My Stay at The Ned

This review of my recent stay in The Ned may be slightly biased, seeing as I work for the company. However I must say, the experience is entirely different when staying there as a guest. Of course it helps to have friends in high places, i.e. Reception and Guest Relations, who will usually do what they can so that you can really get the best out of your stay. However I’m confident that even if I were staying as a member of the public, I would have enjoyed my night there immensely.

My best friend Kiki and I were scheduled for a package called a Sunday Spruce & Sleepover since Sunday 29th April. Due to financial reasons mainly, we ended up rescheduling it three times so didn’t actually end up staying until Sunday 15th July, the Sunday just gone. It was originally supposed to be for Kiki’s birthday, then we had to move it to 20th May, then 24th June, which ended up being my birthday weekend, until it finally ended up being scheduled for last weekend. The package includes the hotel room, Sunday Lunch for two along with a bottle of house wine, which I substituted for a bottle of prosecco, £50 credit to spend in the spa as well as breakfast for two the next morning. It all comes to £350 in total, so £175 per person. Definitely worth it in my opinion. As it was a package, I did not receive a staff discount on it, but the price is more than reasonable for what you get, and I was definitely well taken care of by my lovely colleagues.

We arrived at the hotel at around quarter past one on Sunday. Check-in time is 3pm, so our room still wasn’t ready. However after being told that I had been upgraded to a Heritage Room from a Cosy Room (three room categories above – a really big deal!), I didn’t really care if I had to wait until 4pm to check in. Sunday Lunch was amazing. It was buffet style for both starters and dessert, however you had to order your main course. And ooh what a main it was, but we’ll get onto that later. I had initially planned to stuff my face with loads of Canadian lobsters, which was one of the starters on offer. However the lobsters are MASSIVE and the plates they give you are kind of small. Way too small for these lobsters anyway. So there was literally no way to fill your plate with them without making it look like you planned to empty out the whole restaurant. Not that I’m usually particularly fussed about this to be honest. However, after placing the one lobster on my plate, along with several pieces of sushi because I looove sushi, it was so much effort to open up the damn lobster once I sat down to eat, that I just couldn’t be bothered to have anymore. It was definitely tasty, especially with the hollandaise sauce that they were serving it with, but it was almost too much work for what you got in the end. Oh and the oysters…ew! Now I love me some seafood, like LOVE it, but oysters are fucking gross. I’d never tried them before. Well actually I tried one a couple of weeks ago while I was drunk, and clearly I was more drunk than I thought I was because I actually thought it tasted good at the time. I was wrong. Oysters do not taste good. They are disgusting.

The main though….ooh what can I say!? I ordered the half roast Banham chicken, served with pigs in blankets and bread sauce, and of course gravy. I’d never tried bread sauce before, but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think it would taste quite as good as it did to be completely honest. The chicken was succulent and immensely tasty and I’d never seen such a colossal Yorkshire pudding in my life! Like seriously, it was almost the size of my head! I’d only had gross Yorkshire puddings in the past, served in my boarding school along with the rest of their slop. So I was a little hesitant about trying it. But I was very impressed, as I was with the rest of food, although I must say the roast potatoes could have been better. They were a little tough, and the quality just wasn’t on the same level as the rest of the meal. Kiki ordered the roast pork belly with crackling and apple sauce. I tried a little with the apple sauce, as I was curious, and I must say this dish was, in fact, on par with mine. I just wish I could have finished it all, but it was such a hefty portion that I just couldn’t force myself, as much as I wanted to. Especially when it came to that chicken. I almost cried seeing it being taken away from the table half finished.

We just about had enough room for dessert (of course!), so up we were again and back at the bar, where all the dishes that were part of the buffet were being displayed. I had a slice of Victoria sponge, a slice of red velvet cake and I picked up one of the cake pops that were on offer. The Victoria sponge and red velvet cake were beautiful, but if you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, then it can be pretty difficult to fuck up two tasty treats such as these. However I unfortunately did not get to sample the cake pop, because I just could not eat anymore at the time, so I put it in the fridge in our hotel room. But then I had work the next day, and still didn’t feel like it when we were leaving, so I reluctantly let Kiki have it along with the two she had for herself. As much as I wanted mine, because I’ve never tried cake pops before either, I don’t always have such a sweet tooth these days. However Kiki most considerately assured me that she would call me when she was eating it so that she could let me know what it tasted like. The bitch.

Anyway, lunch was amazing. One of my colleagues in Reception had called me to say my room was ready, so we went to collect our keys and popped up there quickly. Because we did have to wait quite a while to order our mains, we were cutting it pretty fine for our spa treatments at this point, which were booked at 3.30pm. But I just had to take a look at this room. Although I had been given a tour of quite a few of these rooms before, there was just something different about seeing the incredible super king-size bed and knowing that you were going to be sleeping it, looking at the enormous television whilst knowing that you were going to be watching it and staring besottedly at the inviting bathtub in the bathroom and knowing I’d be getting all up in it with some suds later. Which I did. It was all I could do to stop myself from clambering up onto the bed and jumping up and down like a little kid.

After a quick once-over of our mini palace, we headed downstairs to the spa for our pedicures. They treatments I had booked were called the Ultimate Cowshed pedicures; they were 75 minutes long and included a scalp and shoulder massage as well. The actual treatment was amazing, and I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have all the horrible dead skin sloughed off my neglected heels, but I was a little disappointed to see that the lovely “Pink Fizz” colour I had chosen had started to chip away by later that evening. Although this may have been partly my fault, as I did forget that I had shellac on my toes already, so they had to squeeze in a removal for me, meaning my therapist probably rushed the colour portion of the appointment. Booking extra time for a removal, or removing the shellac beforehand myself, is something that would have been embedded in my brain whilst I was working as a Customer Care Coordinator for Cowshed when I was on the Beauty Team. However, having been over a year since those days, apparently these things just don’t occur to me anymore. Ohh well, at least my feet feel soft and pleasant again. Well, as pleasant as feet can feel I guess.

After a while of letting our tootsies dry, Kiki and I changed into our swimming gear and went back down to the spa to have a swim in the indoor pool. The pool wasn’t quite as warm as I had hoped, but after thrashing around for a couple of minutes, it soon became quite comfortable. The sauna, steam room and hammam were much better though. Especially the steam room. Kiki kept saying that we should have put leave in conditioner in our hair beforehand, so we could have a nice steam and a hair treatment at the same time. Crazy she might be, but she definitely had a point there. A nice face mask wouldn’t have gone amiss either. Hmmm, there’s always next time. Surprise surprise, it was my first experience in a hammam as well, but it was not all it was cracked it to be compared to the steam room and sauna. It essentially just felt like a really warm room with a little bit of steam. We were only in there for a few minutes right at the end, before having another quick steam and departing.

When we went back to the room, there was a bottle of prosecco and a nice little chocolate mousse waiting for us as a Happy Belated Birthday to us both! This was thanks to my pal Darren in Guest Relations. Like I said, friends in high places, wink wink. So we didn’t really do anything after that but chill, drink prosecco and watch Love Island before falling asleep in the giant cloud of bliss. Despite being up watching TV and talking until 4am, I don’t think I’ve had such an amazing sleep since…well since the last time I stayed at The Ned!

So overall, an amazing stay. The Ned really is a great hotspot for the high flyers who can afford it regularly.  I am sad to say does not apply to me, at least not yet. Although the property is frequented by quite a few white prejudiced hotel guests, who were staring at me and my friend and clearly wondering who let the niggas in, this did not matter as the hotel staff were very welcoming in contrast. Ohh yeah, I’m being serious. This was probably the only slight dampener on the experience; one old lady was even talking about me and my outfit right in front of me, obviously not too impressed. I was wearing a pretty short backless dress, but so fucking what? It’s the weekend, it’s 30 degrees and oh yeah, I can wear what the fuck I like. I didn’t let this ruin my mood too much though. I must admit, it did ruffle my feathers a little bit at first. But it is a five star hotel in the centre of London, so unfortunately these kinds of visitors are to be expected. I just say fuck them. Fuck them, and fuck anybody else who has that mentality. They are not worth any of the energy I would usually muster up to react in anger, especially when this is energy I could be using to do productive things to better myself instead. Sorry for all the F-bombs, but as a black woman this kind of prejudice is obviously a subject I am particularly passionate about.

I got this kind of vibe when we went up to the roof for a hot minute as well on Sunday evening. If you know anything about The Ned, then you might know that The Roof Bar is one of the main reason that most people want to go there. I don’t quite understand it myself, because London is filled with other rooftop bars and restaurants, some of which you can smoke shisha in as well. Way more fun than what we have going on at The Ned, in my personal opinion. But some of these people just make no sense, you know. It was just funny, because this particular part of The Ned is a members only area, so is exclusive to members of The Ned and hotel guests staying in certain room categories. Because of this, so many people were so desperate to get into The Roof Bar. We just changed the rules in April so access would be limited to only certain hotel guests, in order to accommodate the increasing amount of members, as it isn’t the biggest space. As a result, my team and I have found ourselves dealing with a whole heap of complaints from the unlucky guests who won’t be able to access the roof during their stay, insisting that this was “the only reason they booked in the first place”. Well that’s a waste of money just to floss for the ‘gram. So it was funny to see that Kiki didn’t give a rat’s ass about the roof. I made the mistake of forgetting to tell her that you can’t take pictures up there, because those are the rules for the members only spaces. It’s a Soho House thing; it’s the exact same in all the other Houses as well. But she took a couple of photos and was abruptly told that she couldn’t do that up there. So I guess all the guests that do plan to floss for the ‘gram or their Snapchat are going to be bitterly disappointed. We couldn’t get a seat on the roof though. It wasn’t packed, but all the tables and chairs were occupied, leaving us no choice but to head back down. When I asked her what she thought of the space later on and she confirmed that she didn’t think much of it, these exact words were her explanation: “It’s too hot, there’s nowhere to sit and you can’t take pictures.” I can’t argue with that Kiki, I cannot argue with that.

 

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Cry and Carry On

Okay this is going to be slightly different from my usual content, but sometimes you do just need to get certain shit off your chest. So it’s rant time!

You know when you’re just feeling, not exactly shitty, but just “meh” for no reason? I mean, I do have reasons. But the things bothering me today are the same things that bother me nearly every other day, so it just seems a bit pathetic. However for whatever reason, each issue seems to have intensified in my brain by ten. I just kind of feel like I have so many ambitions, so many things I want to have achieve for myself, both professionally and personally, that I’m just about ready to explode. I’m not where I want to be financially or in my career or finished my book. I haven’t felt good about the way I look in a couple of months, but yet I haven’t lost the weight I want to lose. We’re literally only talking a little bit of weight on my stomach I’m trying to get rid of, but ladies I’m sure you feel me. If you don’t look the way you want to, even just slightly, it does fuck with your self-esteem. I need money for a new wardrobe for work, but I don’t have the money and couldn’t even tell you when I would have it. I haven’t even gotten my driving license yet (although now I’ve booked my test, I’m hoping that is only round the corner).

After I get my license and a car, not to mention insurance, then I can focus on saving up to move out. I was originally going to take my mother’s advice and just stay at home until I have enough to buy my own place, rather than waste money over the years renting. But I had forgotten about how much living with my parents, as much as I love them, drives me crazy. After my mother and I had the argument (see Old School Nigerians vs. Westernised Nigerians post), I decided that I was just not in the stage where I could put up with all of it 24/7. I love my family very much, but I feel like us being around each other all the time does nothing but outline our differences and our issues. It’s also just the little things, such as not being able to come home after a long day and blast out some music. Honestly, it sounds like such a minor sacrifice. But for those of you who live alone or in a much more chilled household, I don’t need to tell you how much better it makes you feel after a stressful today, to turn your favourite tune on full blast and pour yourself a large glass of prosecco. Or whatever might be your favourite tipple.

Anyway, as I’m sure you can tell, I have a lot on my mind. I really wish there was a manual on growing up. Of course the majority of lessons need to be learnt through your own journey and experiences. But still, it would have been nice to have a “Life For Dummies” book to have as a back-up. Am I alone in this by the way? Do any of you ever feel like you just want to do so much, buy so many things etc., that you just get so overwhelmed and essentially end up mentally saying, “fuck it” and just not doing anything? Well, maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. I’m definitely persevering with my goal to get my license this year, regardless of how many times I’ve been knocked down. I’m still eagerly pursuing a career in Entertainment PR, being sure to exhaust any possible opportunities where I can get my foot in the door, even if it has to be a receptionist position at a PR agency to start with. Ideally I would like to move out to my company’s Communications Team and keep it in the family, so fingers something opens up soon. So yeah, I am definitely pursuing some things.

But all that just doesn’t feel like enough. I see so many people making moves these days, and it just makes me think I’m really not doing as much as I should be. I have so many great ideas that I could take really far, but I feel like I’m dedicating all my time to my job and leisure. Of course when you have a full time job, spending more than half your time at work is hardly avoidable. However whenever I do have time off, I tend to just relax and do nothing and then feel like a terrible lazy slob when I go back to work and realise I’ve done nothing with my days off. It is difficult though; because when you’re on the go all the time, temptation to do absolutely fuck all is just too real. I would say I currently dedicate about 40% of my free time to writing. Not too terrible, seeing as I would say it was about 20-30% not long ago. However this still does not work. It definitely needs to be pulled up to a good 80-90% at least. I blame television. This is what I get for starting to watch Love Island. I shudder to think what will happen when I finally start watching Atlanta and The Chi.

I’d like to thank you all, and of course WordPress, for being my therapist for today. I very much appreciate it. With all this craziness going on lately, not to mention living in the era of social media where you see all these Instagram stars living their best life whilst you’re scanning Tesco daily for lunches that average no more of about £2 a day, it can be very easy to get down in the dumps and a little depressed. But I urge you all to find an outlet where you can escape, let all the bullshit out and then carry on.

So I Finally Started Watching Love Island…

…and I’m officially obsessed!

I’ve been considering giving Love Island a try since I first heard about it, but as I’m sure all my fellow binge-watching folks out there will agree, a decision to take on a new television programme is not something you enter into lightly. It certainly isn’t one that you make without thorough research into said television show first. You see, deciding to watch a new show isn’t quite the same as watching a movie you haven’t seen before. It is all a very complex process, from the initial idea of watching the television show to finally switching on the first episode. This process usually involves reading reviews from various websites, asking the opinion of different friends, family members or colleagues that watch it, as well as some serious private contemplation on your part. I know this may sound insane if you are not really a television person, but after watching Season 1 of Power and being unable to continue, I refuse to just dedicate myself to a new show anyhow. Yes I know, Power’s supposed to be the shit. I do like the premise of it, however, unless Angela dies, I just don’t know if I can bring myself to go back to it. But more on that another day.

After my extensive research, I decided to give Love Island a go now that they have put it on Netflix. For those of you that don’t know, Love Island is a reality TV show on ITV2 that started in 2015. The easiest way I can think of to describe it is Big Brother meets Ex On The Beach. The show takes place in a beautiful villa in Spain during the summer, and roughly ten or eleven singletons are thrown in there in order to compete against each other to find love. At the end of the competition, the winning couple are awarded a £50, 000 prize. So you essentially get an all expenses paid, six week vacation in a five star villa in beautiful, sunny Spain, where you just get to talk to hot guys, drink and chill by the pool all day. Then if you’re lucky, you could end up leaving with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and £50, 000. Not a bad deal, right?

An entire season of Love Island is spread out over the course of six weeks, and is shown every day on TV. This would be the Big Brother-esque part of the show. The contestants don’t have any form entertainment apart from each other, so no TVs, phones or radios etc., with the exception of the phones that they are provided with for the duration of the competition. These phones alert them with a text message whenever there is any kind of update in the show, i.e. a new arrival, a couple are instructed to go on a date, etc. This of course would be the Ex on The Beach portion, the contestants phones being a substitute for the famous ‘Tablet of Terror’. The players all have to partake in various different challenges set out for them, another example of a text message that would be sent to their phones.

I think the first moment I knew I might be sold when I began watching the reality show, was when I saw that Jon Clark from The Only Way Is Essex was one of the contestants on the first season. Oh yes, I do realise that Love Island currently in the middle of a new season. However I am one of those people that have to watch anything new right from the beginning. Even if it’s just a reality show, I need to start from Season 1. I mean, who ever heard of starting something in the middle? That shit’s crazy to me. I think the only television shows that are exempt are the ones you’ll just throw on when there’s nothing else on TV, e.g. Come Dine With Me. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Come Dine With Me but you’d never catch me sitting down to watch it from Season 1. There are way too many episodes for a start.

As I was saying, Jon Clark was on the first season of Love Island, so I knew instantly I would at least be completing Season 1. I love Jon. He’s one of my favourites on good old TOWIE, and to be honest I had no idea that he was on Love Island at all, let alone that this was actually his rise to fame and the reason he joined the cast of TOWIE in the first place. Jon may get irate very quickly and easily, but inside he’s really a sweet guy made of honey. Because of this flaw, some people think he’s a bit of a dickhead. However I can relate to not being able to control your temper sometimes, although I do consider myself a lot more mature now.

Despite the fact that I loved watching Jon in it, not to mention his girlfriend-at-the-time Hannah who he had partnered up with, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the show yet. I mean I was only a couple of episodes in. Watching a new show is a bit like entering into a new relationship, you play it cool at first and act really laid back. When you’re a good few months in, then you can show your true wacky, crazy self. So I wasn’t about to be raving about how good Love Island was when I was only a few episodes in. With that being said, I am now two seasons in and am officially happy to confirm that I do indeed Love Island! There’s never really a period where it gets dull; they always seem to know when to mix it up and I like that. It’ll be smooth sailing for a bit and everyone’s all happy, then BOOM: a new arrival. It’ll be slightly too chilled for just a few moments, then BOOM: someone gets dumped from the villa. Sun, sex and six packs, the drama never ends. What is not to love!?

Anyway, I’m not going to go into detail about the contestants and what happened, because let’s face it: if you watch it, you already know and if you don’t watch it, you probably don’t care. However I will explain why I like it specifically for those of you that think reality TV is the trashiest, most “rachet”-est thing since…well, since the slang term “ratchet” was invented. I completely respect that opinion; I’m not going to lie, reality TV is trash. But occasionally, trash can be just so entertaining to watch. I do have limits though; I draw the line at shit like Teen Mom, Toddlers and Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. However I do consider Love Island to be slightly different. I find the concept intriguing, I mean think about it. When you meet someone in real life this is usually how it goes: you exchange numbers, talk for a bit, meet up for a date or sex, depending on the vibe and the person, you keep seeing each other for a few months, perhaps an average of three or four dates a month. Then it progresses, and you’re seeing each other more often, perhaps meeting friends or family members, and somewhere along the line, you eventually make it official. However in Love Island, you meet someone and then you essentially spend every waking moment together. I mean, every moment.

To be honest, the fights between the couples don’t surprise me in the slightest. Judging from what I know about guys, if I had to be in the company of one every moment of every day, I’d definitely have more than a few choice words for you after a while. One of the rules of the competition is that when you’re coupled up with someone, you have to share the same bed, even if it is more on a friend vibe (because unfortunately not everyone meets someone). This means that they wake up together, get dressed together, eat together, they chill together, because of course they need to get to know each other and there’s nothing else to do anyway, they brush their teeth together, and then of course they go to sleep together. I know that if you are genuinely enjoying someone’s company that this can be a good experience, however, best believe there will be moments that I will want to kick him in the face. I’m just saying. It’s only natural; anytime humans are around each other constantly, arguments are almost inevitable. When I used to live with my best friend, we would occasionally have little arguments about tiny little things. However, both before and after we lived together, we never had any arguments. It is wondrous how much of a difference just a little bit of space can make.

Although initially the biggest motivation for competing would naturally be the 50 Gs, it seems that there were quite a few pairs that did genuinely find love. So I guess the aim of the show does work for anyone who is genuinely looking. From what I’ve found out, a few couples have ended up getting engaged and even having children. A couple of them broke up with the people they were coupled with on the show, but ended up getting with one of the other contestants. So it’s nice to know that some of them did get their happily ever after in one way or another. However it is incredibly sad that the same cannot be said for the beautiful Sophie Gradon, who was one of the most memorable contestants on Season 2 of Love Island. A couple of weeks ago, the tragic news of her untimely death was brought to the attention of the media. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, however they have said that there was no sign of “foul play”, leaving many people to speculate that it was suicide. I personally feel that describing it as a tragedy is too much of an understatement. I may not have known her, but Sophie seemed an incredibly intelligent, kindhearted and amazingly free-spirited woman. I heard the news of her death before I had started watching the show, but once you make your way through Season 2 and watch her more and more, it just continues to weigh on your heart. I know they will probably never read this, but my still heavy heart goes out to both her family and her friends.

I am yet to start on Season 3, so I definitely haven’t made my way to the season that’s currently showing on TV. However there has been a huge outrage from a lot of viewers at the lack of diversity in Season 4 of Love Island. There is one black woman in the entire cast, who from what I have seen is gorgeous, but apparently she hasn’t found love so far and this gradually seems to be chipping away at her confidence. Not to mention that the remainder of the cast seem to consist of supremely sculpted, chiselled, muscled, ripped men and perfectly preened, plumped, nipped and tucked women, who all look exactly the same. No seriously, look it up and play a fun little game of Spot the Difference. I bet you’ll still be playing by the time this season of Love Island is over. Now I completely agree with all these opinions; my best friend and I were half-joking regarding the plight of Rachel in Season 1. Rachel was the token black girl of the first season, and she, of course, got no love. Which brings me back to the point I was about to make. I completely agree with all that is being said, however the lack of diversity on reality television shows in Britain is nothing new at all. Look at all the shows that are currently on TV: Made in Chelsea, Geordie Shore, Ex on the Beach, Love Island. For those of you that don’t partake, please just look up previous cast members on Google and tell me how many non-white contestants you see. Because from what I’ve seen previously, you are lucky if you ever get two in a season at once. Now I don’t think that the creators and producers are being racist per se. I just think that it doesn’t enter their ignorant minds that the public might want to watch someone on television who isn’t white and perfect looking. Well folks, I have news for you…we do!

So I assure you, I am not making light of an issue which I truly believe is a serious one. But it is difficult for me to share the same level of outrage as some of my fellow viewers because this all occurred to me years ago. This certainly didn’t begin in 2018, and I unfortunately I don’t believe it will end this year either. Not when it comes to British reality television in general anyway. However with Love Island specifically, what with the huge amount of backlash they’ve recently received, not just from the public but from previous contestants as well, I am confident that the cast of Love Island 2019 will look incredibly different. Mark my words: instead of the usual porcelain dolls along with the token black girl and the one mixed race guy, there’ll be five white girls/guys (one of which will be bigger than the average size), two black girls and two black guys (one of which will be bigger than the average size, take your pick), and perhaps one Asian guy just to go crazy.

You know what, if I generally thought I could handle the aftermath of it, I might even consider applying for next year myself. I do believe it might be the perfect time for a black girl! However, whilst I may feel that I’ll be okay in theory, I know that it will most likely be a different story when it comes to actually doing it. So being a future Love Island contestant may not be in the cards for me, which is probably for the best. However I very much hope that they do improve when it comes to their lack of diversity, as well as any other television programme being shown to millions of influential viewers. But nevertheless, Love Island definitely have me sold as a spectator in this juicy saga for the time being. Keep that shit coming ITV2!