Wednesday 29 April 2015

An Ibiza inspired look with River Island

Everyone has their ultimate summer holiday destination. I don't know what it is, but when I think of summer, I think of festivals and Ibiza. I've never been to Ibiza before, but it's definitely on my bucket list.

No matter whether I am jumping around in a field at a festival with friends, or partying it up on the White Isle, the look I would gravitate towards would be ethereal and boho inspired, with a splash of colour here and there.

Gold cuff - £6  //  Maxi skirt - £45  //  Floral print bikini top - £18 //  
Khaki fringed bag - £50 // Gladiator sandals - £40 //  Floral print bikini bottoms - £14 
Gold body harness - £50 //  Tinted lens aviators - £13

Sandals - nothing ruins a night out more than calling it short because of achy feet. Flats for the win!
Bikini - beautiful colours - plus versatile for if you want to take a dip later!
Floaty skirt - the light weight material makes this the perfect evening cover up, yet the slits add a cheeky flash of skin
Fringed bag - nothing says summer more than fringing. Also good swish factor for dancing.
Body harness - why go for normal jewellery when you can wear... a harness? Take bikinis to the next level!
Arm cuff - wear on your wrists daytime and on your upper arm later to take the look from day to night
Aviators - no holiday is complete without aviator shades. Ibiza screams for bold colours!

I chose these items because they are so easy to mix and match with other items in your wardrobe. No matter where in the world I am, with this kind of outfit I can see myself embracing summer, with a drink in one hand, maxi skirt twirling and swirling with me as I dance the night away to my favourite summer tunes. I'm still loving the Robin Schulz remix of Waves. It never gets old!

Which trends will you be embracing this summer?

* The above is my entry for River Island's latest competition #RIPACHA - as ever, all words and opinions are my own!

Monday 27 April 2015

Thames cruise with #ladbrokespartylife

If you'd told me that one day I'd be sailing down the Thames, playing Black Jack and Roulette with a glass of rosé in my hand, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's exactly what happened last Friday.

The night itself was sponsored by Ladbrokes. I boarded the boat expecting Ladbrokes bunting everywhere, betting slips, branded food and drink, and maybe access to betting games through an app / iPad. However we were completely surprised by the lack of branding on-board. In fact, if I hadn't already been told the event was in association with Ladbrokes, I definitely wouldn't have known. The only tell tale signs were two Ladbrokes banners - one on the top deck, one on the lower deck. There were a couple of representatives from Ladbrokes there, but they consciously made the effort not to approach us - it wasn't that kind of event. Their aim wasn't to convert or to influence - and no one was pushing us to sign up to anything. They simply wanted to invite out an audience that they normally wouldn't have as much interaction with, and allow us to mix with new people, see the London sights, and have fun. Which is fine by me!

We were welcomed on-board with some fizz and a safety briefing before the boat set sail.

Then outside on the deck, we took a few pictures as the night was drawing in quickly.

We were each given £100 worth of chips to play with in our on-board casino. 
The goal being to try and increase your total by as much as possible to win one of three prizes that night.

I won some, I lost some...and repeat. That was pretty much my night in gambling. I temporarily called it quits for a food and rosé break, and discovered that I'd got back to my original total and added a mind blowing(!) £7 to it.

When they announced there were only 5 minutes left of gambling time left, everyone went all in!

On the lower deck there was a finger food buffet which was also vegan and veggie friendly.

... all washed down with plenty of rosé. Pippa was an absolute legend and enquired at the bar if we could have a bottle to share rather than having by the glass, to save us constantly going up and the down the stairs (which on a wibbly wobbly boat isn't the easiest of things!) The lovely people at the bar gave her not one, but three bottles. It went down a treat, and was the perfect drink for the mild weathered evening we had that Friday.

We spent some of the event placing bets (ha!) on who the anonymous Ladbrokes representatives were. As soon as we saw a guy in a red tie we thought: Ladbrokes colouring right there. Turns out he was Magic Pete - the on-board entertainment. We were astounded by the sorcery he did.

For one of his tricks, he made me write my name on a card, fold it up and put it in my mouth. Whereas he wrote his name on another card and put it in his mouth. He came up really, really close so both cards touched (but at no point did my card ever leave my teeth). He then removed his card from his mouth and unfolded it... it was my card. I then checked the card in my mouth, and when I unfolded it... found his card. Freaky.

Just after 11pm, we were called outside as we were approaching Tower Bridge which is extra stunning at night.

As we were nearing Temple pier, the winners of the night were presented with their prizes and we went to the bar for another cheeky wine before we hit the road!

Once moored up, some of the ship's crew kept us entertained whilst we were finishing up the last of our wine.

It was a really fun night and I got to meet lots of lovely people who I'm still in touch with to this day. Thanks so much to Ladbrokes for inviting me!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Do more of what makes you happy

If I asked you to look at the below images and guess the high street retailer, what would you say?
I'll give you a clue: they are a UK based fashion and homeware retailer, first founded in 1985.
Grey fleece throw - £20  //   Hanging heart planter - £15  //  Lantern - £15  //  Lavender plant - £8
Cushion - £8  //   Floral mug - £3  //  Birdcage lantern - £15  //  Glass lantern - £18  //  Owl plate - £6
Crochet jumper - £28  //  Camel A-line skirt - £14 £9

So what did you guess? Would you believe me if I revealed that you've been looking at items from... Matalan?

My family and I have shopped at Matalan ever since I was little. They are a company that has both earned and kept my respect over the years as they have never strayed from one very notable value: great quality but at the most astonishing of prices. Excellent value for money, most of their items look like they cost more than they actually do. The above clothing could easily pass as Topshop right?? That camel skirt though...

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Anthropologie // Alice in Wonderland

Long time readers will know all about my fascination with all things Alice in Wonderland. The shocking reality is that I no longer have my own copy of the book. I've been searching for years for my perfect book but to no avail. On one hand, I've been after a modern ish copy with a nice cover - one that I wouldn't be afraid to pick up and actually read - but on the other hand, perhaps an older copy, preferably with an aged leather cover. The latter I half expect to find by surprise one day tucked away in a old fashioned book store. This search has spanned years. However recently I noticed that Anthropologie were selling Penguin Classics with beautiful covers and was honestly so excited to find Alice in Wonderland in this design:

Anthropologie - £9.99

If you remove the jacket, the book underneath is just as nice. Plain white with silver lettering, it's simple and classic - just like the story itself.

The book itself has that lovely new book smell (you know the one). The pages are all higgledy piggledy, meaning that if you close the book and then look at the pages, rather than forming a uniform line, some of the pages stick out more than others. The pages themselves also have an amazing texture - sort of rough, like that of an older book. The pages add a rustic charm to the book - like it is a classic book restored and given a modern lease of life. And as I was on the quest for both a modern ish copy and an old fashioned one, it's like both these things have been rolled into one book.

And the last compliment... the illustrations. The book actually uses the classic Alice in Wonderland illustrations - the ones you will see on most Alice in Wonderland merchandise. You may even recognise the below example:

As well as the universally known, there are lots of illustrations I've never seen before. My favourites are of the weird and wonderful creatures she encounters:

It's a beautiful edition of the text, so if you or anyone you know likes Alice in Wonderland, it would make a lovely gift. Anthropologie also stock beautiful editions of other classics like Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics), A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables and Heidi (Puffin Classics). For me personally, the classics never get old - but then I am a massive bookworm!

Thursday 9 April 2015

Lego exhibition: The Art of the Brick

Art has always really fascinated me. I love how a piece can mean different things to different people. When I first heard about an art exhibition coming to London where the art was made completely of bricks, I just had to go and check it out. And what better place to house The Art of the Brick than in... Brick Lane?

Without giving too much away, US artist Nathan Sawaya's collection houses a mixture of Lego sculptures, reconstructions of celebrated paintings, and photography where there's an 'Where's Wally / Waldo?' kind of process to try and spot the components made of Lego. Each exhibit comes with a plaque to describe the thought process and inspiration behind each piece of work - and extra little fun facts like how many bricks were used and how long each took to build.

Some of the pieces you just couldn't believe were crafted out of Lego. I've always seen Lego as being quite... linear? In that you can envisage building things that are square ish in shape, but probably wouldn't have a clue of where to start if building a sphere! Not that this fazed Nathan Sawaya... he tackled all shapes and sizes. For his work based on human emotion, the written accompaniments were meaningful, inspiring and a lot of the time, emotions that resonate in all of us.

This piece was called "Incomplete". The title and first appearances say it all. He commented how some days you give so much of yourself, but can feel like a part of you is missing

Here he was focusing on the aftermath of a hard period in your life. Notably the recovery and gradually growing stronger and putting yourself back together again.

I think this one says it all. The act of falling apart, feeling like you'll crack at any minute. Now I come to think of it, most of the themes were about a personal / inner struggle of some kind. But we've all been there.

After the exhibition, you walk straight into a recreational area with plenty of Lego to play with, as well as consoles where you can play Lego video games. In my few minutes as a Lego woman, I drove an ice cream truck with a massive snow cone on top. I drove that bad boy all over town, collecting coins and destroying everything in my path.

Originally the exhibition was only running until February but due to popular demand, was extended. If you do go, you are more than welcome to take pictures but you can't use a flash. I didn't mind this as I found each piece to have a greater impact without a flash - all the shadows create extra shapes so you can experience the very best of his work.

Ticket prices are cheaper if you go earlier in the week - Friday and the weekend cost a little more - and you can buy these on the door. CNN described this as one of the 'world's 10 must-see exhibitions' - and I have to agree!


Sunday 5 April 2015

Cinderella presented by Swarovski

From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs back in 1937, to more recent titles like Frozen, Disney hasn't lost it's magic over the years. Watched and enjoyed by all ages, in recent years Disney has had a bit of a shake up with its classic films turned into live action movies. Take Snow White and the Huntsman for example. And let's not forget Maleficent, 101 Dalmatians and Alice in Wonderland. Beauty and the Beast is the latest announced to be given the live action treatment, already with Emma Watson confirmed as Belle. Rumour has it that Jungle Book and Dumbo will soon follow suit. But until then, our latest offering is Cinderella. Admittedly I haven't seen the film yet, but when I heard there was an exhibition in London for a limited time only, I just had to go and see it for myself. The highlight was always going to be the glass slipper. Weighing in at 1kg with a six inch heel and 221 light reflecting facets, it caught the light in the most magical of ways:

The exhibition contained costumes and props from the actual film. And some tiny critters...

Swarovski provided approximately 1.7 million crystals for use in the film and if you look closely, you'll see that lots of the costumes are adorned with crystals. Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother costume had the most beautiful Swarovski stars in the bodice. Swarovski provided 10,000 Aurora Borealis Swarovski crystals and butterflies for Cinderella's iconic ball gown - her make-up and hair also using light reflecting crystals.

We walked through reconstructions of the different rooms from the film. The ballroom was pretty grand...

Other than seeing the actual glass slipper, one of my other highlights was not only seeing the pumpkin coach, but actually walking through it in all it's fibre optic glory:

The exhibition itself takes about 20 minutes to walk around. There is a Cinderella themed Disney shop for afterwards if you wish. Being heavily sponsored by Swarovski, you do have an opportunity to buy your own scaled down glass slipper. Or a mini one if you like collecting ornaments. However the mini one will set you back £69 and the larger one? £1,395.

This exhibition is free to all. The organisers did allow you to pre-order tickets through Ticketmaster first, however due to high demand, these have since sold out. But fear not... you are still more than welcome to queue on the day in Leicester Square (nearest stations being Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus) ... but please note that priority access goes to all those already with a Ticketmaster booking. Without a booking, the queue does get quite... epic. We were queuing somewhere between 40 minutes - 1 hour and the queue grew behind us, so I expect most people queued for longer. But the exhibition is free so you can't complain too much, and it was worth the wait. So if you're in London and can get yourself down to Leicester Square before it ends, it's definitely worth a visit!