Vonage: From Blog to Business Workshop

vonage blogger workshop

I love getting together with other bloggers. It’s actually a huge community, even just in London alone and at every event that I go to, I meet new people with great blogs I’ve never heard of.

The other great thing is that you can swap tips with everyone, from the new kids on the block to those who have been around for a while. I’ve been in and out of this community for quite a few years now and as a result, I have a lot of longstanding knowledge but often have missed things along the way from when I was travelling or busy with life.

So when Vonage announced that they were hosting a blogging workshop entitled ‘From Blog to Business’ presented by the fabulous Emma Cossey of Freelance Lifestyle and Elizabeth Sellers of Rosalilium, I was excited to go along and meet them and pick up a few gems of wisdom from those who have managed to turn blogging into a full-time job.

We covered a variety of topics from legal issues and image rights to content calendars and fee pricing. I especially found the diversification section the most fun – how to turn your blog into a book, a podcast or an e-course. It’s funny how years in the ‘business’ makes you an expert on some level. There will always be people with less knowledge than you willing to pay to learn what you know!

The workshop was great and it really reignited my passion for blogging and blogpost topics. In fact, it must have been in the back of my mind for a while as I have actually decided to go freelance again, as a social media manager and copywriter. So, please do look out for more frequent blog posts coming soon!

About Vonage UK
Vonage is a brilliantly affordable way to add a landline number to your business card, giving you a dedicated second phone line with unlimited UK calls and international calls from 0p a minute! We also liked the fact that you can extend the service using an app on your mobile phone.

To find out more about the workshop, search #vonageworkshop online.

Creperie Fleur du Sel: Menton, France

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‘These are the best crepes that I have ever had!’

These are the words of my boyfriend who couldn’t believe how beautifully presented the savoury crepes were with their perfect eggs in the middle. We visited this restaurant after noticing it was No1 on TripAdvisor, as well as how busy it was.

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We had originally intended on simply sharing one savoury galette and one sweet crepe, but when we saw other people’s food, we couldn’t help but order more! We ate at 9.30pm on a Saturday night (we made the booking at 9pm) and ordered the ‘forestiere‘, the ‘provencale‘ and the house special – the ‘mentonnaise‘ dessert crepe made with homemade local lemon sauce, meringue and chantilly. Lemons are a speciality of the area, so make sure that you do not miss that! We also loved ordering a bottle of cider with the crepes, served out of tea cups to mirror the wide-open bowls traditionally used to drink cider in France. The price was also very reasonable, which made it even tastier.

Now all I have to do is work out how to make these babies at home!

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P.S. This review also appeared on TripAdvisor.

Bootcamp on the Heath with Spogo and BMF

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When invited to try out a fitness class, I usually say yes. When you tell me it’s practically on my doorstep, I’ll definitely say yes. Which means that when you tell me I’ll be jogging alongside an Olympic athlete, I’ll probably already be there waiting for you.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a British Military Fitness bootcamp on Hampstead Heath in association with Spogo. Spogo is a new initiative designed to get people up and moving. Their ambassador is Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas. Check out the video below (and Iwan dragging me up a hill!)

It was an awful, dreary day with terrible drizzly rain. Not what you need for running around a park with a guy in army gear barking orders at you. And when he tells you to sit in the mud in your favourite workout clothes, that’s not what you need either. But you do it anyway. I did. And I loved it!

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Each bootcamp class lasts around 45mins. There are various locations around London and beyond. Hampstead Heath is my nearest – although Hyde Park is near my office, so I definitely have options. Plus, BMF just launched a variety of Saturday morning classes, meaning that even if a class isn’t on your doorstep after work, you can still go along at the weekend and give it a go!

Thank you so much to Spogo and to BMF for a fun, drizzly evening!

Read more about the evening on the BMF blog here and on Spogo here.

Such a fun weekend!

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I had such a fun weekend last weekend! Friday night, I had drinks and chats with a colleague before rushing home to find my friends at mine for a catch up!

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Saturday was a chilled day. I went for a jog on Hampstead Heath and then I met my boyfriend and his sister at the farmers market. He had just got back from a week away with work and she was staying with us for the weekend. We bought some ingredients for a Sunday BBQ and then headed down to Little Italy for a quiet lunch and a catch up. Saturday evening was a quiet one meaning that Sunday, we were ready to run!

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We caught the tube to Regents Park and started a casual 5k around the perimeter. I have been battling with speed recently – in that I don’t have it! – so I decided to run alongside Dyanne, Rob’s speedy sister, which helped me find a comfortable pace and a 5k PB, which in turn helped me with a 10k PB – I just couldn’t stop going! Very odd. But very proud. I got my 5k under 30mins and my 10k under an hour, all in one run and I was thrilled.

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I was also tired, so the next thing we did was sit in the sun with a juice before heading back to light up the BBQ and create some fabulous champagne cocktails. Another friend also joined us for dinner and a catch up before we curled up for an early night and a good sleep.

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Monday was all about organising my house and my blog and catching up on all if those niggling admin tasks. I also did about 6 loads of laundry. Rock n Roll. I enjoyed it though. Sometimes you need a day like that!

All in all a fabulous weekend!

What did you all get up to?

Whatever’s Comfortable with Southern Comfort

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When invited on a nice sunny day to enjoy some refreshing cocktails after work on day, it’s pretty hard to say no. When that day is a Monday following an illness over the weekend and with a heavy work week looming, you probably should say no. I did not say no.

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Southern Comfort have just relaunched southerncomfort.com with a brand new online cocktail recipe designer where you can essentially ‘win a mug of your mug’ for their new Go Drink Yourself campaign. Intrigued? The idea is that you design your own cocktail using the online app, upload it for all to see and then 10 lucky winners will win a mug of their own face. Hilarious, I know.

I popped along on Monday night to one of their launch nights, a Blogger Cocktail Class. We heard a little history of where SoCo originated whilst sipping our own SoCo and lemonades before embarking on our own inventions behind the bar. Did you know that SoCo was invented by an Irish barman in New Orleans? Martin Wilkes Heron created it when he found that a lot of his customers were looking for something a little smoother than whiskey. What I found really interesting was the ingenious move to name a cocktail the Scarlett O’Hara when ‘Gone with the Wind’ came out. It was one of the first movie/drink collaborations.

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When we got behind the bar, I was intrigued to see if you could mix Southern Comfort with a salty margarita style and so set about that, much to the dismay of the mixologist there to help us. I named my cocktails Jam Jar del Sur and uploaded it to the website, though I’m pretty sure I missed a couple of ingredients!

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All in all, it was a fun night involving a cocktail quiz and prizes (I didn’t win) and a fun group of people.

Why not try uploading your recipe to the website?

Visit southerncomfort.com for more information. #whateverscomfortable

Thank you to Southern Comfort for the invitation!

Rediscovering the classics with Quorn

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I have to say that I had never really been tempted by Quorn. I know friends and family members who have used it for weight loss (Quorn has significantly less fat and fewer calories than meat) but even that never really tempted me.

However, when Quorn contacted me to review a few products, and to no doubt change my mind and a the minds of a few others, I accepted the challenge.

I was sent minced meat, chicken pieces and herb sausages and knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. So, armed with a few more ingredients (and the ever so helpful Quorn recipe site) I made my signature Chilli con Carne (or without the carne if we are being accurate!), a chicken noodle soup and the sausages went well with my eggs and spinach the next morning.

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I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The chilli tasted pretty similar to my regular chilli – and had much fewer calories! The chicken pieces held up pretty well in the soup, although they were a bit soggy when I tried to heat up the leftover soup later on, but maybe this was to be expected. Taste-wise, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the same. I imagine that a chicken stir fry may have faired better in the test.

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The sausages did taste like meat and had a very herby flavour. Even my boyfriend, a meat-loving South African, admitted that they were ‘quite good’. This was huge. I have an intense love of sausages, which can be detrimental to my waistline, so I may have to try these out on the barbecue now that the weather is picking up!

Overall, I was very impressed with Quorn. I don’t think that I am going veggie any time soon, but if I ever have veggie friends over, I’ll definitely consider only making the Quorn version. I think that should count as a ‘win’ in Quorn’s books!

Thank you to Quorn UK for sending over the samples.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

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Although I travel all over the world for my job, I often never have time to see anything in the places that I visit. So on this current trip to Indonesia, it’s nice to get the time to do a little bit of sightseeing on an afternoon off. On Saturday, we visited Borobudur Temple, about an hour’s drive from our hotel in Yogyakarta. An undeniable cultural masterpiece, the temple was built around the 8th century and is the biggest Buddhist place of worship in the world, attracting thousands of pilgrims every year. The structure is built entirely of stone with an anti-earthquake design, in that they used no cement when building it so that stones can move without causing damage to the temple. It has been damaged and abandoned many times since it was first built, but is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful that I have been to. There’s no surprise that it is Indonesia’s number one ‘tourist attraction’. 

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It is recommended to go at sunrise for some of the most stunning views in the world, however due to the weather not looking promising, we opted to go towards the end of the day, which was still a breathtaking experience. Entry cost $20 (about £14) per person for a non-resident, which was pretty pricey compared to everything else in Indonesia, but we sucked it up anyway. We also paid for a guide (RP 75,000 – around £4/$6) which was very useful as he taught us many things about buddhism, as well as about Indonesian culture. There are many stories explaining the teaching of buddhism around the temple – around 5km of stone carvings to be exact, each one representing a belief or tradition. It was interesting to learn more about a place I had previously known very little of.

Fun weekend.

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Hiking in the Drakensberg, South Africa

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There are few places in this world where you can completely switch off and enjoy the simple things around you. After months (ok, years…) of being digitally connected and constantly attached to something electronic, I put on my hiking boots and headed up a mountain. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting on a rock at the very top with a 2hour climb behind you. And you can’t tweet from up there.

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We took the Sunset Trail from our hotel, Champagne Castle, and trekked up a steep and grassy path to the top of the nearest mountain. It was amazing to be out in the sunshine, in nature and taking in some of the most stunning views that I have ever seen. The area is kind of old fashioned and classic, but you can’t date the views. They are spectacular.

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We got totally lost and ended up hiking for 6 hours, but it was all good fun in the end. I loved being out and about. And thank God you can drink the water in the waterfalls!

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Paradis Plage Yoga, Surf and Spa Resort, Agadir, Morocco

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Memories of one of the greatest hotels I have ever stayed in. Who else loves Morocco?! It’s the perfect place to spend a few days – only 4 hours on a plane from London. These photos are from February 2013.

Review: Kebelo Advantage Hair System

Just before Christmas, my hairdresser told me to come back in January because she had a present for me. She also told me to clear three hours for it. So, on the first Friday of January whilst I was still off work and in need of a new year, mid-winter pick-me-up, I headed off to go and see her. The gift was a deep conditioning treatment.  The Kebelo Advantage System promises 100 days of frizz-free, easy-to-manage, healthy, shiny, smooth hair with a tagline that states ‘Weatherproof your Hair’. Ummmm, yes please! Sign me up!

Kebelo system hair treatment

Why did we need three hours? Well, here we go:

1. Deep cleansing shampoo.
2. Comb through and apply treatment in sections wearing gloves.
3. Blow dry treatment into hair.
4. Seal with straighteners: 11 times per section for coloured hair, 12 for normal hair.
5. 5 mins: Cool blow dry to finish off.
6. 5 mins: Rinse out using warm water.
7. Revitalising shampoo.
8. Revitalising conditioner.
9. Simple blow dry.

We saw the results instantly. I had smoother, straighter, frizz-free hair. And she also assured me that if I don’t blow dry my hair straight, then I will have smooth frizz-free curls. So rest assured my curly-haired friends, this isn’t a straightening treatment!

Kebelo revitalising range

To help keep your treatment working. There is a little follow up. You need to use the revitalising shampoo and conditioner every time you wash your hair, plus a hair mask to be used every two weeks. The bottle says once a week but I am told that keeping up with the shampoo is more important. Once your products run out, you can just use organic products to maintain the treatment.

Kebelo advantage system deep conditioning

A month or so later (not to mention, many plane journeys and hot/cold weather settings) and my hair has more defined curls, much less frizz (even when working in Kenya!) and feels so much softer. I had been finding the shampoo hard to work into a lather and so was told by my hairdresser to wash twice to get it to really lather up, which works a treat.

Kebelo hair results

I thoroughly recommend this treatment. It’s made my hair stronger, which in turn is helping it to get longer. What a bonus.

Thank you so much to Elena at Central Cuts!

What’s your favourite weather-proofing treatment? Have you tried Kebelo yet?