Instagram Doesn't Hate You

Whether you use Instagram for personal or professional needs, you can’t have helped but notice the way you see things has radically changed over the past few months.

Average engagement levels across the platform are just 1% as people spend more and more time scrolling and not interacting (sound familiar Facebook?)

There is a common idea that to be successful on the platform you need to have the magic 10k followers; and whilst the elusive ‘swipe up’ function (allowing you to directly link your product through the Stories) is certainly a fabulous addition, it does’t guarantee you engagement or business sales.

The joy of this platform is that there are many accounts finding success (be it financial or otherwise) whilst having what would be considered a small following.

The key?

Get Involved.

In a world of hashtags, it is easy to get buried amongst everyone else. And long gone are the days of ‘post it and they will come’.

Those running successful accounts spend time engaging with others, searching hashtags along with posting good quality content.

Would you like to learn more about a hashtag strategy? 

How about understanding what a good feed looks like?
Would you be interested on more posts around the quirks of Insta? Or shall I stick to blabbing on about the Small and I?

AndSoWeDrink // Best of Brum Coffee

I have lived in coffee shops for most of my adult life.
When I first moved back to Birmingham over 12 years ago I was dismayed at the lack of places to grab a decent coffee. Whilst I will use a chain (usually reserved for motorway caffeine emergencies) it is never my first choice when out and about in any town or city.

It may have taken us a while but over the past 5 years our coffee scene has exploded and this was most certainly highlighted earlier in the year with the Birmingham Coffee Festival.

I’ve put together my top places for coffee and also added a little extra about kid-friendliness and accessibility.

Boston Tea Party: This is my favourite chain. Most excellent for families and their kid's menu covers both the big and small, so you don't waste money on large plates of uneaten food.
Brunch is served all day and they have something on the menu for everyone (eggy bread and avocado is the win for me) Babyccinos are free and if you need to size up it’s just 75p for a glass of milk.
With branches in Harborne, Edgbaston and Corporation street and soon opening in Solihull.

Quarter Horse Coffee: On the edge of town this fine establishment always has excellent coffee and a variety of dairy-free options. Plenty of space of buggys and with baby changing facilities, Quarter Horse has a chilled atmosphere and plenty of cake. Babyccinos are a £1 for a decent sized cup. And for me, I love the ever-changing filter coffee options (which are all roasted on site).

CanEat: This is my favourite hidey hole to get work done, have an epic lunch and even better coffee. At the weekends you’ll be pushed to find a space to squeeze as the entire population of
Stirchley descends. Always a kids pasta dish available and breakfast is an all day affair. The menu changes daily and you will never be disappointed. Whilst busy, there is space to park the buggy, a small kitchen to play with along with an awesome selection of books from How Brave Is Wren and of course the very important baby changing

Waterstones: Head up to the second floor and discover the little gem of a coffee shop. Their green tea is the best I have had the pleasure to drink. Items are locally sourced and the prices are reasonable too. Changing facilities are on alternate floors and there is also a small cafe up on the children's floor, if you want them to grab a book or two while you drink a hot beverage.

Now we move into ‘not quite set out for kids’ territory
None of these places are anti kids, they just don’t quite tick all the boxes if you are looking for something more than a quick drink

Yorks Stephenson Street: My son loves this place as he can sit in the window and watch the trams go by. I love this place as they have a mean filter coffee and an ever changing cake selection. Breakfast, Brunch and Later is served and there are lots of options to choose from. Babychinos are free, and if you need to size up a warm milk is £1.50. Space wise it really isn’t practical for pushchairs; as space between tables is limited.
Something to note: there is no baby changing on site (there is an accessible toilet, but no changing table available)

Faculty: Situated in Piccadilly Arcade (surrounded by all the chains) the smallest of spaces, serves some of the finest coffee in the city. Food comes from the fabulous Sixteen next door and you can purchase from either and sit and enjoy. I wouldn’t even attempt to get in the door if you have a pushchair, and due to the size there are no toilet facilities (you’ll have to nip into Grand Central if the need appears!). They are more than happy to whip up a warm milk, but I must admit I tend to go here without the Small as I really don't want to share my cake!

Tilt: Never would you think to pop into a pinball bar for coffee and cake. But you really should. Cakes are supplied by the awesome guys at Bake (there is no excuse to not know who these guys are) and coffee and tea is always flowing. Kids are welcome during the day and there is space for buggys and spreading out. Small has become quite obsessed with the lights of the Pinball machines, so I fear we will be spending all of his savings here!

Late Entry..

Caffiened: Opening just before Christmas and on the edge of Harborne's high street (just a few minutes walk) these guys have coffee nailed. They have created a space which is warm and welcoming and with the coffee cups designed just for them, no detail has been left out. Happy to whip up a warm milk, and plenty of room for buggies (do mind the step on the way in though!)

So, those were just a few of my favourite places for a good coffee. Where have I missed in the city? Tell me your favourite spots to hang out  

Times Up

Well, what a way to start a Monday Morning. I popped onto my phone and saw that notifications had gone mad around the Golden Globes and in particular Oprah's speech for her Cecile B deMille award. Of course, I followed a link and for the next 9 minutes I don't think I took a breath (figuratively at least). It is hard to ignore the temperature of the world at the moment, and for me it feels like this is the time of a seismic shift for Women to the Front. Throughout my life I have been extremely fortunate to have been absorbed into positive environments both personally and professionally and, until becoming a mother I lived in a very contained bubble of mostly bliss but with ignorance (albeit unknown at the time) floating around in the background. Last summer I created a short vlog about how my attitudes towards things had been changing and how can I be part of the change supporting others and educating myself and my son. What does this mean for the industries we work in? What do our children's futures look like? I am hoping both will be positive. Work wise, I have never felt that a male counterpart was given unfair promotion or treatment (although I am sure they were paid more than me when I was in managerial positions), I have never been put into a situation where I felt unsafe, or manipulated into situations based on my sex. But, I know far too many people (male and female) who have been made to feel unsafe in their place of work and that is not ok. Where are we going wrong in raising humans? How do people grow up, move into positions of power and think that they can behave in a manner that makes others feel vulnerable. This takes shapes in many forms and may not always by noticeable. In saying this, you don’t even need to have moved into a position of power for behaviours to change Something I have noticed within my peer group; is that as parents, we are determined to challenge mindsets and the norm. We don't let things 'fly' when someone makes a flippant remark, our children are encouraged to learn and embrace the worked around them. And that empathy is instilled at them along the way. Please don't get me wrong. No one is perfect. We would be fools to believe that we can change the world. But perhaps in our lifetime we will see faster movement on equality for all (not just in the workplace), a stop to the news stories we see each night where people are stepping forward after years of living in fear. And perhaps, just perhaps a kinder world. What do you do as an employee, mother, father, friend, human to support those around you and challenge the norm?

New Year New Me?

I posted this last year, but it is actually still very much how I feel 12 months later...
So we are in the month of resolutions and grand plans of greatness.
I am watching everyone being ‘good’ and my timelines and feeds are filled with the next WunderProduct to make me a new and improved human.
I’m quite happy as I am thanks.
Yes I still need to shift some weight
Yes I need to exercise more
And yes I guess I should cut down my cake intake to daily rather than twice daily
However; I will not be bullied, pressured and made to feel pants by those in charge of the advertising campaigns.
I appreciate that these products do work for people and fair play to those that have the willpower to follow a regime through.
For me to be ‘on the wagon’ my head has to be fully engaged. And I am not there yet.
First step for me is to get my house in order.
We live in utter chaos
I’ve always lived in utter chaos 
The time has come to sort it out.
With the Small now being dubbed ‘Whirlwind and Chaos’ it is only getting worse.
I actually started to sort my life out last year. I speed read Marie Kondo and The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying and it made perfect sense. I gutted the bedroom and top of the stairs and lost count of how many bags we threw away. My wardrobe remains mostly empty, but I didn't follow through on her advice and keep going. 
We want to start work on the house this year and in our current state there is no way we can even begin to rip out kitchens and garages! 
Has anyone successfully changed their ways of living?
Can’t really envisage a place where there is never a pile of washing or an even bigger pile of ironing (who seriously has time to get that done!)
Now please don't mistake our chaos for filth…..we do wipe and sweep and hoover, it's just we have so much bloody stuff it is beyond a joke now.
Over Christmas we broke a few cups and bowls and we laughed how it didn’t matter as we still have too many to fit in the cupboards. 
I can safely say we will never be minimalists, however once we have some order we can move onto the next battle...
My eternal procrastination!