A beauty, lifestyle & photography blog.

Flat sharing! 
Where shall I start really? This could be an heavy post and I don't know what I am getting myself into but let 's do this! 

I have many years of experience of flat / house share in London (now thanks god! I own a house with husband!!), I seen it all from the bad, the ugly and the good. How many years are we talking about? Roughly about 15 years but from those 15 years I will removed about 5 years from living with my best friend Betsy in a 2 bed flats and then with my boyfriend (now husband) ! Roughly we are talking about 10 years living with random strangers. I can ensure you those 10 years of sharing flat / house with a bunch of random people is not exactly like an episode of Friends where we all meet up at the Central Perk after work, have a latte, laugh about Phoebe smelly cat song and hug each other. No its not always like this unfortunately.
If you never live in a big city such as London. let me tell you that, unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, the minimum that a very small studio (to rent) will ask you to pay a month  its about £1200 (excluding utility bills + council tax). You can easily spend 3/4 of your average salary just on renting + bills + food+ tax. And trust me that does not leave you with a lot to save for that mortgage deposit. 
So of course the flat / house share its what most of Londoners will have to go through at some point in their Londoner life. 
In those 10 years of flat share I probably lived with approximately 25 + people .
Out of those 25 or so flat /house share people I seen it all. And I think it will be a good idea to point out what type of flatmates you are unfortunately likely going to meet at some point or if you lucky ( I really do hope for you) not at all.
I would like also to point out that all the below are true stories from my own experiences. You might be shock by some below details and if it was to happen to you please seek landlord/ agency help if at any point you feel threatened mentally of physically by any of your flat mates.

The Privileged/ Bully
The snob will remind you that you do not leave in her country (I am french) and so your English need improving (yes I do know my English is not perfect but at least I am trying my very best) when her second language is 'snobing'. The snob will remind you that she has more money than you and will be able to buy that £2000 Mac laptop when you are still paying back your £300 second hand laptop. The snob also will leave her flatmates, when she goes back to Uni, in debts of £400 after not paying her share of utilities and tax. But don't worry her posh mummy will call on you on her behalf to clear her debt while reminding you that really £400 is not a lot of money and she do not understand the emergency? (er...which world is she living on?)

The dirty one
The dirty will leave his dirty dishes for days (My worst culprit was 2 full weeks!!!!)  by the side of the kitchen sink or worst inside the sink . The dirty person will not always clean herself neither the flat and will hope that her yellow and brown stained underwear left on her bedroom floor by pile of a dozen will magically disappear when visitor come in the hope to rent her bedroom (as she is to leave to go back to Uni). Not mentioning the mattress she slept on for about 4 months with no mattress cover on and you hope that the 'potential' new flatmate visiting the premise won't notice the sweaty brown stain on the mattress.

The crazy one
The crazy will throw stuff at you including a kitchen chair, plates etc. following by insult. Then that same crazy one will lock him/herself in their bedroom speak to herself with a baby voice and then burst screaming while carry on insulting you and throwing object to all wall surrounding her for NO reasons. 

The noisy one
The one that do not seems to understand that walking heavily, banging door, slam cupboard doors,  talk loudly on the phone is a bit of an annoyance already during the day, but it is even more annoying when its 3 am, in the middle of the week, and you have to get up at 5.30 am to go to work.

The one that steal
They will steal your food, steal your belonging (because unfortunately not all bedroom in flat or house share have door lock) and you know its them but you can no prove it. 
You end up keeping your non perishable food in your bedroom. And you also find yourself locking all your belonging of value in suitcases with padlock on because your DVD collection and the few Euro notes, that you have left from a previous trip to France, seems to shrank mysteriously.

The one that think is the landlord
That person that refuse for you to use bathroom/ kitchen/ toilet at any time when she is in because it clash with her way of living. That same person that will refuse anyone to watch TV, listen music , cook ,breath, talk or do whatever you do at any point when she is inside the premise. That same person that will decide when or how you are to pay your share of rent /bills when it s more convenient for her.

The one that do not want to save the planet
That person that will insist on throwing can, jar, cartoon, paper etc. in the general bin even so we have a specific and clearly marked recycle bin just next to the general waste bin. The one that leave the heat on all day even so no one is the house. The one that leave all lights on every hour of the day and the night even when no one is up or  worst when no one is even in the house. That same person that will leave the electric hob on all day along along with the oven and you are just thankful she hasn't burn down the house on your way back from work. 

The one that you never see
That one is not so bad after all. That mysterious person is paying her share of rent , bills etc. but is no where to be seen. The only way of communication, to make sure this person is alive , its contacting that person by email or text messages.

The racist
The one that would remind me personally that my country suck at whatever they do (sport, politic, culture etc.) and because my English haven't improved much in the past 3 months perhaps I shall think on going back home?

The student that only has the name and just want to party.
That one student that never set foot in his uni but instead love recreating the KoKo night club every single nights in the downstairs lunge with his 3 best mates  (from the same Uni) while his other flatmates are trying to sleep because they all have to make a living the next day and pay back their student loan.

The old pervert  landlord
The landlord that forgot to mention that his little dodgy rental business office is in the same house where you ll be also living. He will happily mentioned that is got each bedroom spare keys and he ll do random check when you are out working (most likely go through your underwear and bra) . The pervert landlord that only wants female 'because they are cleaner than boys ' (clearly he haven't met some of my ex-flat mates!) but most likely want to join in the evening to see what we are all up to while his wife; Debra of 65 years old of age is in bed sleeping already. That same pervert that will ask your age, your sexual orientation and if you are single or not on the day you come visiting the available bedroom. Run !!!!

All above are unfortunately people that I personally meet once and sometimes even more than once but don't feel like sharing is hell because I can ensure you too that along the way you'll meet amazing people. In my experience I met many great people which I had lots of banter with but I also met 2 of my best friends:
Ben who used to be one of my early flatmate. We become almost inseparable from day one and 12 years later we are still best friends even so he now live in the other side of the globe ( but we do see each other whenever we can) . 
There is also my Betsy Boo which I met about 10 years ago . At the time I was living in a 3 bedroom flat and me and my other flatmate were looking for a 3rd flatmate and this is how I met Betsy. 

Betsy will be my brides maid on my upcoming wedding and is the one that dried my tears, after i met countless jackass after jackass, made me laugh, made me feel special and that appreciate my nerdy side ( by the way she is a bigger nerd that I am but she won't admit it!).
All in all to say that flat sharing its not always all rainbow, butterflies, smiles and cute bears. It can be great as it can be difficult at time too. My only advice to you if don't feel like you have to stay in a place if you feel uncomfortable with other people you are living with do move around ( even so I know its easy said than done). 
Be that person that is kind, respectful of other space and need. Don't be that idiot that never help cleaning or think putting loud music at 2 am on a week day is acceptable. Give people space but be there if you are planning a flat mate party or if someone is down and need someone to talk. Be the one  that people will remind at a great person not that twat that left without paying bills or never lift a finger. Be that person you would love to share a flat with.
Have you experienced flat sharing in London ( or any other cities)? Tell me all by commenting below.
Something that you may or may not know about me its that adore art of all form such as Renaissance but I especially love contemporary art. When I used to live in London ( I lived there for about 18 years) You would very often find me wondering at the Saatchi  Gallery ( see one of my old post about here) , the Tate Modern or even at the Photographer's Gallery. Very often, my now husband and I , will spend an afternoon on a Saturday exploring galleries all over London or as much as we could fit in a couple of hours.

Back few weeks ago I spend a weekend away in Birmingham with my husband and two things was on the menu : Exploring the Birmingham museum along with the Too Cute! Sweet is About To Get Sinister exhibition by Rachel Maclean and the Ikon Gallery. We did managed to squeeze other things like eating out, a bit of shopping etc. (by the way you can find my Birmingham weekend post here)  but those two places were on our priority list.
Ikon Gallery is an acclaimed small gallery located in Birmingham City. It is also free but welcomed donation. 
The gallery features temporary exhibition over two floors. Ikon Gallery shows work by artist from all around the globe. From media to sound, photography, painting, sculpture etc. What ever rock your boat you are sure to find it there. 
On our visit back few weeks ago, we were absolute stunned by the beauty and the art imagined by all the artists. We were absolutely transported by the exhibition by Hew Locke which you can see below:

Ikon Gallery was purely stunning. I am looking forward to come back to Birmingham in months to come and to rush thee to see their next exhibition. If you live or visit Birmingham soon then I strongly advice you pay a visit and support this small but amazing gallery.

Have you visited Ikon Gallery or wish to? Tell me all by commenting below. 
Few weeks ago, my husband and I got given one free hotel night in the centre of Birmingham city. This was not planned but one of my friend could not use the room, due to unforeseen event, so she kindly offer it to us.
This was the weekend that my partner and I just wanted. We did not have a weekend together since we got married back in January so you can only imagine how excited we were. This was my first time in Birmingham so I was well excited!
We dropped the kiddo to her grandma, that was delighted to have alone time with her granddaughter, and off we went to Birmingham.

on our first day we arrived in Birmingham around 3.30pm, we dumped our weekend bags in the hotel room and we decided to discovered the surrounding area. The hotel (Travelodge) was perfectly located in the heart of the city so pretty much everything was within walking distance. We decided to check out the area and mostly be on the look out for a place to eat later that evening.
Few hours later our diner place choice was made. We decided to go to the Mont Fuji Japanese restaurant a stone away from the iconic Selfridge building and about 5 minutes walks from our hotel. This Japanese restaurant was a yummy discovery that we surely would be back if we ever come back to Birmingham. This restaurant owner is actually originally from a little place near the Mont Fuji in Japan hence the name. Being a big fan to Japan food (and the culture, check out my Japan trip here or even here) I was well excited to tuck in.
I went for the Takoyako Dumpling (octopus Dumpling topped with bonito flakes, and OP mayo) which is one of my favourite Japanese dish and as main meal I chooses a trusty Bento Chicken Katsu box (Chicken filled coated in crispy Japanese breadcrumbs served with Tonkatsu sauce along with steamed rice, pickles , salad etc.) . My husband chooses a Tokyo Ramen Noodle Shoyu (Pork Belly with Gyoza Seasoned boiled egg, beansprouts, Wakame & Spring onion in a traditional soy sauce based soup). 
Let me tell you that Chris and I could definitely taste the authenticity, the food was so good that it remind me of my trip to Japan from many years ago. I strongly suggest you try Mont Fuji on your next visit to Birmingham centre. 

After our meal (full belly along with food coma was going strong) we decided to check out the Chinese quarter which ideally was minutes away from our hotel before we settle in in our hotel room for the night. The place was full of all type of Asiatic restaurants along with Asiatic shops and bakeries etc. we decided to come back the next day to get some Japanese goodies.

Quick ,but very yummy, breakfast buffet at the Traveldodge and off we were in town for a day of discovery.

We decided to check the Home session of the new 'world biggest Primark' that literally open to the public the day before. I was not planning to shop but literally we decided to just have a look and see what all the fuss was about! We stayed about 5 minutes as due to the high amount of shoppers my anxiety kick in so we left very quickly after that. But if you do not mind a shop being busy then have do visit that new Primark. It got your usual clothes collections and everything else  in between but what was the more exciting bit it's this giant Primark have a Disney theme coffee shop, restaurant, a non theme coffee / breakfast bar, a blow and dry corner and even a nail salon! I mean you could literally spend the whole day there if you ever wish to!


After our quick but very interesting trip to Primark we decided to have a look at Muji which is Chris and I favourite shop.
As usual Muji offered a wide selection of absolutely stunning home wear and everything in between.
We did not buy anything but decided to leave behind all the shops and head to the Birmingham museum. 


One thing we were really interested on visiting was the Birmingham Museum and especially the Too cute! Sweet is about to get sinister! By Rachel Maclean exhibition. I did a full review on it which you can find here.
Just after that we went straight to see the Egyptian collection and all the Renaissance art that Chris and I just love. 
 One interesting part of our Birmingham museum was the Edwardian Tea room which , in my opinion, deserve a visit. The room as the grandiose atmosphere from the past and the food are just 'on point'. Oh and did I mentioned you can order Champagne at the press of a button?  Well you certainly can and just for this it is worth a visit!


To end our Birmingham adventure we decided to walk alongside the canal and mostly pay a visit to the Ikon Gallery. A small but beautiful gallery that have everything for contemporary art lovers like my husband and I . If that is your thing then do not visit Birmingham without a visit. As I am planning to do a review on the IKON Gallery I 'll leave my introduction to this gallery here but do not miss my future post that is coming your way very soon.

The visit of the Ikon gallery was our final visit of our little Birmingham weekend, time was flying by very fast and it was indeed time to go back home and pick up on the way our daughter.
I have to say that Birmingham delighted and surprised me. I was not sure on what to expect but this city, that is changing very fast for the better, has everything to offer from:  shops, night life, culinary experiences to art cultures. We will certainly come back. Birmingham you've been great and your people too! See you soon!

Do you know Birmingham city ? Or wish to visit it one day ? Tell me all by commenting below!

Too Cute! is about to get sinister. With this simple line the exhibition at the Birmingham Museum got me very interested indeed. Cuteness is everywhere, we are sharing it everyday through our messaging, or experiencing it through every social medias regardless if the experiences is for a positive or a negative view. Its everywhere we cannot escape it!

The exhibition started with Rachel Maclean , the artist behind the exhibition, dressed as Dr Cute. A blue bear character with big hears, bright colour outfit, bright yellow hair & sharp teeth. Dr Cute welcomes you and lecture you on "the effect of cuteness".

I suggest you watch the below video trailer: 

Following the video interaction of Dr Cute (where she is largely distracted by the appearance of a 'cute' guinea pig, or text messages bombarding with emojis from her upset child, wondering where her mum is? and her landlord reminding her about the rent.) 
You are ask to go through a door armed with giant teeth that lead you to large room that could only be describe as an unicorn that just throw up a rainbow which is the perfect aesthetic of what is to come. 
Colours are bright, the carpeted floor is a rainbow of colour, emojis stickers are plastered everywhere on walls , ribbons and bows abound & walls are painted in a bright pink. Its bright , its colourful, its playful yet it as creep as hell. 
The art exposed could all be described as cute, but when you look deeper some make you feel uneasy, creap you out  by the whole experience

Here below the quote taken from The Birmingham web site which describe it better than I do :
"The Artist & Filmmaker Rachel Maclean examines the world of cuteness by curating works from the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham's collection to reveal how objects and images can have the unique ability to be simultaneously sweet and yet sinister. 

Contemporary life is saturated by cuteness, from adult onesies to social media photo-filters, playground like office spaces to wide eyed emoticons, we can't move for all things sweet and cuddly. However, despite its pervasiveness in advertising, internet and commodity culture, cuteness often seems too frivolous to be deserving of proper analysis. 

In Too Cute! Rachel Maclean has made an exhibition where cuteness is taken seriously. She fascinated by its ability to captivate and placard us and through her investigations into the collections she has explored both what it has meant to us historically and why contemporary society is so fixed on the sharing and reproduction of cute objects and images."

Too Cute ! Sweet is about to get sinister! Is a free exhibition from Rachel Maclean open until the 12th May 2019. If you are from Birmingham or visiting this vibrant city soon, then I strongly suggest you pay a visit to The Birmingham Museum for the above exhibition above but also all the other amazing collection the museum offer from Egyptian, Baroque and Renaissance art to the Pre-Raphaelites.
Also let not mention the amazing Edwardian Tea Room on the 1st floor ( A must see too) !

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