Category Archive: Travel

May 30 2013

Manchester: Living Art At The Manchester Art Gallery

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For the Bank Holiday weekend I went home to Manchester for a few days to spend time with my mum and I couldn’t resist checking out one of my favourite places in the city, the Manchester Art Gallery. It may not be as big as galleries in London, but there is a charm about the Manchester Art Gallery that always makes me feel at home, and I have such good memories of going to check out the exhibitions when I was little.

The architecture of the building always blows me away but when I went at the weekend I was treated to a gorgeous display of willow vines, flowers and succulents weaved around the railings of the gallery in celebration of its latest exhibition for an Indian-born, London-based artist Raqib Shaw. Not only did the living art make the gallery look magical and slightly terrifying as though the vines were taking over, but it also stood out as a contrast to the urban modern jungle that now is Manchester city centre and it was nice to see. Even in the rain and gale force winds it was pretty to take in and made the gallery so inviting, and I loved that the floral display to rival the Chelsea Flower Show continued inside.

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I have to be honest, I am a lover of impressionist like Monet and Renoir, as well as art from the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and paintings by British artists such as John Constable, so I wasn’t aware of Raqib Shaw’s jewel-encrusted work filled with gorgeous landscape displays as well as terrifying monkeys and mythical beasts.

That is what I have always loved about the Manchester Art Gallery, as when I was growing up I would always find something new I loved, and this amazing artist is one to keep an eye out in the future as the embellished elements to his art was simply exquisite, I took a few snaps of my favourite pieces below on my HTC One but they don’t show off the jewels, the glitter or even the vibrant colours.

I am just so glad I caught this exhibition on its final weekend.

It would be lovely to see more floral displays in our city centres – I think it would certainly make the lack of sunny weather easier to handle!!!manchester art gallery 22 Manchester: Living Art At The Manchester Art Gallery %tag manchester art gallery 24 Manchester: Living Art At The Manchester Art Gallery %tag manchester art gallery 23 Manchester: Living Art At The Manchester Art Gallery %tag[Pics: Taken by me, Fashionista Barbie]

Mar 16 2013

Weekend Fun: A Wander Around Arundel With Friends

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Weekends are all about relaxing, doing something fun, taking a trip away and spending it with friends, well that is my goal each and every weekend *not that it always happens*. A couple of weeks back I spent the weekend with my good friends Jim and Sarah down in Chichester, just for the night, just because, and it was the most fun I have had in a long time.

What’s great about Chichester and Arundel, a town close by, is that they are literally a stone’s throw from London, perfect for a weekend away, and so far from the hustle of London that it is the perfect place to relax, wandering around the sites and do a spot of shopping.

I hadn’t been to Arundel before, but basically this market town is famous for its castle and cathedral, is filled with gorgeous architecture, quirky shops, art galleries, cute cafes, and more antique shops than any place I have ever visited.

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When one bell wont do!!!

arundel cathedral Weekend Fun: A Wander Around Arundel With Friends %tagarundel castle 1 Weekend Fun: A Wander Around Arundel With Friends %tag arundel my style 2 Weekend Fun: A Wander Around Arundel With Friends %tagPretty much like this weekend, it was cold, sorry scrap that it was freezing, a little damp, and generally very wintry, which means only one thing my Barbour parka comes off the coat hook! As we were just out for a walk, being a tourist looking at all the sites, and rummaging through dusty antique shops I kept my look simple, relaxed, comfortable and most of all warm.

Jazzing up my skinny jeans and biker boot look were my winter warmers, my fun pom-pom scarf from Bank, which is completely OTT but super warm, my matching hat that Very.co.uk gave me at their Catwalk on Ice event earlier in the year, and my new knitted multi-coloured gloves that were a gift from my friend Laura, her dad knitted them aren’t they amazing – the pink colour in them is so me!!!

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My Style: Parka, Barbour //  Dark grey skinny jeans, Uniqlo // Kimmi black studded Biker Boots (c/o Tribeca Shoes) // Black jumper, New Look // Pom pom scarf, Bank (c/o) // Hat, Very.co.uk (c/o) // Glasses, Retro54 // Gloves, gift from my friend Laura // Brown leather bag, River Island //

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As well as admiring gorgeous buildings, posing to take an outfit piccie or two, I love finding quirky shops that are filled with unusual gifts, home interior pieces, and generally pretty things.

In Arundel that shop is Sparks Yard, which had the prettiest displays in town, Easter is just so adorable – made me want to buy all the chicks and bunnies. Not only that it had the cutest pieces – like this ‘Suitcase for really short holiday’ case, ‘Owl will always love you love’ heart decoration, and the best range of quirky clocks I have ever seen – my favourite being ‘What’s red sticky & licked all over – this!’ – genius!!!

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As the town is filled with antique shops it would have been rude not to look and there are four things I always look for – vintage tea cups, you can never have too many, Singer sewing machines, I know I have one already but there are just so unique, jewellery, I love old brooches, and typewriters, the one thing I want but can never seem to find.

Well thanks to Paulie I am now the proud owner of a Royal typewriter, which is in fully working order and comes with an adorable case complete with travel stamps. I am going to do a full post on my new beauty soon but I couldn’t help sharing now – is she cute – after a clean up and a new ribbon I will be going Mad Men style and typing up letters!!!

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A fun weekend isn’t dependent on the weather, or even the location, but the people you are with, and of course I love that Sarah like me also loves to do a selfie!!!

What makes your weekend fun?

Aug 01 2012

Dusk Until Dawn: My HTC Adventure Around East London

HTC3 Dusk Until Dawn: My HTC Adventure Around East London %tagLast week when the sun was blazing and before I was gripped with Olympic fever I went on an incredible walking tour around East London with the lovely HTC team and renowned photographer and film-maker Poppy de Villeneuve to test out the incredible HTC One S. I have learnt with experience that anything HTC do is generally amazing, they have a unique ability to showcase their phones to perfection, last year I went with the brand to New York for an inspirational tour, which showcased the technology firms people-watching customisation skills, well my fun night searching out the wonders of East London was the perfect way to test the new HTC One mobile, which boasts one of the best cameras on the market.

I am not going to go into too much of a review of the HTC One series, that is to come in a separate post, this blog is all about the incredible pictures that I snapped, yes all the pictures and videos in this post were taken, edited and shared via the HTC One S – basically I used all the filters, which are very similar to Instagram and I used the very easy to use pre-installed photoshop editing tools.

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The tour, part of the HTC Dusk Until Dawn project, was full on inspiration, tons to see, tons to snap and it all started off at the incredible Pitfield London, which I hadn’t been to before but I adored. I am probably not going to give it justice with my gushing but the only way I can easily describe it is as an eclectic emporium mixing divine crockery, mix-match furniture, vintage finds as well as a seriously tasty cafe – the cakes were insane. I didn’t have a lot of time to snap, trust me I will be going back, but I took a few piccies of the amazing straw motorbike and the cute crockery – I really could have spent all night in there!!!

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From Pitfield Street we wandered to Hoxton Square to see the weather art installation and to snap the sun worshippers taking up every bit of grass, it must have been amusing seeing our little group all wielding the same mobile ready to snap the action!!!

What caught my attention the most on the walk had to be all wonderful street art, regular readers to my blog will know I love a bit of graffiti if it is done well take my post from the French town of Augouleme, and snapping the creativity from East London made me think I was in New York with the large murals on the side of buildings. This is when my smartphone really comes into its own, granted a normally camera may take a better picture, but for me street art is spontaneous and I love how mobiles allow you to capture it with ease.

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I tried out most of the camera functions from the continuous shooting to the portrait settings, and everything in between from the zoom, which is made easy with the large touch screen, to the very easy to use panoramic, and the low light setting, which basically inspired the Dusk Until Dawn project – the below sunset was shot on the low light and I think it captures it perfectly.

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The HTC One also captures moving imagery very well, take the flame thrower that we met on our travels, this image came from one of the videos I took – yes you can snap while you record. It was also the perfect setting to test out the slow-motion setting on the video – see below I will certainly be using that more at fashion week.

What was amazing about this tour, other than being impressed with the HTC One S, had to be discovering East London an area I am definitely not cool enough for. I love all the back alley bars where the cool kids spilling out onto the road, the love fence opposite Shoreditch Station inspired by the Paris love bridge, the views over the city, and having a behind-the-scenes tour at tailors Timothy Everest, who has dressed both David Cameron and David Beckham was a real highlight.

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I am not saying that a smartphone can replace my beloved Olympus Pen, what I am saying is that you shouldn’t comprise with photo quality while on the move. I an addict when it comes to snapping on the move, I took nearly 200 pictures over the course of the evening, not all amazing but there are some really incredible snaps that I plan to get printed. What I took away from the really fun night out with HTC is that creativity needs to be shared and this phone really helps me do that.

Fancy taking part in Poppy’s HTC My Life: Dusk Until Dawn photography competition and win a chance to see the Northern Lights? Well all you need to do is simply upload a photo taken on your smartphone from your city between the hours of dusk and dawn relevant to the weekly theme to @htc_uk using the hashtag #DuskUntilDawn. Find out more about the competition here.

Want to check out more of my images from the East London tour? Head on over to my Facebook Page.

**Big thanks to HTC UK, Fever PR and Poppy de Villeneuve for an amazing night.**

Nov 22 2011

Augouleme: Even French Graffiti Is Chic!

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A couple of weeks back I went to France to see the in-laws and they took us to Augouleme, I hadn’t heard of it either – but I loved it even on a rainy afternoon. The town has a cute but quirky vibe because the whole town is surrounded by a wall, think lots of great architecture mixed in with seriously gorgeous views. But what caught my eye the most were the pieces of street art dotted about the place.

I took a few snaps of the ones I saw but apparently they do walking tours around the town as it is one of their main sights. Not really surprising when they have an international comic festival each year!! I wish I could get this masked beauty as a framed picture – LOVE her!!!

I can’t wait to go back to this town and spend more time here, I need more of this chic graffiti!!!

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Oct 05 2011

NYC Adventure: Daphne Guinness Exhibition

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Daphne Guinness: Jacket by Chanel

I have kind of bombarded you all with my whirl-wind trip to New York, I know I get a little giddy sometimes, but I promise you this is the last post about my NYC Adventure. On my free day before I flew back I just couldn’t resist going to check out the Daphne Guinness exhibition at The Museum at FIT.

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Daphne Guiness: Dress by Alexander McQueen

The exhibition features over 100 garments and accessories, think gorgeous McQueen and Chanel pieces, all from Daphne’s personal collection. Seriously this woman has an amazing wardrobe, to be honest she is a walking museum and collector and I am so glad that she chose to share her pieces with the world.

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Daphne Guinness: Dress by Chanel

There are a lot of Alexander McQueen pieces, as well as Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, John Galliano for Chrisitan Dior, and Azzedine Alaïa, Dolce & Gabbana, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, and Valentino. People do call Daphne Guinness a designer’s muse but for me she really is a collector of couture, someone who loves fashion and who is fearless in her style. You can tell going round this exhibit that Daphne co-curated it as her favourite pieces really do shine through.

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Daphne Guinness: Dress by Givenchy

Overall the exhibit isn’t massive, but the space is packed nicely and divided into six sections: the first is ‘Dandyism’, showcasing her masculine styles, I loved all the cropped jackets and white lace’; second area is the more edgy of her looks ‘Armor’, which features the exquisite Gareth Pugh catsuit studded with nails; then separated by translucent screens is my favourite areas dedicated to elegant cocktail suits and evening gowns, titled, respectively, ‘Chic’ and ‘Evening Chic’ there are some gorgeous couture gowns here, as well as the striking Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel jacket seen in the top image, the white sequins and feathers was just amazing to see up close.

The final two areas, ‘Exoticism’ and ‘Sparkle’, were full of her most flamboyant outfits most featuring feathers or fur!! The most striking piece though had to be the colourful kimono patterned with cranes designed by Alexander McQueen, while he was designing for Givenchy.

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From top left: boots by Alexander McQueen, red suede shoes by Nina Ricci, shoes by McQueen, and boots by McQueen

As well as gorgeous couture gowns, Chanel suits that I lusted over, there was an amazing array of shoes that I am sure Lady Gaga would love to own and wear. These beauties were all changed behind glass but it was easy to see what attracted Daphne Guinness to them, they are all exquisite in design. My favourite has to be the black leaf moulded shoes by McQueen.

Want to see more but you don’t think you’ll be stopping by New York before it finishes on January 7, 2012? Well I have found this video on Youtube that takes you round the whole exhibit.

**Unfortunately I needed to get pre-press approval to take my own snaps, which of course I didn’t do as I wasn’t sure I would have time, but hey I have borrowed these beauties from the Museum at FIT.**
[Pics: Museum at FIT]

Oct 01 2011

In Pictures: Day Trip To Birmingham

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I know I have said this before but I take a lot of pictures, and last week I went to Birmingham as a guest of the Bullring to check out Style Birmingham, and while I was out and about in the city I took some snaps with my phone.

I may have been super tired as I had just got back from New York but it was so nice catching up on the train up from London with the lovely Abi Marvel. Instead of coming into Birmingham’s awful New Street station, we came into Birmingham’s Moor Street train station, and what a little surprise this place was. I am quite geeky when it comes to fonts, and I think I actually squealed when I saw this quirky station. Located right in the centre of Birmingham with its retro signage, steam train in the corner *very Harry Potter* and a cute floral shop it was like stepping back in time. I wish all stations were like this.

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It literally sits opposite the Bullring so it was perfect, also great to see the amazing shopping centre bubble-like exterior as soon as we got out of the station.

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After Bullring’s The Show: Redefinition went over to the 102.2 Capital FM to check out their Style Birmingham bus, how nice of them to roll out the red carpet for us!!! Inside there is a radio studio to broadcast live on the go, as well as relaxing area upstairs, doesn’t Abi look at home!!!

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Of course a visit to Birmingham wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cow vintage store, not enough time to get to the warehouse store but luckily they have a city-centre shop, which is just as good.

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Luckily for my bank balance they didn’t really have any Peter Pan collar action going on so I came out empty-handed, but Abi did pick up an amazing checked shirt.

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I always love the trip over to The Mailbox just for these lights, I don’t know why but they fascinate me.

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Cute Osman designed Style Birmingham canvas bag to add to my ever-growing collection.

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Not sure what this is, or why for that matter, but hey I love a bit of random in the middle of a shopping area, similar ones were dotted all down the main high street.

Sep 30 2011

Hotel Review: My Love For The Soho Grand Hotel

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I have stayed in fancy hotels before but none quite as special as the Soho Grand Hotel in New York. Not only is this a very cool hotel, the location is perfection right in the heart of Soho, just round the corner from Canal Street subway which means you can get anywhere, but it was the exquisite decor that knocked me out, I loved the luxurious fabrics mix in with the industrial touches, everything about this hotel from the very helpful staff to the fashionable crowd makes it a great base to take in New York.

I am not joking when I say that the Soho Grand Hotel attracts the fashion elite, the concierge was telling me that the hotel was buzzing during New York Fashion Week where a number of designers held presentations, parties and stayed. They are also hosting the British Fashion Council when they come to New York in November with their London Show Rooms. The hotel also attracts a few rocks bands, apparently one was staying while I was there I didn’t recognise them and I didn’t catch their name *bad groupie*, even Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson frequently stay over, and the barman was also telling me Alan Cummings held his Halloween party here last year and it was “off the hook”!!!

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Seriously this Downtown hotel seems to attract a very hip crowd, while I was getting a bite in the lounge area a lot of fashionable folk whizzed through for meetings, lunch and a general catch-up, a great place to people watch.

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I loved the lounge area, filled with comfie sofas and leather armchairs, and decorated beautifully with birdcages filled with Christian Louboutin shoes and shoe boxes. It took me three times seating in this area to realise that they were actual Louboutin red soles!

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On the first night, which so happen to be the last day of summer, we all chilled out down in The Yard nibbled on french fries and I had the most amazing Pimms cocktail. My pictures are all poor, I blame poor light, tiredness after the flight, oh and the alcohol!!

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I have to admit now I didn’t actually spend a lot of time in the hotel, hence no pics of the gym, or much of the inside other than my room, I didn’t even get a spare moment to find the pantry, which is on ever floor to get a tea or coffee. But what I did see I loved it was such a cool place to relax in after a long day and my room was perfection, even if I was a little scared of falling out of my huge bed!!

My view wasn’t the best, I over looked some office block, but the other girls got views of the Empire State building, so if you stay here request a higher floor as they offer the best window glazing opportunities my sixth floor room not so much.

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What I did love about my room was the bathroom, if you felt the tweetie bird was something new think again, it seems that Saul Steinberg, a cartoonist for The New Yorker in the 1950s had the idea first. His designs were on the wallpaper and shower curtain and I am going to get my picture blown up for my bathroom as I love it so much.

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I even got a rubber duck, LOVE!!!

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I have spoken about my love of bathroom goodies before, well the Soho Grand have the best from the amazing Malin + Goetz - I adored my rum shampoo and body wash, and I have to admit I sneakily brought my set home with me.

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The Soho Grand also has one of the quirkiest mini bars I have ever seen, I seriously was worried I would get the munchies and need these gummy bears.

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I have to give it to the Soho Grand I haven’t raved about a hotel so much in a long time. I loved my short trip to New York and in-part that was because the hotel was so amazing. There is so much more to this hotel that I didn’t get to explore, like you can have a complimentary goldfish to look after during your stay, I would have loved the time to take the bikes out, or even enjoy a beauty treat at the Privé Salon maybe I can do that on my next visit.

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One last thing that more hotels should take note of, the Soho Grand offers free wi-fi throughout, which for me is a must as I use my smartphone all the time, and generally my laptop is near by.

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