About Me

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I’m Alex, a freelance Social Media Manager based in North London.

I’ve been managing online communities for six years, working with brands of all sizes – from start-ups to multinationals – across Finance, FMCG, Sport and Technology. I’m just as comfortable working in-house as I am in a client-facing agency role. I’m versatile like that.

Check out my LinkedIn for in-depth info about my skills and work experience.

I’m next available for freelance projects in January 2016, but feel free to get in touch before then! 

On Ditching University

I attended two semesters of university before calling it a day and starting a ‘proper’ job – one with an office and a monthly salary. Not only did I save myself an estimated £8,000,000 in debt, I started my career about three years before everyone else my age. This has obvious benefits, such as:

NickiGIF

But, now I’m nearing the other side of my twenties, I’m starting to wonder if I have made A Huge Mistake.

Because uni isn’t about the degree, is it? Not entirely anyway. It’s about being thrown into a tight space with literally hundreds of new people your own age, equally as clueless and excited about life as you. It’s about trying ungodly booze combinations, exploring new ideologies (“Humanist Society? Where do I sign up!”), getting the stupid out of your system and maybe, just maybe, figuring out what the hell you want from life. 

My 18 year-old self couldn’t have imagined anything more terrifying*.

Tracy

Still, it hasn’t been all spreadsheets and desk drudgery for the past five years. I really love what I do for a living. I’ve met interesting people, made dozens of mistakes and become a more capable person. I can totally cook a roast dinner from scratch! And one thing is true: I’m a helluva lot more confident/brave/sure about myself now compared to when I stepped off the train at King’s Cross five years ago. 

But I can’t help thinking there’s loads I’ve missed by ditching uni – formative experiences like sleeping in questionable foreign hostels, working in a sticky-floored bar or making life-long bonds forged by living in a damp-infested house with seven others.  As I get older, the likelihood of living in a random European city for the summer diminishes. I got bills to pay. 

I’m so grateful for all the experiences that my career has enabled me to have. I am very lucky. But the feeling that I’ve missed out on something essential and wonderful and awful persists. 

*I’m an out-and-proud introvert. And when I first started uni, I took my interaction avoidance skills to the next-level. I was persistently stubborn in my resistance to making friends and generally an all-round poo bum. But that’s a story for another post. 

 

My Day at the Zoo, by Alex Sheppard (aged 23 and a half)

Remember when we came back from half term, we’d get to write stories about what we’d got up to over the holidays? My belated birthday trip would contain enough material for at least FIVE of those. I’d fill out a sheet of A4 and then some.

The BEST sign

My birthday surprise started with a pre-train ride brunch at The Breakfast Club. Not knowing what the day ahead had in store, I ordered the carbiest thing on the menu (pancakes, hash browns, various fried meats slathered in syrup). I’ll spare you an Instagram of TBC, but it’s a nostalgia overload. Particularly liked the My Little Pony wallpaper in the Ladies and the fact that our waitress wore a backwards baseball cap. We’re still not sure if she was being ironic.

Aside from early onset diabetes, brekky bought with it a clue to how we’ll be spending the day:

What could it mean!?

Then it was time to take a train to somewhere called Broxbourne, a mere 25 minutes from Liverpool St. Station. Once we were in the ‘burbs, a mini bus with a very chatty driver (do people ignore boundaries the further you get from Zone 1 or something?) took us to our destination: Paradise Wildlife Park! “So much to see…So much to ZOO!” said the tagline, and they weren’t wrong.

The main draw was a tour of the big cats, followed by afternoon tea (hence the clue). But we had time to kill so took in the main attractions in an eerily empty (of people, I mean) zoo. Like this chinchilla:

These amazing otters:

And a cockroach display that lets you stick your actual head inside. I wasn’t brave enough, but Sian seemed more than happy to try-OH GOD WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO HER

All in all, it was a wonderful belated birthday gift from Sian and brilliant way to start the week. Every Monday should have tigers and handsome zookeepers instead of spreadsheets.

Pictures all taken by Sian. I was too busy cooing over goats.

Butter1

Things that I made: Butter!

I happen to think butter is one of mankind’s greatest achievements, alongside the printing press and surgeons washing their hands. I have it on practically everything.  Granted, I probably have the arteries of a middle-aged Texan but to paraphrase Joy The Baker, who needs slim thighs when you can have Slightly Salted Lurpak on toasted squidgy malt loaf in the morning?

Unlike homemade bread, making butter from scratch isn’t cheaper, tastier or healthier than the stuff in the supermarket. But when I saw a recipe in the brilliant Bust DIY Guide To Life, I had to try my hand at it. Plus, it’s strangely rewarding. Making something basic like butter from scratch has a whiff of Little House On The Prairie which I can’t help but find appealing (hey, I never said I wasn’t a wanker).

And if I can make butter from scratch using an electric whisk with one attachment missing (our kitchen is where utensils go to die), then so the hell can you.

Simply tip a carton of double cream into a bowl and whisk until it starts to look like scrambled egg:

Yummers

Then whisk some more.

And more.

More.

Is it all starting to clump together with a watery liquid running off? Now you can stop whisking. Pour away the buttermilk, and if you want to get fancy save it for pancakes or banana bread. (If it’s more likely to fester in your fridge then just throw it down the sink now.)

Scoop your butter-to-be into a ball with a spatula and rinse under the cold tap until the water runs clear, pressing hard to get the last of the buttermilk out. Scoop it into a container and take a photo for the internet.

At this point you can mash in herbs and shit (I went for black pepper and torn basil) or you can leave it natural in the misguided assumption that it’s healthier.

MAC Cosmetics Makeup Lesson

Blame the omnipresent tagline New Year, New You (which I despise, for the record), my glamorous new colleagues at Wahanda or the fact that I’ve been applying the same shade of eyeshadow like a ham-fisted toddler for pretty much all of 2011, but on Friday afternoon I found myself at a packed branch of MAC Cosmetics in Covent Garden, shaking the rain from my umbrella and waiting to be seated for my first ever makeup lesson.

The idea is that you spend 90 minutes with one of MAC’s trained makeup artists (you know, the lovely ladies with luminous skin who give you lipstick advice at the beauty counter). You tell them what sort of look you want to master and they teach you – the makeup artist will do one side of your face and you’ll do the other, correcting you as you go along.

I wanted to learn a new daytime look, for reasons already stated, and to get over my fear of using foundation. I was a little surprised that my daytime look involved black and silver eyeshadow, plus lashings of smudged black eyeliner and mascara, but the whole thing really worked. She also went through the best brushes to use for each product (apparently fingertips don’t always cut it), was generally very patient and told me I looked like Eva Mendes. I don’t think we can marry, but I’d like to.

The best part? The cost of the lesson (£50, payable in advance) can be redeemed against MAC products at the end of the lesson. Unfortunately £50 doesn’t go all that far in MAC, but I came away with their excellent concealerfinishing powder and a nude lipliner that perfectly matched the colour of my mouth.

Because I’m crap at this blogging business, I completely forgot to take a photo of the end look. Instead, check out the snap of my dressing table / desk after I attempted to recreate the look at home (top of the post). Here’s hoping that the hipster photo filter will make my desk appear a bit more glam…

Taxidermy, Crack Pie & Art Fairs: What I got up to in November

First post in six weeks… Oh dear. So here’s an update of the things that I’ve been up to, just so I can keep my blogger badge. Done something that you think I’d like? Tell me about it so I’m not spending the weekends watching DVDs in bed. 

Rihanna Loud Tour

Image by xo-megane-xo

Rihanna!

I’m not the biggest Rihanna fan (confession: I booked these tickets on the strength of last year’s X Factor performance) but she did put on an excellent show complete with levitating pianos, a pink army truck and those trousers that rip off mid-song.

I do think Ri-Ri needs to take a lesson from Destiny’s Child though, but maybe that’s another blog post altogether. To paraphrase: girl, put some clothes on.

A jar of moles and squirrel lamps

As part of my ongoing birthday celebrations – I managed to eke them out for five days! – my lovely housemate took me to the Grant Museum of Zoology in Bloomsbury. It’s been on my list for ages but thanks to awkward opening hours, I’ve never had a chance to go. If skeletons, preserved animals and taxidermy are your thing, then you will love it.

My favourite? The jar of moles, which looks like something from the world’s worst pick ‘n’ mix shop:

Grant Museum moles

Image by @sianysianysiany

Accidentally continuing the taxidermy theme, we stopped by Riding House Café – home to the famous squirrel lamps – for tea. And cheese. And gingerbread with ice cream and poached pears. Shut up, it was my birthday.

Anyway Riding House Café is beyond gorgeous. I haven’t heard fantastic things about the food (I don’t understand London’s love affair with small plates) but thought has been put into every inch of the décor. I’m already in love with the tomato red banquettes and bathrooms that manage to look shabby and luxurious at the same time.

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The new X Factor judges are amazing; this is why

Like many teen girls who couldn’t sneak out to drink cider in the park on a Saturday night, I’ve been loyal to the X Factor since day one.

Oh, the things I’ve seen:  Kate Thornton attempting to show human emotion. Those terrifying Scottish twins. And the inevitable slaughtering of a Frank Sinatra classic, every sodding year, during Big Band Week.

But one thing remains a constant – the judges are always more entertaining than the acts. So after years of shouting “Why, Louis, WHY?” at the telly, I decided that I wouldn’t bother with the new series of X Factor. The new judges couldn’t possibly compete with Simon’s (chest hair) ego, Danni and Cheryl’s dress-offs or Louis’ incredibly poor judgement.

Well I was wrong. Dead wrong. After sitting through the first X Factor live show last weekend, I can confirm that the new judges are set to outshine the acts in spectacular fashion.

1.       KELENDRIA ROWLAND*

Kelly Rowland, one-third of the greatest girl band in history, is easily my favourite addition to X Factor. She fulfils the basic requirements of a female reality show judge – beauty, charm and the ability to cry attractively – while having that quality Cheryl Cole lacked. No, not a beating heart, but musical talent.

Because wrapped up in the PUT IT DOWN’s and GOD DAWG MOMMA’s, there’s some actual constructive feedback from a legitimate superstar. We’ve all heard Say My Name, right? Case closed.

*Swear on my life, that’s her real name

2.       TULISA FROM N-DUBZ

Like Cheryl, Tulisa is living proof that if you give a girl a decent blowdry and cocktail dress, no one will care about her dubious past. Committed racist assault or happen to be a member of N-Dubz, the band responsible for the biggest hat-wearing cock in the British music industry? No problem! It’s nothing that a makeover won’t solve.

But I suppose Dappy isn’t her fault. And under her stewardship, at least The Bands have a decent crack at not being turned into a Westlife tribute act this year.

3.       GARY BARLOW

Mr. Barlow has taken on his judging role with such seriousness that it’s actually a bit cringey. I mean, I don’t think this guy is really after constructive criticism:

Gary’s insistence on treating X Factor like a real talent contest will no doubt collapse. But until his existential breakdown, his excellent taste in suits means that there’s finally some handsome on the judging panel.

About time.

4.       LOUIS WALSH

I got nothing.