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Monthly Mixtape #1

This series has been a long time coming. I am verging on obsessive when it comes to hunting down the next song to take over my life. It doesn't need to be brand new, it could be an oldie that my radar had somehow missed but there are very few things I love more than finding a song that takes over my brain. The kind of song that I put on repeat and can't believe I haven't heard before that one fateful moment.

Each month I'm going to share with you the songs that have made their mark and demanded my attention. I'd love to know your thoughts and recommendations, let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @charlienin

Bloodflows by SOHN

This song is just gorgeous. In fact his whole EP is simple, delicate and astounding. I've bought tickets to his only UK tour date in April at Village Underground in London and I can't wait. 

Waiting Game by Banks

This girl's voice oozes so much sex appeal that I instantly developed a new girl crush. The deep bass beats under the high pitch of her vocals is contradictory and unexpected but completely works. Again, I've bought tickets to her London show in April. I predict big things for this lady, catch her while you can. 

Les Nuits by Nightmares on Wax

I'd forgotten how much I adore this song. It's epic length makes it the best chill out track out there, even if it is nearly as old as I am. From the opening strings section I am unwaveringly taken in and calmed down. Perfection. 

Who's Gonna Save My Soul by Gnarls Barkley

Everyone knows this guy for that 'Crazy' song we are all tired of hearing but don't let that put you off. This song played at the end of an episode of Breaking Bad and I instantly Googled it, absolutely needing to know what it was. It's slow and smooth with stunning vocals that make me feel every bit of the story behind the lyrics. 

Go It Alone

The recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman commanded the attention of film lovers the world over. For me, it reminded me of the first time I ever went to the cinema by myself. I was desperate to see Capote, being a huge fan of the real author's two most well known books: Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. Nobody was interested in coming with me so I bit the bullet and went alone. The film was incredible and I was compelled to call everyone I know to tell them how amazing it was. The feeling of watching it alone was liberating though. I felt like I had a glorious secret all of my own, like I'd been privy to something new and exclusive and was surprised to not feel lonely or disappointed that I wasn't sharing this experience with someone else. 

Recently, I've not been to see films or gigs that I've really wanted to if I haven't had anyone to go with and I this recent memory of my. Capote adventure reminded me that life is too short to not do what you want. The world of social media means that in the past I've been to gigs alone and met up with other super fans along the way (some of which are now some of my closest friends!). I've been able to dance and sing as much as I would have with other friends; my experience hasn't been bad, just different. 

With my trip to Australia coming up I am embarking on my biggest 'alone' adventure. A 20 hour flight by myself and spending days by myself discovering somewhere new. I have a safety blanket of friends being in the cities I am visiting but I certainly won't be with them 24/7. I will have to learn to enjoy my own company, especially as I won't have access to my phone due to extortionate roaming charges (cheers EE). I'm apprehensive but I'm excited, and I'm going to use this to encourage myself to keep doing the things I want to do regardless of whether I have someone to join me. 

Do you go ever head out alone? What encourages you or puts you off?

Cath Kidston Sale: Travel Bargains

The last flourishes of the sales have started reaching my inbox and the bargains in Cath Kidston are too good to ignore.
Cath Kidston - now £8
 This green polka dot luggage set is demanding that I buy it for my trip to Australia. It's bright enough to notice it on the luggage carousel and will stop me from freaking out if my bag ends up in Mongolia by accident. 
Cath Kidston - now £9
How amazing is this travel pillow and eye mask set? Navy blue and suitably floral, they are the perfect line between fun and practical. I do already have both of these things set for my carry on for my trip, but they're so pretty I'm not sure I can resist!

Tube Strikes: Sod the Trains, Take the Boat!

This month's strikes are the first I've been affected by in the two and a half years I've lived in London. You see photos of apocalyptic style crushes and chaos as people attempt to get ona bus instead, but actually if you're sensible you can miss all of that. I got into work early, left a bit later and discovered a brand new way of travelling through London: the River cruise. 

The boats on the Thames are free during tube strikes and run from the City all the way to the Southbank. The queues were minimal and the boats themselves were comfortable, warm and fast. There's even a Costa Coffee on there - you certainly don't get that on the tube!

Watching the crowds go over London Bridge as we sailed underneath, I actually felt happy to be on a form of London transport, something that has definitely never happened before! The photo above is the view of the Tower of London as we set off towards Embankment; I'm sure you'll agree that it was a great way to see the positives of an otherwise inconvenient commute. 

Payday Burger #1: Honest Burger

2014 has seen the beginning of a beautiful new tradition: Payday Burger. There are so many burger joints popping up around London now and it's hard to figure out which ones are worth paying for (or queuing around the block for), so me and a small group of colleagues have decided to celebrate the bringing in of payday each month by trying a new burger place. 

So we started this frankly, bloody brilliant, idea at Honest Burger's Soho outpost. I attempted to get into the Brixton restaurant once but gave up and went and had a crepe, and we almost had the same situation this time. If we had arrived five minutes later we may not have got a table at all as the place is teensy! Honest Burger only seats about 30 people, but their turnaround is extremely quick. 
Like the best burger places in town, the menu is small but perfectly formed, but that doesn't make it any easier to choose when you know everything is going to be so damn delicious. 

I went for the signature Honest Burger which was genuinely the best burger I've had in London so far. They didn't ask how we wanted it cooked, but it was perfectly medium rare. Every burger is served with rosemary salt fries and I got the chipotle mayonnaise too which had an awesome spicy kick.

Let me know your recommendations for next month's Payday Burger!

Smart Casual Shorts

It is two weeks until I fly to Australia and I am so unprepared. Rather than get my dollars sorted or buy DVT socks for the long flight, I've been browsing endless fashion sites looking for Summer inspiration. This Winter I've been relying on two pairs of shorts: one tweed, one wool - with black tights underneath of course. But I don't really own any summer shorts that aren't denim. As I'll be working in Sydney for the first two weeks I'm away, I wanted some shorts that can be both formal and casual.

I very rarely shop in Miss Selfridge as I always associate it with petite girls, and at 5ft 10 I am definitely NOT in that category. But these shorts fit perfectly and as there was 20% off the whole store online on the day I bought them, I am extremely please and very excited to debut them in Oz!

Miss Selfridge £27

Miss Selfridge £27

Geo Print Monochrome, Topshop Bargain Boots

Dress: Boohoo £15
Boots: Topshop

This stupid weather. Not only is it consuming every conversation I have in a frustratingly British way, but it recently made me have to say an emotional farewell to my beloved silver glitter brogues. I bought them about five years ago in the Office Christmas sale and they haven't been waterproof for a little while now. However, they broke in spectacular fashion as I was on my way to a client meeting in torrential rain. 

With shoe thoroughly detached from sole (and soul pretty detached too), I hobbled on down to Topshop Oxford Street with the aim to get any pair of shoes that went with the monochrome dress I was wearing. Two things to bear in mind here: it was the day before payday, so budget was basically non-existant, and I was going out to the theatre that night, so it wasn't a case of grabbing any old crap to deal with the rest of the work day.

By some small miracle, I found one solitary burgundy boot in my size. A quick frantic search found the other one on the opposite side of the sale section and they turned out to be an amazing find! Reduced from £75 to £20, these are something I would have seriously considered paying full price for. By complete accident, I've ended up having an outfit that I really love, all thanks to crappy broken shoes!

Life: January 2014

One month in already! Isn't January the longest month in the whole year? Six weeks from payday, miserable weather, everyone detoxing; it's essentially a 31 day countdown to February. I didn't get up to much this month, but believe me I have some big plans coming up this year and I need to keep this blog going to record it. Watch this space!

T-R: It took 24 hours and a lot of elbow grease but my apple and cinnamon rolls actually turned out really well! You can find the recipe on my Pinterest board here
T-L: This month I joined my colleagues to volunteer at a homeless shelter and it was extremely eye-opening. I heavily encourage everyone to help out at their local shelter
B-R: I've fallen in love with a sofa. It's 'only' £10,000, would you like to buy it for me?!
B-L: My mum's tea treats are awesome. Homemade fudge and chocolate chip cookies, banana, honey and pecan bread, and rock cakes
T-L: Delicious salt beef bagel from Nana Fanny's in Borough Market
T-R: I finished all of Gossip Girl on Netflix. My new aim in life is to be Blair Waldorf
B-L: Dinner in one place and dessert in another - a habit I've got into with my wonderful friend Claire
B-R: Ultrabalm from Lush is the best thing for sore noses that have been spending too much time in tissues
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review