Category Archive: Travel

May 31 2013

Postcard From Manchester: Afternoon Tea At The Lowry Hotel

Lowry-hotel-afternoon-tea-8Afternoon Tea is becoming a little bit of a tradition when my Mum and I meet up, whether it is a fancy five-star hotel, a cute little tea room or just a cream tea while out shopping, it is such a lovely treat that fulfils our love of tea, gorgeous cakes, scones and clotted cream while catching up.

Last week, my Mum and I were in Manchester for a spot of shopping, a concert and an early birthday celebration **haven’t you heard it is my birthday on Sunday**, and we decided to check out the afternoon tea offering at The Lowry Hotel, a fancy five-star hotel overlooking the River Irwell.

We were hoping for a spot of sun so we could eat out on the terrace at the River Bar and Restaurant but no such luck, Manchester is known for its rain but last week was also a very windy affair, so we decided a booth inside would be more comfortable.

Priced from £22.50 per person, the hotel’s afternoon tea is very reasonable compared to London prices, and it doesn’t lack on the quality, choice, presentation or service. We went for the traditional afternoon tea which came presented on a gorgeous Art Deco-style three-tier stand, filled with warm apple and cinnamon scones, a delicious rhubarb fool, a pistachio macaroon, and a couple of chocolate treats. They were the perfect accompaniment to our egg and watercress, cucumber and cream cheese, and Lancashire cheese and chutney finger sandwiches.

As well as being a lover of the sweet treats I am a huge tea drinker and The Lowry Hotel offers a great range of Jing loose teas from the traditional earl grey and morning blend to fruit infusions and green tea, but we decided to go for the Afternoon Blend, a refreshing Assam and Darjeeling mix.

I have been to a number of afternoon tea’s recently from the novelty to the traditional and what I loved about The Lowry Hotel is that it has a modern twist on old traditions, with one of the highlights being the apple and cinnamon scones, which tasted heavenly topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam. I find that it isn’t just the great food and tea choice that makes a great afternoon tea but also the service, which was hands down amazing, the staff were well versed in their teas, described each cake to perfection, and were attentive to our needs for offering us more tea and clean plates. It made the whole afternoon relaxed and fun and allowed my Mum and I to catch-up.

I haven’t had afternoon tea or stayed in a Rocco Forte Hotels before but I most certainly will be checking out their other locations in the future after this wonderful experience and if you are looking for somewhere special in Manchester I would most certainly recommend it as the restaurant was fantastic. I have also heard great things about the hotel’s spa as well, which I have added to my list of things to do next time I go home to Manchester.

Are you a lover of afternoon tea? Do let me know in the comments field below your favourite spot for afternoon tea in the UK and I will try and check it out.

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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-art-gallery-24 manchester-art-gallery-23[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-cathedralarundel-castle-1 arundel-my-style-2Pretty 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

Last 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.

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!!!

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.

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.

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.

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.**

Apr 30 2012

Travel: The Beauty Of London

I really do have the best of both worlds I live out in the countryside but I am only a short train ride away from London and today I experienced the best of London. This is London Bridge and it is one of my favourite landmarks and today blazed in sunshine it look extra pretty don’t you think?

What are your favourite spots in London?

Nov 22 2011

Augouleme: Even French Graffiti Is Chic!

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!!!

Nov 08 2011

My Weekend: Cheese and Alfies in Christchurch

I do love weekend’s catching up with friends, even more so when I get to go down to Bournemouth, as each time we find somewhere different to eat. This weekend was all about visiting our new God Son Sebbie, who couldn’t be more adorable, and we decided to do brunch at the quirky cafe Cheese & Alfies in the centre of Christchurch.

I instantly fell in love with the décor, the quirky art stencils, the retro pieces, and the mismatched furniture. Everything about this cafe was super inviting and a great place to catch up with friends, and was also very baby friendly.

I think breakfast/brunch is one of my favourite meals with friends mainly because it means pancakes, smoothies and a cuppa, and Cheese & Alfies didn’t disappoint me as the menu is amazing and everything sounded delicious. I finally went for fruit pancakes with extra blueberries and maple syrup and they were heavenly, and washed them down with a very berry smoothie, which was perfection.

One of the most popular items on the menu has to be the Pan Breakfast, a great English breakfast with a twist as it comes in a frying pan. Not only does it make a statement on the table, my friends Lloyd and Sarah said it was delicious.

If breakfast isn’t for you my boyfriend Paulie went for the fish finger sandwich and it was huge!

You’d think I couldn’t fit anything more in as my pancakes were huge, but I just couldn’t resist having a slice of the Victoria Sponge that had just been baked. It was such a treat – I can’t wait to go again.

Great food, amazing service, and maybe next time I will be able to read the book that was attached to my seat.

Cheese & Alfies, 10 Church Street, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 1BW. 

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