#MEETWITHAPOEM

Working in digital marketing means I’m likely to say yes to any opportunity that involves heading offline, especially when it involves reading or writing, so when I was invited to take part in the Meet With a Poem campaign, I jumped at the chance.

I chose to bring my boyfriend along with me to Forge & Co in Shoreditch, our Julius Meinl location of choice. Instead of scrolling through our phones side by side or mindlessly dissecting the latest episode of Narcos, we sat and mulled over three poems as we sipped our coffees. I’ll be honest, it felt a little weird at first, but with the surprising enthusiasm of Ryan, we looked at Larkin’s, This Be The Verse, Plath’s, Morning Song and a war poem I actually can’t remember the name of and switching off felt good.

I think we both needed it more than we realised and it was nice to connect with each other on a level other than Netflix and Chill or arguing over whose turn it is to take the bins out (always his). I’m actually not the biggest poetry fan and have always found it uncomfortable talking seriously about literature with friends (you wouldn’t think I have a degree in English lit, would you?) but it was actually a really refreshing experience that I’d love to repeat.

I interviewed Caleb Femi, the first young people’s laureate for London and Julius Meinl ambassador, who said of the art form:

“Poetry is the one of the purest forms of conversation there is. At its best, it allows me to communicate from an honest and safe place, a place that I am seldom afforded in the everyday rush of life. The reason why I started writing poetry was because I needed a space that allowed me to talk about things that scared me, that intrigued me, that amused me, things that made me vulnerable like telling the first girl I was in love with how I truly felt about her. The important things are usually the things left unsaid and poetry gives me the courage to say those important things before it is too late.”

On October 1st, in more than 70 countries around the world, in various Julius Meinl coffee shops, hundreds of people sat down to read a poem with a loved one and I think that’s just great.

THE BEST INDEPENDENT BOOK SHOPS IN LONDON

Because rainy summer days are best spent indoors with a blanket and a good read

There’s nothing quite so romantic as a rainy afternoon spent cosied up on a reading chair, fresh coffee in hand, about to tuck into a good book. But what if you’ve just finished a whopper, keen to dive into the next, and don’t have a new one to hand? Or what if you’re a tourist in the big city and have underestimated how many pages you’d get through of the ones you’d packed?

Instead of solving the problem by opening up that oh so convenient Amazon app, pop down to your local independent bookstore (the city is full of them) and purchase from them instead. The best part about independents is that they tend to have quaint little coffee shops you can hang out in, great events where you don’t have to fight for tickets and they almost always sell semi-pretentious tote bags you can wear as a handy little nod in support of small businesses.

If you’re on the lookout for some cool and quirky little bookshops in London, but don’t know where to start, here are some of my favourites for you to enjoy the next time you’re in need.

Word on the Water

Nestled in the newly renovated King’s Cross, you’ll find Word on the Water, which is basically a big barge that sells second-hand books. Started by a guy called Paddy Screech, who worked with homeless people all his life, he decided to take his own advice and simply do what made him happy – which was clearly to sell literature on the water. Although there’s not much space to sit and enjoy whichever title takes your fancy, you can perch along the canal or take your title home and curl up with it there.

Pages of Hackney

Just along Lower Clapton road lies Pages of Hackney, an independent bookshop that will satisfy all your hipster needs. Its vibrant sky blue exterior is entirely “instagrammable” (if that’s your bag) and they sell a good combination of brand new contemporary and classic fiction and non-fiction, in addition to lots of second-hand numbers. Pages also host lots of really interesting events, so keep your eyes peeled and head down when these are on to meet your neighbours and buy some new books.

Persephone Books

Selling out of print titles by twentieth-century female authors, Persephone Books couldn’t be more up my street if it tried. If you’re keen to delve into the female voices of days gone by and tuck into something that might have long been forgotten, then this one is definitely for you. With shorts, diaries, memoirs and novels, each sold in a gorgeous grey jacket with a bookmark to keep, this is an extra special bookshop and a lesser-known haven for all you feminists out there.

Of course, there are plenty more independent bookshops scattered around the city, but these are just 3 of my favourites. If you have any recommendations, do send them over as I’m always on the lookout for a new favourite haunt. And if you are heading to London for an exciting city break, why not live like a local and make the most of this wonderful city? Rent an apartment or vacation rental from Home From Home and enjoy your book in the comfort of your… sort of… home.

*This is a sponsored post

THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO BRISTOL

The best thing to happen to Bristol (aside from me moving here and a Polpo opening up on Whiteladies Road, of course) has actually arrived in the form of the most affectionate app in the world.

Yep, you heard it right. As if the city wasn’t kind enough already, a man named Paul and a woman called Alice have just brought a whole heap of added goodness to the west country with the gifting app of the future.

It’s called Huggg.

Yes, with three gs. They’re gangster like that.

Huggg is an upgrade on a well written WhatsApp, a thought out iMessage or a line of meticulously thought out emojis. It’s better than the age old poke on Facebook and it’s certainly an improvement on those gift cards you find at the bottom of your bag, months after they’ve expired. It’s everything your long distance relationship has been waiting for. It’s what will save parents waving their children off to university in September from having a breakdown. And, truth be told, it’s the stuff every lazy girl’s dreams are made of.

But what is it and how does it work?

Huggg basically allows you to send coffee, cocktails, burgers or breakfasts to anyone you like. As long as you have a phone and their number, of course.

If you’re away on a work trip and not there to sleep next to that special someone, send them a soup to spoon instead. If your best friend graduates and you can’t be there to congratulate them, send them a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate. Or if your colleague is hanging at work, send them a caffeinated pick me up from across the office.

Although there is nothing better than a real life hug, huggg is a pretty great alternative if you are a little too far away to reach.

Currently, only available in Bristol and Bath, download the app and get started today.

P.S. I’d love an iced soya latte from Friska if anyone’s offering.

Happy huggging!