Jamie’s Italian, Leeds

On Tuesday I caught up with Sophie from Onetenzeroseven and Daisy from Llama Social at Jamie’s Italian in Leeds.


After the Blognix Retreat we decided to set a date to meet up again soon, because we found the ‘business mastermind’ session on the last day so useful. Essentially, you talk about your goals, and together you suggest ways of achieving them.


Vlogger in action #1
Vlogger in action #2

Jamie’s very kindly covered the meal for us. We picked from the Super Lunch menu, on which you can order two courses for just £10.95. To start I had the pate bruschetta, for main the tagliatelle and to drink a deliciously crisp prosecco. It was all very delicious!

I always love the decor at Jamie’s Italian restaurants – there’s a lot of attention to detail and everything looks good quality.






It always feels so good to be around people who motivate you
The scrumptious pate


I loved this meal and I also loved the bowl it came in


After we’d had lunch we wandered into Leeds and found our way to Pintura, where we stayed for a drink and got our notebooks out for some serious masterminding.

The gorgeous chandelier hanging in the entrance at Jamie’s
Portobello gin with a dash of grapefruit juice at Pintura

If you own a business, work on a freelance basis or even if you just have a hobby you want to develop, I highly recommend setting up a mastermind group. At the Blognix Retreat I was a bit skeptical at first as to how useful this would actually be, but by the time we’d finished I was questioning why I’d never tried it before.

We made ourselves accountable afterwards by writing our goals down on a shared Google doc too!

A great day that gave me the boost of motivation I needed to crack on with my next set of goals.

Fields, Manchester & Frost

Last weekend my friend Dave drove up from Northampton to see me and my folks.  I last saw him a week before I flew over to Melbourne, so a catch up weekend was due.  As well as eating and drinking ourselves into slight comas, we wanted to pack in a few other activities as well, including a run, a visit to Manchester and a walk through England’s green and pleasant land.

I have missed running through the English countryside so much.  It was great to have a beach to run alongside in Australia, but the concrete gave me shin splints and the high runner-traffic was a little irritating.  Lots of grass and no one in sight is much more up my street.

On Saturday we were up with the birds to get over to Manchester.  Our local butcher’s still have some left over pork pies made especially for the run up to Christmas, it was only fair that we took some off their hands.  Quite literally the best pork pie I’ve had in years.  Cranberries on top, turkey and stuffing in the middle, pastry absolutely perfect.  Dave was beside himself.  (Yes, we had pork pie for breakfast, what of it?).


Once off the train we got stuck into the markets.  I love Christmas, I’m hoping against hope that we actually get some snow before the New Year.  Manchester is a very architecturally impressive city, and I love the abundance of very old, traditional pubs everywhere.

More mulled wine please


Plum flavoured ale that unfortunately tasted nothing like plums
Coffee at Blue Daisy

Saturday evening was spent with my folks having dinner at Relish in Doncaster.  A day of steady drinking following by a night of steady drinking meant I woke up with quite the hangover.  Undeterred Dave and I had another early start and took ourselves off to Clumber Park.  This is a great place for families, dog owners or people like me who have a hangover to walk off.







Five miles and a Sunday roast later Dave was heading back down south.  A great wintery weekend that has well and truly got me in the festive mood.

People I Met And Liked In Australia

There is one single thing (or multiple, rather) that has made my stay in Melbourne worthwhile: people.  People I’ve met briefly, people I’ve become close friends with, even people I didn’t like.  They’ve all chipped in to make my third trip away the best one yet.

In an ode to the many, many laughs I’ve had across Melbourne, here are a few photographic memories of people I met and liked in Australia.

























































Goodbye Melbourne, it’s been a delight!

Reasons To Love Social Media

I love social media.  There, I said it.  I love social media.  When I hear people groan at the word twitter or ask ‘What exactly is Pinterest for? It’s just pictures isn’t it?’ a part of me winces, the other bites my tongue.  When social media is used in the wrong way, it can be humiliating for those involved and embarrassing to witness.  For example, when the owners of Amy’s Baking Company appeared on Kitchen Nightmares, their Facebook page soon began receiving comment after comment from reddit users.  Anyone who knows anything about the internet in general, knows not to react to trolls.  They reacted – read here.  That is probably the only lesson anyone will ever need in how not to use social media.

But when it’s used in the right way, when each tweet, pin, like and all other manner of shares leads to a beautifully orchestrated masterclass in good PR, when companies and brands really hit the nail on the head, it’s brilliant.  There are three perfect examples of this, and they are three reasons to love social media.

The first is the Bodyform response video, it’s an oldie but a goodie.  A guy posted a sarcastic and tongue in cheek comment on the brand’s Facebook page, accusing their advertisement campaigns of painting a false image around that time of the month – read here.  Bodyform responded quickly and brilliantly with this video:

The second is even more brilliant.  I saw this on Twitter about a year ago and it took me about three days to get over it.  An image was shared on Imgur, a site which pretty much showcases the internet’s most viral images and memes of the moment.  The image contained a thread on a Facebook page, a Facebook message and a photo of two guys at the Eiffel Tower at the bottom.
The Facebook thread was extracted from the Thomas Cook Facebook page, where a guy called Thomas Cook had written to the holiday provider.  In a nutshell he asked them for a free holiday to Paris for providing them with free advertising through his name.  Thomas Cook responded, not offering him a free holiday and providing him with a link to their website.  While it’s great they responded to him, they missed a golden chance to win big internet points.  Now that they hadn’t given him a free weekend in Paris the gates were open for their competitors to step in and do so instead, which they did.
The next Facebook extract was a message from Low Cost Holidays to Mr Thomas Cook, telling him they would like to give him a free holiday to Paris for him and a friend since he had just been ‘Thomas Crooked’.  The photo at the bottom was of him and his friend on said free holiday.  Massive publicity win for Low Cost Holidays, and massive publicity fail for Thomas Cook.  Snooze you lose.
The Imgur link was shared throughout Facebook and Twitter etc (I can remember retweeting it from someone myself) and the entire internet.  Social media PR done exactly right!  See it on Imgur here.
The third and final example is the best by far and has nothing to do with PR, just the power the internet has to reach people.  You might have already seen this picture of this Sikh lady, named Balpreet Kaur:
This image found its way to Reddit, where users began shaming the woman because of her appearance.  One user in particular shared the image with the caption ‘i’m not sure what to conclude from this’.  As things escalated and the insults mounted, Ms Kaur caught wind of the Reddit ripple on Facebook and sent a personal response to the guy who originally posted the photo.  My favourite part is this:
“My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.”
Her response was heartfelt, kind and so incredibly good willed –  read it in full here.  After this really beautiful response, the guy who originally posted the photo on Reddit sent out an apology to Ms Kaur and to the Sikh community:
“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.
/r/Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.”  

I’m pretty sure that at this point the Internet itself sat back in its chair and sighed ‘My work here is done’.  So there you have it, three perfectly good reasons to love social media.

Pin It Forward UK

About eighteen months ago I joined Pinterest.  My friends described it to me as a place to bookmark, or ‘pin’, things that you like and things that interest you.  I was hooked immediately, I installed the pin it button on my toolbar right away and began pinning absolutely anything and everything that tickled my fancy.  From pretty colours to interior arrangements, and from fashion items to motivational quotes and even recipes.  You can literally pin anything.

Pinterest is now taking on a very large life of its own and is about to launch a new website in the UK.  Like all good social media networks, the Pinterest team have contacted a number of bloggers recently and got them on board to help spread the word and generate new users in time for the launch.  I was absolutely delighted when I received an email from them last month asking me to take part.  To be involved in such a wonderful demonstration of how important the blogosphere is these days, and to be involved directly with one of my favourite social networks, is a wonderful opportunity and fantastic experience.

I certainly use Pinterest just as much as any other social network, but it gets used in a different way.  I feel that Pinterest is centered around ideas, inspiration and motivation.  Just a few weeks ago I went to the hairdressers and in the chair next to me a girl was on her phone searching through her ‘Hair Ideas’ board on her Pinterest account, in order to show the stylist what cut she wanted.  So much less hassle than cutting up a hair magazine!

Similarly, my friend Emily used Pinterest heavily last year for inspiration (or pinspiration, say it with me…) whilst planning her wedding.  She got some great ideas for her hair, shoes, the cake and dress from the site.  The best bit was with us girls all living in different parts of the UK at the time, we could all see her ideas on Pinterest and let her know what we thought, or even find our own pins that we thought she’d like.

Pinterest is fantastic for planning.  I’m currently living in Melbourne, whilst enjoying the city I’m quietly saving pennies so that when I eventually leave this wonderful place I can do a bit of travelling yet again.  Whenever I begin to lack the travel bug spark I pop on to Pinterest and add a few beautiful images to my ‘Planet Earth’ board, immediately feeling full of wanderlust once again.

Follow Frances B's board Planet Earth on Pinterest. On this board I pin images of places that I want to go to, have already been to or that just remind me of why I love our planet.  It can be delicately and quaintly pretty, or vastly amazing and inspiring.  That raw wonder and appreciation is one of the many things that makes travelling so worthwhile. In addition, Pinterest is also a brilliant tool to use if you’re a blogger, brand or company because the images always link back to the web source.  All you need to do is click!  Even Topshop have a pin it button on their website, so that if you see a dress you like but want to come back to it you can pin it to one of your boards for future reference. I use Pinterest because it’s fun, inspiring and very addictive.  If you don’t have a Pinterest account and would like to join all you need to do is follow this link to the new site.  Then make a cup of tea (or coffee … or gin, whatever), sit down and have a good old peruse of my boards to get some ideas and get the (pin)ball rolling.  If you would rather have a look first to understand a bit better what Pinterest is, go to my profile here for a gander. Now obviously I’m not the only blogger Pinterest have asked to help spread the word about their UK launch.  If you’re a seasoned blog reader you will probably already have noticed a significant ripple of posts about Pinterest recently, and right now I’m passing on the torch to the next one.  Isn’t the internet exciting?! Tomorrow make sure you visit Steve Whitty’s blog Midlifewanderlust1965, he’s one of the next in line to demonstrate why you should join Pinterest.  You can find his boards here. Good luck and happy pinning! Visit Frances B's profile on Pinterest.