Tech | Six Super-Useful Apps for Londoners (and visitors!)

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useful smartphone apps for london

Other than Twitter and Instagram, obviously.

1 | Citymapper
Part TFL journey planner, part Google Maps, Citymapper works out the quickest way to make your journey using public transport, a bike or your own two feet (wearing skyscraper heels? Pick the first one. Trust me.). As well as just showing you HOW to get there, it also gives directions as you go like SatNav for your feet, and also connects with Uber to give an estimated journey time and price.

It actually took me a while in London to discover Citymapper but now I use it every time I have no clue where I’m going (which is a lot). I have my home and work locations set so I can click one button and it’ll send me to either AND gives me directions and information for the nearest train stations and bus stops.

So if I tell you I ‘got lost’ on the way to meet you, either my phone’s dead or I spent more time than necessary on my hair that morning…

2 | Zomato
Zomato is a pretty new discovery for me, but ever since I’ve been developing my foodie ways (aka EAT ALL THE THINGS) it’s been mega helpful in deciding where to eat. Recently, I downloaded their handy app too. If you’ve ever been out and about and decided to go for dinner, had no clue where to go and found yourself hopelessly googling ‘places to eat Oxford Circus’ the Zomato app will be a lifesaver.

As well as being a social community for food lovers to share their experiences, you can also search for restaurants near to you (or in a specific area), filtered by cuisine type, price and dietary requirements.

3 | YPlan
I first discovered YPlan when I got myself free credit and went to see Ghost Stories. By myself. Cause I ain’t afraid of no ghosts (apart from when I walked home down my quiet street after and a cat made me jump).

There’s so much COOL STUFF going on in London at times, it’s tough to know what’s quality and what’s going to bore your face off – which is where YPlan’s curated events come in. Handpicked by the YPlan team, they offer best price guarantees for some of the hottest events and experiences in London, aimed at spontaneous fun-hunters with loads to do today, tomorrow and this weekend – as well as further ahead too.

(BTW, if you want £5 credit, you can use my code MILLYYOUNG, and I’ll get a handy two quid when you book something. Ta in advance guys!)

4 | Frugl
If, like me, you’re forever trying to live the much-lauded champagne lifestyle on more of a Lambrini budget (the peach is actually kinda nice though), Frugl is totally your app.

Everything listed costs under £10 (not always including extra costs like drinks, etc) and there are loads of free events on there too. You can sort listings by price and type, with everything from fashion and free haircuts to film showings and classes and courses listed.

5 | Uber
Despite sometimes feeling guilty that I’m taking away trade from London’s black cabbies, Uber is a highly user-friendly way to get a relatively cheap taxi pretty much immediately in the city. Unless you’re unlucky enough to catch surge pricing, which totally sucks.

Before, I would never have used a cab in London. No matter how late, how tired or how much my feet felt like I was walking on burning coals from spending 12 hours working on my feet, it just wasn’t an affordable option. And despite the controversy surrounding trade taken away from London cabbies and fears over regulation of drivers, I’ve always had nothing great experiences using Uber.

Honestly? I do feel some guilt at taking trade from hard-working Londoners who offer a brilliant service in black cabs – but at the same time, I’m also a hard-working (faux) Londoner with not much cash to spare. So on the rare occasion I do get a taxi, I’ll use Uber.

(P.S if you want a free tenner – I get one too – my code’s ch1u5!)

6 | Drinki 
Like drinks? Like FREE drinks? (of course you do). In return for a Facebook check-in, you can get yourself a free drink from loads of bars across the city. A great way to make your night a bit cheaper AND discover new watering holes in London (as well as Manchester and Liverpool, both places I thoroughly recommend for an ace night out).

Previously, the app was for women only which was a bit pants (especially if you’re out and about with a boyfriend or some male pals) – but it’s now been rebranded and updated so that anyone who uses Facebook and has the app can get their free drink too!

What are your essential apps for where you live?
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Food | Catching Up @ Cabana

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Cabana London Brasilian food flatlay

Wanna know one really awesome thing about being a blogger? It totally gives you a super-important excuse to go out and do more fun stuff with some of the fabulous people you meet through a shared hobby. Including food-based fun stuff. Trying out a new restaurant? It’s okay, it’s 'for the blog'!

Last week I visited not one, but two new-to-me restaurants, including meeting up with blogger babes Emma, Jasmin, Leanne, Katy, Viki and Natasha – a lovely mixture of bloggers I’d already met AND some new faces to get to know. Add that great company to amazing food and (of course) cocktails, and that makes for a pretty brilliant evening.

After meeting at Freud’s, a super cool underground bar with an amazing range of cocktails, we headed for Cabana - a Brasilian Barbecue restaurant near Covent Garden with fun and inviting décor and huge windows, where you could really feel the Friday-night-London city vibes as the sun went down around you. Our table was a booth-style affair, with quirky seating that looked like it was made from stitched together denim – so cool.

Cabana London Brasilian food cocktail bar
Cabana London Brasilian food cocktails

As poor Katy was having tube struggles (#Londonerproblems), we ordered up some cocktails to begin with – with a two for one deal before 7pm, it’d have been rude not to order two each, right? As they had to be two of the same, Viki and I did a swap so we each ended up with two different ones – a Classic Caipirinha and a ‘Carlos The Godfather’ featuring gin, elderflower and lime. Both were pretty strong (hooray) but still tasted amazing and refreshing.

I’ve never been the hugest advocate (avocado advocate - say that one five times fast) of guacamole – it’s just not been something that’s really been on my radar. To me, it's always just been that 'thing' that's chucked on top of nachos that isn't as good as salsa or sour cream. However, when Jas kindly ordered some with tortilla chips to share on the table, I discovered a bit of a new love. IT WAS AMAZING. I’d totally go back to Cabana even just for the cocktails and guac alone.

For the main courses, everyone else chose to go with a few of the smaller, street food type dishes, which I’d normally do. But in my RIDICULOUSLY HUNGRY state, I decided to go with a full main from the skewers menu, opting for the Guava-cue chicken – you guessed it, chicken in a BBQ guava marinade.

Cabana London Brasilian food cocktail bar restaurant

Upon arrival of our food to the table, it was time for the classic blogger moment, where no one actually started eating for a few minutes while we all snapped away (pretty much like this) – with a table of dishes wonderfully ‘art directed’ by Katy. Eventually, photos taken (and ready for Instagram), we got straight down to tucking in (and rare silence).

The portion sizes did feel a bit on the small side for what you paid for them – but taste was totally paramount. My chicken was fall-apart-in-your-mouth perfectly tender and the marinade was absolutely gorgeous - properly smoky and sticky, just how BBQ should be. The skewer came with a decently-sized portion of fries and a perfect homemade-tasting slaw.

Unfortunately, we were all a bit too full for dessert, but the options on the menu sounded INCREDIBLE. Chocolate Raindrop Doughnuts? Peanut Butter and Oreo Sundae? Definitely another solid reason to head back to Cabana in the near future.

I definitely felt the authentic Brasilian vibes through the cocktails and food, and the venue itself is perfectly suited to group dining. The staff were also really fun and friendly, making us feel really welcome. Hanging out with some of my favourite London bloggers at such a great place made for a totally awesome evening, and for friends, fun and food, Cabana is definitely a fantastic choice.
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Life | Positive Thoughts & Happy Things

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Recently, I’ve kinda sucked at staying positive about things. Yes, dear pop punk scene, I’ve definitely failed at being #posi. I beg forgiveness. I actually usually consider myself a pretty cheerful person – but for whatever reasons, recently life has felt a bit tough and it’s been a rough ride seeing the good in things at times.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m struggling so hard to be BETTER at everything that I don’t give myself the chance to see how great life can be. That's definitely something I think we all fall victim to at times, and when it happens, there are little things we do to try and get us out of that funk. So here it is – five nice, happy and simple things that have happened recently to make me smile when I temporarily forget how to.

1 | A now fully-functional laptop
If you read one of my recent outfit posts (and you should, because the outfit’s darn cute), you’d know that my laptop keyboard had decided to pretty much pack it in. I could still type awkwardly thanks to an old USB plug in one donated by my housemate with the words WRITE MORE Tippex-ed onto it, but it was awkward and annoying balancing it on top of my laptop so I could still use the mouse. I definitely didn’t end up writing more. BUT NOW I CAN!

It’s quite easy to take something like a laptop/computer/phone/general piece of technology for granted when you use it every day – having found it harder to write, blog and generally connect via my computer has probably been one of the causes of my negative feels. So here’s to keyboards, words, and how lucky I am to live in a privileged world where I’m able to actually do those abovementioned things.

2 | Flowers & Chocolate
I’m not allowed to say who bought me these as his manly-man image would be at stake, but they were ridiculously appreciated. A ‘cheer you up and well done gift’ that comes as good as this, and I’m a happy girl.

Even if said gift-giver did end up convincing me to share the chocs.

3 | Travel Plans
In my attempts to travel as much as humanly possible (and within my less-than-excessive budget) over the next few years, I’ve got not, one, not two, but THREE countries I’ll be visiting in the next two months. Okay, two are within the same trip, but it totally STILL COUNTS. In less than two weeks (eee), I’m going to Dublin – where we’ll be touring the Guinness Factory, taking in a literary pub tour (literature AND pubs? SOLD.) and even venturing out of the city. Then, in November, we’re off to Amsterdam and Bruges on a weekend coach trip. Totally worth sitting on a coach for, right?

Considering I don’t have much spare cash at the moment (thanks, other travel plans), I’ve managed to blag both of them quite a bit – Conor paid for the Dublin flights for a Christmas present (last year) and we’re staying with his family; and Amsterdam/Bruges is actually costing nothing thanks to my job and a travel company we partner with. So all I actually need is spends for both trips! Yay, bargain travelling indeed.

4 | Freshly Painted Nails
Seriously, this is like, the SMALLEST thing but something that always helps me feel closer to ‘me’ again. During pretty much the entire past two super-hectic weeks, I’ve actually had the same polish on – only whizzing over it in the middle. So by the end of the week, it was chipped so much I had to try and style it out as ‘textured’. Today, I'm going to sit down, watch Scream Queens and coat my nails in my current favourite, Barry M's Chilli, and even have time for a top coat. World, I'm ready.

5 | Growing out my awful fringe
You know that urge you get to change your hair every couple of months? Mine comes in the form of cutting in a full fringe. Especially around winter, or when I'm fed up of eyebrow maintenance, I decide just to snip away and end up with a (usually self-cut due to an impulsive nature) blunt, full fringe.

Initially, I'm like QUICK I LOOK FAB and take loads of selfies, but within three days, I'm hating it. I know some of you feel my pain. But, yesterday I washed my hair and finally managed to style it into a side fringe. All is right with my head again - on an external level, at least. And internally? I think it's getting there.

What's making you happy at the moment?
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Adventures | IceBar London Rocks

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Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design
Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design
Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Champagne

London's Ice Bar is somewhere that's always been on my bucket list of places to go but never quite got around to. In case you've never heard of it - imagine a bar where pretty much everything (walls, bar, glasses) is made out of pure ice.

Seeing snaps of friends curled up in huge ponchos with smiles and drinks was definitely giving me some FOMO on something that seemed incredibly unique. Thankfully, I somehow managed to get invited down to their press evening for the launch of their new design. And it's AMAZING.

The Ice Bar changes its theme every year in September, and for 15/16's look, the bar is embracing London's diverse musical legacy by dubbing it 'Icebar London Rocks'. Definitely a style I can get behind. Designed by scupltor Jens Thoms Ivarrson (known for Chanel's ice catwalk, FYI), it celebrates the bar's 10th year as the UK's only permanent ice bar. Pretty cool, right? (It took me a whole two paragraphs to drop a pun. Actually quite proud.)

Arriving at the event (late, I totally blame my lovely other half, obviously), we sheepishly snuck into the back and managed to not miss an ice carving demonstration by the artist himself, followed by wine and canapes - including the most incredible chorizo roll. Seriously amazing - and they do have a full restaurant too!

Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design
Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design
Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design
Icebar London Rocks Ice Bar Design

Obviously, the big draw of the evening was the Ice Bar area itself - and it totally didn't disappoint. The first thing I noticed entering the bar was the HUGE skull scuplture next to the bar area itself - and you can actually climb inside and peer out from the eyes!

At the bar, we were served champagne in glasses actually made from ice (which is where the gloves attached to the poncho definitely make sense) - you can also order yourself a drink from a range of tasty rock-inspired cocktails. 

I was so impressed with the level of detail that went into the designs - from the tattooed 'rock chick' on the wall to the bar decorated with punky studs - and one of the feature pieces and a total photo opportunity was the Throne of Rock. The blue and purple lighting was wonderfully atmospheric and really emphasised the ice as the light caught and reflected around the room.

I did have to pop out for a little bit during the visit to warm up (I'm a ridiculously temperature-sensitive person!), but the temperature in the Ice Bar is definitely easily manageable for the 40 minute time slot you get and you warm up super quickly afterwards (especially if you pop on a 'wine jacket').

Standard entry to the Ice Bar includes one cocktail and cape/gloves hire for a 40 minute session, and costs from £13.50 to £16.50. It's a great little place to stop off at for a totally unique drinking experience and definitely one worth pulling some friends together for and trying out!

What do you think of the new design? Would you go along for a cocktail (or three)?
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Style | October Wishlist

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1 | Krusty Shake Cross Body Bag, Skinnydip London, £32
When I spotted SkinnyDip London's Simpsons collab blogged by the likes of Sophie and Lissa's Instagrams and blogs, I fell a little bit in love. Despite my usual run to the comfort of dark colours in the winter, it's such a fun collection. Entirely based around Krusty (totally one of the most iconic characters besides the Simpsons themselves right?), their soda cup bag is bright, fun and eye-catching. And glittery, of course.

2 | Oasis Victoriana Dress, House of Fraser, £55
The whole Victoriana trend is making one of its regular comebacks for AW15 and the goth aficionado in me, as usual, couldn't be happier. A statement but still casual black dress is such an easy thing to wear on a day-to-day basis, and this beautiful, wonderful one from Oasis caught my eye when browsing House of Fraser's (enormous) collection of dresses. Everything about it is basically LOVE - the sleeves! The floaty skirt! The peasant-goth detailing. Basically, I need this dress.

3 | Arrow Ring, Bloody Mary Metal, £45
So, if anyone's stuck for what to get me for Christmas, HELLO. I've lusted over Bloody Mary Metal since I first heard about them earlier this year, and its the Arrow Ring that's still top of my wishlist. Probably one of their most iconic products, it's understandable why - super cute and really unique.

4 | Gold Stag Beetle A4 Notebook, Ohh Deer x Urban Outfitters, £6
Working in a University, October means one big thing: new term ahoy. With a new term comes lots of new things, and obviously this means I'm obligated to treat myself to a fabulous new notebook for all my amazing ideas and things to do. I reckon it's scientific fact that my productivity is improved tenfold when I've got nice stationery to be productive with, and a notebook like this would do just the job.

5 | Lipstick - 'Boardroom', Topshop, £8
I don't spend much time in boardrooms and I have no idea whether this shade would suit me, realistically - but it's just really rather nice-looking and nothing like anything else I own - which can be a rarity when it comes to lip shades. Topshop lipsticks have served me well, and I reckon it's time I picked up a few new ones - Boardroom being top of the hit list.

6 | Lace Up Brogues, George @ ASDA, £14
I spotted these babies when I went along to George's Christmas press day (see: Instagram shot) and they just sum up everything that's right in the world of footwear for me. Still not sure how I'll style them yet, but I'm thinking with my feet on this one.

What are you lusting after this month?

*post contains a sponsored link
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Style | Art School Wannabe

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Shirt and dress, George @ ASDA

This is probably going to be a super short post as I'm actually minorly screwed at the moment laptop-wise (more to come in the next paragraph and also FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS). But, anyway, I wore this outfit the other day for one of my 13 hour work days and I just enjoyed it too much to share. I normally actually hate wearing shirts unless they're underneath something, at which point I morph into a shirt advocate of the highest order. Blame the coverage of boob-gape, maybe? Anyway, this magic mix of polka dots and pinafore-esque dress is a major fave of mine right now. Perfect for a mixture of adult, work-friendly sass but still with plenty of youthful adorableness added.

On another note and probably what this post is about REALLY, forgive me if my blogging might be slightly sporadic of late. Firstly, my laptop keyboard has completely broken and I'm currently sitting with a USB keyboard balanced precariously on top of it. The other day I sat backwards and nearly took my bottom teeth out. It's okay though, because writing still wins, but it makes it much more awkward to write big posts without getting wrist cramp. Secondly, I'm on (temporary and not scary) medication that will make my life a lot better in the long run, but has side effects. Said (temporary and only a bit scary) side effects may often include making me have phases of hating everything especially myself and preferring to throw a pair of tweezers (the ones that won't seem to grab THAT unruly eyebrow hair) at my laptop than actually WRITE using it. On the plus side though, I'm having ridiculously vivid dreams that involve parties and a starring role in Castle. Give me a month and a fixed keyboard, and I'll be back to my usual fabulous self. But hopefully still having super-realistic dreams about being Nathan Fillion's BFF.

Basically, throwing a magical special thanks out to people who actually read this shit and keep coming back. You're the coolest (and I'd owe you all a beer if I could afford it). Also, I suck at 'short posts'.
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Adventures | The One Where Milly Goes To FriendsFest

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FriendsFest London Central Perk sofa picture
FriendsFest London September 2015
FriendsFest London prop Buffay The Vampire Layer VHS
FriendsFest London Central Perk drinks

Ever heard of that little-known TV show about six mates in New York that was kinda popular as we were growing up? Y'know, Friends? If you're a fan, you might have also heard about something taking place in London in recent weeks called FriendsFest - basically, a 21st anniversary celebration of all things Friends! Tickets sold out ridiculously quickly but one of my ace pals managed to snap up some tickets, so we went along last weekend to see what all the fuss was about.

After waiting in a short and perfectly manageable queue, we were given wristbands and wandered into the beginning of the tour, where walls were adorned with iconic snapshots from Friends episodes. We had the chance to sit in Joey and Chandler style La-Z-Boy chairs, and to see actual real life props from the show, including Joey's wedding speech, a VHS (yep) copy of Buffay The Vampire Layer and loads more. Unlike the replicas , these were firmly tucked away in glass cases. And if you ever dreamed of sitting in Central Perk sipping a latte, FriendsFest took you about as close as you'll probably get with it's 'Central Perk' cafe corner. Maybe the 'sponsored by Lidl' paper cups and disappointing lack of Gunther took away some of the magic, we helped ourselves to a free drink and numerous amounts of biscuits.

FriendsFest London Monica's apartment replica set tour
FriendsFest London Monica's apartment replica set tour
FriendsFest London Monica's apartment replica Friends set tour
FriendsFest London Monica's apartment replica Friends set tour Rachel's meat trifle

Although everyone was free to wander back and forth through the venue, the 'final' step of the tour and probably the most exciting was the chance to explore a replica of Monica's apartment - pretty cool, eh? There was a bit of a wait to get onto the set as only a certain amount of people were allowed on at a time, but instead of a boring queue, Comedy Central provided seats, a poll of your favourite Friends moments and fun trivia cards - that we were even allowed to take home with us!

The replica set itself was ridiculously cool. Something that was done so well with the whole exhibition was how hands-on everything was - from sitting on the sofa for a picture, to actually being able to open the fridge and find THAT meat trifle and Ross' sandwich! The level of detail that went into it was so impressive with so many 'hidden' treats - including voicemail on the phone you could listen to and a box of toy dinosaurs tucked under a table. Even though it was a replica, I genuinely almost felt like I was walking round the actual apartment set from the moment we walked through the (iconic) door.

FriendsFest London September 2015 fact trivia card
FriendsFest London Friends prop Joey's speech
FriendsFest London Pheobe busking photo

I didn't have time to go there as I had to head up the road to work (yep, on a Saturday!), but they also had an area where you could get your hair styled in a classic 'Rachel' do. We did, however, have time to pop outside and recreate THAT umbrella sequence, probably one of the best-known TV show intros in history! Although I'd probably only call myself quite a casual Friends viewer (despite having seen pretty much every episode), I genuinely got so excited by the whole thing. Perhaps I didn't appreciate it as much at the time, but now moving into adulthood I can see why Friends was (and still is, despite the landlines and lack of Instagram) such an important show. Even though the show aired when a lot of us were rocking onesies over a decade before they became a fashion trend, the themes in the show are still ridiculously relatable. And let's face it - who didn't imagine their grown up life to basically be just like Rachel's? (spoiler: it probably won't be)

What also really got me about the day was the amazing value that you got for a low ticket price. Seriously, in a city where you pay a premium for a lot of 'experiences', the fact that the tickets cost a fiver and included free cloakroom, drinks and biscuits was AMAZING. Nothing except the merch came at any extra cost. And the organisers let people take their own photos too, not charging £8 for a 'professional' snap like many attractions - they even had staff in place to take your pics for you. As someone who works in events myself, it really did wow me that Comedy Central managed to have so much on offer for such a low ticket price. It just goes to show - you don't have to shell out a fortune to do something fun sometimes. I really hope this is something the capital (and the country as a whole) gets on board with more - as everyone who went, including myself, seemed to have an amazing time.
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Style | Leather & Lace

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Forever 21 leather dress Primark lace blouse outfit
Forever 21 leather dress Primark lace blouse outfitForever 21 leather dress Primark lace blouse outfit
Dress - Forever 21* // Blouse, Primark* // Bag, River Island*

Ever thought about where your style sense comes from? Looked back at old pictures and cringed a little at what you used to wear? Back when I was around 13/14, I discovered alternative rock music - and it became a big part of my life. Okay, so Avril Lavigne wasn't exactly edgy by anyone's terms, but at the time when most of my life had been dominated by the Spice Girls, her grungy style was incredibly cool and enviable. So off I went to TammyGIRL (yep) to get myself some baggy jeans and 'cheeky' slogan tees. I basically thought I was one of the coolest kids in school (apart from the untouchable, rebellious goths). 

As I got a bit older, I ended up being swept up in the Myspace craze - and envying the 'Myspace famous' alt queen types. My style definitely swayed more towards the 'scene girl' look - think chunky plastic pearls, excessive fringe and footless tights. I remember buying impossibly high heels for my 18th birthday, which I'd taken off after the three minute walk from pub to club; ogling the Hell Bunny dresses and Iron Fist shoes in the local alt clothing shop; the skintight punk-patterned PVC dress with a fully zipped front; bleaching my hair blonde and dying the ends pink, only to go back to black again weeks later. From the age of about 16-19, this was pretty much my 'look', and a lot of it stayed with me into the early years of Uni.

As I went through Uni and into 'real life', I definitely toned down the look a lot - buying into floral dresses, peter pan collars and actually buying some 'adult' friendly clothes. Blazers. Sensible, smart shoes. But I still feel like a big influence on my style still comes from alternative subculture, even if it's presented in a much more 'mainstream' way. When I hit Forever 21 in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in Stratford, it was this leather dress that completely caught my attention. All-over leather can be insanely tricky to pull off, but the flattering fit allows it to look more casual than 'sexy' (and definitely worlds away from skintight PVC). Even from the early days, lace has been a favourite for me, and this blouse from Primark makes the perfect contrast with the 'tough' feel of the leather. And to add colour, I picked up an adorable purple mini satchel from River Island.

This outfit is probably one of the most 'me' things I've ever picked out - comfy, easy to wear, and great for both daytime and night time. As well as the clothes, I also picked up some Swarzkopf Real Red hair dye to touch up my roots and give the red a boost. And I feel like it really works with the outfit too! I actually spent about three hours wandering around Westfield, including picking up some dinner at Spud-U-Like. Normally, I tend to avoid large shopping areas but I found heading there in the evening gave me plenty of time and space to browse with relatively small crowds and limited stress, which was fantastic. Westfield Stratford City is definitely the perfect place to go if you're having a real shopping afternoon/evening, with so many stores to choose from - you're definitely sure to find something that suits your own individual style!

*Westfield provided me with a voucher to choose an outfit for this post
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