That blogging thing

Ahhh, blogging. It's quite a funny old thing really. I went to have a chat recently with other bloggers and YoMeGo, who are a social media agency based in Glasgow. They wanted to hear our views on blogging and how we think it has changed over the years. Plus all the nitty gritty bits in between, like sponsored posts, blog analytics and relationships with PR companies. I guess I didn't realise until I sat down with a pizza and some beers to have a good blether with everyone else, how MUCH it has actually changed since I started out about 5 years ago now.

I started my blog when I was at uni, where they encouraged us to keep an online journal of the work we were producing. It wasn't long before I discovered the online community that existed here, and that all types of subjects were being written about - from fashion to photography, and beauty to babies! I liked what I saw, and I decided to keep on writing about my day to day life. Before I knew it, people were subscribing and chatting away to me on twitter etc, and to this day I have met so many people through blogging who I would now consider as very close friends. My blog has always been a very slow burner, growing gradually but still presenting me with a lot of amazing opportunities to work with brands and visit different places. Overall it has been an absolutely amazing experience, and despite life being hectic at times I still try to post whenever I can. It is only a hobby, after all, and not a full time job which some people can commit every day of their lives to. I am adament that I would still write my blog even if 2 or 2000 people were reading it. But I still admit, it has been hard not to get caught up in the negativity and nitty gritty bits which I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Gem hit the nail on the head for me with her recent post Blogging: Room 101. Give it a wee read if you can, I think Gem has verbalised a lot of peoples feelings about blogging recently better that I ever could. I have been seeing a lot of similar posts with the same theme popping up recently, which is sort of comforting. Despite wanting to stay true to myself and why I write this blog it has been very hard not to get caught up in the rat race. I don't want to worry about numbers. I don't want to judge the quality of my writing on the amount of post comments I get. I don't want to feel pressurised into attending every event I get invited to in case I 'miss out' on something. I don't want to turn down the opportunities presented to me from PR companies by taking more than a day to reply to their emails. But at the same time, I don't want to sell out. I will only feature products on brands on here that I am genuinely interested in or excited about. Whether it is bought by myself with my hard earned cash, or sent to me for free. If I do receive a product to write about, I don't want to feel the pressure from PR people to post about it and say what they want me to say, link what they want linked to and adhere to ridiculous deadlines.

This is not why I started my blog. I started my blog for me, and although I am so grateful for the opportunities it has presented me with I also don't want to verge away from being anything but my absolute self. It is so easy to get caught up in this saturated wave of bloggers trying to outdo each other, trying to gain celebrity status in their chosen field. I know a lot of people who think blogging is, quite frankly, about 'getting free shit'. And if that's your vibe, then that's fine with me! That's just not the sort of blogs I am reading anymore, and not the sort of blog I plan on being myself. Gem put it very well when she said about it being a content war and a technology game. You don't need a fancy layout or a professional camera to be a 'good' blogger. Everyone has their own reasons for writing a blog, and for me it is a personal diary documenting my life, which I love being able to look back on.

When in doubt, take a break and try to strip everything back to basics. One thing that I have been letting myself down with recently has been my photo taking. Life has been so busy and taking a quick iphone picture then slapping a filter on it seems a lot easier than using my actual camera, uploading the pictures, editing them and then saving onto a folder on my laptop. So that's one thing that I want to try a lot harder at, because I enjoy reading posts that are visually pleasing too.

Pictures by the lovely Lynsay (Miss West End Girl) at the Toast of The Town Photography Workshop. Ripcurl surf t-shirt from Spartoo, Kunzite Crystal Necklace from an Astrology shop in London, and denim Levi shorts are a cut up pair of my uncles old jeans (SORRY UNCLE CHRIS!)

I don't mean for this post to come across negative at all. It's quite the opposite, I'm excited about staying passionate when it comes to blogging, and the YoMeGo event and the Toast Of The Town workshop really cut through the crap for me and made me realise the reality and nature of blogging these days, and where my 'place' is amongst that. Joe Blogs Network held the photography event at the Millenium Hotel in Glasgow, with Stuart and Hamish from Dreghorn Photography leading the class. We covered all the basics and explored the different settings on our cameras, along with some quick hints and tips specifically useful for blog photography. It was such an informative day in a beautiful setting (with a yummy lunch thrown in too) and has really helped to reignite the excitement of properly exploring my camera, different lenses, and taking my time when it comes to photographs. So from now on, I will try to put the iphone down and improve the quality of my photos on here.

For now, that's my goals when it comes to the blog. I want to write nice long rambly posts (like this one, soz) with funny life anecdotes and pictures that are pleasing.

Anyway, onto you - how do you feel about blogging? Wether you've been doing it for 5 years or 5 weeks I would love to hear your views. After all, we really are in this together!

House of Mask & Glasgow nightlife

Hello lovelies, my goodness, it'd been a while! I think I need to stop apologising for not posting regularly. I was so excited so sit down with a pot of coffee this morning and open up my laptop to start blogging. Life has been absolutely hectic recently and I want to get back to the basics of blogging feeling enjoyable, rather than a chore or stress. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to that, and I'm going to touch on the nature of blogging these days in a future post.

I won't go into why I've been off the radar recently but you can follow my life on a more daily basis (without that sounding creepy?!) via instagram and twitter - both are @hellorogue. For now, I wanted to share a bit of Glasgow nightlife with you. Our city is so buzzing at the moment, what with the Commonwealth Games being held here. There is such an electric atmosphere! That goes for nightlife too, the clubs and pubs are busier and there's loads of exciting events happening.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a launch party for Cubanisto (a new rum flavoured beer) called House of Mask. This is their hidden party network that will host a series of weird and wonderful secret events across the UK throughout this year. Myself and Ashley were given the address to the location just a few hours before the event, jumped in a taxi and had no idea what the night would hold.

The venue ended up being SWG3, which is a huge and very adaptable warehouse space in Glasgow's West End, which is used for gigs and all sorts of club nights. We entered the venue through a smoke filled tunnel, and had to sign off a confession in exchange for entrance into the club. Then we were given white masks by clinical men in white suits and loaded up into an elevator. This brought us out into a small office room, where two rather creepy looking ladies asked us to sign over our confessions in a robot like voice. In exchange for the confession, we were given a puzzle piece, and entered the club through a hidden door inside what looked like a stationary cupboard. Thoroughly creeped out and excited by this point, we headed straight to the bar!

The idea of the jigsaw was to find two more people in the club who had matching pieces. I thought this was a great idea as an ice breaker in having to go up and chat to complete strangers! I finally found my two missing pieces, and we went up to a booth to hand them in exchange for a key. The key opened up certain boxes placed around the room where prizes could be won. Inside my box I won a voucher to exchange for a sandwich - RESULT! I was so hungry and definitely needed a munch to soak up all the Cubanisto's we had been drinking (which is very nice, by the way - light and not too fizzy with the smooth taste of rum throughout) There was a photobooth that synced up with your key and uploaded the photo straight to your facebook etc, not to mention you had to exit the photobooth via a secret door at the back. There was also live graffiti taking place, with UV paint which was quite trippy, and peoples anonymous confessions being projected onto a screen at the back of the room.

The clock on the dj booth counted down to midnight, and then an amazing beat boxer took to the stage. I didn't catch his name (sort of blaming the alcohol by this point) but he was singing in between beat boxing, it was absolutely insane! After his performance, Roska dj'd until 2am, and then we went for food and grabbed a taxi home. Me and Ashley both agreed that we would love to attend more House Of Mask parties, they sure do know how to throw a good night, with so many different layers and aspects to the evening that you wouldn't get at any normal club night. You can see some of my pictures from the evening on instagram, and all of the above were taken by the Cubanisto/House Of Mask photographer.

Back to reality last weekend with a fairly normal (in comparison!) club night at the ABC for my beautiful friend Heather's birthday. I don't go out in Glasgow as much as I used to in my early 20's, but I sort of prefer it this way because it means I really have more money and energy for when I do go out. Sounds like I'm getting awfully old, I'm only 25! My favourite clubs in Glasgow are the ABC, Cathouse and The Garage, and favourite bars include Tiki Bar, Slouch, and Nice & Sleazys. There are so many options for places to drink and dance in Glasgow depending on what night of the week it is, what sort of music you like, and how much money you have to spend. I feel lucky to have such a vibrant and bustling nightlife scene on my doorstep, even if I don't frequent them all as much as I used to.

It will be a quiet few weekends for me over the next month, as I just spent the bulk of my 'play' pennies on a trip down to Leeds to get tattooed by a rather talented man called Neil Dransfield.

This Wizard of Oz inspired piece is on my thigh, and took around 5 hours. I did it all in the one sitting which is the longest I've ever sat for before. Absolutely over the moon with how it turned out, and it's totally worth being skint for the next month for. Plus, with the size my thigh has swollen to, drinking and dancing is probably the last thing I could manage to do right now! :)

What is the club/pub scene like where you live? And do you go out more or less than you did when you were a bit younger?

London & a quarter of a century

Hello lovelies! It's been busy in the Millar household as I'm on a job with Channel 4 at the moment, painting some sets for a comedy series (which reminds me, the second series of Kirstie Allsopps Fill Your House For Free starts on tuesday at 8pm - another wee gem that I art directed earlier this year) I was able to have a couple of weeks off before I started this current job, leading right up to my birthday. Here's a run down of the places I went and the people I got to have ALL THE FUN with!

Hello Landan! I arrived at Euston about 2pm, checked into my hotel at Waterloo and headed over to Camden to meet my friend Mark for a few beers and a catch up. We went to Worlds End, The Lock Tavern and Brewdog.

Later on in the evening Sally came to meet me and we went to The Diner for dinner. IT WAS SO GOOD. Absolute filth. Under those two fried eggs lived a burger patty, cheese and dirty rice. I couldn't finish it all and got it put in a doggy bag to take back to the hotel with me.

The next morning I got up bright and early to meet Chloe for breakfast on the South Bank. We took a wander along the river where I met my future husband, Jack, as you can see above.

We took the tube to Oxford Street for some retail therapy, and walked along to Carnaby Street which is my favourite area to shop in. I got a jumper from Cheap Monday, skirt from Monki, and some Simpsons goodies from Johnny Cupcake. After a few hours we got the bus to Westfield shopping centre where we met Chloe's fella for dinner and visited a few more shops. Was pretty surprised to see these Paul Frank jammies in Primark of all places!

On the Sunday my friend Louise popped down from Glasgow for the night to take me to see The Drowned Man. She is a HUGE fan of the show, and now I can see why. It is the most intense piece of immersive theatre I have ever been to. It is like being stuck inside a video game for 3 hours, where you wander amongst the 4 floors of set wearing a mask the whole time, and can follow any of the 30 actors in the show on their journey. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something a bit different to see in London.

The next morning Uncle Greig Arrived to join me for the last few days of my trip. We went for lunch at Ping Pong, followed by a visit to the cigar shop in Mayfair, then a wander around Harrods. All finished off with macarons and tea at Laduree (my favourite)

The next day I dragged Greig to Hoxton to visit Rockalily Cuts for a vintage up-do! I am a major fan girl of the owner ReeRee Rockette, so it was a total honour to be invited along to the salon :) I'd wear my hair like this every day for the rest of my life if I could.  The night before I went to London I used Crazy Colour in Violette over the top of my blue, and this is how it turned out. I've been using the SKR Hair Argan Oil to keep my hair in top condition amongst all this dying, and it seems to be working a treat! It isn't as heavy as a lot of argan oils I've used in the past.

After the salon we went a wander around nearby Shoreditch and Spitalfields, and that evening I took Greig with me to see The Drowned Man for a second time! The next day we went to Covent Garden for lunch and a wander, and caught the matinee of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. A lovely little family friend of mine was playing the lead role of Charlie Bucket. Rhys is only 9 and did a spectacular job, I was close to tears throughout the whole performance.

And then Thursday was home time. I feel like I managed to cram quite a lot into my 6 day trip, and have probably missed out a few details here and there. It was brilliant fun and a little getaway was just what I needed. I missed out on seeing a few familiar faces when I was down there, you all know who you are! Hopefully next time I'm down I can catch a blog event or even have a night out with some of you lovely girls who have became friends through the good ol' blog. Power of the internet huh!

The week after I got home, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I had a lovely day off visiting my family, which was ended with a ride on the back of my Dad's new motorbike through the countryside. Absolute bliss! That weekend I had a night out with friends at Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry. A western themed night with live bands, bingo and a shoot out. Last year I only lasted until 9.30pm before becoming so drunk that I had to go home... but thankfully this time I paced myself and was still dancing at last orders.

A few days before I started back at work, me and the chums took a road trip to Alton Towers. Doing the whole thing in a day is quite tiring considering the 4.5 hour drive from Glasgow, but the rides kept our adrenaline going all day. The first picture is Kyle going a bit yoga-tastic after our first ride, which was on the smiler. It's a fairly new rollercoaster there and was absolutely insane. After a few hours we sat just down from the Towers to have lunch, and initially Kyle was a bit worried about finding a Quorn option since he is veggie (in reality we should have brought packed lunches, but getting up at 3am to hit the road was hard enough) and after a wee wander he managed to get a bean burger while me, Dom and Leah stuffed our faces with quarter pounders and chips. I didn't feel too guilty as Dom's UP band told us we walked 6 miles that day! The last picture is us waiting in line to go on our final ride of the day, Oblivion. Not for the faint hearted at all! I can't thank them enough for a great day, I haven't smiled that much in a long time.

Well, congratulations if you made it to the end of this post. That's about my life in a nutshell recently :) Now it's head down and back to work, with a few more adventures on the horizon to keep me on my toes...