Review: Stud Life

It's what you've all been waiting for, the second lesbilicious movie review of September! This time around we watched Stud Life. Well, actually, Alex watched Stud Life. Taylor watched half of Stud Life and decided it was not for her...

What the blurb told us...
JJ is a lesbian 'Stud' who works as a wedding photographer with her best friend, Seb, a pretty white gay boy. Their clients are wild, weird and wonderful and like many of them JJ and Seb are both looking for love in the wrong places. So when JJ falls in love with the beautiful and mysterious Elle, this long term friendship is tested for the first time as JJ has to choose between her hot new lover and her best friend. JJ's decision to give her relationship a proper chance leaves Seb with a lot of extra time on his hands and he finds himself having to reject the constant flirtatious advances of their local drug dealer, Smack Jack, who turns up when Seb least wants to see him. Jack is sweet hearted and knows all the right people, but his one true love is Seb - he just needs to find a way to make Seb feel the same. Instead Seb is too busy lusting after his web-fantasy, the straight-acting 'lad' known as Manchester Joe, who he found when surfing the web. When JJ and Elle hit hard times and Seb realises Manchester Joe isn't all he is cracked up to be, there is one last decision JJ has to make; does she put mates before muff? Set in East London, Stud Life is a sexy, young and cool gay romance revealing a unique a slice of British urban life.

Alex says:
Oh, Stud Life. It's not a very good movie. I wanted to watch it after seeing it advertised in the back of Diva. I was intrigued by a) the butch/femme couple kissing on the promo pic and b) the tagline: "Did you wake up with your lover or your best friend?" The butch/femme couple kissing was basically the entirety of the movie - I had quite enough of it, thanks! - but I'm still perplexed by the tagline. I actually can't see how it had anything to do with the movie whatsoever.

Stud Life is set in East London, my home for two years and counting. Pretty much everything I've read about the movie raves about that it was set in London but I'm going to guess that's because there isn't much else to rave about. To be honest, the whole of Stud Life is very wishy-washy and not a lot happens. I looked up Diva's review and they didn't seem to have too much to say about it either! I just don't really understand why this movie was made. It follows the inconsequential tale of JJ, a stud who works as a wedding photographer. When we're not watching scenes which are presumably supposed to be comedic where she photographs various couples - a jilted bride, a couple who got married for a visa... lol! - we follow her fledgling romance with a young lady she meets in a club (the club actually did remind me of East London gay clubs...). The aforementioned young lady has the most ridiculously mahoosive collection of DVDs I have ever seen in my life in her living room and is called Elle. Cue lots and lots of references to that it sounds like her name is "L", which stands for, of course, the most famous L Word of them all, but also for other fun L words, like "licking" and "labia", which put together is Elle's favourite activity (no, I'm not being crude. She actually says this). When we're not watching Elle and JJ, we watch a whirlwind gay male romance between JJ's best friend whose name I cannot even remember and the local drug dealer, Smack Jack aka Lord Tristan Peregrin Fancypants McFauntleroy, who is in my Top Five of oddest individuals I have ever seen on a screen. There are also two brief and gratuitous hate crimes. These really aren't addressed.

My other half couldn't make it through this film and I only managed it by being on twitter for a lot of it. I have to conclude that Stud Life is disillusioned. It's Buzz Lightyear thinking he can fly, and I'm afraid I am Woody yelling, "YOU ARE A CHILD'S PLAYTHING." It pushes hard to be "hip" and "with it", even incorporating a weird youtube layout for some scenes, but to be honest, it feels like it was made ten years ago. And it wasn't. It's from 2012. It also clearly thinks it presents a radical new take on life and love, asking profound questions such as, "If you sell sex, is it the same as selling any goods, like this hat or this sausage?" (accompanied by puzzled looking JJ holding said hat and said sausage), and making frankly embarrassingly idiotic statements such as, "So Shakespeare coulda been gay. Big fucking deal. I ain't got time for these famous people who stay in the closet." Oh, Stud Life. Sadly, I don't care about hats and sausages, and I don't have time for you.

Where Them Butches At?: X Factor-Induced Thoughts on the Invisibility of Masculine Women

It's currently the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. By which of course I can only mean one thing... It's X Factor season!!!! Oh, X Factor. You make life so good. In general, I'm a massive reality TV watcher. Like, huge. I love BBC3 - I never miss an episode of Don't Tell The Bride or Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. I'm also a sucker for competitions: I watch The Apprentice annually.

But X Factor's got to be my favourite. Every year I get way too involved and am disappointed to see the contestant I'm rooting for voted out early on. Little Mix have been the only exception to this rule. Love me some Little Mix. So, as usual, I'm settling into my routine of anti-social weekends in front of the telly. But there's something which always disrupts my merry X Factor-watching, and it's the same thought every year:
God, I'd love to see some women who look like me on this show.

People always talk about "femme invisibility" in reference to lesbians. But in reference to not just the lesbian community but society in general, I'd like to bring everyone's attention to "butch invisibility". X Factor makes me acutely aware of the invisibility of masculine women. I gave this some thought and have to put it down to the separation of the contestants into categories: "Boys", "Girls", "Overs" and "Groups".

It was Bootcamp this weekend and as I write this, I just finished watching the show where the Girls were selected for Judges' Houses. They flocked onto the stage in great numbers and were all a concoction of pretty dresses, fake eyelashes, glitzy jewellery and in more than one case, fake flowers on some body part or other. I know that tomorrow this will be counteracted by the Boys taking to the stage in hoards, dressed like One Direction, all doing the "Cheeky Chappy" routine. Now I'd like to say for the record that I'm not in any way putting down women presenting themselves in a feminine way. Please, go for it. Have a ball. But for visibility's sake, I'd like to see some of the girls work the look that always seems to be left down to the boys.

This lack of female masculinity is so not solely an X Factor issue. Every time The Apprentice is on I wish for a female contestant in a suit and tie. I watched three seasons of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents awaiting one gay teenager and when that gay teenager came, it was a camp gay boy. Oh, how I longed for a baby dyke in unflattering board shorts embarrassing her parents by getting wasted and bragging about her female conquests! And X Factor follows this tune. Gay boys are a frequent sight on the show. Gay girls... not so much. And especially not in board shorts.

I guess why this annoys me so much is that X Factor is always painfully on trend, to a camp, cheesy extent. My favourite bit of every series is when they reveal all the contestants who've been put through to the Live Shows and their newly done, ridiculously stylish looks. Everyone on X Factor is so chic and there's such an emphasis on looking good: the Judges' feedback will often be to comment on the contestant's appearance.

To a lesser extent, I feel this focus on looks when I watch The Apprentice too. The contestants always look super sharp and suave, and for the women this means very tight dresses and skirts, teamed up with killer heels. This gives off the impression that for a woman to be successful, this is how she should look, and leaves one feeling that masculine-looking women don't look smart or business-like.

And this just isn't true.
Millions upon millions of masculine women have a deep and invested interest in their appearance and looking good, myself among them.
Companies such as The Butch Clothing Company are thriving. The BCC makes suits for women, in the style of men's suits but to fit a female body. I read that in three years, they received 85,000 clients, and have had customers fly to England from as far as Norway to get suits made. They also offer video consultations for women living further afield and ship them their tailor-made suits. With each suit costing at least £800 a pop, this demonstrates to me that masculine women can care deeply about looking good.

Despite said masculine women priding themselves on their appearances a lot of the time, the attitude in our society remains that female masculinity is unattractive. In Anita Dolce Vita's Huffington Post article, "You're Too Pretty to Be Gay" Is Not a Compliment, she discusses how when people give her said non-compliment, it is not only patronising and ignorant about feminine lesbians, but it implies that women who are masculine are unattractive. I found her statement "butch-identified women who are in butch/femme relationships state that people often think of their femme partners as the more attractive one in the couple" particularly resounding.

There is a sense in society that in order for a woman to be attractive, she has to look feminine. What's more, if a woman isn't feminine, she's automatically unattractive. I've had more conversations than I could count with people who seem to think that referring to someone as "butch" is an insult and should only be used to imply someone is "ugly" on account of their masculinity. People who shall not be named have told me that individuals such as Ellen DeGeneres or Shane from The L Word shouldn't be referred to as "butch" and I can only assume that this is because they think women such as the two I just named are attractive despite their masculine appearances, thus salvaging them from being called "butch", a word they clearly believe to have negative connotations. And when shows such as X Factor, which pride themselves on being painfully hip, don't feature masculine females, the invisibility not only implies that masculine females don't look good, but it also implies that we are frumpy, not good enough and generally uncool.

This having been said, I'll end on a happier note. I don't believe all is lost for masculine women. Slowly but surely, and once in a butch moon, masculine women are starting to elbow their way into the limelight. It makes me so happy to see models like Casey Legler , who is signed to a male modelling agency and models exclusively men's clothes. There are even some masculine presenting female pop stars: a personal fave is Courtney Rumbold, one third of girl band Stooshe, who can frequently be seen rocking a tux, slacks or shorts while her feminine bandmates wear evening gowns, leggings or mini skirts.

Female masculinity can also be seen to be increasing in fictional TV shows. I recently watched Orange Is The New Black and absolutely loved it - as everyone did everywhere - but my favourite thing about it was its representation of women as so real, so human and so diverse. My absolute favourite example of this was the fantastic Lea Delaria's Big Boo, an oldskool butch who used fabulous expressions like, "She dumped my butch ass!" and dedicated to her look right down to the fuck off massive tattoo reading "BUTCH" across her lower arm. Not only was this the most butch woman I've ever seen on mainstream TV, this was not a joke role. This was a named, recurring character. This was a character who masturbated on screen, in a scene which didn't make fun of her but represented her as a person with a sexual appetite.

And of course, there have been brief moments of masculinity amongst the X Factor's women. Cher Lloyd did a fabulous performance of BoB and Bruno Mars' Nothin' On You during her time on the show, for which she wore a little tux topped off with her signature swagga. And of course, there was even one extremely prominent lesbian who has a tendency to get Beer Fear, one Lucy Spraggan. Who could forget her flannel-clad rendition of Gold Digger, topped off with her cheeky sideways glances at her backing dancers? Certainly not me. To see a lesbian, dressed in a masculine manner, perform a song about other women - and then to talk about how she's a lady lover with Nicole when the Judges made comments! - has to be one of my favourite X Factor moments ever. Scratch that. It is my favourite. And I'm telling you now, anyone who gives me repeats of this experience will have my vote.

Alex's Top 10 Americanisms

I've lived in Britain since I was three and aside from the fact that the US of A recognises me as a citizen of their country (long story! OK, it's not that long, I was born there while my British dad worked in New York, and my British mum lived out there with him and my British older sister...) I'm as British as watching Doctor Who on the BBC with a cuppa while it's raining out. My other half, however, is a fully-fledged American. And since being with her, I've realised - to my horror! - that I've picked up some Americanisms. To be honest, my horror re this mostly stems from how pretentious it makes me sound. I'm sure everyone thinks it's an affectation. And so partly out of clearing up that I'm not smoking Camels, drinking whiskey and soda and generally wanting to be Americano, and partly for the sheer hell of it, I decided to make a list of ten Americanisms I've picked up since being with my American girl.

1) "Taking out the trash" instead of "taking out the bins" or "taking out the rubbish".
This is one of my personal favourite Americanisms. Mainly just because, how much nicer a phrase is "taking out the trash"?? At least compared to the British alternatives! Trash sounds so neat in comparison to "bins" or "rubbish". It almost sounds like a polite way of putting it. Like "loo" instead of "toilet". "Trash" just makes everything sound neater and less graphic.

2) "Ghetto" instead of "tacky", "trashy" or basically anything else which means "a bit shit".
This is a word I have to make a really conscious effort not to say once I get back to England after being in California, because if I'm honest, I personally think by British standards it sounds a bit offensive. But people in California use this word all the time. Everything that's slightly crap is "ghetto". The whole time I was there I was merrily bandying it about and I'm sure sounding slightly silly because of my accent into the bargain.

3) "Lunch meat" instead of "sliced meat".
I certainly never hear this from English people other than... um... me. But it was so common to use this phrase to mean those sliced bits of meat you can put in your sandwich in America that in Taylor's shared student house which had labels for food groups stuck in the fridge, one of the shelves was dedicated to "Lunch Meat". I don't think it's even particularly a thing here... It's certainly not considered a standard food group.

4) "Mimosa" instead of "Bucks Fizz".
One of my favourite things about California is its unanimous belief that cocktails are a brunch necessity. What's more, when they have said cocktails, they have mimosas, aka, Prosecco and orange juice. This is a breakfast drink on the other side of the pond too. However, over here it's extremely posh and rare and we call it Bucks Fizz. We certainly do not advertise it outside brunch places like they do in America. I prefer calling this concoction a mimosa. It sounds so much prettier! My family don't approve of this alternate name, however, and we will have conversations where we're both stubbornly calling it different things.

5) "Pants" instead of "trousers".
So I definitely don't use this one regularly. I mostly just use it when I'm talking to Taylor. But even that is a big change for me. I used to think this was the most ridiculous word for trousers and one I could never ever get down with. While I still unquestionably don't use it in my day to day life, it's now a surprisingly big contributor to my word repertoire. I stole an item from Taylor's wardrobe which I don't even know how to describe without using the word "pants". They're "yoga pants". My other explanation for what they are would be "stretchy sweatpants with a bit of a flare": sounds much too nineties for my liking.

6) "School" instead of "university".
This is my least favourite Americanism. If there was an Americanism to rival "pants" in the list of Americanisms I Thought I Would Never Ever Say, it's "school" to mean "university". I find it so weird. It's like, it's not school! You've left school! But I'm ashamed to admit that I've started using it. When people say "school", I wonder if they potentially mean "university" and if that's not a sign of something entering your vocab officially, I don't know what is.

7) "Class" instead of "lectures" or "seminars".
On the subject of uni (or "school"), people call their lectures "class" in America! Which I have to admit, I really like. And use a lot. But I also know it gives the impression that I'm trying to sound like I'm in 10 Things I Hate About You. Which I have to admit is one of the reasons why I like it.

8) "Gas" instead of "petrol".
It's worrying how many of my blog posts include the phrase "makes me feel like I'm in a road movie". Clearly I have a weird obsession with being in a road movie. But they're cool. So I'm not too ashamed of that. And I'm afraid one of the reasons why I like to say gas is because, yes, you guessed it, it makes me feel like I'm in a road movie. I like saying "gas station" too, and "fill the tank", and generally pretending that I'm Dean Moriarty.

9) "Robe" instead of "dressing gown".
I mostly use this one when talking to Taylor because I genuinely feel odd if I call it a "dressing gown" when she always calls it a "robe". Maybe it has something to do with "dressing gown" being like three times as long as "robe", so it just feels needlessly glorified. Though to be honest, they're kind of both as silly, hyperbolic words as the other.

10) "Chips" instead of "crisps".
I've adopted this old chestnut of American/British miscommunication. The worst part about me using the word "chips" is that I use it to mean French fries too. So basically it's just become a big messy confusing situation as far as chips go. Never good.

LDR Stigma... Part 2

Following on from my recent thoughts on people sharing their unsought opinions on my (thriving, thanks very much!) long-distance relationship, I wanted to discuss my confusion at another aspect of the stigma surrounding long-distance. And that is that those who disapprove of long-distance relationships are at best being unrealistic, and at worst, they are being hypocrites.

I think people carry around stereotypes about LDRs. They think they're formed on tumblr between fourteen-year-olds who haven't met each other (OK, sometimes they are). Or they think they're something which two reckless and foolish young things embark upon for a month or two with a holiday fling before getting back to the real world. Rubbish movies like Like Crazy(don't watch it! I repeat, DON'T watch it!) reinforce this view of long-distance going hand in hand with being irresponsible and/or lacking real communication with your partner.
But from my humble observations, long-distance comes in all shapes and sizes.
And if you commit to someone for life, the chances are that you and your partner will handle long-distance in some shape and some size, at some point in your long-legged lives.

My dad spends two days a week in Scotland with work. This is a small amount of distance, granted, and also for a short period of time, but it's still distance, and it doesn't really bear a huge amount of difference from me and my girlfriend being apart because we are studying at universities in different countries. The travelling my dad does for work is also pretty minimal compared to what it is for many people. A friend of mine's parents spend months apart because of his dad's job. And they've been married with kids for years and years. If you surveyed how many couples had experienced time apart because of work, I bet it would be an extremely large percentage. But these married couples whose employment sends them to foreign climes don't seem to be judged. They're not forced to listen to horror stories (see Part One) like my partner and I are on a daily basis. All in all, they are taken more seriously. Perhaps because they're married, perhaps because they have kids... though I find it hard to imagine that if Taylor and I married and reproduced and continued our residences on other sides of the world anyone would be very impressed! And so I suppose it comes down to the factor Taylor and I don't have: their age.

Though on the other hand, I don't know if the respect they receive can even just be attributed to that. Being young and away from your partner isn't unusual at all. Loads and loads of young couples end up in different places once they go to university, especially in England where it is very normal to study far away from the place you come from (although I do know that this can be a problem in America too. I've seen High School Musical 3). When I was at school, there were a lot of couples who had been together for a pretty impressively long time: like, I'm talking a couple of years. I know from facebook that a lot of these couples stayed together after going to study at other ends of the country. And I just had a quick peek and some of them are still together. (Wow, that must be coming up to like five years! Crikey. Congrats, if you're reading this.)

The fact is that being in a relationship doesn't stop life happening to you, and to be honest, anyone who put a stopper in all life experiences just because they had a partner would be wasting their life, big time. I took a gap year before coming to university (also before meeting Taylor), during which I went to Asia with a volunteer company. The volunteers ranged in ages, but there were several who were about my age and had come away for a couple of months, leaving a boyfriend or girlfriend at home. And, for that matter, there were married people who'd left a spouse at home for a couple of months. You probably want to exclaim, "But that's different!" But how is it different? Going away to volunteer for a couple of months in India is not really any different at all from my girlfriend and I being apart for a couple of months while she is at university.

And on top of this, most celebrities are technically in LDRs, when you think about it. Yes, they're generally very very rich so they see each other more often than a loved-up couple of Average Joannes do but that doesn't change the fact that they're in an LDR. It may not be the best example because they did get, um, divorced but I remember reading an interview with Katy Perry where she talked about her relationship with Russell Brand and said how upset she was that the people coordinating her tours weren't factoring in her "relationship days" (ie. going to visit Mr Brand on a regular basis). I remember reading also how Brangelina have a rule that one of them has to be with the children at all times. Why do they have this rule? Because they are so often apart, filming on location or doing other Brangelina-esque things which force them to travel to far off lands. And if only one of the happy couple is with their fleet of kids what does that mean? That's right... That they're apart. Joel Madden was a judge on the Australian The Voice while Nicole Richie was rocking around LA and New York and other such fun, and very much America-located, places. I follow a ton of celebrities on Instagram and all I see is that their jet-setting lifestyles cause them to be apart from their partners, like, all the time. So how are those examples for making you feel in better company, eh, people in LDRs?

It's because of the fact that I truly do believe long distance to be such a common thing in relationships that I have to admit I often shy away from calling Taylor and myself a "long distance relationship". It's not because I'm ashamed of us being one. It's because I don't see the need to label our relationship like that. I'm not even sure it's true. In summer 2013, Taylor and I lived in the same place, together, for three months. We weren't long distance then. We were same-bed-sleeping, morning-coffee-sharing, trash-taking-out short distance. When she is in America, she is a long distance away from me. But I'm not sure it's right, fair or accurate to dismiss our whole relationship by titling it "long distance". Taylor and I are a couple who are kept apart sometimes by circumstances. It ultimately comes down to that I'm not sure what a "long distance relationship" even means, and if we're one then I don't see why a hell of a lot of other couples aren't too.

A Londoner in LA: The Good, the Bad and the Lesbianic...

The world has, what I consider to be, an irksome obsession with California. Writing this and about to go on to explain what I mean by this, the initial thing that springs to my mind is, "But why wouldn't people be obsessed with California?" And the fact that I think this is, like... the whole reason people are obsessed with California. Vicious circle, much?

But seriously, it is kind of like, what's not to love? Permanent summer, dwelling place of celebrities and it's not only acceptable but expected to travel a couple of streets by car. For someone who is daily sandwiched between a rather gross smelly man with his legs too wide apart and a screaming child on the tube, this seems like the ultimate luxury. Reasons to love it can be found everywhere. They even have Disneyland. Hand on heart, Taylor's sister and her boyfriend used to pop down to Disneyland after school. THEY POPPED DOWN TO DISNEYLAND. AFTER SCHOOL. Mind-blowingly luxurious.

Not only does CA have these obvious attractions, but it is glorified wherever we look.
It's been this way since the long ago days when Marilyn Monroe roamed the streets. It's bigged up in movies, in magazines, in pop music. It's represented as the greatest place on earth. On a daily basis, I see at least ten people wearing t-shirts which say something about California (or, even more specifically, Los Angeles, though people do venture out to San Francisco and even San Diego). Every time I see someone in one of these shirts, all I wonder is whether or not they've actually been there. I'm going to guess 60% have not.

This seriously bugs me, and I am sent into an actual rage by Forever 21's current store displays, which, in the middle of Oxford Street, in London, one of the greatest cities in the world, announces, "THIS IS LA." Well. Actually. It's not. It's London. And here in London, my fabulous classy historical tourist-attracting London, I want to be made to feel cool for being in London, Goddamnit! Not made to feel like I'd be cooler if I was in another place entirely. Not to mention, Forever 21, that if this was indeed LA, I'd have my girlfriend next to me. But that's not for here!

The fact that I find people's obsession with California really, really annoying is actually pretty ironic. It's ironic because... well... it's a bit awkward but... I'm obsessed with California. So basically, yes, I'm a hypocrite. Can't be helped. I've been obsessed with California for years longer than I've known Taylor. I also possess not one, but three, t-shirts glorifying California. And maybe a bracelet. Oh, and a candle. And I have a little display on my closet door reminiscing about my time spent there. BUT to be fair to me, I stand by this! It's OK to have my "I heart SD" postcard up because I do really heart SD. And I went to California on a family holiday when I was thirteen!! So technically, since the obsession begun, I've been totally informed.

There's an obvious culprit for why I'm obsessed with California. It's The L Word's fault.
And also a bit Paris Hilton's (I sort of want to be a butch version of her. Don't ask). But mostly it's The L Word. I've loved The L Word since I was about fifteen. I'm totally, completely obsessed with it. I've seen it a bazillion times. I maybe know it off by heart. Seriously, you can test me if you want. I kind of pride myself on how well I know it. And how great does The L Word make LA look????? More lesbians than you can shake a rainbow flag at! All dressed like their closets are an AllSaints store and a Dolce & Gabbana shop combined! Their gay bars serve cocktails! Mine serve plastic pints of Carlsberg for £1.70.

So when Tay and I got wifed up and I planned my first trip out to California, I was, for want of a more ladylike way of putting it, shitting myself with excitement. 90% of this was about seeing my girl for the first time in three months. 10% was, admittedly, about going to California now that I wasn't in the early stages of adolescence (better than just not in the early stages, I'd reached the coveted twenty-one! We all know what that means...).

And California was absolutely staggering. It's a magnificent place. It really is. Even driving between Taylor's family home in Riverside and San Diego where Tay lived at the time, I felt like I was in a road movie. There's something amazing about American roads, to a non-American. The views looked like Django Unchained, not kidding.

BUT it also wasn't entirely what I'd imagined. When I first went to visit, Taylor did not, in fact, live in LA, which has always been the pinnacle of my obsession. She lived in San Diego.
We visited LA and I did love it. But it wasn't how I thought it would be.

I'm about to crush some dreams here so brace yourself: The L Word is filmed in Canada. That is why it looks zilch like LA. The real LA couldn't look more different if it tried (seriously, it's almost embarrassing...). It's a lot less green and luscious than it seems in The L Word, and there's so much more driving than I imagined. Being a Londoner, I'd never really focused on LA's complete necessity for driving. I guess to a certain extent the LA of my mind was like London with more sunshine. But in real life, LA consists of soooo many roads, and not sceneic ones either. Ones which look like motorways look in England. Except these are within-the-city roads! I finally understood that amazing description in A Single Man (for those who don't get this reference, get yo' Isherwood on, you'll thank me). And although my exploration of the gay bars was on the brief side, I have to say they certainly didn't look as glamorous as they do in The L Word. They looked quite like their London counterparts to be honest: drunk-males-in-tight-pants-centric.

Funnily enough, San Diego was the place I liked more. And this was because San Diego was how I'd imagined LA! I pretty much think San Diego is a slice of heaven. The weather is balmy and beautiful and there's vegetation everywhere (right next to the roads which you're driving down to go to the Mexican takeout that's a street away - coolest thing is we genuinely did this!). It's super beach-focused despite being a city, which means seahorses EVERYWHERE - my seahorse, Sid (who travelled with me out of necessity as he is, admittedly, a tattoo) felt in great company.

And even more fabulously, San Diego's gay area, Hillcrest, is the most amazing gay district I have ever been to in my whole life. Flying a huge rainbow flag at all times, it is laid-back, welcoming and lovely. We went every Sunday to an adorable lesbian-run church, University Christian Church, where, honest to God, the priest was away one week because she and her wife were at Dinah Shore. The bars are not just bars but they serve food too. You can get brunch! And the bars have theme nights with so much variety, not just playing the latest chart-toppers: we went to a night where they played clips from musicals all evening, meaning my Roger Dupree from The Producers impersonation got to leave my bedroom and hit the California gay scene.

AND they have a whole lesbian bar, the fabulously fabulous Gossip Grill. Unlike most places which claim to be for the sapphicly inclined, it's really ladies-who-love-ladies-focused with vaginal themed cocktail names - Pussy Punch, anyone? If Kit had come over and said "grrrrl" and "baby sis" a lot of times and given me pear polenta tart, it would practically have been The Planet. San Diego, in fact, had lesbians wherever I looked. I almost have to wipe away a nostalgic tear as I remember it - it was all my L Word fantasies come true.

And thus, I draw to my conclusion. Firstly, The L Word lies. If you want a real depiction of LA, The Real L Word is (appropriately!) much more REAL-istic. But then we all knew The L Word lied from the minute Max grew that full face and neck of facial hair despite still sounding like Jane Horrocks, so that's not that revolutionary a conclusion. I guess my real conclusion would be that I feel super blessed to have gone to beautiful, wonderful California and I think it's phenomenal. But I also think London is an equally mesmerising city and the people of it should be loving it and not hankering after another location (Forever 21, that includes you).

London's place in my heart could never be taken away (I wouldn't really get rid of public transport for a bazillion cars. Unless you're offering a Bugatti Veyron...) and I feel super blessed to call it my hometown. But at the end of the day, I feel most blessed of all to be tied inseparably to both these fabulous locations. Oh, and to experience them alongside the love of my life. That's the greatest gift of all.

Our Summer of Love - Picture Post!

Taylor and I were blessed with spending the whole of Summer 2013 together! I'm sure anyone in a long-distance relationship will sympathise with how special this is, and we got to spend just under three months together!! Tay came to me in England and looking back, it is amazing how much stuff we did over the time and all the memories we created! So we wanted to share all our special memories and our favourite pictures from the summer in a picture post :)

Taylor arrived in England on 1st June and I met her at the airport with a huge bunch of flowers! We were both thrilled to be reunited, having not seen each other since the last day of April.

We spent the first three weeks in London! We did some amazing things, like going to the boat races at Henley with my parents.

I also took Taylor to a Moulin Rouge sing-a-long at the awesome Prince Charles Cinema. It's her favourite movie and I surprised her with tickets!

In our third week in London, Taylor's sister Paige and her boyfriend MJ came to stay with us in London! We super enjoyed having them to stay, and we really enjoyed taking them sightseeing - it's always so much fun to do the tourist activities! We went loads of places, including Harrods, Buckingham Palace and the Natural History Museum, where we saw some awesome dinosaurs and, our personal favourite, Chi-Chi the panda!

After Paige and MJ left, the lease ended on the flat I lived in last year and so Taylor and I went to stay in a house my parents own in the countryside! It's in Wiltshire where I went to boarding school, so it was nice (and kind of surreal!) to show Taylor where I spent my school days. We loved our time in the country. The weather was amazingly hot, and we spent a lot of time laying out, relaxing and making romantic dinners. We also enjoyed some of the local attractions, such as going for afternoon tea and attending the local church, which, despite me being the reason we go to church, I think Taylor loved even more than me!

We then headed back to London for a week, as we both had internships. We also enjoyed some theatre trips in the evenings, including seeing the Menier Chocolate Factory's mind-blowing production of musical of The Color Purple.

It was then back to Marlborough for us! We just had a few days there before we went on holiday with my dad and sister, but we made the most of it, even getting in a trip to Stonehenge!

Taylor and I then headed off for a ten day holiday with my sister and my dad! We went to Tresco in the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall. We had to go there on an airplane (the tiniest excuse for an airplane you ever saw!) but that was really cool because Taylor and I had seen each other off at airports many times but had never actually been on a plane together before!! My family have been going to Tresco since I was about four years old, but it was Taylor's first time. It was really special for me to bring her, because since I was a child I'd always imagined myself bringing my partner there when I was grown up. We had the best time, going on long beautiful walks and we even got Taylor behind the wheel of my dad's boat!

After we came back from Tresco, we spent a week staying in my parents' house in London! We squeezed in some London-based stuff we'd been wanting to do. I took Taylor to her first football match, at Wembley (which I think she found quite the experience!), we had a gorgeous brunch at one of my favourite restaurant's Bill's, we stopped by our favourite bookstore Gay's The Word and went for an amazing Prosecco-fuelled picnic in Regent's Park (which begun our Regent's Park OBSESSION!!).

We then went back down to Wiltshire for another week. It was our last time on our own there this trip, so we made sure to enjoy it, and we finally went on a walk in the beautiful Savernake Forest, which we'd been saying we'd do since the beginning of summer!!

We then came back to London to move into my NEW FLAT!! We were so thrilled on the night we moved in to see the previous tenant's had left us an amazing bottle of Taittinger! We spent the first week enjoying the flat and getting acquainted with the area ;)

We came back down to Wiltshire to go to a family reunion my parents were having (during which I got Tay playing some croquet!). We also took Tay to Pizza Express (an English staple!) for the first time ever on her first day there!! It was really really lovely to have Taylor there with all my family - it meant a lot to me.

We then finally returned to London! We spent our last week doing lots of wonderful London things - we went to the West End to see Noel Coward's Private Lives, went to Regent's Park again (several times!), picnicked and went for walks by the Thames and went to famous jazz bar Ronnie Scott's. We also had a beautiful day celebrating our one year anniversary, which you can read about and see pictures from here.

Of course our last day came around all too soon. We spent our last day together at home as it was raining, and we had an indoor breakfast picnic next to the very large window in my front room.

We feel so lucky and blessed to have had such an amazing and beautiful summer, together. We will be reunited in December for Christmas in England and are counting down the days.