I finally had the opportunity to visit Eel Pie Island recently, thanks to Carl Goes’ newest book launch. Carl Goes London Islands is the latest travel guide by Sasha Arms – and what better fitting place than the quirky Eel Pie Island?

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If you haven’t already heard about Eel Pie Island, I can tell you now that it’s the perfect place to take a slow wander around on a hot day before the weather takes a U-turn again. The island is famously named after the eel pies which were once served by the inn on the island back in the 19th century.

It’s also well known for once being home to popular jazz and blues venues back in the 60s. The legendary Eel Pie Island Hotel once hosted famous musicians such as David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. These days, the small island is home to around 120 inhabitants and artists. Nowdays, the public can visit only a few times a year during an open weekend where they can browse artists work.

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I enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll around Eel Pie Island; despite it being so small there was so much to see. I felt like I’d stepped into an alternative wonderland and would have never of guessed I was in London!

I met briefly with author Sasha Arms to talk about Carl Goes London Islands and the process behind the book – she told me she’d been working on it for almost a year in terms of doing research, visiting as many of the islands as she could and discovering all the stores behind them.

What I liked most about Carl Goes London Islands is that it’s not just a travel guide. Inside the book, you’ll find stories with quirky and inspiring characters who have chosen to live on these islands. I was also fascinated to discover how many islands there are in London! There is a lot and Sasha has even spoken about the ones that are unable to be visited directly or ones that are only accessible to those who live there.

This information – though obvious – is super helpful. I know many people would want to visit an island from a book and probably wouldn’t even stop to think about if the island is even accessible or if they’re privately owned or not!

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There are so many travel guides to London out there which is why this one particularly interested me – I consider myself quite an expert on London as it is and would rarely find the need to pick up a travel guide for the city, so to find a book that I’d actually use and that really inspires me is great!

If you want something a bit different to do this summer, I’d without a doubt consider picking up a copy of Carl Goes London Islands and using it as a guide to explore the alternative side of London you probably aren’t already aware of. There’s also a bonus tip at the back of the book; a sneak peak into a path that you can take to get a decent look at nearly all of the islands featured.

Have you visited Eel Pie Island? Would you buy a copy of Carl Goes London Islands to help guide you around some of London’s best kept secret islands? Let me know!

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The bold and bright cover of The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella was the first thing that drew me towards this book on the shelf. The second thing was the fact that it’s written by Sophie Kinsella, so I already knew it was going to be good.

I read this book back to back probably in the space of a week but it’s the kind of story you can read over and over again – no doubt I’ll be re-reading this whilst enjoying the sunshine this summer or by the pool if I ever get another holiday!

The Undomestic Goddess tells the story of high flying lawer Samantha who lives and breaths her work. She can barely get a break, meaning her social, family and home life have all fallen below par. But when she makes a huge mistake that costs her her job, she runs away and finds herself in a predicament working as a house keeper, despite never having done anything domestic before in her life. What ensues is a humourous and heart warming story where this previous workaholic learns how to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

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The blurd reads:

Samantha thrives under pressure. A high-powered London lawyer, all she can concentrate on is taking the next step in her career; eating, sleeping, seeing friends – even taking a breath – will have to wait.

But just when she’s about to get everything she has ever wanted, Samantha makes a mistake. A fifty-million-pound, career destroying mitake. Unable to face the consequences, she does the unimaginable and runs away…

Catching the first train she can, she finds herself in the countryside, outside a beautiful grand house. Mistaken for another woman, she falls into a new job as the family’s housekeeper.

Disaster ensues. In a blink, her life has shifted from writing briefs to washing them – and she has no idea how to work the washing machine. Let alone the oven. A former master of the takeaway menu, she’s now expected to whip up fine cuisine.

But gradually, she falls in lovr with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

The first thing I loved about this story is that the book is a decent size – a lot goes on which makes the story last longer. I found a lot of comparisons between this story and Sophie Kinsella’s other recent novel – My Not So Perfect Life – in the sense that both characters run away from the pressures of their career and fall into a whole new lifestyle.

Both end up in the rural countryside and soon realize that the slower pace of life and smaller things like letting go of your phone or appreciating the beauty in baking offers simple but more rewarding pleasures in life.

Even though Samantha is a high powered laywer in London, I could see some similarities between her life and mine. When I’m not working, I’m blogging. When I’m not blogging, I’m trying to fill up my social life. We do live in a fast paced society where we’re constantly switched on, so the messages and theme behind this story has taught me the joy of switching off.

I loved the intriguing character of Samantha’s love interest – the rugged gardener Nathaniel – and I really enjoyed reading their story unfold with tension and flirting. In fact, at parts, it was rather racy (in a classy way) and is a little bit more racy from what I usually read in Sophie’s novels – but I liked this!

There were some parts of the story that were a little unbelievable, like how Samantha got away with it for so long or even why she decided to play along and not own up – but they were believable enough to still enjoy. There was also a classic twist towards the end regarding Samantha’s career – if you’re a fan of Sophie’s writing, you probably spotted the twist a mile off but it was satisfactory nonetheless.

Some of my favourite parts of the book came with the moments Samanatha spent with Nathaniel’s mum where she learned how to bake. I love the way Sophie described the frustration of not knowing where to start with baking or when something goes wrong – but also the rewarding feeling when something is created through baking. It almost made me want to take up baking myself. Almost.

Overall though I enjoyed this story a lot and will likely re-read it a few times this summer. It’s a light hearted read – with some underlining thought provoking issues – and I don’t doubt that many copies will be read around the pool this summer.

Have you read any of Sophie Kinsella’s books lately? What are your thoughts? Let me know!

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It’s been a while since I’ve popped up a book review and that is honestly because I haven’t been reading as much lately and the books I have been reading haven’t been worthy of a review! But when I spotted Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel – My Not So Perfect Life – on sale recently, I made sure to pick it up.

I’ve enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing for a long time now – I love how she’s unapologetically known as the queen of writing chick lit books – but cool chick lit books that shy away from the typical standards that you’d expect in such a story. She’s not afraid to tackle tougher subjects in her books, yet her writing is almost always relatable on some level or another.

Saying that, I can’t say I ever particularly became a fan of her Shopaholic series and didn’t read past the first couple of books. However, I loved I’ve Got Your Number and Remember Me? is still hands down one of my favourite novels of all time which has resulted in a creased dog eared copy that I read at least once a year.

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My Not So Perfect Life is probably the only recent work of hers I’ve picked up and after reading the blurb, I was curious to read the whole story.

The blurb reads -Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

The grass is always greener… with the right filter.

At first glance, I thought this book was a very on trend take on current issues we all face in the type of society we are, what with always being online. But I immediately thought it was an interesting twist – although the story touches on Katie Brenner creating a certain life via Instagram, her jealousy and envy of her boss – Demeter – is very real, happening right in front of her eyes. So it was an interesting take to indulge in the regular feeling a lot of us often have these days – envy for the picture perfect lives we see online and comparing ourselves to others – but this focuses on the jealousy we feel and develop in real life.

The story mostly focuses on this subject of course and we see a huge transformation in Katie’s life – from being a professional but quite frankly exhausted Londonite to slumming it back home in Somerset, swapping glamourous clothes for whatever is comfortable. The change is very subtle and gradual but we as readers can already see what’s right in front of our eyes – Katie is clearly much happier at home deep down, even though she doesn’t acknowledge this.

Throughout the book we learn more about Demeter too and within a few chapters we quickly learn just how different her life actually is as opposed to the life she portrays. Demeter was an interesting character – it was weird that we met her as a head strong b*tch boss, but midway through the book we’re feeling sorry for her and eventually come to love her as she lets her guard down and becomes a much more relatable person.

Katie’s character sounded almost like my inner monologue at most points – she’s determined to stick to her fast life in London, even if behind the scenes everything is less than perfect – by a lot. She’s got ambition. She’s headstrong and she’s honest. But she’s also very human too. It takes her a good while to see the truth about her own life – let alone her bosses – and though to us it might seem so obvious where her heart lies or where is best for her, she definitely does her fair share of denying.

This book is essentially about our portrayal of ourselves not just online but to everyone in general. We put a mask on and act like our life is perfect, but when the masks come off and the chips fall down, we’re all just pretty much the same and neither of us are better than the other, even if someone may have a higher position at work than you or more followers on Twitter.

There’s a few lovely side stories in this novel too – there’s a little romance, and it’s very interesting to see Katie take on the roll of helping her father and his partner launch a new glamping business. For Sophie’s readership, this part of the book was really quite fascinating, hearing about how Katie advertised the venture and helped promote the business. We are – as bloggers, at least – a society who take matters into our own hands – we plug our blogs relentlessly, we choose creative freelance work over stuffy ‘safe’ jobs and most of us are pretty much obsessed with social media – or at least fascinated by it – and it’s ability to drive revenue and custom.

So overall the smaller storylines in My Not So Perfect Life really helped to round out the book and change things up a bit. My Not So Perfect Life is a story that I’ll certainly read again and again and I think it’ll do well to help us all remember that no matter how jealous or envious we might be of someone, when the masks come off and the truth is revealed, we’re no better than each other – it’s not a competition and really there’s little to be jealous of.

Have you read My Not So Perfect Life yet? Let me know!

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Mental health is an extremely important issue in our day in age, especially when we live in a world where people are lonelier than ever despite having the whole world at their fingertips via a phone or laptop. Luckily, this is where Mental Snapp comes in.

Mental Snapp is a brand new app which bridges the gap between modern technology and mental health. In a nutshell, you use the app on a daily basis to record your feelings by filming videos simply just talking about your feelings and how your day has gone. It’s a great way to get in touch with yourself and is a modern take on checking in on how your doing and feeling.

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The videos are entirely private, but depending on what tags you use, the app comes up with responses and prompts for what to record next. You have the opportunity to rate your mood, name your feelings and add a subject area regarding what you are recording about, be that stress or how well you’re sleeping.

It’s a new way to journal on a daily basis, which is perfect for people with not a lot of time or who are too forgetful to keep a diary. Although you don’t have to use the app daily, you can add reminders and this can be another way to get a grip on your mental health by sticking to a routine.

By tagging videos and adding summaries, you can also view an insights graph which shows you an easy to understand analysis of your feelings. It’s a bit like an online bullet journal!

The prompts are a great idea too. If you feel like you’ve had a pretty average day and don’t really know what to talk about, choosing a prompt is another great way to self-improve also. You can remind yourself of ways to improve your motivation, or talk about the qualities in friends or family that make you feel appreciated. There’s also an SOS section which I love. Here, you can choose prompts to help you next time you’re close to a break down or having a bad day. This section almost makes you become your own therapist as you answer questions about who to reach out for in a crises or what you can do to help yourself calm down.

PERSONAL USE & THOUGHTS
I’ve been using Mental Snapp for a few weeks now and what a difference it has made. Although I have yet to remember to record daily, I have found the process of filming a quick video at the end of my day relaxing and somewhat comforting. I could compare it to talking to a diary or even a friend in an informal way; a gentle recap of my day’s events.

Looking back over my videos has been eye opening too. My videos began with me feeling quite down and heartbroken at the end of my last relationship and I’ve noticed that gradually I’ve begun to look just a little less upset and a little more, well, positive. It’s not a big difference, but it’s the kick I need to know that I am going to be okay.

Additionally, seeing how tired and just downright sad I looked to begin with has given me the confidence to take back control of my life. I don’t want to be that person anymore. My relationships, my ex boyfriend – the things that happen in my life may affect me as a person but they do not define me or define my feelings. Downloading and using this app has helped me get a grip on my mental health and helped me realize that it’s time to take back control of my feelings with help Lexapro.

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In this day in age – when therapists are expensive and our online lives force us to feel lonelier than ever – Mental Snapp is the app we need to take back control of our mental health and help us get a grip on managing it.

My only small issue with the app is where the videos are stored – I found quite quickly I was unable to record more videos unless I free’d up some space on my phone. Anyone with an iPhone will know how irritating this is – and how easy it is to run out of space – so although I don’t know much about phone storage, perhaps it would work out better if the videos were stored in the app only so that it doesn’t affect how much space is needed on your phone.

The video lengths are bite size at two minutes long – which I kind of like. It took me a while to get used to how short they are and for my first few videos I didn’t get to get in everything I wanted to say. I think this is a good thing though as it cuts out the cr*p so to speak – you get right to your point talking about your day. If you want to record a longer video – a ramble about your feelings perhaps – there are other ways to do this.

It does feel a little weird filming yourself at first. Of course confident vloggers likely won’t experience this, but it’s comforting to know that the videos are entirely private to you. You don’t even have to watch them if you don’t want to.

Still, overall, Mental Snapp has quickly become one of my go-to apps on my phone and pretty much does work like a personal diary or therapist in your pocket. It’s such a smart idea and I’m really glad that such an app was developed.

Would you use an app like Mental Snapp to get to grips with your mental health? Let me know with a comment!

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This post has been a long time coming for many different reasons. Reason one being that my ex boyfriend’s post constantly goes haywire and/or missing, so what should have taken a few days for this particular package of clothing to arrive actually took nearly a month before being sent back to the depot without even having reached our door. The second reason was Christmas, lolz. And the third reason was that my (ex) boyfriend and I broke up just after Christmas and have been going through the motions of trying-and-failing to be civil/friends/find time to actually shoot a proper look regarding this post.

But I digress. When Jacamo clothing got in touch asking if we (or my boyfriend at the time anyway) would be happy to review some clothes, I was intrigued as I’ve never really featured men’s fashion on Formidable Joy before. I was more than happy to introduce this feature though and with my ex leaving me in the hands of picking what we were sent to review, I swiftly chose three items based on the fashion of Tyler Joseph of twenty one pilots/rockstars everywhere.

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I picked a classic Jacamo Buffalo check shirt, a Williams & Brown parker jacket and a Joe Browns Xmas Stag shirt because it’s the closest thing I could get to quirky-but-not-feminine-geeky-print and it was great for Christmas.

First of all, the stag shirt was a hit at Christmas. Though the pattern/design was a bit out there for what my ex would normally wear, it really suited him and had the desired effect of looking edgy/scenester geeky rather than just, y’know, geeky. He paired it with skinny fit jeans and, later in the day, an oversized cardigan, bringing the look together. It worked really well and if he’d just worn a pair of fake black-rimmed glasses, he would have looked like he’d come from Brooklyn (or, closer to home, Shoreditch).

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Fashioning my ex-boyfriend into a rockstar with Jacamo clothing | Jacamo | Mens Fashion

The check shirt was probably his favourite item and looked great as it’s so versatile. Worn with skinny fit jeans and converse it looked ideal, but he’s worn it a few times since underneath a plain cardigan and also unbuttoned with a vest underneath. The short sleeves makes it just that bit smarter too, meaning it can easily be worn for smart/casual.

Finally, the parker jacket has been ideal for winter. Although a little baggy, Vincent has loved that it’s a bit bigger as he dislikes wearing coats too tight or fitted. He’s worn it a lot since it’s arrival and commented how thick and comfortable it is, keeping him super warm in the cold weather.

Though the stag shirt will likely only be worn at Christmas time, both the check shirt and parker jacket are the type of items that can work all year round – even together! The parker jacket makes Vincent look like the body double of Tyler Joseph too, which I totally dig of course. What a rock star.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Fashioning my ex-boyfriend into a rockstar with Jacamo clothing | Jacamo | Mens Fashion

Overall, we were both super pleased with the items from Jacamo. Everything fitted really well and was high quality – the parker jacket is something that will last for years and years for example and I’ve been told that Vincent plans to keep it as his go-to winter coat from here on out.

The clothing doubled up perfectly as a birthday/Christmas present for Vincent and I think I’ll be re-visiting the site later this year for my brother’s birthday too. With such affordable prices – and a variety of brands such as Adidas,  Joe Browns and Vans, any man in your life will be spoilt for choice.

Have you ever brought from Jacamo before? What do you think of what we chose? Let me know!

*Please note, although this post includes PR samples, all views and opinions are entirely our own.

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