As I watched a group of bodycon-clad women pose in front of a photo booth and a table of my friends chasing mozzarella sticks with surprisingly good wine, I could hardly believe I was at Gala Bingo.

Until last month, I hadn’t so much as stepped foot in a bingo hall. Now I was spending my all- important Friday night in one.

Being the lifelong ‘Yes Woman’ I am, I didn’t expect much more than an activity checked off my unfulfillable bucket list. Yet – as blog posts dictate – found myself pleasantly surprised.

A few hours before I touted my blow-up flamingo across London (don’t worry – we’ll get there), I entered Gala Stratford with a small group of fellow bingo virgins and fell down the rabbit hole of square-stamping thrills.

With preconceived notions of old men falling asleep on stacks of bingo sheets throughout Britain’s disused town halls, Gala surprised me.

The launch of their new and improved game is spread across 14 pages (instead of 11, gives players more of a chance to win, and has jackpots of £20,000.

Knowing it was our first time, the host spent extra time with us to show us around the gargantuan club, set us up at a birds-eye view table in the bar, and explained how things work in the unpredictably intense world of number-shouting brain games.

I can honestly say we had the time of our lives.

With no fortune to speak of at the game’s break, we ordered a selection of the menu’s simple but classic dishes and enjoyed them through the second half of our hilariously poor efforts.

Filled with competitive adrenaline, the night continued with a decent photo booth session, lots of laughs, and many a dance with blow-up flamingo props the manager decided to offer us in pity.

Win or lose, I can categorically say I had more fun at Gala than I’ve had in some of London’s most sought after clubs.

And is anyone with a blow-up flamingo really a loser?

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showstopper the musical
Musical theatre has made me a relatively intolerable human to be around.

Some time around the purchase of my first pair of tap shoes, I realised that every moment in life had a song and dance. Also that – regardless of my company’s desires – I would indulge it.

Mine and every millennial’s favourite, Wicked, has graced* my life on almost ten occasions and I have spent most of my OCD-addled adult life thinking there would never be another musical I would want to see as many times.

Then a ridiculous, no-budget musical came along and turned my Elphaba upside down.

Showstopper! – exclamation intended – is an entirely improvised musical for both intolerable show choir graduates (hello, friend) and the musically indifferent.

The Olivier Award-winning ‘Showstoppers’ have created an all-singing, all-dancing triumph of unpredictable genius.
Each show is curated purely on live suggestions from the audience and hilarity ensues at a level often difficult for practiced performers to reach.

Showstopper! takes the sharpest lolz imaginable and almost makes them feel intimate. It was unlike any show I’ve seen before and one I’m likely to stalk as they tour the country.

Do. Not. Miss. It.


dating apps‘ve idly swiped my fair share of Londoners over the last five years.

The trouble is, my generally commitment-phobic approach to any form of dating means I get bored and/or ghosty within days of each re-download.

Then I found myself in a fully-fledged “adult relationship” sparked by an afternoon of wing-manning on a now-extinguished ‘social’ element of a dating app.

It got me thinking about the future of dating apps.

Sore thumbs aside, dating apps have changed the way we view dating – and our desirability as a concept – faster than anything in modern history. And Badoo, the largest dating app in the world (they have over 360 million users worldwide), is the most comprehensive example of this.

Rather than matching simply on ‘likes’ (the current basis of almost all dating apps), Badoo allows you to see who has recently checked out your profile, see who has ‘favourited’ you, see people you’ve crossed paths with in the day, see the friends you have in common, and offers a richer profile experience with videos, Instagrams, and all.

Long gone are the days of newspapers’ back-page Men Seeking Women ads, eh?

On Badoo, women don’t have to feel bombarded by messages as men can only message them twice. If the woman does not reply, they won’t be able to send her another message. You can also call and video chat through the app so your phone number can remain a secret as long as your heart desires. It is a rather empowered time to be dating. Even Whitney Wolfe Herd (the boss bae who co-founded Tinder in 2012) has introduced a networking feature to her own lady-steered dating app – Bumble – where only women can send the first message.

Not that it’s all innovation gold in the industry. One of the many apps in the market – based completely on users seeing the singletons they physically walk past – have introduced a gamification component of dating which randomly notifies users that one of four other members they crossed paths with liked their profile. Essentially, you’re supposed to guess which of the four liked your profile.

Where these apps are blossoming is where they cater to the success of genuine human connection (whether you’re there for lady lumps or lady loves). Badoo, for example, gives members a blue tick when they’ve been verified, multiple layers of photo verification, an initial two message limit (to discourage the app spam we’re all too familiar with), and 24/7 moderation.

Truth be told, dating apps will flourish faster than anyone could soundly predict. Let alone by a woman who spent most of her five years on dating apps trolling people for screenshots. But the promise of dating app development – VR integration, the societal effect on relationships, and everything in between – is more thrilling than ever.

canova hall
While I respect anywhere with the balls to promote a restaurant, cocktail bar, hot desking workspace and nightclub as a single venue, I’m not sure Canova Hall should call themselves a quadruple threat just yet.

The newly-opened 4,500-ft Brixton baby was launched to expand on the success of the owners’ popular London Fields pizza pub, Martello Hall, and fans will be pleased to know their beloved sourdough pies have made it south of the river.

Looking like an old market canteen of hipster dreams, the atmosphere is also rather remarkable. From the moment I sat down, there was a very low bar set to charm my discerning pants off.

The food, however, fell short. The meatballs (in a ‘Nduja tomato sauce with parmesan & pecorino) were drier and less seasoned than my own. The smoked scarmoza & pancetta crocchettas (with rocket pesto) needed the pesto to draw any flavour.

The highlights were the plate of torta fritta (Italian dough balls) with salami, truffle taleggio, pecorino, riccota salata & salsa verde and zucchini fries. But I am looking for much more from a fully-fledged restaurant experience than an adoration for prepared charcuterie and fried vegetables.

Naturally, there will be teething issues. Ones I can only hope I’ve experienced here as their drink selection is incredible.

Canova Hall might actually be the sexiest place to get your drink on in South London. Their beer selections are suitably crafty (Five Points, Yeastie Boys, Fourpure, etc), they have 12 delightful wines on tap, a massive & classically-served absinthe offering, and a Barrel Aged Old Fashioned so perfect I may actually elope with it (Woodford Reserve from their barrel, maraschino cherry extract and orange bitters).

Though I left feeling relatively indifferent towards its culinary exploits, I feel Canova Hall is one to watch. Post-training wheel removal.

(Or visit for a tipsy-binge on zucchini fries, at least).

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canova hall
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natural beauty
We all use a wide range of cosmetics on a daily basis to help us stay squeaky clean, smell nice, and look our damned best. We need them and we cannot imagine our lives without them, but the cosmetic products most of us are using are also rather, well, toxic. The beauty industry is the driving allowance of countless companies’ production of cosmetics with abnormally high levels of chemicals. Some are used to prolong a product’s shelf life, some provide them certain desirable aesthetic characteristics, and some simply cost the companies a lot less than the natural alternative. Which would all be fun and games, I suppose, if they didn’t run the risk of causing major health problems…

• Why do people buy cosmetics if they are toxic?
It is enough to take a look at the label of one of the products you use and you will see at least several ingredients that you won’t be able to understand. These ingredients are chemicals created in laboratories that most certainly have a set of undesired side-effects for your health and wellbeing. But what if the label of a product mentions that it is “natural”, would that make the product safer? The truth is that the word “natural” does not indicate that a cosmetic product is chemical-free. Any cosmetics manufacturer can use the word “natural” on the label of his products even if the products contain as little as 0.1% natural ingredients in their composition. In fact, not even the mention “organic” can guarantee the fact that the products you use are entirely safe. Organic products must have at least 70% ingredients that were certified as organic. This means that there is still 30% left of a product’s content that can easily contain a wide array of chemicals. So, people buy cosmetics because they either don’t know what they contain, they don’t care because they are not aware of the consequences, or they don’t bother to look at the label because they can’t understand the ingredients.

Toxic chemicals are more present then we’d like to admit
As long as there are laboratories functioning out in the world, there will be chemicals created in an alert rhythm. Without us, the consumers, knowing too much about it, it is believed that somewhere around 1000 new chemicals hit the marketplaces of the world every single year. And each of these has their own ways of doing damage to our body. In fact, researchers in the US identified no less than 82,000 different ingredients, which can be found in personal care products, with extremely toxic consequences. Some of them are responsible for triggering cancer, other are causing reproductive issues, while some are affecting the levels of our natural hormones, just to name a few of the severe issues caused by these toxic chemicals [1]. Like the alarming appearance rate of these toxins is not good enough to get us in trouble, the rather elusive language used in the cosmetic industry puzzle us even more, making us trust products that can actually produce permanent damage to our body.

Chemical exposure due to beauty products may be to blame for the increasing infertility cases

It is not a secret anymore that the birth rate in many areas around the globe, in particular in developed countries where the population has easy access to a wide range of cosmetics, is
going down for the past decades. And even if women do get pregnant, there are many situations in which the unborn baby or the young child, experience a set of health problems. These conditions may be triggered by the chemicals stored by the mother’s body while she used cosmetic products. Several reports were created that looked at how the chemicals contained by shampoos, nail polishes, skin lotions, makeup products, and other personal care products lead to infertility, birth defects, and other pregnancy-related issues. It is true that the studies were conducted on animals and that it is not known with certainty if the same results can appear in the case of humans as well, but since they are toxins, we can’t expect anything good to happen if we use them [2].

Some of the most commonly met chemicals
These are the preservatives used in the cosmetic industry to provide cosmetic products a long life on store shelves. They can be found in almost any type of cosmetic products and can act as endocrine disruptors. Plus they can act like estrogen, a female hormone, and lead to the formation of breast tumors. You can see them under the form of Methyl paraben, Ethyl paraben, Propyl paraben, and Isobutyl paraben, the last two being the most toxic.

They can be found in nail polishes, lipstick, hair sprays, shampoo, perfumes, and nail polish removers, and may be listed as Diethylhexyl phthalate, Dibutyl phthalate, which are the most toxic, Dimethyl phthalate, and Diethyl phthalate. They are usually linked to birth defects in the case of boys, can affect male fertility, and lead to liver cancer.

It is a substance found in soaps and anti-bacterial products in general, although you can find it in deodorants, toothpaste, and body washes. It is believed to affect hormonal balances, lead to improper function of the muscles, heart disease, and heart failure. The worst part is that it may appear under a wide variety of names, such as microban, Cloxifenolum, Lexol 300, Tinosan SDC, just to name a few.

SLS is a group of compounds that include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, which can appear under the names of sulfuric acid, sodium salt, aquarex ME and aquarex methyl, dodecyl sulfate, monododecyl ester, and others. These chemicals can irritate the eyes, the skin, are toxic to our organs, act as neurotoxins, affect fertility, can produce gene mutation and even cancer. They can be found in make-up foundations, scalp treatments, hair dyes and hair bleaches, shampoos, liquid soaps, bath oils and salts, and body washes.

Is there a way to stay away from these chemicals?
Yes, you need to replace your daycare routine with products that are entirely safe. There aren’t very many in comparison with the rest, but you can find them. In order to be sure that you are using safe products, always read their labels. If you can’t pronounce something on the label, then that’s probably a chemical. There are many natural oils and herbal extracts that can be used for the making of safe cosmetic products, for a natural beauty and great health. In the case of reverse hair washing for example, which is great for thin or dull hair, you can use coconut oil to moisturize the hair, using a safe sulfate-free shampoo afterward. There are alternatives out there; you just need to look for them.

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