This is London: Bloomsbury Loo Tour

This is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourLondon Loo ToursSo I told you that last Saturday I went on a very unusual tour of Bloomsbury. I met Hannah through the Network of Nice, as she was looking to meet people while visiting London and when she said she was planning to go on  The London Loo Tour, I knew I had to tag along!

As their slogan says, this is not your ‘bog standard’ London tour. Instead of snapping selfies in front of Big Ben and learning the history of Buckingham Palace, your friendly guide will take you around a London neighbourhood to learn all about, you guessed it, loos.

London Loo  Tours was started by American expat Rachel after finishing her Theatre Studies degree in London and becoming one of the first Graduate Entrepreneur Visa recipients.

And while it’s certainly unconventional, this was a surprisingly entertaining and informative way to spend a couple of hours wandering around Bloomsbury (Rachel also offers tours of Waterloo and Portabello Road).

This is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourThis is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourFrom the history of public sanitation to how access (or lack thereof) to public toilets has close links to issues of class and gender, I never knew there was so much one could learn about loos! We even had the chance to peek inside some of London’s most historical and picturesque toilets.

Above are the gentlemen’s toilets in the Princess Louise – one of London’s former gin palaces, which was recently restored to all of its former glory – complete with original tiling and marble urinals!

And while women historically women have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to having any public toilets whatsoever, the lush ladies facilities at the Knights Templar pub in Chancery Lane (pictured below) go a far way in making up for it. Yes,  you can even lounge around on the sofas rather than waiting in a ghastly queue.

This is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourThis is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourFrom start to finish, Rachel does an amazing job of lacing her tour with humour, quirky facts, and helpful hints on where to pee for free!

I don’t want to give away all of her secrets, but here are a few of my favourite things I learned:

heartThe term ‘loo’ came into use after being shortened from “gardyloo” – an English warning cry used before emptying their chamber pots from windows into the streets (actually a mispronunciation of the French “garde à l’eau!” meaning “look out for the water!”)

heartThe phrase “the wrong end of the stick” allegedly stems from ancient Roman times when communal toilets were all the rage and they’d clean their backsides with a sponge on a stick (gross, right?)

heartThe City of London has a Community Toilet Scheme, which means that the borough pays pubs and restaurants to use their toilets. So if you see one of their stickers in a window, you can waltz right in and down to the toilets without even pretending you’re going to meet a friend or buy a drink.

This is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourThis is London: Bloomsbury Loo TourSadly Rachel must leave the UK when her visa expires in November and the tours will end. So if you’re up for a bit of toilet talk, be sure to book in before 19 November and use promo code “thelaughingmedusa” for a cheeky 15% discount. You can tell the loo lady I sent you!

If you can’t make it in time, Rachel hopes to continue the tour with new guides and an audio version will be available from the end of November, so just keep an eye on her website.

Now I’m just waiting for some of my new loo learning to come up at a pub quiz or on University Challenge!

What’s the quirkiest tour you’ve ever gone on? And what hidden corners of London should I visit next?

Here’s to living like a tourist,
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Chantilly Lace & London Adventures

chantilly-lace-she-and-reverie2Last weekend was such a whirlwind! It’s a good thing I stayed in to relax on Friday evening because I was barely saw my house for the rest of it. I was up early on Saturday and set off for Bloomsbury to meet my new friend Hannah and head out on a very unusual tour of London (I’ll tell you all about it on Friday!) Afterwards it was time for veggie fish and chips near Chancery Lane before jetting back to east London. I met up with Jayne and we whizzed around Broadway Market picking up snacks, before settling in at her flat for a slumber party. We spent the evening nibbling, plotting adventures, laughing until our faces hurt, drinking copious amounts of champagne, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

I slept in and woke up feeling a weeny bit delicate, but we managed to pull ourselves out of bed and head out for breakfast beside the lake at Pavilion Cafe. After a mad dash home to get showered and changed, I took the train to meet Matthew in Richmond. It was a gloriously sunny day and we spent the afternoon making friends with the neighbourhood’s famous herd of deer, nursing pints while chatting at a pub by the river, and grabbing dinner before heading back to his place and putting our feet up (finally!)

To put together an outfit that would take me through this busy Saturday and well into Sunday, I paired my gorgeous She & Reverie cardigan with a simple lace dress and my new Marc Jacobs bracelet, and added my vintage locket, fuschia tights, and sparkly ears for a look that’s decidedly me. Paired with cute flats for frolicking all over the place, I managed to stay comfy and stylish. Take a look…

chantilly-lace-she-and-reverie5chantilly-lace-she-and-reverie4chantilly-lace-she-and-reverie1I’m wearing the Chantilly Cardigan c/o She and Reverie, thrifted vintage black lace dress (no label), Marc Jacobs bangle c/o Harvey Nichols, vintage locket, cat ears c/o Crown and Glory, pink tights from H&M, and Glamtique Roadshoe Flats from ModCloth.

When Quinne contacted me about her company She and Reverie, I instantly fell in love. Each of her exquisite, feminine designs is carefully crafted in her Brooklyn studio and completed with beautiful details  - like the velvet bow adorned with an engraved pendant and the mismatched rhinestone button on this cardigan. Every piece is truly special. Plus she described herself as “a riot-grrl-entrepreneur with a hyper-feminine aesthetic,” so I knew I’d found a soul sister! As a special treat, Quinne has added a $20 flat rate shipping option for international customers and using the discount code “medusa” gets you 15% off any order between now and the end of the month.

I loved how the contrasting lace of the cardigan’s lining matched so well with the lace of my dress. It really is the little things that pulls an outfit together, isn’t it?

What adventures did you go on last week? And what fabulous things did you wear? Tell me everything!

Love, chantilly lace, & raucous dance parties,
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P.S. More than half of the tickets for our Full Moon Urban Retreat sold out in less than 72 hours! I’m blown away by the messages I’m receiving from women who are saying this is exactly what they need and who are stepping up, investing in themselves, and making time to learn, love, and laugh together. I’m truly humbled by the amount of support we’re receiving and feel truly honoured to be organising this event with Jayne. If you’re interested in attending, I hope you’ll book your place soon, as I think it’s going to sell out very quickly.

Photographs by Hannah and Jayne.

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with JF Biron

jfbiron_as1JF Biron, 33, Kustom Kulture in Montreal, Canada

The vast majority of the tattooists I feature on Tattoo Talk are female because, in such a male-dominated industry, it’s awesome to show how these bad ass babes are making their mark. But there are so many male tattoo artists I’d also love to have mark my skin. Today I was lucky enough to interview one of them, my talented compatriot, JF Biron.

How long have you been tattooing?
3 years

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
I was 22 and it was a small gecko on my right arm. Like ridiculously small! I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t want to go too big. It has been intergrated into my sleeve now.

JF-Biron2Do you have a favourite tattoo of your own (ie. in your collection, not that you’ve tattooed)?
I love all my tattoos for different reasons. My right sleeve is dedicated to my mother, who passed away 15 years ago, so it’s more sentimental. But I love my sphinx cat in a red bathrobe with a top hat, monocle, AND mustache. It’s a trifecta of awesomeness!

How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I was studying fine arts at Concordia University when I got the gecko. I thought it was an interesting medium, but thought nothing more of it. I finished my B.A. and did the gallery scene for a while but it just wasn’t for me. That’s when the wheels started turning in my head. I was interested in knowing more. The quest started and a few years later I found an artist to apprentice under. I worked two jobs and over 100 hours a week all through my apprenticeship. I wanted it bad… and I think it was the best thing I ever did!

JFBiron4Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. Like I said, I did my B.A. at Concordia University. My major was painting although I was lucky enough to have been able to dabble in many other mediums. It gives you perspective when you can see an art form from different views.

How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
I think it is slowly becoming regarded as a credible art form for everyone and not just the stereotypical early day hackfests on bikers. Clients are becoming smarter about the possibilities of what the art can be and how incredibly malleable those possibilities are. The technique is the same (or almost) but I think people are looking to get art pieces on their body… not just slap on designs. Not that I have anything against that. It’s a style. But even old school designs are getting more and more refined and beautiful.

JF-Biron3How would you describe your style of tattooing?
Sketch art and watercolor style.

Who or what influences your work?
So many! Sven Groenwald, Voller Kontrast, Gene Coffey, Dave White and Derek Hess, to name a few.

Thanks, JF! I love how distinctive yet diverse your work is. I’m especially in love with the mermaid and galactic watercolour sleeve. Now I’m itching to have a piece made by you even more!

If you like JF’s work, be sure to look him up on Facebook and Instagram, and book in with him if you’re ever visiting Montreal.

Love, drippy paint, & inky stars,
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Are You Almost-ing Your Life Away?

sick-emEarlier this week I attended an amazing lecture by Marianne Williamson with my friend Jayne (and then we popped my Sketch cherry for a bit of cocktail sampling – balance).

At one point during her talk Marianne said that many of us are “almost-ing” (a term from Ulysses). We’re on the right path and most of the time we do the right thing, but we’re not quite there. We’re almost living in integrity with our ideals, but not quite. Not all of the time, anyway.

While Marianne was specifically talking about our commitment to addressing social issues and standing up for global justice, I think it’s a useful concept for thinking about many areas of our life.

There are the times when we almost speak up, but we stay silent. When we almost take the plunge, but instead we hold back. When we almost do the work, but instead we make an excuse.

Think about it. Where are you so close, you’ve gone just about all the way, but you’re still almost-ing instead?

I almost live a healthy lifestyle, but I still skip my workouts more often than not.

I almost always live from a place of self-love, but there are still times when I don’t speak up about my needs so that I avoid upsetting someone else.

I’m almost fully committed to my deepest passions, but there are days when I tell myself I’m too tired, too stressed, too whatever to do the work.

Almost keeps us stuck at good when we could be great. It stops us from living the life we really want. And it prevents us from creating our heart’s work, so that we can make the impact on the world we’re here to make.

So think of concrete ways you can step up your game. How can you kick it up from almost to 100% committed?

Write them down. Schedule them in your diary. Make them a part of your daily routine. Share them with us in the comments.

Focus on being present in every moment and always being your best self, knowing that as you do, it will get easier. Your best self will get better. You’ll become strong where you were once weak.

Commit to making ‘almost-ing’ a thing of the past and kick ass everyday instead.

Watch as your life transforms.

You’ve got this.

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P.S. The earlybird tickets for our Full Moon Urban Retreat sold out in less than THREE HOURS yesterday. Thank you so, so much to everyone who has already booked. It’s nerve wracking to put something out into the world, but Jayne and I are completely humbled by this response. The standard tickets are also selling quickly, so if you’re planning to join us, please sure make sure you book yours soon to avoid disappointment. BIG LOVE!

Image by Liz Clements.

Join Me in London for a Full Moon Urban Retreat!

full-moon-urban-retreatYesterday’s #lovetober prompt was all about our biggest dreams and I wrote about my desire to make a living creating work that helps people fall in love with themselves, live a life they love, and bring their dreams to life. I want to focus all of my time and passion on helping you truly love and accept yourself. Today I’m so excited to be offering you a chance to get together in person for an incredible day of celebration, relaxation, and magic-making.

I wrote about attending Jayne’s urban retreat back in March and she’s quickly become one of my closest friends. I’m so excited to announce that on 6 December we’re co-hosting a very special Full Moon Urban Retreat before she jets off for a year of international adventure.

Women have traveled from across the UK to attend Jayne’s retreats, so if what we’re doing calls to you, I hope you’ll join us!

Here’s everything you need to know…

Many of us know what it’s like to feel busy and burnt out, forgetting to make space for the things we crave. This Full Moon Urban Retreat will be a day dedicated to delicious ‘you time’ and forging deep connections with other incredible women.

Part of being a wild woman is giving yourself permission to rest & rejuvenate. Lionesses don’t feel guilty for lying in the sun and neither should we. Together we’ll celebrate how far we’ve come and release anything that held us back in 2014. Then it’s time to dance with our desires, get clear on our heart’s deepest wishes, and learn the tools for making our wildest dreams come true in 2015.

full-moon-urban-retreatSaturday 6th December, from 10:30am – 5:30pm in Stoke Newington, North London

What’s included…
• We’ll greet you with a delicious cocktail of infused waters & you can enjoy all-you-can-drink herbal tea throughout the day
• Qoya session – a practice that combines yoga, dance and sensual movement, to remind us that, as women, we are wise, wild, and free. Taught by the UK’s only Qoya instructor (that’s Jayne!)
• Kundalini kriyas and meditations that will help you bust through your blocks
• A plant-based lunch that will nourish your body and offer a colourful slam to the taste buds
• Rituals to help you get clear on your desires and figure out how to take action towards them without being desperate
• A session on creating a daily practice that will support you in living the life you dream of – because it’s what you do everyday that shapes you and your life
• Nibbles and treats to keep you fuelled throughout the day
• A guided relaxation to round out the day before we finish with homemade chocolate and time to exchange details with all the new friends you’ve made.
• A gift and a workbook that will help you bring everything you’ve learned and experienced at the retreat into your daily life

full-moon-urban-retreat3All of this and more is included in the price of only £55 per person (limited £40 early bird tickets available TODAY ONLY, so book now).

You’ll be hard pressed to take a yoga and qoya class and have a nice lunch for that price in London, but we’re offering you so much more.

We all have desires that we want to fulfill and pieces of our lives that we want to look differently. But nothing will change unless we do. Until we take the time and invest in ourselves, we remain stuck. But change doesn’t have to be difficult. And we’re here to bring laughter, love, and support to your journey.

Limited places available. Book now or make a deposit to reserve your space.

We can’t wait to relax, laugh, and expand with you.

xx Jayne & Sarah

Please note that your place is confirmed once you have made payment. While we are 
unable to offer refunds or alternate dates, if for some reason you can’t make it 
then we are very happy to transfer the name on the booking. A two-part payment plan 
is available. Deposits are non-refundable. The second payment will be invoiced via 
PayPal and payment must be received by Saturday 29 November, 2014.
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