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Nineties Throwback

The nineties were just yesterday weren’t they?  I can hardly believe it was 20 years ago!  Now I feel old!  Like my parents romanticise about the sixties, I tend to do the same with the nineties, having done most of my growing up in that decade.  Admittedly some of the trends are better off left there – heeled jelly shoes, Bon Bleu tracksuits, tamagotchi anyone?  But most of us will sit down and chill in front of an old episode of Friends.

Some of the things born in the nineties remain important to me today, one of which is Sex and the City.  In June this year, it was 20 years since we were first introduced to Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big in the pilot episode.  While there is some debate about its relevance today, no one can deny that it was the first programme to show the importance of female friendships and women as sexually liberated.  I just love it for the fashion, Patricia Field was a genius!  If it hadn’t have been for Sex and the City, would I have ever been introduced to the beauty of Manolo Blahnik’s?  My husband probably would have preferred that, or certainly his wallet would have done!

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Pop bands come and go and the early nineties saw me following Boyzone, followed by Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys and soloists such as Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears – who can forget Baby One More Time?  I actually found a video of my friends and I, when we attended CDUK (a Saturday morning chart show with Ant and Dec) in 1999 and saw Christina perform Genie in a Bottle – god did we all look young?

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Anyway, my other great love of the nineties are the Welsh band, Stereophonics, formed in Cwmaman in 1992.  Their first album Word Gets Around was released in 1997 and since then they have gone from strength to strength.  One of my closest friends introduced them to me around the release of their second album, Performance and Cocktails in 1999 and the two of us regularly danced at parties to ‘The Bartender and the Thief’, despite disapproval from most of our other friends.  Ironically I have probably ended up a bigger fan than her, having seen them live over 10 times now and met them twice.  On my bucket list was to see them on their home turf and in June, I finally fulfilled this wish.

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My husband and I travelled to Cardiff to see them at Cardiff City Stadium.  Their set opened with C’est la vie and closed, with Dakota which has somewhat become a regular closing song.  They were absolutely fantastic and never disappoint.  I love the fact that they play a range of songs from across all 10 of their studio albums.  I was stood dancing for most of the gig.  Sadly I’m not sure my husband had quite such a good time, given he doesn’t really share my passion for their music.

While in Cardiff, we thought we should make a weekend of it and do a bit of sightseeing.  We visited Cardiff Castle and it just so happened that the visit coincided with the Queen’s official birthday celebrations so we got to see the Royal Gun Salute.

Returning to Paddington station, I was reminded of one of my childhood loves, Paddington Bear.  My Dad used to read me the stories and add his own bits in which was always fantastic.

It’s great to reminise and Stereophonics have certainly survived the test of time.  It’s a shame that my face hasn’t faired so well over the years!  The nineties were great but I wouldn’t want to go back to a time of no broadband!  One day I would like to visit Stereophonics home village and I hope they are still going strong in another twenty years.

What’s the lesson you live life by? How has it shaped you?

That was the question asked to Glamour readers in a competition to take over Dawn O’Porter’s column for a month.  Unfortunately I didn’t win, but thought I would share my column with you, my loyal blog readers.  Hope you enjoy it.

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Heading for column

“Before embarking on the journey of life, always read the manual”

Life doesn’t come with a manual and if it did, we probably wouldn’t consult it until all else failed. Through their own experiences, our elders try to guide us, but we have all been young, with the mentality ‘I know best’.

When I was nine years old my uncle wrote in my autograph book ‘love all, trust but few and learn to paddle your own canoe’. At the time I didn’t really understand what it meant, let alone its significance. Now in my 30’s I finally realise just what a good piece of advice this was.

I strive to ‘love all’, putting others first and being thoughtful. A birthday card, a thank you note – little things that don’t cost a lot, but can really brighten someone’s day. There is so much hate in the world today and we could all do our bit and spread a little love. But I often forget to include myself in the ‘love all’. We all make mistakes in life; learn from them and then forgive yourself. Love the body you are in; if you want to make changes in terms of a healthier lifestyle, do, but you should never be made to feel in anyway inferior because your body doesn’t conform to the latest media ideal. Confidence is far more attractive than any body shape.

‘Trust but few’ has often tripped me up. I always see the best in people, assuming they will share the same values as me and unfortunately that means that I’ve been taken advantage of.   At work, a colleague from another location used to regularly pop in for a cuppa and a chat. Unbeknown to me, when I went to put the kettle on, they were helping themselves to my till! I thought the discrepancy was because I was rubbish at my job and it was only when they did it to someone else that the truth came out. That taught me to be careful who I put my trust in; trust needs to be earned.

The final part ‘learn to paddle your own canoe’ I have always found the hardest to follow. I have allowed others to dictate how I feel, when really only you can be responsible for your own happiness. Of course it’s nice to be popular but 1,000 friends on Facebook don’t equal happiness. For the most part they are barely acquaintances! Quality not quantity is what is needed in terms of friendships; otherwise, even with lots of people around you, you can still feel lonely and isolated. I wasted too much of my childhood wishing to be more popular but by the time I got to secondary school, I settled into a nice group and those friends are still my friends today. Never worry what path you should be following in life. I have come to realise that we all do things at different times and you should follow what you feel to be right.

This neatly brings me on to my final point about envy. We have all looked at others and thought ‘I wish that was me’; it’s natural but as my Dad once said ‘be careful what you envy’.

I learned some of these lessons far too late and I hope these small words of supposed wisdom can help you to bring happiness into your own life today; after all as the old saying by Dale Carnegie goes ‘today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday’.

Sign off

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Tea with Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty is a fictional character created by Japanese company Sanrio back in 1974. The character is British as at the time of her creation, Britain was seen as trendy in Japan. It is thought the inspiration for the characters name came from Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking glass as Alice is seen playing with a cat she calls Kitty in the early scenes.  The character was initially aimed at pre-adolescent females but is now popular with adults and children alike.  No one could have predicted the success of Hello Kitty; by 2014 when Hello Kitty turned 40, it was estimated to be worth $7 billion a year.  Around the world there are themed cafe’s, theme parks, an aeroplane and even a maternity hospital dedicated to the character.

I was never particularly a fan but after visiting Japan, I too became inspired by the cute little white cat and so was really excited when I heard that the first European Hello Kitty Cafe was coming to London for Summer 2016 as a pop up at Cutter & Squidge in Soho.

For my visit to the cafe I wore a black pleated skirt from Asos with a plain white t-shirt, white frilly ankle socks from Asos and pink mary jane shoes with a glitter heal by Miss KG.  I accessorized with matching pink handbag from Asos and a Hello Kitty necklace.

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The whole decoration of the cafe as well as the food was so Instagram worthy.  Stairs decorated with the characters iconic ribbon led down to a garden inspired cafe.

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We were welcomed with Mimmy’s Pink Lemonade.

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A tiered bamboo steamer was brought out with five layers of beautifully crafted Hello Kitty treats.  The first layer was sandwiches and even a couple of those had been cut out with a Hello Kitty cutter with the bow detail being highlighted.

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The next layer was savoury cheese scones served with red pepper relish and cream cheese and a cheese cracker with Hello Kitty stamped on it.

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It was then time for my favourite, the sweet treats.  The first layer of these contained amongst other things strawberry milkshake biskie and Kitty’s chocolate mud pie.

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This was followed by a layer containing Mimmy’s very jelly kiss, strawberries and Mimmy’s pink lemonade marshmallow.

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The final layer had Mamma’s apple pie mousse and a cake truffle.

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White’s Ice Kream finished off the tea.

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It was slightly higher priced than many afternoon teas, even in London, coming in at £40 each; however I have never felt so full after a tea – it was definitely great value for money.  Before we left I couldn’t resist snapping up some of the merchandise, although don’t think I’ll be joining the obsessive collectors anytime soon!  Natasha Goldsworth who is 29 was reported in The Daily Mail as having spent over £50000 on her collection!

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So why as adults are we captivated by Hello Kitty along with many other childhood characters, including Disney, Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter to name but a few?

If you need further proof of the popularity of children’s culture with adults, just look at another Japanese creation, Pokemon Go which launched this summer and saw adults risking their lives playing the interactive game whilst driving!

A 2012 survey showed that 55% of readers of young adolescent books were in fact adults.  Harry Potter is even published with a cover for children and an adult version.

The line between childhood and adulthood has become blurred in recent years. Children are no longer as innocent as they once were with the media exposing them to an adult world and the majority of children now have their own mobile phones.  By the same token though independence is coming much later to most with the price of housing, along with many studying much longer meaning that many children stay at home with their parents well into their twenties.

The rise in computer games in the late 90’s saw adults as well as children enjoying gaming and led to it being more acceptable for adults to regress back to childhood.

The Independent suggested adults love of childhood things is a response to their ‘disappointment with modern life.’  Perhaps it gives adults a different way to express their individuality as well as giving them a license to play.  It gives adults a chance to revert to a time of no responsibilities.

There is no doubt that nostalgia plays a large part in our love of childhood characters and stories.  Perhaps as a child there was not so much merchandise available and also perhaps we didn’t have the funds to indulge in it all, but as adults we do and as such we enjoy creating vast collections.

Alice in Wonderland turned 150 last year and this year saw the release of a new version of Alice Through the Looking glass staring Johnny Depp.  This has certainly led to an explosion of merchandise.  I absolutely love this Urban Decay eyeshadow palette called Alice Through the Looking Glass.

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There is an argument that as an adult you get something different from childhood stories; certainly Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl’s classics had a darker side and look at cartoons like The Simpsons – they can definitely be watched on two levels.

Whatever the sociological or psychological reasons behind adults shameless love of childhood things – it is clear that the line from the Bible verse ‘when I became a man, I put away childish things’ is no longer relevant in today’s society.  We all have an inner child so why not enjoy embracing it?!

 

 

February Freeze

Being typically British my blog would not be complete without a good old discussion about the weather. It feels like a lot of the winter has been mild but windy and wet, however I did buy an exquisite umbrella, that almost, and I stress almost made me look forward to a wet day. It is by Lulu Guinness and has a birdcage design on it.

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One morning this week as I stepped out early to walk to the station, my breath visible in the air, morning was starting to light the street, which makes a pleasant change from going to work and coming home in the dark. The fingers of Jack Frost had lightly caressed everything, from the early daffodils to the wine bottles left out for recycling. That time of the morning is incredibly peaceful with just the sweet melodious chorus of the birds and the milkman going about his round. The winter sun eventually breaks through and burns away the frost after bathing everything in a beautiful golden glow when the frost twinkles like diamonds.

So February has brought winter with it which pleases me immensely as I can wear the rather expensive pompom hat, which I purchased from a stall in London’s Hayes Galleria the last time it got a bit cold; only for it to warm up again a few days later!

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Pompoms have been big this season, with a real peak at Christmas, although the trend has continued into 2016. Many fashion writers have said they represent the ‘fun’ element that has been missing from fashion. There are some lovely pompom shoes available, especially this pair by Aquazzura which are sadly way beyond my budget.

Aquazzura shoesI couldn’t resist the hat as well as getting a bag charm. Fendi was the first to showcase the pompom bag charm with its ‘bag bug’ which was a pompom with eyes; and other designers and retailers have been quick to follow suit. A pompom bag charm can instantly update any bag for the season, which saves our pockets when we are still paying for the expenses of Christmas.

This pompom I bought from Asos is designed to look like a rabbit rather than being made of rabbit fur as some pompoms and other clothes are.

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Fashion and Fur has had a long and turbulent history.  Back in the Stone Age furs were worn for warmth. In the middle ages, fur was generally used to line garments but the Victorians brought about the change of wearing it on the outside, with the fur coat as we know it. Fur has long been seen as a status symbol with the more exclusive furs being reserved for the upper classes. Fashion designers widely embraced fur in their collections and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that real opposition to it began. Activists would throw red paint at people in fur as seen in the Sex and the City movie when an activist throws paint at Samantha whilst shouting ‘fur is murder’.  PETA have done various prominent advertising campaigns against the use of fur in fashion including the 1991 campaign ‘rather go naked than wear fur’ which numerous celebrities took part in, including Kate Moss.

About a billion rabbits are slaughtered every year for their fur. This is an issue particularly close to my heart, mainly due to the fact I have kept rabbits as pets for most of my life.

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My wonderful rabbit Rufus

I would never eat rabbit and have even boycotted a restaurant because it is on their menu. I realise however that this is a small stand to make considering I still wear leather shoes and eat meat and other animal products, something Karl Lagerfeld was quick to come back with to the critics of Fendi’s use of fur.

I think the key is that animals should be treated humanely whether they are being used for food or fur and many so called fur farms just don’t do this and of course that is wrong. It seems abhorrent that an animal should suffer in the name of fashion; especially as faux fur has come on so much.  Some would argue against the use of the faux fur though as it is made from an oil base which is not a sustainable resource.

Britain and the USA have quite stringent rules on the treatment of the animals used to produce their fur but other countries are unfortunately not so scrupulous and many of their exports are not clearly labelled so you may well be buying their products unwittingly.

It is a shame that in recent years fur has become more popular in fashion again and even some of the models who opposed it in that 1991 PETA campaign have since been seen wearing it.

Everyone is of course entitled to their own views and as I say unless you are a vegan being against fur does have some sense of hypocrisy to it but in my mind, cruelty to animals is never ok and I am quite happy to wear faux fur.  I think that it should be law that things are explicitly labelled so that the consumer can make an informed choice about what they buy, whether it be food, clothes or cosmetics.

Political rant over, I shall get back to the weather and what I have been doing, whilst staying in the warm and the dry has appeared to be the better option.

I completed my first shabby chic project, following a course I did last year which you can read about here.  My husband inherited a rather ornate but very old fashioned cabinet in a dark wood from his Grandfather.  I must admit that it wasn’t something I was that keen on in its original state but was the perfect canvas for shabby chic.  I used Autentico Vanille paint for the base and then used Autentico Pitch Green to paint the panels on the doors and bring out the detail on the drawers.  I finished it off with Autentico clear wax and put new drawer pulls on.  I was quite pleased with the finished result in the end but I did learn a few lessons for the next project.

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This weekend I braved the weather and headed up to London for the Vogue 100 – A Century of Style exhibition which you can read all about in my next blog.  In the meantime try and keep warm and dry and roll on summer!

 

 

To Move or not to move – that was the question?

Back when the New Year dawned my husband and I decided that 2015 would be the year we moved. I was personally very happy in the house we had; a 1897 2 bed terrace on the aptly named road of Station Road, but he worried that if we didn’t move now then we might lose our opportunity. We began looking to get an idea of what was out there in our budget and were repeatedly disappointed when our offers were rejected as our house wasn’t on the market; so we went through the process sprucing up the house before getting valuations and photos taken.

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Now everyone had told me how stressful moving can be and how it’s second only to divorce but initially our experience totally contradicted that. The day before our property was even released online we had a viewing and an offer for the asking price from a landlord. Then not more than a week or so later, we found what we thought was our perfect house; a 1930’s 3 bedroom semi on the very desirable road in Rainham, with a big garden but albeit no garage. We had to offer £10,000 over the asking price to secure it but that seems to be the way of things at the moment. So this was March and we were feeling pretty smug having sold our house and found our dream home inside of a month. I can report this was only the beginning and little did we know but much horror was to follow.

Come summer, the people in the house we were purchasing were still no nearer to finding a property for themselves and it began to dawn on us that these people weren’t really serious about moving so we decided that we should start to look again. We viewed numerous houses but none met our requirements or felt right and a few that did, we were outbid on. One of the worst properties we saw was a so called chalet bungalow that was in fact a bungalow with a loft conversion. As we took in the strange elevation of the garden the owner commented that she hoped she had picked up all the dogs mess from the lawn! The living room came complete with her slob of an ex-husband watching reruns of formula one! Definitely a firm no. I was beginning to doubt if there was the perfect house for us out there, perhaps we were looking for something that didn’t exist, and we were both of the opinion that we would just go along with things until we either lost our buyer or the sellers pulled out of theirs.

I can’t explain why but one day out of the blue, I found myself back on the Right Move site and there it was; a house even more perfect than the original one we had found that actually ticked all our boxes. It was a 1908 built, Victorian/Edwardian style house, detached, with 3 bedrooms, a huge garden and a garage. We got a viewing as soon as we could. As soon as we went in, it just felt right, I could see us living there and knew I wanted it. So we went in with an offer £10,000 over the asking price but still only the same offer as we had put on the semi and to our amazement it was accepted. The couple there were older and one was moving to Wales and the other a smaller property in the area.

Would you believe that as soon as we pulled out of the semi – it was back on the market for some £20,000 more and I have since heard that they have moved so maybe it was a ploy all along to get more money – who knows, but they did us a favour in the end as it turned out.

The problems didn’t stop there however. Our buyer was moving incredibly slow and it turned out struggling to get his buy to let mortgage. The estate agents advised us to go back on the market and assured us we would get another buyer in no time. Unfortunately they didn’t bother to inform the agents we were purchasing from and when they saw our house back online, the vendors panicked and put theirs back on too. We got another buyer that same day and she offered the full new asking price (£10,000 more than originally) but the agent would hear nothing of it and said viewings were already booked on our dream home. I was distraught. I don’t know how I got through work that day. I was in tears at one point, so I wrote a letter begging the vendors to reconsider and we put it through their door. It was an evening of nail biting but thankfully the following morning the agents rang to say the vendors had been in with our letter and they didn’t want to sell to anyone else.

Happy days you would think, but there was one final nasty surprise for us. The new buyer of ours pulled out about a week later. This time we were in direct contact with the vendors however and informed them straight away. They said they didn’t want to overreact like last time and would see how things went and they then rang and said they themselves would like to view our house. They offered straight away, albeit £2000 less than what the woman had offered but we were more than happy to accept as now it was a private sale and we would have no estate agents fees to pay. Would you believe both the landlord and the woman tried to win it back though – not that we were stupid enough to go there.

A moving date was set for early November and the packing began in earnest with much help from both our parents. It’s hard to believe just how much stuff we had between us and part of the process was going through and chucking stuff out. It’s just so hard when you find something you have kept for 20 years and somehow it seems wrong to throw it away when you have had it so long but the time had come to be ruthless. I still felt it could all fall through at any time and still wasn’t convinced even when we exchanged.

Moving day came around quickly and we still had much to do when we got the call saying we had completed at around 10am. Now it really was happening – I finally dared to believe it. We had decided not to use removal firms, partly due to cost but mainly as I didn’t want strangers knocking my possessions about. Dad hired a van and we were fortunate enough to have lots of family and friends muck in to help. Inevitably though it took as longer than the guy moving out of our new home; after all my large collection of shoes took time to pack up! He not only had removals but his wife had gone to Wales the day before so there was far less stuff to move.   He then turned up at Station Road and had invited a Talk Talk engineer to fit his broadband. This added to the stress of rushing to get out. Then I came downstairs to find a strange woman in our dining room, who later turned out to be the new owners cleaner. That was it; I just lost it – it felt like our home was being invaded, even though it technically wasn’t ours anymore. My husband sent them away to leave us in peace and eventually the lorry was loaded. I didn’t even get a chance to say my good buys to the house as the new owner was knocking on the door. I realise I acted irrationally and hope that the new owner doesn’t hold it against me but I think all my emotions just suddenly flowed over.

As we drove off I felt a great deal of sadness. All my recent memories had been made in that house. It was the first house I had lived in other than the one I grew up in. We arrived at the new house and had the obligatory picture with the sold sign.

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We set about the important task of finding the kettle and then broke for some lunch before unloading the van. We were still unloading as darkness fell. The last items to come in were the sofas and they were the most challenging as they only just fitted through the front door.

We really had done it. We all went out for a meal to celebrate. The first night was strange and felt like staying in a hotel. Although the house was in reasonable condition it wasn’t as good as we had thought it was when we viewed it. The décor was also not to our taste. I know many of you will disagree with me as now apparently grey is in fashion but we found the abundance of grey walls rather depressing; as my husband aptly put it, it was like living in a black and white movie. Suddenly I think we both realised the magnitude of what we had done. We had gone from a house where everything was how we wanted it to a new project and it felt just a little overwhelming listing out all the changes we wanted to make.

Without a doubt it was the right decision to move and I will get used to it. The possibilities with this house are vast and I look forward to getting stuck into the projects. Check back to look at my renovations.

In conclusion I now realise why people say moving is stressful – I don’t know about it only being second to divorce but I know there were times when we were so stressed, we took it out on each other and we could have very easily have ended up experiencing both. Thankfully we are now out the other side and whilst I advise everyone to go for their dream home, I certainly will never be moving again, they can take me out of there in my box!

Dizzy Heights

When I turned 30 two years ago I felt like I had reached a peak with nothing but a large descent into old age ahead of me.  I thought that birthdays would simply become more and more depressing. How wrong you can be! Since turning 30 my life has only got more interesting and fulfilling. Yes 30 brings with it fine lines and grey hairs as well as a difficulty in shifting those extra pounds from over indulgence but at the same time a new sense of acceptance of who you are and how you look means there is a lot less anxiety. Suddenly what other people will think becomes less of a restraint and we begin to please ourselves more.  What clothes size we fit into or that spot on our face becomes less of an obsession and we make way for simply enjoying ourselves and grabbing every opportunity that comes our way.  Having tick boxes is a great motivator but as an article I was reading the other day said, these should all be things we want to do and not things we think we should do at our age. A survey by the Huffington Post concluded we are most happy at the age of 33. With all this in mind I am looking forward to flying through the next 8 years by the seat of my pants and having many new experiences to write about before as the saying goes ‘life begins at 40!’

By way of celebration of my birthday this year I decided that to arrange a big event would be too much like hard work, so instead I had a number of mini parties; the first of which was the preceding weekend.

A friend and I attended Cocktails in the City which took place in Bedford Square Gardens in central London. This event comprises of 25 London cocktail bars coming together with pop up stalls, along with street food sellers and entertainers to create a festival with a difference.

Those of you of a similar age to me will fondly recall Sex and the City – my love of this series deepened my already growing love of cocktails. The exact definition of a cocktail as well as the origin of the word is unclear however the first recorded use of cocktail to describe an alcoholic beverage was in 1806. Over the year’s popularity of cocktails had waned until the mid 2000’s when mixology suddenly came to the fore of fashion again and more and more complex cocktails were made. You can’t help but feel glamourous with a martini glass in your hand.

Our £15 entrance ticket included a guide to the event and one free drink. I headed straight for The Craft Cocktail Company from Bethnal Green for a cointreaupolitan, being that like my nemesis Carrie Bradshaw, my cocktail of choice is generally a cosmopolitan. I was not disappointed with this twist on the classic drink – however it tasted less like alcohol and more like fruit juice which ensured it didn’t last long!

There were presentations throughout the day and we chose to sit in on one entitled The Motorcycle Diaries. The Motorcycle Diaries was a 2004 film where two friends travel around South America on their bikes so this session focused on alcohol that is local to South America. I dragged my friend to a front row seat – determined to be front of the queue for any possible tastings. I was invited up to the stage to make a Pisco sour. Pisco is a brandy made in Chilie and Peru and on its own it is horrible, what I imagine paint stripper to taste like. I was instructed to put a small measure of Pisco into the cup – naturally my small measure is probably most people’s definition of large and the guy found this quite funny. I then added lemon and lime juice. The final ingredient which I was rather sceptical of was egg white which apparently makes it a smooth drink. It was then time to shake the cocktail and the people leading the session claimed that your face when shaking a cocktail is your sex face! I then poured the mixture into a previously chilled glass and topped with bitters. It was such a laugh doing this and I got to keep the cocktail afterwards which was actually quite delicious. Various other drinks were made by people and then we all left with a complimentary margarita shot.

Cocktail making

By now we were well away and decided that food might be a sensible option. This would be my only criticism of the event as for hot food only pulled pork was left by 3pm which my friend sampled and I had cold chicken with tomato salad.

I found my favourite bar – Trailer Happiness, Portobello Road, otherwise known as the Bacardi bar! When not drinking cocktails, wine or bubbly; Bacardi has always been my spirit of choice. We were given a small balloon to hand to our favourite bar so mine went to them before I even tried my drink. My Bacardi cocktail had a fabulous garnish on it with a banana leaf and a flower.

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One of the bars, Barrio had set up a table and paints for you to paint a wall tile that will be used in one of their branches. It was really relaxing to put some head phones on and just let the creativity flow.

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Next we visited The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz and indulged in champagne.

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Next stop, we visited Loves Company, a Tia Maria stand which had a pop up beach and we relaxed in a deck chair whilst enjoying a salted caramel cocktail.

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Beach fun

To finish up we both had a repeat of the drink we chose on arrival.  It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to relax on a Sunday afternoon after a busy week at work. For the event I wore a green dress from Torza boutique with leggings and my trusty oasis flip flops.

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The Saturday before my birthday, my husband and I went to our favourite restaurant in Rainham, Eight which I have mentioned on here before. For this I wore a grey polka dot dress which I got from Pink Flamingo in Rochester; it is a little daring for me so I wore a white basic vest top underneath. Grey can be a depressing colour so to lift the outfit I wore my red LK Bennett wedges.

Eight outfit

On the Sunday we had a nice family tea at Mums. Mum made me a coffee and walnut cake which is my favourite and she decorated it with an Audrey Hepburn icing plaque as we enjoyed the exhibition the other week so much; see I Believe in Pink blog.

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On my actual birthday – I took the day off work as usual (I never went to school on it so why should I have to work it?) and Mum and I went to Rochester. Rochester is my new go to place. I adore looking around the unusual and vintage shops. We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and then rather than ordering pudding went to Fleur de The – a beautiful shabby chic café/shop and enjoyed coffee and scones. I couldn’t resist purchasing 2 miniature cups and saucers with a butterfly motif on them from there.

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The Saturday after my birthday I went with my friend to Greenwich. Our birthdays are only a fortnight apart so as a joint celebration we decided to climb The O2. The O2 is a large tent like construction which was built as The Millennium Dome to celebrate the start of the third millennium and reopened as The O2 in 2005. It was constructed with Greenwich’s role in time and date in mind. It has a diameter of 365m (equal to number of days in the year). It has 12 yellow support towers (representing either 12 calendar months or 12 hours on standard clock face). The dome is 52m high at its central point (representative of the 52 weeks in a year). The climb is a 190 metres tensile fabric walkway over the top of the Dome with a central platform at the top with 360 degree views of London. It was quite a challenge as going up the walkway is 28 degrees steep and coming down 30 degrees. The fabric is also quite springy like a trampoline. The views at the top make it well worth undertaking though – you can see Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and the Olympic Park amongst other sites.

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Afterwards we ventured into central Greenwich on a Thames Clipper which I had never been on before. These are high speed catamarans and I don’t think I have ever travelled on water so fast; they have a maximum speed of 28 Knots.  Once there we got lunch at a pub in the market area and soaked up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. We then discovered a wealth of unusual, quirky shops and visited her friend’s new vintage store, Joli Vintage Living. Look out for a future blog all about this fab store.

There will be one more chance to celebrate at the end of August as for my gift; my husband bought me day tickets to the V Festival so look out for an upcoming blog on that too.

Enjoy the summer!

Fashion through the decades

November began uncharacteristically mild and the first, saw my husband and I visit Whitstable; me with a vintage SLR camera given to me by my father to capture some shots. The first seaside town south of London, Whitstable is long known for its oysters; harvesting here dates back to Roman times. We visited the famous oyster fishery company house for a fish and chip lunch and sampled a local oyster each as a starter. Now how can I describe it? They were brought over on a tray of ice and to me resembled a slug curled up in a shell. I tentatively put a miniscule amount on my fork whilst my husband threw it down in one, thus setting the bar higher so that I had to do the same. They are very salty, almost like drinking seawater. Neither of us liked the texture and we will not be repeating the experience!  We then popped into the converted old Oxford cinema which is now a Wetherspoons for a pint of Whitstable Bay shandy.  The Art Deco style which the cinema reopened with in 1936 has been recreated in the pub.

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Inside Wetherspoons Whitstable

Inside Wetherspoons Whitstable

November of course is famous for Armistice Day. This year took on an extra poignant significance as it marked the centenary of WW1.   In order to mark the anniversary – volunteers installed 888,246 hand-made ceramic poppies by an artist from Derbyshire, in the moat around the Tower of London. Each poppy represented a British/commonwealth soldier killed in WW1. The poppies were then sold for £25 each. The installation proved such a massive tourist draw that parts of it remained open for the whole of November, instead of it finishing on 11th as originally planned. Sadly I didn’t get chance to visit it but on Remembrance Sunday my husband and I walked up to the local war memorial and observed the 2 minutes silence; my husband took with him some WW1 medals that belong to his family.

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The First World War greatly influenced fashion. When the war broke out, Britain was coming to the end of the Edwardian era and one of great opulence. More women began to work so fashion needed to become more practical. Skirts rose from floor length to above the ankle and waistlines dropped to the more natural waist rather than under the bust. Darker colours became the norm due to the number of people mourning lost soldiers and the general sobriety of the time. People had less ability to be extravagant, with funds being put towards the war effort and due to this, Chanel created costume jewellery.

Winter fashion this year is influenced by a number of decades with plaid miniskirts, polo neck fitted jumpers and pastel shades especially baby pink, which are a nod to the 60’s as well as a revival of 1990’s fashion influenced by the film Clueless which is 20 years old next year – I know the 90’s still feel like they were only yesterday – remember butterfly clips, Bon Bleu tracksuits, snap bracelets and tamagotchi’s! Match that plaid skirt with over the knee socks, white shirt and matching plaid jacket for a true Cher look. I purchased this plaid skirt and pale pink bow back jumper from Oasis and with its 60’s feel; it was great to wear to the musical Made in Dagenham which is all about the Ford Machinists strike in 1968 which was a precursor to the Equal Pay Act of 1970.

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The 70’s have quite a strong influence in the fashion world at the moment with camel coloured suede, flares and A-line skirts. I loved this denim button through A line from Miss Selfridge which I paired with a festive snowflake jumper from Oasis.

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An iconic clutch from the 1970’s was the magazine clutch. I bought a Paparazzi version some time back and mentioned it in this blog after seeing the episode ‘The Big Time’ of Sex and the City where Carrie accessorises with one; but thanks to my Mum’s friend in New York I now have two genuine vintage ones which were her mother- in- law’s. I gave one of them its first outing at Afternoon tea and cocktails at Browns for my friend’s birthday. The outfit I wore was leather look leggings from New Look paired with this chiffon floral shirt and Jane Norman shoe boots.

me with bag

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November finished much colder than it started and before we knew it Christmas was upon us – look out for my Christmas themed blog to follow shortly.