This is going to be a MASSIVE post. #sorrynotsorry

 

It’s been a pretty eventful month- I’m back in Manchester, folks! I was away from mid-December till 25 January, during which I made trips around South Korea with my family and went back home to Singapore for a month. It was good to go home for a bit and see my friends and family, since I was getting really bad winter blues and feeling rather homesick.

The funny thing was that I pretty much brought Manchester weather back with me and it rained the whole time I was in Singapore, with temperatures dropping as low as 20 degrees Celsius. For a tropical country, this is a big deal! I was in long socks and jumpers most of the time.

 

I wish I could say I spent the whole holiday lazing around doing nothing but I had two essays due (6000 words each!) and I was sat at my boyfriend’s house most days, working till 10 everyday and trying to sleep off the cold I caught because of the cold weather (typical ?).

I’ve caught up with most of my friends from university and my previous housemates- and made new ones too. I’ve met this lovely gal off the app Hey!Vina which touts itself as Tinder for girls looking to find other girl(friends)! I tried it last year hoping to get to know the local community better, network with other women and get to know some new friends, but a lot of the conversations petered out pretty quickly.

I managed to meet up with one of them after I got back to Manchester though, and we had a lovely tea at Richmond Tea Rooms. We both got the Alice Tea and we weren’t expecting the scones to be so huge! While ordering, the server told us: “You guys know it is two scones each, right?” and we looked at her like… yes? Problem? ?

And realised our mistake after the cakes, scones and tea arrived. Lesson learnt: always listen to the server ?

She dabbles in photography- check out her Instagram here! Look at this gorgeous picture of our afternoon tea ?

High tea w/ @evangelskies ☕️?

A post shared by Nicole Marie Kitching (نيكي) (@n1kk1e_k92) on

 

with Jade

with Ella

 

So glad to finally meet up with Jade and spend some time with her lovely pets- it’s difficult not seeing her loads this year since we’ve all graduated- she just lives so far away 🙁

Her house is gorgeous though and there’s lots of space for dog walking. It’s not quite the countryside, but it is a lot quieter than central Manchester (and definitely cleaner). We took the train down to Burnley and stayed overnight after the house party.

I am now old and pass out after midnight even without any drinking or dancing.

With dogs.

I count it as a win, because dogs. In a puppy pile. Best way to fall asleep.

 

More Uni updates:

I really like the classes this semester but the strikes have really been affecting our classes- I’m really hoping the schools will come back to the negotiating table and sort proper pensions for all the lecturers so we can get the best learning experience possible.

The new changes mean that university staff pensions will go from being guaranteed pension benefits to depending on investments, and will result in average member lecturer losing £10,000 a year in their retirement. -(UCU site)

If you’d like to find out more about the strikes held at over 60 universities nationwide (along with Manchester, where I’m at), you can read more information here on the Manchester UCU site.

In other academia-related matters, I’ve submitted my dissertation proposal for approval and I’m waiting for the review and for a supervisor to be allocated.

Exciting times!

I’ve chosen to focus my essay on Modernism and Mina Loy– I had such a fun time analysing her Feminist Manifesto at undergraduate level but felt I didn’t properly delve into her life or her other works.

She was so revolutionary and such a ‘mythic’ character but yet has gone largely forgotten in the literary canon- honestly a crying shame. Her feminism was far too radical for her time and it would be controversial even now. She argued against statements saying women were equal to men and instead focused on the differences between gender and their strengths.

I feel like the feminist movement then and even now is too focused with proving women can be just as strong as men– and it’s a criticism Silvia Federici put forth in her “Wages Against Housework” essay. Women have long proven that they can perform the same jobs and excel at them, but yet we don’t give enough value to ‘feminine’ jobs, skills, or traits. It is still shameful to be feminine: you mock someone for crying like a girl, running like a girl, being emotional like a girl. If we recognise the value in these differences, there is no superiority in either.

Yes, I know you are zoning out.

This is just something I’m so passionate in, I tend to get carried away!

On to the next update-

reclaim the night 2018, manchester, women's march, feminism, feminist

This ties in with the next event: I’ve taken part in the Reclaim the Night march in Manchester- it’s the largest it’s ever been with over 2000 participants from all backgrounds! I marched with my friend Ella and her cousin in the women’s block, but there are other blocks for mixed groups and families as well.

This event takes place every year to raise awareness of the amount of street harassment/ assault/ rape of women on the streets of Manchester. The march starts at the Fallowfield campus (UoM) where it is particularly bad for the amount of rape cases.

You can look up the crime in your area on the police website and it is honestly saddening to see how many cases just get closed after a month. Even with evidence, the perpetrator can claim it was consensual and it turns into a “he said she said” gridlock. It frustrates me so much. Everyone deserves to feel safe on the streets.

And before anyone cries misandry and exclusion, Manchester has the highest amount of male rape victims. Clearly something has to be done! It is so important to stamp out stereotypes and let victims feel safe to come forward about the ordeal, to feel like they will be believed.

And that’s why we march.

Everyone was so lovely and united, women, men, children, everyone from all races and backgrounds and ages collectively standing up for something they believe in.

reclaim the night 2018, manchester, women's march, feminism, feminist

when you hungry for justice but also serving lewks

Fashion talk

It’s extremely dangerous for my wallet being back here- shopping is so much cheaper compared to Singapore, and I’ve been updating my wardrobe rather optimistically with spring wear. And obviously I have barely worn any!

The ‘Beast from the East‘ has swept Europe so I don’t know why Primark is stocking bikinis on half of the second floor- you’re not going to get summer weather in Manchester anytime till April at least! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to warmer weather- we got the first hints of sun last week but of course it’s all gone to shit this week. I’ve stayed in all week since I got back from Mansfield (Nottingham) for Lee’s birthday party.

My favourite is the Escher Knit Wrap Dress in red motif by Maeve on the Anthropologie site. It’s so comfortable and I can see myself wearing it all summer! The sizes run rather large in my opinion, if you are a UK 6-8 you should go for the XS.

I’ve been in mostly comfy knits and my usual trusty black Primark jeans, but I’ve stocked up on off-shoulder tops and comfy coulettes. It’s too cold at the moment, so I’ve been wearing knit tights under and they still look great!

 

 What's in my wardrobe at the moment...


I’ll be making another post with food-related updates and Feb-March Favourites/ Empties that I’ve seen some beauty bloggers doing!

Until next time!

I was invited to a complimentary three-course meal on Saturday at eXchange Food & Drink Lounge, which is located in Novotel on Dickinson St. I took along my housemate Deborah as my +1 ? she loves food just as much as I do!

We caught an Uber to the restaurant because it was raining, but you can easily get the bus or Metro into town and it’s only a short walk. It’s just off Portland Street, which has a lot of lovely bars and restaurants- a great selection of food and drink options if you are in town.

I didn’t get the name of the member of staff who initially served us, but he was really friendly and accommodating- showed us to our table and gave us excellent food and drink recommendations. Most of the people about were watching the Man U match that day and the bar was pretty busy, but it wasn’t a terribly long wait for food.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

We ordered three cocktails in total: a tequila-based cocktail for Deb and two gin ones for me that I really enjoyed. Ask for the Pink Lady! It’s delicious 🙂

I feel like the food portion will dominate most of the review so I must stress that the pictures honestly do not do them justice! I personally was very impressed by the drinks- they’ve got the balance of flavours right and I’ve not had nicer ones elsewhere!

The prices are pretty reasonable (around £7-8 for most cocktails) and I’ll definitely be back for more ? not sure if they do a happy hour promotion but that would be perfect.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge, selfies

Exhibit A of why I am not a fashion blogger- I can’t pose to save my life. Deb was coaching me through poses and I couldn’t do any. Ah well.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

Food-wise, we picked out a few small plates, which are £5 individually and £12 for three.

Our choices: Salt & Pepper Calamari, Garlic Mushrooms with Parmesan Crust, Batter Halloumi Fingers, and the Superfood Salad. The staff member recommended the Chorizo and Potato and the Korean BBQ Wings, which we did order but never arrived.

We left it since we had enough food, but I do want to come back to try them next time!

The superfood salad was pretty different from generic salads- avocado, baby gem lettuce, beets, blueberries, seeds, sugar snap peas, quinoa- lives up to its name indeed! I didn’t expect to like it when it was recommended to us, but I really did.

I would suggest upsizing the salad if you are sharing it- it wasn’t quite enough for the both of us. Having it upsized to a main will be £10, which I’m not quite sure I’d get if I were eating out- but for the quality of ingredients in it I think it’s worth paying £5/10 for. I wouldn’t get the other salads here individually.

I really liked the calamari and the garlic mushrooms. The halloumi is nice but the batter was quite salty on top of the cheese and after it went cold it wasn’t very nice to eat. Get in there while it’s still hot, folks.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

We had a Florentine pizza as our main (£12). All the pizzas are 12-inch. It was a great pizza and I liked the egg in the centre (huge weakness for eggs here). It came hot and crispy and really filled us up! I think getting three small plates and a main will be a perfect amount of food for two people with large appetites, or you could get some add-on sides like chips or other finger food with a main.

I think we ate a lot ? there was a lady at the table behind us rolling her eyes and giving us very judgemental stares. Sorry lady, you must be jealous ?

We had a really nice chat with Rich, the other staff member that served us- Deb picked up on his accent and asked if he was from the Philippines! I’m from Singapore, as you guys know, and Deb is from Malaysia. We’re all neighbours!

We talked about some of the hidden bars in Manchester and other potential haunts as well, and he told us a bit about his family and his time in the UK (over ten years!). I don’t really want to go into detail for his privacy but it was nice hearing him speak so fondly of his country and his experiences living here.

He tried to offer us more drinks and dessert but we felt like we had our fill and didn’t want to impose (ah, Asian mentality back again), so we hung about for a bit, chatting and taking a couple of pictures before leaving.

All in all, I think it was a really wonderful experience and if you’re lost with the amount of options available, just ask a member of staff for help. I think some dishes may be a bit pricier if you don’t purchase them in a set but I think you have to consider the location and convenience- the drink prices are reasonable and I’ll definitely be back for those.

Make a stop during your bar crawls- it’s a little off the long stretch on Portland Street, but well worth going! It’s open 24 hours which is a plus. Drop by anytime or ring them on 0161 235 2200 to book.

+ Bonus videos of us messing about with the Snow app, because there’s no such thing as too many pics. #awww

Here is my post about graduation…. two months late! (typical me!)

It’s been a long journey, but I’ve finally done it! I hate to be cliché, but let me just say life’s full of ups and downs- and if you get discouraged, there’ll always be another opportunity around the corner!

I didn’t do great for my A levels, and going into a course I liked locally was near impossible due to how competitive the arts and humanities were at NUS/NTU. Psychology is pretty much an AAA/A requirement and Journalism an AAA/B or AAB/B.

I was convinced I was good at science and math then and was too stubborn and prideful to switch when my grades started slipping early on. Everything was easy until junior college, since I never felt the need to study for anything except the bare minimum at exams.

I actually did well enough to feel like this state of things was sufficient and got really complacent ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ so obviously I did badly for A levels because there are so many subjects, you shouldn’t be messing around with that.

Back then I was too lazy and too proud to admit I was struggling.

Now, if you tell me I’m shit at maths, I will happily agree and go along with it as if it is something worth being proud about lol!

I think I’m becoming self-aware wow wow ? I shouldn’t feel proud of it like I do with all my other bad habits- messiness, laziness, chronic procrastination- and it will come back to bite me in the butt again like it did at A levels, but I don’t bother with all the what-ifs.

I don’t think I would have done it differently given my indifferent attitude towards studying for subjects that didn’t come to me easily.

I made my bed and I must lie in it, and I honestly applaud anyone who works hard enough to pull themselves out of a rut and go against all the people who doubt them.

But anyhow- I got onto the University of Salford through my aunt’s recommendation, my extra-curricular activities, and writing portfolio.

It wasn’t a highly-ranked university by any means, but the teaching was excellent. The lecturers were passionate about the subjects they taught, seminars were never just about them talking to a silent room. I enjoyed myself greatly and for the first time in years, genuinely enjoyed learning/ acquiring more knowledge in the subject.

My future ambitions have also shifted a little during the course of my university degree- I no longer wish to pursue journalism, but I am nevertheless glad I had the opportunity to learn about the processes involved.

Some of my coursemates and the other pure Journalism students got the chance to experience what a newsroom situation was like, which I’m slightly envious about. Ah well. I guess it’s not meant to be.

I start my MA in English Literature and American Studies at the University of Manchester this September, an opportunity I never thought I would have; and I am immensely grateful for everyone who has encouraged me to broaden my horizons and make that leap to an overseas university.

I’ve never been an independent person at all, but this made me grow up very quickly in some ways: I had to learn to cook, clean (arguably a feat that yet escapes me), navigate unfamiliar territories and get out of my cushy comfort zone.

housemates

I’ve met some amazing people along the way- my housemates, coursemates, and random friends I’ve picked up through the university/ my travels- something I would never have got with a local education, not to the same degree of immersion.

I was never the most confident person and hated inane small talk but now I could probably talk about anything under the sun and conjure up enthusiasm about a subject I know nothing about.
I think of it as a necessary part of Adulting™.

I thought of it as being “fake” but as my friend pointed out: by taking interest in things that people you care about, care about- it makes it a sweet gesture *mindblown*

There are other ways in which my worldview has changed while at university, and others reinforced, but we shall not go into detail about that at this point.

This has been an embarrassingly retrospective post, but it feels nice to get all my thoughts out there.

Until next time xx

Everyone wants to eat delicious and healthy food at home, right? But this pesky thing called life often gets in the way. It’s not that easy to throw together an amazing recipe every day and if you don’t cook for a huge group of people, restocking the fridge is a decision that has to be made carefully.

I can’t count the number of times I find a recipe online and proceed to raid my local Tesco for all the necessary ingredients excitedly… and end up with a lot of fresh food that can’t last more than a couple of days. Cooking for one is tough! Luckily, I don’t lead a very hectic university life most of the time but many busy working adults will face an additional struggle to find the energy to buy groceries and prep home-cooked meals after work.

Recipe boxes like Gousto resolves all these issues: ingredients delivered right to your door in the perfect quantities, easy recipes with instructions laid out on cards. Can we get a hell yeah for convenience, no food waste, with a great variety of cuisines, every week?

Presenting…. the Gousto box!

gousto box, gousto, food

ta-daaaa~!

The trial box costs £5.49, which worked out to 4 servings of two different dishes. I chose the chicken cacciatore and the blackened cod tacos.

blackened cod tacos, mexican, food, gousto

Cod tacos

chicken cacciatore, potato, italian, food, gousto

Chicken cacciatore

It honestly was such a hard decision picking just two recipes- there was so much variety and they all looked mouth-watering. The menus change every week, by the way- so don’t worry about ending up with the same dishes week after week! Although, given how amazing my experience was, I wouldn’t mind eating the same thing every couple of weeks really.

cod, tacos, herbs, food, gousto

cod, tacos, food, gousto

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

chicken cacciatore, food, gousto, italian

My iPhone camera pictures don’t do justice to how delicious they are. I’ve been a bit more experimental in the kitchen as a result, and I’ve gone out to get ingredients to replicate the chicken cacciatore again this week!

(I had to tell them, I loved it so much)

The quality of their ingredients also deserves a special mention: they put effort into sourcing ingredients from British farms and vegetables are organic if possible.

The meat was delivered in a wool insulated bag filled with ice packs to keep ingredients fresh, and the ice packs remain cold throughout so even if you get back late the food won’t spoil on your porch. It was my first time seeing a wool insulated bag and my housemate told me I could probably make a cushion or something craft-y, but I don’t think I am quite that creative. I’d imagine you could sell it by the yard if you racked up an impressive tally of weekly boxes.

Who knows what you could do with it though. Maybe Gousto could do a recycling drive- if you send the wool and reusable ice packs back/ drop it off at a local collection centre, you get a bit of money off your next order? Being sustainable and eco-friendly and all that jazz.

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Gousto box! Remember, you get a huge discount off your first box (and second, if you stay) so give it a try if you’d like some kitchen inspiration.