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).

canova hall
canova hall
View Post

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.

View Post

green hair
The current consuming insanity of life has left me playing an unintentional game of sartorial apathy almost every morning.

It’s all turned a little “insert dress here” and it has made me feel a little less me.

To combat the unwelcome feels, I took my first night off in over six weeks, dyed my hair green (temporarily!), laid out an outfit that made me feel Lela AF, and popped my favourite jewelry in my bag for my fated morning haze.

This jewelry brain hack has become part of my daily routine since discovering Centime’s coordinates jewelry (you can pop your chosen GPS coordinates – ie your wedding venue – onto their pretty little pieces). Couples options with hidden inside-ring messages and all.

(Shut up! YOU’RE sentimental!)

What clothes or accessories make you feel your you-est?

What I Wore:
Vintage Rolling Stones t-shirt (similar here)
Faux leather skirt (old, similar here)
White leather boots from Office (grey version, here)
Sheer socks from Pull & Bear (similar here)
My ring (as above)
My name necklace

coordinates ring
green hair
View Post

crowne plaza leeds 4
This year, The Times voted Leeds the number one cultural place to live in Britain above London, Manchester, Brighton, et-personal-al.

Though I hadn’t been back for almost two years, the year I spent living in the city centre left a lasting impression on me. The food, drink, and people are – in my opinion – second to almost none.

When asked to return to the city for work, I couldn’t help but turn business into pleasure and book myself in for a little staycation.

The second I booked in at the Crowne Plaza Leeds, I felt I was home.

Though the 135-room hotel is far from small, the high (and noticeably Northern) level or service made the stay feel rather intimate.

Arriving before our room was ready, we were welcomed into their beautiful club lounge (part of their recent £4.5 million refurbishment and a special hideaway for those in executive suites) for refreshments before being taken to our insanely affordable little suite.

After a few hours in bed (the novelty will never wear off), we headed out to luxuriate in Leeds’ electric landscape. The hotel is within walking distance of the First Direct Leeds Arena, Headingley Cricket Ground, Kirkstall Abbey, and my forever-beloved street food kitchen at Trinity Leeds – to name but a few.

We were out too long to get acquainted with the hotel’s Spirit Health and Leisure Club but I have already earmarked a full morning to enjoy the large indoor heated swimming pool, gym, and spa during our inevitable follow-up visit.

From king-sized bed to rainfall shower, I developed a hell of an appetite for breakfast so booked it for the hotel’s Bar & Kitchen @ LS1 for a locally-sourced Full English.

Or, as the bridal party across from us kept cooing, a “bloody grand Full Yorkshire”.

Not an attribution too different from the Crowne Plaza itself.

crowne plaza leeds 3
crowne plaza leeds 9
View Post

santi london e20
Authenticity has been bastardised by the food industry for far too long. Any old restaurant with a creme brulee on their menu seems comfortable calling themselves an ‘authentic French restaurant’ and great menus of undisputed origin have been lost somewhere in the culinary hullabaloo.

Bizarrely, East Village (London’s former Olympic Athlete’s Village) now has one of the most authentic Italian restaurants I’ve been to in years.

Though it is only one year old, Santi has built a reputation on the handiwork of their Napolitan pizza chef and his specially-imported Italian flour.

Well aware that real Italian food is much more than pizza, I ignored all dough-swooning inclinations and decided the rest of the menu had to be put to the test.

As my dinner date clinked her well-deserved Aperol Spritz with mine, every Italian in East London seemed to decamp across the tables around us in colossal groups. For a relatively frill-free atmosphere and unconditionally Italian restaurant team, this only assured its apititude in the quest for authenticity.

At prices more competitive than any restaurant in the vicinity of Westfield Stratford, we went on to have a deliciously bona fide Italian feast; fresh calamari fritti, involtini di melazane parmigiance (translation: decadently baked mozarella-loaded aubergine), a wildly generous guazzetto (mussell, clam, prawn & sea bass casserole) served with toasted bread, and perfectly cooked sea bass with fries and vegetables.

The addition of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc del Veneto (a dry and elegant Italian pairing for gluttonous flavour chaos) tricked us into believing we had room for dessert. We quite obviously didn’t when a handmade tiramisu larger than my head arrived next to the richest tortino al cioccolato (think chocolate lava cake with a little less lava) in existence.

I only managed a few bites but their mascarpone and espresso-heavy tiramisu was worth a return trip alone.

Santi get my authentic seal of approval and then some.

santi london e20
santi london e20
View Post