Friday, 29 June 2012

A blog post from New York City

pic from
Hello readers. I have now been in the one and only New York City for over a week now, and I realise it's been even longer than that since I blogged. Sorry. Bad Rachel.

I'm currently looking out of the window of my friend's apartment (yes - my best friend is studying here which explains how I'm able to stay in NYC for so long on a student budget) at The Empire State Building and a very VERY hot New York bustling along five floors down. Yellow cabs everywhere, I tell ya. It amazes me that such is the view outside her window, and if I lived here it would never cease to do so.

Anyhoo, my past week and a bit has involved all sorts of things, including (in no particular order): an $8 manicure, lots of froyo, super hot yoga, shopping (a bit - see below), $1 slices of pizza bigger than my face, a free boat trip to Staten Island, peanut butter flavoured EVERYTHING, looking at engagement rings in Tiffany's, going to fashion exhibitions and indie cinemas, jogging by the Hudson River, cupcakes with filling inside them(!), Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District, getting lost in the Gay Pride parade, seeing Krysten Ritter (from Don't Trust The B**** In Apt 23 - my new fave TV show - and Confessions of a Shopaholic), finding freebies here, there and everywhere, and, of course, being told how awesome my accent is. As you can imagine, I'm having a jolly good time.

There's lots going on here, naturally, and the people-watching is on a whole new level, but I think to really enjoy New York and all it has to offer, it helps to be rich. Literally. (I love how Americans say that word.) I have found a fair few bargainous ways to get by (and still have much more planned for my last few days, don't you worry!) but everything really is very expensive here. I suppose that's just the (literal) price you have to pay for such fabulousness. And standard for such a huge city.

Of course, New York shopping is legendary. But again, it's not generally the most affordable, and I'm actually surprised by how little I've spent here. Forever 21 is a kajillion times better here in the US than it is in England, FYI, and amazingly affordable. Everywhere you go in New York there are so many beautiful, lovely things to wish for - from independent boutiques, to quirky vintage shops via huge department stores - but most of this nice stuff isn't quite so nicely priced. C'est la vie, eh? Also, not so mnay high street shops offer student discounts here - what is that about? America, get your act together.

But never fear, dear readers! I plan on writing up a blog post of the best shops, eating places and general things to do in New York for free or very little money. Hoorah! Students rejoice! For now though, I'm going to leave you and get back to enjoying what is potentially the most fabulous city in the world.

PS if you want to check out all my NYC adventures as they're happening, do follow my Twitter and Instagram @rachel_hosie.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Fathers' Day blog: Why dads are awesome.

Not all teenage girls get on with their dads. Being nearly 20 myself I have witnessed countless different father-daughter relationships through my friends over the years, and it's made me realise that I am really very lucky to get on with my dad as well as I do. Sure, it's not all plain sailing just like any familial relationship (I tell him off for not cleaning the toastie machine and he tells me off for going over my phone limit), but overall, daddio and I are pretty tight. We have some good chats. We're mostly on the same page.

So as it's Fathers' Day tomorrow, I thought I would write a little something about how brill the dadmeister is which I hope reminds you all to appreciate your dads. An ode to fathers, you might say. So here are some reasons why dads are awesome:

This is not my dad. I don't know whose dad this is but he's doing a good job. Pic from
1. He will always be there to get rid of spiders. Or any other creepy crawly of your choice. I was at home for a couple of nights last week, and at around midnight when I was getting ready for bed, I spotted an eight-legged freak on my ceiling. Spiders have always been my nemesis. I'm definitely not as scared as I was when I was little (catching sight of even the teensiest one would send me running for the hills, screaming as I went) but I'm still not a fan. They just move so quickly. And why do they need so many legs!? IT'S NOT NECESSARY! Oh, um... sorry for that rant. So anyway, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep with the spider in my room, and despite Dad being in his comfy spot on the sofa watching TV, glass of wine in hand, he came up and removed the little blighter when I asked - just like he always has done throughout my childhood. Is that not extremely kind? I remember the first time a wasp came into my uni room this year and I had to deal with it myself. It's fair to say I am now a skilled wasp-squisher. (Sorry, animal rights people.)

2. He knows a lot about boring but useful stuff. As a student who left home for the first time last year having been in a very comfortable homey bubble for 19 years, there was a lot I had to learn. And much it was to do with money which is a total snooze. Luckily, mein Vater just happens to know a lot about that sort of thing, and is always on hand to guide me through issues with rent, taxes and fees. Well, nearly always. There was one incident when my card got declined in Tesco when I was only trying to buy a bottle of squash and a magazine. Pretty embarrassing times right there.

3. You can count on him for the same jokes over and over again. Dad jokes. So bad they're good? Or just bad? I think the thing is that they're averagely funny the first time you hear them (and this is why your friends politely chuckle when your dad whacks out one of his fave one-liners), but as a member of the immediate family who hears the same jokes over and over again, they start to lose their impact. In my family we can all predict what my dad will say when an emergency services siren goes past - get ready for this gem: "You won't sell much ice-cream going on that speed!" I actually hear it in my head if he's not there.

4. To him, you are always the star of the show. I really do feel for the dads (mine included in this group) who have to sit through hours of dance shows and song recitals just to see their little darlings have five minutes in the spotlight. My younger sister and I have done a ridiculous amount of shows over the years (and we're still going!), and there's nothing like the support of your parents. The rugby player Austin Healey was actually in the front row of one of my dance shows a few years ago as his daughters went to the same school. I'm pretty sure he was chatting to his wife all through my numbers, but I suppose that's fair enough. It must've been super boring for him when his girls weren't on stage. Dads will always think their daughter is the best. Even when she's not. (And we all know that most of the time she's not!)

anyone else get a tear in their eye at this? pic from
5. Dads occasionally do have some really good advice. Sure, a lot of the time dads are spewing out their dad jokes or nagging their offspring about homework/chores/finding a job, but sometimes they say something really useful. They know some stuff, these wise old guys. The best thing my dad's ever said to me? Well, he says it quite a lot really. And I think I'll probably say it a lot to any future children I may have, as I think it's a real good'un. It's so good that I'm going to share his wisdom with you all. Behold:
"The more you put in, the more you get out."
And on that note, I'm going to leave you to contemplate the above, think about your fathers, and have a happy Fathering Sunday. Kids of the world, appreciate your dads. Dads of the world, keep up the good work. And let us take you shopping.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

RECIPE: Strawberry birthday cake

I made this for my sister's birthday the other day, and as you can see, I've decorated it in an extremely girly fashion. Obviously, you could make yours more macho if you wanted it to be a manly cake. Needless to say, all my family (macho brother included) enjoyed the cake. This one is an adapted recipe from the fabulous Primrose Bakery Book, and is more interesting than a plain Victoria sponge thanks to the layer of strawberries in the middle and also the bits of strawberries actually in the cake. It's perfect for the summer too, birthday or not.

Because of the fresh fruit it won't keep for particularly long, so if you don't eat it all up straight after baking, you should keep it in the fridge. There are few things sadder than having to throw away cake that's gone bad. And don't forget to take your eggs and butter out the night before.

Ingredients - the sponge:
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing tins
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g fresh strawberries, chopped into small pieces (see pic further down)
The filling:
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam (or raspberry if you're my sister!)
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 450g icing sugar, sifted
  • a few drops of pink food colouring (optional)
  • about 250g fresh strawberries


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 20cm round sandwich cake tins and line the base of each with greaseproof paper.

2. Sift the flour, cornflour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and mix together with a spoon.

3. Add the butter, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk together using a hand-held whisk until light and fluffy. Then fold in the chopped strawberries.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.

5. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for ten minutes before turning them out on to wire racks.

6. While the cakes are cooling, make you buttercream icing: Using an electric hand-held mixer again, beat the butter, milk and vanilla extract and half the icing sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy - the longer your beat it the lighter it will be, so keep going for at least five minutes. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar until it has a smooth consistence, and add the food colouring to create your desired colour. If you add a lot and the icing becomes too runny, just add some more icing sugar.

the icing
7. When the cakes are completely cool, remove the baking paper circles from their bases. Place one cake on a plate and spread with a thin layer of strawberry jam. Then place a thin layer of sliced strawberries on top of the jam.

8. Hold the second cake and ice the underside of it with a 1cm-thick layer of the buttercream. Carefully place it on top of the first cake, iced side down. This middle layer of jam, strawberries and buttercream all gets mushed together but tastes delicious like that!

9. Once the cakes are sandwiched together, ice the top with the remaining buttercream and top with the fresh strawberries or whatever else you fancy! I cut my strawberries into hearts and added a few silver balls too. The cake is best served immediately as the fresh strawberries tend to soften and bleed their juice into the icing. But to be honest, even when the strawberry juice has dripped and the icing has run down the sides a bit, it still tastes de-lish! In my opinion anyway.

happy birthday!

Let me know how you get on! What are your favourite birthday cakes?


Sunday, 10 June 2012

The wonders of my mother's wardrobe

pic from
Most girls are influenced by their mother's style while growing up, and I find that their subsequent style often goes one of two ways: they either develop a completely different look to their mama, or quite a similar one. I've realised that for me it's definitely the latter. We're both major trouser fans, and can often be found in a pair teamed with a stripey top and blazer. Probably with a pashmina too, as the mother and I both feel the cold like you wouldn't believe! Though we have similar styles, mine tends to be a bit more "out there" while mum's is more sophisticated. Occasionally I wear something that's just too weird for mum, and she just won't get it. But that's the way it's supposed to be.

I think my mum dresses really well, not just for her age but for any age. I imagine it must be difficult once you get to middle age to get the balance right: you want to look stylish and chic, but most definitely not "mutton dressed as lamb." We've all seen those women now, haven't we? They're easily identifiable by their overly revealing outfits, Jack Wills trousers and long blonde hair extensions. I'm not saying that older women shouldn't be able to wear whatever they like, and I have a lot of respect for those who do, but this is just my opinion of what looks good. My lovely mum dresses fabulously, in my opinion, and I guess I'm lucky that I'm not one of those daughters who feels embarrassed to go out with her mum. Heck - I'm usually showing her off! In the past, friends have commented on how well they think meine Mutter dresses, and it does make me a smidge proud. I love it when people tell me I look like my mum, and found it weird when I said that the other day and a girl said she hated it when people said that to her!

Having two older teenage daughters probably helps in the stylish mum stakes, to be fair, because obviously my sister and I are oh so stylish examples of fashion... ish. I suppose we bounce of mum and she bounces off us. I always like it when I wear an outfit that I know my mum would like, but that probably just comes down to my strange ultimate aim in life of making my parents proud (not really sure what that's all about... Psychologist anyone?) My sister, mother and I are also lucky in that there's not that much size variation between us, so we have been known to share the odd item of clothing here and there. Actually, most of the time it's the lil sis borrowing my things while I'm away at uni, and then she always looks better in them too. Grr. And I have clown feet so can't borrow either of their shoes. When I was little, I remember clip-clopping about the house in my mum's wedding shoes (white, slightly pointed, not overly high heels with a white bow), waiting for the day when my feet would be big enough to wear them properly. That day came and then went before I knew it. My life is very hard, as you can see.

Although shoes are a no-go, one of my fave ways of getting new clothes/bags is delving into my mother's wardrobe from years gone by. I can tell you, readers, I have found (and subsequently stolen) some incredible gems in there which probably would have cost a fair amount in vintage shops. It's also a rather fantastic feeling when people go "Wow! I love your jumper/trousers/handbag [delete as appropriate]! Where did you get it?" and I respond "Oh, it was my mum's from, like, the 80s" in a nonchalant manner.

Here are some of my fave pieces:

This old Mulberry is my current handbag du jour. Mum has a Bayswater of her own, so I couldn't just stand by and watch this old beauty get swept aside now, could I? Some day I will buy my own new Mulberry, but for the moment I absolutely love this one. It's almost better having a less ubiquitous bag, isn't it? You can't go anywhere without seeing a tan Alexa these days for sure.

I also commandeered this lovely Louis Vuitton drawstring bucket bag which mama never used. There are currently similar ones going for up to £500 on ebay at the moment, which is a bit mad.

pic from
Mum also has an old but ever classic Burberry trench which she NEVER wears, the crazy lady.

Other items I've casually taken off my mum's hands include a delightful pair of white high-waisted jeans from ZAPA which I believe were rather expensive at the time, a fab oversized cream chunky cable-knit jumper, and this incredibly fun one which I wear quite a lot:

To be honest it is so not my mother, but luckily it is so me. I remember my cousin seeing me in it once and proclaiming "It's not fair! My mum doesn't have anything cool like that!" But she probably does. All mums do. You just have to have a rummage through. Almost like finding something good in a Primark sale.

Has anyone else found anything amazing in their mum's wardrobes? I've even been known to steal the odd piece from my dad's, so I think the next mission will be to have a good old delve in there. Watch out, daddio...

Friday, 8 June 2012

My live SKY News interview about the Diamond Jubilee Concert!

Funniest screen grab ever!? (Read the bottom: Rachel Hosie after being attacked...)
As if I wasn't excited enough to be going to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace last Monday, my day shaped up to be even better than I'd expected when I was contacted by a producer at SKY News two days earlier. She had seen my blogs and tweets about how much I was looking forward to the concert, got in touch on Twitter (ah, the power of social media) and asked me if I would like to be interviewed about it live from SKY studios. Of course I would!

Originally, I'd been told my interview would be at 7.10am which was not an ideal scenario but obvs I was still super up for it, but then it got changed to 9.40am which thankfully meant that all my family and friends had no excuse not to be literally up for it.

As a student who is extremely interested in broadcast journalism, I could barely sleep the night beforehand. It felt almost like Christmas Eve... but more nerve-racking. What if I said something stupid? Or couldn't say anything at all!? And despite setting three alarms I was terrified I wouldn't wake up for some reason. Needless to say I was awake long before the alarms went off.

It was fab treatment all the way - SKY sent a car to pick me up and take me to the studios, which was very nice indeed. When I got there I was offered a cup of tea or coffee and shown straight into hair and make-up (silly old me had been panicking trying to decide what lipstick to wear all for nothing!) The make-up artists were lovely, chatting away while beautifying me. They made sure not to overdo it so that I still looked like me by asking about my usual look and my opinion, whilst also using their expertise to do what was necessary for television. An extra plus was that I then had my hair and make-up professionally done for the picnic and concert later that day. Result.
Getting my make-up done

Before my interview, I was given a little tour of the studios. It's so slick, I must say. The producing suite is ridiculously technologically snazzy and the main set looked great too. Conveniently for the Jubilee, everything is red and blue. I hadn't realised but they don't actually have any camera people - it's all remote controlled and the prompters actually are the cameras too. Although I noticed during my interview that the presenters don't strictly follow the scripts anyway. After my mini tour it was off to the green room for a few minutes to wait for my call. There was an elderly somewhat esteemed man waiting there too. He was very calm unlike the nervous ball of excitement that was yours truly. He told me that he was retired now but had been the press secretary for the royal family, and had done tons of TV interviews and presenting. He probably thought I was ridiculous - these sorts of things obviously aren't a big deal to someone so experienced.

UPDATE: This is somewhat embarrassing. I knew I recognised him from somewhere, but I found out after my interview that said esteemed man was in fact Dickie Arbiter, the former press secretary of Her Majesty the Queen! Major wow factor. Had I known at the time I probably would have asked him all sorts of questions, so I suppose it was probably for the best that I didn't know it was him.

A few minutes later, it was time. Dun dun DUN! This was it. I sat down on the sofa next to Stephen Dixon and the other presenters (who were all so relaxed while VTs were being shown), I was mic-ed up and waited as I tried not to look round in awe at everything going on. Must not look at the cameras. Stephen (along with everyone I met at SKY) was delightfully friendly and lovely, helping me relax a bit. After what seemed like the longest interview with Cliff Richard ever, it was go time.

My interview may only have been a few minutes long, but I absolutely loved it! I stuttered over the first thing I said, trying to say three different things at once, but I like to think that I relaxed into it after a while. I think I was just getting into my stride at the end! Sure, I probably said "excited" a few too many times, but my friends said that it was better to be bubbly and enthusiastic than monotonous and uncommunicative. The whole thing was such a rush and brilliant fun. I want to do it again!
Me and Stephen Dixon
I've had such lovely comments from my friends and family who watched it (obviously, seeing as they are just that: friends and family), but it was also really nice to be tweeted by someone I didn't know afterwards (asking about my dress too!) and I was even recognised by a fellow Concert ticket holder at the picnic at Buckingham Palace later that day.

It was an experience I'll never forget, and hopefully not my last TV appearance.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

My first-hand experience of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert and Picnic in Buckingham Palace!

I had looked forward to this day for months in advance, excitedly counting down the weeks since finding out I'd won tickets in the ballot, so I could barely believe that Monday 4th June 2012 had finally arrived. It's safe to say that I had high hopes for the whole event, but my expectations were completely blown out of the water. Here's how it all happened:

We'd been told that the gates to the Palace would be opened at 3.30pm, so the Mother and I arrived at around 3.15pm. Evidently, the organisers had known all along that the keen ticket winners would arrive early, so they'd actually already started letting people in, which was fabby because we barely queued. The atmosphere outside Buckingham Palace was electric! Everyone was absolutely buzzing, waving flags and soaking up all the excitement. After going through airport-style security, we were in! We strolled through the courtyard in front of the palace and were given our incredible picnic hampers as we went (more on that later), and then we got to actually walk through part of Buckingham Palace to get to the garden. As you can imagine, it is super grand inside - unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures. What was lovely was that we weren't rushed through or anything, and the staff (who must have nearly outnumbered the guests!) were so delightfully friendly and helpful, frequently wishing us an enjoyable time (but not overdoing it!)


Unsurprisingly, everything in the garden was beautiful. There were stylish marquees dotted around for sheltering, different musicians playing (from steel bands to jazz), and delightfully classy loos (no portaloos for the royals!) We were free to stroll wherever we pleased, and it was really nice chatting to different people. I really liked that because each winner had won two tickets, everyone was walking round in couples, from mothers and daughters to husbands and wives. It was such a friendly atmosphere, as I suppose everyone just felt so thrilled, excited and lucky to be there. And because the 10,000 tickets had been allocated randomly, there really were all sorts there - some people had dressed up for the occasion as if they were going to Ascot, whereas others were in Union Jack style fancy dress. The mother and I went for somewhere in the middle.

And now, the picnic hamper. It was absolutely incredible to be honest! I'd found out what food we were getting beforehand (all done by Heston Blumenthal, don'tcha know) but I wasn't expecting it all to be in such a beautiful wicker basket/cool bag. Such a great souvenir. Not only was there loads of delicious food ("jubilee" chicken, duchy oatcakes, fancy chutney, four mini bread rolls, chilled soup, cheese, two cakes, strawberry crumble crunch pudding and more), we also got a pack of 12 hand wipes (I'm not sure quite how messy they were expecting us to get!), a beautiful souvenir programme and a delightful (and sturdy) blue rain poncho, with the Jubilee emblem design.

Not only that, but we all got unlimited bottles of water (again, with a special Jubilee label) and elderflower. We each had one drinks voucher, entitling us to either a flute of Champagne or a pint of beer. Obvs mother and I went for the Champagne (Moet, natch), and although the flute was plastic, it didn't look it. THEN - yes there's more - staff started coming out with loads of tubs of ice cream for us all. It's ridiculous that we didn't pay for any of this (don't hate me!)

So the mother and I casually strolled around the gardens and their beautiful pond, generally having an amazing time. It was quite funny because there were a couple of showers, and the lawn suddenly turned completely blue as everyone threw on their ponchos. Overall, we were lucky with the weather though, especially compared to the torrential downpours for the flotilla the day before. More excitement came in the form of meeting and chatting to Daily Telegraph journalist, Bryony Gordon, whose piece we ended up quoted in the next day (read it here)! I LOVE her writing so this was super cool for me (she seemed to love that my mum's and my names are Monica and Rachel, like in Friends). I also met Made In Chelsea's Ollie Locke, who evidently thought the concert and picnic were more important than watching his series finale. Good priorities. What's more, I myself actually got recognised by someone because of my interview live on Sky News on the morning of the concert, which is hilarious (read all about my interview here.) I think it's really sweet as well that some members of the Royal Family actually came down to the garden to mingle with us mere commoners too, such as Princesses Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie.

At around 6pm after we'd all had the perfect amount of time in the garden, we started to be casually ushered round to get into our seats for the concert. It wasn't forceful, and we could all take our time and finish off our ice creams. The staff really were fantastic - they went round collecting rubbish all the time, were always smiley and were extremely polite when trying to get us all from one place to the next.


As mother and I took our seats, the sun was fully out and the sky was blue. We were fortunate enough to be on the side that was hit by the evening sun which not only kept us a bit warmer, but also meant that the sunset behind the stage added something extra beautiful to the concert. I really loved that it started in the light and finished in the dark. And although it was long, I didn't even notice as we were all having such a great time. We also were on the side that could see each act coming on to and off the stage, which was cool. While we waited for the concert to start, The One Show was playing on the screens to keep us entertained and build our excitement. I also munched on a bit more of my picnic. It amazed me that some people were queueing up to buy more food from the stands outside as I thought we had LOADS in the hampers. Our seats were on the other side to the royal box, which was great as (with the aid of binoculars) we could see into it. Throughout the evening I was peering through them announcing things like "Prince Harry just scratched his head!", "Kate's waving her flag!" and "William just laughed!" It was brilliant. One act that really got the royals going was Sir Tom Jones singing Delilah, which was cute. A lot of the comedians made Prince Harry the butt of their jokes, and it was hilarious to watch him cringe when they did so. One thing that really made the Queen chuckle was when it was joked that she had had to rent out her drive to Gary Barlow as times were tough! I also saw her really applauding Sir Elton John.

I shan't go through the whole concert, as write ups of that can be found everywhere. But I personally thought it was all done brilliantly. There were loads of stage hands who worked fabulously to make it all run smoothly. No one act was on for too long, the mix of artists worked really well, and the comedians in between were fab. I did chuckle when some of the more modern artists were on and the middle-aged members of the audience sat in their seats smiling along, before getting up and screaming like crazy for their fave oldies. If the atmosphere beforehand had been exciting, it reached a whole new level during the concert. We were all waving our flags, stamping our feet, singing along and whooping. Even one of the BBC cameras on a crane had a Union Jack flying from it. I was a bit worried that the Queen wasn't there from the very beginning, but apparently she had always planned to come around half way through. I was majorly cringing when Stevie Wonder said "Happy birthday, your highness!" so goodness knows what she thought of that. It was great that some acts had changed their lyrics to fit the occasion though - most notably Madness' "in the middle of One's street" and Stevie Wonder's "a young 86 years old".

If you watched the concert on TV (it's still on BBCplayer for those who haven't!), you'll know what I mean when I say the way the palace was lit up was incredible. As it got dark, this really added something special, and all the animations fitted perfectly to the music. It was also amazing to have artists performing on it - from Madness on the roof to Alfie Boe on the balcony.

Prince Charles' speech at the end was very touching. It was perhaps my favourite moment of the whole night when everyone down the mall and at the concert spontaneously started chanting "PHILIP! PHILIP! PHILIP!", showing just how much affection we all have for the Queen and her incredible husband. The roars of support were deafening. We all got rather emotional singing the national anthem (luckily the words to the second verse were in our programme!) and the fireworks coming off the roof of the Palace to the sound of Land of Hope and Glory were just something else. I've never seen such spectacular fireworks in my life. It was a real moment to remember.

To be honest, I'll never forget the whole day. I have no idea what I've done to deserve to go, but by jove I am a lucky girl. I actually sent a message to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee website (anyone can do it):

"Your Majesty,
I was one of the lucky few who won tickets to the Diamond Jubilee Concert and picnic in Buckingham Palace. I went with my mother, and we were so very impressed with everything. The organisation was impeccable, the staff were all very helpful and friendly, what we were given in our hampers was extremely generous, and it was a real treat to be able to walk through the Palace and explore your beautiful gardens. Thank you so much for allowing us into your world to celebrate your amazing achievement. It was a day I will never ever forget, and I feel really privileged. I hope you enjoyed the concert and the celebratory weekend as much as I did, and congratulations once more on your Diamond Jubilee. You are an inspiration to us all and I think you are fantastic in every way."

And that's that.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Why I love Great Britain

The summer of 2012 is definitely the summer to embrace your Britishness and jump on the patriotic bandwagon. Everyone is crazy for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at the moment (yours truly being one of the craziest), and then we've got the Olympics coming to London next month. You can't go anywhere without being bombarded by Union Jacks, and I am absolutely loving it. Sure, the weather isn't great for 90% of the year and we may have extortionate University fees now, but I am very proud to be British. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Tea and cake. I think the above pictures say it all really. Both tea and cake are awesome in their own rights, but bring them together and you've got a match made in heaven. No-one does tea and cake quite like the British. It doesn't have to be a grand affair: an everyday builders' brew and a freshly baked Victoria Sponge is all one needs.

pic from

2. The rolling countryside. There's something about seeing the patchwork fields of our countryside when landing on a plane back in the UK after being away that is always comforting. The countryside elsewhere just doesn't look the same. And we have so many sheep, which is cute.

pic from
3. The Monarchy. I know not everyone shares this view, but oh, how I love them. The royal family has definitely had its image rejuvenated over the past few years (largely thanks to the fabulous Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge par excellence), and I think they are all fabulous for doing what they do. I couldn't do it.

pic from
4. British style. Edgier than both Paris and New York, London is one of the most fashion-forward cities in the world. Alexa Chung has done wonders for our image around the world, and what I think is really great is how the British are so accepting when it comes to other people's quirky clothing combos. Our high street is in a league of its own as far as I'm concerned. Where would we be without Topshop!? And that brings me nicely to...

5. Mulberry. They have just unveiled their latest Union Jack collection (above). For as long as I can remember I have wanted my own Mulberry bag, and now my desire has reached a whole new level. Such a beautiful, classy, British brand. I love it.

Well that's a brief snapshot of my fave British things. There are about a kajillion more, but unfortunately French disjunctive personal pronouns aren't going to learn themselves. What makes you proud to be British?
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