Friday, 29 July 2016

Link Love #26

  1. How to get that perfect Instagram flat lay {via Refinery29}

  2. Seven things successful women always say yes to {via Darling Magazine}

  3. How handbags, and what we keep in them, have changed over the years {via Cosmopolitan}

  4. This year's best drone photos, taken all over the world {via TIME}

  5. An image that applies to every British person right now {via Instagram}

  6. The greatest lessons we learnt from Legally Blonde {via Mashable}

  7. On now simply changing your password, can completely change your life {via Huffington Post}

  8. Pairing the right flowers to the right vase {via Domino}

  9. A collection of the cutest succulent containers {via Brit + Co}

  10. The new trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has got me so excited {via Warner Bros}
Keep it real, amigos.
~ Eleanor xo

Thursday, 28 July 2016

What Not to say in a Job Interview

Today marks a whole year since I missed the phone call from my recruitment agency telling me I'd actually managed to blag myself a job. True story. I genuinely missed the call. Luckily, I was able to call her back pretty quick, whole-heartedly expecting to hear another rendition of "they really liked you but....". So in memorial of this momentous day, I'm finally publishing the below blog post, which I wrote during my job search. I hope it provides a little inspiration, or failing that, a good laugh xo.

I don't know how to tell you guys this, but I seriously loved the whole 'unemployed graduate' thing. I mean, every day that recruitment agencies ignored my emails, rejected my applications and lost my phone number, it was all just one big confidence boost after another. I was bursting with so much pride and confidence, it could've been weaponised.

Psych! It was hands down the worst time of my life.

I won't lie to you, when I started my job hunting journey, I had next to no interview experience (I wonder if that's obvious by the below...), so I had pretty much had no idea what I was doing or what I should be saying. Now, ten points to Gryffindor if you can work out why the below statements caused me to not get hired...

  1. Me: "...I once spent a summer doing nothing but scanning and it basically made me want to kill myself"
    Interviewer: "There will be scanning involved in this role"
    {Of course there will be}

  2. Interviewer: "So tell me about yourself. Tell me what you're about"
    Me: *Internally wets self* "Umm well at uni I studied..."
    {Good one Eleanor, he now officially knows you have NO LIFE.}

  3. Me: "Haha, so I'd get to pick up the phone and boss people around?"
    Interviewer: "Ha, well we tend to call it 'manage'"

  4. Interviewer: "How would you say you work best?"
    Me: "I tend to work quite well under pressure [insert incoherent babble about stuff my brain has quite clearly blocked me from remembering for a good reason]... So what I'm saying is, I tend to get the best results when my life is going really badly." *Mentally punches self in the face*

  5. Interviewer: "So does that all sound good?"
    Me: "Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeahhh... I'm just saying yeah a lot now." *Awkward laughter*

  6. Me: "Sorry, my brain's just trying to process it all in-case there's a test at the end" *mimes writing a test*
    Interviewer: "There's no test"
    {What a waste of a perfectly good mime.}

  7. Interviewer: "So why this industry?"
    Me: *Gives long winded explanation and probably goes off subject* "Well I think I probably just used up all the fifteen minutes with that answer so I'll just leave now"

  8. Interviewer: "So what do you read, newspaper wise?"
    Me: "Well I'd say the Daily Mail but my dad would never speak to me again"

  9. Interviewer: "So how many twitter followers do you have?"
    Me: "Well, probably not as many as you... But one of them is Britney Spears"
    *pause where I'm not sure what's going on*
    Interviewer: "Wait, Britney Spears follows you on twitter? How! Why isn't this on your CV. That's the kind of thing you need to put on your CV!"
    {It is now on my CV}

  10. [A couple of days after the interview]
    Recruitment Agency: "I know you were only late to the interview because of very heavy traffic which couldn't be helped, and you informed us in time, but this company are very big on punctuality so it's not looking good..."
    Me: "I totally get that being late isn't a good quality but there was literally nothing I could do about getting stuck in traffic... I think not offering me a job simply on those grounds is a bit... well... Nazi like"
    {Luckily for me, I didn't actually want that job, but I can't say calling the HR team "Nazi's" would've really helped my case if I did...}
There are probably about a bajillion more examples that I could pull up for you to enjoy but I think we all get the picture here: I am not gifted at interviews. And I am in no hurry to relive this experience. *Hangs head in shame*.

~ Eleanor xo

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

How to build a Jaguar without really trying

If there's one thing you should know about me (besides the fact that I never say no to champagne) it's that I love giving gifts. Not just any gifts. The kind of gift that shows how well I know that person but is also something they'd never buy for themselves. Enter, the birthday present I gave to my dad in January: a tour around the Jaguar Manufacturing Centre in Castle Bromwich.

In case it wasn't already obvious, my dad loves Jaguar cars. And since I'm not quite in the financial position to buy him one, I figured that seeing how they're made may suffice for the time being. It's all totally legit, we didn't break in during the night to take a look around, Jaguar have simply cottoned on to a monumental money-making scheme. It's genius really, and to be totally honest, worth every single penny.

The factory itself was once homed to one of the largest producers of wartime aeroplanes during the second World War (much of the country's Spitfires were built in the buildings that are still in use on the site), today though, it is the main assembly plant for Jaguar Land Rover, and produces the XF, XJ, XK and F-Type Jaguar ranges.

Wearing a high-vis jacket with 'VIP' written on the back and a headset that makes you look like the world's lamest tourist, you, a group of about nine others, and a dedicated tour guide get to spend three full-on hours following the production line of the F-Type sports car.

Right from the beginning at the Press Shop, where lightweight sheets of aluminium are pressed by ginormous machines and robots into the pieces and panels of Jaguar cars (it's really super loud so disposable earplugs are supplied); To the main production house, or 'Body Shop', where those aluminium panels are expertly crafted, shaped and 'riveted' by both man and (scarily majestic) machine until an actual motor vehicle rolls out the other side. Then it's into intense testing (think monsoon weather, high powered heat, an inspection of every inch of body work, and trying out all the electrics) after which the car roars into life and is parked up outside, ready to be shipped to its owner.

Each Jaguar is completely bespoke, and honestly, no two we saw looked the same. The vast majority of cars built at the factory are exported around the world, with people waiting six or so months to receive their utterly individual sports car.

Sadly you're not allowed to take any pictures inside the actual warehouses, but the day was so interesting and intense that I almost didn't have time to miss it. The tour guides really do know their stuff inside and out; every possible detail you could wish to know about a Jaguar car will be bestowed upon you during those few short hours (including that they take small samples of the paint they cover their cars in out to the dessert and leave it there for two years, to ensure it doesn't fade or lose any of its Jaguary pizzazz. Pretty cool, right?).

If you're ever in need of a gift for a male in your life, or you simply want to try out something different, I cannot recommend this tour enough. It was so much fun and absolutely worth the two-hundred mile round trip. If only I'd been able to drive away in that beautiful XJ I tried out. Seriously, you could live in that thing *sigh*.
~ Eleanor xo

The Jaguar Visitor Centre, Castle Bromwich, Chester Road, Castle Vale, Birmingham, B35 7RA

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Half Way There

Making good choices, it would seem, is not one of my strong points. This is one of the many things that has become abundantly clear to me over the last six weeks. We all know I'm a big fan of the epiphany, but not so much when I'm inundated with potentially life altering realisations all day every day. No wonder I'm tired all the time.

These realisations include, but are not limited to:
  • After experiencing an anaesthetic injection, I probably won't have the balls to get a tattoo
  • People can be really super nosey and not very tactful
  • But some people can be really super nice and caring and offer to do things for you #babes #blessed
  • Desperate Housewives is one of the greatest shows of all time. 100% fact
  • Knees are literally the greatest gift God has given us. And elbows aren't too bad either
  • I definitely care too much about what people think
  • I need to stop that
  • Knives are sharp
  • I should probably do something different once in a while, like, I don't know, live a little
  • There is no greater luxury than being able to put your arm into the sleeve of a jacket/hoodie/shirt
  • Keeping your arm elevated every hour of every day makes you look like a real keen bean who always has something to say. And it's not all that comfortable when you try and sleep
  • This injury works great as an excuse if you don't want to do something...

Anyway, by some miracle, I've made it through 50 days of my 85 day recovery. I was planning to publish this when I actually hit the half way mark (which was six weeks) but you know how life is, just getting in the way and all that. Plus, Now TV just started streaming Cougar Town, so you know, priorities. Either way, we're seven weeks down the line and it's been a wild old ride, that much I can tell you.

The first four weeks wearing an arm splint twenty-four-seven, were, shall we say, challenging. It's like that age-old saying: "You never know what you have, until you no longer have it". Obviously this better applies to break ups, but my hand felt like it had broken up with the rest of my body so it seems relevant. My four-times-a-day exercises got that little bit better and easier as the days past by; After two weeks I began 'scar massage' which is, as you can imagine, thoroughly unenjoyable (picture me perched on the side of my bathtub wincing and slathering E45 all over the wound in an attempt to treat the skin and get all that soft tissue to chillax a little bit); I saw my physiotherapist a handful of times (no pun intended) and together we nurtured my tendon back to semi-health.

At four weeks, Flint the Splint came off during daylight hours and I was allowed to use my hand for lightweight tasks (picture me attempting to squeeze a dry sponge. Now picture me trying to squeeze a dry car washing sponge. Yes, I had to improvise a bit...). As each week passes, theoretically, the tendon becomes stronger and so the weight of the things I can do increases; I've just about mastered holding a glass of water so that's pretty wild, right? But obviously, I'm massively looking forward to the end of week eight when I can finally drive again!

In my naive condition, I'd hoped that my hand would be in a slightly more usable state when the splint came off, and that I'd be back to washing my hair like the ladies in those borderline inappropriate Herbal Essences adverts. Sadly, we're not quite there yet, and although I've also had the luxury of being allowed to straighten my index finger, yesterday I learnt that my 'peace' sign ain't quite what it used to be.

There's still a fair way to go but I'm feeling positive, which is very unlike me so the pain medication must be working...
~ Eleanor xo

PS. The title of this post is in reference to this song, but you already knew that, right?

| And if none of the above makes sense, you can read part one here |

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Rain, Planes and Buckets of Champagne

Enjoying day 3 of the Farnborough Air Show at The Aviator Hotel, Farnborough

I think we can all largely agree that Britain + Summer = rain showers. [Ed's note: This logic made sense when I wrote it, which was before these last few swelteringly sunny days occurred. Clearly they're a sign of the apocalypse or possible incoming locusts storms, a la, The Bible. But who can be sure.]

Anyway, last Wednesday, my parents and I bundled into our car and hotfooted it down the motorway to Farnborough where we spent the day eating, drinking, plane spotting, glaring menacingly at dark clouds and generally having a great time at a hotel where the toilets are labelled 'washrooms' and bottles of Ren soap and moisturiser sit beside the sinks. As do beautifully flowering white orchids. That's code for: an establishment that's really rather fancy.

Clearly a hotel with a fairly robust marketing strategy, The Aviator (the hotel where I celebrated my twenty-first birthday, and very almost put my back out after devouring one too many scones) sent us an email back in May about a hospitality package they were running at the hotel during the week of the Farnborough Air Show.

For a mere £85 per person, you could arrive at the hotel (with guaranteed complimentary parking, always a plus), enjoy Champagne (of the very fanciest variety, much to my delight), endless glasses of wine (much to my father's delight), a three-course-meal (one of those ones where it basically looks like Pablo Picasso has cooked and presented it) and then mosey on outside to sit on their terrace and watch the air displays take place across the road at the airfield (or in our case, huddle by the nearest window and squint really hard through the rain droplets).

One of the first things you should know about me is that I will never say no to champagne. Categorically never. This also works for prosecco because who really has champagne lying around to day drink when things get rough? So I felt right at home when I was offered perfectly chilled Verve Cliquot as soon as we sat down at our table and therefore everything that happened afterwards is a bit of a blur. I jest. I got through at least half of my second glass of wine before things started to get a bit sway-y. (In my defence, I haven't consumed alcohol for quite a while (holla at me injury), and this was the good stuff). No, what I mean is: good champagne = good times to come.

And I was right. The food, to put it simply, was really really blooming tasty. A basket of freshly baked, still warm bread rolls with cubes of butter arrived at our table as we each poured over the menu. Although all three courses were included, I've never been a huge fan of starters so I jumped straight into my main course (I opted for the duck breast with smoked beetroot, pickled cherries and Jersey Royal potatoes), which was, as you can imagine, presented like a work of art and was so so tasty I almost can't describe it.

This was followed by a 'St Clements parfait, lime meringue, blood orange gel and clotted cream & lavender ice cream'. I tend to opt for the 'lightest' dessert option on the menu so this was basically perfect. Not to mention that it was the host of a party in my mouth that everyone was invited to. And it was so intricately presented that I wasn't really sure where to start. In the end I just sort of stuck my spoon in and hoped for the best.

The air displays began just as we were finishing up our meal, and incidentally, as the rain clouds began to roll in. We managed about fifteen minutes of viewing outside on the terrace before the heavens opened and we all dashed inside (with hotel branded umbrellas close to hand). But as we each found a window to press our noses up against, the display ceased until the weather got itself slightly more under control, so there was little else to do but sit around, wait, and, you know, drink.

But as Kelly Clarkson once sang: "When you've lost your lights / The sun will rise / It'll be alright". And lo-and-behold she was right. Eventually the clouds dispersed and a beautiful blue sky shone through; the ear-splitting roaring sound of the planes taking off just metres in front of us started up again and we all flooded back outside to "ooooh" and "ahhhhh" at the planes soaring, twisting and turning above our heads. Not that I know all that much about planes, but witnessing an Airbus A380 soaring through the air like a majestic bird and manoeuvring itself so delicately, arguably in such a way that surely no jumbo jet should be able to achieve, was really something special.

The whole day was an absolute blast; the staff at the hotel are so genuinely kind and helpful that you almost feel like they'd have moved the grey clouds if you'd asked them too; the food was off the scale and those pilots have got some seriously strong stomachs. I would definitely recommend doing something like this when the airshow returns in 2018.

Until then, here's the livestream of the display I saw.
~ Eleanor xo

The Aviator, 55 Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 6EL

Friday, 15 July 2016

Link Love #25

  1. If you love yourself a bathtub, you're going to love this {via MyDomaine}

  2. Twenty jobs that will let you travel the world {via Travelletes}

  3. What happens when a supermarket's carrot batons simply aren't up to scratch {via Mashable}

  4. Thanks to science, here's ten ways your BFF actually improves your health {via Huffington Post}

  5. What it's like to attend Royal Ascot {via Town & Country}

  6. A nutritionist reveals the fruits lowest in sugar {via The New Potato}

  7. Vogue breaks down the best suncream for your skin type {via Vogue}

  8. This beautiful all-in-one home, dubbed the 'über shed' {via Homes to Love}

  9. Fifty-five things that happen during every Real Housewives episode. Never a truer word spoken {via Buzzfeed}

  10. Totally feeling this piece on 'Instagram versus real life' {via Covering The Bases}
~ Eleanor xo

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The 'I couldn't go to Spain, but my parents could' Haul

Spanish clothing brands are my absolute favourite; ever since I walked into Pull and Bear in the Centro Comercial of a small Spanish town about six years ago, I've been obsessed with them. Luckily, the likes of Mango, Zara, Pull and Bear and Bershka can be purchased here in the UK, but with exchange rates being as they are, it's way better to stroll into a physical store in España and pick out the pieces there and then, paying in Euros.

So, unsurprisingly, when I learnt I wasn't going to be jetting across The Channel any time soon, I hopped online and created a teeny wishlist so that my ever-doting parents could pick up a couple of things on my behalf. They were super grateful that I took the time to do it. I could really feel their excitement seeping through my phone... Either way, they did good:

1. This pair of effortlessly cute blue denim shorts with lace fringing from Springfield

2. This super-soft sleeveless cotton shirt with an embroidered bottom from Cortefiel is going to be perfect for warm summer work days

3. I love the little feathers appliquéd onto this pair of sandals from Oysho

4. After searching for a top of this style for a lifetime, this light denim blouse with embroidered flounces from Springfield is too perfect

5. I'm a huge fan of the Organic Cotton range from Zara so it only made sense to pick this tank up in two colours

6. A floral pyjama set from Oysho featuring this wild flower top and these floral bouquet shorts are perfect for summer nights

7. And thanks to Gatwick Duty Free, a whole new bottle of one of my favourite fragrances, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet

And what trip to mainland Europe would be complete without ten tonnes of Milka chocolate? (spoiler alert: Milka is my favourite chocolate in the world).

~ Eleanor xo

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

New Years Resolutions: Six Months Later

*whispers* can you believe we're already over half way through 2016? Tim Peake's back from Space, the Queen's another year older, Justin Timberlake sang at Eurovision (for reasons still unbeknown to me), Finding Dory was released, Shakespeare's been dead for 400 years, The Harry Potter stage show opened and Pretty Little Liars is still just as confusing as it's always been. Phew, what a jam-packed six months!

And because I love an excuse to write a blog post featuring a semi-colon in the title, I decided now would be the perfect time to look back at the year so far and see if any of those resolutions I made back in January are actually being put into practice. Turns out, I haven't done too badly...

1. Learn to talk slower
(Sub note: learn how to pronounce my own name correctly)
I've actually got quite good at this, I have to admit. It's a bit strange trying to force yourself to talk slower but when I'm talking on the phone, I notice what a huge difference it makes (because the person has no other visual cues to what you're saying). I haven't quite mastered the name pronunciation yet but I've developed a new system: say my full name and then spell out my surname. Obviously this doesn't work in Starbucks, but if I'm making an appointment or calling to confirm something, it works a treat.

2. Read more
I've managed to complete twelve whole books so far this year which probably isn't a huge number for some people, but personally I'm rather pleased. It's still sometimes difficult to find the time to switch off and delve into a book, but I've come to realise the benefits of doing it and I really value the time I have to fall into a fictional world. I've really been digging thrillers (like Gone Girl and The Kind Worth Killing) as well as books set around war time (like All The Light We Cannot see and Life After Life) with the occasional rom-com chucked in there for good measure (a la Me Before You).

3. Have a proper clear out of all my shit
I mean, are any of us surprised that this has yet to happen? I mean, I've done the odd thing, sure, but not quite on the scale I'd have liked. I'm hoping that when I regain dual-handedness and my parents start their elaborate house restoration project it'll give me the kick in the arse I need to evaluate all my belongings and work out what I do and do not need, as well as how much I can realistically store. Or maybe I'll just keep procrastinating.

4. Get my #GirlBoss on 
This was going super well, but for obvious reasons, this is now on hiatus. I'd gained so much confidence during the last few months and it really showed in what I was doing and how I was handling things. I still get the odd nervous blip, but overall, I'm able to power through and get shit done. I love it; I feel pro-active and capable and it's brilliant. Onwards and upwards!

~ Eleanor xo

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Photo Diary: June Round Up

A serious facial expression just wasn't going to cut it with those crazy foils going on @ D's Hair Creations
I could totally get used to spending hours reading gossip mags, drinking coffee and getting my hair did @ D's Hair Creations
But look at my hair though
Feeling so Pinterest right now @ Giraffe, Guildford
I did not order well (I mean, it was tasty, but you know, one handed) @ Giraffe, Guildford 
Our homegrown sweet peas are nice though so

As you can see, this month's photo diary is looking a little sparse. To put it mildly, June didn't play out quite how I envisioned. Two weeks were supposed to be spent at work, and two weeks were supposed to be spent on the beach of small Spanish town. Instead, one week was spent at work and the other three were spent at home on my couch. If you've already read this post, you'll know about the cataclysmic event that occurred just four days into the month and managed to mess up pretty much everything for the foreseeable future. #Blessed.

But before that day, here's what happened:
  • It got really super cold again. I'm talking, gloves and scarf weather.
  • I spotted Nick Knowles on Windsor high street just doing some casual shopping.
  • I witnessed the police chase and arrest a man who you wouldn't necessarily think was a criminal. Meaning, he was wearing a fancy-ass suit.
  • I made my first ever purchase from FCUK which I was mighty pleased with until my mum freaked out when she saw the bag because she thought it said something else.
  • I finally got the USB charging port in my car fixed. Only took me nine months...
  • I took the plunge and spent an eye-watering amount of money getting my hair highlighted blonde.
And then:
  • I severed my index finger's flexor tendon, had emergency reconstructive surgery on my left hand and began a gruelling twelve week recovery filled with physiotherapy sessions, hand exercises, lots of sobbing and a strange amount of "that splint makes your arm look very thin" comments from my mum.
Still, in between the 24/7 splint wearing, the fact I couldn't go to work or leave the country, there were a couple of good moments. I learnt just how resourceful I can be (and that knees are the unsung heroes of the human body), I read all of my favourite monthly magazines from cover to cover, finished a couple of books, took up colouring, re-watched loads of my favourite TV shows (and became of obsessed with ABC's newest release 'The Catch') and I finally tried apricots.

Oh, and then the UK voted to leave the European Union so that was annoying*.
~ Eleanor xo

*It was way worse than 'annoying' but I'm trying to be PC.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

June Favourites

What a totally indescribably insane month June has been. The weather was humid as hell and the thunderstorms crazy as hell (I may've had to sleep with the light on...), the UK decided to leave the EU (boooo) and people flew from Vegas to London in a shorter time than it took people to drive down a country road to Glastonbury Festival; not to mention the absolutely redonkulous situation I got myself into just four days into the month.

It's been a pretty jam packed few weeks, and here's what I've been digging lately:
  1. Desperate Housewives
    Before we all get ahead of ourselves, no, I have not waited this long to delve into the American delight that is Desperate Housewives. I watched the show originally way back in 2011, with the last season ending in 2012, so it's been a fair few years since I've caught up with my favourite ladies (they're all just so beautiful aren't they?), and I've loved going back and re-watching every episode right from the start. I laughed, cried and became just as obsessed as I did when I watched them the first time round. They just don't make them like that anymore. *Sigh*.

  2. 7/27 by Fifth Harmony
    Somebody hold me, I cannot even put into words how much this album makes me wish I was part of Fifth Harmony. I actually downloaded this on its release day, which is very unlike me, but when Work From Home dropped, I knew the album was going to be off the chain. Do the kids still say that? Either way, I was right. The songs are so upbeat, so catchy and genuinely too good to put into words; I've been playing this on repeat all month long and I know it's going to be a firm favourite for a while to come.

  3. Mitchum Shower Fresh Deodorant
    As we all know, I like to switch up the products I use as often as possible, and this month was the turn of arguably the least sexy beauty product on offer. I chose to try out Mitchum a) because I've heard a lot of good things about the brand b) because it was on offer so, duh and c) because I didn't realise it is largely regarded as 'the brand for sweaty people', so hooray for me. A lot of people tend to go for the roll-on versions, but I prefer aerosols way more so I picked up this 'shower fresh' spray and I knew as soon as I tried it that I was into it. I find it really refreshing, really long lasting and actually a really pleasant scent. No sweat happening here, thank you very much.

  4. Millie Marotta's Wild Savannah Colouring Book
    I've loved the look of these colouring books since they first started popping up in book stores, but up until now, I've never owned one. I always seem to blame the fact that 'I don't have enough time' as to why I've been without one for so long, but as I've had rather a lot more free time lately, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to change that. The illustrations included in the book are so so pretty and so well designed. I didn't realise quite how relaxing it would be to spend a few hours colouring in animals, but I'm definitely a fan of switching off. 

  5. Homegrown Sweet Peas
    Way back in March I bought my mum a small pot of sweet peas for Mother's Day, blissfully unaware of quite how monstrous the plant would grow to be. Currently the plant sits in a pot in our back garden and even now, the prettiest and brightest flowers are still blooming in abundance. They've been ripe for the picking throughout the last few weeks and all month long our house has been filled with vases pretty much overflowing with purple, pink and white sweet peas. Not only are they a small way to brighten a room, they also smell amazing.

~ Eleanor xo