Monday, 14 April 2014


where || national wedding show

briding (verb) | the act of attending wedding shows and acting like you're getting hitched so that you can get free chocolate, cake and balloon hats [maybe].

coat & bag [zara]
boots [topshop]
scarf [accessorize]

I have reached a time in my life where friends are slowly starting to put a ring-on-it; one of which is my long time friend Ellie [blue dress]. This then of course starts the wedding planning frenzy and means we start going to events like The National Wedding Show to get inspired, spoilt and enticed into all things wedding related. Hearing the number of brides who would descend onto London for this show, I immediately had to mentally prepare myself for an intense day. In reality, once you're inside the spacious Olympia showroom it doesn't feel as crazy as you'd imagine. Yes, there are lots of people & Yes, most people are trying to get you to their stall but actually as long as you focus on the key things you're looking for [for us, mainly the dress] then it's doable. It's a long day though so I would recommend comfy shoes, some snacks [the food in there is expensive] and go with friends so that it's more fun than chore.

the list ||

The dress, the venue, the bouquet, the car, the cake… the list goes on. Who knew there were so many things to buy when planning a wedding. Either way, the world is your oyster here because believe me anything you haven't thought of, someone at the trade show will have. If you already know what theme you're going for then you can filter out the many options, and if not - I am sure you will leave with one [or the vague beginnings of one]. What I learnt: the Vera Wang bouquets from Interflora are something else, it's really easy to get lured into wanting a castle for your big day [they are quite the backdrop], wedding cars are very comfortable and spacious [for the giant dress you'll be wearing I think] and cupcakes are just as much star-of-the-show as the actual cake. 

the show ||

the dress ||

the distractions ||

Friday, 11 April 2014

lookie here

I watched a Bond movie, this is what followed. Despite all the amazing guesses I've had this week [including Gold Finger, Egyptian Ghost, Snazzy Ghost, etc.] this week's nailspiration is actually a result of watching Golden Eye. Gold background and some eyes. I could have just put one eye on each but I didn't want cyclopes on my fingers during a working week - but various pairs of eyes, I'm OK with.

varnish || metal rush & black cab by +rimmellondon, snow by Nails Inc

While I'm on nails, here are a few recently-released ranges which I have both my real and nail eyes on:

Nails Inc Floral | daisy lane floral, richmond gardens floral & floral street mews

Urban Outfitters W.I.P | beaded in mint, splash, orchid, voodoo, halo & seashells

Revlon Parfumerie | [my favourites are] moonlit woods, spun sugar & ginger melon [but below are good too!]

[1] The Nails Inc Floral range just suits my current spring-y mood and I like that it's super sparkly but with proper detail. [2] I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even know Urban Outfitters made nail varnish [yes, I've been hiding in a cave] but what a great discovery - the colours look more on the edgy-side of classic shades but will need to test out. [3] Gimmicky or not, there's something about scented nail varnish that intrigues me. Maybe it reminds me of my teenage years when I invested in scented pens [you know what I'm talking about, you were there] but this just sounds like fun. Who wouldn't want a standout colour accompanied by standout lovely smelling nails?

Have you tried any of these new ranges? What's your verdict? Would love to know before I explore.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

pick a colour

where || colombia road flower market, london

Any colour. You won't be short of choice at Colombia Road Flower Market so I would suggest thinking long and hard about this [ha]. Seriously though: How Do You Pick? I really like going down to one of London's most famous flower markets, it makes for a very cheery Sunday. Emilia hadn't been before so was in for a treat - even though I've been many times now, her excitement still got me too.

I'm by far not an expert in surviving markets but if I had three tips for all of you for this market, they would be:

RESIST || browse it all before you buy - it's tempting I know, but trust me you need to prioritise or you might regret it. Your purse won't thank you either. Look at the whole offering and at the end pick 2-3 favourites you'd like to pick up, then go go go go go. Attack!

TIMING || go early or go late - useful advice I've been given in the past and I totally agree as these are the times you are most likely to get the best deals. The middle bit is just a bit meh.

FOCUS || listen out and be quick - if you do the above, you will need to keep your wits about you because the market will be packed. Listen out for sellers shouting deals, remember deals [so you can compare], and act quickly if that deal is on your target flowers [I've lost some deals by being too slow before].

I also think it's good to go with a mission [before you even get to the market]. The choice is incredible - you have all sorts of flowers but there are also house plants, herbs, seeds, shrubs, you name it it's highly likely to be there. The herbs always smell so good. If you're a green-fingered foodie this will get you excited. Sadly, I have killed every herb I've tried to keep in my flat [I'm awful at keeping them alive] so no herby goodness for me [booo]. Emilia on the other hand managed to pick up some lovely little plants for her flat which I'm looking forward to watch bloom.

I find it so hard to walk away from Colombia Road Flower Market without thinking I wish I also had that, that and that. Ultimately, if I could fill a house with flowers I probably would, but that's just not practical, is it now? So here's to hoping that one day I can build a tropical garden filled with a rainbow collection of flowers and plants that I can call my own flower market. One day [cross fingers]. Until then, I'm just going to keep enjoying going back to this market as it always adds a smile and some cheer to my weekends. With so many colours, lovely smells and a good deal to be had - it will always have my heart [sorry purse].

Here are our lovely bunches - Emilia and I got some excellent deals. We also ended up [unintentionally] colour-coordinating our flowers, we had all shades of pinks and purples. Lovely. We already can't wait to go back.

what we bought || white and pink lilies, white and pink [light & dark] peonies, purple hyacinths & pastel purple tulips

Now, it's your turn - go, [let me know what you thought and if you have any flower arranging tips] and enjoy!


Sunday, 6 April 2014

seeing stars

Location || Brussels, Bruxelles, Brussel | Belgium

When you have good friends abroad, and not that far away either, then you should go and visit them. I couldn't believe I hadn't visited my buddy Max until only recently. We lived together at University and it was about time that I got my friend-act together. So, some friends and I decided to pre-book a weekend to Brussels to visit Max and get a view of the city from our favourite local. On top of that, we had a simple wish list as a group: moules-frites, chocolate, waffles and [try some] beer. This list would be accomplished two days into the trip [we're an easy bunch to please], so the list grew to also include: Magritte and dürüms. After a heart-racing early start, +Diane made the Eurostar with about 6 minutes to spare [it was all a bit too much at 6am], we arrived in Brussels-Midi and this is what we got up to. I've been to Brussels a few times now, the last trip got a few snippets on the blog, but if you've never been hopefully this will give some ideas of what you can get up to. Enjoy!


Places to See

It's funny how despite you thinking you know a place relatively well, a local can always show you something new in a city. Lucky for us, Max knows Brussels like the back of his hand. The oldest of the last remaining Belgian Magic Mirrors [a travelling dance hall, bar and entertainment salon] currently sits in the middle of Place d'Espagne which looked beautiful with all its detailing against a backdrop of modern high-rises and office buildings. Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a destination I don't think I could get tired of - it's a spacious passage filled with luxury boutiques [and famous chocolate artisans] which has a special, almost exclusive feel to it. Brussels, I found out on this trip, is a pretty foodie destination too if you know where to look. I had lots of fun ogling menus and having a sneak peak of what diners were having through restaurant windows. La Roue D'Or and Les Crustaces both looked like fun places to try. Finally, although I didn't actually get to shop, getting to see the Christmas markets being built brought a touch of holiday fun to our trip.

Places to Walk

Although Max had a car, I actually think Brussels is a very walkable city. Most of the key places to see in town are close together and as with all of my trips to the city of blue stars: walking around the European Parliament buildings has become a little ritual. A car is useful, particularly as it was pretty cold when we went, but if you don't have one and aren't a fan of walking, there are also Vill'O! yellow public bikes [the equivalent of our Boris bikes]. There are some hilly parts [like climbing up to the Place Royale via Mont des Arts for the good views], but generally you'll be weaving around cobbled little streets, beautiful squares [like Grand Place], palaces [Palais de Bruxelles] and gardens. One of my favourite views this time around was at the top of the city in front of the Law Courts of Brussels - if I was a great cook, I would open up a pop-up restaurant on that roof top with those views!

Places to Eat

Did we eat well? Did we just… Our wish list items were either food or beverage related so I'm sure it's no surprise what we ended up focusing on to get this trip rocking and rolling. Number one on that list was chocolate: I made sure to visit the lovely folks at Neuhaus to stock up on some goodies for the family [and my secret stash of course]. Next stop was finding a beer us ladies thought was fun to drink: enter the delicious Pecheresse, a super fruity and refreshing golden bundle of joy. Try it, you won't be disappointed. When in Belgium, the other must-have is of course waffles: after a quick search in the guidebook, we opted for the most famous house of waffles Maison Dandoy on rue au beurre [aka butter street - how very apt]. I opted for the Liège waffle with some dark chocolate, cooked cherries and cream. YUM. [More about how they're made here.Maison Dandoy also make [and are very famous for] their speculoos biscuits so make sure to try those too. The next treat is number one for those who aren't going to Belgium for the sweet stuff, I am talking about mussels: I ended up having the classic white wine and garlic pot with some tasty frites on the side. I can rarely finish a pot of mussels but this was just too good to waste. Finally, probably one of the best meals I've had was at 'T Park in a little town called Tervuren near where Max lives. I had [one of the best] duck breast with seasonal veg followed by an apple tarte tatin - it. was. so. so. GOOD.

Other Things to Do

Brussels is not the biggest place and we were lucky to have a local who knows it well. However, even without local knowledge there's plenty to fill a weekend with [though not a full week, I would go to Bruges too if you have the time!]. The eating alone will take half your time. For the other half, you can learn about chocolate and waffle making, shop and browse the cute little markets and shops, and visit good old Manneken-Pis and his sister Jeanneke-Pis and get cultured: we ended up going to the René Magritte exhibition at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. I only knew a little about Magritte's work [think apple-headed man in bowler hat, called The Son of Man] so it was a good opportunity to learn more about Surrealist art and get to know about Magritte's full portfolio on his home turf. Earlier in his career, Magritte designed these beautiful entertainment posters which I absolutely loved and as his style developed over time, you get to see his intelligence and humour shine through even more. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in art - I'm really glad Max recommended it to us as was one of the highlights of the trip.