Hi Poppy, tell us a bit more about yourself and how you came to live in Singapore?
I grew up in West Wales, the most remote place in the world, and, though absolutely beautiful, I craved adventure and city life. In my teen years I spent a lot of time in London due to my parents’ jobs and after a stint living in Leeds for university and some time in Greece spent teaching sailing, I made the move.
I loved London – the culture, the pace and the lifestyle but after being a PR girl there for almost two years, I got bored of the rain and the commute and itchy feet struck.
I’d only been to Asia once before and funnily enough I didn’t take to Singapore the first time I visited. However after a weekend there to ‘recce’ the city, I fell in love with the rooftop bars, the weather and the idea that the media scene was on the cusp of a big change and I could be there to witness it. Within three weeks of making my decision, breaking the news to my parents and Googling ‘Singapore expat lifestyle’, I was on a flight to start a new life and I haven’t looked back.
How would you say life differs now than when you were back home?
Hmm, I have a year-round tan. I have a 30 second commute. It’s always hot. I go out a lot more. My friends are my family. I travel. I have a job I love. I don’t get bored!
What advice would you have for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
One of my favourite sayings is ‘You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. Act accordingly.’ As clichéd as it may sound – just do it. Stop making excuses, decide where you’d like to go and just get on a plane.
What would you say was the hardest part about moving so far from home?
Keeping in touch with family and friends is really hard because of the time difference – I am useless at Skype and never remember to email people back so it can be tricky. Also, I didn’t really take into account flight time or cost when I packed my bags and left…I would love to be able to go home more often.
I also find the lack of real Dairy Milk chocolate and Jelly Babies a struggle (I know – first world problems!) and I whinge a lot about the price of cheese and wine and not being able to pop home for a weekend in the countryside and spend my Sunday afternoons in a country pub.
We love the brands you guys at Mango represent, how did you get into PR?
I’ll be honest – it was completely by accident! I studied English Literature and Philosophy at university and when it came to my final year I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. Needless to say my dreams of being a doctor or astronaut were thrown out of the window years ago when I realised I had absolutely no interest (or skill) in science.
In my final term of university I started looking at internships. I did my first internship at a Lifestyle PR agency, which specialised in looking after comedians and TV shows and fell in love with the industry. I did my second internship at a well-known consumer agency in London. I enjoyed it so much that I applied for a job at the same agency and stayed on with them.
Since then, I’ve worked across various clients ranging from lifestyle and luxury to corporate, banking and pharmaceutical. The variety has been great because I’ve been exposed to different areas of PR and it’s allowed me to carve a niche so to speak – I now specialise in luxury travel and restaurant PR.
Working in PR is nearly every girls dream; can you tell us what a typical day is like?
The best thing about PR is that it changes every day. There is no typical day and tasks range from copy writing, event planning and trying the latest haunts to coordinating interviews with CEO’s, writing thought leadership pieces and meeting with media.
A ‘normal’ day looks a bit like this: Up early to check emails before looking over clients’ social pages and both world and local news. I’ll be at my desk for 9am with a large cup of tea! My morning is spent writing press releases, seducing the media with my lovely travel and restaurant clients and working on new business pitches. I’ll usually have lunch with a journalist at one of the restaurants that I look after, or if not, I’ll grab a salad to go. After lunch, it’s prepping for our latest event, conference calls with our European clients, a client meeting and a photo shoot at the restaurant we’ve just launched. The evening is spent at an industry event or at an event we’ve organised.
If work isn’t calling, I’ll spend the evening at one of the latest restaurants in Singapore with friends or having drinks on Club Street. I then fall into bed!
How does your typical work style differ from your weekend style?
I am the most casual girl in the world – I now have an emergency jacket and pair of heels in the office for meetings because otherwise I’d rock up in slouchy trousers and a t-shirt.
If I’m making an effort, I tend to wear a bright dress or skirt from my favourite boutique – Willow and Huxley on Amoy Street. I love pops of colour – most of my clothes are patterned, turquoise or bright pink. I never leave the house without my many bracelets or my Roxanne Mulberry handbag – I don’t know what I’d do without them!
I spend the weekends in shorts and a top or a floaty summer dress and I don’t go anywhere without my new Rayban mirror sunglasses. They’re bright green and garish – but I love them!
You also have your own blog – what made you start this and how do you find the time to fit it all in?
I started the blog when I arrived in Singapore, mainly to update people at home because I’m useless at Skype, and have actually only managed one Skype date in two years!
The blog documents my adventures in Singapore – be it restaurant reviews, expat escapades, travel stories or my views on life and current affairs in Singapore. I have a lot of fun regaling my weekend antics on the blog and making up code names for my friends! I try to blog once a week and I have to admit – it’s become quite addictive – I love writing it. It’s also interesting to check the stats to find out who’s reading it – turns out most of my readers are from Singapore!
Your blog is full of tales of your travels, would it be safe to say you have a serious case of wanderlust? Where is next on the list?
Yes definitely – I love travelling! Since being here I’ve seen lots of Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Tioman, Rawa, Dayang, Ipoh in the Cameron Highlands and Pulau Tinggi. I’ve been to Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok in Thailand; I’ve stayed on Gili Trewangan in the Gili Islands, and been to Bali, Mount Bromo, Sumatra and Bintan in Indonesia. I’ve also spent time in Hong Kong, Goa and the Maldives.
Where’s next…I’ve got trips planned to Cambodia and Vietnam this year. I’d also love to get to Sri Lanka and Laos to explore and Sipadan in Indonesia and El Nido in the Philippines for diving next year.
What do you enjoy most about living in Singapore?
The weather, the travel and the feeling that come 6pm after work, you’re on holiday. That feeling never gets old.
You deal with a lot of restaurants in your job, can you give us a few insider tips to any of your favourite Singapore hot spots?
My go to bar is Beaujolais, a French bar on Club Street. They do a great cheese board and glass of Prosecco. A great ladies night is Café Gavroche on Tras street. Follow this with cocktails at Jekyll and Hyde.
For the best Japanese food I’d recommend Kazu Sumiyaki in Cuppage Plaza – impossible to find but worth it! Our Village on Boat Quay is perfect for chilled mid-week dinner, Kilo for Friday night dins followed by dancing, and Rabbit Carrot Gun on the East Coast is great for chilled Sunday brunches – they even brew their own beer.
There are so many options and there are always new places opening up…my list changes frequently!
What does a typical weekend involve?
If I’m in Singapore, the weekend kicks off with cocktails at Jigger and Pony on Amoy Street and then I’ll head over to Club Street to meet friends – I’m likely to end up at KYO, a club on Cecil Street.
Saturday will be pool time, the gym if I’m feeling energetic (which is rare) and a BBQ or party in the evening.
Sunday is often filled with a champagne brunch, my favourite is the Fullerton Hotel, followed by Tanjong Beach Club.
If I’m trying to have a chilled weekend, I’ll start with brunch at somewhere like Artichoke with the girls, then spend the day watching my latest favourite series (I’m revisiting the OC at the moment), catching up on errands and sun bathing.
Must-visit sights and scenes?
Check out Arab Street for funky shops, Duxton Hill for its cobbled street of restaurants and the best book shop in Singapore, Club Street for the bars, Ku De Ta for incredible views of the city, Botanical Gardens for greenery, China Town for nik naks and Asian furniture, East Coast for windsurfing, Geylang for a bit of culture and Orchard Road to blow your pay cheque.
To you, Singapore is ….
My second home (tied with Greece)!
Thanks for the insider tips Poppy. And also thanks to the always wonderful Biju of Biju Photography for the stunning images. For more from Biju, see www.bijuphotography.pixieset.com