26 October 2016

Nine reasons to love a black cat

Did you know it's National Black Cat Day today?

This is Jude, he's my cat.

Two and a half years ago, I came home from a night out and found him - just born - on my living room carpet. It's a long, strange story, but we've been inseparable ever since.

So we're celebrating #BlackCatDay on my blog, because it's a brilliant cause that's close to our hearts.

Cats Protection recently released some stats that showed black cats make up nearly half the number that come into care and take longer to find a home than any other colour of cat. There are thousands of poor, unloved black cats, just because of the colour of their fur. Why? No-one's quite sure. There's the old superstition that black cats are unlucky. And some people think black cats just aren't as attractive.

Well, me and Jude are going to change that.

Nine reasons why I love my black cat

1. He's beautiful

I know everyone thinks their cat is the most handsome feline in town, but seriously - look at him. That sassy face, those huge amber eyes, his soft fur, the outrageous mane. He's bloody gorgeous!

I once read that people think black cats are less photogenic than their colourful counterparts. They're quite clearly wrong.

2. He allows me to channel my inner Parisian

And, given my love of the City of Light, that's very considerate of him. You can't walk around the cobbled streets of Paris without encountering some sort of Le Chat Noir paraphernalia. It receives nearly as much prominence as the Eiffel Tower! I don't know how the black cat became a Parisian symbol, but it does confirm how very chic they are, right?

3. Black goes with everything, darling

Accessories complete the outfit. And as much as I'd love a Mulberry Bayswater on my arm, I'd choose Jude any day.

This is how most of my evenings go:

I leave work, jump on the bus, and get off at my stop. There, waiting for me, is a black cat. He runs towards me - realises it makes him look too keen - and slows to a medium-paced trot. We walk the rest of the way home together. Who else dreamed of an animal sidekick as a kid? Admittedly, we attract a few funny looks, but I'm sure they think we're adorable.

4. He's really good at helping me wrap presents

Think Santa's elves, but hairier and cuter.

P.S. I'd like to formally apologise to all my friends who will receive cat hair with their Christmas presents this year.

5. He makes a brilliant hot water bottle

I love autumn and winter, because Jude and Maggie want to hang out indoors more. So when bedtime rolls around, I have two furry friends to keep me warm!

So, to recap: black cats are beautiful, helpful, and save on heating bills...

6. He makes me laugh

'Jude, do something hilarious with the wrapping!'

He has an excellent sense of humour.

7. He doesn't shed on my black clothes

And let's face it, unless you're an extra on TOWIE, you're far more likely to be wearing a black ensemble than white.

8. He literally takes a good selfie

There's a reason I call him Katdashian. He's also thinking about releasing a book of selfies next year.

9. He was a beautiful kitten

Tell me that didn't melt your heart.

That's all from Jude and I today. But if you want to help out gorgeous black cats like him, take a look at the Cats Protection's black cat page. And while you're there, have a peek at their Tinder-themed campaign video!

25 October 2016

Happy Blogthday!

*Why cookies? I didn't have time to bake a cake.

Happy 2nd birthday, Nikki's Notebook!

A video posted by Nikki (@nikkimcmullen) on

On one hand, two years seems like no time at all - especially as I've been blogging for about a decade. On the other hand, when I looked back over the last 48 months and realised how many changes I'd been through (and posts I'd written), it felt like a lifetime.

So, I thought I'd share some of my favourite posts from the archives. Enjoy!

The One Where I Tried Tinder

I think this is one of the most popular posts I've written on here. It's definitely the one people mention when they see me around! It was a nerve-wracking moment when I hit the publish button - I knew it'd either go down a storm or fall flat on it's face. Thankfully it was the former, eh? If you haven't read it before, prepare for some epic cringiness.

The One With The Halloween Costumes

Sometimes you need Halloween inspo - and you need it fast! Two years ago, I donned five different Halloween costumes (each of which took next to no time to create) and started snapping. I uploaded a new costume each day and, voila, my Halloweek was born. I was surprised to see this still floating around my top posts - so, you might be excited to hear there's a new costume tutorial coming next week...

Read my Halloweek >

The One With the Long Distance Friendship

Nearly all of my blog posts are inspired by things that actually happen to me (no sponsored content here) and this was no exception. After several of my friends started to experience the shock of a best friend moving abroad, I realised I'd gathered quite a few long distance friendship tips since Queenie moved to Hong Kong in 2012. If it's provided comfort or inspiration to anyone, I'll be very happy.

Read the long distance friendship >

The One Without the Alcohol

I've always felt a bit of an oddball for being teetotal, so I decided to write about it. It's something I'm questioned about a lot - from taxi drivers, to relatives, to randos at the bar. But I do remember getting some really nice feedback from you guys, so thank you <3 

Read being teetotal >

The One In the Beginning

And finally, my first ever post! It's really weird looking back over this one, as it seems to capture all the likes, dislikes, goals and thoughts of my 23 year old self. So much has changed since then, but I think most of the 25 things are still true! I've also been marvelling at how much I've changed my hair in the last couple of years. Maybe that's a post for another time.

Read 25 things about me > 

Whether you've been reading since October 2014 or you're brand new to my blog, thank you so much for stopping by. It means an awful lot to me. 

15 October 2016

Pumpkin picking

Grab yourself a hot beverage and a blanket, because this post is deliciously autumnal.

Today, I met my friend Jasmin for a delectable brunch at Jenkins & Sons and an afternoon of pumpkin picking at Sopley Farm!

From paper to pumpkin

A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about fun things to do this autumn. At the top of my list was pumpkin picking - but I had no idea where you'd find a pumpkin patch in Dorset. Luckily, after a bit of research, I found Sopley Farm. And my big, orange dreams became a reality.

I was worried our humble British pumpkin patches couldn't match the endless rows of giant orange squashes I'd envisioned (I watch way too much American TV) - but, you know what, Sopley Farm was pretty brilliant.

From the adorably decorated pumpkins on the way in to the red sleds built for lugging your produce around, the farm was set up to make the ritual of pumpkin picking fun and photogenic. A quick tip: use the sleds - we had aching arms after carrying our pumpkins back to the car!

Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you're enjoying autumn x

7 October 2016

What it's really like at Fashion Week

And so Fashion Month draws to a close: the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris have been and gone, the fashion editors have filed their reports and the fashionistas have retired their heels and handbags for another season.

There's always a lot of glitz, glamour and excitement surrounding Fashion Week. The thrill of seeing what your favourite designers will be unveiling, the proximity to fabulously expensive dresses, the hair stylists, the make-up artists, the beautiful models, the celebrity-studded front rows and the delicious prospect of goody bags. 

But the thing is, unless you're a VIP, Fashion Week isn't quite as fun, glamorous or enjoyable as you might think. 

Before nabbing the bloody lovely job I have now, I used to write for a fashion site. One of the few perks was getting packed off to London twice a year and watching a couple of fashion shows. In that time, I learned that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Unless your name is Alexa Chung, of course.

This is what the magazines don't mention:

(I look like I've been taken hostage)

You have to queue outside for about an hour

The ticket - I mean, invitation - tells you to get there early. You show up nearly an hour before the show. Outside you see a mile-long queue of writers, bloggers and fashion students. So, you join the queue and wait to get inside. London Fashion Week usually falls in September and February, so it's usually bloomin' freezing. Naturally, you're not wearing anything terribly practical, it's Fashion Week after all! You're left standing in the queue, watching your fingers turn into rather chic icicles. 

You have to queue again once you get inside

You're finally inside and your frozen fingers have started to defrost. But you realise: there's another queue to get into the show! Well, it's not a queue so much as a holding pen filled with buzzing bloggers an grumpy editors waiting to get through the doors. It's starting to get seriously warm, making you miss the freezing temperatures outside. There are PR girls running around with trays of non-fat FroYo - although you risk losing a hand trying to grab one. 

No one seems happy

Everyone here loves fashion, right? This is like Comic Con for the sartorially minded! Aren't we all ecstatic!? Not so much. The people actually working the show - generally trendy girls in all-black, wearing headsets - look just about ready to snap. The fashion writers look stressed too - they have another 6 shows to attend today and this queuing is simply wasting their time. Some of the bloggers have an unspoken competition running - think high school yearbook style - who's the most popular? Best dressed? And then there's a few innocent souls desperately trying to network, throwing their business cards at people like confetti at a wedding. Basically, what I'm trying to say is: there's not a lot of smiling going on. 

Seeing the show? Forget about it

You're teetering desperately on the edge of your toes, trying to get a photo of the models as they stroll down the runway without that dude's awkwardly giant hat in shot.  As you do so, you're trying to remember themes, colours, shapes and cuts to report on later. In your haste to play photographer, psychologist, historian, writer and analyst, you kind of end of missing the actual show: the models pass in a blur and before you know it, it's all over. Ah well - onto the next queue!

But it's not all bad

The invites can be pretty cool:

(My personal favourites - although 2016 Nikki regrets the filters 2014 Nikki chose)

You get to dress funny

Not mandatory. But my advice for someone going to Fashion Week who's looking for a bit of attention is: don't dress nice. It's very difficult. Dress slightly silly instead. People will love your outfit.

One day, I wore a blue gingham dress, white (!) tights, black brogues and a pink coat. I looked like Alice in Wonderland meets Dolores Umbridge. But compared to the day I wore a normal-nice black dress and ankle boots, I got way more attention. People wanted to take my photo for their street style blogs - and I don't think they were being ironic. 

You might meet someone interesting

I never managed to bump into Chung or Cara Delevingne, but I met one or two nice bloggers along the way. And I even sat next to someone well-known in fashion retail circles! I didn't realise who he was and sassed him for patronising me. Oops.

And admittedly, the setting is pretty great

I'm not going to lie: Somerset House is a stunningly beautiful backdrop. It's also a pretty great place for outfit inspiration - once you look past the neon pleather and wildly asymmetric hemlines. *shudder*

And that concludes my very biased account of Fashion Week. Have you ever been?
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