Saturday, 12 May 2012

V is for volunteering

When I was younger, I enjoyed dancing, swimming and gymnastic lessons and when I moved to London a few years after Uni I was aware that I had no discernible hobbies to keep me busy. I found Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden and went with my housemate for a one-hour Tap lesson each Saturday morning.

Before long, though, the idea of volunteering started to appeal, whether this was with the elderly, teens, children… anything. I think I wanted to feel part of the community I’d moved in to, and I wanted to do something with my free time as I was fed up with going home every night after working late and procrastinating at the weekends.
I remember the A-Z Guide to Lambeth coming though the letterbox and I immediately turned to the ‘V’ section as I wanted to see what volunteering opportunities there were in the area. I was constrained by my busy day job at PwC at the time and was looking for something I could do for an hour or two at the weekend.

Anyway, I found the Baytree Centre in the book which is just a 5 minute walk from my flat and was built after the Brixton riots especially for women and girls from families not originating in the UK. They offer supportive courses for mums (English, Computer Studies, Literacy etc.) and all kinds of clubs for the girls -cooking, street dance, maths club, science club and loads more. I’ve been mentoring on Saturday mornings for two years and adore it. I love having something to get up for on a Saturday morning.

I have a wonderful relationship with my mentee. She is 11, on her way to high school, and absolutely hilarious. Her family is originally from South America, although she was born in the UK. She struggles a bit with Maths, so we mainly concentrate on her homework or practice SATs papers. She’s funny without even realising it. It’s been so amazing to see her grow over two years and become more comfortable in herself and confident in her work. When I met her she was a shy little squirt with High School Musical glasses and a love for gel pens. Now she proclaims that ‘boys are stupid’ and is totally over glitter and sequins. She has high expectations of herself and loves times tables tests at school. I’m so proud of her!

I often get the feeling that she sees me as really old, which makes me wonder how I would have seen myself at that age. At 11, someone of 27 would have seemed so grown up and it scares me how quickly time passes. I think, from about aged 20 onwards we feel much younger than we are, and I don’t think that feeling changes for the rest of your life!

Dear Diary: Woke up...

Woke up 8.40am, went to school...


Woke up and went to school...


Woke up and went to school...


Woke up. Went to school...


Woke up, went to school...


Woke up, went to school...


Woke up, went to school...


Woke up, went to school...


Woke up, went to school. I don't know why I always write that at the begging [sic] of a diary entry. So from now on, I'll say something different! ...


I wakened, and went to watch netball...

Friday, 11 May 2012

Dear Diary: 08/01/2002 (aged 17)

Can’t believe I was that drunk - how ridiculous! Have decided that when I go out next, only 2 drinks for me!

The FUNNIEST thing in my life happened 2nite. I rewrote Lisa’s French hwk during the hols (coursework - a letter to Santa) and I added on the end, as a joke, “Je voudrais faire l’amour avec toi”. And she didn’t realise and she gave it in!

I have been laughing for hours cos it’s sooooooo funny. Can’t wait to c what the teacher says 2morrow - wonder if she’ll be angry or not??

I hate Miss Brameld, she won’t choose a new form rep, even though my time should be over now, so I keep having to collect the reg[ister].

Bye!! J

Love Katie Sotiris

PS: Still can’t believe Lisa gave in the work! Hehe J

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Dear Diary: 15/03/1996 (aged 11)

Woke up, went to school, had a supply teacher called Mrs Pocock. She was ok. Ashley beat me in the times table competition in 3x5! I was so angry and upset. Watched the Growth video. It was quite funny, but Mrs Huang didn't think so! Came home, went to show dances at the Church and came home after.

I can remember this day. I was good at maths, Ashley, who I sat next to was terrible. In a class quiz, I was so nervous I clammed up and Ashley took a stab at 3x5 - I was so embarrassed to lose.

The growth video was my primary school's stab at sex education, depicting a french family playing volleyball on a nudist beach. Yep.

Get serious, get a career.

So my third year at Uni was approaching and I hadn’t given much thought to the inevitable Career. Luckily, I must have been feeling quite motivated as I ambushed the campus’ Career Service and embarked upon a multitude of aptitude and personality tests to try and point me in a direction.
At that time my course mate had returned from a summer interning at PwC, one of the big four financial services firms, in audit, and was raving about it. She liked the corporate atmosphere, the three years additional training for the accounting qualification and the structured graduate programme you’re put on (as well as all the nice looking young men).

Being easily influenced, I did a bit of research and decided, in the absence of a better idea, a professional qualification would be a decent route. Accountancy seemed to be an obvious step on from Maths and I thought getting a bit of ‘business acumen’ would set me on a good track, wherever I ended up in the future. I interviewed for about four firms - a real mixture - and was accepted onto the graduate programme at PwC.

To keep it concise, I spent five years there, completed my exams and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. A couple of years later I was promoted to Manager in the audit/assurance part of the firm. I loved it and made some great friends, however the departure of some of my pals prompted me to look at my senior colleagues to decide whether that was the path I wanted to follow. The working hours were terrible (although I was always quite accepting of that) and the salary only really compensated for the long hours once you were really senior - around 15 years in the firm - and I didn’t have any desire to make it that far. The work/life sacrifice was too much.

Here we are now, in my first role out of practice. I work for a large UK retailer in business planning and analysis. It suits me really well and I like making cakes for my colleagues.

Dear Diary: 06/06/1999 (aged 14)

I hate Lisa sooo much! She is allowed to do so much that I wasn't allowed to do at her age e.g. get Mizz, ears pierced, and mum hasn't stopped her shaving her legs when she knows that she does. It's so unfair. How does she think that I feel?


Dear Diary: 17/04/1999 (aged 14)

Today I didn't do anything, I basically slept, ate, took a shower, went to Sutton with Lisa. I wanted to get Westlife's CD but nowhere had it. Lisa got Mizz* - she wasn't supposed to so I can blackmail her and threaten to tell mum. She is such a cow. She's really rude.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Dear Diary: The Lisa Chronicles, 1999

15/08/1999 (aged 14, Lisa 12)

I can't BELIEVE that Lisa read my diary. I will never forgive her. I hate her for all eternity! I bet she read all of it. I just don't believe it. It meant that she goes through my room! She said that the last time she looked in it was last month. Yeah RIGHT. I HATE her! I wish she would DIE. I hate EVERYTHING about her. Living with her is worse than HELL! 'Painted Babies'* was really interesting. I will laugh at Lisa's funeral!

* Television show

30/09/1999 (aged 15, Lisa 12) - 6 weeks later

I still can't forget the fact that Lisa read my diary. I know now that I can never trust her. I bet she read it all, not just what she said that she read. It's like she has taken the private thoughts out of my head. She betrayed my trust and I can never forgive her for that. Everyone was impressed that me and Mel met Phats & Small. I'm tired but it's only 9.22. Goodnight!

28/10/1999 (aged 15, Lisa 12) - 4 weeks later

Lisa's been reading this. F*** off, you crap bitch! I hate you, stay out of my life. I know you're reading this RIGHT NOW. Please, this diary is private!

Did paper round & shop with mum.

16/11/1999 (aged 15, Lisa 12) - 3 weeks later

Lisa you've been reading my diary! I can tell coz it's all torn up. You're not even supposed to be in my room. How COULD you? Sure, I read your diary once but only ONCE. I swear, I can't trust you, can I? If you have read this, I will be able to tell, cos I have all things in here to see if they are moved or touched. I suppose you've seen the Buffy book too! Oh well, it's your loss. If you've read this, I want you to tell me. I won't be angry at all, I just want to see if you confess. I will know that you've done it anyway, but I want 2 c if you'd tell me. Love, Katie xx

Dear Diary: 19/04/1997 (aged 12)

We went to the cinema today and it was so sad again. He looked so gorgeous at the beginning (sic). I bought Big and it had loads about Leonardo DiCaprio in it. I stuck it on my noticeboard.

I got a new purse. There is a picture of him inside.

Dear Diary: 17/04/1997 (aged 12)

On Saturday Cath and I, Katie and Hannah are going to the cinema to see Romeo and Juliet. I can’t wait. I totally love Leonardo and everyone else does but I think my feelings for him are much bigger than everyone elses. I just can’t wait, I am so excited. I love him!

Best thing today: Getting the words to Love Fool. Tomorrow is a mufty day.

Dear Diary: 12/04/1997 (aged 12)

Today Michelle came over and we went to see Romeo and Juliet at the cinema and it was the saddest film I’ve ever seen, but the best. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely gorgeous (sic) and I can’t stop thinking about him. I think I will dream about him. Michelle goes back to school on Thursday! Lucky!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Beauty products I'm loving at the moment

We've come a long way since the days of Boots No. 17 Heather Shimmer lippie, circa 1996! For those who don't remember, it was the lipstick of the moment- a fetching lilac with a strong silver shimmer, which was enough to make even the liveliest gal look like she'd passed over.

Here are my must-have-holy-grail-can't-live-without products:

Dream Matte Mousse in Fawn 

I have been bestowed (cursed?) with terribly oily skin, which needs to be powdered several times a day to avoid resembling a highly reflective surface. I fear one day a bystander will use their reflection in my face to touch up their own makeup - “Can you hold still please? I’m nearly done”.

Though my own blogger-stalking, I know that DMM is definitely not for everyone, particularly those with drier skins - I imagine it would cake terribly and probably worsen the dry/tight feeling. Those firmly attached to liquid foundations might find it hard to get used to the very dry, almost powdery formulation.

I buff it into the skin with a Real Techniques stippling brush and find it gives me a flawless matte look, with good coverage, and is a perfect base for powdered bronzer/blusher.

Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer

This is my best beauty find ever. EVER. Three cheers for Urban Decay!

I saw this product featured in a few magazines and thought it would be worth a try, as due to my said oil production (refer above), my eyeshadow would have migrated into my eyelid creases by lunchtime, requiring a complete reapplication for after-work activities.

Applying this creamy product before applying eye makeup creates a base for the shadow to cling to, in addition to absorbing oil from the eyelid. I’m not exaggerating when I say my eyeshadow lasts long into the evenings now and doesn’t slip or slide at all any more. I find it also improves the intensity of the colour, compared with application onto bare skin.

I’ve recommended this product to a number of my friends, who have then passed the recommendation to their friends, so the love seems to be universal for this one. Huzzaah!

Revlon Lip Butters - Cotton Candy and Strawberry Shortcake

The most blogged about lip products ever?

I initially rejected the hype and instead opted for L’Oreal’s Rouge Caresse range. I bought six of their colours because I liked the sheer but pigmented formulation. HOWEVER after a few weeks of use I started to notice my lips were really dry, peeling and sore. Since these were the only lip products I was using at the time (and I generally have quite robust skin) I had to deduce the Rouge Caresse was causing it. I have sent them back to L’Oreal, response pending. Shame!

So, I’ve joined the herd and bought lip butters in the two light-ish pink shades. So far, so good! I’m really liking them - they are much more moisturising than the RC’s and I really like a slight shimmer in my lip products, which the LB’s have and the RC’s didn’t.

Picture: Cotton Candy (left), Strawberry Shortcake (right)

 Miss Glamorazzi has posted a great comprehensive review of these lip butters.

Look Blusher in Flirt

This is a lovely corally-pink with some gold shimmer shot through. The blusher is super-pigmented and easy to apply (being careful not to o/d!).

 I bought this on Lily’s recommendation.

Famous by Sue Moxley Eyeshadows

I love the pigmentation, and the colour range is a gorgeous mixture of nudes and brights. I currently own the CafĂ© Culture palette, a shimmery taupe (Shade 3), browny purple (Shade 15), the bright bright purple (Shade 12) and the shimmery black (Shade 18).

For those who love a strong shimmer/glossy look to their eyeshadows (which I LOVE for a night out), these shadows are superb. Score!

Available from selected Superdrugs.

Urban Decay’s Naked Palette

Who hasn’t heard of this palette?? You can tell from the picture which colour I like best for everyday wear, but the matte browns are also great for eyebrows.

I wouldn’t say I’d repurchase this palette, as I just don’t use enough of the colours (the gold-y ones in the middle are too warm for me), however it has definitely persuaded me to buy ‘Sin’ as a single shadow (provided it’s stocked as one).

Avon Mega Impact a.k.a SuperShock Gel Eyeliner

I have a lot of love for this eyeliner - a gel in pencil form, as it’s the only one I’ve used which STAYS PUT all day and has fantastic pigmentation. It’s reasonably priced too - yay!

It was Pixiwoo’s recommendation on their YouTube channel whichencouraged me to first buy this a couple of years ago.

(Disclaimer: I’m no beauty professional, just a long-standing product junkie!)

Dear Diary: 24/04/1999 (aged 14)

Went to Sutton with Mum & Lisa. Got 2 tops from Bay Trading, a red one and a black one. Westlife were on CD:UK this morning but they didn't do the best verse. BOO HOO. I [heart] Shane, he's a Sex God!

Dear Diary: 19/04/1999 (aged 14)

Lisa got her saxaphone today and its driving me up the wall! I'm handing my tech[nology homework] in tomorrow. Woo hoo! Mum's buying me Westlife's single. Shane is rather nice isn't he! Catherine didn't get into ball girling. I think she's glad. I went to rounders club & I was bowler.

My sea monkeys are all mating.

Dear Diary: 09/03/1997 (aged 12)

Mothers Day. Today we cleared out our pond and there was some toads and frogs mating, a newt called Ricky and a toad called Fraga. I gave mum her picture and she liked it. Its now in the loo.

We don't need no education...

I went to a girl’s grammar school in Surrey and stayed there through sixth form (A-Levels). I liked that school, but felt more comfortable as I progressed through the years. Starting at an all-girl school was terrifying (mainly due to my year seven form tutor), and the school was quite traditional in that you had to stand up whenever a teacher came into the room and wear a thick blue kilt which came below the knee. Settling in took me a good few years.

Choosing a degree subject was tricky as I’d never been a ‘life-planner’ and find it difficult to look long-term. I didn’t have a clue at 17/18 what I wanted to become in the future - I was thinking perhaps a teacher or journalist, so I thought the logical choice was to continue with the subjects I was good at and enjoyed which, at the time, were Psychology and Maths.

I chose these for different reasons - Psychology I enjoyed because the teacher was fantastic, whereas Maths seemed to fit with the way my brain works. Yes I found it difficult, but never had trouble grasping the concepts (like algebra) like many people do. I quite like the abstract nature of it!

A joint honours degree in Psychology and Maths isn’t common, and there were about four universities which offered it. The Birmingham campus I just remember being really ‘grey’, so I chose Reading, which was far enough away from home to move there, but close enough to visit home every so often. I think I only put two options on my UCAS form, so it was lucky I got the grades!

So I spent a year on the joint honours course, and it was fine, but I found that the subjects didn’t really mesh well together. Joint honours degrees are tricky as you invariably end up doing about 60% of each full degree, and you need to be able to constantly switch your mindset from one subject to the other. I found Psychology a lot closer to biology than I was expecting, which I didn’t really enjoy so I thought I’d see which set of first-year exams I performed better in. It turns out I did better in Maths, so decided to transfer to the single-honours degree.

I can say for certain that I made the right decision as I really enjoyed the rest of my degree and left with a first class degree in ‘06.

Dear Diary 28/02/1997 (aged 12)

Today was the school disco. I danced with a boy but he had his hands on my butt which was a bit disgusting! Catherine might come over tomorrow. Hannah snogged a boy! (But then he went off with someone else). Hannah was really upset. Maths was boring today.

Best thing today:  Lucy’s house before disco.

Dear Diary: 26/02/1997 (aged 12)

I seem to have mislayed (sic) my pencil case. I am really worried. Lucy, Catherine or Megan may have picked it up, but I don’t want to go in that classroom if there are older girls in there. I hope I don’t have to pay 20p to get it back from lost property.

Best thing today: I am looking forward to the Friday disco on Friday!

Monday, 7 May 2012


I know it's a terrible photo of me (and I have dinner around my chops), but I was pretty devastated that this was my closest celebrity lookalike.

Of the hundreds and hundreds of choices (my friends were paired with the likes of Cheryl Cole and Sandra Bollocks), I get a senile old dear best remembered terrifying the CBB viewership while sporting bunches. Bunches tied up with scrunchies.

Saying that, my mum was matched with Mischa Barton, so I'm not entirely convinced by the accuracy of this free piece of kit.

Grey's Anatomy - the tissues are out!

My housemate and I BLOODY LOVE Grey's Anatomy. It's the crack cocaine of medical dramas and came very highly recommended before I took the plunge with season 1 about six months ago.

(Disclaimer: I don't advocate drug use)

The writers have you emotionally invested from the offset and each series ends fantastically - either on a massive cliffhanger (a la series 5 - oh god) or just after a major event.

It helps that the male characters are smokin' hot, of course. I've claimed McSteamy, HM likes Karev but Avery's come on the scene now, who I think might trump them both!

This is us re-watching the series 6 finale. Having already watched it, I came home earlier to find HM weeping - really weeping, halfway through. I did warn her it was bad!

We decided a second viewing would help us 'come to terms' with the events just passed.

Music I'm loving at the moment

Alabama Shakes. Their (debut?) album, Boys and Girls is at the top of my playlist at the moment. It's really rare to find an album where I don't have to skip over the 'blah' tracks - every song is great.

I'd been hearing the band's name on the grapevine, so when their album appeared on Spotify I was intruiged. I've been describing their style to my friends as a slowed-down Kings of Leon but I actually think they cover far more genres than KoL - soul, grass-roots old American country, rock and even some funk! 

In addition, I have three songs on my 'May' playlist at the moment:
Untitled No. 3 by Ali Harter
Can't Say No by Conor Maynard
First of My Kind by Miles Kane

The first song I heard on an episode of Grey's Anatomy and Shazam'd. It's lovely. The second is by a new chap, 'the UK Bieber', apparently. I like the grimy baseline (ooh, get me!). The third I heard on the radio and Shazam'd - I like Miles Kane's stuff solo stuff so far, so I was pleased to see it was him.

And hooray for Shazam! I can't count the number of times I've been on a night out/shopping/watching telly and thought 'Ooh, I like the sound of that!'. Out comes Shazam!

(Aside: I have the Spotify app on my iPhone, which means you can pretty much search for, and listen to, any music that you fancy. It's amazing for discovering new music - the only downside being that the playlists you create are at the mercy of Spotify i.e. nothing's downloaded or in hard copy for you to keep).


Right. Hello.

A couple of months ago I re-discovered some old diaries from when I was a youngster (when I was a, when a was a youngster), which I kept from the ages of 10-18. Not only did they have my housemate and I in hysterics, I realised how nice it is to have a reminder of thoughts, feelings and life events. I was very, very candid though (a.k.a a total bitch), although I think that's fair - I never thought I'd be reciting them to my friends in years to come!

If nothing else, this blog will serve me well as an online diary I can revisit in ten years (from my hovercraft) and smile. If anyone else enjoys reading it, that's great. Maybe I can even pepper my blog with some old diary posts...

PS: Sorry Cat for calling you 'a weedy little boff' circa 1997.
PPS: Sorry KTB for calling you the 'c word'. However I score imagination points for replacing the 'C' with a 'K'.