Sunday, 23 October 2016

Lifestyle: October In London

October 2016 in london round up

Hi there! Sorry, I've been rather quiet on my blog, but October has been a super busy month and living in London usually means there's barely a moment to stop moving. However, all the hard work has finally paid off and I can share some fantastic news with you, the latest blogging events I've been to and what else I got up to in London this October.

1. I got back into Baking #BakedInStyle

October kicked off with a GBBO-inspired baking event*, courtesy of the Joe Bloggers Network which was sponsored by NEFF and Curry's PC World. I was delighted to be invited by them (first time) and joined the team for an afternoon workshop at L'Atelier des Chefs in St. Pauls. Together with a handful of food and lifestyle bloggers, we got to make a Hazelnut Torte - a cake that combines all the goodness of the Autumn season. After the baking session, we learnt some tips and tricks how to improve our photography skills and to "tell" a story with our compositions.

L'atelier des chefs showroom kitchen st. pauls london
hazelnut torte bakedinstyle blogging event

The 5h workshop was a lovely get-together with fellow bloggers and a lot of fun. Though the actual baking came a bit short for my taste, with the main focus on the photography part, the afternoon was a great way to remind me of my passion for baking and it helped me to unwind from the work week.

2. I went to the Beauty Bloggers Awards (though I'm not a Beauty Blogger) 

The Beauty Bloggers Awards at Olympia Kensington have become a little annual "must" for me and my friend Serene. We usually check out some of the talks and then head over to the main beauty exhibitions to see if we can get a beauty bargain. This year, however, I went primarily to hear my friend, beauty blogger Fran, talking about blog photography and how to improve your skills. Serene and I got caught up in the morning over breakfast so I thought I may have missed Fran's talk. Luckily they ran behind schedule and Fran came onto the stage next when we arrived.

beauty blogger fran presenting at beauty bloggers awards

Though slightly nervous beforehand, she did brilliantly. The talk went smoothly and it was very insightful and informative. Fran should do this more often as I loved hearing her tips and her presentation style was casual and easy to follow. Alongside with other fellow blogging friends, we cheered when she finished and congratulated her on her talk. This is one of the great things about being part of the UK blogging community and living in London. You can regularly see your friends at random events and it is so easy to catch up with them, as you'll most likely bump into them at another event soon as half of my blogging friends are from London.

3. I've applied for a new job (and got it!)

The second half of the year is usually a more successful period of time for me, characterised by change. I've been a little unhappy with my current job for a while. I felt stuck and trapped in a role that didn't do anything for me bar to give me a paycheck at the end of the month. As the inspirational Liz Ryan would say "my flame [passion] didn't grow", on the contrary, it was diminished by the day and I really felt like I should just give up and put an end to the silent dread every day. I didn't!

In the summer I worked on an escape plan to change this. And it has actually worked! After a long process and a couple of interviews later, I've been offered my dream position. For now, I can't reveal too much, but I am super happy right now and I'm looking forward to starting the role. It's in an industry that fits more with my skills and interests, plus I'll be given more responsibilities. I'm still over the moon about the news, and more, the feedback and support I've received from friends and colleagues have been overwhelming. Change is finally happening and I can look forward to a busy and exciting 2017!

4. KitKat has opened a pop-up in Westfield/Stratford

KitKat follows the Magnum concept and has opened the KitKat Chocolatory, a pop-up store, in Westfield/Stratford. With stores already a massive success in Japan and Australia, London now has its own for a limited period of six weeks. In the store you can create and design your own KitKat bar, choosing a base chocolate and up to three toppings from a list of 16. Personalised packaging included!

KitKat Chocolatory London
white KitKat bar personalised chocolate

The chocolate needs then to set for around 1.5h to be enjoyed. The great thing is that there are no queues. You can walk into the store, design your KitKat via a screen and then return after they've sent you a text to pick up your chocolate. There's also the possibility to get your hands on some limited editions such as Bakewell cherry, millionaire's shortbread, lime and meringue or chilli and mint. However, the store has not very convenient opening times for the working folks. It closes at 7:30pm with the "Design your own" part closing one hour before. The price of £7 is quite heavy. You get a perfectly fresh chocolate bar though with some great flavour combinations.

Mine's a white chocolate KitKat with caramelised pistachios, dark cocoa nibbles and honeycomb. YUM!

5. I'm currently on a long break

I always thought it might be a smart move to work through the first half of the year and then spent the annual leave over the summer....you know when the weather is meant to be sunny and warm and the days are longer, so you actually make the most out of the day, instead of getting to bed at 5pm in winter when the sun sets. It wasn't such a smart move after all, as we all know summer was non-existent this year. April went, May went, June passed by, and then it was August when I finally had my first escape away from London to a lovely Tenerife holiday. I had 20 days remaining, so I quickly allocated some of them for October and now I'm OOO until November.

It's quite relaxing to just enjoy London for once. Usually, I rush to work and then straight back home. All the fast-paced lifestyle around me makes me forget so easily that I actually live in one of the most exciting cities in the world - actually in my favourite city! So far, I've done some long overdue housework, I've been blogging, I previewed Paperchase's recycled new stationery range in collaboration with the London Evening Standard, I've been to my very first wedding, I celebrated a friend's birthday and there's still so much more to come. Tomorrow I'll be heading to the London Zoo and later this week, visit Rome for a few days.

6. Finally: Someone explained my camera to me

I was very lucky to attend a photography workshop* organised by Manfrotto. The Italian brand is specialised in photography equipment, think filters, tripods, daylight lamps. All the cool stuff that the professionals have and you could use for your product shots (especially as it gets dark now so quickly in the day).  

manfrotto photography workshop
manfrotto mini tripod

The workshop was specifically designed for bloggers and though with a slight overkill touch of product demonstration and product selling, the event was very useful and informative. Hosted by two photography professionals, they shared their secrets with us. And I'm not talking the usual superficial "blablabla shutter speed here, F-stop there" it was proper hands on. One of the professionals, Eddie, very kindly sat down with me for a good 45minutes explaining my Nikon camera to me and how to adjust the settings. My camera is quite complex and I've got zero clue as I always took shots on the automatic settings (sorry I'm a beginner and sometimes going the way of least resistance is so much easier). I feel so much more confident now in using the RAW format and shoot in Manual. Eddie gave me some "homework" on the day and little assignments, so the pictures from the event were all shot in Manual and in Automatic so that I could see the difference on screen at home and learn how to use my camera more effectively.

And let's not forget to mention all the amazing equipment! The daylight lamps were incredibly light-weight and so easy to pick up and move around. The mini tripods were my personal favourite as they fit into every handbag and the powerful LED light allows a full on lighting of your objects for perfect product shoot results. I was so happy to find one of those in my goody bag, so all I need now is to invest in an attachable LED light (hint, hint Christmas wish!). 

October has been an incredible month and I'm sure there's more to come. Thanks so much for checking out today's post and I hope to read the one or the other comment. I read and appreciate all of them.

Take care and till next time,
xx Caz xx

*I was invited to the event.
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