1,000 Shades of Grey

I’m a neurotic mess.

This is not going to be coming as massive news to anyone who’s held a conversation with me which lasted more than 5 minutes. Therefore, my mind is always awash with various ideas and thoughts (usually self-deprecating).

However, this week my mind has been more clouded than usual.

This is not just due to my growing disappointment in humanity as more and more political decisions are showing a growing tendency towards an “Us vs Them” insular way of thinking. It is also down to my own personal situations and where I see my life going in the near future.

I’m currently living my life in what is described as the “grey area”. For those perhaps unaware, the “grey area” means something that is not clearly defined; or “that which is uncertain.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes grey areas are fantastic …exciting, even.

 

Let’s take relationships is an example…

 

At the start of a new relationship, the “grey areas” are the adrenaline rush which makes this period so bloody exciting! You don’t know your new partner that well; they are new, their decisions are unpredictable.

Perhaps you don’t even know where you stand with your new partner?! Are you “together” … or just “seeing how it goes” …or maybe even, “casual” (we all know what that means).

Can you imagine a world where we started every new relationship without these grey areas? A world where you presented a relationship CV perhaps…

 

BLAIR STEVENSON

 

PROS

  • Successful track record of monogamous relationships
  • Experienced conversationalist
  • Reasonably self-aware

 

CONS

  • Neurotic
  • Not comfortable displaying/discussing emotions
  • Will probably write about you…

 

How backwards would this be for everyone to deal with?

Maybe you would even have to sign a contract;

 

“Do you accept the full terms and conditions of dealing with *ENTER NAME*:________”

 

This sounds horrific, especially when you consider how people change and develop over time. We would all be in breach of contract very quickly!

 

The issues with “grey areas” and relationships come with the length of time it has existed. As the “grey” grows old, it tends be become one-sided. One person dictates the pace of the relationship while the other gets dragged along behind the horse; unsure of quite what’s happening, but hoping for the best.

This is how people ended up getting hurt.

 

(Quick Tip; If you are unsure of your current relationship situation, ask your partner to go to a show that is a few months away … the response you receive should tell you everything you need to know!)

 

However, these “grey areas” can permeate other aspects of your life too.

  • Your social circle (“is this guy my friend or just a work-acquaintance?”)
  • Your family (“I think my sister might actually be my mum…”)
  • Your job (“I’m not sure whether to take this contract with Silence Ltd.”)

…the list is endless.

However, a strong ability to deal with these “grey areas” can be a fantastic positive for your career trajectory. It has been proven time and time again that the ability to work under the pressure of uncertainty; the ability to take risks, is a fast-track towards a promotion!

How do you deal with “grey areas”? Are you dealing with any just now?

I currently believe that I am living with TOO many.

 

Note to self – be more decisive, state your intentions more clearly, learn from your mistakes.

(not) BORN IN THE U.S.A !!

Guys, at this point of my blogging journey I’ve had more false “comebacks” than Jennifer Anniston. It’s a little pathetic if I’m honest with myself. Most of all, I’m disappointed at my own lack of reliability with posting regularly. I’m not going to make excuses, or try to justify my own (lack of) action. All I’ll say is that 2016 has been one of the worst years of my life … and I’ll leave it at that, and promise to do better!

Now … let’s concentrate on the positive!

Since my last post (which was probably a “comeback” post…) my life has changed quite a bit

For starters, I’m currently residing in Manhattan, New York.

I know, right? When the fuck did that happen?

 

Recently, I was given the opportunity to move to New York for the rest of 2016 (and hopefully beyond) with an international property company. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. Especially considering, y’know, worst year ever! Haha

 

I’ve been here a couple of days now and I am still very much sounding out the city. It takes a long time to get the feel for a new city, especially one as vast as NewYork. All I know is that I am here for a fresh start; with life, with blogging …with everything.

As is my traditional fashion … I’ll keep you guys updated along the way!

 

Speak soon,

Blair.

 

 

Thought i’d include a few photos I have taken during writing this down at Pier 48 over the Hudson River…

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Travel Blog: London

The idea of travelling alone is not something which worried me in any way; it was just something I had never done before. I have always been blessed with a group of friends and a beautiful partner who were always willing to participate in my international exploits.

However, when the offer to go to London unaccompanied came into my inbox, I simply couldn’t turn it down. I hadn’t stepped foot in the city in around 13 years. A visit was long overdue…

 

I was staying in the Docklands area of the large city; more specifically, the Royal Victoria Dock, the largest of the three docks. The main attraction of the Royal Victoria Dock is the massive ExCeL Exhibition Centre which is visible from pretty much every point of the dock. There were multiple different events happening in the ExCeL while I was there, resulting in a continuous steady flow of traffic in and out of the building. I even visited the centre myself; however, more on this later.

I only had a few days in the capital and wasted no time in getting neck deep in some sightseeing; jumping on the spectacular London transport system and heading to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is a beautiful landmark noted for its history as a gathering place for political protests. It is the home of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” demonstration. The square is unmissable, with Nelson’s Column standing high in the centre of the square, “guarded” by four equally impressive lion statues.

For the size of London, some of the tourist attractions are actually quite close together. From Trafalgar Square it was a simple walk straight down Whitehall Road to Parliament Square which ticked off many items on my London “must-see” list such as Downing Street, Big Ben, London Eye and Westminster Abbey.

 

On the Saturday I jumped across to the ExCeL Centre and spent some time at the London Super Comic Con event. Most people who follow me on social media know of my geeky love for comic books, so this event was a big win for me. The biggest Comic Con in the UK; I had never been to anything like this before. There was creators and attendees from all over the world. It was great to hang out with some of my geek-friends who I haven’t seen in a very long time!

 

With only a day left in my trip to London left, I decided to get my tourism back into gear. I walked down to, and through, the beautiful St James Park before settling down for a while across from Buckingham Palace. To be honest, there really isn’t much in the form of entertainment outside of Buckingham Palace, except of course, people watching. It is just lucky that people watching is in fact one of my favourite pastimes!

After some downtime in the apartment, I travelled down to Brixton for dinner, meeting an old friend I haven’t seen in years. We hadn’t had time together since our long lost days in university. We ordered some fantastic Thai food in Brixton Market before settling down to a great pub called Dogstar to get slowly but surely drunk…

 

I am a massive football (or soccer, to my American followers) fan, so no trip to London would be complete without checking out some of the world-class football stadiums in the city. My flight home didn’t leave until 7pm – so I had a morning to spend stadium-hopping. First on my list was Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and Tottenham’s White Hart Lane before heading along to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The Emirates Stadium was last on my last for a good reason. My visit to the stadium took place the day before a Champions League clash with Barcelona. I had managed to snag a ticket to the very last tour of the stadium before they closed the doors to finish preparations for the game.  I was essentially behind the scenes at a Champions League match! It was amazing to see the massive amount of work that transforms the stadium for European football.

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Royal Victoria Dock

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The Lions of Trafalgar Square

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A view down Whitehall Road … from Trafalgar Square to Big Ben.

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Downing Street

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Style 101: Valentine’s Day – What to Wear!

First off, let’s get the hard part out of the way….Valentine’s Day is a pointless holiday isn’t it?

It has been pushed upon us hard by jewellery designers, card companies and those wonderful people who sell individual roses outside of train stations – but no one has yet been able to find a justifiable reason as to why the holiday exists at all.

Also … if as a couple you only celebrate and appreciate each other one day a year – then you are doing life wrong.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore Valentine’s Day.
Despite the holidays many flaws, sometimes you have to make that extra effort.
Maybe it’s even a first date? (eek!).

For us guys, it can be a daunting task trying to pick out your outfit for Valentine’s Day. You have to try and blend what you feel confident and comfortable in with the expected dress code for the evening. That’s before you even factor in what your date for the evening is wearing.

 

This week I’ll be giving you a helping hand with regards what to wear in different situations.
Before we get started, remember, you want to make sure that whatever you put on your body makes you feel as comfortable and confident as possible. This will ensure you keep your full attention on your beautiful date and not the fact that your tshirt is slightly tighter than you remember it being.

Let’s start with the most casual of dates and move up from there:

 

The “Quiet Night In” Date

This option is quite easy to dress for because it’s casual. You don’t want to be strolling up to her front door in a three piece tuxedo. You will definitely look creepy…and creepy is not a good look on anyone.

What you want to do is wear what you normally would for the occasion… except dress it up slightly. Normally wear jeans and a tshirt? …possibly with a hoodie on top? How about we swap out that hoodie for a blazer.

You will look smart … but in the middle of the evening when you have settled down to watch a film, you can take it off and be as relaxed as you like. Perfect.

I would say this method would also be suitable for the “Cinema Date” too. However, I can’t advise you take a girl to the cinema on Valentine ’s Day. Take her somewhere you can actually talk to her.

 

The “Let’s Go for Drinks” Date

Perhaps you don’t know the lucky lady well enough for a quiet night in?
You may, instead, decide to go out for a few drinks!

For this option, you’re going to want to look appropriate for the evening’s activities while still being able to mask the inevitable stains which come from spillages and drips on a good night out.

An easy “go to” outfit for this would be some straight/slim leg black jeans – combined with a maroon or oxblood tshirt / polo shirt / casual shirt. This can be topped off with a black leather jacket for a classic “bad boy” look!

This particular outfit would also be appropriate for a more casual meal.

 

The “Fancy Dinner” Date

You know the type of date I am referring to; the type hosted in that restaurant you can’t afford any other night of the year (…and secretly on this night too!).

If you are going to go for this option, you really need to step it up a gear.

I would recommend wearing a suit because you simply can’t go wrong with a suit. However, it’s a relaxed evening, not a boardroom meeting. Therefore, skip the tie and loosen up those top buttons.

It’s also best to choose a suit with a bit of texture – a grey tweed or brown hopsack. It will reinforce the relaxed nature of the suit wearing.

 

Remember, this article was always meant only as a suggestion. It’s best to go with your gut.

You will know best, get a feel for the expectations of you and ensure you match or surpass them!

Travel Blog: Berlin (Part 2)

The world I heard most often in Berlin was definitely “rebuilt”.

From the time I spend there, one thing became perfectly clear, Berlin was bombed to ruins during the Second World War. Seriously, go on the “big red tourist bus”; I promise almost every single attraction will have been “rebuilt” after the war.

One of those attractions to have been rebuilt was Berlin Zoo.

Germany’s oldest zoo, it hosts a collection of over 16,000 animals. Rebuilt after the war, it received heavy artillery fire; only 91 of the animals survived the war. I loved Berlin zoo. While I am not entirely comfortable with the thought of a zoo at all, there is no denying that seeing some of the world’s rarest animals is a thrilling experience. The zoo’s separate aquarium is also absolutely worth the money.

After the Zoo, we headed along to the infamous Alexanderplatz; the largest urban square in the whole of Germany. If I am honest with you, we didn’t spent much time in the square. At that time of year (December) it is entirely taken over by a Christmas market and shopping stalls. If I am honest with you, by this point in the trip, we were both pretty much burned out on these entertainment options.

However,  my girlfriend and I spent significantly more time in another German urban square, Postdamer Platz. During the war, Potsdamer Platz was almost completely destroyed (as with most other things…) and spent more than 40 years in a state of wasteland located between the East and West. After the city’s reunification though, Berlin had the unique opportunity to completely rebuild a section of their city centre. They have done well; even the sceptics have had to admit that Potsdamer Platz has been a great success.

My MUST SEE from Postdamer Platz is Panoramapunkt, a stunning viewing platform offering a 360° panoramic view of Berlin. This offers one of the best opportunities for photographs in the whole of Berlin; a must for budding photographers.
An added bonus is the ability to ride the fastest lift in Europe; taking just 20 seconds to reach the top the 24th floor. Stomach churning, but enjoyable!

Checkpoint Charlie was next on this speedy tour of the city. Checkpoint Charlie is the most famous East German-West German border crossing. You will no doubt have heard of/seen it before; this particular army crossing is a favourite for many thriller and espionage movies. One of the reason for its fame is the so-called “tank stand-off” which occurred on October 1961 during the Cold War.
The threat of war was high; but no one fired. It is a really interesting story, if you’re not aware of it, you should look it up.

After all of this walking around the city … we felt we needed a little substanance to fill our rumbling bellies! Pfffft, who needs substanence when you can have sugar!

Fassbender and Rausch is the famous Chocolate producer from the center of Berlin. However, it isn’t just a haven for those with a sweet tooth, it also offers plenty in the way of eye candy: scaled-down (yet somehow still enormous) chocolate sculptures of Berlin landmarks. You can pick a selection of specially made sweets; however, we ended up buying pre-packaged chocolate (which was lovely) after sauntering around lost for a while. We simply couldn’t make our minds up. Far too much to choose from! haha

Close to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Made up of 2,711 concrete pillars of varying heights, the final appearance creates a grid-like structure. The uneven terrain helps with the overall effect, creating a beautiful wave like effect. It’s powerful to see and is a fitting tribute to those lost in such a horrific manner.

Now… last week I promised to talk about the Reichstag Glass Dome.

This was the last thing we did in Berlin, attending on our final night. The Reichstag was redesigned between 1994 and 1999 as a modern Parliament building with an attempt to retain the extensive, historical dimensions.

Part of the redesign was the opening of an accessible Glass Dome. Originally the glass generated a lot of controversy, but has since become one of the landmarks of Berlin. You can see why. It’s a stunning piece of architecture.

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Travel Blog: Berlin (Part 1)

A trip to “visit a foreign city in the run up to Christmas” is an item which has been on my bucket list for a very very long time. Despite this, it has thus far evaded me…until this year, when my girlfriend and I managed to escape the dreary rain of Glasgow and ambushed the beautiful city of Berlin.

We flew in and spent 4 nights in the stunning Ivbergs Premium Hotel; which is located near the Breitscheidplatz area in the heart of the city. Breitscheidplatz is a major public square in the inner region of Berlin. Together with the Kurfustendamm Boulevard, it very much marked the centre of the former West Berlin.

For me, one of the highlights of the Breitscheidplatz Square was definitely the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was a strange mesh of very traditional and modern architecture; both of which were equally stunning. The original church was destroyed during a bombing raid in 1943; however, what remains of it still stands today in unison with a new, modern, architectural addition. This was apparently decided by the German people, who voted with their voices that the original ruin must not be torn down. The new church consists of honeycomb-like blue coloured glass blocks which produce an intense blue light inside. I could instantly see why it was such a massive appeal to those who were religious in the area. Not religious myself, I could still feel the calming atmosphere the inside of the building created all on its own.

I was really excited to finally get the chance to see some of the famous tourist attractions which stand in Berlin; including the Reichstag Building and the Brandenburg Gate.

The current version of the Reichstag Building was officially opened in 1999 (good memory eh?) and featured a new roof terrace with a large glass dome which you can see in the photos below. The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building can be visited by members of the public, and we took this chance to witness the spectacular views of Berlin’s sights. More details on this in Part 2!

The Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining city gate in Berlin and was originally used to represent the separation of the city between East and West. Fortunately, the city has moved past this; and now, since the falling of the Berlin Wall, the gate has become the cities symbol of German Unity to the city.

German unity…but of world unity. Unfortunately our trip had coincided with the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Paris…and a large memorial had been laid out by the people of Berlin as an act of remembrance and unity with those affected. It was beautiful.

 

Back to the lighthearted fun! I had a great time in the DDR Museum!

The DDR Museums is the only museum in Germany that deals exclusively with life in the former German Democratic Republic, a.k.a the East side of the wall. This was an incredible exhibition that I thoroughly recommend any visitors Berlin make the time to visit. It’s interactive, with each piece of fascinating information hidden doors and in drawers. There is also Trabi car available in which visitors can drive through a virtual tour of the area. This was amazing…Grand Theft Auto in East Berlin!!

There was also a stereotypical East German home set up for your to go and experience…we had some fun with that too! 😀

 

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Travel Blog: Dubai (Part 2)

One of the more fortunate things to happen when traveling is knowing someone who already knows their way around the city. We were lucky enough to have this in Dubai; and our hosts kindly offered to drive us around the city. This was an excellent bonus to our trip – showing us areas of Dubai we would not have the opportunity to see otherwise.

We were kindly driven around several of the otherwise out of reach residential area and through the regularly tourist-ignored backstreets of the Downtown area before heading down to the Palm and Jumeirah Beach.

I highly recommend you spend some time down on Jumeirah beach if you make it across to Dubai. A few of the fellow visitors I have spoken to have remained in the downtown area only.

Water Parks are always one of my favourite attractions to attend in any city, and I had been told both the water park at Atlantis the Palm AND Wild Wadi were viewed as being one of the best in the world. This left me with a difficult choice to make …which one to attend?!

We eventually made the decision to show Wild Wadi some love due to its closer location and the presence of the infamous Jumeriah Sceirah slide. You may have seen the Jumeriah Sceirah on the internet. If not, you can check it out HERE.

 

In my opinion, the best thing we did over the whole trip though was taking part in the Arabian Nights Tour though. It truly was a special experience.

We got to experience the fantastic Dubai Sand Dunes, ride camels and taste some fantastic local food as part of a help-yourself meal.

What else could you ask for really?

 

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Style 101 – How To: Layering

Winter has arrived hard and fast.

With the unpleasant arrival of the cold and the wet comes the necessary art of layering. Layering becomes a daily essential. Even the heartiest of men begin to require a few extra layers to keep themselves warm.

However, though this need arises like clockwork year-upon-year …are you prepared when it finally arises?

 

 

What IS layering?

It really isn’t complicated, laying is essentially the art of combining your clothing on top of each other while ensuring that they keep you warm, protect your body and are still aesthetically pleasing.

 

Why should I “layer”?

Layering’s appeal is twofold really.

 

Layering is Practical.

An obvious function of the layering process is keeping yourself warm. If you’re wearing more layers (all of them stylish, of course) you can retain more heat and keep your body temperature higher during these cold seasons.

 

Layering looks awesome!

Layering gives you the opportunity to step away from the regular summer staple of a t-shirt and jeans. Layering items on top of each other gives the opportunity to display your own take on style. It also enables you to get the most out of your clothes …as the same garments can take on dramatically different looks when used in different ways.    

 

How do I “layer”?

In all honesty, layering isn’t all that hard. In fact, if you break it down to its basest level … you can follow one simple rule “thin to thick” and make sure it looks good (in your opinion)!

The “Think to Thick” rule is simple: thin clothing should be closest to your skin, with every piece of item you wear becoming thicker in size and weight as you progress through your outfit.

However, if you are looking for a little more detail in how to layer properly, here are a few further points to keep in mind:

 

  • Remember Pattern Matching Rules

Pattern Matching rules are a whole different Style 101 article which I promise to bring to you soon. However, to keep it simple:

  • If you are not confident, keep it to 1 patterned item in your outfit
  • If you feel confident, try to keep it to 2/3
  • Any patterns you do choose should contrast with each other in size/density.

  

  • Keep your outfit balanced

Layering largely tends to be top heavy for obvious reasons. When piecing together an outfit, make sure to regularly check your top half isn’t disproportionately bulky compared to your lower half.

Sorry lads, no spray on jeans matched with bulky shearling jackets!

 

  • Be care of colour coordination

Unfortunately, increasing the number of layers you are wearing means exponential growth in possibility of poor colour combinations.

If you are not confident, keeping your clothing colours in the natural hues (black, navy ect) should help keep you on the right side of taste.

 

  • Each item of clothing should be suitable to be worn on its own.

Layering shouldn’t be an excuse to wear (and hide) those tacky t-shirts you haven’t brought yourself to throw out yet. A key benefit of layering is the option of adding/removing items as you see fit.

You will need to wear most layers in the mornings (as that’s when it is coldest) and as the weather gets warmer, you may want to take off a layer or two – so it’s vital that your comfortable showing each layer.

 

Sailing into Venice Harbour…kind of.

This week I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to get behind the scenes at the recently unveiled City of Glasgow College campus. The new Riverside location for the College is a modern, seven story tower crammed to breaking point with the utmost state-of-the-art technology.

It should be too…

The newly revamped “world class campus” cost a massive £66m to build; and you can tell from the moment you walk in that they have raised the bar in architectural technology. From the high-security entrance-way to the cloud-based teaching styles, this campus offers learning at its most technologically advanced.

The main reason for my excitement of this visit was two-fold:

  • The location and height of the Campus building offered a view of Glasgow which I was very intrigued to experience
  • The campus’ new Marine Engineering Workshops featured Scotland’s very first Shipping Simulation Suite … and I was invited to use it!

This essentially meant that I was given the opportunity to (pretend to) steer a Super Tanker or Cruise Ship through the world’s most famous harbours!

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