Tuesday 17 May 2016

Blue bardot off the shoulder dress and walking with dinosaurs

British Summer Time came, smiled, and then waved goodbye for another year. I wish I was joking, but this is typical British weather. In the mere days of heat and sunshine we had the other week, I decided to make the most of it by heading out for walks aplenty. My favourite find in London had to be Crystal Palace Park which has DINOSAURS. Yes, dinosaurs. I mean, how have I lived in this city this long and not known about this park?! It just shows that being native to a country or city means nothing. You may feel like you've exhausted everything there is to see and do... but it's never the case.

I went to this park as part of my extended weekend / birthday celebrations and saw this rare slither of nice weather as the perfect opportunity to wear my new off the shoulder dress, which has been hanging in my wardrobe for a while now, waiting for the sun to make its annual appearance. Being a looser fitting dress, it skims over all your lumps and bumps, but at the same time without making you resemble a sack of potatoes. Which is always good. It was one of the most comfortable dresses I've worn in a long time, and I now urge the weather to go back to how it was, so I can wear again and again!

Dress - Forever 21 - (now sold out)

Crystal Palace Park has these curious sculptures - some of which date back to the 1800's. 

The best models are the earlier creations - the ones which have stood the test of time, and are starting to merge with nature

Some were fairly convincing

Others were not so convincing...

The newly restored iguanodon stuck out like a sore thumb and was comical in comparison with its super white teeth, claws and whites of its eyes. There were other creatures there too besides the dinosaurs

It was a hot day filled with lots of walking and photography. I watched ducklings splash clumsily in the water, yearning to feel the water against my skin to cool down, but settling for ice cream instead, which did the job equally well. We came up too short on coins for the ice cream, but the lovely lady at the shop located within the park handed us the ice creams anyway and waved us off with a smile. I am still really touched by her kindness. We sat underneath these beautiful trees, slightly curved inwards like an archway, until every last drop of ice cream was licked away.

With my Mr Whippy and flake all gobbled up savoured, we continued with our circuit of the park, snapping away because the lighting was amazing for photography that day.

So the moral of this story? Just because you've lived somewhere your whole life, or for considerable years of said life, never assume that you know the place inside out. There is always so much more to see and do. Live, explore, seek the unknown.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Grand Designs Live

This year I signed up to lots of London trade shows like The Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live, due to my increasing interest in homeware and interior design. Everyone has their own opinion, but if I had to recommend one of the two shows over the other, it'd be Grand Designs Live over The Ideal Home Show. Ideal Home to me just felt really manic and crowded, as it was situated in a smaller venue with what felt like many more stalls and exhibitors. Grand Designs Live on the other hand is a much bigger venue, a lot more spaced out, and didn't felt quite as busy.

For those of you not familiar with Grand Designs, Grand Designs is a show on Channel 4 here in the UK which focuses on self build projects where people create their dream homes from scratch. Although the exhibition in London, had some stands focused on building your own home, there were were plenty of other stands with furniture, interior design and etc suited to people like me who don't have the funds to be building their own home! By the end of the day, we'd found some kitchens and furniture we really liked, so took pictures of them and brochures for future reference.

One of my favourite things I saw were these quirky little garden huts, perfect for entertaining in the warmer months. Most designs had straw roofs with sides you could pull down in wetter weather. These came in a variety of different sizes - the largest being like a mini living space where you had two separate sides, one for dining, one for lounging with space for a pretty epically sized TV.

One of the exhibitors was a French furniture company that did the most ornate pieces, with amazing geometric shapes included in their designs. We especially loved the glass topped and chrome legged hallway table and these gold tables which wouldn't look out of place in either the lounge as a coffee table or in the bedroom as side tables.

We saw some lovely kitchens and have been getting plenty of ideas for our rear house extension. I have always loved the idea of having an island with chairs pulled up to make a breakfast bar. We saw a really lovely kitchen island with white marble tops and black shelving and drawers cleverly hidden on one side, with really nice lighting on the shelves, to showcase your favourite ornaments. It was simple, but elegant, and a really clever way of using the space

Our other favourite kitchen used different types of wood - our favourite being the darker mahogany - with an interesting sketched / graffiti type overlay to the front of the island (as below) which reminded us of the decor of this hotel we stayed in.

We really liked these white cabinets with the glass shelves, lighting inside, and the mirrored backs. The mirrors reflected the light really well and would be the perfect way to store your finest crockery.

Although we probably wouldn't choose to have have drawers like these in our kitchen, I did like the idea of having quotes etched into the doors, and a designated biscuit drawer!

The main face of the show was Kevin McCloud, the presenter of the show by the same name. However as with the Ideal Home Show (where there were different celebrity 'faces' to endorse separate areas of the show e.g. 'garden' 'DIY' etc, but who physically weren't there), we didn't expect to see Kevin there. But as we went on the very first day the show opened, we were lucky to catch him giving a talk on the RIBA House of the Year and a sneak peek into one of the newest shows he had filmed. On Grand Designs the TV show, he always comes across as passionate about architecture and very knowledgeable about the self build process. In person this came across equally well. I really liked one particular quote of his, where he compared going to see the different builds on Grand Design to going from restaurant to restaurant for a different meal - but without the digestion. Afterwards he and the panel answered people's questions about architecture and self build projects. I really liked how the stage was set up with bold beautiful colours, and brought the outdoors inside.

On our way out we were handed a goody bag which had some pretty lovely refreshments in like mint infused lemonade, a popcorn snack bar and a bar of Baileys chocolate

Adults tickets cost £20 on the door, but you can get them slightly cheaper online at a favourable advance purchase rate. There isn't much in the way of food inside the venue, however there are lots of wonderful food places in the Excel centre itself, so as long as you get your hand stamped, you can go in and out of the show as much as you like!  

In summary, I really recommend Grand Designs Live and have been raving about it to all my friends and family ever since. So yep, definitely worth a visit if you are ever in London!