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It’s been a very difficult week for a lot of people living in West London. A lot of people have lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. And then there are the friends and family that have been directly affected in what has been a very tragic and upsetting event.

As a resident of the Kensington and Chelsea borough – and as a part time volunteer at Citizens Advice – I found myself – in some unexpected situations I could not have predicted.

This included interviewing (very briefly) Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, meeting an amazing filmmaker called Janey Ayoade who was helping a strong activist called Neville by filming his story. Briefly meeting Peaky Saku and his friends working as best they could/can to help. Experiencing Mustafa Almansur attempting to collate and lead a committee (due to the Council not being seen anywhere at this point), and hearing the name Ishmahil Blahgrove spoken everywhere I went (I haven’t met him)… but I think he is a brilliant speaker rising up against the mainstream media.

And then there’s the famous face of Lily Allen. Who I met briefly, obviously deeply upset and passionate about helping and using the voice she has to vocalise what she saw. Maybe (and I can only really speculate) aware of her status and not wanting to make the situation about her. The ‘dancing on the fine line of trying to help and intentions being misconstrued’ and taking a lot of flack from the media – one has to be a very strong character to take that on board. 

And then let us not forget the children affected. Ryan Faraji and Tina Faraji aged 6 and 8. Ryan who lost his best friend Yacob. A voice of perspective for his generation. Too young to understand how powerful his message is to the rest of us.

There is a lot to write about this event. But I will not write it all now. I felt as an independent blogger/filmmaker that it was important to capture what was happening, on the ground. Firstly, because I didn’t feel that the media were reporting it authentically. And secondly, because when these families and residents look back on this. They may want to see and reflect on what went on. One day.

I have noted a few names up there. People trying to help. Let it be noted. There are a lot of people not mentioned here trying as best they can, with whatever they can to help as much as they can. This does not take away from the fact that this event – has affected so many people and has been an extremely tragic and heart wrenching situation. And it will always be about those people affected.

Whether I have done the right or wrong thing with capturing these moments. Well. That is arguable and I questioned that myself. And to be honest I don’t know the answer to that. But I did it with the best intention. An attempt to create a ripple effect in the right direction. I felt it was the right thing to do – whilst the media are putting out heavily edited footage.

The trauma that residents are going through is and will be huge. An Iranian woman that survived passed out during an interview with the BBC whilst describing the event to a reporter (which Kimia Zabihyan who was translating at the time claims was never broadcast). Kimia related that the woman wanted her story to be told. Why? Because it was so shockingly traumatic – almost in an unbelievable way (as in – is this really happening in Great Britain today?) that she felt it was important to tell her story.

But for now – above is a ten minute unedited clip and pictures I took, through my eyes.

Unedited – so that. Well you can make your own mind up.

To all those who have lost their lives. Rest in peace. My thoughts are with those directly affected. I’m sorry that this happened to you.

Best,

Becki BXx

#westlondonstrong #grenfelltower

 

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Name: Sarah Kekus aka.. the Health Architect. Sarah was the Yoga Teacher on a retreat I went to in Turkey. Here is an interview about what she does… and her lifestyle..

From: Edinburgh – Scottish-ness eludes me though!

Current location: Lake District

Current happiness levels out of 10: Life has taught me to view each new day as a blessing, so 10

Favourite film: Maybe Motorcycle Diaries – brings back memories of living and working in Chile

Favourite musician: There’s everything from classical harp to Kanye West in my music collection so choosing one musician is quite impossible. However my most recently purchased album is Grown Unknown by Lia Ices – it’s fitting my mood this week!

Favourite artist: Picasso; Guernica is mesmerizing – a powerful depiction of suffering and chaos. The combination of being a talented draughtsman with an awesome imagination and determination to bring social and political polemic into art is what makes Picasso stand out for me.

Favourite book: Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston

Favourite colour: All really strong bright colours are terrifyingly fabulous but when it comes to my wardrobe I often end up wearing black. Possibly because I’m a woman of black origin, I always like a bit of gold too!

Brief synopsis of business: The Health Architect provides yoga classes, nutritional advice and challenging, yet supportive, coaching to individuals who want to improve their wellbeing.

Few questions:  

Your lifestyle is very health based, how did you find yourself on this career path? My health literally unravelled about 15 years ago after an intense period of mountaineering to climb peaks in Nepal, Bolivia, the French Alps and back to Nepal – phew! In the aftermath, and having suffered with both dysentery and pneumonia, I went to see a naturopath, who was instrumental in helping me regain health. After this experience I always dreamed of changing career and the chance finally came in 2010 when my contract as a Project Manager ended.

Has healthy living always been a way of life or was there a catalyst that sent you down this avenue? I really hated having to eat so much meat as a child and so I became a vegetarian at the age of 12. This was the catalyst for a lifelong exploration of the impact of dietary choices and exercise on health. I experimented with vegan and raw vegan diets for a few years but now, whilst I still choose a largely plant-based diet, I have re-introduced some animal protein (mainly fish), and I find this suits me the best. Balancing health requirements with ethical and environmental arguments against meat eating has forged a dichotomy in my thinking – but I can live with this now and I feel calmer and less neurotic than I once did.

What kind of people generally reach out for nutritional help? Sadly, often people only turn to nutritional therapy after conventional medicine fails to help them or when they’ve been offered medication they don’t want to take. The most common problems that people seek my help with are weight gain, chronic fatigue, hormone imbalances (especially relating to fertility, menopause, stress and thyroid dysfunction) and gastro-intestinal problems.

Do you see a similarity in the challenges of making lifestyle and dietary changes? What are they? Making any changes to your life can be very hard but both diet and lifestyle can be unwittingly governed by a range of emotional factors and these need to be recognised and addressed before lasting positive changes can be achieved. Coaching people through change is the biggest part of what I do.

You have a very active lifestyle, how do you like to relax? In the autumn and spring I love fell-walking with my husband; it restores my energy and lifts my mood, especially if the week has felt tough. If the temperature picks up then a day out climbing takes my mind off everything so I can just enjoy the moment! Whether I’ve been out walking or climbing, stopping by a favourite coffee bar on the way home is always a welcome treat. Ps. I don’t drink much coffee – honest!

If you would like to hire/get advice about your diet please contact Sarah HERE

Thanks for the health inspiration.. Becki BXx

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Pic on front ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Annie Leibovitz

“London ice can freeze your toes
Like anyone I suppose
I’m holding on for tomorrow” Blur ‘For Tomorrow’ 

Article by Jessica Burgess

I wake up and it’s pitch black… It could be 3am or 3pm but I wouldn’t know…There’s a rattling sound to my left and the hum of something electronic to my right. Where am I? I roll over and turn on the bedside lamp and slowly the metal rails above me come into focus and I remember I’m home… home sweet home in my lovely garage room. That’s right- for five months now I’ve been living in a garage.

Moving to London is an exciting prospect- before moving you imagine yourself living in a flat above Covent Garden – strolling down the Strand to work and going out in West London every night to bars found in the “must see” section of Timeout. The reality is a little different.

Sure, I love being in London but you quickly realise that living anywhere with a less than 45 minute commute is pretty standard and if you can get anywhere in 30 minutes you’re doing well.

I’m lucky that after Uni pretty much all of my friends decided to move to London to pursue various careers- and everyone has had to struggle with the rental costs that come with living in the Big Smoke. I’m the only one…however that decided to live in a garage…

I’d been living in London about 3 or 4 months on the edge of zone 3 in a tiny “double room” where the door just about opened wide enough with a double bed in it for you to squeeze in. The room had mice darting in and out of the wardrobe and an unconcerned landlord who let tenants come and go without much care to the properties upkeep, cleanliness or indeed their deposits where it was hit or miss whether you’d get it back or not. I was helping a friend flat hunt when I stumbled across an advert for a massive double room in Balham for about half of what I was paying currently. I quickly jumped on the phone and organised a visit.

Sure, the room was a garage- it didn’t have a window and came with features including a boiler, brick wall, garage railings and a polyester board selotaped against the garage door – but for the price, who wouldn’t live in a garage?

These past 5 months haven’t actually been so bad- thankfully it’s been winter so I haven’t really missed out on having a window and there’s been plenty of storage space because- let’s face it- garages are pretty huge. With a poster or two and some artfully draped cloths from my travels it looks almost quirky but there’s still the lingering smell of damp and tales from my housemates of slug infestations…

My time in the garage has definitely got me thinking… Is it really OK that young people all over London are struggling to find even basic affordable accommodation? Should we really be having to make the choice of wiping out half of our wages on rent each month or living with our parents until we’re well into our adult lives?

I’ll soon be looking for my next London home because there’s only so long one can live in a…erm garage…

Who knows where I’ll end up next. Anyone got any garden sheds to rent?

Can you relate? Would you like to write an article about living in London…? Email beckiburrows@gmail.com #jointheconversation #ohdearyme

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I live alone in a pretty small studio flat. I have found whilst living here that every inch of space is very important. Luckily I have a separate bathroom but the one room equals my living room, kitchen and bedroom. So when I received an email asking if I would like to participate in #HomeImprovementHero for moneysupermarket.com I jumped at the challenge. £50 to improve the home. Why not. I always liked Changing Rooms. And Challenge Anneka.

BEFORE:

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I hate looking at that wall.. and there’s no where to put anything! Argh! 

But then my heart started to sink. I knew what I needed to do.. and I know what I wanted but could I really do it on such a small budget? Because to be honest what I want and what I can have are two very different things. For instance what I want is the Faktum Super Unit with sliding doors so powerful that just the slight whistle of the breath eases them open bringing with them a certain joy only super units can give an owner. However…what I could probably afford is the rickety pine shelving that are ok when you’re a certain age and do their job – but bring no joy to the eye visually. And I want a life full of joy and visual stimulation. I’ve learnt.. life is too short for bad shelving. CUE CHROMEO:

God. I love that song.

So I had to focus. And stop looking at stuff I couldn’t afford. Or did I?

I had decided that storage would be the most important thing to improve my living space. As a ‘young’ professional in London – plastic boxes have been key for my belongings. From living in flatshares to warehouses over the years I have tried to keep my things packed into confined spaces in this transient city. I can’t remember the last time I actually put a picture frame on the wall. But it’s time. It’s time to invest.

I saw what I wanted on the Ikea website. Some Expedit Shelves looked like they would do the job. But at £120 plus £25 (ish) delivery on top they were out of my price range for this challenge. So I started to scour Ebay and Gumtree looking for similar units. I found quite a few… but delivery was a problem. Most of the units seemed to be on the other side of town. Did I want to fork out on a taxi too?

[IKEA] EXPEDIT Bookcase 149*149 B-BROWNI started to get a late night obsession with Gumtree. I was starting to become intrigued at the bargains to be found on there. Perhaps the transcience of this city was a good thing after all. AND THEN.. BAM.. right round the corner from me were the exact units I wanted coming in at a price of £65.

A few emails later I was on my way round to look at them and put a deposit down. When I got there the man I was buying from had already taken the shelving unit to pieces. I couldn’t view them in full form first. Hmmm. I was planning on trying to haggle with him. But I was alone, and didn’t want the shelving to go to someone else. He had said ‘he’d had quite a lot of interest’ and I was desperate for them because of their location. He had me on my desperation of ease. ‘I’LL TAKE THEM I’LL TAKE THEM!!” was most probably what my body language was screaming. I didn’t know what else to do – and I wanted the units.. so I trusted the guy anyway. I don’t think I was going to get a better bargain than this anytime soon.

And then came the painful part. I was lucky enough that a friend helped move the shelves in her car round the corner. But I live on the top section of the building, with no lift and her being pregnant I was on my own with the heavy lifting.

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This is a bit painful.. there’s not enough room in here! 

So up and down, up and down, up and down the stairs I carried pieces of wood and to be honest I was glad I bought these shelves second hand. I hadn’t realised how heavy or hard they were going to be to put up and I really recommend that if you buy them – get a friend to help. I dropped them quite a few times and I think if I’d have bought them brand new and scratched them I would have been a bit upset.

FINISHED!!

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It’s a whole new world!!!!!!!

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A new fantastic point of view!!

Gosh what a difference!

I decided whilst I was at it… to decorate the back of the wardrobe that separates the bed and the shelving unit because it looks ugly and it’s been ruining my inner peace a little. I bought the wallpaper reduced from £13 to £3 in Homebase..  (glue and paintbrush £5).

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wardrobe

So all in all – I spent £72. And although the process was painful – when I woke up this morning and opened my eyes – I felt pleasure at my handy work. *HIGH FIVE MONEYSUPERMARKET.com*

 

break my neck

*Sigh* there’s always something! I need to get rid of that TV too…eurgh…

Peace out, BeckiBx

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