+ Introducing Chickpea + New Kitten Checklist

Chickpea

Disclaimer: I've never been a cat person since I got a bit too close to my neighbour's cat at four years old and got scratched. I'd had the best of intentions, wanting to stroke it and shower it with affection, but it really didn't want me all up in its grill. Since then, I've always been very much on Team Dog!

However, working in a full-time job where I travel abroad frequently has meant that my dream of being a dog owner has had to be tamed. Ned and I both reeaaaaally want to get a dog, but we know it's not fair as they are much more dependent on human attention, and combined with this, doggy day care and other costs are astronomical compared to cat care.

Once we'd decided to consider a cat, I began viewing the feline variety differently - where I once saw aggression and indifference, I now saw a fluffy ball of happiness. It also helps that I watched endless YouTube videos of kitties miaowing, as these tapped into my 'caternal' instinct like nothing else.

I first laid eyes on our future cat from my Tokyo hotel room, browsing Pets4Homes for North London kittens. The advert read '¼ Siamese kittens' and the photos were adorable. I got in touch with Ned who was back in London and he arranged to see her on Sunday, the day I flew back home. I was adamant that he should say yes to the cat as I was so sure she would be perfect, but he was very much 'no you should see her first too'. But as I touched down on Heathrow Tarmac, my phone showed the text: “some news for you to come back to: we now own the most beautiful kitty ever!”

Fast forward nearly over a month and all I can say is, if you are considering getting a cat, do it! If you need convincing, take a look at the photos of her below:


Here are my do's and don'ts from what I've learnt post-Chickpea:

New Kitten Checklist

Do buy some inexpensive crinkle balls - they are essentially christmas decorations in ball shapes, and your kitten will go mad for them!

Don't bother with a cat bed. Various people warned me about this but I still went ahead and do it. Chickpea has NEVER used this and instead sleeps between me and Ned every night.

Do ensure you see the mum so you get some idea of how healthy your kitten is likely to be/size etc. Con't even consider a kitten where you can't see the mum!

Don't waste your money on cat's milk.

Do rub a blanket on the kitten's mum so kitty has her scent when she arrives at your home. Chickpea wasn't anxious at all and got used to our flat straight away, which was really lucky for us.

Don't let the kitten play with your fingers and hands. I used to let Chickpea lick/nibble my fingers but as she's getting older I know there'll come a time when it's no longer play-biting and could actually really bloody hurt!

Do rotate what toys you leave out for your cat as she'll easily get bored otherwise.

Do put up a bird feeder near a window so that the kitten has something to occupy her! Chickpea is an indoor cat at the moment (at least until her vaccinations have all been done) but we plan to put up a bird-feeder next to the conservatory, one of her fave places to chill out.

Do leave multiple bowls/sources of water for your cat around the house. We leave one in our bedroom and we often hear her at night having a quick refreshment!

Don't get carried away and buy lots of expensive accessories. Chickpea gets excited by cardboard boxes far more than any expensive toy ever could.


+ The Attendant Cafe - London: Review

Yesterday I ate french toast in a toilet. Well, a converted public toilets under Foley Street in Central London called The Attendant Cafe. Me and four friends had made plans to meet for lunch somewhere central, and we were struggling to whittle down the thousands of London establishments to just one. This seemed like the best option as it was something different, located centrally and didn't seem too formal for what was a quick catch-up.

Seating Options

A friend and I turned up around 12.30pm, and the first thing that struck me was the exceedingly small number of seating options available. After all, this is a converted toilet! Thankfully, round the corner to the right there's a couple of tables with bench seating, so we managed to get an area for the five of us. It's not possible to book ahead as far as I know, so I would recommend only going here if there's just two of you to avoid disappointment.

The Food

French toast was about £8 each, and sandwiches ranged Chorizo & Bacon, Royale Chicken to Mushroom and Halloumi. By 12.30pm they had ran out of the other brunch specials. They also had a selection of pastries and cakes on offer at the counter too.

The Atmosphere

The staff are SO nice! As well as that, their soundtrack was top notch and the lighting was just perfect for an underground venue. I particularly liked the fact that so much light filters through from the main entrance, making it feel that little bit bigger. It was a bit cramped, and the couple next to us kept having to hunch over their table so people could get to the toilet. As such, this is not the place for a two-hour long natter. It has an in-n-out vibe, you wouldn't expect to be here for more than 45 minutes especially as the food is served pretty quickly.

This is by no means the first converted toilet in London (Cellar Door and Ginglik are just two that spring to mind), but the space is beautiful, light and if I worked that little bit closer to this place, I would definitely pop in here for a pre-work caffeine fix.


+ Dollz & Geocities: Nostalgia for a '90s Internet

Initially, I wanted to write an article about the pre-2000 internet I only vaguely remember (being around 11 at the time). And then, it quickly became apparent that a spot of Googling was not enough to bring it back to life.  In the process of searching for old websites I used to frequent, basic screenshots of crafty HTML trickery and garish GIFs concocted in Paintshop Pro, what really hit me was that millions of opinions and web-design relics are essentially lost to the current day.

What does this mean for how the internet will be looked at in years to come? For me, having so much of the internet get 'recycled', deactivated and deleted is a devastating loss of culture, history, and prevents mine and so many other people's memories from being shared with future generations.

I tried to view emails from my 12-year-old self to reacquaint myself with my favourite 'web rings', forums and personal blogs, but Yahoo bluntly told me that my old account "has been inactive for an extended period of time and is being recycled". So I tried to search for names of old blogs I knew about, but most links led to "Problem Loading Page", broken images and dodgy hosting websites. Below I'll talk through how I first used the internet, and the scraps of a nostalgic net I've been able to uncover!

1996 B.I. (Before Internet)

Yes, the first form of the internet was alive and kicking in the 1950s, but to all intents and purposes, in 1996 I had no idea what the internet was. I was in year 6 of primary school, aged ten going on eleven and I has decided I wanted to run my own magazine (print, of course). At this point of time, the word 'blog' had only just begin its onslaught into our collective consciousness:

Ngram Viewer to Show Increasing Use of word 'Blog' in BooksI borrowed my dad's Amiga 1200 PC and started compiling a few pages of content for my new project (entitled 'Bazaar'). A few trusty classmates helped me out - one classmate drew a cover image of me (a dopey looking dog), one wrote a poem about snowflakes and another wrote about her favourite music. To top it off I bought a CD for my magazine competition prize. I charged my classmates 20p for the first and only 12-page issue of Bazaar. What led to its failure was (according to one classmate) the fact that 20p was too steep for such a sparse mag!

~1998: When I Discovered the Internet

A year or so later, I discovered 'the internet'. Again, with the help of my dad's PC magazines, and books not unlike this 1997 Web Design and Desktop Publishing for Dummies, I started to connect 'the internet' to self-expression; you could spread actual words and thoughts through this fantastic invention, with some crazy  code called HTML. My dad's computer was painfully slooooww, so when I went over to my nan and granddad's house it was a real treat to use an up-to-date Windows desktop PC with faster internet. The scariest moment for me was realising I didn't know how to copy and paste from a webpage! I clearly had a lot to learn about the online world.

Geocities:

Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to lament the cruel deletion of this web hosting site and the plethora of historical websites along with it. In years to come, I have no doubt future generations will marvel at the tidbits of 20th-century websites somewhat saved from infinite obscurity by the likes of The Deleted City The Archive Team and the Wayback Machine.

Setting up my first website with GeoCities was by no means an easy feat. Thanks to slow internet pre-2000s, it used to take half an hour to pull up my File Manager, and probably another ten minutes to upload an individual image... I used to get a bit cocky and try and upload more than five files at a time, boy was that a mistake!

Browsing other websites (mostly Angelfire, Tripod and Geocities domains) I quickly realised my Geocities handle (babie_bliss!) was random, slightly idiotic and had no meaning so I set out about other names for my blog. And thus was born 'Jenesis', accessible via a mighty cool "http://jenesis.cjb.net" short URL…. I promptly spent my afternoons after school learning some mad skills to blind as many people as possible with bastardized attempts at HTML/CSS/Javascript.

My Fave Early Internet Memories

1) GuestBooks:
This was pre-Facebook/Twitter and other fancy sharing technologies, and so your only real way of self-promoting your website and letting a 'webmaster' know how much you enjoyed their little space in the internet universe was via a guestbook.

2) Experiments in Text Style:
- Using as many font color hex codes as humanly possible:

- Adding a 'glow' filter to text as seen here - at the time most of us were having a love affair with Internet Explorer, but apparently the text doesn't work on Chrome or Firefox :(

3) Marquee Text:

This style is so out of date it barely works in code anymore, but you can view examples here. Not content with just uploading mere text, us pioneering webmasters then took it upon ourselves to thrust lines of text from left to right, top to bottom, or even to 'bounce'.

4) Blinkies:

I am forever indebted to the still-live but most likely forgotten Angelfire websites such as this and this which have allowed me to provide some actual examples of these delightful, blinking graphics:

Cupcake blinkie

6) Dollz

You can read the lowdown of this 90s internet craze in Salon's Playing with Dollz article as well as uncovering more examples at The Doll Palace
Dress Up Games, Doll Makers and Cartoon Dolls @ The Doll PalaceDress Up Games, Doll Makers and Cartoon Dolls @ The Doll PalaceDress Up Games, Doll Makers and Cartoon Dolls @ The Doll Palace   Dress Up Games, Doll Makers and Cartoon Dolls @ The Doll Palace   Dress Up Games, Doll Makers and Cartoon Dolls @ The Doll Palace

7) Making your browser scrollbar as garish as possible

Opening My Horizons

The excruciating squeaks of our modem were the gateway to a universe of other peoples opinions and glimpses of tangible but far-off next steps in my life. The sheer possibilities of where my life would go after high school were formulated into searches on Google (and AOL, Ask Jeeves and various defunct operations) including but not limited to:

1) how to start my dream retail business in fashion

2) how much money I would need to rent retail space in Los Angeles and how much it would cost to live in a 'condo'

3) which American universities in glamorous locations would admit a poor foreign student like moi.

4) volunteer organisations in Africa that badly needed an inexperienced and a starry eyed 16-year-old girl to help 'em out.

Certainly a lot has changed!

Some More Retro Internet Reading Material:

Net of the '90s

Important Milestones of Social Networks

404 Page Not Found

17 Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work


+ Day One App Review

In my cupboard drawer I have a despicably large hoard of blank, little used journals and notebooks. To think of all the observations, thoughts and doubts I could have articulated, but didn't, fills me with remorse at my lazy former self. Not because I think the daily wanderings of my mind are of much importance, but because to me personally, it's a really precious thing to be able to read back on previous versions of where your mind was at, whether that's later this year or in decades to come!

Every year over 98% of atoms in your body are replaced - from Did You Know? #226

This intriguing fact is just a small reminder that who you are is constantly shifting in so many ways and is never one fixed 'self'. As well this, our opinions shift over the years as we take on different learnings and perspectives from outside of ourselves.

In the spirit of documenting my life, I downloaded the 'Day One' app to keep track of things like my daily habits, quotes I've read, even observations I have when people-watching on the London tube! **Unfortunately it only works on my iOS devices, not my Android.. I hope they fix this asap!**

Here's a round-up of how other people have pushed the boundaries of what a 'journal' can be in 2014 with the Day One app:

1) Ben Whiting's article Remembering and Reflecting with Day One suggests tagging posts with 'funny'. Whenever you're feeling down, you can flip through a list of content that you already know is going to tickle your funny bone! I LOVE this idea.

2) Another simple but effective idea from Ben is to group together entries about larger life occasions e.g. a family trip/wedding, to help organize your thoughts.

3) Nate of Nine uses the app to keep a record of Historical Markers his family spots on their journeys out and about.

4) I also really love Nate of Nine's idea of filling out a Gratitude Log each day. I can imagine this would be so uplifting to read in the future!

5) You can set up a IFTTT recipe to automatically send your daily Fitbit activity to Day One, recording all of your steps and active minutes alongside your other journal entries (courtesy of GadgetComa)

6) It's a tad above my technical comfort zone but I also found this great idea of using Launch Center Pro to log Movies with IMDb.

7) Resilient Delight recommends great self-reflective tags such as Fears & Desires.

8) One of my favourite ideas is by Noah Liebman, which is to place 'Day One' as a kind of 'tweet to myself' tool, when you censor yourself from tweeting a particular thought. He says:

"So many of my “Ooh, I should tweet that!” moments I don’t actually tweet, either because I don’t think my audience would be interested, or because they just plain aren’t appropriate for Twitter (or anyplace else outside my own brain, for that matter). But with an outlet for them, those thoughts are captured".

9) Medical Tracking. The Day One app's Uses page shares examples of users who are tracking recurring headaches, as well as keeping track of your's or a loved one's medical treatment.

10) Dream log.

11) Quotes. You could even take it a step further and group quotes with additional tags such as the person you're quoting or an adjective such as 'uplfting' or 'career' if they give advice on a particular area of your life.

12) Image log. You might think that this is easily done with other photo apps, but the benefit of Day One is that you don't have to share each photo/image you save with anyone at all, and the fact you can view these in a 'calendar' format alongside text entries makes it even more powerful.

13)Simplicity Bliss believes feeling accountable to track your goals:

"Now I can reflect on my progress against my 12 weeks goals every day by recording in Day One what I have done that day that contributes to them.. What strikes me is that it really hurts if you need to write "nothing" under a goal for a few days in a row".

14) Set reminders to write, helping you keep the words flowing - right now you only seem to be able to set time and recurrence, but you could perhaps designate different times of the day for different writing purposes, e.g. 8am = sum up yesterday's events, 12pm = take a photo of wherever you are, and 6pm = write about your feelings and progress against goals.

15) Day One can also have great applications for your working day. For instance, Katie Floyd uses Day One to track billable time in a much immediate fashion. Because you can share files or export to PDF, you can easily get this to the right colleague to ensure all information is tracked easily.

You may not have tried this app out, or you may be wholly committed to your physical paper journal. But either way, using this app makes the future of journaling (particularly the ability to look back through past events and memories) a very exciting prospect.


+ 10 Fun London Birthday Ideas

The first birthday I spent in London involved me renting a limousine which took me and some friends from my hometown to an American-themed restaurant called Jailhouse Rock (sadly no longer open!). Since then, each year I've been in London I've always spent a lot of time researching nightclubs/bars/restaurants in the hope that I find the ultimate destination for my birthday celebrations. Let me share with you some places I've trailed out since I moved to London in 2010 that are perfect birthday London ideas:

1) Proud - Camden

I spent my 24th birthday here with friends, and have also attended numerous friends' birthdays here too. You can book yourself a stable which is really fun - the one my boyfriend booked had a pole for dancing which got used a LOT as the evening progressed! It's not as claustrophobic as your standard nightclub, thanks to the fact that it has two dance floors, the large stable area, an outside bar and more space for chatting around the bar.

There are so many bars within the club to choose from and more than different music playing in each dance area, plus the in-club entertainment has been known to include women on stilts and flame eaters!

2) Drink Shop & Do - Kings Cross

I love how fun and unique the event nights are here! I've only been for drinks here so far, but booking a themed night is on my to-do list.

You can pre-book an area in the bar downstairs for groups of ten or more, and they also do a special food menu for parties.

3) Gordon's Wine Bar - Embankment/Charing Cross

Gordon's Wine Bar

4) Bounce - Holborn

I've only been here once or twice, but the venue is MASSIVE, is centred around a really fun sport which gets more fun after a cocktail or two, and the place has a great playlist.

> You can play on a London 2012 Olympics table!

> For up to 25-30 guests, you can hire the Gallery Table and ensure you have a nice area for all your friends.

> As told on their website, "Bounce is located on the very site where the game of Ping Pong was invented and patented in 1901 by John Jaques III".

5) Barrio Central - Soho

Warning! This place gets really sweaty and full. If you don't like the idea of having to spend half your night pressed up against a load of tourists you should a)rent a private area or b) avoid at all costs.

> You can rent an area called 'the porch' which is at the very back of the bar on the ground floor. This area seats up to 20 people. This is as far away from the main dance floor (in the basement) as you can get, so you might also want to consider the Stone Clad as this seats the same amount of people and is right in the thick of it. There's also the 'Love Shack' in the basement, right next to the DJ.

6) Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes - Bloomsbury/Holborn

> This place has karaoke rooms, bowling lanes (obviously!) and also a dancefloor/bar area which is open until 3am.

> What sets this place apart from other London nightclubs is that it's one of the rare venues to serve food too. Ray's Pizza and Diner is only open until 10pm, but it does mean if you want just one venue for your whole evening (dinner, drinks, dancing) you're covered!

7) The Blues Kitchen - Camden

This venue gets crowded really quickly, but you can book ahead for a booth for dinner, and (from what I remember) you can usually use that as a base for the rest of the night. This venue offers free live entertainment if you get there before 9.30pm, and after that it's around £5 on the door.

8) Metro Garden & Bar - Clapham Common


From the outside this is a dark and mysterious bar, but if you walk through to their outdoor area, you'll be pleasantly surprised. This venue has high-quality and has a real touch of sophistication, a far cry from how Clapham high street often looks on a Saturday night!

I'd recommend this place for some early evening Pimm's on their outside daybeds, and then when it gets a bit darker the fairy lights come alive and the whole place transforms into something from a fairytale!

9) Circus Bar - Covent Garden

Circus Bar, London
You'll likely miss this bar when you go looking for it - the front door is a non-descript heavy steel door and you can barely see the 'Circus Bar' sign. You will need to book ahead for dining here, but most evenings after work I've been able to visit here for a glass of vino with friends.

> Every 30 minutes or so, a new performance act will come 'on stage'. By stage I mean the massive dining table which is usually reserved by a large group for dining.

> I've never eaten here, but the Sharing Menu could be a great option for a birthday meal with friends.


10) The Boat Show Comedy Club

I went here with my boyfriend a few months ago, and this place was so much better than I had anticipated! Firstly, if you get there straight after work and well before the show, this would be an ideal place to catch up with friends for a few drinks while overlooking the South Bank and Big Ben.

The comedy event itself is obviously the main draw here, and I saw plenty of groups seated in their reserved booths having a great time! There's a bar towards the back of the room, and the quality of comedy acts here is second to none - many well established comedians apparently do warm-up shows while on tour.

We didn't stay for the dance night (after the comedy show they move the chairs and transform the room into a club night) and I haven't heard many people rave about it, but you're at least in central London if you want to carry on the night elsewhere.