Friday, March 31st, 2017

G I N G H A M S H O E S

I subscribe to the Women’s Hour podcast + the other day it popped up with the description ‘Daisy Lowe on the joys of wearing gingham.’ I laughed to myself because I’m so over being sold to, I’ll buy it if I like it not because you tell me thanks very much. Yet here I am a few days later here I am waxing lyrical to you about the ‘joys of gingham,’ so who I am to judge?

My first gingham fave was an overall dress from COW vintage in Digbeth, Birmingham. Teenage boys heckled me when I wore it but I loved it regardless. Nowadays I’ve got a monochrome gingham skirt which feels a bit more grown-up + Dolce & Gabanna than my pinafore dress. I just chuck on some cats eye sunglasses then pretend I’m Vanessa Hudgens for the day.  That was the end of my gingham story until I walked past these shoes last Sunday: it was a love at first sight.  I found my size + I did that thing your Mum made you do whilst trying on school shoes in Clarks: I walked + down the shoe section in them. It didn’t take me long to decided they had to be mine + hot-footed it to the till. The block heel + ankle strap means they are practical, you can actually walk to the bus stop in these which is how I judge most of my shoes. I look forward to wearing them with my mom jeans + black body uniform for my next night out.
P.S The website describes them as black but it sunlight they can look navy.

* To be fair the podcast was quite interesting Jennifer Daley, a fashion history lecturer spoke about where gingham came from + how it was used within society.



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Sunday, March 12th, 2017

T O R O N T O

Last October I travelled to Canada; my friend Adam had recently emigrated to Vancouver + I wanted to check in on him +  explore his new home. My friend Olivia lives near Kitchener about an hour away from Toronto so I decided to start my journey on the East coast + then travel West. I decided to book a hostel to free up money for activities + let’s be honest, alcohol. I booked a private room + though it was basic it did the job.  I stayed in Hostel International in downtown Toronto + the location couldn’t have been better. I was about two minutes walk from the Gooderham Building aka the original flatiron building + ten-minute walk from Union station.

ST LAWRENCE MARKET

 This market was on every ‘things to do in Toronto,’ list + I can see why. The market was packed to the rafters with weird + wonderful food; upstairs had hot food stands + downstairs had fresh bread + pastries. Even though the hostel had a kitchen + cooking facilities I chose to eat at the market each day. The Saturday I was in Toronto it was my birthday so I went to the market for treats and watched the world go by.  Families, hipsters + older folk all mingled whilst listening to folk bands that were playing outside the market; even Catherine Zita-Jones is a big fan!

ART GALLERY OF ONTARIOMy friend Olivia suggested we visit this place + it did not disappoint. It houses the largest collection of Canadian art + luckily for me Olivia knew lots about it, particularly  the Group of Seven. Plus look at those Henry Moore sculptures – it’s the largest collection I’ve ever seen. I can’t talk about this place + not mention the AGO’s transformation. The gallery reopened in 2008 after a massive redevelopment; the redevelopment was overseen by Canadian + Toronto born Frank Gehry. It was, believe it or not his first building project in Canada. I love Gehry’s work + this building didn’t disappoint – I loved the sculptural staircase named ‘Baroque Stair,’ + the ‘Galleria Italia’ that leads you to the delightful Henry Moore room.The staff were friendly + knowledgeable + approached us with offers of free guided tours. This is the perfect place just to switch off and relax, plus I highly recommend the gift shop. 

THE FERRY TO TORONTO ISLANDSThe Toronto Islands are a small chain of islands just offshore from downtown Toronto. Cars on aren’t permitted on the islands + it’s thought that it’s the largest car free community in North America. You can get to the island using the City of Toronto ferries from Jack Layton Terminal. Olivia + I just went for a stroll but you can hire bikes if you fancy. As I visited in October most places were shut for Winter but we did manage to grab a hot chocolate in the pretty Rectory Café. There is a small residential community on the island but lots of people use them at the weekends. It’s sometimes called ‘cottaging’ which apparently means something very different in UK English { thanks urban dictionary }.

NIAGARA FALLSNiagara Falls is about two hours from Toronto + you can easily get there by bus or train. Olivia + I got the Megabus from the main Toronto coach station to Niagara Falls Transit Station. You then need to get a bus closer to the Falls. We left at 09:00 and got the bus back around to Toronto at 17:00, it’s easy to do in a day. The falls themselves were HUGE + just as spectacular as people say. We bought day tickets for the Hornblower + snapped lots of photos with our plastic ponchos on. You do get fairly wet so I was glad I took spare leggings; it’s worth it though just to hear that water roar, it’s astonishing. What I wasn’t keen on was the strip like street that sits next to the falls. The street is full of arcade centres and cheap fast food; the falls are so beautiful it’s a shame that they allowed casino resorts so close. Lots of people told me Niagara On The Lake is beautiful + worth a visit. As I was only in Toronto for two + half days I skipped it but there’s always next time.

SKY WALK, CN TOWERI wanted to do this as soon as I saw this so I booked it for my birthday because there’s nothing like spending your birthday hanging off a building 116 stories tall right? It’s not cheap but if you can afford it it’s very much worth it. The staff were all exceptional + most importantly safety was paramount, they really do take it very seriously. We were checked three times before we took the lift + were then checked again up the top. For some unknown reason I volunteered to be the first one out the door, my god it was terrifying. The platform is about a metre wide but the slack in your harness makes you feel like you’re walking around without a safety rope; it also didn’t help that it was windy. We started by walking up to the edge + shouting ‘hello Toronto.’ This might sound trivial but at 356 metres above the ground it was harder than it sounds. Our instructor then demonstrated + encouraged us to try out a number of ‘leans,’ off the edge. I loved the backwards lean but I found the front lean really hard to do as had to walk towards the edge of the platform + put our toes an inch away from the edge then simply ‘ lean forward.’ JUST LEAN FORWARD, my palms are clammy thinking back. The slack in the rope made it feel like I just throwing myself off the building, to say I relieved when I felt the rope tighten is an understatement ;-). After completing these leans a few times I trusted the equipment + started to enjoy myself + take in the view. I was even confident enough to try to ‘art direct’ the instructor. You can actually hear me in my souvenir video going ‘shall I just move around a bit because I really want me with all the sky scrapers in the back?’ #cringe. 

NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUAREThis square in is front of Toronto City Hall + has a large reflection pool in the middle with a water feature + a another Henry Moore sculpture. The design is brutalist + the concrete walkway reminded me of the Barbican centre. It has a 3D TORONTO sign which was erected for the Pan-American games in 2015; it proved popular with city dwellers + tourists alike so it’s now permanent + perfect for photos.  Nathan Phillips was Mayor of Toronto from 1955 – 1962 in case you’re wondering 😉

WHO I FLEW WITH

Air Transat –  Gatwick to Toronto Pearson, Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to Gatwick

HOW I GOT AROUND

Up Train – From Pearson Airport to Union Station, Downtown $12 for a one-way adult ticket.

Megabus – From Toronto Coach Station to Niagra Falls Coach Station $44 return trip

GOtransit – From Niagra Falls Coach Station to the Falls. $7 return

I mainly walked everywhere but fellow hostel dwellers told me the Metro was cheap and easy to use too.

WHERE I STAYED

HI Hostel, Downtown Toroto – $369 CAD for Private Room for three nights

WHERE I ATE

As I was by myself I mostly ate on the go; St Lawrence market was nearby so I had hot food there + smoothies from there.  Tim Hortons was cheap + easy for coffee + maple treats ‘cos when in Canada.The one thing I’m gutted I missed out on was booking in some Second City comedy; sadly I just didn’t  have time. I’m also gutted the Prince Harry + Megan Markle relationship was still secret – I would have definitely stalked MM! { kidding not kidding }



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Monday, February 20th, 2017

Palm Vaults

A few weeks ago my friend Andrea and I travelled across London town on a little adventure. I don’t know about you but sometimes I can get stuck in a weekend rut, mid-week I have lots of grand ideas but then Netflix, dog walks and pizza takes over. To stop me bailing on my own ideas I’ve been booking friends and specific ideas in advance. If you’re an instagram user you’re bound to have seen this place pop up on your feed too, we fancied a trip East and then decided to grab some breakfast in Palm Vaults. If I’m completely honest here, I probably wouldn’t have visited this café but it’s just so pretty. Palm Vaults is like stepping into my Tropical pinterest board. Inside it was warm and welcoming I liked the little book corner, the friendly staff and the loo ticked all my o.my.gee Beverly Hills Hotel boxes.Andrea had a tasty toastie and I had a healthy acai bowl and a velvet latte, prices were fair for London so if you fancy a little weekend wander then I can highly recommend Palm Vaults. P.S Palm Vaults are family and dog friendly too!



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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dublin {in pictures}

I often see accounts on instagram with photo after photo of pretty pastel houses, cars and flowers. I of course think the photos and accounts are pretty but for me photography is getting stuck in and getting the unique, quirky points of a city { perhaps I just don’t have enough will power to stick to a rigid theme}. This photo of the priest although slightly out of focus is one of my absolute favourites, I often think in film sequences and when I took this Hozier Take Me To Church was playing in my head. 



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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dublin

   TRAVEL

I booked my flights last-minute, I travelled with RyanAir on the way out and AerLingus on the way back. I had great experiences with both.STAY

The Westbury

My partner Tom was working in Dublin so I crashed his hotel room. It was an absolutely gorgeous hotel and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s not part of the Dorchester hotel group but felt like it and for me there’s nothing better. I knew I’d enjoy it from the second I walked in, you see I’d spotted my House of Hackney palm cushions. Apparently the co-owner of House of Hackney is Irish.

EAT

{ I must say that I did find eating out expensive in Dublin, similar if not a bit more than eating out in London}

Industry & Co

I mentioned this in my shopping and coffee list but for light bites and pastries this was fab!

Fade Street Social

This was recommended by The Westbury concierge, we normally like to do our own research but this trip was a bit last-minute. Owned by Dylan Mcgrath {an Irish celebrity chef } we chose the tapas style food downstairs as opposed to the slightly more formal restaurant. It was a good choice and all the food was flippin’ great. It’s not traditional tapas – think more mini lobster rolls and crab toasties.

Fallon & Byrne

A grocery shop with a wine bar in the basement- need I say anymore?

Brother Hubbard

A bit off the beaten track this place gets rave reviews. I wandered past whilst exploring the North side of the river and grabbed a sandwich from it’s take out place – Little Hubbard.

Coffee Shop, George Street Market

I was a bit tired when I landed so unusually for me I couldn’t be bothered to traipse up and down to find Dublin’s best avocado on toast. I popped into this unassuming coffee shop because it was busy with grannies and I trust grannies to lead me to a good café. I had a fuss free Americano with a cheese and brown bread sandwich. I indulged in a bit of people watching and planned my sight-seeing route.

COFFEE

Arguably one of the most important parts of any trip is finding good coffee. I’ve banned myself from getting a coffee from those big ol’ chains though I needn’t have worried there’s plenty of amazing places around.

Industry & Co

I mentioned this in my shopping / eating section but I got the best mocha here and the tiles are ON POINT!

Danger Donuts

Three words; salted caramel doughnuts. #yourewelcome

Clement and Pekoe

I didn’t actually get a coffee from here but there was a queue every time I walked past which means a) the coffee is great b) the take out cups are really instagramable.

DRINK

I think I’m in a very tiny percentage of people who visited Ireland and didn’t do the Guinness experience. To be honest I just wasn’t that fussed, plus I spent the days by myself so I didn’t think getting tipsy alone was wise. That said I did drink a few Irish coffees – Baileys version.

Stag’s Head

Established in 1770 the staff are friendly and the atmosphere lively, if you’re going to have Guinness anywhere they it might as well be here. P.S It’s featured in a number of tv programmes and films so you might recognise the interior.

The Sidebar

This cocktail bar was in the hotel we stayed at but it was gorgeous, the bartenders wear white tuxedos and to me it reminded me of the Polo Lounge in Los Angeles { high praise from me as I love the BHH}. If you’re going on a romantic weekend this is a lovely place to stop by.

DO

Books Of Kells / Long Room, Trinity College

The moment you step inside Trinity College Campus you immediately regret all your education decisions why on earth did you not apply for this University; surely is the place to go. The campus was not only gorgeous but lively and musical. Students {or as I’ve started to call them – kids} were playing Bowie songs on saxophones in their tiny skinny jeans whilst supping what I imagine was artisan coffee with almond milk.

The Book of Kells exhibition was easy to find and well laid out. Dare I say it I found the context part  more exciting than the book itself though the book absolutely beautiful. My experience was hampered by what felt like 17,000 Spanish exchange children who pushed past and swarmed the perspex viewing box like bees. Mindful / frustrated / slightly scared of this army of kids I hurried toward the Long Room.

When you climb the steps to the spectacular Long Room the first thing you notice is the smell of old books and it’s heavenly. The Old Library {a Thomas Burgh’s masterpiece} holds thousands of rare and early volumes. In the 18th century, the college received the Brian Boru one of the three surviving medieval Gaelic harps which is on display here.

Christ Church Cathedral

The oldest of the two medieval Cathedrals it’s a pretty building with a synod attached. You’ll find the tomb of Strongbow in this church. I was going to look around but it didn’t look very welcoming and I didn’t fancy paying €6 get in and €4 for information #sorrynotsorrySaint Patricks Cathedral

Founded in 1191 Saint Patricks Cathedral is mostly known for its connection with Gulliver’s Travel author Jonathan Swift but I feel I should also point out that it’s spire at 43 metres tall means that St Patrick’s is the tallest church in Ireland because apparently size matters. Personally, I was glad to visit just to check out that tiled floor- talk about pinterest tile inspo. On a more serious note it was a friendly and welcoming church and I enjoyed their displays on Jonathan Swift, especially the part when he two-times his girlfriends.Famine Memorial

Located along the River Liffey, these statues together memorialize the Great Famine designed by Rowan Gillespie that Ireland endured between 1845 – 1849. Mass starvation and emigration, causing one million to die and at least another million to emigrate. The memorial depicts weary, emaciated forms marching towards the docklands in search of the promise of a better life in the US or Canada. It’s really moving and the starving dog make me well up.

National Library of Ireland

I’m not going to lie I went just to have a peek at the amazing reading room but I spent at least an hour totally immersed in the W.B Yates exhibition. It’s interactive displays use videos, poetry readings and artwork to show Yates’ childhood and controversial working practices. If you’re interested in poetry, literature or weird religious practices you’d love this. I sat and listened to the poems read by actors and even Yates himself for a good half an hour and decided how listening to poetry is good for our soul. After this I went to visit the reading room. You must leave your belongings and phones in a locker before entering the room so I didn’t take any photos but it had to be one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder Ireland has produced so many literary greats with sensational rooms like this to work in.

National Museum Ireland

Shamefully I just popped in here for 20 minutes, I had walked and walked and this was the last attraction on my list. I’d left it a bit late and the museum was shutting but I was so impressed I’d definitely pay a return visit. I loved the Egyptology section and was amazed by the large collection of Viking gold; I’ve never seen anything like it.

Saint Stephen’s Shopping Centre

Okay so this might not have the best shops in Dublin { that would be Brown’s Grafton Street} but it is worth a visit to admire the beautiful view.

CHQ Building

This place is worth dropping by after seeing the Famine memorial if want to warm up or get a coffee. This large glass building used to be the tram garage but now hosts many food outlets and a tech hub sponsored by Google, I guess the building was part of their incredibly low tax threshold deal 😉

Chester Betty Library / Dublin Castle

I honestly cannot stop talking about this place, I spent about two hours in there and took details notes on my iPhone, seriously. Chester Betty was a wealthy business man who collected lots of East Asian and Middle Eastern art and religious books and manuscripts including some incredibly rare Egyptian Papyrus. If you’re a fan of religious history, books or illustration this is a must do. It’s free and has a friendly café; it was the highlight of my trip. I must admit I didn’t go into the castle but I did walk around the grounds – they provide a great picture opportunity.

Drury Street / George Street Market 

As much as I love a good museum I naturally gravitate towards the arty places. I love that people care about producing beautiful things as much as me. Wander down this street and pop into the beautiful shops { particularly Industry & Co and Irish Design Company}Jam Art Factory / Patrick Street 

I walked down this road on the way for Saint Patricks Cathedral and popped into to Jam Art because of their gorgeous prints displayed in the window. I spotted one I’d love but Canadian tourists nabbed it before me.Powerscourt Town House

Another trendy road is William Street, on here you’ll find the Powerscourt Town House. This gorgeous Georgian building is home to independent interior shops {Article}, knitting and bridal shops, jewelers, café and the most beautiful florist called The Garden.

The Winding Stair 

I wandered past lots of lovely looking bookshops { inc Gutter Books – love the Wilde inspired name } but didn’t have time to venture in except this one. It was warm and cos y and I loved its little reading nook in the corner.

Overall I really loved Dublin – I’d love to spend longer in the museums and libraries but in the same way I’d love to go their for an international rugby match, Temple Bar just had such a great atmosphere. I found Dublin inexpensive to get around but found eating out quite expensive.

 

 

 



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Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Budapest { in pictures }

As much as I love researching and lists of places to go, I often think a picture is worth a thousand words. Budapest is breath taking and I’m already dreaming about how I can shoot some sort of high end perfume campaign with a Hollywood star exploring the city. In the mean time look at some of the pretty parts of this city. 





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