A Night with Katie Hopkins!

Whether you love her or hate her, everyone knows her...the infamous Katie Hopkins. Controversial to most people's opinions, I adore Katie- I genuinely think she's fabulous. It's not that I necessarily agree with all that she says (although I do agree with most) but it's the fact that she is not afraid to speak her mind, regardless of what may come back to her because of it. She is, and I quote "40 and fearless". As a writer myself, I find this attitude very admirable, and it inspires me on a daily basis. When the tickets went on sale to participate in a Q and A with Katie as well as a meet and greet, I decided this was an opportunity that I could not afford to miss!

The event was held on the 17th floor of The News Building in London, which is the Sun's headquarters. The room was made up entirely of glass windows, so the view was absolutely incredible- especially at night, although unfortunately I couldn't get a picture!

Luckily, me and my boyfriend, Alex, were the among the first few people to arrive at the venue. Katie actually walked past us in the hallway whilst we were waiting with her little entourage of people and I nearly died with the excitement of it all!! We were fortunate enough to get front seats, so I had a brilliant view for the whole night.

Upon our arrival, we were also given two tokens for free drinks during the event...it all felt very upper class and sophisticated!

The event itself was wonderful. Katie was being "grilled" by The Sun celebrity interviewer, Dan Wootton. He asked her questions in categories, with the chance to ask a few questions regarding each category once he was finished interviewing. I found this a little disappointing as none of the questions I wanted to ask her were relevant to the categories he interviewed her about, and whilst there was a general Q and A at the end of the event, it was a battle to be picked, and unfortunately I was not. However, I did hear some really interesting things about Katie that I had not been aware of before- such as, her husband works in a donkey sanctuary, she desperately wanted to be in the army but couldn't because of her epilepsy (that was two in one there!) and she only listens to two men in her life- her editor at The Sun and her husband!

The categories Dan covered throughout the Q and A/interview included her appearances on The Apprentice, I'm A Celebrity and Celebrity Big Brother, her incredible weight gain and weight loss journey, her controversial television appearances including the infamous geographical name debate and her argument with the late Peaches Geldof and her views on race, depression and politics. It was so insightful getting to hear full explanations regarding her views and opinions outside of the limited 140 characters on Twitter. A lot of people fully admitted they went in hating Katie, but once they had heard her full story about everything, actually really agreed with her and appreciated what she was saying.

After the Q and A, we got the opportunity to have a meet and greet with her. The crowd of people that surged forwards in about 3.7 seconds was insane, and she must have felt so overwhelmed by it all- I definitely did! However, somehow I managed to be the fourth person she met, and it was the best experience I have ever had. I mentioned that I tweeted her a lot and she often replied, even calling me beautiful once. Then I explained that I was a writer who aspired to be as confident in myself as she was, and that I found her attitude in life so inspiring. She gave me two big cuddles and told me never to give up, and to keep going even when I got those knock backs from "haters". I thanked her and gave her another cuddle...before running over to Alex and crying! It was enough to meet my inspiration, but having her be so lovely to me was just too much!

After the session, I was pulled aside to do a quick interview about the event and my thoughts on Katie...I don't know where that will be going but as soon as I do I will provide a link in this post!

In my opinion, I think people are too quick to judge Katie. If you don't read her columns, or hear the full backstory to her tweets, you can never fully understand or appreciate what she's trying to say. Some of her tweets look very out of context if you haven't read her columns. Hearing the full story behind her views has only made me admire her more, and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to attend this event and have a chat with the woman herself!

Katie, if you ever read this- thank you for such a fabulous event and for inspiring me every day. I hope we get to meet again...maybe even with me interviewing you!

Love from,
Florence Grace

Going in One Direction towards insanity.

#cutforzayn ... arguably the most ridiculous hashtag to ever have trended on Twitter, alongside the #cutforbieber that came a few years before now.

Let's just take a look at the facts, and at what has caused so much distress that a worldwide fandom feels the need to self harm.

What has happened

- Zayn Malik left One Direction due to stress and wanting to live a normal life without being under the spotlight.

What hasn't happened

- Zayn has not died.
- One Direction have not broken up- they are continuing as a quartet.
- The world tour has not been cancelled, One Direction will continue to perform as a quartet.
- The world has not ended.

Take some time to go over those facts in your head, and evaluate them how you will. I'm sure you only need about 2.4 seconds to realise that, ultimately, nothing too terrible has happened and that there is definitely nothing to be self harming over.

Now, I'm fully prepared for the hate I will receive for writing what some fan girls may consider "slander" about their beloved 1D and I am prepared for death threats, something that commonly happens to anyone who speaks any kind of ill about the band (and may I point out how ridiculous it is that I have to prepare myself for that) but I thought it was important to point out that this is the most ridiculous thing I have seen happen since social media began.

If you were real One Direction fans and adored Zayn that much, you would accept his decision to leave for his own health and well being and let him go quietly, without causing a fuss similar to a three year old's temper tantrum. I'm sure Zayn is more than a little relieved to have left the band now that it's been revealed just how psychotic his "fans" are. Bear in mind that by acting the way you are, "fans", you're probably causing him a great amount of unwanted stress. Stop playing up in this ridiculous manner and give the guy a break.

Furthermore, self harm is NOT a joke, it is not trendy, it is not fashionable and it is not something that should be discussed, talked about and done so lightly. People who self harm are very ill people, who often need professional help and medical attention to help them get back to good health, both mentally and physically. I'm shocked that Twitter even allows a trend such as #cutforzayn to happen, and I find it disgusting the way images are being spread across the internet for all to see for such a stupid reason.

I'm going to speak very generally when I say that I am sure most of the fans are not depressed over Zayn's departure, but just very upset. I'm also sure that most of the fans feel no desire to self harm, and are totally against it, but don't want to be left out of the cult- sorry, fandom. This would explain why so many are faking self harm.

Which leads me to my next point. I can't decide if faking self harm is worse than those that actually are self harming. Faking self harm shows a blatant lack of respect for the seriousness of actually self harming. Self harm is not a joke, it is not something that you do just because you feel sad one day for half an hour and have seen the glorified pictures on Tumblr telling you that it helps.

There isn't really much of a point to this post, other than me wanting to tell the 1D "fans" to GET A GRIP. If your parents knew you were self harming over a boy band, they would no doubt ban you from listening to music ever again. This new "trend" is disrespectful to those actually suffering from self harm, triggering for those who are suffering/have suffered and is just plain stupid.

Think how disappointed Zayn would be. How disappointed the rest of the band would be. How disappointed your parents would be. One Direction are sure to be terrified to make any big lifestyle changes now, for fear that they are going to damage their fans. No one deserves to live with that knowledge on their shoulders! Take a long hard look at what you are doing "fans" and think about your actions. Self harm is not a joke, and not a trend.

Love from,
Florence Grace

It's fact over fiction for me now!

The last week or so has been relatively quiet for me- and this is not something that happens to me a lot! I took advantage of this time to relax , and spent a lot of it catching up on programs that I usually miss throughout the week due to my busy schedule. Once I had run out of programs, I went in search of something more...and came across the documentary section on 4od. I don't usually watch a lot of documentaries, so was a little unsure about starting, but with nothing to lose, I picked one to watch. And then another. And another. And another. I was hooked! My mind felt more open to issues and controversial points than it ever had before, and I was finding that I had a serious interest in what was going on around me in the world- and I knew I had to share it with you all. So here is a compilation of the documentaries that I liked the most! Enjoy!

1) Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True.

This was the first documentary that I decided to watch, and the title immediately drew me in. I live in a pretty culturally diverse town, and there are always racial issues arising. People find it hard to pass comments about them without being called "racist"- even if what they are saying is true. Many of these same points were raised in this documentary, and I think that it was a brave thing to do, to speak so freely about racial issues on TV, leaving the presenter, Trevor Phillips, completely open to judgement and- more likely- criticism. I found it all very thought provoking though, and I think it's important for anyone to watch it.

2) Underage and Gay.

Underage and Gay was a documentary regarding the fact that people are expressing their sexual preferences and gender identities at a younger age than ever before- with some being just 12 or 13. I found this quite a shocking statistic, but it made me think- perhaps because we live in a world where as it is now more accepted (not entirely yet though unfortunately) to be gay, trans, asexual, however you choose to identify, it helps people to tell others about how they feel regarding their sexual orientation etc. I see this as an entirely positive thing, and think it's very sad when family and friend's choose not to accept someone's preferences in life. This documentary showed just how difficult it can be to live as anything other than straight, and I think it was  good eye-opener. 

3) The Paedophile Next Door.

I tend to stay away from programs such as this, because I am very sensitive to abuse towards children- it makes me hurl and I can't bear to think about it. However, this was a program with a new persepective, looking at paedophilia as more of a mental illness than just someone who is "disgusting" or "messed up". When I first started watching the program, my thoughts were that paedophiles are disgusting with no excuse. After the program, my mind is slightly more open to the fact that it is a genuine illness, and perhaps if we were more understanding and willing to help, we could reduce the rate of abuse towards children. It's a controversial documentary and very thought provoking indeed, I recommend everyone watches this one. 

4) My Self-Harm Nightmare.

This was a documentary that really hit me hard. Having grown up in an environment where self-harm was regularly happening and visible to me, with even some of my closest friends suffering, this program really broke my heart and made me quite emotional. It's hard hitting but factual, and I think it's important to watch this so that you can understand what people who are suffering are going through- as well as leaning some of the signs to look out for to prevent any issues from happening to someone you know. This program is likely to trigger you if you have done/are suffering and is very emotional. Watch with caution, or avoid completely if you feel it may affect you in a negative way. 

5) Dreams of a Life.

This was a real life story, turned into a film, and I have never been so entranced, so captured and wrapped up in a story/film. It's all about a woman who died alone in her house and was left there, undiscovered and unnoticed for three years. It seems so unbelievable but is all true, and I found it so interesting to watch. It's a heartbreaking story, but holds so much intrigue and mystery you almost forget that this actually happened to someone. I think the film like format made it even more enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. 

Have you watched any of these documentaries? Are you going to? Let me know your thoughts on them! 

Love from, 
Florence Grace 

What I've learnt whilst dating a skater...

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My other half has been skating for nearly his whole life, and it's now something he's trying to make a career out of, through his business Stoke Skate Co. Skating was something that I had never really known much about, thought much about, or even cared much about...until I met him. Now, despite me not being a skater, or even caring for the sport that much, I feel well educated in the whole topic of skating! Here's what I've learnt whilst dating a skater...

1) Your relationship will have a third wheel...with it's own set of wheels. 
Many girls will complain about their boyfriend's love for cars. Ha! Try dating a skater. Whilst you would assume that, as a girlfriend, you take priority in everything, a skateboard follows close behind you- if not even pulling up alongside you! A skaters time will be split 50/50 because a skateboard means as much to a skater as their significant other.

2) You will be forced to watch videos of people falling down and be expected to admire them for trying such amazing tricks.
To you, it's horrific. A poor guy just fell face first down 20 steps! Where's the good in that scenario? However, over time, you will realize that it is safer to admire the trick that was attempted (and failed) rather than to argue about how dangerous and unfunny it all is.

3) You will learn the lingo.
Myself, I've started to call stair cases "stair sets", thanks to my other half always referring to them as that. I can also reel off about a dozen tricks, just because I've heard them mentioned so often. Apparently this is a good thing- I think it's a waste of space in my brain!

4) You will come to appreciate/notice smooth surfaces, ledges and other good looking skate spots.
And you will also point them out to people who care as little as you used to, forgetting that not everyone's world revolves around skating like your significant others- and now yours too, it seems.

5) You find yourself learning about different pro skaters, bringing them up in conversation and using their nicknames when you do.
Shecks. TPudz. Names I had never heard before, but now am well educated in. Me and my significant other discuss 'Shecks' as though he is a friend of ours.

6) You become used to seeing blood, guts and gory wounds as your significant other comes home from a day on the battlefield.
Too often, he tries to fight with the concrete...and loses. At first you will be disgusted, but soon you will become oh so used to seeing green bruises, lumps, bumps and more blood than you can imagine. It's all part of the job.

7) You realise just how little time shoes and clothes last a skater.
"Didn't I buy you those trainers last month?" Will become a regular phrase in your vocabulary. You will recognise that each pair will have a hole at the tip of the toes where they have been dragged along the floor...yet you will continue to allow him to spend £70+ on a pair of trainers.

8) You understand the need for a new skateboard deck every month, and help pick out the coolest designs.
Skateboards are made for a lot of reasons, but their durability is not one of them. It pains me to see the first scratch across a brand new deck...why can't they just be hung on a wall to look pretty? And they aren't cheap to ruin either!

9) Making plans in summer is ridiculously hard.
Summer is when we have the most dry weather...skating can only happen when it's dry. Trying to make plans in dry weather is near to impossible when it is prime time for skating...which always comes first, right?

10) Your significant other will try to turn you into a skater.
I now own two pairs of trainers that are "for skaters" and a t-shirt from a skate company, can reel of a whole load of tricks, skate parks, street spots and skaters from memory and can point out good places to skate. I have even located a pushchair with a skateboard attached so that when the time comes for us to think about starting a family, he has no excuse not to be a hands on dad...none of this would have happened without my significant other. Thanks, Alex.

Love from,
Florence Grace

Do you have a significant other who is a skater? Or a significant other with a hobby that influences your relationship? Let me know in the comments below! 

(p.s. whilst sourcing my images I found this little video...I don't agree with all the quotes...but some are definitely true!! Enjoy http://skateboarding.transworld.net/news/shit-skaters-girlfriends-say/ )

Comic Relief- why it really grinds my gears.

Normally, my blog posts are fairly lengthy. This one is just a quickie, because everything I wanted to say wouldn't fit into a 140 character tweet.

Tonight (Friday 13th March 2015) is the night where millions of pounds will be raised for Comic Relief, in order to try and help those living in poverty. The event is always successful and an astonishingly large amount is always raised for those in need- it is an excellent event to help an excellent cause, and I think it's wonderful that nearly everybody contributes in such a selfless way, be it through a simple donation or a more dramatic event, such as a skydive for charity, or dancing for 24 hours.

There's something about Comic Relief that really grinds my gears though. It's not that I don't support the cause, because I 100% do, and I always donate money to those I know who are doing sponsored silences, cake sales, talent shows and the likes of it. However, why do we pick this one time of year to reach into our savings and donate some pennies of our own? Not a day goes by where I don't see an advert on TV about a small child living in desolate conditions, being forced to drink contaminated water. These adverts are sometimes endorsed by celebrities and sometimes not. How many people donate when they see those adverts?

It saddens me, almost to the point of serious frustration, that it takes the commercialization of poverty for such large funds to be raised. If Comic Relief was not around, little to no money would be raised. If the celebrities we loved best didn't get involved doing brave, heroic or silly things for the cause, little to no money would be raised. If there was no event to raise awareness of the poverty that needs solving, would we still be raising the millions of pounds we do each March to help those in need? Probably not.

I once read that if the top 50 richest people in the world donated just one year of their salary towards eliminating poverty, there would be no poverty. That's just 50 people, out of the whole, wide world. Think if everybody donated a small amount, once a week, without the need to buy a red nose, or a Kate Moss lipstick or a cute little tote bag, how much we could raise all year around.

Obviously, I understand not everyone can afford to donate- it would be naive of me to think that everyone could do so, every single week. I myself could not afford that. I also understand that Comic Relief is meant to bring an element of fun to an otherwise serious issue, in an attempt to get as many people as involved as possible. However, I can't help but feel that it's quite sad that without a commercialized event, most of us won't help those in need. £5 a month isn't much to ask, generally speaking. £2 a month is even less. Perhaps I'm living in a dream world, but it seems so simple to me.

Why wait until March to donate to such a worthwhile cause? Why wait until you see your favourite celebrity doing something stupid to raise funds? Why wait until you can buy a funky red nose that you will literally never wear? We see people in poverty on our TV's every single day. Don't make them wait. Donate then and there. Every penny helps, all year round. Not just in March.

Love from,
Florence Grace

Blink Live 2: Civil War!

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For those of you who know me well and keep updated with my social media sites, you'll know that I was helping to present a concert hosted by my radio shows station, Blink FM. Yesterday (Saturday 7th March) was the big day- and it was better than I had expected.

The rehearsals were full of gossiping...this did not put my mind at ease!
On the Friday, the whole team had had a minuscule rehearsal which, in all honesty, only made me panic about the event and what it was I was supposed to do and when! However, upon arrival at the venue on the Saturday, everything seemed to be running smoothly- and did so for the duration of the event!

My boyfriend, Alex, runs his own business, Stoke Skate Company, so before I did anything else, I helped him to set up his stall (may I point out, his first ever stall for his business!) and prepare for the night. It turned out to be a really successful night for the business, and he even made some profit which was a massive bonus. I couldn't have been any more proud.

Stoke Skate Company's first ever stall!

Alex, the founder of SSC, and his partner in crime, Ramsay.
Just one of many satisfied customers! #SSC

The nerves I felt before heading on stage were unreal. I genuinely felt like I might empty the contents of my stomach all over the stage- disgusting and embarrassing! I had barely even prepared what to say, sending my mind further into melt down mode.

The concert was themed- "civil war", with Blink presenters making up two teams, Team Alex (not my boyfriend!) and Team Sophia. I was part of team Alex, and as soon as I stood with him in the wings of the stage, my nerves melted away. After a massive high five and mini cheer for Team Alex, we were called on stage and my live debut began. My worries and fears disappeared and it genuinely felt like the most natural thing to be doing- I loved every second and genuinely wish it could have lasted longer! There was a great atmosphere in the room, with some fab crowd interaction, as well as banter between the presenters! 

Me with my team leader, Alex...aren't we beautiful?
All of the acts were incredible too- I knew they were all talented, but getting to witness the talent first hand made me feel very humble indeed. The skill, effort and time that each act put into their performance only portrayed just how much music and performing meant to them, making their performances so strong. I for one am expecting big things from all of the acts, with all of them being so talented and unique. A band, a singer/rapper inspired by Drake, and some very talented singers, as well as some great street dancers busting some moves- you can't say that Blink isn't diverse!

When the acts had finished their sets, it was up to me to grab them as soon as they came off stage, buzzing with post-performance energy and have a quick "red carpet style" interview with them! It was a real pleasure getting to chat to each act and experience their happiness and excitement immediately after their show- I feel very luck to have had that role! Although some of the acts were more excitable than others (coughTable21cough) the energy from their performance made for some great interviews, and it was nothing less than fun!

Interviewing Table 21 in their Stoke Skate Tees! 

There was only one down side to the whole event...it was over in the blink of an eye! After months of preparation, getting to know one another, rehearsing, meetings etc. etc., suddenly it was all over and done with. I couldn't help feeling a sense of sadness. However, that feeling was soon replaced with extreme excitement as we could finally announce to the audience what I am about to announce to you, my readers- Blink Live THREE is coming, but not as you would expect. It is going to be a (drumroll please...) festival!!! That's right, I am going to be assisting in the presenting and hosting of an actual festival. Words can not contain my excitement and I feel truly blessed. How many teenagers can say they have helped put together and host a festival? Not many I bet. Lucky, excited, buzzing...I'm feeling them all! It's absolutely crazy that this is happening to me but I can't wait!

Was super excited for tonight's concert...imagine how I'm feeling about a fesitval!
Joining up with Blink FM and WYA has been the best decision I have ever made. I feel truly blessed to have met the people I have and to be doing the things I am (I mean, hosting a bloody festival is incredible right???). I adore my team, everybody involved with Blink is beyond great and we never fail to have a laugh. I am incredibly lucky. 

I just want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to my manager, Jamie. None of the wonderful things Blink do would happen without you. I feel we don't appreciate you enough- thank you Jamie! Amazingly talented, mature and an inspiration for young people, you have worked endlessly for this event and I know you will continue to do so for the festival. Thank you for everything! 

Thank you also to my wonderful team leader, Alex. We are so going to take down the opposing team in the lead up to the festival! Let's do this!

If you missed Blink Live 2, I hope you feel some regret! But I hope you're looking forward to the festival, and I hope to see lots of you there! Stay tuned for more info over the coming months...

Love from, 
Florence Grace

Look out for my vlog from the event, coming soon, as well as more photos and information regarding the festival! 
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