Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Vag Box - Submission Call Out

I've been thinking about this for a while. In fact, sorry, I can't claim this as my own thought; we've all been thinking it. What is with the wealth of bullshit publications for women? And men for that matter? And publications that don't exist across genders but should?

When I recently shared the article above, the outcry for something similar was overwhelming. I've had registered for a while now and have been meaning to start building the site but, having a pretty demanding job and limited funds means it's unlikely I'll be pulling it off in a hurry - even The Vagenda had to cease publishing- and there was so much feedback that TheVagBox was just too brash a name. But, I've since decided to maintain that that's the whole point. There's no use pussy-footing around when what we all have to say can be particularly brutal, blunt or painful to read. It reminds me of my grandmother telling me that boys would never like me if I burped the alphabet in front of them. I beg to differ, Grandma, but it's kind of a party trick of mine and any boy I've ever wanted to end up with has found it pretty amusing. Honesty is the best policy. Case in point. The Vag Box it is.

I'd love to collaborate with lots of different people, men and women, on an authoritative, no-wank editorial operation that acts as a central hub for health, politics, sex and more. That would be the ultimate vision.

To keep things nice and simple for now, I've set up an Instagram account by the name of @thevagbox and I'm looking for contributors for long form social media that tells a story. It can be your point en total (although Instagram limits to 2200 characters), or a snippet that then leads to a longer article you may have published elsewhere, using the hash tag #TheVagBox

Examples include:

- Honest sexual encounters
- Your experience of things like:
Sexism & Misogyny
Things that are marketed specifically to your gender (or not marketed to)
- People you admire of any gender
- Your reaction to something that has happened in the media
 - Anything that inspires or repulses you as an individual

And so on...

To get involved, just drop me a line at, over on Twitter @thecafecat or simply tag your posts with #TheVagBox to submit for possible regramming and to join the feed.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

How We've All Changed the World

Dear all,

I wanted to write this post to let you all know that I am moving on from 4Ps and all my awesome clients to become the Digital Brand Manager for Caffe Nero, effective from next week.

Working with you all has been a true pleasure and delight. You really did make my job exciting, dynamic and completely personal, which can be a struggle in a corporate world. You were my compadres in an industry that changes quickly and is unpredictable; you were always the good guys, shepherding me along the way, and being a constant source of inspiration. 

As a blogger before I started in the role, I feel as if when you grew, I grew, and I’m so proud of the amazing work that you all dedicate your time to publishing, refining and sharing with your communities. Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you differently, as we all know how quick a lot of people can be to judge the people who put themselves out there every day – from bloggers, to musicians, to artists, and to the like:

'When one woman puts her experience into words, another woman who has kept silent, afraid of what others will think, can find validation. And when the second woman says aloud "Yes, that was my experience too" the first woman loses some of her fear.' 

(Men and everyone else too, by the way - I didn’t write the above – it was a lady called Carol Christ and I don’t think she even meant it in the context that I do)

Love or hate our ‘digital society’, we have all played a part in really pushing the meaning of ‘freedom of expression to its limits’. As global collectives, we have challenged the government, taken on the media, transformed the perception of mental health, sought to further equal the rights of men and women, and confronted many, many things that, without a uniformed voice, will have continued to have gone unheard, or been dismissed.

Of course, on a more granular level, we’ve also just shared really delicious recipes and the things we love, but by partaking in a daily conversation and putting ourselves out there, each and every person that has spoken, has inspired others to speak.

While the sound of so many voices can be deafening, and not all those are ones that you want to hear from, communities can be built for the greater good, as well as, sadly, the not so good. 

Under the deafening roar, is the voice of each and every individual, all worth something in their own right. While it can be challenging to confront our own perceptions and beliefs against the wild and diverse opinions of others, this can only make us understand ourselves better. The ‘digital society’ is somewhat a huge mirror held up to the world and saying ‘LOOK’. We cannot hide from each other and neither should we – we need to understand and connect with each other. We need to celebrate empathy as a universal principle.

You’ve been a constant source of inspiration and I wouldn’t be where I am in such a short space of time in my career, and my life, without sharing your experiences with you. While I continue to move in the corporate body, I hope one day this will all contribute to my master plan: to help change the world, although I think by my own small contribution, I already have, and so have you.

With love,

Monday, 12 October 2015

Lindt Chocolate Recipes | Celia's Saucer

 As it is Chocolate Week, I couldn't really get away with writing much else now, could I? Working with Lindt for the last couple of years has been a pleasure not only when it comes to checking the delivery of the chocolate I'm working with (it must be tasted at least twice) but also for the really rather gorgeous recipes that the food blogger community has had the kindness to create and share with us.

It'd be hard to choose my favourites, so here are just some to feed your fetish. You can click the images to follow to the often bespoke and simple recipes. 

For all your Lindt needs, did you know you can buy their chocolate online?

Lindt Chocolate Recipes
Dark Chocolate, Pear and Hazelnut Cake from the Domestic Gothess

Lindt Chocolate Recipes
Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies from They Called It The Diamond Blog
Chocolate Banana Bread from Patisserie Makes Perfect
Fig, Ricotta and Prosciutto Bruscheta from Catherine Sprunt
Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Cookies from Thyme and Honey

Very Dark Chocolate and Ginger Cookies from Cate in the Kitchen
Chocolate Orange Melting Middle Cupcakes from Little Paper Swans
Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Melting Middle Cupcakes from Emma's Looking Glass

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Dear Margate, What Took You So Long?

The Cafe Cat in Margate
 It’s unlikely you’ve missed the recent hum around the rebirth of this small, Kentish seaside town and yet, if you have, I’d be more than happy to regale you with the tale here, so please do read on. 
 Arguably the UK’s first major holiday destination, alongside contenders like Brighton, Whitby or Scarborough, hundreds and thousands of British people would flock to the south-eastern coastline to bathe, seek thrills on the Scenic Railway at Dreamland with soggy teenage kisses, and soak up whatever they could of the summer, strolling along the numerous natural and beautiful bays to Broadstairs. It’s curious to think how somewhere so ruddy prime could ever have fallen into the shadows in the way that Margate had done in the decade or so before now.
 Somewhat downtrodden and deserted, one could almost see tumbleweeds scurrying along the sands that once beckoned to Turner to rest his easel and paint the sea skies now so famed and cherished by the nation. “Margate?” spat locals in neighbouring Canterbury “Why the bloody hell would you want to visit Margate?” I would argue of its charms but before I knew it I’d be drawing another pint of ale, for attentions would have been turned back to the daily crossword with a shake of the head. “Be quiet. 4-letters.” “HUSH.”
Margate Town view of Dreamland
 And for those stepping off the train to be greeted by an unsightly tower block and an abandoned stretch of beach, it might have felt the same. Perhaps I’m a romantic but wandering down the promenade, past the faded arcades and listening to the sound of creaking two-pence machines and the soft lull of the waves, Margate always had my heart. Its grey skies and lost soul were enduring.

There was so much to discover, even then. Highlights included hour-long rummaging at Scott’s Junk Emporium, or getting unnerved by yourself visiting the Shell Grotto – a dimly lit underground cavern of over 4-million British seashells arranged in short tunnels leading to an atrium which, to this day, no one really knows the truth of. You can ask a dozen people and they’d all tell you a different story but consistently feature the little boy who climbed down a hole to retrieve a lost tool in the 1800s and instead found Margate’s biggest mystery. 

Even then, overhearing the townspeople themselves gathered in hushed groups, complaining of the lost glory of Margate, you could feel the beginning of a new kind of spirit emerging; a fighting community. And, even then, the sun would come out from behind the clouds and bathe the town in light.
Places To Shop in Margate I probably am a romantic after all, but I wasn’t the only one.

When the Turner Contemporary was built on the seafront, on the site where Turner would often rest up at a local B&B with an inspiring view, the county was abuzz that this would be the turning point for the town and yet while it set wheels in motion, it wasn’t until independent shops and cafes started to pop up in the Old Town that people really started to consider it. It wasn’t until Dreamland tenaciously fought for years to reopen its doors to the public that the rollercoaster started to pick up speed.
Shops in Margate
And so that brings us racing to the current day. Margate. On the cusp of being somewhere really rather magnificent, and yet striking fear into my heart a little. I can’t complain. You’ve got fantastic coffee shops, running what’s known as a ‘disloyalty card’ that encourages caffeine-seekers to choose from a number of independent outlets rather than the chains. There’s promises of candy floss on the carousel once more, and giddy adrenaline on the Ferris Wheel, the sound of pennies rushing in the arcade, and more and more Kentish food-joints offering local grub – like the fantastic GB Pizza.
 However, with all that teeters on the edge of success, is the staggering height from which it might fall once more. How can a small town like Margate sit tight and pretty, without plummeting once the shine of a new penny dulls?

Speaking with a fellow Margate-lover, we mused over what had really stolen our hearts upon our first visit. Or what had consistently captured attention across the country at the turn of recent events. We concluded on a key word that you might have already seen used in reference to Margate and other areas of the UK: Regeneration

I hope they never ‘finish’ Margate. Along the coastline, gentrification moves steadily in as high-speed railways are established, as flood defences improve, and as old-town charm waltzes back to the dancefloor. However, in the capital, we’ve seen the effect that overdoing this can have on a community, notably in East London, where locals, grit and character are driven out and prices driven up, leaving only those who can afford to stay.
Margate Cafes
 To keep those tumbleweeds from turning once more, must Margate remain in a state of construction, and glinting promise? Call me a romantic for certain, but what I really want to know is how will Margate keep the magic alive this time?

For more information about what’s on in Kent and Margate head to VisitEngland 

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