Ah, Winter Wonderland. It’s just pure Christmassy joy tucked into a little corner of Hyde Park, isn’t it? Ice skating, the circus, fairground rides and mulled wine – what’s not to love?

Actually, quite a lot. I had the absolute pleasure of managing an on-site restaurant a few years ago. I went to Winter Wonderland almost every day for almost seven weeks. Seven. Weeks.

Whilst some parts were pretty good to be fair, i.e. leaving the site at the end of the evening – most of it was an absolute DRAG. Some of this won’t apply to you if you go once a year for a couple of hours, but seven weeks working 10am-10pm, 6 days a week, earns this place a special place in hell for me. Here’s why.

 

Buggies galore and far too fuckin’ busy, can’t move, also why aren’t the children in bed?
It’s 9:30pm on a Tuesday, surely your spawn won’t be able to wake up in the morning after ingesting all that sugar? Why is your pram the size of France? Why have you stood in the middle of the concourse? WALK ON THE LEFT.

Expensive everything
£8 for a pint? £6.50 for 125ml of wine? Standard, give me 4. Prepare your wallets, the extortion is coming.

No toilets after 9:30pm so you have to go in a bush in Hyde Park when everyone has left
Yeah, probably not one that would apply to you, but might as well when you see some of the queues for those godawful portaloos. Good luck!

The same music over and over and over
Stalls / sellers aren’t really allowed their own music so most of it comes from a live band who sing the same songs, in the same order, night after night after night. It became a game to shout which song would be next. That version of ‘Valerie’ will forever haunt my dreams.

Cold as fuck
And WINDY. I have never been so cold in my life, I swear.

It closes at 10pm and people don’t like that at ALL
I know it’s fun, especially in the Bavarian tent with the live band – but it closes at 10pm. End of. Security starts coming round and will fine sellers should they sell anything after that point. The amount of people screaming at me as I wouldn’t fill up their dumb plastic steins at 10:15am was enough to last a lifetime, ta.

Food is shit
All mass-produced, rubbish – and I’ve seen where it’s stored. Grim!

Drinks are shit
Ditto. That mulled wine you just paid £6.50 for cost €20 to import the barrel. And imagine the mark-up on the powdered hot chocolate!

CASH ONLY – sorry is this 2017 or not?
Littttterrrrally, what? Lines upon lines of people trying to get £10 out of those shite ATMs that charge you £2.50 a transaction. Bring cash or you won’t be able to do anything.

If you don’t go, you’re missing out. So you have to.
And I am. This weekend. I will hate it but the Instas will be sick.

I was only just sixteen and I was lying on a blow up mattress in an unfamiliar place, in my bra. There was a middle-aged man hovering around above me taking pictures. And I was surrounded by rose petals. In fact, here’s a picture of it:

 

How awkward is that? You can see how my mouth is a little puckered – because I’m wearing braces. As I say, I’m wearing a bra, but I’d been asked to pull it down “quite low, please”, because otherwise the “straps will show in the shot”.

I remember feeling pleased with the pictures, thinking I looked quite pretty, and quickly forgot about them as I got on with my busy teenage life. Nothing ever came of them, after all. I also forgot about how awkward and uncomfortable I felt, trying to look confident and ‘sexy’ lying alone in the back room of a man I’d never met before, surrounded by chirpy pictures of his wife and kids. It’s not until I had a Facebook clear out recently that these pictures resurfaced and I realised just how creepy and inappropriate these images are. And I only have a couple of the images. He was clicking away for a very long time, directing my movements and position. Who knows where those pictures have ended up?

Now, this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to anyone, not by a long shot. But thinking about it, it’s still pretty bad. I can’t believe it’s only just occurred to me how easy it is for predators like Weinstein to take advantage of young girls and women. If anything else had begun to happen, would I have been brave enough to say no? Thinking of how timid I was back then, I can’t say with full confidence that I would have been.

That makes me feel worse: like so what – I would have just let it happen? Well, yeah. I would have probably frozen with absolute shock. I was never a promiscuous girl, and would have been at school what the youts call ‘frigid’. In the picture, I had just got my first ‘proper’ boyfriend, and things were still very, erm, ‘proper’ on that front at the time.

Since the Weinstein scandal, there have been plenty of women who have been brave enough to speak. It’s eye-opening and shocking just to see how common this behaviour is – not just to women, but to men too.

It’s really got me thinking about my life and experiences. Unfortunately, more and more things keep popping into my head that at the time made me feel very uncomfortable, but I didn’t do anything about and just compartmentalised and shut in my head. I believe this is a perfect ‘why’ to the naysayers who are having a go at all the actresses coming out with allegations: “Well if it happened, why didn’t you say anything before?”

I’ve been cat-called and whooped at from men in vans since about the age of 13. I’ve been called an ugly slut and a bitch for turning down an unsolicited video of an older man masturbating. I’ve also been full-on grabbed by the crotch whilst coming down the stairs at a club VIP area. I didn’t say anything – I was wearing quite a short dress, so I was probably asking for it, right?

Recently, model Cameron Russell has been using her Instagram account to share stories of harassment in the modelling industry with her followers. Like me, many of the experiences she’s shared are to do with underage models or female photographic assistants being put in dangerous and/or uncomfortable situations with male photographers.

You can see the stories on Cameron’s IG here: https://www.instagram.com/cameronrussell/

The Weinstein allegations come nearly a year to the day after Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” video leaked; it was not enough to derail his presidential ambitions, but it inspired a million women to march.

I’m glad there is much less of a stigma around this, and people are speaking out. I feel like sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour is going the same way as mental health: if we all stand together and talk about it, it’s much less scary.

I do love my job, but I’m not ashamed to say that I live for the weekend. I also bloody love a GIF. Is it pronounced GIF or JIF? GIF…yeah, I thought so.

Here’s my standard week in GIF format.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY 

SATURDAY

SUNDAY MORNING

SUNDAY NIGHT

Literal life, yo.

I joined the gym recently after years of avoiding it and thinking that hopping around the living room doing YouTube workouts was enough. I just turned 26 – and my naturally fairly lean body is starting to betray my horrendous habits of basically living off carbs and wine. It was time.

Truth be told, I was super nervous about going to the gym! I thought everyone would know that I was a total fitness n00b (which I am) and that I don’t know what I’m doing (which I don’t). My impending mid-late twenties pushed me over the edge though, and I signed up. And went. That was pretty much the hardest part – everything else just kind of gets normal after a while.

Here are my first impressions and tips on first joining the gym. I would really recommend it. I honestly thought I’d hate it and scoffed at people who work out on a hangover, or go to gym on a Saturday. I am now one of those people!

Choosing your outfit
Ooh honey, gone are the days of polyester shorts and P.E. pumps. It’s practically a fashion show at my gym. I thought long and hard about whether my lycra shorts I usually wear for pole were too much. Nope! I never thought I’d be one of those people who care about bloody activewear for fuck’s sake, but I’m finding I’m perusing Sweaty Betty and Lululemon more than Boohoo and Missguided at the moment! Although, wear whatever the hell you want. You’re there to impress yourself, not others.

What the fuck does that do?
Literally no idea what half the stuff does in the gym. There’s about 1,000 buttons to press, things to clip to other things, and who knew there was about 40 different types of weight shapes? Not me. Get yourself on a quick induction programme to be told how to use the equipment effectively (and safely!). Save yourself from being this woman.

Who are all these people?
Amongst the normals, i.e. me, there are some people there who are the equivalent to spotting a zebra in Ealing Broadway. Gym lore! I’ve heard about these types and was so pleased to find out they do actually exist!

Muscle Man – he looks like the ‘after’ photo for a protein supplement, with inSANE body-builder muscles that only he, and the girls on Love Island actually find attractive. He’s probably on Tinder.

Lipstick Lauren – oh man this girl! Her clothes say gym, but her face says nightclub. Often seen doing bicep curls with a cute weight, one hand on hip and facing a mirror, you know that her Insta is going to be full of ‘#sweaty’ sports bra pictures 2.5 seconds after leaving.

Grunty McGrunterson – we get it. You’re working hard. Like Maria Sharapova on the tennis court, Grunty makes himself heard with every rep. People looking over just makes him grunt louder. He also throws his weights on the floor afterwards and doesn’t put them back. Naughty.

Texter – a close relative of Lipstick Lauren, she spends an hour on the treadmill walking at 2.5mph. It’s too hard to navigate the touchscreen once your heart rate goes up.

Nude party fun
Lots of naked people about! Usually ones of your sex, but still. Get used to it ma man.

It’s harder than it looks…but it feels great
The first thing I was told on joining was to ‘make sure you push yourself every time’. So I have been. It’s not fun or pretty and I’ve definitely been on the verge of fainting after asking a girl if I could have a copy of this sick abs/cardio workout she was doing. Wish I hadn’t. But I’m glad I did. I never believed that you could feel good after – but for some reason you do. Sometimes there’s nothing more I’d like than to watch shit on telly and eat pizza in the warm, rather than dragging myself to the gym and running my ass off for 45 minutes. But DO IT. It’s win-win. Honestly, you feel so much better, and you get a better ass.

Money isn’t always flowing, especially when you’ve got a big holiday you’re saving up for. Sorry, have you heard? We’re going to Thailand. Here are a few cheap date night ideas to ensure your relationship stays fun and exciting.

Cook together
It’s actually a whole lot of fun mooching to the supermarket to pick out ingredients together and then work as a team to make dinner. You can make something pretty decent for less than £10. We make a pretty good team, Will and I – bacon cheeseburgers have been mastered.

Watch a film
Standard. But perhaps go out of your comfort zone a bit, choose something together that neither of you would choose usually. If it’s good, discuss it. If it’s shit, turn It off and laugh about it.

Walk together
We’re not great at this – as Londoners we need somewhere to be going. A to B – not meandering around until we come back to A sometime in the undetermined future. So, usually we are usually walking to a pub, rather than getting a bus. It’s really companiable, you can hold hands, and science shows that being side by side (as opposed to face to face) is easier when you need to tell someone something (something to do with lack of confrontation). So if you either want to tell them you love them or that you absolutely hate their t-shirt, now’s the time.

Visit a museum
We are soooooo spoiled for choice in London! We recently went to the Imperial War Museum. It was such a nice way to spend a day and it was totally free (bar a donation). There’s the Science Museum, the V&A…so many to choose from. DO IT.

People-watching
This doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful. Grab a coffee or a glass of wine and sit on Southbank and watch people as they pass by. Obviously keep your voice down, you mustn’t hurt anyone’s feelings – but having a giggle over a toupee in secret is hilarious.

Have them teach you something
Whether it’s a recipe, a song, or even how to play Fifa, having them teach you something is rewarding on both sides. It doesn’t have to be anything technical. For example, I now know how aggregates and the leagues work in football, and Will knows how and why we colour-correct. Bangin’.

Join friends
Inviting another couple for tea or going for a few drinks is a great idea for changing things up on a date night. Go to a pub that has pool or darts and take it in turns to pay for games. Girls vs boys or couple vs couple? Intense.

Shag
Well. Obviously. Sorry mum.

Have you got any other ideas for great date nights? Let me know.