you get your heart broken again and again.

My best advice if you're going through hell. Get down the gym. Punch some heavy bags. Lay off the booze. Lay off the junk food. Get back in the saddle as quick as you can. By the way here are those quotes and sayings that might resonate with a few of you. I've tried where I can to cite the author.

  1. 'It's painful to think you will never be mine but it is even more painful to realise I knew all the time.' - anon

  2. (Coming home to find his partner has cheated on him and the guy is still in the house watching tv). 'You do not get to watch my f*cking television set!' - Vincent - Heat

  3. 'You can love someone so much...But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.' ― John Green

  4. (The end scene, Woody Harrelson says this to Demi Moore before signing the divorce papers). 'Now I know the things that people in love do to each other they remember. And if they stay together it’s not because they forget, it's because they forgive'. David Murphy - Indecent Proposal

  5. 'Love needs too much help, hate takes care of itself.' - Charles Bukowski

  6. 'I hate it when relationships peter out. Every relationship should end with crockery thrown or a door being pulled from its hinges.' - anon.

  7. 'The way to love anything is to realise that it may be lost.' - G. K. Chesterton

  8. 'True love waits.' - Thom Yorke 

  9. 'From day to day I'm not sure what I lost, but I always know what you lost.' Kristina Mahr

  10. (When his partner has walked out on him, he can't believe that she is leaving him he screams..). 'I'm the alpha baby. I'm the omega baby.' Bruce Nolan, Bruce Almighty

  11. 'I'm not in love, so don't forget it. It's just a silly phase I'm going through. I hang your picture on a wall. It hides a nasty stain that's lying there.' - 10cc

  12. (Tom Cruise in the role of his life, an entrance to a workshop where he encourages men to be men. His mantra is..) 'Respect the c*ck, and tame the c*nt'.' - TJ Mackey, Magnolia

  13. 'One day you're going to notice you should have tried. I was worth the fight.' Pinterest

  14. 'Nothing is lost, only misplaced.' anon.

  15. 'I'll always be a chipped cup because of you.' anon.

  16. (On reflecting his top 5 break ups. Realising the current one is not even on the list. She is incapable of hurting him like the others have in the past. He screams this out the window to his partner who is leaving him..) 'If you really wanted to mess me up you should have gotten to me earlier'. Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

  17. 'They leave and act like it never happened, they come back and act like they never left.' Pinterest.

  18. 'You and I will always be unfinished business.' Pinterest

  19. (Finding out that his partner has been having an affair, she tells him all the graphic details) 'Good thank you. Thank you for honesty. Now f*ck off and die, you f*cked up slag.' - Clive Owen. Closer.

 

How To Manage Stress: Dealing With Stress

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How to handle stress. Whilst out here on my travels I've been deliberating on this question a lot. Part of the reason why I've taken time out to go traveling is because I was feeling the physical effects of stress in my life.

I've asked many people the same question, what are their coping strategies for stress and have never gotten the same answer twice.

In this article, I'm going deep in the weeds. I want you to grab a mint tea and put that Bladerunner rain meditation track on YouTube. (Not the Hans Zimmer one). I'm going to give you all the information I have on how to reduce stress in your life.

What are you really worried about?

After reading The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobeli, I've adopted one practice that I really want you to try. It's called the worry bucket. You take ten minutes out of your day. Do it on your commute to work. And write down what's on your mind. The things that are causing you anxiety.

Is it your job?
Is it a reunion?
Is it a relationship?
Moving house?
Not being able to afford rent?

What's the worst case scenario?

I was given this advice when I was in my teens. What's the worst that could happen? I had real trouble asking girls out. Before the days of Tinder and Facebook, talking to a girl was a massive deal.

Without knowing it, I was already displaying symptoms of anxiety. The pressure of chatting to girls was building like an inferno in my guts. What if I run out of things to say? What if she says no to me asking her out. Hell, what if she says yes?

I was too young to implement the worst case scenario strategy. I didn't have the clarity of mind to initiate logic as a means to resolving anxiety.

However, now if I use this following algorithm into a thought experiment:


FEELINGS: (Start at the beginning, what are your immediate thoughts on how you're presently feeling).

Anxious, worried, restless, scared.

BECAUSE OF THIS PROBLEM: (Isolate one problem at a time).

Relationship issues.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: 

Isolation. Will be left alone. Will have to start all over again. Will lose a best friend.

STRESS PROGNOSIS: (How is this problem going to affect you if the worst happens).

Rejection, heartache, insecure, lack of confidence.


Right away you've identified your immediate problems and compartmentalised some actualities. Did you notice that in the worst case scenario that no one died? Did you notice that there was nothing in the stress prognosis that can't resolved time or without some intestinal fortitude?

If you imagine the worst case scenario for all the things that are causing you stress and anxiety, you might find they fall woefully short of the obstacles you've overcome in the past.

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How you can manage stress on a physical level? 

There's something cool that humans can do when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety. It's what differentiates us from the animal kingdom. Well, and the fact we use cutlery.

As humans we can control our breathing in the way animals can't. Sure dogs open their mouths to cool from the heat. However, when we control our breathing we can control our fear.

There's a reason why Yoga and meditation focus on the breathing. Breathing can override the reptilian side of the brain that is reminding your subconscious-self of all the nasty things that are happening in the world.

Breathing slowly and deeply harnesses that fear. It's going deeper into the side of the brain that has the brain stem, this defuses the reptilian side of the brain, almost making it obsolete.

Life coach Martha Beck, Ph.D. also advises us to first focus on our body and take the attention off the situation that’s stressing you by getting physical distance.

Imagine you're in a hostile situation, a board meeting, an inquisition. Simply ask to take a nature break and spend a minute in the rest room.

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Observe the stories you're telling yourself

Most glib listicles such as 10 ways to manage stress, will all have this common denominator; observe your own thinking.

If there is no physical threat in the room, if you're not all of a sudden face to face with an escaped big cat from London Zoo, then your stress is an illusory fixation. You're telling yourself you need to be worried about such and such.

Perhaps the stress is genuine, like. 'How am I going to deliver this speech?' Or 'How will I be able to tell my partner that I've deleted the entire contents of her hard drive?’

These are all stories that we tell ourselves. This is the narrative that our mental health is governed by. If you are constantly the barer of bad news and pessimism to your conscious self, then you're going to exude all the classic symptoms of stress. 

What are the causes of stress on your body?

I've dug deep here and looked into scientific studies on stress. In a nutshell your body will react in many different ways when it's under mental or physical duress.

You might be prone to bouts of acne. Headaches, lack of sleep, the urge to consume more alcohol.

Does any of that sound familiar? Also does any of that sound like a recipe for success?

You could also incumber back pains due to an increase level of cortisol. Inevitable depletions in energy. Libido.

Jesus, not the libido, please!

Digestive disorders become more frequent in people that are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Heart fluctuation and good old fashioned depression which as we know, can be like a whirlpool into a plughole of mental sludge and general crap.

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What can I do?

You can start by talking about it to people. Sharing your thoughts with loved ones. Calling people up on the phone you've not spoken to in a long time.

Do your own research. Spend 20 minutes on Google, YouTube, chat forums. See how stress is effecting other people and ask questions of how they overcome their life adversities.

Always seek counsel from your local GP.

Lastly, give me a call brother. Or leave a message or comment in the box below. Drop me a line on my social channels. I'm Mr Responsive when it comes to this and am genuinely wanting to start making my own platform a place for people to come and start feeling better about themselves.

 

40 Inspirational Quotes About Travel and Adventure

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Today I'm going to give you some of my top Travel Inspiration Quotes to use on Instagram. As you can expect I've been reading a few of these whilst on my travels. I hope you like them, where possible I've cited the author.

  1. ‘If I were living in Roman times I'd want to live in Rome, where else. Today America is the Roman empire and New York is Rome itself.’ John Lennon 

  2. ‘It's not the years honey, it's the mileage.’ Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark

  3. 'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon 

  4. 'Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.' – Jack Kerouac

  5. 'Because it's there.' George Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.

  6. 'I think that I shall never see: A poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed: Against the sweet earth's flowing breast.' - Joyce Kilmer

  7. 'We must reach far beyond our own lifespans. We must think not as individuals but as a species. We must confront the reality of interstellar travel.' Dr Brand, Interstellar

  8. 'There’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going, where they’ve been.' Forrest Gump 

  9. ‘Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.’ – Bob Bitchin

  10. ‘Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop to look around once in a while, you'll miss it.’ - Ferris Bueller

  11. ‘I don't ever remember feeling this awake.’ Thelma - Thelma and Louise

  12. ‘If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it's lethal.’ - Unknown 

  13. ‘They came up with the idea that I should make a round-trip of the most exciting cities of the world and describe them in beautiful, beautiful prose. This could be accomplished, they said, within a month.’ Ian Fleming - Thrilling Cities

  14. ‘The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.’ – Sir Richard Burton

  15. ‘You develop a sympathy for all human beings when you travel a lot.’  – Shakuntala Devi

  16. ‘You should try it some time. Get away from it all. It really lends perspective.’ - Bond, Skyfall 

  17. ‘When one is in Egypt, one should delve deeply into its treasures.’ - Bond, The Spy who Loved Me

  18. ‘Stop Searching. Start Traveling.’

  19. ‘Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.’

  20. ‘Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one. And where we're going, we don't need, roads.’ Doc Brown Back to the Future

  21. ‘Just tell them I'm coming.’ - Wilson, The Limey 

  22. ‘The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.’ - Michael Althsuler

  23. ‘Carpe diem, seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.’ Keats - Dead Poets Society. 

  24. ‘Travel like Gandhi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.’ – Rick Steve

  25. ‘How do the geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.’ – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

  26. ‘Take the wheel and steer
    It’s driven me before
    And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
    But lately I am beginning to find
    That I should be the one behind the wheel’ - Incubus Drive

  27.  ‘And here I go again on my own
    Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
    Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
    And I've made up my mind
    I ain't wasting no more time.’ - Whitesnake

  28. ‘Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.’ 

  29. ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’

  30. ‘Did you ever notice the first piece of luggage on the carousel, never belongs to anyone?’ 

  31. ‘It doesn't matter what the others say, you can go your own way.’ - Fleetwood Mac

  32. ‘Every direction is the right direction.’ 

  33. ‘Apparently there is a collection of travel sick bags on at the V&A. It doesn't say if they've been used or not.’ 

  34. ‘We've gone on holiday by mistake.’ - Withnail, Withnail & I. 

  35. ‘We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!’ Dr Venkman Ghostbusters 

  36. ‘So if you want to join me for a while. Just grab your hat, come travel light. That's hobo style.’ Littlest Hobo theme

  37. ‘I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Off-world and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching stars fight on the shoulder of Orion… I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!’  - Original Peoples' script for Bladerunner

  38. ‘I was born under a wanderin’ star Wheels are made for rollin’ Mules are made to pack I never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back.’ - Lee Marvin 

  39. ‘Moving just keep moving 'til I don't know what I’m saying I’ve been moving so long the days all feel the same.’ - Supergrass

  40. ‘There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.’ - Jack Kerouac