Well, weather’s been a bit shitty this month hasn’t it? As such, all of June’s highlights have been distinctly indoor activites… fingers crossed for some sunshine in July, please!
You probably already know how much I love Lakeland (I had a gush pretty recently!), so when I headed to my old haunt at Westfield Stratford City for the Lakeland Summer blogger evening, immense levels of self control were required not to literally skip through the doors of my favourite store. Lakeland have an uncanny ability to make me suddenly need things that I never even knew I needed, and this evening proved no exception. In the company of some of my favourite blogger babes including but not limited to Erica, Sofie and the wife (natch), and under the friendly guidance of Mel and Tracy from the Lakeland team, we set about making nibbles, actual dinner and smoothies. In the store. With no oven or hob. Just some incredibly clever gadgets. Believe it!
First up were hummus, gaucamole and salsa all whizzed to perfection in the Zyliss Easy Pull mini chopper (£19.99). This little contraption uses no electricity, so you needn’t find somewhere to plug it in – just pop in your ingredients, yank the cord a few times as if you were starting an old school lawnmower, et voila. The force with which you pull the cord determines the speed at which the blades will spin, so feel free to take it easy if you like your guac on the rustic side or go to town with a full on arm workout if you prefer it silky smooth. I’m definitely buying one of these bad boys – I’ve wanted a mini chopper for ages as I usually cook for one, so pulling out the big ol’ food processor always seems like so much effort. This is perfect.
Next, dinner. Salmon and spiralised veg in the microwave. In three minutes. Yep. The Leuke Microwave Steam Case (from £14.97) has completely changed my attitude to microwaves. As far as I was concerned the microwave was good for warming milk for hot chocolate, maybe reheating the odd leftovers here and there if I couldn’t be bothered to wait for the oven to preheat, and that was about it. But now? No longer will I resort to a desperate crisp sandwich with slightly stale bread when I get home late and hungry when I can make a proper, nutritious and tasty meal in the same amount of time. Although, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a crisp sandwich every now and again? Sheenie has already written an excellent post on the steam case so I’ll leave it to her to give you the details.
Last up, fresh fruit smoothies. Hands up if you’ve ever really fancied fresh pineapple, but gone for the lacklustre tinned version or spent an obscene amount of money on the pre-chopped stuff in a tub simply because you can’t face the rigmarole of cutting a whole one up yourself? If your hand’s not up right now, you’re a liar and you need the 3-in-1 Pineapple slicer (£6.99). With just a few twists of the wrist, you can peel, core, slice and wedge a whole pineapple in about 30 seconds. Can I get a hallelujah?! Even if you’re unlikely to eat a whole pineapple by yourself, you can always freeze some cubes to drop into smoothies whenever you fancy. And the now-empty pineapple husk (is that the right word?) makes a super Instagrammable vessel to drink it out of. Now, someone just needs to invite me to a 70s themed dinner party so I can rock up with a cheese-and-pineapple hedgehog, please and thanks. If you fancy any of these clever bits and pieces, or just having a nose at what else Lakeland have on offer this summer, you’ll find it all here.
Happy Birthday HOB Salons
When HOB Salons invited me down to celebrate their Belsize Park salon’s first birthday, I was hardly going to say no. With at least 66 awards to their name (yep, I counted) including the holy grail British Hairdresser of the Year over their 30 years in business, these guys clearly know what they’re doing. I was treated to a fresh, custom summer colour from Chloe at Belsize Park, in clean, comfortable and stylish surroundings synonymous with the brand. With the knowledge that colour maestro Chloe had 9 years of HOB experience under her belt I knew I was in good hands, and frankly I admire anyone with enough patience to meticulously separate, colour and wrap every tiny section of my ridiculous amount of hair.
Once my fiery new hair was washed – including a truly blissful head massage from Lauren – I had a fantastic straight blow dry (BIG novelty for this curly girl, trust me) and cursory fringe trim from Stuart B, who also showed me a couple of quick five-minute styling techniques that even I, hair fail extraordinaire, can do with ease. Top marks. I waltzed out of the salon feeling a million and one dollars – isn’t it amazing how a good hair appointment can completely boost your confidence? And clearly it’s not just me who thinks it looks damn good as I must have had a dozen compliments the following day. Winner. If you’re looking for a great salon in the capital, you could do an awful lot worse than HOB.
Stone Free Festival
Finnish cello metal band (yeah you read that right) Apocalyptica’s debut album, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, has always been one of my favourites. As the name suggests, it’s an album of Metallica covers played on the cello and it is FUCKING BADASS. Anyway, a couple of months ago I heard that they would be taking the album on tour to celebrate its 20th anniversary and quickly looked for London dates. As terrible luck would have it, the one London date next year is the ONLY date in 2017 that I actually already have plans. Disappointed but not completely deterred, I did a bit more digging and learned that Apocalyptica would be playing at Stone Free, a new festival hosted at The O2. Playing on the same day were Blackberry Smoke, The Darkness and… wait for it… Alice Cooper. At only £65 for a day ticket, I snapped up a pair for me and my mum (where do you think I got my music taste from?!).
It was just absolutely mental. I wasn’t overly familiar with Atlanta, Georgia based Blackberry Smoke but really enjoyed their classic rock sound, there aren’t many bands about these days who make music that sounds like it was made 30 years ago. The Darkness were as entertaining as you’d expect them to be, with Justin dishing out the bants between every energetic song – including some of the old favourites like Get Your Hands Off My Woman and I Believe In A Thing Called Love. Apocalyptica were EVERYTHING I hoped they would be – I promise you just haven’t witnessed sex appeal until you’ve seen a group of men thrashing cellos as if they were guitars, not to mention frontman and founder Eicca Toppinen has the most beautiful arms I have ever seen in my life, like, seriously. And I might have lost my shit a little bit when I heard the opening bars to Master of Puppets.
And Alice… there just aren’t any words. You’d never believe the man was pushing 70, that’s for god damn sure. His whole set was a complete spectacle, I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s big on props but they work SO well. From the gigantic monster storming the stage during Feed My Frankenstein, Alice’s own guillotine beheading at the end of I Love The Dead, the hilarious Trump-and-Clinton likenesses fist fighting throughout Elected… Just so much fun to watch – and listen to, of course. But my favourite part was when gravestones were projected at the back of the stage accompanied by brilliant covers to honour some of our fallen stars – and Alice’s friends – Keith Moon (Pinball Wizard), Jimi Hendrix (Fire), David Bowie (Suffragette City) and, of course, Lemmy Kilmister (Ace of Spades, which the crowd went fucking mental for). All in all, one of my absolute favourite live music experiences to date and I hope next year is even better.
So, how’s June been treating you?