Food and the Trouble with Social Media

As many of you well know, I have a little bit of an addiction with social media. I can hear you nodding in agreement, probably as you try to ignore my latest inane tweet, attention grabbing Facebook post or “vintage” style photograph from Instagram. I should spend less time on these sites but they interest me very much.

I love being able to keep in touch with my closest friends on Facebook now that we have all been separate by university; I love the banter and debate that Twitter provokes and more recently I have enjoyed sharing pictures with everyone on Instagram. But it’s also nice to take a look back and see what kind of things one has posted. I did this, and I have identified that I have a deep fascination with one topic. Food.

I tweet about it, I post about it, and I even take photos of it and share them. It looks like it’s all I think about, and I’m wondering if it is something that should concern me, as I sit here writing whilst devouring some chocolate buttons.

I’m not usually a fan of “instablogging” but here are some of the highlights of my social media and food relationship from the past few months. I might even post some of the recipes in the future, so please let me know what interests you.  You can do this by tweeting me, commenting on here, on my Facebook page, on an Instagram post…

This is an in-progress shot of a pasta sauce I was making, made to the recipe that my Nonna uses (and her tomato passata bottles)

 

Here’s a very nice Pad Thai I made only the other night. I love Thai food in particular, and this is one of my favourite Thai dishes, plus it simple to cook. 

 

Insomnia and hunger do not mix. I made this Rocket & Parmesan salad with a balsamic dressing at about 1:30am when I couldnt sleep. On another note, I should probably stop watching Nigella Lawson

 

A Parma Ham and mozzarella ciabatta sandwich that I ate at my dad’s eatery Carlo’s Kitchen on Union Street. Very nice. Especially after a day of lectures and a train journey.

 

I made this vegetable soup myself! It’s so healthy, delicious and cheap which is perfect for being a student.

 

Finally, here’s me eating a pavlova that my mum made. Its my favourite dessert, and she made it on the day of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, hence the Union jack (and gin & tonic).

 

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Prince Harry Naked Pictures: There IS an issue with this…

Prince Harry, pictured here not partying in Las Vegas

…but it’s not what you might already be thinking.

If you haven’t heard about Prince Harry’s party in Vegas by now, where on Earth have you been for two days? Articles about his partying in Vegas, pictures of him naked and partying in Vegas and articles about the pictures of him partying in Vegas have been available to anyone who can buy a newspaper or operate Google.

Today, after much debate the Sun has decided to print the pictures which were first released by the trashy gossip site TMZ.com. My personal view is that Harry has done nothing wrong. He hasn’t cheated on anyone, hurt anyone or done something illegal. In fact, the pictures seem to have been a good PR event for him and the Royal Family, which many have seen as outdated and conservative.

What I find troubling was that the pictures were able to be taken at all. Harry travelled to Vegas reportedly with six taxpayer-funded security guards, who were there protect Harry not only from physical harm but press intrusion.

To me, the fact that a woman was able to have a camera in Harry’s private room and sell the pictures shows that security around the royal was not strong enough. This is particularly dangerous considering the Harry’s high profile in America, a country suffering a recent wave in gun crime, as seen with the Arizona massacre last month. Surely if an individual was able to have a camera in the room, it wouldn’t have been much harder for them to sneak a gun in there, especially in the US, where gun control laws seem to be non-existent. Moreover, several of the Prince’s family members have suffered assassination attempts which could suggest there is a real threat.

To be fair, it would probably be unlikely that anyone at the party would have been able to conceal a weapon, but I do think it’s bad that Harry’s security team allowed this to happen. Other than this, Harry can do what he likes in his private life, but maybe the people being paid to protect him from media intrusion and other threats should something from this whole story.

What’s your opinion about the Prince’s partying? Leave a comment below or on this blog’s facebook page!

Barcelona – The Best of Spain

Barcelona is one of Spain’s most beautiful and most cosmopolitan cities. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, bathed in Mediterranean sun and right on the coast, the city makes for a fantastic place to visit. Last week I went back to stay in Barcelona with two friends after visiting the city last year with my family, though this time I stayed for slightly longer.

We stayed in the fantastic Casa Gracia, a hostel located on the Passeig de Gracia, which is in central Barcelona and is scattered with designer shops such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and D&G. The wonderfully unique hostel provided so much more than we expected – we had a private three-bed room with an ensuite, which was immaculately clean and spacious. The hostel owner’s organised great evening’s out in Barcelona, offering free entry to the coolest bars and clubs in the city. The best feature though was the sangria and paella nights. For just €8 you could enjoy a hearty meal of paella, salad and tapas as well as jugs of sangria! Also, the staff could not have been more helpful with advising us on the best bars to go to, supermarkets to buy food as well as getting around Barcelona.

We made the most of our Hostel’s central location by buying a T-10 metro ticket. This allowed us ten stops on Barcelona’s easy to use metro system, making it easy to explore the city. On our first day, we covered La Ramblas, the equivalent of Oxford Street and the amazing La Boqueria market. The historic market is fully functional with fantastic displays of fresh fruit, the region’s finest Iberico hams and chorizos as well as an interesting, yet odorous, fish section. I’d fully recommend a visit, is a beautiful place!

Fish at La Boqueria

We all enjoyed wandering around the streets of the Barri Gotic, the older quarter of Barcelona. At its centre is the magnificent Barcelona Cathedral (not to be confused with the even more spectacular Sagrada Familia) a tourist hotspot. The backstreets here are filled with independent clothes shops, vintage and second hand stores and well as excellent Tapas bars.  We really enjoyed Bilbao Berria, a fantastic bar which offers a buffet style selection of tapas treats, including traditional Serrano hams, quail’s eggs with chorizo, padron pepper amongst modern foods such as the mini-burger’s. What’s more, the prices offer excellent value for the great quality food you get.

A small selection of tapas available at Bilbao Berria

In contrast for with our typical tourist days of exploring the sights of Barcelona, we spent one day on Mount Tibidabo, which has a great theme park! We got the bus directly there from Placa de Catalunya, the central hub of Barcelona which was only a short walk from Casa Gracia. When we arrived at Tibidabo we discovered that not only could we get to spend the day enjoying a series of white-knuckle rides, we had also found the most spectacular panoramic view of Barcelona! The view could be enjoyed with your feet safely on the ground, as well as being hoisted into the air on a rickety contraption where you stood in a basket.

Our last full day in Barcelona was spent on Barceloneta Beach, a short metro ride from our hostel and central Barcelona. The golden-sanded beach was packed with local people and tourists, and we may have arrived too late in the day judging by our difficulty in finding an umbrella to sit under! However, we managed to keep cool by enjoying lunch and an iced drink at one of the beaches many café’s and lounges.

Our short stay in Barcelona was packed with seeing sights, the most awe-inspiring being the uncompleted Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece of a church. The beautiful architecture on every street of Barcelona is no match to the Sagrada Familia, and I don’t think I’m capable of describing it in a way that will do it justice. I’ll say this much, you must see it once in your lifetime!

We could have spent more time in Barcelona, we didn’t get to see Parc Guell, another Gaudi designed attraction or the Olympic Village, built for the 1992 Games which regenerated the city. I’d recommend a 5 night stay in Barcelona to see the best of this beautiful city.

Churros are to die for! You dip these sweet pastries into warm melted chocolate

More Information:

We would have been lost in Barcelona without the Dorling Kindersley and Lonely Planet Guides to Barcelona, as well as the extremely helpful Tourist Information kiosks on Placa de Catalunya, and the concierge at Casa Gracia.

Follow me on facebook and twitter for more updates. 

Music and My Terrible Singing Voice

Right, so @samerjaber777 has challenged me to write a blog post about the topic of Music today, so here goes.

Music is an essential part of my life, but as many of my friends will tell you, I have no musical ability at all. Children have been known to cry when I sing, and my music teacher seemed to be relieved when I chose to stop playing the only instrument I’ve tried to play – the oboe.

But music is an important part of my life. Music is what turns a gathering of friends into an all night party, it’s what connects you to the strangers around you in a club or a gig and it’s an outlet for the emotions that you have that you could never tell people. It’s no surprise that most music is written about love

My music taste is wildly varied. Before I started writing this post I flicked through the songs on my iPod and found Dance hits from the 90’s, 80’s rock hits today’s pop music and eve a few classical pieces. That’s the beauty of music. There’s a track or genre that can reflect any emotion you feel and any frame of mind or environment which you find yourself in.

I would say that most of my music is connected to a particular memory I have. I downloaded The E.N.D by the Black Eyed Peas after watching them perform fantastically at the O2 in 2009. There’s an Irish folk tune on my iPod which reminds me of a holiday in Devon, strangely and there’s a Vengaboys hit (I use the term loosely) which reminds me of those primary school discos!

If there’s one thing I can say about music taste it’s this – don’t let other people dictate what you should like. Music isn’t about the most popular star performing the song, and it shouldn’t be about what’s supposedly cool. Learn to love all types of music, and define your own taste. Even if it is heavy metal or screamo.

Challenge me to write a blog post about any topic by tweeting me or posting on my facebook page!

Hell Week is Over!

My week of exam hell is finally over this morning, after I finished my third exam this week. I’ve had English, Geography and Biology today. English and Geography weren’t too bad, I even quite liked the Geography questions. But Biology today was absolutely shocking. It’s definitely not my forte. I’ve decided now that I’m going to take what I get this year and see where I can go from there, in terms of university course.

I think my biology answers were as useless as this!

I have one more exam next Friday, so I’ll be spending this week revising again, though there isn’t as much pressure as this week. I’m just looking forward for the exam season be coming to the end of them though, I’ve got some great things planned for the summer so I can’t wait to finish! I’ve got  a couple of trips coming up and some great parties – can’t wait for Summer 2012!

Ten Things to Do Before I Die

A large Napoleon Wrasse on the Great Barrier Reef

1. Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef

I’ve been lucky enough to be taught by a close friend to scuba dive when I was ten years old. I’ve dived around the UK, Indonesia and the Maldives, but I’d love to see the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, which is the largest coral reef system on Earth. I’d also get to see more of my favourite marine animals – sharks!

2. Overcome my fear of Caves.

I‘ve hated being underground since I was five years old my parents took me Chislehurst caves for a fun day out! I even had a small panic attack in the papal grotto in the Vatican. Maybe one day I could try potholing or something, though I’m not keen to try this soon.

3. Learn to ride a horse

Even though I now live in the countryside, I’ve never actually been on a horse! I’m not scared of this one though, hopefully I can try my hand at riding this summer.

4. Live Abroad

I’ve found that when you travel to new places and try new things you always learn something valuable about yourself and your life. I’d love to live abroad for a while, maybe America or Singapore, and do something completely different.

5. Set up a charity

I believe that you can never give enough back to people. I don’t know what cause I would want to support, but helping to eradicate poverty in developing countries is important for everyone.

6. Go to Petra, Jordan

Petra is in Jordan and there are huge temples carved into rock. It was in the Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

7. Join a secret society

Everyone makes such a fuss about the Illuminati (If everyone knows about it, it can’t be that secret) but if there is a proper society full of secrets, I want to know them.

A rock-cut building in Petra, Jordan

8. Write a Book

I want to write a book so that when I die there is something left behind for people to remember me by! I’d love to write a proper crime thriller, but I need to get better at creative writing.

9. Learn to make cocktails

Okay, maybe this one is a bit camp but you would definitely be popular at parties if you can mix a good drink!

10. Die spectacularly.

I don’t want to just fizzle out; my demise has to be dramatic!

Carlo’s Kitchen

My dad recently sold his main restaurant, La Cucina, after 9 years of fantastic memories, great food and excellent parties, so we’re really excited to be working on his other venture, Carlo’s Kitchen! It’s a slightly different palce to La Cucina, it’s more of an eatery. It’s more modern, you can come in for a coffee or for an excellent lunch and you can even takeaway a meal. With school work and exams I don’t really get to go up there as much as I like (which will change in the summer!) but I’ve been helping out by working on the twitter and facebook sites. I’ve even got a t-shirt!

If you love coffee, great Italian food and you’re in London soon then take a look at Carlo’s Kitchen!

Check out Carlo’s Kitchen on Facebook: facebook.com/CarlosKitchenUnionSt

Follow on Twitter! @carloskitchen

Make Joseph Kony Famous.

Joseph Kony is a war criminal. As head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, he has bought violence to large part so the country, resulting in the displacement of over 2,000,000 people. Kony is wanted and indicted with 33 counts of war crimes, 12 of which are crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and using rape as a weapon of war.

Kony is indiscriminate. Men, women and children have all been murdered, injured, raped, kidnapped and forced to fight by Kony’s forces. In fact, over 66,000 children have been taken from their homes, their families and their safety and forced to fight for him and the LRA.

Joseph Kony is also classed by the United States as a Global Terrorist, and they have sent a small task force of 100 troops to Uganda to help combat against the LRA.

The facts have always been there. The dead have always been counted, children have always been reported as missing, yet Kony has been able to continue committing crimes against the human race for nearly 30 years.

Now, in 2012, enough is enough. Invisible Children, an activist group which aims to make the world aware of the crimes being committed in Uganda, are spearheading a campaign to make Joseph Kony famous. They hope that if his crimes are famous, more will be done to capture him and to prevent the LRA from committing more crimes.

Invisible Children have made a short documentary about Joseph Kony, his crimes and their impacts on children, as well as how you can help. You can watch the video below, on YouTube, and you can find out more at www.invisiblechildren.com

Please share, tweet, blog, post and link this video everywhere, so the message to #STOPKONY can be seen my as many people as possible.

It’s time for you to take a break

We’re one month into 2012 and this is my first proper blog post of the year! To be honest, the last four weeks since I counted down until midnight and made my New Year resolutions have flown by in a blur of school work, exams, getting university offers and generally planning ahead in my life.

Many of us have to constantly plan ahead and organise our days and weekends, and as we all know, it’s important that we take some time out for that. Making time for friends, family and having some fun can help you move forward in your life more effectively than obsessing over work and getting stressed by it.

I myself will be taking some time out next month to go on a ski trip with my sixth form friends. I’ve only skied once before, and that was nearly three years ago, so I hope that I haven’t forgotten how to ski – not that I was that much of a pro anyway! We’re going to be skiing in northern Italy, and I found out this week that they’re very heavy snow there at the moment, so we should have a good amount to land on as I inevitably tumble down the mountain.

Oh yeah, I am this good...

Another plan that I’ve made to have some fun is a trip to Barcelona in August with some friends. We’re staying in a hostel, got some cheap flights from EasyJet and we’re going to go and explore the sights, culture and bars (mainly the bars) of Barcelona.

Although this is really exciting for me, I know you’ll probably be wondering why I’m deciding to share my plans for holidays with you. Well, it’s only partly due to the fact that I’m suffering from exam-induced writer’s block, but also because these plans have made me realise what I want to do in life.

I always knew that I wanted to go to university to study, and socialise, and recently (just as I was applying, to be honest!) I knew I wanted to study Geography, but I have always been unsure of a career path. Well, it’s not a huge idea, but as I was looking at these trips I finally decided to become a travel writer. I know, it’s hardly like becoming a doctor, but I’ll be able to merge my passion for travel and knowledge about other cultures with writing and working – and for me I don’t think anything could be better.

As you see, this brings me back to my main point. We all get caught up in the blur of life, in the rat race to success, but taking some time out for yourself, your friends and your passions can really help you with finding the right bath in life.

(I just realised that says “right bath in life” and I was going to correct it, but it made me laugh and its kind of true!  You must find the right bath in life, that is of the upmost importance)

5 great ways to get more Twitter Followers

Lots of people have been asking me how to get more followers recently, so I thought I would do a quick blog post to help people out.

1.Follow People you find interesting and @mention them

This gets people to notice you and what you tweet, which makes them more likely to follow you back. Everyone is on twitter to make new connections, so if you start following people they can see you are interested in their tweets. Don’t forget to follow back people who follow you as well!

2. Don’t use the “protect your tweets” feature.

This to me is a pointless feature. It blocks people who don’t follow you from seeing what you tweets so people can’t see how great you are to follow.

3. Use #hastags and participate in Trending Topics

These are tools twitter followers use to see what is being said about a particular topic, so if you include them in your tweets, what you say can be seen by a wider audience. However, you need to make sure what you’re saying is original! Which take us to number 4…

4. Be orginal, creative and amusing

There are over 360,000,000 twitter users (as of August 2011) so you need to stand out if you want more people to follow you! Come up with creative points for discussions that are trending, or just find something random be funny about. People follow people who amuse them, so find something to talk about with other users. People don’t want a run down of everything you have done, eaten, read, or thought, but they want to hear your opinions on topics.

5. Be consistent

Twitter users are harsh – they will unfollow people who bore them, tweet too much, don’t tweet enough, aren’t funny, i could go on…. So when you find that something you tweet gets people following, retweeting, or mentioning you, try tweet similar things in future.

 

If you want to ask me anything else you can tweet me here. Follow me as well, i’ll follow you back and you’ve gained a follower just by reading this!