I get asked the same questions over and over again. And I’m all too happy to respond to all, but I thought it might be a nicer thing to have an actual space for the repeat questions, so you can find answers to those and others you might have all in one place! So, every week on Instagram, I’ll provide a space where you can send in any questions you have about anything at all, and I’ll answer them here, provided they haven’t already been answered below. I’ll move the latest answers to the top each week and then place old questions in categories below! If a question has already been asked, I won’t answer again. Check the answers below! That’s all the intro you need here, right? Let’s get down to question time….
And they are divided into five sections: Fashion / Beauty / Life advice / Travel / Personal.
But let’s start with this week’s question in the order they were asked:
Q: Can you link your resale instagram?
A: Of course! And will be talking about this more on the blog soon once I have official launch details! It’s TheEJJCloset.
Q: Always appreciate your tips- any mid sized plus lingerie that’s comfy but sexy?
A: I’m going to have to get back to you on this one with a link as I’m writing a post for March!
Q: Where you get the Henley Top from your pasta video?
A: I’m including a picture for reference for those who didn’t catch the feta video (you can watch it here). I adore this cardigan and have been looking for one exactly like it for years! It’s 17.99 from H&M!
Q: Was the feta cheese video very yummy?
A: YES!!!!!! I absolutely recommend trying the feta tomato pasta trend. So so worth it!
Q: I’m a curvy girl dating for the first time in 5 years, any advice? No confidence.
A: I have so so much to say about this. So much. In fact, I’m going to write a whole piece about it, ok? I’m putting it on my to do list as this deserves so much more than a paragraph! Watch instagram stories as I’ll write and publish a piece within the next two weeks! I’ll just say that you aren’t alone. I get asked this a lot and it’s a sensitive topic that deserves a considered response.
Q: Any tips for trips to Charleston?
A: So many tips and I’m planning on writing a guide next time I’m home, but I’ll start with my top tip… stay at Zero George Street!
Q: Who would be on your perfect dinner table?
A: I’m sure this will change. For right now, I’d give anything to be at a table with my family and Steve. That’s it. Just me, the boyfriend and my family. That would be the greatest joy on earth!
Q: Are you still thinking of getting your own pup?
A: Yes! We haven’t given up. If anyone has any tips feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post! We need help!
Q: Could you please do a hair tutorial?
A: Can you comment below and elaborate a bit more on what you’d like to see?
Q: I’ve put on weight in lockdown and struggle with looking at myself in the mirror. How do you deal with liking yourself when you’ve put on weight?
A: I actually wrote about this in an instagram post. But, again, this is another thing I need to write about more. So I’m going to, because it too deserves more than a casual paragraph. So, it’s added to the list and coming!
Q: Do you find high waisted knickers are good? They create a muffin top on me!
A: I absolutely love the old granny panties! I embrace them wholeheartedly. No shame. And I think the trick to no muffin top is buying them big enough! I buy these from Marks & Spencer to wear under dresses and it’s like you’re wearing nothing at all. So comfortable!
Q: Do you have a recommendation for best white t-shirts?
A: If you’re in the USA, get them from Target or Old Navy. I love their basic tees! If you’re in the UK, buy them from Marks & Spencer. I never spend a lot on a white tee as I wear mine endlessly and no matter how expensive a white tee I buy, I always go through them so quickly!
Q: Have you seen Sweet Magnolias? It’s set in Serenity, South Carolina!
A: I haven’t seen it yet but I swear I’ve had thousands of you guys tell me about it. A bit afraid it will reduce me to tears at the moment. But may have to just bite the bullet and watch it this week!
Q: What’s your favourite control top underwear?
A: I would definitely say Spanx. I’m a Spanx girl, through and through.
Q: How are you handling lockdown?
A: I have written a larger piece on this, going live this week. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy one to write. Coming soon!
Q: How much clothes do you pay for vs. Gifted?
A: About 99% of what you see is bought by me. If something is gifted, I’ll say. But, it doesn’t happen very often, mostly because I find the stuff most brands want to gift is not a right fit for me! And I am not in the game of showing stuff to you guys that I don’t love and wouldn’t buy myself.
Q: Would you start your own line of clothing, interiors, lifestyle brand?
A: Heck yes!
Q: Favourite city? Why?
A: London. Always is, always will be. It’s my home.
Q: Will you please post the vanilla and chocolate cake recipe you posted about on instagram?
A: That’s a picture of the cake in question and it’s just made using a Betty Crocker Devil’s Food and White cake mix with vanilla and chocolate frosting. I am one of those people who prefers box cakes bakes to homemade. Call me crazy! But my gosh was this so good!
Q: Do you get your clothes tailored or wear them straight off the rack?
A: I very rarely tailor anything, because I don’t really need to as much. But, if I have something I really love that is just a bit off, I always take it to a local tailor. I would say about 2% of my closet has seen adjustments post purchase. I can’t recommend having a good tailor to hand enough!
Q: Fave South Carolina bloggers?
A: Another one I gotta do some work on so watch this space!
Now for the questions from previous weeks:
Q: How long have you been in the UK?
A: Nearly 20 years!
Q: What question are you tired of being asked?
A: “When do we get to meet your boyfriend?” Haha. Just kidding. Not tired of it. It just isn’t going to happen 🙂
Q: Dream meal – each course, doesn’t have to be from the same restaurant!
A: See this is where I know I’m going to let you down, big time. I’m pretty simple with my favourites and none of them come from restaurants that are big names with big awards. Pretty much all of them are fast food joints 🙂
Starter: Buffalo Wings from Orange Buffalo in London
Main: A shrimp burger from The Shrimp Shack on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
Dessert… an M&M Blizzard from any Dairy Queen in the USA!
Q: What do you do when feeling anxious / down / or homesick?
A: Here’s the realest answer I’ve got… I put on Gilmore Girls. I kid you not. Do you have a tv show that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Put it on. Even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. Put it on, put away all technology and focus only on the television. Alternatively, get lost in a book. Basically the trick is taking your focus off the thing that’s bringing you down. If Gilmore Girls doesn’t work for me, I pick up the phone to my mom. If I’m home in Beaufort, 100% it’s the dogs for me. Not sure if that helps. But to round it all up, I’d say find a distraction and don’t leave the distraction until you feel like a new person!
Q: You project a light that’s magnetic. How do you feed it?
A: First of all, that is super kind of you. May I just take a moment to remind everyone that what you are seeing on the gram is a slither of my life. I try to keep it as positive as possible, because I want my instagram to be as positive as possible. But, I don’t want it to, in any way, shape or form, send the message that I am always positive and happy. I try my best, but I have my days just like everyone else. I have the fed up moments, the sad moments and the moments where I just sit behind a closed door wishing the world away. I urge everyone to remember that every single one of us is choosing what we share on the old gram there.
Now, saying that, I do work very hard to try and remember that I only get one chance at this life. I spend at least an hour of every day reading books on philosophy, religion or biographies, that help keep that in perspective and encourage me to try and keep as positive a mindset at possible.
Q: Favourite American fast food?
Q: Are you ever going to live in London again?
A: I really hope so, but I’m not focusing on it too much right now. We don’t want to set a date or really even make a decision until things are back to normal. But, to be clear, I miss London like you can only imagine. It has a piece of my heart, now and forever.`
Q: Do you find work/life balance hard? All treats must feel like you need to post about them!
A: There is zero balance. Haha. Steve and I have both worked 7 day weeks since lockdown last March. Even my parents joke that I never stop working whenever I come home. Here’s the thing… I love what I do and everything I do, I pretty much share. So while it can be considered “work” I like to think it’s just my life. Never feels like work. For that, I feel like I’ve won the lottery everyday!
Q: How you did you meet your boyfriend? I love a good love story.
A: Sadly this won’t be one for the record books. We met online. I remember back in the day people used to think that was so taboo. Now it just seems it’s the way people meet. So yeah, that’s the story 🙂
Q: Your accent is so interesting. Do you think it’s because you’ve lived in the UK for so long?
A: Absolutely! Although I think it’s still very American because I swore I’d never pull a Madonna. She lived over here for about six weeks and immediately sounded British… and was ridiculed horribly for it. Plus, I’m proud of where I’m from. I hate that I’ve lost my southern accent. Hate it. I love when I’m home and it comes back naturally after two days. That’s the real me.
Q: What quirk between British and American culture still surprises you or trips you up?
A: There really aren’t too many left these days. The different way people eat, though, does always get me in trouble. When I’m in this country or the USA, it takes me a few days to remember how to properly use my knife and fork in each country. Driving also trips me up a bit. But, other than that, I don’t think there’s much difference for me personally anymore.
Q: What keeps you in the UK? You seem to miss the US a lot. I’d pick the UK over the US, in theory…
A: My work keeps me in the UK and has done for two decades. I’ve toyed with the idea of moving home every day of my life here. But recently, with COVID, I’ve had all the feelings about my choice to be so far away from home.
Q: Where did you go to college and what was your major?
A: I am very proud to say I attended an all women’s college called Sweet Briar in Virginia. I’ve written a massive article on how attending a single sex college changed everything for me, if you’re interested? I majored in Art History and minored in Studio Art.
Q: How big is your wardrobe?
A: Embarrassingly large. The boyfriend kindly gave me the second bedroom in the house to use as a closet when we moved out of London. What a gent!
Q: What’s your favourite Jane Austen book/ film?
A: Pride & Prejudice for the book and movie. Obsessed.
Q: Do you see yourself adopting a dog?
A: Absolutely! But it is so hard right now!
Q: If you ever did online dating, what photo would you use?
A: Oh, hold on a sec. I can show you the exact one I used three years ago! I wanted guys to know I was a girl who liked her food, first and foremost. Didn’t want anyone to think I was a lettuce pusher 🙂 I’m a burgers and fries, with a milkshake sorta lady 🙂 My best friend in California took this one night when we went out for late night In N Out!
Q: Do you walk to the village every day?
A: I actually live in the village, so technically I’m always here 🙂
Q: How do you paint a rosy picture of England when the news seems so bad? How so positive?
A: Because I truly believe everyday is a gift. That’s the be all and end all. Bad things are happening in every country of the world right now. The news is depressing as hell and there’s no end in sight to that constant focus on the negative. So I just have to remember how blessed I am that I am healthy and can use each and every day as as an opportunity to bring about change in the small way I can. That’s the only way I know how to put it. I’m an eternal optimist!
Q: Are ever going to meet your better half?
A: Not until someone puts a ring on it. 🙂
Q: How are you? I really hope you are fine!
A: Thank you so much for asking and can more people ask all of their friends and family this question? I think so many people just say “fine” and we move on. But, in my experience, that isn’t the answer 99.9% of the time! Today, I’m doing ok. It’s a rollercoaster, what we’re going through, and I don’t know anyone that’s doing “great.” Be kind, everybody, please. You truly never know what someone is carrying on their shoulders in the world we’re in right now.
Q: Do you ever struggle with dual identity / nationality?
A: Every single day of my life. But more about where I belong. One thing is for sure. I’m an American, first and foremost. One day soon, though, I will be a dual citizen and proud to be a part of this nation I call home!
Q: Do you want to meet my cousin who grew up in USA and lives just outside Stockbridge?
A: Open to meeting any and all new people once we’re allowed to again in the UK. Lockdown unfortunately means that’s not possible.
Q: Are you married? Ever been married?
A: Nope. In my dreams as a kid, I always thought I’d get married by the age of 30. No go. But being 40 and never married, the whole concept has a new meaning to me anyway. This is one for a longer personal essay. Will update when that’s written 🙂
Q: Have you decided where you want to live in the future? Town or Country?
A: At the moment, we are in the country for the foreseeable future. Although, I must admit that not a day goes by when we don’t talk about how much we miss London. I lived there for 19 years and moved out here thinking this would be temporary, until things were back to normal. Who knows when anything will be “normal” again, so I’m making the best of every day that I have here.
Q: Do you see yourself moving back to the US?
A: I will never rule it out. I’ve spent two decades of my life now in the UK and I do consider myself split right down the line as a citizen.
Q: When will you become a British Citizen? If at all?
A: I’m actually working on my application as I write! Very excited to finally be able to call myself a dual-citizenship individual. I’ll never give up my American passport, but I would like to become a more permanent part of this country after calling it home for so long.
Q: What do you do with clothes you are gifted by brands? I guess you can’t keep them all?
A: Ok, so here’s the thing, I’m not actually gifted that much clothing. I know… shocker. I buy 99.9% of the clothing that you see here on FFG. It is very rare that I get sent clothing out of the blue. Dear brands… feel free to overwhelm me! But, I do have a lot of clothing. I keep most of it. I consider myself an archivist when it comes to fashion. I have a storage unit where I keep my out of season clothing and clothing that’s become too small or too big. It’s all organised so it’s easy to access at a moment’s notice. Clothes that I don’t keep, for whatever reason, I donate to my local charity shop. I don’t resell, although I know a lot of you requested that. I could see that changing in partnership with a charity or something in the near future.
Q: Can you show us around your village shops?
A: I’d love to but they are all closed! Sadly, because of Covid, the only thing open is our local grocer, butcher and baker. The rest, including all three coffee shops that stayed open through 2020, have all closed due to present conditions. It’s a sad state of affairs and I’m hoping everything will reopen so I can show you around in the summer!
Q: What brings you the most joy?
A: Animals. Each and every day of my life. I miss my dogs so much, but I’m finding daily joy in visiting all the animals dotted around our village.
Q: How are things with Steve and the decision to move to the country?
A: Things are good, thank you for asking. As I’m sure many of you know, there are ups and downs in every partnership. But, we’re making the best of a situation that’s been tough on all of us. Remember, we weren’t living together before this massive change in both of our lives. I didn’t know what to expect. But, Steve has been amazing on so many levels and I’m so thankful for that.
Q: Do you offer personal styling?
A: I do! But, I also love hearing what style dilemmas people have so that I can share with everyone, thereby offering a sort of personal styling to all with each bit of advice I share. Hope that makes sense. But, if you are looking for some personal help, feel free to email me!
Q: What are you reading now? Anything you’re excited to read soon?
A: I have just opened a book that was sent to me by a woman who I consider to not only be a friend, but a mentor. It’s called “Fears to Fierce: A Woman’s Guide to Owning Her Power.” I will be talking about this more later….
Q: What have been your recent “escape” novels?
Q: When will you have your very own podcast? Would be amazing!
A: Oh my gosh. I don’t know. I feel like everyone and their uncle has a podcast now and I wouldn’t want to come to the table unless I could offer something totally different. It’s something I talk about a lot but I’m unsure if it will ever happen.
Q: Do you think Steve would move to the US?
A: I honestly don’t know. It’s not something we have talked about seriously.
Q: American Eagle Jeans – is there sizing UK or US? Can’t figure it out!
A: It’s US sizing. But, here’s the thing…. the sizes aren’t that different from UK to US. For example, I wear an 18UK and still order and 18US jean there. My advice? Order a few sizes. Once you’ve got your size sorted, American Eagle are very good at keeping their sizes consistent. I order the same size in every style at the moment.
Q: I love the Seasalt Raincoat on you. Is the hood a decent size? I often find they don’t cover my head / hairline.
A: For those of you that have no idea what we’re talking about, it’s the Janelle Raincoat from Seasalt. It’s £150 and in sizes 6-28. Don’t you just love that when brands try and include as many sizes as possible? Now, to answer the question about the hood. It’s the most perfect hood ever and it’s actually why I love this coat so much. I covers your hair and head, but somehow magically doesn’t obstruct your view or blow away in crazy weather. And let me tell you… Seasalt know crazy weather coming from Cornwall. Buy this raincoat! You won’t regret it!
Q: Favourite small business?
Q: If you could pick a favourite item of clothing which would it be and why?
A: The Ralph Lauren camel hair cardigan that my mother gave me when I was 17. It is the item that started my collection and the first piece of “designer” clothing I ever had in my closet. I felt like I was a supermodel on a New York catwalk every time I wore it as a young woman. Oh screw it, I still do!
Q: Where are your shoes from?
A: I’m assuming you are asking about my snowboots. They are from Lands End. They don’t stock the exact ones anymore but they have a few styles, every season, that are very similar and they are the ideal boots for hiking and snow walking. They are waterproof and comfortable as hell!
Q: That H Blanket in your stories, where is it from?
A: It’s an Hermes blanket. It was given to me years ago by my mother. Back then they had them in dozens of colours. I think you can still easily find them on eBay.
Q: Favourite places for plus size shopping?
A: I have written an entire guide for this and there are over 75 plus size brands on the list!
Q: Have you / Could you do a review of Good American jeans? Would love your expert eyes and view!
A: This doesn’t even have to be an in depth response! I adore Good American. I love just about everything they create, but their jeans have the best waistband I’ve worn yet. So comfy and so flattering! I just wish they’d do longer lengths. Maybe that’s coming! Fingers crossed! But, if you’re ok with cropped jeans, or are an average height, definitely buy a pair of these jeans. They are my fav for designer jeans.
Q: I am lost as to how to style different trouser/jean lengths with different boots!
A: Ok here are my rules of play with trousers and boots. Leggings can be worn with any boot, any height. Skinny jeans I will only wear with knee high boots or ankle boots. Cropped skinny jeans or flared crops, I’ll wear with ankle boots. Basically a little ankle is sexy and a long boot is flattering. But it really depends on so much with the outfit. So it isn’t the easiest question to answer but hope that helps.
Q: How do you acquire your amazing vintage finds (that aren’t from your mom’s closet)?
A: This I could talk about all day. Most of my amazing vintage finds have come from constantly popping into London designer resale stores. There are three London designer consignment stores that I swear by, religiously. I also love eBay and Vestaire Collective. Basically, you just have to be a hunter. It’s not an easy game, but when you win by finding a dream piece, it is truly an amazing feeling. I once found a £2,000 Ralph Lauren belt in a charity shop window in London for £10. I didn’t believe it was real, and kept thinking there was no way I was going to walk home with this find! I can’t encourage you enough to get involved in buying resale. It is a true pleasure.
Q: If money were no object what outfit/bags/shoes would you buy?
A: No surprise here… the outfit would be head to toe Ralph Lauren. The bag would probably be a Ralph Lauren Ricky as well. Darn it, I need to branch out don’t I?
Q: Tips please on search terms for the Ralph Lauren Blake Lively Red Dress from Vogue 2014? Obesessed!
A: Create a search alert on eBay and Vestaire Collective for “Ralph Lauren knit dress.” It narrows it enough and you might also find some dupes that are just as gorgeous!
Q: Do you have a monthly budget for clothes or does it vary?
A: I do not. I will say that clothing is my obsession. I spend more money on it than anything else. But, I do also save for it. I don’t spend a lot of money on anything else, except for plane tickets home. I am a collector, forever and always! I’m not sure if it’s a sickness or just simply a love for beautiful things. But I’m not ashamed of it 🙂
Q: Is the secret accessories, tailoring or confidence? I just always feels like a frump.
A: This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Clothing can make you feel confident, but confidence is also what makes an outfit, almost more so than the clothing. I think the trick here is to find things you love and feel amazing in. And you just keep trying things on, and looking for inspiration, until you find this sweet spot. I know that isn’t easy. But I also know so many women give up so easily. Don’t. Every woman, no matter her age or size, can look incredible. And you will know it when you find it. I firmly believe you will not look amazing unless you feel amazing. Never ever forget that!
Q: Top 10 brands for size 12/14 when you’re short?
A: I’m assuming this means you are looking for petite sizes? Sorry I don’t have more specifics, but let me just work with this assumption. If you’re a petite size 12/14, I would say Topshop, Boden, ASOS, J Crew, Anthropologie, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Zalando, Marks & Spencer.
Q: How to carry off tailoring and tucked in tops when you have big boobs?
A: I have to share the trick that has changed everything for me with big boobs and shirts!
That’s for solving the common big boob problem with button down shirts! If you want more advice, as this question seemed a bit “open,” feel free to come back at me with specifics!
Q: Where’s a good place to buy decent width belts?
A: Assuming you mean belts that are wide enough for plus size? I’ll tell you where I buy mine. At the moment, I’m obsessed with Mackenzie & George belts. I also buy a lot of vintage belts on eBay, simply by searching for my size. You would be amazed at what’s on offer. Try other sites like ASOS as well, that always have great belts. Sometimes even Zara will throw a belt out that can fit larger than a size 10. It’s very hit or miss with belts. Again, a lot of trying on.
Q: Favourite swimsuit or lingerie brands?
A: At the moment, I only wear Saint Somebody swimsuits as I have yet to find a brand that fits me better. They are beautifully flattering, comfortable, sexy… they tick all the boxes. They are also the only swimsuits I’ve ever worn on the gram…. that’s how confident I am in them!
Q: What’s your favourite way to style a knitted skirt?
A: Gotta be honest, it really depends on the skirt. I would usually wear something oversized on top, thinking that the knit skirt is pencil, so I don’t have to wear spanx. It would either be a big men’s button down shirt or a chic turtleneck sweater and I’d pair them both with trainers!
Q: Best jeans to own?
Q: Can you recommend a capsule wardrobe where everything goes together?
A: Watch this space. This is coming. In the works!
Q: Where was the fab orange bracelet from that your wore during your live this week?
A: It was Hermes! I have a tiny collection of Hermes bracelets for big moments in my life. It’s a bit of a nasty habit but I adore their jewellery. I haven’t bought in a while, though, as the bracelets are a lot more expensive. The exact one I’m wearing is the Chic H Bracelet. It was bought 10 years ago but I still wear it regularly!
Q: What’s your favourite feel awesome & winning the day outfit?
A: Double denim. If I want to feel amazing but have no idea what to wear, it’s also blue jeans and a denim top. From there I can throw anything else on top and I know it will look chic!
Q: Belts or shoes?
A: Always belts. I’m obsessed.
Q: Where is your beautiful blue wide belt from?
A: It’s old season Polo Ralph Lauren. But, every single season they release the most incredible belts. I wear a size XL! Also…. check ebay and Vestaire Collective!
Q: What leggings did you wear on your walk today and this icy winter wind didn’t get thru and you didn’t freeze?
A: They were from Girlfriend Collective, who I adore because the leggings fit properly, come in extended sizes, don’t budge and seem to act as a thermos would… they keep me warm or cool depending on what I need. Ha!
Q: Worst high school fashion choice?
A: Oh goodness. Where do I start? I once worn Tommy Hilfiger men’s clothes, from top to bottom, complete with a baseball cap because I thought the androgynous look was really cool. Trust me when I say I did not come off as chic AT ALL. I’m still scarred by it.
Q: How important is it to you to ensure the beauty brands you promote are cruelty free?
A: I’m going to be 100% honest with you here and say that I haven’t spent a lot of time looking into this with the brands I am sent and share on the gram. I should be better about this so thank you for calling me up on it.
Q: What type of under eye cream do you use?
A: This is an easy one 🙂 For the morning, I wear Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Eye Base. Basically my holy grail for using under a concealer so that the makeup doesn’t bunch into my eye creases. Can’t recommend highly enough. At night, I use Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum. I have super sensitive skin and this is the ONLY retinol I have been able to use continuously around my eyes without irritation. Only took me about ten years to discover this beauty (although in all honesty I have no idea how long it’s been around but I absolutely adore it).
Q: Favourite Bubble Bath?
A: Ok, at the moment I don’t have a favourite, because I don’t have a bath. Ugh.
But, I can tell you a little secret about how I get great bubbles when I’m taking hotel shots of baths. Is that a good compromise? If you’re trying to get lots of bubbles in a big bath, mix one small hotel bottle of body wash with one small hotel bottle of shampoo as the water is being drawn and you’ll get bubble heaven. I’ll come back to this when I’ve got a good recommendation! Sorry!
Q: Any regular facial treatments you swear by?
A: Yes! When the world was open, I used to get regular facials at Medicetics in London – THE ONLY place I trust with my skin and have done for about a decade. Their team are second to none, in my opinion, and will tell you exactly what you need depending on your skin concern. That’s really the best way to go about any facial treatments – get expert opinions! But, since the world isn’t open at the moment for such visits, I do have a few things I love doing at home right now.
I absolutely love Drunk Elephant’s BabyFacial, which is not for everyone as it’s definitely very powerful but it does give the best glow I know without going into a derma’s office. I’m also a bit of a geek for Sarah Chapman’s Facialift Tool.
Q: What are the best places to visit in South Carolina when we get to travel again?
A: This is too plentiful to place here, but I promise a guide is coming. I was planning on doing a full on guide last year and building it up over 2020… clearly that wasn’t meant to happen. So stick with me. It’s coming!
Q: What is your fav destination in The Mediterranean?
A: It is 100% the coast of Crotia!
Q: Are there shopping malls in the UK or more stand alone stores?
A: Shopping malls have been around in the UK for a while, but when I first moved here 20 years ago you only found them outside of central London. Then, when I moved to West London they broke ground on one of London’s first Westfield malls. There are now two, one on the east side of town and one on the west. I felt so American wondering around Westfield for the first time. It was surreal. I was so used to shopping Oxford, Regent or Bond Street in the rain! Haha.
Q: Please explain Marks & Spencer to this Lowcountry girl. The food and fashion is throwing me.
A: Ok, this is making me laugh as I know we don’t really have anything similar in the USA. M&S is basically a one stop shop. People dip in for lunch and leave with a cashmere sweater and a sandwich or a set of underwear and sushi. It’s incredible. I didn’t really understand it when I first moved over here, but now I’m a total convert. I also have to say, in case you didn’t know, there is a Marks & Spencer USA! It has all your clothing and lingerie needs sorted. So, if you ever see me wearing M&S, you can almost always shop the same look in the USA with no nasty surcharges for shopping abroad.
Q: First vacation post Covid?
A: My first trip is going to be home to see my family. That will be a vacation and an all around lifesaver. But, my first real vacation will be on a Seabourn Cruise. I am desperate to support this industry that has literally been shaken to the core, more so than any other. I’m going to book a trip for me, my parents and my little brother and off we go. TBC on where….
Q: What is your absolute favourite luxury hotel in London and why?
A: It will always and forever be Claridge’s. There’s no contest there. There is a magic at Claridge’s that is found nowhere else. It has captured my heart and I recommend it constantly.
Q: Recommendation for a first time visit to England – London seems too overwhelming!
A: Ok, I totally get that. London can, from the outside, look like a pretty daunting place. Let me be the first to tell you that I was terrified, as a country girl moving into this massive big city. The Tube was what frightened me most. But, by day two I was a confident expert. So please don’t feel overwhelmed. It is pretty easy to get around and I highly recommend embracing the buses in London. Just get your google maps going and jump in. It’s so much easier now, with mobile phones, than it was when I moved here in 2002 and you had to use an A-Z to get around. That was hell.
But, if you want to jump into England and ease into London, I would recommend starting perhaps in the Cotswolds. Or perhaps Cambridge, Oxford or Yorkshire? I can do a full work up on this if you guys are interested.
Saying that, please don’t be afraid of London. It is not just another big bad city. It is a beautiful and welcoming place that I have been privileged to call home for so long.
Q: When do you think travel home will be a thing again?
A: I have no clue. Absolutely no clue. But I know the day we can will be the best day, won’t it? I just gotta keep thinking it’s coming. I know I can’t put a date out there, though. I don’t want to jinx anything!
Q: What do you miss most about London now that you are in the countryside?
A: Deliveroo and Uber Eats. HAHA! No really… I miss my friends. They became my family and now we are so far apart.
Q: What are your favourite accessories on a cold winter walk?
A: My Tripod for my camera, good boots, big socks and a bottle of water!
Q: Favourite Afternoon Tea Location in London?
Q: I’ve been offered my dream job but I want to have a baby in the next year….
A: I’m not sure I’m the most qualified to answer this, but I’m going to give you the advice I would give to a little sister or a best friend. Take the dream job! You’re not having the baby right now. You’re being offered the dream job right now. Anything could happen in the next year. You could find your dream job also is completely understanding and supportive of working mothers. You could find that your dream job isn’t your dream job at all. Or you could decide that perhaps you want to put a family on hold for this dream job. My whole philosophy on life is that you only have the here and now. Do what will make you happy now. The rest always falls into place! And ps…. congrats on being offered your dream job!
Q: Did you find it dating hard? As a plus size girl… it seems harder for me.
A: I found dating hard for so many reasons, and there was a part of me that was always very scared about meeting people in person. I thought they might see me and realise that perhaps I wasn’t what I looked like in my pictures. I’m a woman that is 6’2 and as much as I say that… people are always surprised when they meet it in person. I was always so so scared. Then I learned something….
I don’t remember who told me this, but a friend said to me, “stop going into dates wondering if they are going to like YOU. YOU need to start going into dates worrying about whether YOU are going to LIKE THEM.” And just like that everything changed. EVERYTHING. Every time I went on a date, I didn’t give a toss what they thought of me. I was myself and that was the best thing I could be. That was what I brought to the table. Instead of worrying about if I looked good, if my hair was right or if I had anything in my teeth, I was paying attention to the person across the table from me and trying to figure out if this person was the right person.
Please go into dating with that advice. Show the real you. Realise that the real you is what you want to show and stop focusing on your looks. Focus on whether the other person is good enough for how incredibly special YOU ARE!
Q: Grieving the loss of a pet. How?
A: I can’t even. I don’t know what to offer up for this. It is the most horrible feeling. But, here’s what has always comforted me. Have you heard the story of the Rainbow Bridge?
If you’ve never read it, go and read it now here: The Rainbow Bridge.
Oh god, I just read it again. I can’t …. I just can’t. I’m so sorry, my darling.
Q: Best advice for someone thinking about moving to the UK? South Carolina girl here!
A: Just do it! Ok, I know it’s not that easy. To move to the UK you have to have a visa. There are several different ways to go about this. If you want to read about how I did it, you can read my story here. I will say it can be really scary to change up your whole life and call a new country home and I want to tell you something that no one ever told me. Please don’t take this as a negative. I just wish someone had given me the upfront info so I could have made a choice. If you love where you are now, in South Carolina, and you move to the UK, your heart will be split in two forever. It truly will. You will have two homes. And I have to tell you that this has been the toughest adjustment for me and, from what I hear from other expats, will always be the toughest part.