Blogging, featured

Awesome UK Black Bloggers List

black bloggers in UK

Race. Ethnicity. Immigration. Culture. Black bloggers  . . . .

Yeah I went there.

All contentious issues which divide as often as the bring people together. I shied away from writing about anything that would make me seem too ‘ethnic’ – that would perhaps make non BMEs (black and minority ethnics) think I’m only relevant if you’re also black or minority ethnic. It’s like posting about my love for fried buttermilk chicken, plantains or amala would scare people away, so talking about chocolate brownies and roast dinners would be a safer, more vanilla, less contentious path. Let’s face it, I love all of those foods too, I didn’t get to this size on a diet of quinoa and chicken breast after all. But you know what?

I’m proud of my heritage, my culture, my ethnicity and my hoods. I’m proud of my diverse family background and my gorgeous brown skin, so why I actively shied away from anything that may make me sound ‘too black’ seems stupid. Do white bloggers think about sounding too white and alienating black/ brown/ Latino readers with their words? I doubt it.

Blogging can be a tough game. For something that should be an enjoyable past time can become all about the stats and a pissing match as to who is furthest up the various blog rankings (and in turn, who gets the most brand collaborations) but that’s not why I’m blogging so if I lose a few views because someone just doesn’t get why I’m spending time visiting Nigeria or wearing a head scarf in my photos there’s really no love lost. Oh and those people deciding not to click because of those reasons should probably expand their horizons and be more open to learning about other cultures anyway! This is me warts and all. A kinky haired, stew loving women with a passion for travel, talking too much and putting my foot in it from time to time.

I pondered about whether a list such as this was needed. Would it prove to be divisive? Should I single out black and brown bloggers in this way, celebrating their writing and photography skills with a list or will they rise to the top of your Bloglovin readers off of their own merit? Maybe.

Ask yourselves this: if I replaced the word black with plus sized, LGBT or tech would you care as much? We seem to be ok with that but race is still an issue for so many and until it becomes just as much the norm to write about it there is work to be done by us all.

Personally, I find it comforting to find people with shared goals or problems, be it another blogger who is into travelling or one who is into styling their natural, afro hair. It’s not always about race, but sometimes it is. Sometimes that’s the shared denominator. If it is, you now have a list of black bloggers based in the UK.

black bloggers in UK

Black and Brown Bloggers who are slaying it in the UK:

Music, Musings, Politics, Commentary

Her Melness Speaks 

Amaru Don TV

Fashion, Haircare, Beauty

United Kinkdom 

Fat Girls Like Nice Clothes Too

Beauty Pulse London

Brown Beauty Talk

Fashion Daydreams

Chocolate N Curves

Dearest Deer

Chicks With Kinks

Care For Your Hair

Travel, Lifestyle

 NYLON Living

Just Go Places

beingTinuke

Who’s For Dinner?

Working Girl London 

 Family

Berice Baby 

Tiger Tales

Mama and More

Babes About Town

Oh Daddy Bee

Moderate Mum 

Mothering Mushroom

Circus Queen

Circus Mums

 

My list of bloggers is in no way conclusive, I’ve included those that I know of and who I feel write and present themselves well. You may have others you’d like to see included, if so do let me know in the comments section. Do you have a favourite out of this list above or are they all new to you?

Life

Every single step counts

grassy paths wimpole estate

Ten years ago, nearly to the day I was outside on what was a balmy night, devoid of stars but completely lit up by the surreal Shanghai lights. Walking through the well heeled French Quarter of what must be one of China’s most magnificent cities arm in arm with my mum, looking through the window of a tailor’s shop I remember remarking to her that I couldn’t wait for the day when I could walk into such a beautiful store to get my clothing custom made. This may seem like quite a luxurious wish, but being a curvy young woman in China meant that I couldn’t buy clothes in 99% of the shops! I would buy fabric and go down to my local tailor, just outside the university compound I worked within to get clothes made. What wasn’t made for me was posted over from the UK.

I was full of enthusiasm and could only see great things in front of me. A life full of working hard, achieving my goals and being thankful for the rewards of my labour. There were so many ideas flooding my brain, businesses I could run, people I could help, companies I could join. Oh the confidence of youth!

I’ve had so many ideas that may have worked out if only I’d had the balls to see them through

Ten years on, I believe that I do work hard but, as is the case with life, my goals have shifted and the life I’d imagined for myself that night in front of the tailor’s shop never transpired. Not. Even. Close. Am I saddened by that? Yeah a bit, I won’t sugar coat it for you because I’m trying to be the most authentic me I can be and if I were to slap a fake smile on it and make out that the world is all peachy all of the time, you’d call me out on my BS real quick! I work hard but have lacked direction at times, been too easily swayed by the environment around me instead of owning my actions. I’ve had so many ideas that may have worked out if only I’d had the balls to see them through, no matter if it would have taken a year or two to see them into fruition. Instead, I gave up and moved on to the next.

Yesterday I spoke on the phone with a friend who has moved to the other side of the world and is really going places. She’s successful both in her personal life and financially. We both went to the same university, took the same Bachelor’s and for a few years, worked within the same company. Now, we are miles apart in terms of what we’ve achieved and I can’t be prouder of her if I tried. She knew something that I didn’t at the time. She knew that every single step counts. She went out of her way to use her spare time wisely, taking courses to better herself, to continuously learn new skills and give herself the knowledge that would one day become the factor that separated her from other candidates and allow her to rise and keep on rising. Whilst I was home sulking about what I hadn’t done and had yet to achieve she was busy getting things done and owning her life.

Let me just say this again – every single step counts. It might be an evening course in sign language, a part time masters degree, a dress making course or online creative writing sessions. It will make a difference, even if you don’t see it at the time, if it interests you then do it. It will become important to you at some point. Perhaps it provides you with the confidence you need to take the next step, perhaps it is the missing link on essential skills required to apply for your dream job, who knows? Just give it a go and take the step because in 10 years from now it could be the making of you. It could be what gives you the happiness you’ve dreamt of, the missing peice in the puzzle to the business idea you’ve been talking to your closest friends about for the goodness knows how long. Don’t knock those steps, no matter how small or how many sideways, backwards and spinning ones you may take. Your life may resemble the nae nae more than a regimented march and that’s fine, like how cool is the nae nae after all?

via GIPHY

So what steps are you taking to make your dreams reality? What could you do to improve your world or to take steps to make sure you don’t lose the brilliant life you already lead? External influences might make us divert from our plans and have to take a few awkward steps but we still have the power to lead ourselves in the direction we want for our lives. I’m trying to learn some new skills, to read more and to take advantage of free courses and seminars in order to enhance my knowledge and widen my interests. A course in dress making might be the step that sets the dominos rolling and ignites a fire blazing career in dress making – or it might just allow me to take in my oddly fitting dresses by myself and save a few pounds, who knows, but I’m willing to take that step and find out. Are you?

Life, Travel

Hotel SP34, Brochner Hotels, Copenhagen

hotel sp34 cph

Located in the trendy Latin Quarter or Copenhagen, Hotel SP34 is a traveller’s dream come true. Whether you travel for pleasure or business, this brand new (opened in April 2014) boutique hotel is within 20 minutes of Copenhagen airport and a short walk to many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, so should be top of your list when planning a visit to Copenhagen.sp34 hotel bed

From the moment I entered the impressive lobby area with its quirky seating arrangements I was already taken aback by the laid back ‘coolness’ of the hotel. Exuding the laid back vibe of a cool kid who isn’t aware of how much they are coveted by their peers, Hotel SP34 not only fits in with its cool, bohemian neighbours on Skt Pederstrade, it stands out as a beacon of style and sophistication.htel sp34 lobby copenhagen lobby sp34

When I arrived at the hotel, the room wasn’t ready so I sat in the lobby with my daughter, who soon made use of what must be the fastest complimentary WiFi we’ve experienced. We also took the opportunity to have an early lunch in the burger bar, Cock’s and Cows within the hotel which was both filling and reasonably priced. Having been voted Copenhagen’s best burger twice in the past three years, I can definitely understand why this newbie to the food circuit has reached such high acclaim in such a relatively short time. It was too cold to make use of the rooftop terrace but I did grab drinks from one of the 4 bars hidden within the town house hotel. We watched the suave cyclists go past and admired the Copenhagen pace of life whilst business guests carried out informal meetings just a few feet away within the lobby area.

The room itself, was beautifully decorated in a simplistic yet luxurious taste. The seating area and table became invaluable for our exploration planning during our stay and the waterfall shower made a more than worthy substitute for my six year old, who managed to take three very long showers within the day we spent there. seating area luxury hotel CPH IMG_6067 boutique hotel bohemian SP34

The staff were all incredibly helpful, advising on places to eat and giving us directions. My daughter made a point of seeking one particular lady out before we left, so she could say goodbye, as she was so touched by her friendliness. I think that in itself is a sign of how idyllic and child friendly our stay at hotel SP34 was.

Would we stay again? Yes, most certainly. As a four star hotel in a favourable location, nightly rates are far from a budget stay but as our second night in a more budget friendly hotel soon proved, you get what you pay for. The level of comfort we felt during our stay couldn’t be replicated elsewhere, nor could the beautiful room interiors.

One night in SP34 is costs around £210 and comes with complimentary organic breakfast buffet and a complimentary glass of wine during the Brochner wine hour (5-6pm)

For more information about the hotel, check out the Hotel SP34 website

Life, Travel

That time I impulsively took a job in China

chinese dragon Copyright: oilslo / 123RF Stock Photo

My friend Michelle who writes over at Bod for Tea wrote a comment on my last blog post which reminded me of my time living in China some gazillion years ago, before baby and bills. Actually I had bills back then, but I also had parents who were willing to help cover them and good credit which allowed me to get a loan out to cover some expenses in my absence. Good times. Moving to China was nothing if not completely impulsive and unplanned. There was a month if not less between the idea being dangled in front of me by a tutor at my uni and me landing in a very hot, humid Harbin Airport.

During that month, I had to run back and forth organising jabs, health certificates, letters of invitation, flights, visa runs, clothes shopping and telling my often confused friends that I was flying to the other side of the world to teach English at a top military and ship building university a month after completing my bachelor’s degree in a subject that had nothing to do with either teaching, English or Chinese. Whilst others were getting excited about their upcoming graduate placements, I was getting excited about the chance to test out my new teaching skills, courtesy of a one month intensive CELTA course.

I think part of what made my time in China so exciting and memorable is the lack of pre-planning. The spontaneity of the move and lack of knowledge of the region meant that every day was packed with a new surprise, a new life lesson and in some cases, another shock to the system. Talk about a sharp cultural and career learning curve. I learned how to ski, went on my first hike, ate my first fried egg with a pair of chopsticks and made my first international friends, many of whom I still talk to nearly a decade later. I also graduated in Shanghai which was amazing! The University had a large Chinese alumni so they preformed a separate ceremony there so that the student’s family and friends could all be present. I was the only non-Chinese student graduating which was quite amusing. My parents flew to Shanghai to see me graduate and the whole experience was the stuff of dreams.

Teaching was a great addition to my skills set. I was responsible for people other than myself, it was sometimes quite unnerving, knowing that if I didn’t teach my students well enough, they stood the chance of failing their English proficiency tests (IELTS) and not being able to carry on with their chosen paths of study which would include a year in either Australia or the UK for their sandwich years. Luckily, I turned out to be quite a good, if not slightly unconventional teacher. My students did well in their tests and it filled me with pride to mark their papers. I think having a teaching job in China on my resume was a positive for employers too.

Do I regret moving to the other side of the world straight out of uni without a single word of Mandarin under my belt? Not at all. If any thing,  I regret not staying there longer. My move back to the UK was just as impulsive as my move away from it had been. It probably would have been a good idea to get another year of teaching under my belt or to follow up on the job opportunity to interview and travel which had been serendipitously offered to me thanks to a recommendation from a fantastic friend I’d met in China.

Sometimes throwing caution to the wind and just going with your gut can be the making of you. I think my time living in China still ranks highly amongst my favourite life experiences. If I’d listened to any of the many naysayers telling me it was a rash choice, that people don’t just get up and go to other countries, I’d have missed out on some incredible experiences and many wonderful friends who still shape me and make me a better person till this day.

Do you travel on impulse? Where is the most impulsive place you jumped up and went to? I hope it all worked out well for you, and even if it didn’t, I hope it was memorable!

 

Linking to Share The Joy

Life

My 5 favourite photos of last year

Man sleeping on london underground train

Photography and blogging go hand in hand these days. It’s not just about what you write, it’s about attracting people to your content too. Much in the same way that when you’re in a book shop a cover can draw you to your next purchase, the featured image for a post can draw you into that post and make you click to open it.

Bloggers are jacks of all trades, learning the importance of a gripping title, SEO, photography, social media and writing great content. Six years in and I’m no pro, mostly because I’ve been at it more as a hobby than to gain worldwide success, but even so if you look at the first few posts on my blog Circus Mums, you can see I’ve learned a thing or two over the years.

I enjoy writing but I also love the passion for photography that blogging has introduced me to. Many of the images never make it online, but there are thousands of family photos sitting on hard drives which I’ll be able to look at in the coming years with pride.

I got to thinking about what images I’d put forward if someone asked me to choose my favourite photographs from the past year. It turns out I’m my own harshest critic because out of thousands of images I found no problem in whittling my favourite images down to a handful.

1

close up of girl with braids on brick wall

Close up of my daughter

I took this photograph of my daughter during the summer holidays. She looks so grown up and there was something about her eyes that just makes me stare in awe.

I made her.

Sometimes I just catch my breath when I think about that. I’ve hundreds of photos of this beautiful princess, but this is my favourite from 2015. It was taken on a happy day, we’d gone to the South Bank to take part in the Shrek’s Adventure experience.

2

Man sleeping on london underground train

Man asleep on the London Underground

I took this photo late on a Sunday night on the way back from a photography class. It was shot from the hip. I loved the lines on this man’s face, it made me want to know what he was thinking / dreaming about and reminded me that everyone has a story to tell.

I’ve always been really shy about taking photographs of people I don’t know but this was the first day that I wondered around London doing just that. It’s all thanks to the confidence I mustered from attending a workshop with Paul Hames earlier that same day. Paul told me I had an eye for photography and it’s probably the first time I took myself seriously. Before this day I’d always felt a bit of a fraud!

 

3

Reena eating an ice cream on a sunny day

My friend Reena eating an ice cream

 

I love this photo! I asked my brilliant friend Reena if she’d play guinea pig and let me take some photos of her. She was kind enough to oblige and make the epic journey from her home in London to mine in Hertfordshire. I plied her with the promise of a bbq and an outdoor neighbourhood cinema, so it was a pretty sweet swap to be fair!

I love the way the light bounces off Reena’s hair in this photo and how it wasn’t posed. She was eating her ice cream and having a good old chat with me whilst I sorted out the ISO and this was one of the first photos I snapped at the bench, others followed which were more posed and had more purpose, but this one is by far my favourite from the shoot. It’s natural, it’s vulnerable and it sings summer and happiness.

 

4

Young girl in lavender field photography

Daughter in the lavender

This photo had to be in my top 5! I think what makes it work is the purple coat and it’s funny because she nearly didn’t bring it. The rain started pelting down on the car as we drove off and I reminded her to bring it. The rain didn’t stop by the time we’d reached the fields but my daughter still wanted to pick lavender so we all put on our waterproofs and went for it.

The purple coat amongst the purple flowers. Oh and those lines! I love the lines. For me, this photo is just lovely.

 

5

Amber coloured glass light shade

Yes, this really is one of my favourite photos!

I love the marriage of old and new. This was taken in Hotel SP34, Copenhagen in my hotel room in the spring of 2015. The townhouse hotel had been beautifully renovated and was very sympathetic to its roots, but full of gorgeous, modern touches such as this coloured glass geometric light shade.

I can’t really explain it, but this picture encapsulates my whole Copenhagen experience. A perfect marriage of historic and modern.

      * * *

These may not be the most technically brilliant photos I’ve taken, they might not stir any emotion or opinion one way or the other in you, but they are my favourites nonetheless.  This year, my confidence has improved and I’d like to think my skills have too. This year, maybe I’ll conquer post production and evolve with my photo taking too.

featured, Travel

A native’s guide to London transport

When you’ve grown up in a big city and then chosen to raise your kids there, it’s hard to understand what the fuss is when visitors stress out about visiting with their own family. Well, at least that was how it felt until I visited a city with a population which totally eclipsed that of London and I finally got what it must feel like to fear losing yourself or worse, your kids to a sea of people. With that in mind, I’d love to share a native’s perspective of getting around London. These tips ring true with or without your kids in tow!

traditional London bus

The Tube and Buses

London has a great transport system. Even if, like today, you are faced with a strike on the London Underground, you can still find a multitude of buses, trams, overground trains and taxis to ‘magically’ transport you from A to B.
Children under 16 travel for free on London buses, though children aged 11 and under must be accompanied by an adult. If you’re aged 11 and under, you can also travel on the tube, DLR and London Overground for free, again, the same rule applies with regards to having to be accompanied by an adult.

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Travel

Seven things you didn’t know about Walthamstow Market

Walthamstow, situated in the East of London is a bright, energetic town. With house prices that are still affordable for some, it has become a very popular destination for first time buyers in recent years. I don’t go there to look at the houses though. For the best part of twenty years, I’ve visited Walthamstow for its market to pick up everything from patterned tights in my school days to meat and fresh fruit in my ‘adult’ years.

I went to Walthamstow over the weekend to grab some fruits and vegetable from the “paaahnd a bowl” stalls since I was already in London and even with the cost of driving to Walthamstow from North London, it still worked out cheaper than buying the same quantities of produce from a supermarket. Price aside, the quality of the produce seems better to me too! Anyway on with the facts and some pics from my last visit.

SEVEN Things you may not have known about Walthamstow Market

  • ONE:  Walthamstow Market is 1 kilometre long, making it Europe’s longest daily market
  • TWO: It is home to L. Manze, one of the few remaining pie and mash shops in London. L. Manze opened in 1929
  • THREE: Walthamstow Market is heaven on earth for textile lovers with a wealth of fabric stalls and shops
  • FOUR: In 2004 a large part of the shopping centre which runs alongside the market was destroyed in a fire
  • FIVE: The top of the market used to be home to a shopping arcade, built in the 1960s and demolished just before the millennium, only to be replaced with concrete for over ten years due to money shortages. There is now a cinema, restaurants and housing on this space.
  • SIX: The market is walking distance from Walthamstow Central bus garage, underground and National Rail stations.
  • SEVEN: Walthamstow Market is not open on a Monday! Throwing that in there because it’s caught me out many times!

pie and mash shop in walthamstow The arcade cinema walthamstow one pound a bowl fruit and vegetables stalll walthamstow sai fabric shop Walthamstow

featured, Travel

Walking the Lee Valley, London

River Lea London

Sometimes the best adventures are the ones you take on your very own doorstep. Walking alongside the river Lea, which winds its way through the Lee Valley (Lea-Lee, confusing right?)  became a favourite past time for me a couple of years ago. The pathway itself runs alongside the river, much of which is home to a bubbling canal boat community and a brilliant selection of wildlife.  Continue Reading…

featured, Travel

In Pictures: Three weeks in Chicago

burger best in chicago

Three weeks in Chicago with three women who up until then I’d only spoken to via Skype and email? Sure, why not? We were working on a start-up together and met up to put some plans into overdrive, brainstorm, bond and meet some interesting, enterprising Illinois officials along the way.

Loads of food was consumed, my favourites being the sushi in-house at Fairmont Chicago which acted as our home from home and the deep dish pizzas from Giordano’s. Garrett’s popcorn is a must for anyone travelling through Chicago too, of course! Anyway, on to the photos.

Enjoy!

chipotle bowl Continue Reading…

featured, Life

My first Nigerian wedding

nigerian gele

I say my first, but it’s not really. It’s the first in a very long time. The first in my ‘adult’ life, so the first Nigerian wedding I’ve been to where I was responsible for someone else and that I actually had to buy a special outfit for in traditional lace.

nigerian wedding lace

What did I have to do?

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