Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bits and Bites

A round up of recent food pictures:

 Bircher museli for breakfast at Salvation Jane. Breakfast out always feels like such a treat.
 Green tea (saintly) and a giant cookie (sinful) at John Lewis. (It was free so therefore has no calories).
 Superfood salad for dinner at Jamie's Italian - perfect on a super hot day.
Little cheeseburger in Five Guys. Burgers are the bad boyfriend of the food world. I keep saying "no more" but then this happens...
 As an almost-reformed Diet Coke addict, various flavours of fizz is a special treat.
 These still exist and still taste like they did when I was five.
 Tapas at La Tasca for a quick dinner (and very cheap with a Tastecard).
 Chicken burrito box at Kimchinery. So spicy, so good.
Brunch at Flesh and Buns - cocktails and sushi makes a good Sunday.

What have you been eating lately?


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

World Cup Fun at Gabbi's Head

The World Cup isn't just for boys. It's now widely accepted that girls too can enjoy watching football beyond admiring Thiery Henry's sartorial choices at half time (the man knows how to work a cardigan). In between trying to complete my Panini sticker album and trying to decide which team has the best kit (Ghana? Brazil?) I headed along to "Gabbi's Head" - the Benefit pub above the Prince of Wales in Covent Garden.

The entire pub has had a Benefit style make-over with a liberal application of pink, comfortable sofas and a "bene-tini" cocktail. We were treated to wine, canapes and Benefit mini-makeovers. I took on Sophie at the table football and won (only children are fiercely competitive, especially against one another!).

Gabbi's Head is open for the duration of the World Cup. Boys are, of course, welcome too. 

Aisling, Michelle and I

Are you enjoying the World Cup?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Insta-Updates: June

Summertime and the living is easy:

1 - 3. Arcade Fire at Earl's Court - horrible soulless venue, good gig regardless.

4 - 5. Fete Champetre at the Hurlingham Club - finding a classic car to match my dress and riding a carosel side saddle.

6. Early morning runs are much better in the summer.

7. Cocktails on a Tuesday night for Vernon Kay's 40th birthday party with Sophie.

8. Bright dress and bag (Brick Lane market, Longchamp).

9. Land Aid 10k in Regent's Park.

10. More summer brights (Forever 21, Longchamp).

11. Lunch break Time Out.

12.Running the City Mile on a Sunday morning.

13. Bought a floral hairband from Spitalfields Market. Wearing it all the time until autumn (apart from when I'm at work, obvs).

14. "Feline" like a little spontaneous Net-A-Porter purchase.

15. Protest!

16.The Roof at The National Theatre - surreal but completely amazing. Buy a ticket and keep your fingers crossed for good weather!


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Inspired By: Grace of Monaco

This week I was treated to a trip to the cinema to see Grace of Monaco. Despite the film getting a rather harsh critical reception at Cannes, I was curious to see it still as it features an impressive cast list and I knew I would love the styles and setting of Monaco.

The film focuses on Grace Kelly's life after she has had her fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier III (more on the stunning wedding and some interesting facts here) and is living in Monaco, away from her former life in Hollywood as a successful actress. Amid Monaco's political struggles with France, Grace receives a visit from Alfred Hitchcock in an attempt to convince her back into the movies. I did find it sometimes hard to feel sorry for Grace's supposed "struggle" in the film - despite it not being hard to believe that its not always "happy ever after" when one marries a prince.

The fashion and beauty was definitely my favourite part of the film - despite not being a princess, the styles are timeless and very accessible. While I may not have any imminent need for a ball gown (sadly), a flick of black liquid eyeliner and a pair of cat-eye sunglasses is a quick and easy nod to the look and I'm definitely taking inspiration for my working wardrobe from Grace's wide leg trousers and prim blouses. 1950s style midi-dresses are everywhere this season and are a perfect throwback to the era while still looking fresh and modern for summer events (if only we had Monaco's climate year-round). I've used an imaginary princess budget to put together a mood board for inspiration while I wait for a prince of my own...

Givency Silk Scarf, Sophia Webster t-bar pumps, Prism cat-eye sunglasses, Charlotte Tilbury liquid eyeliner,  Preen yellow midi-dress, Tibi pink midi-dress, Michael Kors white midi-dress - all from Net-a-Porter

Have you seen Grace of Monaco?


Friday, 20 June 2014

The Underground Cookery School

As a reluctant / novice / unskilled cook (delete as appropriate) I was excited but also a little bit apprehensive when I was invited to attend a "light and summery" cookery class at The Underground Cookery School. The proposed menu sounded absolutely delicious and while I had every confidence in being able to i) eat it and ii) photograph it I was rather doubtful at my ability to actually cook it. Messing around in the kitchen baking fairy cakes a few times a year is one thing but raw meat...raw knives and, well, sharp knives!!! Terrifying for a self-confessed and rather clumsy undomestic goddess.

Once I had found the venue (hint: the door has "201" marked right above it and as the name suggests, the cookery school is in the basement), my worries slightly abated as we were presented with an endless supply of fizz and some (pre-made) canapes. Donning an Underground Cookery School apron made me look the part far more than I felt it and getting stuck in with the prep work was the perfect ice-breaker for chatting with the other attendees.

We helped to make a three course menu of sea bass with asparagus, chicken with new potatoes and broad beans and a strawberry roulade. Everything looked and tasted amazing, even more so having helped to prepare it ourselves - filleting a fish was pretty terrifying but it was well worth it once we were tucking in to the fruits of our labours. As someone with a rather sweet tooth, the dessert was predictably my favourite - the meringue was so light and fluffy and nothing tastes more of summer than strawberries. 

The Underground Cookery School is such a fun and welcoming place, whether you are a keen cook looking to hone your skills or a complete novice just looking to have some fun and eat some delicious food. The school offers events for work or party groups - as cooking is so hands on its a great ice-breaker so it'd be great for a work bonding activity or a hen do if you have a group of friends who don't already all know one another. One thing is for sure - you won't leave hungry!

Have you been to a cookery lesson?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Summer Beauty Round-Up

Summer is upon us (at last!) and as well as the usual suncream, I've been trying out a few new products for the season of bare legs and lunch break sunbathing - this may not be the reality of an English summer but it helps to be prepared for the days that the sun does decide to make an appearance.

balance me super toning cream*, Soap & Glory Sit Tight*, Nivea In-Shower Body Moisturiser^ and a nice floral headband from Spitalfields Market which I've been wearing at every possible opportunity.

The Nivea product was pretty hyped last year when it was launched, I did buy it at the time but didn't repurchase but with summer now here it's a great addition to my shower routine. The product is like a conditioner but for your skin, not your hair. The formula hasn't changed since I last tried it although I think the bottle is a little sleeker. The scent is the traditional Nivea scent which I don't mind and it doesn't linger on my skin once its been rinsed off. I have seen that there are some new fragrances now so I'd be keen to try those too. As someone who is too lazy to put on body lotion this product is perfect, it's so quick to use, leaves my skin feeling soft and is really fuss-free. Very affordable and widely available, too.

balance me is a range that I have so far been really impressed with. Their super toning body cream is designed to enhance tone and circulation and contains 99% natural ingredients including sweet almond, rice bran and meadow foam oils which contain fatty acids and vitamins. The herbal fragrance comes from the juniper, bergamot, geranium and lavender essential oils - I love the smell of this product, it's refreshing and not over-powering. The texture is lovely and light so it's a perfect summer body cream. It's £18 for a generous sized tube and while it might be a little pricier than your standard body cream I think the high quality natural ingredients make it worth the splurge.

Soap & Glory always manage to combine effective products with a good dollop of humor. Their Sit Tight targeted lower body firming and smoothing serum comes in an industrial looking tube with a roller ball attachment - I don't think I've ever seen a product quite like this, it looks like it means business! The product has a sweet but peppery fragrance thanks to the Pinkpepperslim-lipo-F8 and the sweet orange peel essential oil. The product claims to make skin feel firmer within 14 days but this is nicely qualified by the "reality check" on the back - no product is going to be a substitute for eating properly and maybe, occasionally, doing some exercise (if only!). The roller ball is a really quick way to apply the product and it feels cool and tingly on application, you really can feel it getting to work. The ingredients are further activated when you actually SIT on them, hence the name. It dries quickly and doesn't feel heavy or stick so, again, perfect for summer! This is also £18 but packs a lot of scientific ingredients and its pretty potent so a little goes a long way.

Have you tried any of these products?

* PR Samples
^ C/o Look Reader Magazine Panel

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Open Squares 2014

Open Squares weekend takes place every year and is a great chance to see gardens that aren't usually open to the public. Just when you think you know London there are always new places to see and things that you could never imagine were there - isn't that just part of the fun of being a Londoner?
Outfit: Dress - Sunday Upmarket, jacket - American Apparel, Sandals - River Island, Floral hairband - Spitalfields Market
My highlights were the beautiful Cadogan Square Gardens which featured a live band and the MaRoCoCo garden on Mount Street which was tiny but beautiful. We tried some raw cacao and a raspberry, black pepper and white chocolate ice lolly was the perfect garden browsing snack!

I'll definitely be back next year for more - I think we saw around 8 gardens but there were so many more that we didn't have time to see. The day ended with seeing Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in Skylight which was definitely worth staying awake for (clearly not used to fresh air and green space), sadly cannot say the same for England's match afterwards!

Did you visit and Open Square gardens?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

We Love London

Despite the weather, I do love London. Redrow are offering the chance to win a meal for two at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (something that has been on my to-do list for a long time) so I thought I'd share some of the reasons why I love London (when it's not raining).

It's pretty hard to sum up what makes London such a great city in one blog post (although hopefully my past blog posts help give you an idea) but one of my favourite things to do in London is just to go for a walk and explore. It's amazing how many Londoners don't actually know London that well - exploring the city makes you feel like so much more of a Londoner and makes you realise how close everything is and feel smug when non-Londoners take the tube from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. Don't ever do that. Exploring is also free - just grab comfy shoes, good tunes and maybe a walking buddy or two. You never know what you might find on your wanderings (as well as a better sense of direction)...

Summer 2010 saw elephants invade London. They were dotted all over the city before they were re-united at the Chelsea Barracks.
Easter 2012 saw the Big (make that epic) Egg Hunt come to London. 210 eggs were dotted over the city and my weekends became an egg-quest which saw me snapping eggs during runs along the river, going to new areas of the city and even getting accidentally locked in a private garden.
The Olympics saw Wenlock and Mandeville appearing all over London. I dragged Mummy and Daddy Lipstick on a few walks to look for them. Not sure they were as impressed by Wenlock as I was but they enjoyed seeing Leadenhall Market - a secret gem in the City of London,
Telephone boxes are still a common site in London despite everyone having mobile phones. These ones wouldn't be so good for making calls anyway.
What do you love most about London?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Primevera Sound 2014


The reason for my little trip to Barcelona was to go to Primavera Sound - a three day music festival on the outskirts of the city. As well as boasting a pretty decent line-up (Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, The National, Kendrick Lamar and a lot more), Primavera is on the coast so its pretty different to a festival in the UK and nice weather is (almost) a given!

The festival doesn't offer camping so a three day ticket is less pricey than a UK festival, I think ours were around £120 which isn't bad considering that I've paid £40 just to see Arcade Fire this week. The acts are spread across several stages and the first bands start at around 7pm, with some starting their sets at 3am - again, a bit change from British festivals where the music is over by midnight! The later sets are mostly DJs and we didn't manage to stick it out beyond 2am - it gets chilly by the beach at night and at the grand old age of 26 long periods of standing up count as a "tiring" activity.

The festival site is in a concrete "park" dominated by a huge solar panel. It feels futuristic but also quite bleak and desolate at the same time. It actually has a pretty grim history, being a former prison and execution ground during the Franco period.

As well as the music, there are loads of food stalls and the food was pretty decent for a festival - I had yakisoba, a vegan platter and the festival staple, falafel. Booze is pretty expensive at the bars and taking your own isn't allowed but I saw a lot of people who had smuggled it in successfully. Not that you really need it when there's music and sunshine!

The National - their set was amazing, Matt Berninger's voice is absolutely stunning live. One of my highlights.
The festival site - it took me a while to figure out where everything is but it doesn't take too long to hop between stages. The two "main" stages are opposite one another and alternate acts to minimise waiting around time. There's only one indoor stage where we saw a Jamie xx DJ set - it's gets hot inside!
Slowdive on the Sony stage.
The Primavera look - £2 Primark pineapple sunnies!
Arcade Fire on the Sony stage - they played an almost two hour set which started at midnight. The Spanish seem to have a lot more energy than I do - must start taking siestas!
The Ray Ban stage in front of the sea.
Having fun with the selfie booth at the "Lays" stand (memories of summer holidays in Europe eating these!). There aren't a huge amount of other activities between bands but we didn't have a lot of gaps and there are a few merch and record stalls to browse. Or just sunbathe.
Another highlight - Kendrick Lamar on the Heiniken Stage. European crowds don't seem to really dance at gigs but Kendrick had the crowd going crazy.
 Are you going to any festivals this summer?

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