Thursday, 3 December 2015

Party season is here

With Party season already well in the swing of things, I thought it was about time I shared some of my favourite places in London and Essex to celebrate the season with friends and share a few of my top tips along the way.

Number one on my list has to be Steam and Rye in the heart of London's City.  An american themed bar, with live bands playing, Burlesque dancers, fire breathers and retro cocktails you couldn't find a better party destination.  I have spent a few different nights out here and have never been disappointed.  The music is always fabulous and the cocktails range from American inspired milkshakes with Twister ice lollies and cream on top, to fishbowl style cocktails to share in the shape of a sharks head.



You can wear pretty casual clothes in here if you want to, but as it's party season and in the middle of the city (where most people will be wearing suits after work), I always dress up a little.  Ankle boots are always a good go-to if you're going to be walking a little way to a venue too, especially if it's going to be raining.  This is one of those venues that you always tend to find yourself in after a meal with friends, so my #GeorgePartyTip here would be to always carry your signature lipstick in your bag with you during party season and some super glam earrings!  That way you can add some Christmas sparkle to a more dressed down look.


If you are more of a dinner and drinks girl, then The Brick Yard may be more your thing.  It's a great restaurant and the food is amazing.  They play some great throwback music while you're eating too, so the atmosphere is great and everyone ends up having a bit of a dance and singalong in their seats!  The outfit above is perfect for here too, but if you want to you can change up the skirt for a pair of jeans if you want to.  This is a fabulous venue when it is snowing or raining too, as Taxi's are able to drop you straight to the door and because of it's party vibe, you still feel like you're 'out out'.  My #GeorgePartyTip for adverse weather is to find a more chilled venue, that you can be dropped straight at the door of.  That way - you don't need to worry about wet feet, bulky coats, boots and umbrellas.



There are a number of different pubs, bars and restaurants in Covent Garden but I do have an ultimate favourite and mostly because tourists haven't quiet worked out where it is yet.  The Porter House is a traditional Irish bar and pretty much anything goes there (dress code wise).


I have spent time there on many different occasions and it's perfect no matter who you are with, if you are looking for a casual drink.  Casual winter clothing is perfect to sit and chill out here, but if you are planning to stay until the early hours listening to the band, then my #GeorgePartyTip would be to make sure you have something cooler on as it can get pretty sweaty once you've got up and started dancing.




Back to Essex and another one of my favourite haunts that I have been visiting since I was a little girl.  Old Leigh is one of the most picturesque seaside towns in Essex, with beautiful cobbled streets, sandy beaches, cockle sheds, seagulls, tea gardens and pubs galore.  My go-to place here is The Boat Yard.  You can hang out on the deck outside where they have heaters set up and much on roast chicken baguettes or book a table inside and enjoy a meal.  If you are going to hangout on the deck, where you have the best views of the sea then I would recommend bringing a big coat with you too - however, if you are planing a night out then it's definitely somewhere you can take the opportunity to dress up.  


In Essex you can pretty much always dress up, but as The Boat Yard is a dinner venue, wearing your best dress and heels won't look out of place.  My final #GeorgePartyTip here would be to either wear a lower, wedge or chunky heel to old towns in the winter (and summer), as a lot of the streets are cobbled and no one wants to spoil their night or ruin their heels getting them stuck between the cobbles or twisting an ankle. 



But of course the most important Party Tip is to invite all of your favourite people.  So make sure whatever you do, you find your friends and a great place and have as much fun as you can!

Here's my current and favourite party outfit of the moment, it's great if you're trying to stick to a budget around Christmas too and save your pennies for extra turkey or presents...





I absolutely love these chunky heeled boots too, they add just the right amount of sparkle to your outfit and are perfect for the party season when you're in heels more often.

Do you have a favourite place or top tip for me?  I would love to hear it. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

What should I wear in Iceland?

My first question, after booking my flights and accommodation was what should I wear in Iceland.  I've never been on a ski or snow holiday before and my experience of cold climates was moving further up North, when I went to University (i.e. not very much).


So I went online on the hunt for some tips on what I should be buying and what I should be packing.  Baring in mind, that I was only bringing hand luggage with me for 5 days, just a few degrees south of the arctic circle.

In my search I found tonnes of amazing tips on where to go and what to do, but not a lot on what to wear...  Getting worried, I asked a few friends, but most had been to Iceland in the Summer - so they weren't sure how cold it was going to be for us.

At this point I was totally stuck and starting to look at Ski clothing, which seemed the most sensible thing to do and I got a few good tips from a guy in my local Snow and Rock store.  He was also going to Iceland the day before me on a huge trek around the Island - but as he hadn't been before either, he wasn't entirely sure what I should and should be packing.  He did however, give me the following tips:

  1. Make sure you buy 80-100% wool products 
  2. Don't buy anything cotton
  3. Make sure you have a few good pairs of thermals
  4. Buy waterproof snow boots (Sorel are the best)
  5. Make sure you have good socks
This was a good start and really helpful, however, it wasn't until I went to The Ski Show in London, that I was completely clued up.

By this point, I had bought my Windproof Down jacket recommended by a friend and a new fleece lined bobble hat.  On arriving at the show, I was greeted by Uniqlo who had a thermal mapping tool, which photographed you to demonstrate where you were losing heat from your body.  


As you can see my jacket was doing a pretty good job.  But I needed thermals for both my body and legs, as those were the 'hot spots' letting all of my body heat out.


As you can see from the picture above, I was pretty much wrapped up like a snow man at all times.  However, there are many hidden layers you can't see under my clothes.  Here is what I would recommend putting on your shopping list, from head to toe:
  1. A good hat that is fleece lined 
  2. Wool Scarf
  3. Windproof down jacket
  4. Silk gloves or glove liners
  5. Thick après ski gloves (I loved this pair because they attached around my wrists - so I could take them on and off to take pictures easily)
  6. Thermal tops - I would recommend Uniqlo's and Decathlon's
  7. Turtleneck jumpers (preferably wool)
  8. Thermal leggings
  9. Wool socks
  10. Snow boots

In all honesty, what I wore each day didn't look too different and as much as I love fashion, I wouldn't worry too much about what you are wearing.  You will be too cold to care in the end - especially when it is minus 7 and you've just jumped into ice cold water and gone snorkelling.  But more about that next time.


When it comes to packing for 5 days, I would take:
  • Two hats (in case one gets rained on or muddy)
  • One scarf
  • One jacket
  • Gloves and glove liner
  • 3 pairs of thermals (minimum)
  • 5 pairs of wool socks (they make a HUGE difference and always bring a spare pair with you in case you get a pair wet or you're really cold)
  • A pair of trainers (for driving in - snow boots aren't very practical)
  • Backpack for any day trips 
  • Sunglasses for the low sunlight when you are driving - also handy to keep the wind off of your face too
  • Any toiletries, cameras, etc... that you would normally bring on your holiday


I hope this helps anyone else looking, my biggest tip would be to bring extras with you when you go out each day, as the weather is unpredictable and you can then add or peel layers off depending on how you find the climate that day.  On some days I was wearing all three layers of my clothes and would recommend doing so, especially if you are off to go and see the Northern Lights.


Being overly prepared is definitely the aim of that game in Iceland, as once you are out you are unlikely to come across your local supermarket en route anywhere.  (We always had a stash of chocolate and drinks for this reason too - but don't tell my PT)

If anyone has any questions though, feel free to comment below, Tweet me or check out my Instagram posts and I will do my best to help!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

What's on your bucket list?

Recently I have been thinking about things that I would like to do in the next few years and travelling is always top of my list.  This year I have added a few new things to my list though and I thought I would share them with you all here and see if you had any recommendations or things you think I should be adding...

Burma
I read a book about Myanmar a few years ago and was spellbound by the culture and it's history - in particular the world war, the Royal Family, their teak craftsmanship and the English occupation.


South East Asia
This is on most people's list and I have already seen how beautiful Thailand is and all that Singapore has to offer, however, there is so much more to see in this part of the world and I can't wait to explore it further.  Loas, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpa and Bali are all part of this list and no doubt I will discover more over time.  At the moment, this is still a pipe dream - but I am hoping 2016 will make some of these dreams come true.


Skiing
Most people find their love for skiing at a young age, when they are still at school or on family holidays.  Unfortunately, this is a luxury that my family couldn't afford while I was growing up - but I still want to take on the challenge and see how I do on a pair of skis.  I might check out one of the snow domes in the UK first though.  However, I did visit The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show a few weeks ago, courtesy of Ski Total, and I feel a lot more 'clued up' and excited at the prospect of a Ski holiday now and all that it entails.  Especially if it means, beautiful log cabins, thick hot chocolate, delicious food and of course the infamous parties...



Canada
This is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a very long time and have a much overdue catch up with a friend I met when I was travelling.  My aim is to see Toronto in the Spring, so I am hoping I will be able to make it out there this Easter for a week.  So let me know if you have any 'must do' or 'top tips' while I am there.  At the moment I am thinking Niagara Falls?

credit: ytravelblog.com

Vegas
America has never really captured my heart like other places such as Australia and Thailand.  However, I have two years left in my 20's (scary stuff) and I think this could be the perfect way to celebrate my 30th and give me enough time to save and do it in style!

credit: expedia.co.uk

Buy a house
As I have just mentioned, the big 30 is coming up in the next few years and I would love to have bought my own house by then.


Of course, these 6 new additions to my bucket list will take me more than a year to complete (unless I win the lottery) and I won't hazard a guess as to which ones I will manage to complete this year - but hopefully in my lifetime I will see each of these places and reach each of the life goals that I have set out for myself.

Do you have anything on your bucket list that you want to tick off in 2016?  Or are you looking for some inspiration?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Iceland, Game of Thrones filming, Snorkelling between tectonic plates....

Just a quick update from me, as I am still in Iceland, but it's been amazing so far and I thought I would share with you a few postcard perfect landscapes with you all, as well as a few Game of Thrones film locations and our dive between the Tectonic plates.


Firstly, yes you read that right - in the middle of an Icelandic winter, we have indeed jumped into freezing cold water between two tectonic plates. It was amazing, but I'm not sure I will be queuing to go do it again...


It was minus 7 degrees outside of the water, so as soon as I got out I virtually ran the 10 minutes back to the car and wiped off my drysuit and threw my coat back on. (If you used to swim as a child, you will know the kind of feeling, but imagine getting changed out of your costume outside in the snow...)


We have also been beyond The Wall and checked out a few places where Jon Snow has filmed for GoT's and also The Bloody Gate At The Eyrie, which Aura and The Hound, Sansa and Petyr Baelishh all walk through to get to their Aunt Lysa's Castle - which if you watch the series, you will know always ends in disaster.


Yesterday we drove out to the Snæfellsnes Penninsula, where we went down in to the Lava Tubes/Caves and felt a little like we were staring in the decent two when all the lights went out. Pretty intense stuff. But when you come back out into the day light, you were met with stunning views like the one below.


The first full day was spent exploring the Golden Circle, which included The Pingvellir National Park, The Geysers and Gullfoss Falls.


However, on arrival, the first stop was to go and see the Northern lights - something which most people find as their initial draw to Iceland in the first place.


I will update you all withs some more pictures when I am home, but for now, here is a quick snapshot of my time so far in Iceland, I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Champions Day At Ascot

If there is one thing that I love, it's getting dressed up and outside of going to a wedding, I don't get that many opportunities to buy a nice dress, hat, bag and shoes - unless of course, I am going to Ascot.


This weekend though, the lovely people at Ladbrokes invited myself and a few others to experience Champions Day at Ascot with a 4 course meal and afternoon tea in the Pavilion and we all had an absolutely fantastic day.





Yesterday was my third time at Ascot and having been before in the winter I knew I was going to need a jacket and scarf for while I was watching the races.  My invite was a bit short notice, but somehow I managed to pull together an outfit (including a hat) ready for a day at the races.  For anyone who knows what I am like when it comes to shopping, this was quiet an accomplishment (it took me nearly 2 years to find the dress I wanted for my best friends wedding), so I was rather proud of myself!


Having been at Ascot a few times, I had learned where most things where and how to get around, so we had a mooch over to the paddocks to see some of the horses in the Pre Parade ring, checked out the Premiere Lounge and took in the spectacular views from the 4th floor.



With a champagne reception and the bubbles fizzing, we sat down for our starter which was absolutely yummy (as was our main and dessert) and then made our way out for the first race.  With the buzz of the race starting and everyone cheering their horse to the finish line, you can't help but feel the rumble of excited feet along the viewing blocks and the smell of cigars that comes with it.




Making our way back through the throng of people, champagne and Pimms, we went back to the Pavillion to place some bets for the next two races and eat our mains.


Of the three bets that I placed, I very luckily won two of them!  Simple Verse was a great tip from my friend and my Grandad before I arrived that day.  However, if you can't get to Ascot yourself and want to join in the fun, you can always place bets online or though lots of different apps on your phone - something which my housemates used to do a lot, so the living room always used to feel like we were at the races with all the cheering going on.  It used to get a little more competitive on bigger race days though, like The Grand National.

At the end of our meal, we spotted the Queen on TV and soon realised that she was actually at Ascot now presenting an award to one of the Jockeys.  So we donned our coats and dashed back outside to The Parade ring where we spotted the Queen in the winners enclosure.



I got a quick picture of her making her way back inside and after all the excitement of seeing the Queen, we stayed around for a bit to watch one of the winning horses make it's way around the Parade ring again.



After watching the Champions Race and the final race of the day, we made our way back for Afternoon Tea and wow the cakes were amazing.  Cream and Jam scones, a cake shaped like a crown and sparkling macaroons.


We rounded up the day with a refreshing glass of gin and tonic a few selfies and a walk back to the station, where the train journey home to Waterloo proved to be one of the funniest train rides I have ever taken.


As the rugby was finishing up and the crowds grew on the train, we meet some fans that had just been at the South Africa vs. Wales final and this is all I can say about that...



If you want to catch up with any of the other bloggers who were at the event too, here are some links to the bloggers I spent the day with:

Freya from paleandinteresting.co.uk

Michaela from cardifforniagurl.co.uk

Katy from Littlemisskaty.co.uk

Charlie from Charlieisdistracted.com


Otherwise you can always check out the hashtag or this blog post, where we were busy uploading images all day!


Finally, thank you for such an amazing day Ladbrokes - I had an absolute blast.