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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

It's that time again - here's what I've been listening to a lot this month. This months playlist isn't as varied - a lot of it is just easy listening alternative, but I think a lot of the music suits the fact that we're now in Spring and the weather is getting nicer. It just reminds me of relaxing afternoons spent lying in the sun...

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | The March Playlist

Most of this week's playlist has come from Spotify's Discover Weekly feature which I am loving right now. There is of course the newest track by The Maine and some of the usuals like twenty one pilots and Green Day. Also, how different does Pierce The Veil's track sound? I would have never have guessed it was them...Also, I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You by Black Kids reminds me so much of Cobra Starship's early stuff.


What music have you been listening to this month? Let me know!

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Monday, 27 March 2017

Sometimes you just need to switch off from the world and watch an engaging film. Every once in a while, it's near impossible to choose said film, whether it's because you don't know what you're in the mood for or maybe you can't think of any decent romcoms/horrors/action films you haven't already seen.

I've been trying to catch up with a bunch of movies lately, most of them I saw the trailers for years ago and made a note of but never got around to seeing. Most of them are easy watching but are also offbeat and/or engaging at the same time. I also think a lot of them are relatively unheard of or are at least nowhere near as popular as big blockbusters that have come out at the cinema.

So if you're looking for something random to watch or perhaps something new you've not heard of before today - here are 5 films I can recommend.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Movies | Films | Movies to watch when you're bored | Nerve | A Long Way Down | How To Be Single | Sleeping With Other People | The Right Kind Of Wrong

THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG (2013)
This film is really out there and I guess a lot of it is quite hard to believe but it's still quite a fun movie and I like the ideas behind it. It's cute and offbeat, even if parts of it are hard to believe. It's all about a man called Leo, who's life is kinda going backwards until he falls in love with a girl called Colette - on her wedding day. It's a recipe for disaster, but his cute-come-stalkerish attempts to woe her are sweet in some ways (as in he doesn't give up), and it's also based on a novel written by Tim Sandlin (which is referenced in the movie). Plus, it stars Ryan Kwanten who is super hot.

SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE (2015)
I'd probably say this movie is only really upbeat for it's refreshing and different take on the romance genre and although some parts are corny, overall it's a feel good, quirky and witty movie. It stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as two people who lose their virginity to each other and bump into each other again, years and years later at a meeting for sex addicts. Although some parts are predictable, the journey of their relationship is certainly different and interesting, and there are some more serious undertones like Alison's relationship with someone who is married. It's worth a watch if you're bored of typical romcoms but still want a feel good happy ending.

A LONG WAY DOWN (2014)
I love this movie! The general premise is four strangers who want to commit suicide, but all meet on the same roof on New Year's Eve to do so. The four strangers make a pact to at least wait until Valentine's Day to do the deed and form an unlikely friendship. The film follows each of their lives and what happens after 'nearly committing suicide'. It's a really offbeat and heart warming film, plus it stars awesome actors such as Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and my favourites, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots. Plus it's the kind of movie where you really don't know where it's going to go.

HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016)
I've mentioned this film before but even though there are some parts that aren't too great, overall I really like this film and again, it's refreshing take on modern relationships. It mostly focuses on Alice (Dakota Johnson) trying to be single (okay, that much is obvious), but it has some real witty moments too and generally the whole message of the film is that it's okay to be single and to be alone. I suppose this film was quite popular during its release, but its definitely a lot different than your average romcom/chick flick and I think a lot of people would have shied away from seeing it due to thinking it was just another romcom. Most chick flicks that are based around modern dating don't really work well (*cough* He's Just Not That Into You *cough*) but this one succeeds.

NERVE (2016)
Nerve is definitely one of your typical blockbuster/Hollywood movies, but it was a lot better than I expected it to be. I only really watched it for Dave Franco but it held my attention throughout, even if half the time I was calling all the characters dumbasses. It's about an online reality app/game, where users complete dares to win money. Of course, they start off harmless before turning damn right stupid, at which point I found it hard to understand because users lose all their money once they fail or ignore a dare. Still, it was interesting and thrilling and got me thinking, especially about what I would do in the characters situations.

These are just five non-typical movies I've watched and liked lately, as well as wishing I'd discovered them sooner. Do you have any random movies you can suggest for when someone is bored and just can't decide what they should watch? Let me know!



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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Last Friday it became time to meet my boyfriend's close friends for the first time ever, and in a bid to impress (and save money!), I swiftly booked us all onto a Cocktail Masterclass at Steinback & Shaw, Watford.

I'd actually been wanting to visit this particular bar for a while now as I was intrigued by it's unique decor and it's extensive cocktail menu. Plus, the whole bar is big on skulls and you know how much I love skulls...

So it was my boyfriend's friends birthday which meant we could get the masterclass for half price. £15 per person got us three cocktails (each) which were made during the masterclass, shots of prosecco, free entry and our own table or booth, which is a total bargain.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Steinback & Shaw | Steinback & Shaw Watford | Watford | Cocktail Masterclass | Lifestyle

Although I mainly booked the deal to save money and to impress, I was looking forward to it, as was my boyfriend who is actually a bartender so he was intrigued to see how each drink was made differently to how he makes them etc.

In the class that lasted around 45 minutes, we were taught how to make Sex On The Beach, a Pornstar Martini and a Long Island Iced Tea. I think these were the best cocktails to make because they were a little complicated but in a fun way - for example, it wouldn't have been a lot of fun learning how to make something like a J├Ągerbomb!

The bartender that conducted the class was friendly and talkative and explained each step thoroughly. It was actually a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Steinback & Shaw | Steinback & Shaw Watford | Watford | Cocktail Masterclass | Lifestyle

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Steinback & Shaw | Steinback & Shaw Watford | Watford | Cocktail Masterclass | Lifestyle

The bar itself was well worth trekking into Watford for. It had such a fun atmosphere. We arrived pretty early as we had plans afterwards, but even arriving around 7pm it was busy with an upbeat vibe but not too busy. As the evening progressed, a DJ began playing some tunes which meant we had a chance to get up and dance too.

Unfortunately we didn't have much time to check out upstairs, but I did notice on the way to the bathrooms that it had ping pong! Which to be honest is as good as an excuse to visit again as any.

Overall, it was a really fun night and I was so impressed with what we got for such a bargain price. My only qualm was that we weren't really well informed of what our night consisted of; I was under the impression that we had a bottle of prosecco and a booth upstairs, as well as entry into next door's club too, but any staff member I enquired to didn't really know the answer. Although we found our table quickly upon arrival, it would have been nice to have one set member of staff to greet and look after us and explain in more detail what our evening consisted of, instead of me having to seek out staff to ask if we had a table upstairs and whether or not we had to give up our table to go upstairs or we could stay there etc.

However, for so many benefits for just £15 per person, there's little I could complain about. We ordered a few additional cocktails too and found they were delicious and priced just right.

We'll definitely be visiting again soon!

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lately, I've been spending a hell of a lot of time in a sweet little market town called Hitchin and, during this time, I have absolutely fallen in love with the place. It is beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I've been here before plenty of times with family to visit the market, but I've never quite visited the more high-end or cute area of the town and now that I have, I bloody love it.

Hitchin is based in North Hertfordshire and is around a half an hour drive away from Luton. It's also just a half hour train journey away from London.

Here are five places well worth making a trip to Hitchin for - plus it's the perfect place to spend an afternoon visit, with plenty of opportunities for bargain shopping, cute chic eating options or classy bars for a drink.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Hitchin | Hertfordshire | Chia Naturally Healthy

THE MARKET
20 Churchgate, SG5 1AB
If you love a bargain like me then you'll definitely want to visit Hitchin market. It takes place on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with Fridays aiming to offer an antique/bric-a-brac market and Sunday being a car boot sale - other market days are just a general market. You'll find all sorts amongst the stalls but it's definitely worth a mooch if you're after something individual and unique.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Hitchin | Hertfordshire | Chia Naturally Healthy

CHIA NATURALLY HEALTHY
25 Church Yard, 
SG5 1HP
This gorgeous small cafe is the cutest place I've ever visited in my whole entire life - and the healthiest. The old building overlooks a beautiful view of St Mary's Church and the staff are firm believers in clean eating. The menu is entirely vegan/veggie and offers delicious lunch and breakfast options, as well as hot drinks and smoothies. They also sell a small collection of veggie/vegan products and allow pets downstairs, too. Plus, everything on the menu (plus inside the cafe itself) is ridiculously instagram worthy.

THE COCK
8 High Street, SG5 1BHThe Cock *immature snigger* is a lovely British pub in the centre of Hitchin. The food is mouthwatering with a satisfying selection of sharing platters, one of which includes mini versions of the pub's favourites such as burger sliders, minced beef and ale pies and hand battered cod goujons. There isn't much for vegans, but there is a veggie fish and chips (hand battered halloumi cheese - delicious) and many items on the lunch menu can easily be made vegan. Plus, the food is presented beautifully - and the menu itself is unique in design.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Hitchin | Hertfordshire | Hermitage Rd. Bar and Restaurant

HERMITAGE RD. BAR AND RESTAURANT
20-21 Hermitage Rd, 
SG5 1BT
I may be somewhat biased to as of why I've been visiting this place so much lately, but if you're looking for somewhere to go in Hitchin with a more classy vibe then this place is the answer. The bar-restaurant-coffee-house just oozes sophistication with a relaxed vibe in the day, followed by a more upbeat but welcoming atmosphere in the evenings, often with live music to accompany the creative cocktail menu. The food is delicious, too, and the bright and spacious building even has a history; it's been a cinema, a ballroom and even a concert venue in past years.

HITCHIN CITY CENTRE & FURTHER AFIELD 
As if all the independent venues I've mentioned above aren't enough to tickle your fancy, you'll also find Starbucks, Zizzis, Pizza Express in the city centre, as well as a selection of charity shops and small bric-a-brac shops too. Nearby is Stevenage Leisure Park, with a cinema, more foody places, bowling and even crazy golf.

Finally, Hitchin is just damn pretty...

Despite being a pretty mixed town - with lots of elder generations mooching around the market and on-trend hipsters flocking the bars, Hitchin is a sweet but upcoming place overall. Have you ever visited? Let me know..

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Friday, 17 March 2017

As well as having a few dates from hell in my life time, I can admit that I've made some of my own embarrassing dating disasters - hey, no one is perfect..

Luckily I can laugh at these kind of things (if a guy can't handle my crazy side then he aint worth dating) and they lead onto pretty hilarious stories. Here are some of the dating disasters I've made over the years.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Dating | Dating Disasters

STALKER TENDENCIES 
Recently, I broke my phone. Well, when I say broke, I mean I smashed it on a night out, smashed it more on another night out and now sometimes it works perfectly (bar having a cracked screen) and other times it'll just open random apps on my phone, type random messages etc. Once it even got stuck in Snapchat for three hours and I couldn't swipe to switch my phone off then back on. But you know where this is going. I met a cute guy in London recently and I'm sorry but I have real 'seize the moment' feelings when it comes to this sort of thing and although I didn't manage to get his number, I did manage to find him on facebook eventually.

If adding him and messaging him wasn't stalkerish enough on my part (in my defence though, he did reply. He's either as much as a dumbass as me for accepting my stalkerish behaviour or maybe he's just a really ridiculously nice person), I was looking at his profile recently when my phone began having one of it's episodes. Determined to stop my phone liking some random photo of his or something, I locked it and put it in my bag until I got home. When I eventually logged on again, my phone had somehow scrolled down his timeline and shared one of his life events to my facebook profile. *face palm*. I apologized profusely, but there's no way he believed it was an accident. On the other hand, that kind of gesture is so batshit crazy that I like to believe no one would actually willingingly do that but who knows. It would only happen to me and I kind of wish my phone HAD just liked a random photo instead. At least then I could have laughed it off and been like yeah, sorry, I was perving on your photos, you're fit..

A GOD AWFUL TYPO
I'd been seeing a guy for a bit, we stopped talking and eventually started talking again bit by bit. We arranged to go for a drink one evening and I was out shopping with my nan whilst texting him and I mentioned how my nan was driving me crazy. I put my phone away and it wasn't until an hour later when I checked and saw his messages asking me why I didn't tell him I had a baby...I'd only went and typed that my baby was driving me mad! (How my phone autocorrected nan to baby I don't know!) Luckily, this one was easily laughed off.

THAT OLD SLIP OF THE THUMB
Of course, I have also done the accidentally liking of an old photo of someone. Except it wasn't the guy I was crushing on at the time. It was an old instagram photo of his new girlfriend and I had no reason to even know he had a girlfriend because a) we hadn't spoken in months, b) it wasn't announced on facebook and c) I only found out on Instagram even though I didn't follow him on Instagram. I immediately made my profile private but, y'know, the damage was done.

TYPO'S STRIKE AGAIN
Another time I was seeing a guy and it was early days. We'd met on Tinder but definitely hadn't had that 'are you talking to anyone else' conversation yet. Although I later realized it was at this point he was starting to seem more and more off, he asked me what my plans were one day and I told him I was off to see my other nan (as in the nan I wasn't staying with at the time), with lots of smiley faces. Three days later I actually realized I'd typed 'other man', and his reply was just 'oh...cool'. I had no idea how to read that. It had sounded like a) I was leading two guys on at the same time and b) I was actually referring to him as 'my man' already, and his reply didn't reveal much either. Another fuck up from yours truly.

I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED
Once when I was a love sick fan girl teenager, I was nosing at a rockstar's facebook, found his rumoured girlfriend on facebook and accidentally sent her a friend request without realizing. I finally noticed around three months later and she'd obviously seen the request. And the giant photo of said rockstars band as my facebook banner, therefore making it fairly obvious I was an obsessive fangirl.

SPACE CAKES MAKE YOU GO LOCO 
Oh, when in Amsterdam. Not that I promote the use of drugs but, y'know, when in Amsterdam you gotta try the (legal, may I add..) space cakes. Did you also know that in Amsterdam, many clubs have unisex toilets? Well, one evening, after one too many space cakes (okay, well, I had one to myself instead of half for my first time like the man suggested), me and my friend got chatting to these super hot Australian dudes. We excused ourselves to go to the bathroom and agreed to meet back at the bar and whilst in the bathroom, I practically begged my friend to let us hang out with them for the rest of the night because the guy I was talking to was apparently so fit. And then, moments later, the guys exit from the stalls (in the unisex toilets) obviously having heard the whole thing... *facepalm*

And of course, there's been many, many, many drunken messages. Sometimes they've led to a good thing but most of the time it just makes me come across as really over the top. I can't help it. I can play it cool, sure, but as soon as I get a drink in me, all that vagueness builds up and overloads into ten messages in a row of me talking about how fit someone is and how much I like them and how good they smell. It's actually got to the point now where if I know I'm having a messy night and I know there is someone I shouldn't be talking to drunk, I'll actually DELETE their number in advance just to be safe.

I mean some of these things just baffle me. I'll go out of my way to be so careful to avoid getting in situations like these and then they happen but in a way that's a million times worse than they could have. And they always make me come across as someone who literally stalks people online 24/7 when it's genuinely just a one off mistake. God help me.

Have you ever had any dating disasters that you just can't live down? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

For someone that calls themself a blogger, I'm definitely way behind the times when it comes to Youtube. I don't follow any big bloggers like Zoella and up until recently, I only really used Youtube to listen to music and occasionally watch the odd documentary about ghosts.

Then I moved back home and connected all my Xbox up again and I also got sick (hence the lack of updates over the past few days), leaving me bedridden and using Youtube as one of my main sources of entertainment. 

There were a few channels I'd followed in the past, but over the past week or so I've also discovered others. So although they're not massively popular like some Youtubers among bloggers, they're definitely still worth a follow.

Here are my favourite Youtube channels.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | Youtube | Youtubers | My Favourite Youtubers

OLAN ROGERS
This dude is hilarious and is well known for the way he draws out and tells every-day stories in a hilarious and over the top way. I followed him years and years back and then last time I looked, he hadn't updated in ages. But when I logged on the other day, he had updated recently! So he's back (or maybe he never left, I'm not quite sure). Anyway, his videos never fail to make me laugh out loud (and I mean real loud) or cheer me up when I need it.
Watch here.

TASTY
I know these videos are all over Facebook and that anyway, but sometimes you just gotta watch them on a bigger screen, especially if you're planning to cook along at the same time. Many a times I've just put this channel on in the background and just watched video after video, finding inspiration and slowly growing more and more hungry in the process...
Watch here.

BLOGILATES
This is probably one of the only big bloggers I follow because I love the diversity of her workouts. It still baffles me that I can just pop on a Youtube channel and do a workout at home on my day off without having to lug myself to the gym and I love that she has warm up videos too, as well as workout's for all different types of exercise.
Watch here.

ALLTIME CONSPIRACIES
This channel may not be for everyone, but anyone who likes something a bit different or just wants an excuse to think will enjoy the videos found here. The channel offers bitesize takes on different and interesting conspiracy theories - but the videos are quick and straight to the point, using facts only. It's great if you just want something quick or want to learn something new, then of course you can explore further on Youtube with longer videos on each subject.
Watch here.

THE PHILLIP DEFRANCO SHOW
I'm going to be honest, I first started watching this guys channel to feel cultured as f*ck - and it's working. He covers everyday news (mainly American lately, but mostly worldwide) and just stuff that everyone should know. But he covers it in a straight to the point and unbiased way which is great, especially if you're someone like me who feels overwhelmed with so many different sources of media sometimes. He updates news videos on Monday's through to Thursday's and again, the videos are fairly short whilst also being comprehensive.
Watch here.

These are just some of my favourite Youtube channels/Youtubers but of course I'm always on the look out for more. Are there any you can recommend? Let me know!

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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Despite having a pretty busy couple of weeks, I'm all out of content ideas right now so I thought a Sunday catchup was in order. Therefore, here's what I've been up to lately..

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | A catch up

Right now, I'm typing up this post relaxing in bed with a recently cleaned room (new bed sheets, the floor hoovered - the lot!) and Made In Chelsea playing on my Xbox in the background - as I've recently moved back home. The reasons for me moving out of my Dad's/childhood home and into my Nan's for six months or so are personal, but with differences set aside a while back now, coming home was an easy decision for me. I've missed being in my own bed, I've missed my dog and my dad and, um, I've missed the free & unlimited WiFi...

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | A catch up

On Wednesday, I attended Secret Cinema in London. This time around the renowned company put on a production of Moulin Rouge which was of course as amazing as expected. If you've ever seen the film (and/or been to a previous Secret Cinema event), you'll know just how creative the company can get and boy did they deliver. I won't spoil too much, but it was really epic. I was nervous about attending as again, I was going alone, and unlike last year, I knew there was a more relaxed feel this time around. Last time, being put into groups and being chased around by zombies meant that I completely forgot I'd attended alone. However, despite feeling like a bit of a div for the first half hour or so, I soon relaxed into my character this time around and had a lot of fun.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | A catch up

I've spent so much time lately with my sister and my niece and it's amazing to see my niece growing up so quickly. I never really liked kids until my sister fell pregnant and now I jump at the chance of babysitting. Little Ella is almost walking, she's crawling a little bit but mostly dragging herself along on the floor commando style and is starting to talk.

Finally, a month today I will be well into my Mexican adventure with TrekAmerica - and I'm so scared and excited. First of all, I can't actually believe it's finally happening. I've been trying to arrange this trip for years but at last, with everything paid off, visa's sorted, flights non-refundable and such..there really is no going back now. It's my first time travelling which is super nerve wracking but I know it's going to be an amazing experience that will teach me loads. I can't wait. All that's left to do is to buy a swimming costume (I have two bikini's but I want a more secure costume too), change up my money and borrow a backpack. I'm also booked in to get my nails, hair and bikini wax done - eek!

There's not too much else that I've been up to lately but with a few things planned for the next few weeks, hopefully I'll have some more interesting content to offer...

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Friday, 10 March 2017

I have another interview for you all today - this time, with the lovely Joanne Mortlock, the founder of Love Pop Ups - London!

I met Joanne at the BallieBallerson press night and we immediately bonded over the delicious cocktails, hot bartenders and unique experience of a giant ball pit for adults. When she told me about her website and Facebook group - Love Pop Ups - London, I was immediately intrigued.

Whilst the website reviews various pop ups around London, the Facebook group has a vibrant community where Joanne shares pop up news and opportunities for bloggers, reviewers and instagrammers to attend. I love this idea. 

I can't tell you how many times I've been invited to a press event and have been at a loss of who to invite. I don't mean it in a braggy way, but as a blogger, I get invites to events in London with plus one's and although I try and invite my friends, sometimes it's tough because the events are too early in the evening for my friends to finish work and get to London or we can't always afford train fare etc. I don't like attending things alone and often wish I could just auction of a plus one invite - haha! Nowadays, I often try and invite blogger friends but this group is clearly the way to go. Joanne offers people the chance to join her on quirky events, or enter a competition to experience a London pop up in return for a review. It's so cool.

It also works well for companies who approach Joanne because rather than getting just one blogger to write a review, in return, companies often get a small group of bloggers/writers/influencers sharing all about their experiences with tweets, instagram photos and Facebook tags - meaning tons of influential promotion.

I just had to pick her brain about this unique venture..!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Love Pop Ups - London | London Pop Ups | Interview | Lifestyle

First of all, can you just sum up ‘Love Pop Ups – London’ for me? 
‘Love Pop Ups – London’ is set up to publicise about new popped up temporary or permanent new restaurants, bars, events, hotels etc.

What made you come up with the idea of the Facebook community? 
I set the community up due to a closure of a well known review site that closed down the community side in the UK. So to keep everyone together from that London community I set up my own community group but with a slight difference. The difference being that my community is all about promoting about new popped up places not establishments that have been around for years. It’s also for people that love to blog/review and post on Instagram who all have a passion for new places plus so we can all discuss about our experiences or post about any new upcoming events, restaurants, bars etc.

What has the response been to setting up the group? 
The response to setting up ‘Love Pop Ups – London’ has been very positive and on a number of occasions people have commented/messaged me to say thank you as they never knew about certain pop up places and are now going to go along as they appealed to them.

I've noticed it's a lot more like a community than just a Facebook group really - many of the events you post about you offer tickets to and you also arrange a lot of get togethers to said events. Why is this? 
I get and give out promotional or press tickets as a competition/giveaway to keep the group appealing plus everyone loves experiencing new places especially if free! Most importantly, it gives the clients new popped up business social media coverage with them getting in return a blog/review written up and posted on various social sites and photos posted on Instagram.

The get togethers that I sometimes hold are for people in the community to get together to have a fun time and just to get to know each other.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Love Pop Ups - London | London Pop Ups | Interview | Lifestyle

You're obviously very on the ball with what's going on in London - how do you find out about everything happening? 
I find out about new popped up businesses by following lots of various sites, by clients directly and via friends or others in my community.

What have some of your favourite events and pop up's been so far? 
The Magnum pop up (as I love chocolate and creating), The Crystal Maze (love playing games and loved the TV show back in the day) and Beyond the Waterfall by Bompas and Parr (immersive and very magical with the mermen).

Do you go to all the pop up's you hear about personally? If so, how do you manage it? 
I try to go to most but not all of the pop ups or new popped up establishments as they don’t always appeal to me but I post them on my site as it could appeal to others.

What's your favourite thing about London?
How London is always changing and growing with new pop ups and popped up places.

Finally, are there any events or pop ups/popped up places we should keep our eyes out for within the next few months?
Jurassic Kingdom Tour, Alice’s Adventures Underground and Tom Kerridge’s new restaurant in Knightsbridge!

Thanks so much for chatting to me Joanne! If you're a blogger or an influencer interested by some of the opportunities Joanne shares, make sure you visit her Facebook group and request to join. I've also bookmarked her website as my go-to source to keep up to date on anything cool going on in London..

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Following my recent visits to Hard Rock Cafe London for their fashion show and their chilli menu, I mentioned how intrigued I was about the idea that they chose to include ambassadors of the brand in their fashion show, as opposed to random models.

The programme itself was created to coincide with London Fashion Week and gives up and coming models the chance to work with a big brand. As well as taking part in fashion shows, ambassadors also get invited to exclusive tasting events and in house VIP events representing the brand - how excited!

I've always liked Hard Rock Cafe as a brand but to be honest, this innovative idea really made me like and respect the brand even more.

Therefore, I thought it would be nice to get a little interview with one of the ambassadors, Natalie Juliet.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW | Hard Rock Ambassador | Natalie Juliet Deadman

First of all, can you tell me a bit about yourself Natalie?
I am 25 years old - I work full time as a model, presenter and actress. I present a radio show every weekday for 2 hours, and I act and model at every opportunity! Two days per week I attend Identity School of Acting in London: I love to read plays and learn about techniques for stage and screen acting. At the weekends I do children's birthday party entertainment - often dressed up as Elsa from Frozen - or a superhero! When I am not working I am playing with my two dogs who are the most beautiful things in the world or planning my next 'take over the world' venture! I LOVE music and always have something playing, I am a 'genre hopper' and literally can listen to anything from Elton John to Stormzy! I absolutely love live music, and there is nowhere I would rather be than at a gig!  I love the way music can bring people together and lift my mood to make me feel empowered and motivated - I believe, from personal experience, that music has healing powers!

How did you get involved with being a Hard Rock Ambassador?
First stage was online: I applied through Starnow - a website where actors/models etc can create profiles and apply for jobs posted on there.

Second stage was a face to face meeting: this is where I really had the chance to shine - you can’t compare a paper application with a face to face meeting! Some people get hired based on their photographs alone, but I can’t see how you can really know a person and their personality just on paper!

The best thing about the audition was when they asked me to walk up and down the room as myself: I have been to a lot of auditions where they say things like "Give me more attitude", "Can you be a bit more sassy/serious?", "Walk faster/walk slower", "Do this differently - do that differently"- but HRC was just "Show us how you put your own personality into your walk" - and me being me was enough!

What exactly does the role involve?
As an ambassador I am responsible for upholding the Hard Rock Cafe's reputation at all times - through social media and in person when I am out and about! I want people to look at me when I am in the restaurants, at the events and wearing the clothes and know that I am an extension of the brand. I try at all times to represent what they stand for and act in a manner that would make anyone proud to have me in their logo!

Did you have any modelling experience prior to this role?
I have been modelling freelance for around a year and a half - and I am at the point now where I have a strong portfolio and experience behind me in both stills and video and I am looking for an agency! Wish me luck!

What's your favourite thing about being a Hard Rock Ambassador?
I love being a part of the HRC family! I love everyone I have met along this journey and I am over the moon about being an ambassador! I take the role very seriously - it is more than just trying to sell clothes, it’s being a part of a brand. I am a puzzle piece in the wider picture that is HRC. A global brand that has chosen me to represent them in my day-to-day life – it’s an honour!


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What is it you love so much about Hard Rock and what made you want to become an ambassador for them?
I love what the brand stands for and how they are promoting individuality and bringing people together through the love of music and food! 

What are your thoughts on the fact that the brand is choosing to use ambassadors rather than models?
HRC is a brand that is all about personality - musicians put their personality into their songs and ambassadors put their personality into their modelling! A pretty face and a nice body can sell clothes - but a personality sells REAL life and REAL people - different people all wearing the same clothes, showing that the most beautiful thing about fashion is to be yourself wearing it! I am a person that goes to HRC to enjoy a burger bigger than my face, and I’ll be dancing to the music until my make up has all come off! This real life is what HRC is about. It’s about loving who you are and enjoying yourself - not taking life too seriously and being free. That's what keeps HRC a brand for everyone to relate to - all around the world, all shapes and sizes, all races, everyone. 

What are your favourite pieces from the spring/winter line?
I love the new T-shirts for spring - as soon as the English weather permits I am going to be living in my HRC Tees! Until then, it’s going to have to be the hoodie and crop jumper to keep me warm! My favourite thing about the HRC designs is that you can pretty much pair them with anything - so the T-shirt can be with a cardigan, jeans and winter boots - or a skirt and sandals! The HRC designs make me feel like myself and that was one of the main reasons I could be so confident on the runway wearing them! And I feel that same confidence when I put them on day-to-day.

What's next for you as an ambassador?
We have another fashion event in September which is very exciting! I can’t wait to see the new clothing lines - I know they are going to ROCK!! Until then it’s just about being active on social media and in person when wearing the clothes and going to the restaurants. I am an extension of the brand now and so when I am being seen I need to wear the logo loud and proud!

Do you have any advice for anyone hoping to become a Hard Rock Ambassador in future?
Always be yourself - don't let the modelling industry change you, if a job is right for you then you shouldn't have to be anything but yourself to get it! Be confident that who and what you are is more than enough - and own it! The world is your runway - so strut!!

Natalie has such a lovely confident and friendly personality that I think she's perfect for the brand - so thank you for the interview Natalie! You can find her on twitter here or on instagram here.

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Monday, 6 March 2017

I always imagined that by the time I was 30, I would be settled. I'd be married, with kids and my own home, and I'd have all the travelling I wanted to do under my belt.

Turns out, it's not that easy. As I grew up, I realized the idea of marriage and kids didn't appeal to me so much and that getting on the property ladder is near impossible.

Now, with just three years to go until I'm 30, I'm still convinced that's not going to happen - unless things change drastically.

Yesterday, one of my latest blogs for Metro went live - "I'm 27 years old and I still live at home - Am I ever going to have a life?", which caused a wide variety of comments and response.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Living at home at 27 | Living at home

Some people (mostly the elder generation) generally wrote comments along the lines of it not being that hard to save or afford my own properly and that I'm lazy.

Others (mostly young people) praised that it simply isn't that easy - no matter what you're situation is, it's near impossible for our generation to afford a home and that living at home to try and save money is actually a smart move.

The general gist of the article wasn't particularly about getting my own place, but more so, how stuck I feel being at home and being unable to move out and how I feel I don't have a life. I'm trying to save for my own place, but trying to juggle a social life at the same time makes it near impossible. Of course I can stop going out completely and put all my money into savings - but then that would drive me mad. On the other hand, trying to have some sort of life and going out when I can clearly isn't helping me move forward.

But it did get me thinking. Where exactly do we draw the line between being proactive and being lazy? I work part time and have two or so freelance jobs on the go. I socialize when I can but I've cut down massively to how often I used to go out. I spend any other spare time at home doing one or two things; writing and sharing content online/looking for a job/using my time wisely to gain new opportunities to get my writing out there, or watching TV/Netflix/Youtube in my down time.

This is as balanced as I can get things right now. I'm allowed friends round, but wouldn't exactly be comfortable having a group of friends round for a movie marathon every weekend to save money instead of going out (and likewise, wouldn't want to kick my dad out of the front room anyway). I can date and I'm allowed to bring people back, but out of respect for my dad, I tend to only bring someone back if it's serious and they have met him.

I try to save. I really do. But sometimes I need to put my money towards things to stop me going insane. Things like a music festival, so I can get out of these four walls and let my hair down. Things like travelling and experiencing new things.

I hardly spend all my money going out and getting drunk each weekend.

And yet my money still does not go far. I run a car. I contribute to the household when I can. I buy my own food when I try to eat healthy.

But what other option do I have? Stay at home and never go out, putting every single penny towards saving? I would go mad. Living at home with little to no space means I need experiences and need to get out of the house sometimes - if these were taken away from me, they would seriously affect my mental well being (and have done in the past).

So I know what I need to do. I need to find a full time job and save what I can from that, before eventually enlisting the help of a government scheme. I need to find a balance that doesn't make me lazy and that keeps me proactive (according to some comments anyway), whilst also keeping myself sane.

Only one of those things am I confident about whereas the other I thought I was nailing anyway. Obviously not.

I would love to hear your thoughts - what do you think? Do you think it's possible to live comfortably at home whilst saving for your own place? Or is it a matter of buckling down, going off the radar for a few years and spending all your time saving for something more beneficial in the long run? Let me know!

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Saturday, 4 March 2017

I recently blogged about my visit to Hard Rock Cafe London for their first ever Hard Rock Fashion show, which was a lot of fun. 

I've always enjoyed Hard Rock as a brand but the last time I actually ate/visited one of their restaurants was in Amsterdam a few years back. I have been to the London restaurant before, but this was when it was in a different location. 

Following the fashion show, I was also invited down to the restaurant to try out their chilli menu that had been curated especially for National Chili Week last week. So I invited blogger babe Ali along and we headed down to Park Lane to scoff our faces.

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The first thing I must comment on is how amazing it is in the restaurant. There's such a buzz as soon as you walk in the door and all night we felt an upbeat and somewhat edgy atmosphere - everyone is so friendly and willing to have a boogie in their seats listening to the music or sing along when it's someone's birthday. 

Although Hard Rock Cafe itself is perceived as very high end and famous, a visit to the restaurant will soon show you that everyone is so laid back and informal.

I also have to give a huge shoutout to our waiter/server for the evening, Jim (as in Jimmy Hendrix!) who made the whole evening so much fun. He was so approachable and friendly and really took the time to look after us and make sure we enjoyed our evening.

But onto the food ;)

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Hard Rock Cafe | Food | National Chilli Week | National Chilli Week @ Hard Rock Cafe | Hard Rock Cafe London | Food Review | Atomic Chilli Wings

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Hard Rock Cafe | Food | National Chilli Week | National Chilli Week @ Hard Rock Cafe | Hard Rock Cafe London | Food Review | Atomic Chilli Wings

We started with a generous serving of Atomic Chicken Wings to share and it's safe to say these blew me away. They were full of spicy flavour and consisted of juicy chicken too. The wings were really hot but were served with a delicious dip and vegetables to help calm down our tastebuds. What I enjoyed about the wings was that despite the fact they were super spicy, they also had tons of flavour. A lot of the time it's very easy to create a spicy food that is so hot you can't even taste anything - luckily that wasn't the case here.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Hard Rock Cafe | Food | National Chili Week | National Chili Week @ Hard Rock Cafe | Hard Rock Cafe London | Food Review | Nduja Chilli Burger

Still, we did struggle to finish them and opted to put a few aside to take away with us before we progressed to our main meal. I tried the Nduja Chilli Burger which was packed full of a beef burger, chilli beans, rocket salad and cheese inside a delicious bun with a green chilli stacked on top. The burger also came with chips - thank god - which we're very much needed.

I thought the chicken wings were as spicy as it got but boy was I wrong! Again, the burger still had lots of delicious flavour but damn it was hot. I do enjoy spicy food and often go for a curry with a bit of a kick but even I struggled with this burger. That's not to say it wasn't yummy - just that it definitely did it's job and anyone who enjoys a food related challenge will likely enjoy trying to finish all of this bad boy!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Hard Rock Cafe | Food | National Chilli Week | National Chilli Week @ Hard Rock Cafe | Hard Rock Cafe London | Food Review | Chilli Molten Lava Cake

The main was followed by a Chili Molten Lava Cake which helped soothe my tastebuds after the previous food. I'm not sure if any of this cake or sauce was supposed to be spicy - or maybe my tastebuds had just given up by now - but I couldn't taste any chilli or spice on this cake - however, this was a welcome break, I must admit. The cake was absolutely mouth-watering. It was rich, but not to the point that it couldn't be finished, and the cake just melted in my mouth. 

I'm not usually a lover of dessert (I prefer a starters to a dessert) but I have to admit, this was beyond delicious and quite possibly my favourite part of the menu. I'd happily order this all year round, even when it's not National Chili Week!

Finally, alongside our food, we also had the chance to try an Apple Chilli Martini which definitely went down well. The mixture of flavours worked so well together and you could really taste a bit of a spicy kick to it. The martini came adjourned with a chili and a small slice of apple on the glass too.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Hard Rock Cafe | Food | National Chilli Week | National Chilli Week @ Hard Rock Cafe | Hard Rock Cafe London | Food Review | Apple Chilli Martini

Overall, I really enjoyed Hard Rock Cafe's chilli menu. It was definitely a challenge, but not so much that I couldn't enjoy it. I do feel like someone like my dad (who regularly goes for the hottest curries possible!) would have been able to manage it a lot better than me (I spent much of the night fanning myself and gulping down my martini!), but overall it was really enjoyable and of course, being Hard Rock Cafe, the food was completely up to a great standard.

The whole night was really lovely and it was nice to head into London and eat some good food whilst listening to some rocking music. My favourite part of Hard Rock Cafe is that although it is essentially a restaurant, with the buzz that hits you when you walk in and the bar inside too, it feels more like a night out/upbeat meal then a standard sit down meal.

Thank you to Hard Rock Cafe for my invite, luckily my taste buds have just about recovered so I can't wait to pop down and visit again sometime soon!

Please note, we were also offered tickets to a tour of the Vault during our visit but I think we underestimated how long we would be there as the Vault closed by the time we had finished our food. The next opportunity I get to visit London and the Vault, I'll make sure to get a review up!

*Please note, although I was invited down to conduct a review of Hard Rock Cafe's chilli menu, all opinions are entirely unbiased and my own.

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