Tag Archive | Sex and the City

Girls and the city

Fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn once said: “Paris is always a good idea”.  I couldn’t agree more, Paris, like New York is a city I never tire of as there are always new things to discover.

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Paris is chic personified, the city and fashion go together like strawberries and cream.  It is the home of Chanel and Dior as well as the birth place of Karl Lagerfeld, John-Paul Gaultier, not to mention some fabulous accessory brands, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Cartier.  The allure of  French fashion for me began as a teenager when I discovered Kookai, a label founded in Paris in 1983.  Unfortunately Kookai no longer exists in England so you can imagine my joy on my recent visit to Paris on seeing the store.  Naturally I had to go in and purchase.

In September I spent a very enjoyable long weekend in Paris with two of my closest friends from school.  We started the trip as we meant to go on with prosecco on the Eurostar while reminiscing about French lessons at school and visits to La Serronerie, the house near Normandy that the school owned.  I always adored the French language, despite it not coming naturally to me and so studied it right through to A Level.  I actually surprised myself on this trip at how much came back to me.  When travelling it’s important to be comfortable so I wore a black pleated midi skirt from Asos with a t-shirt embroidered with the Paris skyline from Topshop.

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I first visited Paris aged about 13 with my Mum (see picture below) when her best friend lived on the outskirts and it was love at first sight.  I have returned many times since then, as well as introducing others to its wonderful charm.

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Anyone who reads my blog will know that Sex and the City is an obsession for me and therefore first on my list for this trip was to explore the sights of those 2004 epic finale episodes, guided by the website Set in Paris.  It made perfect sense that Carrie Bradshaw should visit the French capital as fictionally, she is one of the biggest fashionistas and as she puts it so eloquently, is “a person looking for love”.   My outfit for this occasion was carefully planned, a black cord pinafore dress over a mustard long-sleeved top, both from New Look, set off with a beautiful Victoria Beckham for Target silk scarf and Carrie Bradshaw herself would have been proud of the amount of ground I covered in my patent Oasis heels.

In these finale episodes, we first see Carrie in Paris as she arrives at Hotel Plaza Athenee and the hotel is even grander in the flesh than it looked on the screen.  The weather was wet, just as it was for most of Carrie’s trip but the hotel is simply striking in any weather with its beautiful balconies, adorned with red flowers and the Eiffel Tower just a stones throw away.

The hotel is on the most fashionable street in Paris, Avenue Montaigne which is home to all the haute culture brands.  Indeed the Dior store where Carrie slips over is on this street.

When Carrie finds herself alone in Paris again, vowing to “do French things and be very parisien” she visits Cador patisserie, where she shares cake with a large dog.  Cador is unfortunately no longer and instead there is Cojean – an organic cafe.

Kong, the restaurant where Carrie meets Aleksandr Petrovsky’s ex-wife and gets an insight into what he is really like is still there although we didn’t go inside.

There is no better people to explore a city like Paris with than your girlfriends and that is what Carrie is missing in Paris.  This hits home for her when she spies four girls having lunch in l’Avenue.

The last time we see Carrie and Aleksandr happy is when they are strolling through place du dauphine after Carrie has bumped into her French fan base.

When Aleksandr feels nervous about the opening of his light exhibition, Carrie ditches her dinner with her fans to attend the museum with him.

Carrie goes to Paris with a new man for a new life but returns with an ‘old’ man to her old life which is quite ironic but of course gave many fans the ending they craved of Carrie and Big finally getting it together for good.  We see Carrie hear the long awaiting declaration from Big on pont des arts “Carrie you’re the one”.

So that was my Sex and the City tour of Paris but of course we did plenty of the sights too.  We stayed in Montmartre which is one of my favourite parts of Paris.  Known as the art district, it has a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere than other areas of Paris.  The main square (place du tertre) has a carnival atmosphere with artists painting and sketching and selling their work.

Overlooking the main square, on the highest point of the city, is the beautiful white stone basilica of Sacre-Coeur.  This gives visitors a great view over the whole of Paris.  The building is awe-inspiring whether seen by night or day.  If the steps up are too much of a challenge, there is a small funicular that takes you to the top for a small fee.  The inside is just as beautiful with its stunning painted ceilings and carvings.

Having done the cultural bit, the shops in this area are well worth exploring, particularly the macaron stores.  A quirky find is the shop Belle du Jour which specialises in traditional, vintage perfume bottles.

On a couple of evenings we enjoyed dinner at L’ete en Pente Douce where delicious food can be enjoyed on the pavement terrace soaking up the Montmartre ambiance.  On the walk back to the hotel, we were tempted into a small creperie for a sweet treat on more than one occasion!

On one of the days while there, the rain became torrential and so we opted to duck out of the showers in some of the wonderful shops along the Champs-Elysees.  We walked the full length of the street to where it meets the Arc de Triomphe.  My friend had a fantastic make-over by the Urban Decay stand in Sephora and we queued for macarons in Laduree.  Laduree is a beautiful and regal store where you can eat in or simply buy some of the luxury sweet treats which the brand has been making since 1862.

I had never seen the famous painting, the Mona Lisa and so we paid to go in Louvre museum simply to see it.  The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world and the glass pyramid in the main courtyard of the museum is a work of art in itself.  The Mona Lisa however was somewhat of a disappointment.  It is much much smaller than one imagines and you have to fight your way through throngs of people in order to get a look at it behind glass.

On this day I wore a checked pleat mini skirt from Oasis with a Boohoo slogan t-shirt and a long grey cardigan from Oasis.  I finished the outfit with my red patent bow pumps which I bought in Milan.

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No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower.  We visited at night when it is spectacularly lit and went right to the top, which while blustery and cold was worth it for the views and the champagne at the champagne bar.  When we came down, I indulged the child in me and had a ride on the traditional Victorian carousel.  It was a magical evening.

Our final day came round all too soon and we decided to begin with a boat trip along the Seine.  On this day I wore a Breton t-shirt dress from New Look, clinched in at the waist with a red belt, also from New Look which nicely tied in the red mac from Marks and Spencer.  We visited Notre Dame with its impressive stained glass windows and finished up with lunch at a cafe on the left bank which is linked to the Shakespeare and Company book store.  The book store sells English language books and is part shop and part library.  Many writers write here amongst the books, in exchange for helping in the shop.  It really is an Aladdin’s cave and a bohemian heaven, somewhere I would love to sit and write myself.  It totally inspired me and I’d love to come back.

Paris should be on every fashionistas bucket list and is a perfect break for friends or couples.  I will certainly be returning to one of the greatest fashion capitals of the world.  As Honore de Balzac, a French novelist and playwright said “Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant”.

 

 

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.

Stereophonics

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.

A New York State of Mind

New York is a city that I, like many before me, fell in love with it from the moment I first arrived.

My fourth visit to the city that never sleeps, at one point felt like it was never going to happen.  Generally one leaves Heathrow airport with the feeling that better advantage could have been taken of the shopping.  I can however vouch that seven and a half hours is more than enough time to explore every nook and cranny as well as being responsible for my credit card getting rather a battering.  Even my husband who is usually reluctant to part with more than £15 for a shirt, treated himself to a blue checked one from Pink.

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A free Pimms, a couple of glasses of champagne and many purchases later – we finally boarded the plane.  We arrived at JFK in the early hours and finally rocked up at my Mums friend’s house on Long Island just in time for an early breakfast.  The garden and my Mum’s friend’s hangover suggested her granddaughters graduation party the previous evening had gone off with a bang; what a shame we missed it – damn you American Airlines!

Not about to waste anymore time – sleep was abandoned for, would you believe, more shopping at Deer Park outlet mall.  I couldn’t resist this Coach bag.  Coach was founded in 1941 and began as a workshop in a Manhattan loft.  I loved the bags long before their first flagship store was opened in London in 2011 and what a year to purchase one, as this year marks Coach’s 75th anniversary.

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My husband must have had some sort of lobotomy on the flight over as he even purchased a number of labelled shirts!  Following the shopping, refreshments were sort at, get this, a drive through Starbucks!

Leaving my Mum to catch up with her friend, my husband and I met some friends for a drink on one of Long Island’s many beaches.  Later we finished our first day at a typical American diner.

The following morning, my Mum, my husband and I all boarded the train heading for Manhattan.

Being a die-hard Sex and the City fan; I was desperate to visit Carrie’s apartment on Perry Street.  On a previous trip to New York, I had done the Sex and the City movie tour with a friend, but Carrie’s apartment is omitted from the tour due to complaints by residents.

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T-shirt limited edition for the new release of the Jungle Book, by Kenzo, skirt Asos, shoes Oasis, bag Biba, rabbit bag charm Asos and sunglasses Gucci.

After posing for the all important Instagram picture outside the apartment, we walked to the High Line garden.  This is an urban regeneration project completed in 2014 which has made a raised linear park out of a disused rail line which served the industrial Meatpacking District and Chelsea.  We did it because it was listed as one of the top sites in my guide-book and was one we hadn’t seen on previous trips.  I don’t think we had been missing much!  It was rather a let down and appeared as though it had been neglected of late.

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It was a baking hot day so we paused for refreshments at the Bus Stop Cafe in Greenwich Village.  I indulged in American pancakes.

Everyone was then dragged by me on a pilgrimage to the Manolo Blahnik store, which, eventually, I had to admit defeat on after Google maps sent us on some what of a wild goose chase.  I’m sure my credit card was breathing a sigh of relief!

The subway took us down to Tribeca district and we went up One World Trade Centre which stands close to the site of the original twin towers that were.  It is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere with the observatory standing at 1254 feet.  What a fabulous view of the city and well worth a visit.

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Afterwards we reflected on the horror of 9/11, the terrorist attack of 2001, as we looked at the many names of the victims around two waterfalls which stand on the sites of the original north and south towers.

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Dinner was in another diner and then we saw Mum back on her train to Long Island from Penn station.

My husband and I walked from our hotel near Madison Square Gardens down to the East River.  It was raining on and off but that didn’t put off the hoards of people going to see the 40th Macy’s Independence Day fireworks display.  I got into the party spirit with a celebratory headband.

American’s celebrate 4th July as Independence Day as it is the anniversary of their independence from the UK which was obtained in 1776; not to be confused with what Nigel Farage dubbed our Independence Day on 23rd June with the Brexit vote. Incidentally everyone we met was keen to discuss Brexit and how we felt about it.

The fireworks were absolutely amazing and despite the number of people, it was a great party atmosphere.  Even the Empire State Building was lit up in red white and blue.

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We retired to a bar where I had a Cosmo – after all what else would I order in New York City?!  A cab then took us back to our hotel.

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I left the city that’s ‘so good they named it twice’, wanting more.  I would have loved to have experienced the boating lake in Central Park had we had the time as well as exploring the shops of 5th Avenue.  Perhaps next time I’ll visit during Thanksgiving. It certainly is a city I will never tire of.

Look out for part two of my holiday blog where we join the Maple Leaf train.

Birth’days’

Birthdays come and go and whereas you can never wait until your next birthday as a child even counting halves of a year; as you get past 21 they decline in significance until a small peak at 30 and then enthusiasm rapidly declines there after. This year I hit 31 – if 30 made me feel like a proper adult, 31 cemented the fact. Consequently I decided against a big celebration opting instead for a small family affair; a BBQ at home. My Mum made me a Sex and the City cake which was fantastic and I sipped Cosmo’s – what could be more perfect?

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I have kept up false nails since the wedding as I couldn’t bare to go back to my rubbish stumps and I wanted to share with you my birthday nails – I thought these looked amazing but unfortunately the bows were less than practical, catching on everything; at least I had an excuse to put my feet up!

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Whilst on the subject of nail varnish, I have got very into OPI nail varnish lately I love these Disney inspired ones – ‘Kermit Me to Speak’ (from The Muppets) and ‘Minnie Style’ and ‘Innie Minnie Mightie Bow’ from the Minnie couture collection.

Muppets OPI nailvarnish

Muppets OPI nailvarnish

I finally am the proud owner of a pair of GHD (Good Hair Day) hair straigteners thanks to my wonderful husband. These might have been around for over a decade but their position as top manufacturer of straightening irons reins supreme. I got the violet edition ones to blend in with my purple boudoir; all that remains for me now is to learn how to curl with them as well as using them for their traditional purpose.

People obviously know me well and know I love elephants as I also got an elephant adoption and a couple of gifts from ‘The Elephant Parade’ which I originally saw in London in 2010 but apparently visited Bromley this summer. The parade is the world’s largest open air art exhibition and seeks to raise public awareness and support for Asian elephant conservation. One of the gifts was an elephant for me to paint myself – not sure my art will be anywhere near the standard of the actual artists versions but will give it a go! Pictured here is the one designed by Diane Von Furstenberg for the Hong Kong leg of the tour.

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One of the advantages of not having a big party is the opportunity to have lots of mini celebrations. On a Friday night, 3 friends took me for cocktails followed by a meal in Covent Garden’s Café des Amis which was most enjoyable. As an early celebration of my birthday and a late one of my best friend’s birthday (we were both in Australia for our respective birthdays) we treated ourselves to a meal at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant – Maze in Grosvenor Square London. The website describes it as a fusion of taste and style and it certainly made us feel special. Admittedly we probably wouldn’t have ventured there had we not thought there was an offer on, which it turns out, was not valid on Saturdays! However the staff were fantastic and still gave us the free Bellini’s we were expecting and also did a deal on the cost of the food. Each dish was quite small but expertly presented and by the end of the meal we both found ourselves to be suitably full. I highly recommend this restaurant.

One of the many delicious  courses at Maze

One of the many delicious courses at Maze

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Sushi at Maze

Sushi at Maze

The Sunday after my birthday a friend and I had a belated birthday celebration at BB Bakery in Covent Garden. Set in the bustling hub of Covent Garden is this quaint, vintage, Parisian style tea room. The windows are adorned with birdcages, hat boxes and display domes containing beautiful tea cups and saucers. We were seated and then served champagne afternoon tea. The tablewear is vintage style and the walls are white with cute cartoon drawings of women with bakery shopping bags. The savoury plate contained a mini quiche, a blini with smoked salmon, a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich and a role containing cheese and ham. The cake selection was divine and so colourful. There was a lemon meringue, a raspberry tart, a chocolate brownie which was just the right consistency being slightly moist in the centre, a cupcake with strawberry frosting and a macaroon. We were full already but we still had the delight of a warmed scone with cream and jam. Everything was delicious and served with a smile. It cost £33 each which I think is quite reasonable especially as aside from the champagne we also had a glass of freshly squeezed orange and numerous teas and coffees. I will definitely be popping in there again soon and for those Sex and the City fans out there; it reminded me very much of the Magnolia Bakery in New York with the added bonus of being able to eat in.

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BB Bakery

cakes at BB

Talking of Sex and the City – one of my friends got me this brilliant Sex and the City bauble for my birthday present which, along with the return of the X Factor, has me counting down to Christmas!

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The summer is almost over; although it’s still warm, we will soon need to be considering an autumn wardrobe. A great transition piece from spring/summer is the kimono. I got this one from New Look and this Paul’s boutique bag compliments it brilliantly.

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Our annual visit to Broadstairs was made more exciting this year as we took my Mum’s friend’s from Long Island, New York along during folk week. There were various parades, stalls and bands. Ironically there was a US stall and on recommendation I tried a drink called Mtn Dew and it was fantastic – might have to get some shipped! Their visit made me feel quite old as my mum’s friend’s granddaughter who came is 16 and I was roughly her age on my first trip to New York when she was just a baby – time really does fly. My Mum’s friend has obviously discovered eternal youth as she never changes.

I’m looking forward to 2 weddings in September so look out for my blogs on those! Meanwhile put your feet up with a glass of wine, preferably a glass like this one!

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