This unusual looking creature hasn’t had the easiest start in life. It is one of the most Critically Endangered amphibian’s in the world, but was discovered in a cereal box by UK Border Force agents as someone attempted to illegally smuggle him and three others into the country. Today, this Chinese giant salamander Continue reading “The world’s largest amphibian makes London debut”
Every year, I am honoured to be invited back to Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Awards. Last month, I flew back from Germany earlier than planned to attend the ceremony at London’s Continue reading “Another wonderful year at Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Awards”
I was made aware of Beth’s story when in discussion with a fellow guest at this year’s Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Awards in London last week. From the brief story I heard, I knew I had to find out more about her eye-opening campaign and short film on the cub petting industry, so got in touch with Beth myself. Here’s what she had to say…
C: How would you describe Claws Out?
B: Claws Out began as an awareness blog and soon snowballed into a full time role as a Campaign Manager for IAPWA (International Aid for the Protection & Welfare of Animals). The entire entity stemmed from my experience as a volunteer in 2015, hand rearing lion cubs after being led to believe that I was contributing towards conservation. It’s now the charity’s only lion welfare campaign, raising awareness about the plight of lions in South Africa Continue reading “Spotlight: Claws Out founder, Beth Jennings, reveals the truth behind cub petting”
In April, my partner asked me to marry her and I, of course, said yes! For my birthday earlier this year, she’d bought me a voucher for afternoon tea at London’s Fortnum & Mason since it’s my favourite shop and I’ve always wanted to go there for it. When I arrived (as I was meeting her there from work) I saw that she had a rose… that’s when I knew something was going on.
Filled with excitement and anticipation, we were seated at a table by the window. With the sun beaming in, and before having ordered anything, she started telling me how much I meant to her. And that’s when it happened! Once I’d figured out what she was going to ask me, I was itching to say yes but I didn’t want to ruin what she’d prepared, so waited patiently. It was from then on that I had the biggest grin plastered across my face and it stayed there for the rest of the day. I wish I could relive it over and over as everything was just perfect and so filled with joy.
Now, we’re in full wedding planning mode. With one venue appointment done and several booked for this month, with the invitations designed and the guest list almost written, along with preparing to try on my first bridal dresses this weekend… life couldn’t be any better!
Last Friday, my cousin and I headed to London’s Troxy theatre near Limehouse for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio’s latest show, Not Today Satan.
Filled with excitement, we arrived at the venue, of which the queue snaked around the building. We knew we had tickets for Row Y, but naively we didn’t realise it was the very last row at the very back. Being a mere 5 foot 2 and a lifelong glasses wearer, this proved to be a slight problem. The staff at the Box Office however, were so wonderful and were able to offer us tickets closer to the stage…. five rows from the front!!!
Now, I knew Bianca was going to be funny but in no way, shape or form was I prepared for the high volume of laughs that she was able to bring out of the audience. Although I was a little apprehensive, I was delighted to find that she was just as funny as when we saw her on Drag Race. In my opinion, she took the evening to the next level when she would come out with on the spot comments, which were reactions to the audience. By the end of the show, my face was aching and I had a stitch in my side.
What I love about Bianca, is that she is not afraid to go there. No race, gender or human on this planet is safe from her Rolodex of Hate. For the almost two hours she was on stage, she made you believe everything was great with the world. Although briefly mentioned, you didn’t dwell on Trump, there were no thoughts on the shit show called Brexit. It literally was just a barrel of laughs. I can’t wait to see her perform again!
If you didn’t get a chance to see Bianca on tour, do not fear… it’s coming to DVD soon. The performance I attended was one of the shows being recorded, so who knows… I may even be in it! Be sure to keep an eye on her website for more details. With all the crap going on in the world at the moment, watching Not Today Satan is something you won’t regret.
Thankfully this week wasn’t as eventful as the previous, even if the city’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, did declare a public health emergency following the toxic air that descended upon London.
17th – time to plan:
On a Tuesday, the team would usually need to stay much later than 5:30pm to ensure that the magazine was completed in time for the Wednesday deadline. Now, we’re getting things complete so much quicker. This allowed me to spend time researching and planning ahead for future issues.
18th – sunshine:
I noticed when I got off the tube and begun walking towards the office that the sun was shining down on my face. This brought a feeling of calm and was a nice change from the cold, rainy weather we’ve had of late.
Two of my good friends, Laura and Sarah, excitingly got engaged last October. Since they’ve got lots of friends, I wasn’t expecting to be asked to go but I was overjoyed when I received an invite! There’s nothing like planning for a wedding – even if it is six months away…
20th – working from home:
To promote our magazine, The Week Junior, we had a stand at Kidzania’s Careers Week event. Logistically it made no sense to go to the office for half an hour before leaving for my 11 o’clock start, so instead I worked from home for a couple of hours and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sun was shining, I missed the morning rush and I was able to have marmite on my toast! The little things… plus I had an absolute blast at Kidzania. I hope to work there again sometime.
I was also greatful for old English gentlemen:
Usually on the tube, people push to get on, terrified that it’ll leave without them. On my way back to the office, after working a couple of hours at Kidzania, a gentleman who was probably in his 80’s insisted that I get on the tube first even though I had been behind him on the platform. It was so kind!
21st – a decent sleep:
I decided to head home the previous night to suprise my mum as my plans had changed last minute. It was pure heaven to not have noisy neighbours above me hollering throughout the night.
22nd – slipper socks:
In the Christmas sales I treated myself to an unbelievably cosy pair of slipper socks that have the fluffiest of linings. They were practically glued to my feet all weekend as I refused to take them off!
The increased pollution and dense fog meant that the temperature was also affected, making the morning commute a very chilly one.
So writing little and often didn’t quite go to plan… especially when I was writing daily paragraphs on my phone! I think I’ll instead publish my small daily entries on a weekly basis as a sort of roundup to what I am grateful for.
10th – good feedback:
Last week, my responsibilities were increased at work. Both my manager and editor praised me on what I’d produced that day. It’s such a fantastic feeling to know that I’m doing a good job.
After becoming unwell the moment I got into work, the HR department (who were kindly looking after me) were forced to call the paramedics. They arrived within minutes and were wonderful. They took care of me, checking all my vitals and keeping me preoccupied to bring me around quicker. It was my first experience of receiving paramedic and ambulance staff care and they were absolutely wonderful. After the medics gave me the all clear, my company kindly paid for a cab home (which was very much appreciated).
Following the previous day’s events, I decided to stay home to let my body fully recover. Whilst recovering in bed, I finished The Vampire Diaries, The OA, watched the Sense8 Christmas Special and watched more Scorpion and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. What would I have done without this top streaming service?!
When I returned to work after my dodgey spell, both my team and the HR members that looked after me all showed their true colours. They all expressed their concern and asked how I was feeling, which they didn’t have to but was really nice of them. When I began to flag in the afternoon, a colleague helped me finish off my page as I just couldn’t focus.
14th – a good nights sleep:
Since the mid-week drama, I hadn’t been able to relax enough to get a decent nights sleep. Although the flat upstairs seemed to be having a Bob Marley party, I was still able to get a decent nights sleep, which was heavenly.
15th – adventures:
Exploring London with two of my good friends, we went to the Natural History Museum… in my opinion the greatest museum in the UK. We saw the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, which is always so inspiring.
To me, there’s nothing better than climbing into bed after putting fresh sheets on following a long day at work.
Until next time….
Happy New Year!
Last year, my posts were very sporadic… I discovered that becoming a writer as a full-time job, sadly made me less inclined to spend my free time sat typing away on my MacBook.
This year however, I’ve decided that I will write little and often. As well as my drag queen posts I will be writing short posts about the things I am grateful for. In today’s society, we as humans spend the majority of our time focusing on the negatives… how expensive things are, when we get stuck in traffic or (especially in the UK) the weather. I want to change that.
I will not be setting myself New Year’s resolutions this time (although I did achieve all three of 2016’s). Instead I’m going to be mindful. I’m going to appreciate every day for what it is… a day to live my life as much as possible.
1st January 2017 – Best friends:
On this New Year’s day I woke up at my best friends house after celebrating the beginning of the year at theirs.
2nd – Stress free journey:
Here in the UK, today was a bank holiday – a public holiday honouring New Year’s day (which fell on a Sunday this time). Although here at The Week Junior we had to come into work, the public holiday meant that the pavements, and more excitingly the tube trains, were gloriously empty. I wasn’t stuck in anyone’s sweaty armpit, I didn’t have to swerve to avoid dawdlers and to top it off – the sun was shining brightly in the sky. It was wonderful!
3rd – today I was grateful for going to bed early.
Because the magazine goes to print on a Wednesday, the team would usually stay in the office until around 7/8pm on a Tuesday, but following a team shake up last year we seem to be more capable of leaving at a reasonable time. We left the office just half an hour later, which allowed me to have dinner and fall asleep much earlier than usual.
4th – touchscreen gloves!
I’d forgotten I’d ordered them over the Christmas break and now can’t imagine ever going back to normal ones. Not only can I now keep them on in the cold weather, but they also have the most divine fluffy lining. It’s the little things in life!
5th – increased responsibility at work.
To keep us writers continually learning and developing their skills, we often switch pages and this time, I have been given another page and a half!
6th – Christmas discounts!
Most people see January as the most depressing time of the year… not me! I picked the right day to shop in Debenhams as they were reducing everything to 70% off! I managed to get some fabulous bargains for this year’s parties and presents.
7th – I know I already said this at the start of the month, but it’s hanging out with best friends. I spent the weekend at their house again – we recorded some tracks, watched telly and enjoyed a Chinese takeaway.
8th – adult colouring books.
It may not still be a big thing but I still enjoy taking some time out of my normal life to immerse myself in some therapeutic colouring. My besties bought me this unicorn colouring book (right) for Christmas and I couldn’t resist making a start, more or less, straight away.
9th – walking.
In London, there was a tube strike which closed the majority of the network forcing many people to find alternative means to get around the city. I opted to walk since the journey would only take 50 minutes and luckily, my friend from work lives close by, so we shared the journey both to and from the office together.
LOCA! This queen may have looked fierce every time she stepped out onto the runway but as we soon discovered, she has a heart of gold. The only queen from Season 1 not to have been in the bottom two lip syncing for her life and the first to ever enjoy a legendary tic-tac lunch with Mama Ru (in my eyes, the true winner of the first season of the best show in the world). Prepare yourself for the fabulousness that is Miss Nina Flowers!
Nina Flowers provided us with so many incredible moments in Season 1 – from nailing the carwash photoshoot and winning the very first challenge, to vogueing it out on the runway and (rightfully) winning Miss Congeniality later on in the season. Aside from being an absolute sweetheart that the other queens could only ever say good things about, Nina’s sense of humour was top notch. Instead of crumbling when things went a little wonky, Nina knew how to laugh at herself. For example, during the teleprompter challenge, Nina ever so sweetly read out “This is your name, good night”… instantly cracking up as she realised what she had said. Another stellar example of her vibrant sense of humour was during the mini challenge with the female fighters in the makeover episode. After straddling the punchbag and showing it who was boss, doing a move that they called the “ground and pound”, Nina shouted “Don’t talk back to my face bitch!” at the punchbag. I’m in stitches every time I see that scene!
During the MAC Viva Glam episode, Nina revealed that recording the message would be a challenge as she thinks in Spanish and sometimes doesn’t know how to translate some words. In my opinion, she had nothing to worry about – she looked fierce and got the message across perfectly. What I also thought was really lovely and showed off her beautiful character, was that as she left the set she thanked the two models (later to be known as the Pit Crew), which the other queens did not. In the voiceover, as she pummelled the runway in her iconic feathered cuffs, she said “If I like what I see, it doesn’t matter what anybody else has to say… because I feel good about myself ”. This should be the mantra in everyone’s life!
One of my favourite episodes was the Absolut Vodka one where Nina transformed herself into Miss Mango. Having to prepare three looks that week (swimsuit, executive realness and an eleganza evening gown), Ru asked Nina during the walkthrough who she’d be drawing inspiration from for her executive realness look. “I’m basing the executive woman in the image of my mom… She was not only my mom, she was my best friend. She always encouraged me to go for the things I wanted in life”.
Nina may have dedicated herself to the art of female impersonation for over 20 years, but she is also an incredibly talented DJ. You can tell Nina has rhythm flowing through her veins after she nailed the choreography for RuPaul’s music video, Cover Girl. During the iconic lunch with Ru, she told Nina “You’re a legendary queen and I cannot tell you how happy I am to have you here”.
I’m overjoyed to reveal that I had the pleasure and privilege to interview Miss Nina… something I feel deeply honoured to have done. Read on for her fabulous answers!
Chloe: What made you audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Nina: I had recently moved to Denver, Colorado, and I was still looking for work, so it was an opportunity considering my schedule was flexible. A friend of mine from Puerto Rico told me about an online competition for Drag Queens to appear on a reality TV show. Drag performers on TV – never heard of it, so I was happy to fill out a profile.
Chloe: If you were to be cast in Season 9, who would you play in Snatch Game and why?Nina: Cyndi Lauper, she has always been one of my biggest inspirations. In fact, she was my #1 choice for All Stars, but at the very last minute I changed everything. I really thought it would be interesting to bring some of my Latin culture into the show, plus I wanted to challenge myself, so chose La Lupe.
Chloe: Who or what inspires Nina’s incredible style?
Nina: I’m a child of the 80s. While my name was inspired by one of my all time favourite punk rocker artists, Nina Hagen, she has also inspired many of my looks. I’m also inspired by artists such as Boy George, Cyndi Lauper and Annie Lennox, to name a few.
Chloe: What’s your favourite song at the moment?
Nina: I’m very particular about my music…kind of like my drag. I don’t listen to radio that much. I like stuff that is very progressive and raw. My favourite at the moment is Isaac Escalante & Xavier Santos feat Alan T – Like A Man (Original Mix). It’s super hot!!
Chloe: If you were to get stuck in a lift (elevator), which celebrity would you want to be in there with (past or present) and why?
Nina: In a situation like that I would want to be stranded with someone incredibly funny so that they would make me forget I’m stuck in an elevator. I would love to go through that with the mother of punk rock, and as I mentioned previously my #1 of all times, Nina Hagen. She is hysterical and the bitch can sing! So I’m sure she’d be making jokes and singing in that elevator…lol
Chloe: If you could have any magical power, what would it be and why?
Nina: Make everyone smile. Things are so different when people smile at you. A smile makes everything feel right, makes everyone feel like they belong. A smile is so powerful – it can wash away all your insecurities. Smiling is priceless.
Chloe: Have you visited the UK before and if so, what’s your favourite thing about it?
Nina: Yes, I visited about two years ago. I loved it – the people, the architecture, the culture… everything. I had the pleasure of performing at West 5 Bar, in London; The Village Inn in Birmingham, and Cheerz in Aberdeen. Now I look forward to visiting again, but this time for my music.
I just want to say a huge thank you to Nina for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions – it will forever be appreciated. I hope to see you perform and/or DJ one day, whether that be here in London or over in the U.S. Stay fiercely fabulous!
28. What are you looking forward to?
This week I was asked by one of my bestest friends if I wanted to march for Macmillan in this years London Pride Parade on the 25th June… my answer was of course YES!
I’ve not been to any Pride celebrations before so this is going to be a huge experience for me. I’m looking forward to being among all the jubilation, the party atmosphere and surrounded by the most accepting people in all of London. They’re all my family! and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!
I’m hoping that even though the parade doesn’t finish until 4pm, I’ll still get to see some of the Pride in Trafalgar gig… although they still haven’t announced who’s going to be performing which is super exciting!
So to anyone who may be heading to London to enjoy the day… HAPPY PRIDE!