Why Do People Hate Influencers?

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In today's article I wanted to speak about the current negativity towards the current modus operandi of Influencers. For transparency I was asked to write this for a friend Marcus on his Blog Chic Geek but sadly missed the deadline so will publish my thoughts here. 

Is the Influencer Bubble about to pop? 

I remember a few years back when the word 'influencer' was getting tossed around. Actual non self-proclaimed 'influencers' were starting to distance themselves from the term.

Some far too modest, others a little embarrassed to be referred to as someone that can hold sway over peoples buying predilections. Perhaps they didn't see any benefit in being given a moniker that gave them an unelected responsibility.

Influencers not wanting to be referred to as influencers then repackaged themselves as content creators. More ambiguous and less offensive.

The package is suddenly more appealing. Influencers, Bloggers, Igers, Vloggers, Podcasters no longer had to pigeon-hole themselves.

They could market themselves as all-rounders. Jack of all trades. Truth is, they're all glammed-up expressions. When you distil us all down we're only digital marketers. Some take ownership of that, others are blissfully unaware.

So that's a little thumbnail sketch of how the sands shifted in recent years. At least in my eyes.

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Why do people hate Influencers? 

Firstly I don't believe people hate influencers. If everyone hated them you'd never here of them. You might not like Justin Bieber but 104 million people do (on Instagram at least).

I think there is certainly a jealously factor at play, both inside and outside the influencer circle. I like to use the DB5 analogy.

Imagine you've just bought your dream car, an Aston Martin DB5. You've worked tirelessly for it. Then your neighbour buys an Aston Martin DB5. Only this one has been driven by Sean Connery. All of a sudden you start to resent your own Aston Martin DB5. Those seats have not had been blessed by the arse cheeks of James Bond, it's value has depreciated and your neighbour is the root cause.

It's human nature, it's exactly why we hate influencers. They make their lives look so fantastic don't they? Those beautiful sunset photographs in the Florida Keys. That breakfast in bed in the hotel with the idyllic view overlooking Gaudi Square. Fair enough, we say. They've earned it.

But have they? Have they worked harder than I have in life? Do they deserve that sunset more than I do? What’s more, they're not even paying for it. In fact they're being paid to attend press trips, often in exotic locations, being treated like royalty, living a life of utter decadence. How?

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Are my friends jealous? 

No wonder influencers are hated. I've had many friends that have known me from my I.T days. Whilst on a recent stag-do, a friend curious to know about my career asked 'you've landed on your feet with that Instagram gig haven't you?'

It's funny in a way, I could take so much from that simple statement. Landed on my feet, like I won the lottery or something. That Instagram job, like Instagram hired me to fly to Bali.

At the consequent wedding I was also confronted by the same gentleman we shook hands and in an unguarded moment confessed 'Every time I see you on Instagram I think, that lucky ****'.

In a way it's a backward compliment. That the quality of images on my Instagram page are good enough to make people wish they were there, or at least in my shoes.

However, I know it comes from a place of jealousy. People think my ship has come in and I'm off gallivanting around the world having everything paid for. So that's why influencers are viewed negatively. We look like lottery winners. That's why so many people want to be one.

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Why Instagram is a big deal? 

You can communicate instantly more information in a picture than you can in a blog post.

A picture of a product or a location, can tell you many things, whether visually its something that aligns with your identity. 'Can I see myself wearing this jumper?' for example, or 'I'm booking holidays right now, where can I go that's warm and not too far.'

I follow a lot of travel bloggers for this reason. Getting great tips on places to see and things to do, from people that have been there can be like having your own travel guide sometimes.

With regards to negativity on Instagram, you can point to a few things. People being jealous of others. Perhaps they feel like they haven't earned the quality of life they are either living or portraying. Ultimately, you have the choice not to follow people.

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Real life and virtual representation

You can like a person in real life and be indifferent to their 'virtual self'. How many times do we look at social media, see a post from someone we thought we knew and say 'why is he/she posting that?'

Maybe we think we know a person well but they're always going to have beliefs, interests, or a different interpretation on things. For example I follow people that never talk to me about football in real life, but all they talk about online is football.

Same with politics. I never post about politics, it's not my area. I don't think my audience would be interested in those subjects either. So guess what, in real life people might not bring those subjects up because they know it's not on my radar if they follow me online.

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What is the future for Influencers? 

The future for influencers is going to be an interesting one. Already we're seeing the CMA clamp down on what many still think is the wild west of the internet.

There will be more transparency. There will be more regulations. As there should. But who will enforce those and what punitive measures will be introduced is another question. Take Facebook right now, has anything really changed since Cambridge Analytica?

Was anyone brought to justice for the mis-sharing of data that was used to profile US voters? Did Facebook shares go down? Nope they went up.

With influencers it's a very saturated market. It will all come down to hard data eventually. ROI's will be more closely monitored and evaluated.

The big players that have been there since the beginning, will still be able to name their fee. Others will have to continue to fight for campaigns, adapt and augment their platforms so it can always offer something new and look to reach out to new audiences.

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What lies ahead for this 'influencer'? 

For example I'll be focusing a lot on wellness this year. I'll be posting more articles and YouTube content on positivity, mental health etc. I've been on the receiving end on what I class as cyber-bullying quite a bit in recent months.

I've had to dig deep sometimes, go to the emotional well as they say. As you say there is a lot of negativity around Influencers, we're not immune to it, we see it. It might not be happening on Instagram, it's probably happening on Twitter more as people can vent and live more voyeuristically that way.

I hope you've enjoyed this ramble, I've got a lot more to say on this matter and you can also catch my thoughts on the Instagram Fraud article that was doing the rounds last week. 

 

 

 

Improving Your Home Ambiance With Indoor Plants

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There are many upsides to being a blogger and a founder of a successful e-tailors. However, the downsides for me have always been the long enduring days at home copywriting or painstaking editorials

I know, it's not a real job. I'm not digging trenches or laying brick in sub-zero temperatures, but it can get lonely as hell.

One trick I've employed this year is bringing a little culture within my working space. I've brightened up my working environment and treated myself to a couple of indoor plants from Patch.garden.

I've even taken to naming and talking to the plants from time to time as it helps me unpack a few feelings, externalise, you know all that 'new man' stuff. I know what you're thinking, those poor plants.

It's not often I'm glued to the desk. The peripatetic nature of my job allows me to work wherever, so long as there is a good WiFi connection. But I can't recommend getting some plants to enliven your working space.

Sure, it's pretty fatalistic to surround yourself with things that will ultimately wilt and die in your presence, but they look fantastic and even purify the air in your home.

What kind of plants have health benefits? 

Currently I'm stocked up on Snake Plants. Yes, partly because having a Snake plant heightens my animalistic vigour (ego talking) secondly they look great and according to NASA it boasts a natural capacity to remove toxins from its immediate environment. And, while most plants take away oxygen at night, this one gives it off during night hours, making it perfect for the bedroom.

Other disciplines to work from home

It's hard right, you're just looking for an excuse to be distracted, jump on an email, check social media. I set real goals when I'm at home. Making sure that I spend no longer than one hour on any feature.

The One Hour Blog

It's not just the writing that takes time. The pictures, the editing, the uploading. Then you have to farm the article out on all the social media channels. Sure there's tools and apps that does that all for you but I prefer to do it natively.

Plus I blog every day and I appreciate not everyone will read the majority of my ramblings. So that's why I now give my self a curfew of one hour per blog. (Writing).

Times up

This one for example has taken me to the hour point. In summary my home now has a very lavish and welcoming feel. Be warned however, if you're a cat owner, do not get lilies for the home. Lilies kill cats, it's their kryptonite. Trust me.

MY INDOOR PLANT TOP PICKS

Fighting Back Against Poor Oral Health

How guilty are we all when it comes to neglecting our oral hygiene? It's something I've been putting off for a while so was delighted when dentist Dr Saul Konviser at Dawood & Tanner General Dental Practice reached out to me and invited me in for a check-up and a chat.

The practice is located in the most central of locations and just down the road from the KOBOX on Baker Street. The location in the Montagu Mansions has a very 'homely feel'. 

After having a sit down talk with dentist Dr Saul Konviser, a young and enterprising gentleman, I started to feel pangs of guilt that I hadn't come to the realisation earlier. Poor oral health has larger ramifications than just poor teeth.

There are detrimental effects to your heart that can lead to respiratory disease. Not to mention that neglecting oral health can directly impact sporting performance, which was an instant red flag for me. 

I have been around fighters who had told me their diet is suffering terribly due to cracked teeth. Imagine training for a fight and having to eat through a straw because it's too painful to chew your food! 

Dawood & Tanner have come up with an innovative way of emphasising the importance of this issue; personalised mouth guards. It's such a novel idea and the prototypes that Dr Konviser showed me were fantastic. Incredibly unique. The gum shield is such a crucial part of the fighter's armoury, protecting not only the teeth but the jaw. 

Although I don't do any sparring at KOBOX, it's a place where fighters do come and train. Most are savvy enough not to get the entry level self-moulded guards. As well not offering offer inadequate support and protection, they can be super uncomfortable. 

I've invested in a mouth guard, not for fighting, (Hey I don't want to mess up the cash register at my age) but as I grind my teeth at night. A mouth guard for evening wear will be thinner than a gum shield, although created from the same mould. 

If you're interested in a mouthguard Dawood & Tanner offer a 1 week turnaround to reduce away time from training and competition. Let Saul know I sent you. You can find further articles on Dawood & Tanner online. If you're interested in teeth whitening my friend Peter Brooker has written a decent article on his blog. It stresses the importance of why you should leave teeth whitening to the professionals.

My Research Notes on CBD

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I've been doing some research into the world of CBD and wanted to share some of my findings with you today. I'd like to make it clear I've not tried CBD and I'm not advocating or endorsing brands in the article.

However, I've had some sleepless nights of late, momentary issues with anxiety so I'm looking into experimenting with this oil. Oddly I heard about it through a mutual friend who is a chocolatier, she has a client that has asked her to put CBD in chocolate bars. Crazy right? 

So here below is some information I've rounded up from watching a few hours of YouTube I'll include links to all the videos I've watched. 

What is CBD exactly? 

CBD is short for Cannabidiol which is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It's legal in 50 states in the US and is not psychoactive as it does not act of the same neuro-pathways as THC. (THC is the chemical found in Cannabis that gets you stoned). 

CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant. Industrial hemp plant has less 1% THC.

For more information on Hemp production and CBD check out the Carolina Hemp Company

How much CBD can I take?  

If you're just starting out taking CBD oil, then it's recommended you break yourself in gently. 10mg a day if you're starting out. If you're not feeling anything then you can double the does, 10mg in the morning 10mg in the evening. 

It's recommended that you do not exceed the daily allowance of 200mg. Check out the CBD woman for more details on YouTube. She has her own website where you can buy all the CBD goods

How do I take CBD oil? 

You know how to apply Beard Oil. You put the dropper in bottle and squeeze a couple of drops on your palm and rub it into your beard. So with CBD you can vape it, you can take CBD tablets or digest it like I mentioned earlier.

Apparently one of the best and most effective ways to ingest CBD most oils is to put a full dropper load under your tongue, place it there for 30-90 seconds. 

This will allow it to get into your blood stream faster. Take it on an empty stomach. For more on this check out Trey Jones on YouTube

What can I expect to feel taking CBD oil? 

I caught a few YouTubers taking CBD oil. One chap called Expression with Depression vaped it on a video and I found that to be the most candid and honest review.

If you vape CBD you'll feel the vibration of the oil and a slight buzzing as you inhale. There will be a cool sensation on the lips. It's odourless so you won't have to sneak off to the toilets during the lunch break.

It's very relaxing, no coughing. For more on CBD and Mental Health check out Scott Ste Marie

Will CBD help my sleep? 

CBD can enhance your deep sleep cycles. THC allows you to sleep and it decreases sleep latency. (How long it takes you to fall asleep) but it reduces the amount of time you spend in deep sleep.

If you're mind is racing, hyper charged and you have to sleep immediately then use THC. (Again I'm not recommending this personally, this is just research notes from YouTube videos). PLEASE NOTE: That in using THC you run the risk of missing deep sleep which could impair memory consolidation and general body system repair.

With CBD you don't fall asleep as fast, but you will experience higher deep sleep cycles. THC you fall asleep fast, but your deep sleep isn't as high. - Joe Rogan Podcast

CONCLUSION 

Before I invest in CBD I'm going to first focus on basic physiology, control my breathing. Box breathing exercises and alternative nostril breathing. If done right this can decrease stress. 

I'm weary of some side effects that have also been documented such as light headiness, diarrhoea etc. If people have suffered any side effects I'd be interested to know. If you have tried CBD please drop a comment and let me know what you think. 

 

It's Time to Talk About Carl

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I was made aware of the defamatory article anonymously and callously published on the medium.com website, which has named my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd and myself personally amongst other businesses and influencers.

I'd like to take this opportunity to clear a few things that have circulated some social commentary since the article was published. It's been a very traumatic week for me personally having to be on the receiving end on what I consider to be a pernicious article, published on an open platform without approval or checks for authenticity.

It's been very tough keeping emotion out of this. Some of the scathing consistent attacks I would even categorise as cyber-bullying. I'll do a follow up article to this about that in due course.

Now I'm a 38 year old man. I've developed a thick skin and can rely on a certain muscle memory to get me through this kind of onslaught. I don't suffer from depression but I feel anxiety pangs like anyone else. 

When my phone pings, my heart races. I don't even want to look at my phone right now.

But some of the bloggers I've spoken to that are implicated in this article have only just turned 20. I've had private conversations with them who are on the verge of having a break down. 

Now I don't want to advocate for one second the flagrant use of ‘Insta fraud’ as it’s been labelled. I think the industry is on the mend. I think it's right to highlight where the regulations need to serve the industry better. I can speak about this because I have reformed. I used to follow and unfollow around two years ago but that's not my scene anymore. 

However, I think this article is more a personal attack, laden with spite, resentment, with a pernicious undercurrent and I want people to realise that we're still dealing with human beings.

People that share and retweet thinking they're throwing a spotlight on the issue of Instafraud, are actually sharing an article that was removed, with unfounded accusations from an anonymous source. It's cut deep into the people that are implicated, and is still having a profound effect. 

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I've not risen to any of the comment threads on social media that are continuing a very aggressive media attack on my name and brand.

Instead I've been spending my time talking to the brands and management companies of whom I've had the pleasure of working for and alongside as an ambassador for many years, reassuring them of the inaccuracies in the article, of which I'll get into soon.

I have a very open and honest relationship with these brands (there names I will refrain from disclosing for now) I've been honoured to work for and I've been overwhelmed with the support I've received in return. You can see some of the messages of support I've received below. 

From one brand:

"A member of our team did see the article, but I’m aware that we’ve already spoken to you about your historical follower pattern. We were satisfied with the conversation we had with you and are happy to continue working with you on projects that we feel you are suited." 

From an agency: 

"Hey Carl. We were made aware of the article last week and having read it we agree it comes from a place of spite. The “facts” presented are heavily laden with opinion, conjecture and are overall slanderous to everybody mentioned.

We also realised it was quickly removed. I think your statement on the article is strong and unemotional which is more than can be said for the original author of the article itself. It’s a shame that you’ve been put in a position whereby you need to address it.

On a personal level it doesn’t change how we view you nor alter how we’d like to work with you moving forward.

If you need anything from us to help support you then just let us know."

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Some of this might sound like lawyer talk, because I wanted to detach my emotions and just deal with the facts.

ADDRESSING COMMENTS IN THE ARTICLE

“Allegedly another one of the biggest cheats in the Men’s fashion space, Carl Thompson is one of the biggest frauds out there in terms of inorganically growing his account. His cheating goes as far back as records go, which is January 2016. From January 2016 until July 2017 he aggressively followed and unfollowed hundreds of people per day, cheating his Instagram and cheating his way to over 54,000 from practically nothing.”

Back in 2016 it wasn’t unusual to follow a lot of accounts. I personally followed thousands of people - every blogger, friend, fashion enthusiast etc, who I knew as part of the Instagram community and who helped to shape my own style.

From around April 2016 to April 2017, I used to follow some accounts and have engaged with them, later unfollowing.

I want to note here that despite what the article says, by that point, I have already amassed around 20-25,000 followers from my consistent men’s fashion Instagram posts, presenting and TV appearances.

Instagram at that time was mainly to promote my business Hawkins & Shepherd, where I invested over £100,000 of my own money, and for the love of the industry and the fashion.

During that time I did not know where the Influencer marketing would go and if I would be a part of it. It was a very new industry with no guidance.

In summary, with all due respect to the anonymous authors, I’m a massive part of this very much nascent industry and I have earned the respect from multiple fashion designers, business owners, journalists, PR’s and other Influencers.

“After the scandal of July 2017, he then appeared to have stopped, and his account has been in decline since, which is no coincidence. His Instagram name comes from the brand he owns (which also has manipulated Google reviews), but he uses this to promote himself as a blogger, and has a blog in his own name, carlthompson.co.uk.”

I have stopped following and unfollowing in April 2017 when I realised that this form of marketing had a serious influence on consumers and that it was something that I wanted to be a part of for the long-term.

In addition, I have been building trusted relationships with brands and wanted to offer a great ROI. My Instagram account did slowly decline for a while, however, I actually have perceived that trend as a good thing because real followers who may have just followed me because I followed them, decided to unfollow.

As the rate of decline was very slow and gradual, I have still been gaining followers and have been retaining ones that truly wanted to engage with my posts. What the article fails to mention is that my Instagram account is growing again and has never been more engaged. I would like to comment here that I have never bought fake followers.

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I would like to point out that the comment regarding my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd being a “complete slander” is based on no evidence whatsoever, which again just highlights  the fact that this article is a personal attack.

Hawkins & Shepherd has 400 reviews, all 100% verified customers that have to be legally registered on the Yotpo review platform that I use. Below is a screenshot of this:

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The Google Reviews that the article has suggested were also manipulated in fact are genuine reviews, most are customers and some are from friends/family that I’ve gifted product to and they have kindly written a review.

“He is one of the most disingenuous and fake Influencers out there. The perfect example is working with several shaving brands, pretending to use their razors and products, then his beard magically stays on his face in the next photo, despite claiming that the razor is good and he’s apparently shaved it off.”

I regard the opening statement  as defamatory with the purported “supporting evidence” taken out of context.

My captions and images have been consistently well received, I have invested  a considerable amount of time and effort in creating these images and in ensuring that the content is exactly what the brands expect and is of an exceptional quality.

“This was comically seen when he posted about Harry’s and more recently Gillette and their razor blades, foaming up his face with razor in hand, and in the very next photo, his facial hair magically re-appeared a day later. Either the razor is not very good, he grows hair like a werewolf or he’s lying. We’ll let you be the judge.”

Whilst I applaud the anonymous author on his/her diligence in finding the one inconsistency from over 1,800 posts on my Instagram channel, posts on my Instagram grid rarely correlate to a physical date/time timeline.

When working with brands many posts have to be vetted and authenticated weeks, sometimes months in advance. The consistency of my beard between posts is arbitrary.

“He holds almost no authority, no influence and is disliked by many of the other men’s fashion bloggers and influencers, for cheating with his Instagram and being incredibly fake. His Instagram engagement is currently at 2.06%, and has been manipulated.”

I have no comment regarding this other than I have evidence to the contrary available to brands on request.

“FAKE INFLUENCER PARTY”

The Hard Rock Hotel invited me as an unpaid guest to create content on their behalf. After seeing the results of the engagement and the quality of the content provided, I was invited to promote their newly opened Hard Rock Hotel in London.

“He has now set up a new ego website, to showcase his arrogance and for people to believe that he’s kind of a big deal. “Who Is Carl Thompson .co.uk” is a website telling you who he actually is.”

The website https://www.whoiscarlthompson.co.uk/ serves as an online visual Media Pack/CV. It serves no other purpose other than to provide detailed information on my portfolio.

“According to it, he’s a TV presenter, model, influencer, photographer, YouTuber, business owner, blogger.”

Each of these are correct and accurate. I’m happy to forward on examples of each on request.

“It seems he craves the fame, being on First Dates along with Dinner Date.”

I make no apologies for appearing on these shows that are watched and adored by millions of viewers.

“According to his Instagram, he’s currently an ambassador for Haigclub, Jo Malone and Kobox. He has worked with Debenhams, House Of Fraser, Panasonic, ECCO Shoes, 360 Coffee, tk Maxx, Lab Series, Kronaby, Starbucks, Philips, Reiss, Burton, Mazda, and many more.”

That is correct and I’m extremely proud to have worked with each of these brands.


FURTHER READING

VOTED TOP 6 MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG IN THE UK 2018

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/blog-awards/shortlist/

TOP 10 UK MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG 2017, 2018, 2019.

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/social-media-index/mens-lifestyle-blogs-uk-top-10/

These are all based around official Google blog statistics, domain-authority, quality of writing and imagery. Voted by industry professionals.

MY OWN BLOG STATISTICS PUBLISHED

Earlier this year, I have published my Blog Statistics with screenshots of Google analytic data (I note the extremely low 1.03% bounce rate for the year of 2018).

https://www.carlthompson.co.uk/further-reading-blogs/2019/1/18/carl-thompson-all-the-stats-from-my-blog-revealed

YOUTUBE

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7saYubGIW4nDfajCS9Kkqw?view_as=subscriber

My channel has around 8,800 Subscribers with a very engaged following and has almost 1million views on the videos published.

 

 

 

The Perfume Shop | Deals of the Week Fragrances for Valentines Day

Valentine's Day is looming boys and girls. In this article I'm going to recommend 5 his and her fragrances from The Perfume Shop that will make the perfect lovers gift. I wanted to highlight both genders as I know a lot of female readers come to my blog for gift ideas. 

The Perfume Shop (winner of the coveted Retailer of the Year Award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards for the past two years) have some great deals on this week so you need to jump on this quick.

You can purchase the perfume in any of their 256 stores across the UK & Ireland or through their website. Choose from a multitude of delivery options; click & collect or next day all available.

Valentine Gift Ideas for Him

NEW RELEASES

Emporio Armani Stronger With You Intensely EDP 50ml

(Launching at The Perfume Shop 30th January 2019) RRP - £56.00

You may have seen the 'Together Stronger' web series on YouTube. A brilliant marketing campaign that has clocked up more than eight million YouTube. The same couple will be featuring in a new campaign for 2019 set in the Mediterranean entitled “Together we are shooting stars”. 

This fragrance has more of an oriental push. Floral notes at the heart with Sage and Lavender, underscored with Tonka Bean and Cinnamon. Perfect for your fireside companion. 

Hugo Boss, Boss Bottled Oud Aromatic EDP 100ml

Launched January 2019 RRP - £88.00

The ultimate Black Tie fragrance. ‘BOSS BOTTLED OUD Aromatic opens with a refreshing orange flower note on top and a seductive myrrh on the dry down. Very masculine. Your partner will effuse a woody leather trail with this fragrance. 

Perfect for those one on one black tie events that are slightly unusual. I was recently invited to a cigar and whisky tasting event down at Churchill's. Although I couldn't make the event, I would certainly look to wear something immediately distinguishable, to an event with an unusual theme. 

Alien man Fusion EDT 50ml

(Launching at The Perfume Shop 4th February 2019) RRP - £47.00   

Of all the new fragrance releases from the Perfume Shop, this Alien Man Fusion has a slightly more accessible price point. The bottle is ostentatious, it's different and the green coffee and smoked beach base notes give it a real kick. 

I would invest in this one if you're really looking to take your partner by surprise. 

Deals of the Week for Him

Eau De Lacoste Blanc EDT 100ml

ONLY £24.99 (offer valid 31st January – 6th February 2019)

You need to jump on these quick because they're amazing marquee name fragrances at a great price. This Eau De Lacoste Blanc EDT 100ml is one of the best every day scents on the market. For your sporty partner who enjoys a healthy and fitness focused lifestyle. 

It has a very citrus opening, plenty of grapefruit, rosemary and my favourite spice to put on salmon currently; Cardamom. (Honestly, get some Cardamom on your fish it's the best). 

Lacoste rarely make a misstep both in fashion and in their fragrances. It's a safe bet and a very versatile scent. 

Boss Bottled Night EDT 100ml

Price TBC (launching 7th February – 14th February 2019)

If I were to do an 'editor's pick' this would be it. Such an amazing spicy, intense fragrance for under £30. BOSS Bottled Night has an undeniable, palpable, masculine aura to it. 

It's compelling, sits close to the skin, has great silage and plenty of character. Trust me this more of a present for you than it is for him. You'll love it!  

WHY SHOP AT THE PERFUME SHOP 

Before we get into the women’s selection, a brief note on why you should shop through The Perfume Shop. Firstly they're the proud sponsors of this feature and by supporting them you're also supporting this blog, keeping the good CT ship afloat. 

Secondly,  their staff are trained and developed so that they are the most knowledgeable sales advisors within the perfume industry, with over 400 industry recognised experts.

You can visit any store (there are ten in London) and the experienced staff there are equipped and able to assist you select your perfect fragrance for you or for your Valentine.

Lastly, you can also personally engrave the fragrances starting from £5.99, both online and in selected stores.

 

Valentine Gift Ideas for Her

Emporio Armani In Love With You EDP 50ml

(Launching at The Perfume Shop 30th January 2019) RRP - £68.00

The flip-side to the Stronger With You Intensely for him is this very delicate In Love With You for her. It evokes and encapsulates all those unquantifiable emotions of love and obsession. 

Featuring the iconic double ring. Mr. Armani wears two single rings, one belongs to him, the other belonged to his life time partner, Sergio Galeotti. This double ring design was Mr. Armani’s inspiration for the caps of the bottles.

CACHAREL Yes I Am EDP 50ml - £60.00

New to the fold this year is the affirmative fragrance Yes I am by Cacharel. If your partner is into her makeup, has an infinity with lipstick then this iconic-shaped bottle will be just the ticket. 

It's bold, daring and reflects all the positive qualities in your partner. You'll be entranced by the scent, composed of Mandarin, Jasmine and Sandalwood. A very Oriental flavour and texture that will keep you on your toes. 

Daisy Love Sunshine EDT 50ml

(Launching at The Perfume Shop 30th January 2019) RRP - £57.00

This Daisy Love Sunshine is just brimming with optimism. A beautifully encased fragrance that effuses Summer vibes and the promise of good times. From the mind of Marc Jacobs, this perfectly balanced Sunshine Limited Edition will transport your partner to a happy place where optimism overflows and the carefree spirit of daisy is celebrated.

She'll love it if yellow is her thing and she has a penchant for fruity floral fragrances. 

Deals of the Week for Her

Lacoste Touch of Pink EDT 90ml

RRP - £55.00 down to £27.99 SAVING of £27.00 (offer valid 31st January – 6th February 2019)

A very playful scent and an absolute bargain with the reduction price! It's a very youthful scent. The pink bottle is hardly a subtle feminine touch but works perfectly. There is a citrus, there is floral notes and with it the promise of Spring. 

It has an everyday feel, a versatile scent that can worn to any event during the day. Even casual dinners or meetings. 

Gucci Bamboo EDT 50ml

Price TBC (launching 7th February – 14th February 2019)

Lastly on the ladies deal range is Gucci Bamboo. The bottle and the scent combined are remarkably elegant. It's notes of ambery and orange blossom just give it a velvet intensity. 

It's a complex fragrance that communicates perfectly for the essence of today’s multifaceted woman. The modern Gucci woman shares Bamboo’s characteristics of confidence and poise. 

There is so much positive allure I would have to make this Gucci Bamboo my editor's pick for fragrances for her. 

 

 

 

Latest News, Tools and Social Media Tips

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In this article I want to give you some crucial updates on everything that is happening in the world of Facebook and Instagram. What's more, how you can utilise these changes into making them work for you. 

CROSS POST AND SWIPE UPS! 

You can now double up on the exposure of what you share across your social media platforms as Instagram has now launched the capability of sharing swipe up links from your stories over to Facebook. 

Although some people like to go native on their individual platforms, for businesses this is a great time saver. Also for people that are more dominant on one channel than the other. For example, I'll confess I don't do much on Facebook compared to Instagram, so having this feature to share across my audiences at least keeps my Facebook page active. The easiest way to get started is by following the instructions here.

FREE MUSIC! 

After I've done a Vlog it can be quite painful having to trawl the net for a song that will fit. Not only that it has to be royalty free otherwise YouTube will set the dogs on you. 

The clever folk at Facebook have sorted this out for us. The Facebook Sound Collection now has over 2,000+ songs and 1,700+ sound effects available for use.

All content from Sound Collection can be used freely on our platforms without any additional licensing. Check out Sound Collection in Creator Studio here.  

WHY THE MERGE? 

You may have heard the news that Facebook are going to merge the messaging services of Facebook, What's App and Instagram by the year 2020. What will this mean for us? More than likely more adverts. WHY? Because Zuckerberg needs to start making a return on Whatsapp since he bought it for $19 Billion. 

Facebook announced increases in revenue today despite all the noise around Cambridge Analytica. And now we have the introduction of a homogenised messaging service. Joy! It just goes to show if you get a product for free, you don’t own it, you are that product. For more information on the combined messaging services there is a great in depth article about that on The National

BACK TO FACEBOOK

You may be looking to boost your posts and services on Facebook, but you're weary on all the technical jargon. There are a dozen ways to improve your skill set on Facebook without having to hire an intern or tech guy. 

Firstly you may want to think about getting a blue certified tick, which can be done by taking an exam via Facebook Blueprint. This will school you on a variety of different subjects such as Ads ManagerBoostingBidding EffectivelyCarousel AdsGenerating Leads from Ads, and Pixel.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions regarding blogging, the latest CMA rules for Instagram or how to monetise your blog you can always comment me below. I know it can be a bit of a labyrinth, maybe daunting for some. So don't hesitate to get in touch. 

 

The Ultimate Way to Travel Light | Moment Lenses

Do you really need a Camera these days when travelling? 

What would be the best alternatives? 

I recently posted an article on my site listing most of the gear bloggers need for traveling. I've had some people message me on my instagram page about a new piece of technology that could help me streamline my gadgets. 

Now I'm implacable when it comes to getting product imagery with my Sony A7S2, but it can be a bit cumbersome when traveling. Whilst out in Bali recently it simply wasn't practical to take it everywhere. 

Moment is a lens company for smart phones started on Kickstarter. They make a couple of lenses, cases, for most of the smart phones that are out today. Currently available are Wide lens, Fish lens, Macro lens. 

They can all be stored in a neat case no bigger than your toilet bag and that can house all the lenses. 

The 170 degree fish eye lens is very wide. It does come out a little shaky without a Gimbal because of the depth of its periphery. But the images I've seen have a neat effect. I think it's more for landscape pictures and balcony panoramas than for day to day video. 

TIP 

Moment will tell you that if you're looking to use this with a Gimbal then you can DIY a counter-balance to the phone. Tape a roll of 20p's to the other end and that should fix it. 

Conclusion 

Moment do look like a very travel orientated brand. They even do travel gift accessories on their website so it's perfect if you want to give your wanderlust friend a unique gift. It's going to be hard for me to part with my Sony but maybe it could also do with a holiday, away from me. 

Other tips to Travel Light

It's not a competition to try and fill the suitcase. 

2 x pair of socks, 2 x pair of pants. Clean them in the sink, dry them on the balcony. Keep rotating them and go one day commando. Boom, you're good for the week. 

Don't take books. You don't read those books at home, you'll never read those books on holiday. I'm determined to read a bit more this year but I won't be doing that on my back by the pool. 

If you're traveling as a couple share the chargers and devices. You can probably half the load if you share.

One pair of smart trainers. I find that shoes take up the most space. In the past I would always take a pair of smart shoes for evening dinner. But I'm not Elton John, I have no entourage schlepping mass amounts of luggage behind me as I throw my keys to the concierge.

Check out the Cole Haan style edit I did, these trainers are incredibly versatile for all climates and events. 

 

 

COMING TO LONDON? How expensive is London?

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You might be thinking of moving to London this year. I've got some news for you, it comes at a premium. I wanted to share with you some of the outgoings I have and ways you guys can save some money. 

Cost of Fish and Chips 

Yes this is the most pressing thing. Now I'm a man of the people, I know a pint of Soya milk is £1.60 from the local co-op. However, dependent on where you go in London the cost of a bag of fish and chips will fluctuate. 

Here in London you should expect to pay double for the price of fish and chips than you would anywhere else in the UK. Undoubtedly the best place to get Fish and Chips is in any of the Ivy restaurants in London, priced at £14.75. 

According to the latest article on the average price for Fish and Chips in London the average cost of a regular cod in London is £7.60. 

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Gym 

As you know I go to KOBOX, and would absolutely recommend that if you're looking to join a gym in London you subscribe to KOBOX to improve your network, your fitness and also your self defense skills. A single class is £20 but you can buy them in bulk for a bargain discount. 

A regular subscription at Virgin Active will cost you north of £85 a month. But with that you can go to regular spin classes, yoga classes and Pilates. 

Cinema 

The infamous ODEON of Leicester Square where most of the London premieres are held will cost you from £10 a ticket. If you want to catch an afternoon showing of Bohemian Rhapsody for example that will cost you £13.25. 

It's been ridiculed in the press recently as some prices can go up to £40. But then again, the IMAX over the road will charge similar amounts. 

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How much for a pint of ale in London? 

It will vary of course, but let me tell you something. We make some of the best ale in the world. Our craft beer in this country is second to none and if you really want to treat yourself and safe some money then invest in a Craft beer subscription box like DiscoverBrew

Surrey is now the most expensive part of the world to buy a pint and the average pint in London costs £4.08, according to the Good Pub Guide

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How much for a Savile Row Suit? 

Well check you out! Flying into London for the weekend, may as well pick up a Savile Row suit whilst you're here eh? Like your style, pun intended. 

According to Beam Fashion, Prices for a bespoke suit start at nearly £5,000 and can go up £10,000 for very exclusive materials. (Silk, Mohair, or a 150 Merino wool). 

The ready-to-wear suits are available starting from £2,200, (although Chester Barrie will have discounted 2-piece ready to wear for half that). 

Don't forget you'll need some shirts, and whilst a trip to Jermyn Street where you'll find Turnbull & Asser, Emma Willis and New & Lingwood will be a box-ticked, you might need something more accessible (price wise at least). 

You can get a Hawkins & Shepherd shirt for as little as £54 if you sign up to a shirt subscription service today. 

 

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.


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. 

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. 



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. 

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. 

 

ThreeSixty° Coffee | Drink Premium Coffee at home

Today I'm going to be waxing lyrical about ThreeSixty° Coffee a luxury, premium single origin coffee brand, where consumers are invited on an adventure of taste.

How nice it is to find something honest. ThreeSixty° Coffee (the brand) has a distilled simplicity that foregoes any superfluous marketing huey and just focuses on delivering a product with character. 

This past week I've had the pleasure of sampling their coffee from Cuba, Mexico and Peru. The denouement has been one of enriched sophistication. 


TASTE PROFILES

Let's take a look at each ThreeSixty° Coffee taste profiles, all of which offer a unique taste and are made up of a single origin.


CUBAN BLEND

This single origin coffee is one of only a few coffees produced by the small coffee growing region this season.

The immediate freshness will invoke the palette and you'll soon be registering roasted nuts fused with the sweetness of cinder toffee and a caramelised brown sugar. A perfectly balanced acidity. 

PERUVIAN BLEND

It's a little known fact that one of the world’s largest coffee growing countries is Peru. 

The delicious notes of cocoa and hazelnut will take you on a journey, a perfect slice of escapism. It's full-bodied, it's full of character, it's a great reason to get out of bed in the morning. 

MEXICAN BLEND

Dominated by smallholders, Mexico now offers a variety of delicious coffee profiles from sweet citrus to smooth chocolate flavours.

The beans come from three farming communities to the west of Tepic and Nayaritt, a region famous for its variety of delicious coffee profiles.

It's an odd juxtaposition for someone like me that has drunk coffee for most of his adult life, yet never had to experience distinguishing the composition. 

As much as it makes me sound like something of a neanderthal, I never knew you could enliven a coffee blend with citrus notes of mandarin balanced with smooth milk chocolate. Who knew?


A truly ethical company

One of the more remarkable things about ThreeSixty° Coffee is how incredibly transparent they are as a company. Each pack is hand-packed and fully traceable, with precise on-pack map coordinates to help discover each coffee’s specific region of origins, which can be traced using Google Earth.

For those that follow my Instagram stories you know I'm very attached to my Krups espresso machine. As well as your espresso machine, ThreeSixty° Coffee is compatible with every possible piece of coffee instrumentation, with easy to follow guides on how to brew your coffee using a cafetiere, a V60 pourover, an aeropress and a chemex. 

Final Thoughts

ThreeSixty° Coffee challenges the rationale that as a society we are cornered into settling for suboptimal coffee at home and only exclusively drink sophisticated blends in cafes, restaurants etc. Now we can make decent coffee at home and at work - plus saving money in the process!

Knowing how to make a decent brew can be a tough university to go through. ThreeSixty° Coffee have made it their goal to simplify coffee brewing methods with easy 'how to' guides on their website. 

ThreeSixty° Coffee is available to buy from Waitrose and Ocado. 

This post was paid for in collaboration with ThreeSixty° Coffee

 

Bring the Style to the Party with Haig Club

One of the greatest things I look forward to around the festive period is proudly and immodestly showing off my mixology skills to friends and family. It coincides with my theory that every family should have someone that is capable of making their own cranberry sauce for the Christmas Dinner.

I have elected myself as the man with the elixir, arriving at parties with a bottle Haig Club Clubman providing the ultimate stylish ingredient for the cocktail recipe.

I did promise myself that this year I'd create a special menu, have it laminated and issue them out via an email circular. On reflection that would take a lot of work, be borderline narcissistic and remove the element of surprise.

My favourite part of playing host or barman, is introducing people to Haig Club. It's an incredibly accessible expression for those that don't typically drink whisky. Conversely, and perhaps one could say surprisingly for a single grain, has been widely lauded by aficionados.

The Haig Club bottle is designed in such a way as to not disappear amongst the plethora of 'bring a bottle' gift. For that reason it works perfectly as a gift for that special stylish someone in your life.

The best cocktail to impress my friends

It's not just the job of a barman to serve drinks. It's to tell the story of the brand and why they coincide with your style and life choices.

When preparing my party special the Principal Lowball, a light Clubman serve with coconut water and sherry, I'll be characterising the blend by eulogising it's perfect proportions.

This cocktail has a wonderful myriad of tasting notes that will stimulate your palate.

As an aside, I've been dabbling in a bit of self-development of late, preparing for my meditative retreat to Bali in January. For that reason I've been noticing the importance of things like balance, harmony and symmetry. 

These subliminal references are a perfect description of Haig Club and encapsulate my thoughts on this expression. As someone that likes to bring a stylish differential to any occasion, being able to express my individualism through the prism of Haig Club is an added bonus.

Treat your friends, educate your patrons, surprise yourself.


Haig Club Clubman Cocktails 6.jpg

INGREDIENTS

40ml Haig Club Clubman
25ml Medium Amontillado sherry
80ml coconut water
5ml single malt whisky
A pinch of salt
A strip of barley to garnish (optional)

METHOD

Step 1 – Combine all ingredients and refrigerate

Step 2 – Pour into a chilled rocks glass with no ice

Step 3 – Garnish with a strip of barley

*This Sponsored post was created in collaboration with Haig Club.