This has been an exceptionally weird Pride month.

With all that has been going on, Pride has felt as notable as it has non-existent. More invisible — and important — than ever.

It’s been a rainbow-coloured rollercoaster. One day, the Supreme Court would finally agree to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. The next, JK Rowling would try to EVANESCO trans women altogether (yes, that is the incantation from Potter’s vanishing spell and I’m #notsorry).

But she didn’t stop there. As the so-called ‘trans row’ gained steam, Rowling decided to explain transphobic comments with a transphobic blog. Then, today, delete personal praise for Stephen King after he tweeted ‘Trans women are women’. All in the name of feminism.

(Because, as impenetrable as her arguments are, trans women are apparently threatening to the ‘sex rights’ of cisgendered, heterosexual, white women?)

Honestly, enough is enough.

While I don’t intend on singling Rowling out as the beacon of all that is transphobic, it has to be reiterated — the baseline of all feminism is equality.

Equality which, in the most basic of definitions, would ensure that a specific aspect of a person’s identity (like gender, sexuality, or skin colour) would have no effect on their treatment or opportunities.

That we’re all seen as people.

To believe in equality yet question the sanity, intentions, or existence of a person for not hiding such an aspect is clearly wrong — and in this case, transphobic.

Women, as a collective, do not share a singular experience. Nor do ‘straight people’, ‘tall people’, ‘English people’, ‘trans people’ (etcetera, etcetera). These are labels society has presented us with. Labels we’re either happy or complicit to adopt.

At best, people who share a label may also share a handful of similarities. The rest, whether it’s good or bad, is individual.

The fact is, calling trans women what they are — women — has zero impact on me (a cisgender bisexual woman), Rowling (who continues to restrict the construct of womanhood to “people with vaginas”), or anyone else on the outskirts of trans-ness, but it has an enormous impact on those women.

Just as the slow-but-sure acceptance and advancement of cis women, black women, gay women and more has done for the rest of us.

We are born and bred to be an alliance.

As marginalized groups go, trans people have been dealt an impossible hand; they face daily discrimination and harassment, societal demands that they “pass” for their gender, ridicule around their “transition” (or lack thereof), and HIGH-PROFILE REMINDERS THAT THEY ARE NOT WOMEN BECAUSE WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS FACED DAILY DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT.

I’m going to let that one sink in for a second.

The TERFs can’t rationalize this — weaponizing cis trauma to justify trans trauma. They are so clearly connected, so clearly a manifestation of the misogyny and gender roles that wreak havoc on us all (and the same, in reverse, for all men).

There is no room for people to rest on their laurels (or ignorance, or paranoia) here. The rhetoric has to change.

Do your homework (TransEDU is a goldmine), do your documentary diving (Netflix’s Disclosure is a fantastic place to start), and approach these conversations with the attitude you’d want from someone judging you.

Nobody is equal until everyone is equal.

** Artwork from the cover of An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance **

how to run couch to 10k
Art by Chris Marrinan

You could not have paid me to go for a run at any point in the last twenty years.

I was more likely to hike up and down mountains all day than run a single bloody mile. And often would.

It was asked of me at times – when training for soccer, dance and the like – but never received well. With a larger-than-average chest, little legs, type 1 diabetes and a mind that never stops, I simply couldn’t think of anything worse.

Unfortunately, I’m also a do-what-you-say kinda woman, so when a loved one tagged me in the Run For Heroes challenge (to run 5k/3.1 miles, donate £5 to the NHS, and nominate five more people to do the same) at the start of lockdown, I dusted off my trainers and set out to get it over and done with.

Only, something changed. Though I had to take a few walk breaks along the way, I finished the 5k not just feeling good but feeling that oft-promised but never-realized ‘runner’s high’. I wanted to do it again and I wanted to do it better.

But when I did – reducing my time from 45 minutes to 35 minutes in just five days – I wanted even more.

So, when I was eventually scheduled to run my twenty-fifth 5k in nine weeks, I ran 10k instead.

Pause for effect.

I WENT FROM HATING RUNNING TO RUNNING A 10K IN LESS TIME THAN PEOPLE ARE MEANT TO GO FROM ‘COUCH TO 5K’.

It turns out our bodies can do some truly bloody amazing things. And I’m here to help yours do them, too.

To be 110% clear, I am nowhere near qualified to become any kind of running coach or set custom 10k plans, but I do have some helpful tips and tricks to get you to 10k without wanting to chop your legs off.

So! Here we go. Your friendly neighbourhood couch to 10k plan:

  1. Run those 5ks. From day one, every run I did was at least 3.1 miles. Some, like the first, clearly took an age to complete, and some felt like nothing. Getting into the habit and pushing through those hard days matters most. Once you know you can, you always will.
  2. Take breaks. I started running on Saturdays and Wednesdays so my legs could get used to the impact. On week three, I felt comfortable enough to add Monday runs.
    Three runs a week will be more than enough to get you to 10k fast, but those breaks are essential to help your muscles recover. Don’t. Run. Every. Day.
  3. Include strength training. On non-run days, I find time to do some core HIIT, at-home lifting or virtual dance classes. Every little helps. (Just don’t go hard on your legs as you need them for your runs.)
  4. Protein. God, I hate myself for even mentioning the stuff, but protein is a game-changer. I drink fresh, vegan protein shake after every run (again, kill me), but do whatever works for you. Boosting your protein not only accelerates muscle growth but rebuilds the muscle fibres you ravage when you run.
  5. Do one fast run and one long run every week. I do a ‘who cares’ 5k on Mondays, a 5k with one super-fast mile on Wednesdays (when I typically beat my personal records), and a 5k-or-more on Saturdays (when I have a little more time to burn). By week six, I had pushed myself up to an 8k and could run for an hour without stopping. At that point, a 10k just doesn’t seem that intimidating.
  6. Train with a friend. Find someone to run with once a week, if you can. My fiancée is an experienced half-marathon runner and, while he can literally speed past me in seconds, those shared-run endorphins are often incentive enough. Partnered running is also one of the easiest ways to socialize while social distancing in lockdown.
  7. Tell yourself you can. The biggest obstacles in life are mental, and running is no exception. I could barely lift my legs off the ground towards the end of Saturday’s 10k, but I pulled through. Because I told myself I could and would. Nothing more.
  8. Bonus tips for type 1 diabetics. Track your blood sugar closely before and after each run. Everyone will be different, but I’ve found it’s imperative to make sure I’m no lower than 6.0 before I go out (or I’m basically asking for a low).
    Additionally, anything longer than an 8k demands a little on-the-go carb-up. I’ve found Huma’s all-natural energy gels (around 20g) the easiest to swallow on the move so far, but you might prefer something with more carbohydrates if you experience especially bad lows.

With all of that said, if you need some encouragement or non-pro advice, I’ve been tracking my progress and experiences on Instagram Stories. DMs always open as long as you’re not sending me your genitals.

Now, off you go – Day One starts today!

xoxo, Lela

Well hello, friend! Been quite a while. I know, I know – that’s an understatement – but I had the most all-consuming craving to blog this morning.

I could say it came out of nowhere, but I won’t pretend. After more than a year of silence, you deserve more.

So, here I am today: former full-time blogger and so-called ‘influencer’, tip-toeing back to write for the lolz – something I haven’t done since my work at The Telegraph and Forbes filled my schedule…and quite some time beforehand.

You see, around two or three years ago, I reached breaking point. I was tired of traveling with peers who cared more about sharing holiday selfies than being present in (and for) the places they were paid to visit (or people they met). Tired of seeing industries thrive by fostering fakery. Tired of the commercialization of life. My life.

When I started this blog (a whole decade ago), all I wanted to do was write. I got extremely and abnormally lucky along the way, eventually earning enough to make a living through it, but that core impulse never changed. Even if I did.

When I decided to take a break and get my NCTJ, I wanted to leave it all behind. To swap a life telling personal stories for a life telling everyone else’s.

But I didn’t have to swap it, did I? Because life was still going to happen, whether I wrote about it or not.

Buying a house happened. Getting engaged happened. Becoming a runner happened.

Cancer happened. Coronavirus happened. George Floyd happened.

Life and death happened, but still, nothing. No diarizing, no creating, no inspiring. At least not for the hell of it.

That’s going to change today because I miss it, and I’ve missed it for quite some time.

I can’t promise much more than therapeutic ramblings today, considering we’re all locked down, but the simple notion that I’ve re-opened a space to share the best of food, travel, culture and life feels good enough for now.

Until next time,

xoxo, Lela

hotel review london
I love a bouji staycation and I’m very aware that turn of phrase makes me sound like an absolute trollop.

There’s just no way around it; hotels are to good times what good times are to a Lela. To date, the record of extraordinary days to days I’ve ended up face-planting into sheets someone else has mace is one-for-one. I back staycations for all occasions.

For my recent birthday, newly opened aparthotel The Chronicle had my name written all over it.

Though the building nestled just a street back from Chancery Lane (and, most importantly, a quick Uber to Shoreditch) it is unbelievably quiet and spacious. As parent company Supercity Aparthotels’ reputation might suggest – a veritable home away from home.

The Chronicle boasts 53 elegant apartments (five of which have private terraces) with comfort-minded living areas, beautiful bedrooms, original – and typically cheeky – art, luxe bathrooms, Kerridge-ready kitchens, and all associated amenities.

It was the perfect pad to fill up (and glam up) before a boozy birthday brunch with drag queens and an even better hangover hideaway.

In fact, the complimentary Sky TV package (including sports and movies) really helped with the latter.

Time to find something else to celebrate…



hotel review london
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Despite frequenting The Alchemist for a number of years, I’ve never given the cocktail citadel a proper review.

This could be, perhaps, because I’ve typically only drank in the bar’s North England venues. The first Alchemist launched in Manchester’s Deansgate in 2010 on the site of a former 19th century ‘den of iniquity and alchemy’ (giving the bar its name) and I hadn’t actually visited the brand’s London sites since my hometown return.

Luckily, the whole affair met past expectations – their St Martins Lane outpost is a little bit of alco-theatre in the theatre district. And then some.

The cocktails fizz, smoke, pop and – well – transmogrify like they have for years while the food menu tantalises in its own way; there is a little bit of everything and a lot to keep your mouth watering.

After toasting with a Smokey Old Fashioned (Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, Jerry Thomas bitters and smoke), my dinner date and I shared tempura prawn lollipops, steamed pork buns and duck gyoza – all of which went down a simple but delicious treat.

I was especially surprised to see the menu championing seitan (both in ‘nuggets’ and boneless ‘wings’) but decided to forgo my vegan favourite for a later date so we could share some mains.

Forgoing the pant stretch of the Vietnamese Banh Mi (my favourite street food of all time), we opted for the tandoori seabass (unbelievably flavoursome) and poke bowl (which, while loaded, was a little more ‘great vegan salad’ than ‘poke bowl’).

All in all, it’s wonderful to know I can line my stomach with an array of affordable yet appealing bites when fate leads me, inevitably, back to The Alchemist.

Their Penicillin (Ardbeg 10 yearr, Chase Marmalade vodka, lemon and burnt cinnamon) is the only dessert I’ll ever need.

the alchemist london review

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