Sunday, 31 March 2013

Harrods: "All Things for All People, Everywhere"

Some of my earliest memories consist of running around Harrods' toy department at Christmas or being ferried through the Food Hall between the legs of countless shoppers. Harrods was always a shop full of magic and as I've got older the magic hasn't faded, it just moved departments.

Or has it? My sister and I culminated our wonderings in the Disney department. For those not familiar, it's where little boys and girls can go to get the cutest fancy dress or the newest Disney Princess doll and have their wildest dreams come true in a storm of Disney propaganda. Little children and my sister that is.

We may have ended up buying a pair of glittery Cinderella heels. Believe it or not, those little beauties go all the way from the tinsy sizes all the way up to a size eight. Lu is all about glitter so I couldn't really expect her to say no could I? After all, it was her birthday...

 This is my favourite piece- she's called the 'Force of Nature' and I think she's completely stunning. If anyone manages to get their hands on it one day, please send it in my direction! 

In an attempted to be a tad more cultured, we had a quick pop into the Harrods branch of the Halcyon Gallery. Now, I've always been a firm lover of the Halcyon ever since I discovered my favourite sculptor (Lorenzo Quinn) in their Bond Street store, but until recently I didn't know they had a branch in Harrods until I fell into it by accident! Right now, they have a huge collection of Lorenzo Quinn in which I was absolutely delighted by and had great fun rushing (sophisticatedly) between the pieces.

After a long day of art, food and shopping, it was a tired bunch who headed off to the tubes and then home for dinner and a good night's sleep.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Harrods' Dior Exhibition- Lulu's Birthday Part Two

After our lovely lunch at the Kensington Roof Gardens, we gathered our bags and headed to Harrods. I'd heard tales of Dior invading Harrods and putting on a one of a kind exhibition and I was dying to see it.

The exhibition was beautiful. As you first enter, you're faced with the façade of Dior's iconic headquarters, 30 Avenue Montaigne, lit up and supporting miniature displays inside some of the windows. As you delve deeper, you're given a rare insight into the world of Christian Dior, coming face to face with sketches and scaled down versions of show-stopping dresses. Even the classic dress worn by Charlize Theron in the memorable 'J'adore Dior' advert was on display, along with other beautiful creations worn by the stars. 

Guided tours were offered by friendly staff members for those who wanted more details about what was on display- my mother made a bee-line straight for a free guide and was then gone for forty minutes! With Mum happily occupied, my sister, her boyfriend and I were free to opt for the much more erratic method of wondering between which ever exhibit caught our eye- by the time we left, we'd revisited everything at least three times over! I kept drifting back to my favourite Dior miniature dress- a stunning black ball gown with long sleeves, a plunging back and a massive bow. Somebody please make me a copy?
Guided tours were offered by friendly staff members for those who wanted more details about what was on display- my mother made a bee-line straight for a free guide and was then gone for forty minutes! With Mum happily occupied, my sister, her boyfriend and I were free to opt for the much more erratic method of wondering between which ever exhibit caught our eye- by the time we left, we'd revisited everything at least three times over! I kept drifting back to my favourite Dior miniature dress- a stunning black ball gown with long sleeves, a plunging back and a massive bow. Somebody please make me a copy?

Our trip was made a that little more exciting because we bumped into Mark-Francis off Made in Chelsea (a guilty pleasure my sister and I share). We sidled up to him and Lu boldly introduced herself before asking him for a picture. 

Mark-Francis, Lu and I

The exhibition was wonderful tribute to the work of one of the most revered men in fashion, made all the better by the fact it was free and open to the public. It's only around until the 14th April so run down to Harrods quickly if you want to catch it!

Kensington Roof Gardens - Lulu's Birthday Part One

Recently it was my little sister's birthday and to celebrate her achievement of surviving one more year, we went for lunch at the Babylon restaurant at Kensington Roof Gardens. The Roof Gardens are somewhere my sister and I have been wanting to visit for some time now and so we were both rather excited as we arrived.

Meet my sister!

Our little party started off with a round of cocktails- mine was a delicious lemongrass and lychee martini, while everyone else went for longer drinks.

The cute couple

After a couple of sips (and Lu getting a little tipsy!) food arrived. The menu was fairly limited, but everything we ordered was tasty and artfully presented. I had the vegetarian dish which is unusual for me (I'm a complete carnivore, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!).  Everyone nabbed a little nibble off each other's plates and the general consensus was everything was yummy. Then the puddings came and everyone guarded their dishes rather more closely! I had a delicious lemon meringue moose on top of a thin chocolate cake base, with a dainty scoop of pistachio ice-cream on the side which I'd definitely recommend.


All gobbled up!

The atmosphere at the Babylon was chilled but busy and the staff were all friendly. They even brought my sister a little birthday surprise at the end of our meal which was a nice touch!

After our food had settled, we went exploring! The Roof Gardens are delightful to run around after a tasty meal and the view over London is spectacular (even if it was a bit cloudy!).  I tried to make friends with a flamingo, but he was more interested in sticking his head in a pond...

Almost like being in the wild...

The Roof Gardens and Babylon definitely lived up to my expectations and I really enjoyed my time at both so would happily recommend them to anyone looking for a casual, fun place to eat and explore!

Sunday, 24 March 2013


So despite it being March, for some bizarre reason we have snow! Baring in mind this is the country where throughout my childhood (when I would have wanted to play in it), I swear there was barely any. Ever. Now however, when I'm more concerned with issues such as 'Are the trains running on time?' and 'Can I get down the motorway to get home?' the heavens decide to open and cover everything in fluffy whiteness. Very pretty but really not all that practical.
Anyway, despite all of this, today I was a bit more enthusiastic about it because I got to see Cambridge dusted with a few flakes! Normally I'm not around to see this and so was excited to realise I would when I woke up this morning. Cambridge is (undisputedly) one of the most beautiful cities in the world and seeing it with this extra little frosting was really rather magical. I just wish I'd got up a little earlier to see it before the day (marginally) warmed up and it melted a little. 

(Sorry there aren't more/better photos- it was really very cold!)

Moving on from the wonders of British weather, I have a little apology to make. That dreaded time of year is upon us again- exam season. This means that for the next five weeks or so, my social life will vanish and I will be buried under piles and piles of books. This means won't be blogging quite so much as maybe I have been over the course of this blog's existence. So for any devoted readers out there (hopefully there's one or two!) I'm sorry and please try and bare with me. With any luck there will be a couple of interesting posts, but don't hold your breath! 

Look how many books I have to read! 

For all those who are also starting to revise, good luck and remember to eat well, sleep well and think happy thoughts- summer is only around the corner after all, although someone may need to remind whoever's organising the weather..!

(Also it's coming up to Easter and who doesn't like chocolate eggs!?)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Interrailing- The Plitvice Lakes

As a few rays of watery sun break through the dense blanket of cloud which has been our constant companion for the last few months, I can't help but turn to thoughts of summer time. As each year goes by, summer becomes less about  having week after week to laze in the sun and more about where you're going to work next, find your next internship or generally about ways of starting your future career off in the best possible way. While in some respects this can be exciting, in others it begs nostalgia to come and pay a visit.

Two summers ago I went interrailing. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's where you buy a train pass that transcends most the borders of European countries, pack a rucksack with the bare essentials and travel across Europe in the aim of visiting as many places as possible. It's especially popular amongst those who have finished their A levels, those on their gap year and Australians (although in regards to the latter, I'm not quite sure why), and is a guaranteed way for you meet a million people, experience the finer aspects of communal living and remind yourself just why you love your mother's cooking quite so much. It's also just about the most fun you can have while trying to survive on the smallest budget imaginable.

Sunset from a train

One of my favourite places my friends and I ended up was the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. The lakes has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The water was an impossible blue and so clear that you could see the sandy bottom as if you were doing nothing more than looking through a pane of glass. The vegetation was so green and luscious that it was easy to imagine you'd stepped out of reality and into Eden.  The scenery was breathtaking.

You walk around the path on specially built walkways as it's a protected area, but this doesn't hinder your ability to appreciate your surroundings. Every time you turn a corner you're faced with another waterfall or expanse of water. We went on a stunningly hot day which made it more and more tempting to make a break for it and jump in a lake, but we managed to just about restrain ourselves!

The Plitvice Lakes are really worth a visit at some point in your life- I can promise the beauty of what you'll see is hard to forget!

Friday, 15 March 2013

OPI: The Man With The Golden Gun

Okay, I'm not someone to rave about nail polish. I mean, I like my nails to look pretty as much as the next girl, but the moment a chip appears I'm not going to whip out my travel pot of polish remover and scrub every last bit off. I'm much more likely to curse the polish for not lasting as long as expected and then just get on with my day.

However, I was lucky enough to be given a pairing of polishes that I can't help get a bit excited about. One is a lovely OPI deep purple colour called 'Ink' and the other is the OPI James Bond special, 'The Man with the Golden Gun.' The first of these I like just because it's a beautifully deep colour which manages to look sophisticated but still fun. Also it takes a good few days for it to chip (I'm told this is common with OPI polishes) which is a massive bonus in anyone's book.

Sorry the photos aren't great!

However, the polish which I have fallen just the tiniest bit in love with is this second polish. In case you're nail varnish illiterate like me, it's essentially a wickedly decadent top coat with a twist- it has 18K gold leaf sprinkled through it! "Okay," you're thinking, "This is ridiculous?!" and I have to say that was my initial response as well. But then I tried it on and I was won over in a number of seconds. The little flecks of gold catch the light, glinting away with every movement of your hands- I have to say I was pretty mesmerised. The consistency of the gold flakes is pretty good throughout the polish so you're not left with uneven looking nails and the top coat lasts for days. All in all, I was surprisingly impressed by this little pot of luxury, especially since my hands now feel like those of a princess!

I also think these two polishes look lovely together- personally I've found the gold looks good on darker colours and also on pale sky blue. Anyway, enough from me- go get your hands on a pot or two and experiment!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Owls Everywhere (and a penguin...)

Since my DIY Valentines post a month ago, I've had a couple of requests (/tantrums) from friends asking for a little owl of their own. Well, needing an outlet for all my excess creativity *cough* I took to my sewing machine once more and rustled up a couple of companions for Hoots.

I have to admit, I'm seriously impressed with myself- they just look so cute!

I nearly went as far as making up an entire family tree for them, but then thought that would be a little weird eccentric...

Jossi when I first told her she couldn't keep Hoots

The new editions to the family (and an adopted penguin)

Look how confuddled he looks!?

Family portrait 

These little birds have now all flown the nest and gone to their new, loving homes. But who knows when they might end up with some new cuddly additions to the family!  

Monday, 11 March 2013

Anniversary Weekend Part Four: L' Atelier de Joël Robuchon

On Sunday morning, I woke up super excited. M had been refusing to tell me for weeks where we were going for lunch today and I was dying to know. Three hints had been let slip:
1) It had two Michelin stars
2) It was 'kind of french-asian fusion'
3) It was in Cambridge Circus
Okay, I'm sure if I'd done a bit of googling, those clues should have turned up something, but I'll admit, I was excited for the surprise.

Anyway, at one o'clock, I found my self outside L' Atelier de Joël Robuchon  and I couldn't wait to see what was on the menu!

The restaurant is beautiful. All the furnishings are in a dark shiny wood, detailing picked out in red. There's an amazing feature wall made of cascading green leaves and the seating is centered around the kitchen, at a bar. This is great as not only does it allow you to watch the chefs hard at work, but also allows for ease of service- for some reason I loved the lack of a waiter looming my shoulder, but rather popping up from behind the bar instead. Moreover, this makes it easy to peer down the length of the table top at other peoples' dishes while merely looking like you're conversing with your dining partner- the perfect way to suss out which dish you want to arrive in front of you!

And then the food. How to put this? The food was magnificent! Every bite was mouthwatering and each plate was presented as if it were a work of art- every bit as much a feast for the eyes as a feast for the stomach. We ended up eating four courses (and a scrumptious amuse bouche to start us off- foie gras parfait with a port reduction and topped with parmesan foam) and each was more exquisite than the last. I couldn't pick a favouite dish- they were all spectacular and I thoroughly enjoyed every one!

The service was also delightful- the waiters were willing to answer questions and to make sure the food was to our liking.

I'd had high expectations for this lunch date (weeks of anticipation will do that to a person) and L' Atelier filled every one- I can't wait to return!

Our visit to L' Atelier concluded our anniversary celebrations and couldn't have left them on a better note. All that remained for us to do now was to go home for a snuggle with happy memories of the weekend and high hopes for the year ahead.