That’s it I’m 25. It’s mad to think how much my life has changed in the last year alone, never mind the last 5! This post however, isn’t about what’s going on with me over the next few months, that will come later. Rather about some of the cute birthday gifts I got and my favourite bits and pieces.
First up, my new Thomas Sabo charm club bracelets. I love jewellery to be meaningful because I like it to express my personality, like my Posh Totty pieces I got at Christmas do. When there's a reason behind a piece of jewellery it's made meaningful, and a charm bracelet can be a great way to express that. I've wanted one for a while, having had a Truth charm bracelet in college, but I didn't want to fall into the Pandora box. Instead I'm now a member of the TS charm club, the first was a quirky beaded bracelet with a hiking boot charm attached (for obvious reasons this is the perfect charm for me). Absolutely love how different this piece is and I'm obsessed with the charm. Second I have a more classic silver link charm bracelet, this one has three charms on it. The first an aeroplane (because I love to travel), next a mix tape (this reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy) that captures my love of all things 80s and last (but not least) a lobster claw holding a pearl which reminds me of Danny (he has a pet lobster in case I haven't already mentioned that). I know what I'll be asking for this Christmas now...
I also got a Kate Spade bracelet, I already have two bangles but this understated silver piece is a completely different style. It has four gems in the band and a slider, embossed with the spade symbol. With Kate's recent passing this makes it even more special to me. I’ve forever loved her quirky fashion sense and she was the queen of statement pieces, I'm sure her brand will continue to thrive.
Now let's get to the sweet stuff, my Candy Kittens and Hotel Chocolat. These are a few of my favourite things! I love vegan sweets and a mixture of watermelon, blueberry and peach (my absolute favourite), were delicious. I got a few selectors from Hotel Chocolat mostly dark chocolate (with rum centres) and some strawberry puddle buttons. Safe to say I’ve done nothing but eat the last few weeks. Holiday and birthday calories don’t count right?
I also got a pair of gorgeous baby pink Nike suede trainers. I love my footwear and these are a perfect spring/ summer shoe. I’m running out of space in my bedroom but I’m sure I’ll find a place for them. My other trainers are more gym or outdoorsy in style, so these will be great for more formal summer days out and will look cute with a dress or denim skirt.
My vinyl collection continues to grow, with the latest addition of the Baby Driver Soundtrack. I absolutely adore this film and the music even more. I plan to have this on repeat throughout the rest of summer. Bellbottoms! If you haven’t seen it I would definitely suggest you do (I’ve been on a bit of a film binge lately both on Netflix and at the cinema), even if it’s just for the awesome music! I’ve been tempted by a lot of soundtracks lately so I’m sure soon I'll be needing a bigger bookcase for these.
Then we have the pick and mix stuff (not sweets sadly), these include a lot of little goodies I got on my birthday. We have some more Instax Mini Polaroid film (as I’ll have run out again before long), some new Topshop underwear (there was a SALE on so I got lots of pieces from there) and my first ever Tsum Tsums, a Marvel selection including Thanos, Rocket and Drax. Finally I recently sold my old Olivia Burton rose gold watch because I wanted to try a new style, I'm so glad I did because I got a silver mesh Olivia Burton with a much smaller face. It works perfectly with my new jewelry collection, so I'm sure it'll be a new permanent fixture on my wrist.
I do love birthdays because they give you an excuse to eat cake for breakfast, and drinking cocktails is a must. They also give me a time to indulge in something I love to do! Last year I was climbing Snowdon, this year I spent the night in a swanky Manchester hotel with Danny.
I love to celebrate because we’re never guaranteed the next one (as depressing as that sounds) and it’s important to enjoy these moments. Make the most of the time with people and appreciate the little things. Whether you're throwing a huge party for all your friends or just chilling with a film and your fella. I’m excited to see where my 25th year will take me, hopefully Italy, Australia and Canada (to name a few). I also would like to be halfway to buying my own house this time next year but that's for another blog post. I'm sure I'll still be writing here in my little corner of the internet, whatever happens.
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Hello everyone (or anyone who reads this), todays post is short-ish and sweet because I'm busy working my way through Barcelona bits and bobs. I thought I'd do a short post of my five summer favourites! Items I have picked up over the past six weeks, let’s take a look…
1. First up (although technically two purchases), I visited the Skinny Dip Sale. On this occasion I was looking for a purse after the inside zip broke off on mine, (I also needed to downsize because I have too many cards) and there was an adorable one for just £8! (This embroidered piece was reduced from £20) I am a sucker for embroidery because it just feels like better quality, plus the floral toucan design makes it a summer essential.
My browsing didn’t end there, when I noticed a bag I wanted a couple of months back, now just £14 (marked down from £36). This ‘Out of Office’ embroidered straw bag also screams summer holiday. Unfortunately, I didn’t have it in time for Barcelona but I’m sure there will be plenty of trips to the beach, and another getaway on the cards, before the year is over. It’s a medium size that works for my everyday essentials, and includes a detachable shoulder strap. I love to make a statement with my accessories, so the typography on this is definitely my style.
2. Next up, I was browsing Instagram when I saw a product advertised by @SophieHannah – Electric Ink Skincare. I don’t really do much for my tattoos once they are healed, as I’ve never considered it to be important. I take care of my skin but Electric Ink has stuff specifically to restore inked skin so it looks fresh. I’ve ordered the Vibrancy gel serum and after reading reviews am excited to see the results. Watch this space!
3. TEEQ.CO are a made to order fashion company who specialize in little Disney inspired embroidered ranges, from Toy Story to Star Wars. I’ve wanted to order something for a while and finally gave in. I went for Stitch (obviously) the little blue alien looks even cuter in embroidery. Usually made on a blue jumper, I specifically asked for pink to make it extra special and it’s so cute! I’m looking forward to wearing this everywhere in winter.
4. I’ve had my Polaroid camera for 3 years now, I’m considering an upgrade because it goes everywhere with me. I recently took it to Barcelona and had to buy a new album for the prints (I’ve so many now). I’m showing it some appreciation this month as I’ve been stocking up for the trips ahead (more to be revealed). Amazon I always find cheapest with 20 prints for just £13!
5. Any creative, if you’re like me, will go through hundreds of notebooks in their lifetime. I’ve always preferred getting my ideas down on paper, making to do lists and taking handwritten notes in meetings. I dropped into Urban Outfitters over the weekend and found the GREATEST notebook (of all time perhaps). For just £3 I got this, it’s covered in illustrations of Tom Hardy holding puppies. My boyfriend even knew I wasn’t leaving without it, I only regret I didn’t pick up a couple more!
There you go, this month I’ve mostly been living out of a backpack so it’s nice to have a little splurge on a few pieces. The sunny weather has meant more time with my camera out and a few summer style pieces. I’m sure as we go into the second half of the year there will be more books, dog hoodies for Chewie and jackets added to this list. Plus before you know it, the Christmas shopping will be starting. Until then I plan to squeeze every last cocktail out of this summer.
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With the summer holidays approaching, and my trip to Barcelona booked! I've been guilty of a little SALE shopping recently. It's perfect because moving home has allowed me that extra money to treat myself again (I've really missed it!). I've rejoined my old gym so I can get some fitness classes in along with my running, just done a bulk order on Graze for some delicious protein snacks and I figured that with Winter behind us, it's only fair I update my summer wardrobe ready to show off all my hard work.
This month I've been obsessed with a few Instagram accounts, especially @mikafrancis, who is constantly styling Motel Rocks and it's made me fall in love with the brand. I've realised that I am a lot less conservative with my fashion choices now, which is most definitely a good thing. I buy a lot more clothes that have bold prints or patterns, and since I started hitting the gym many moons ago, I am more comfortable making daring fashion choices.
Motel Rocks just have so much style, it's a very bold brand, that I think are all about standing out from the crowd. The colours and prints are a graphic designers dream! It's literally made for me, there are a few items I'm lusting after (sadly some are out of stock in my size!), but they'll have to wait until next payday. I figured I would do a little haul of my collection so far, as I can see us being the best of friends in the future.
Unfortunately, with no festivals on the horizon, I have not quite managed to talk myself into one of the sequin numbers but I do have a holiday to shop for! It was far too tempting to resist, especially with the mid season sale, it's filled with summer staples we all need in our wardrobes.
First up swimwear, I am very fussy with this and being particularly self conscious I opt for swimsuits over bikinis. In the past I have gone for colour but don't usually try patterned pieces, that changed today with this stunning Amazona Off The Shoulder Swimsuit in Gypsy Heart by Motel. The design is truly beautiful with an aztec pattern and cutout, I thought it looked incredible (it was on a model in the photos remember). It was also just £10! I couldn't help myself. At £45 full price I might have been a little dubious because I don't get to use my swimwear all that often. I was surprised when it arrived how great the quality was, it also helped that the fit was perfect for my shape and I instantly felt comfortable.
I went with a size S (I'm usually a size 8 in Topshop if that helps) although this is classed as a size 10 on the website. Like most women I differ in size especially top and bottom, usually depending on fit I have to go for a 10 in some jeans (bigger bum problems) so I wanted to be safe. I'd say opt for a size up for most products. If you're an 8 or 10 then the Small should be a perfect fit. I can't wait to get in the pool now (hurry up June), I think it may be a little too much for a swim in my gym.
Next up was a very daring purchase indeed, this Leandra Slip Dress in Floral Eyelash Lace Black by Motel. The detailing totally blew me away online. I'm not often a midi person but this was so delicate and feminine that I figured it was worth the risk. At just £15 it was another steal! A little warning though, this dress is VERY see through, it would be perfect over a swimsuit for a beach day or with a bodysuit underneath. Maybe it would even work with fitted shorts and a crop top but I definitely wouldn't wear it alone for a night on the town.
Again the size S fit perfectly, it's simple and easy to move in which makes it perfect for taking on holiday. I've paired mine with black heeled boots but I think sandals would also look incredible. It works for me tucked into a skirt or jeans as well and I have worn it out already for dinner with a waist belt on top, there's just so much you can do to it!
My next item was another dress, Roppan Slip Dress In Burgundy by Motel. I was drawn to the colour of this its burgundy but with a hint of pink (this was just £15). The satin slip reminds me a little of nightwear so I think it's perfectly cheeky for cocktails while in Barcelona. I've paired it again with my River Island black boots, (these do go with absolutely everything) to add a little more sophistication. It's light and summery, so doesn't stick to my body, I think that I'll be strutting around in this one paired with my cat woman shades whilst on holiday. Definitely taking advantage of the Barcelona backdrop for some style shots in this.
My last outfit was a two part one, I paired together the Elena Crop Top in Rib Knit Orange by Motel along with the Volta Mini Skirt in Black Wash by Motel. Now, I did go for a medium in the skirt (again just £15) as I find that some materials aren't very generous around the bum and better safe than sorry. The crop top I was struggling between the red and orange (both were in the SALE for £12), but in the end I went a little more out my comfort zone.
The jumper is so vibrant and matches my new backpack perfectly (a happy coincidence), teamed with my new grey leopard print Nike trainers (another SALE purchase), it's the perfect outfit for city exploring! This look is comfy and casual but definitely makes a statement. I can even make this work with tights and boots in the Autumn months, so there's no chance of this one going away anytime soon.
I wanted to mention the next item to buy on my list, Sanna Slip Dress in Solar System by Motel. I would have bought this already had it not been for the unfortunate OUT OF STOCK message I was shown when selecting my size. Not to worry I will be keeping my eye out, and there are plenty of other items in this pattern that i could choose instead, if I have no luck with this dress.
That's it so far my summer holiday shopping list. I'm very happy with this and I know there will be plenty more orders to come, but so far so good! Motel Rocks may be my new go to for festival and holiday wear, especially when there is a SALE on. Until next payday, It'll be quiet on the fashion front.
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Last weekend, I took an unexpected trip back down to London (after just visiting a couple of weeks ago). Friday morning at 5.21am, I was sat on the train heading down to a place I’d consider my second home. This trip was for Carnaby Fashion Festival and with London Fashion Week taking place I took advantage of the sights to get some 'outfit of the day' style shots done.
We arrived in Euston at 8am, whilst most Londoners were busy heading to work on the tube, we walked from the station down to Benugo’s (next to Vogue House) for a welcome breakfast and spot of wifi. The plan was to get the action camera out as well as snap some colourful city shots for my photography portfolio (also known as Instagram). I began in Carnaby the amount of typography and artwork around this city is incredible, every time I visit I always spot something new, even in places I’ve been to a hundred times. There was a vibrant wall I noticed on arrival, painted with palm trees (not sure how long it's been like this), I took a little outfit shot in front of. Not going to lie I did look a little like a powder puff, with my pink fluffy top (Zara) and the Pom Pom trainers (Topshop).
Next I ventured into Liberty for a nosey at their Christmas section, only to stumble across their very impressive stationary section. I’ve been really into print illustration lately and found myself drawn to the huge selection of humorous and sarcastic cards on offer. After a good hour (or two) of window shopping, and a couple of Christmas baubles later, we headed down to try out the new Farm Girl Café! (I went here last time, but this store is brand new and opened the week after my last visit) I was served the most adorable chai latte (who doesn’t want a puppy with there morning coffee) while the place bustled with excitement for the following day of donut decorating and glitter roots!
A few shots later and it was lunchtime, so I picked Benito’s Hat (burritos, nachos, tequila & rum, what more could a girl want) you can't go wrong here! The food is delicious and for the price you get pretty generous portions too. We actually bumped into Josh Widdicombe, a comedian/ co-host on ‘The Last Leg’. He was so lovely, and it turns out I know where the cool kids eat (he features in my blog briefly). Whilst strolling down Oxford Street we came across so many creative displays. My favourite being Topshop! They had models walking the runway (mini treadmills to be precise) right in their windows. Every 15 minutes the models switched out and we got new outfits to drool over.
The rest of the day included a trip to Selfridge’s Food Hall (the most amazing peanut butter cupcake ever was found here) and more walking, snapping signs and typography. This often confuses people as I tend to find the more abstract or obscure things appealing to photograph, you won't find me snapping selfies in front of Big Ben. We headed to our hotel, after a food and fashion filled day. I was functioning on 3 hours sleep (thanks to a long shift and early train, bad combination) and it was certainly taking its toll on me. A hot bath and nap were both desperately needed! The hotel we stayed in was absolutely stunning, very old fashioned with ornate windows and staircases over one half and some modern décor used to expand the space in the middle (Crown Court Hotel).
More Issues Than Vogue
For the second day, I decided to do something a little touristy, while we were just a few stops away from Baker Street, it only seemed fair to stop by Sherlock’s house. There’s so much history in London and I don’t often visit the more touristy hot spots because I prefer to avoid the crowds. This is why I’ve never stopped off in Trafalgar Square since I saw it when on my first London visit, I prefer getting lost in the side streets and walking when I can, you can miss some gems by just hopping on the tube between locations.
I purchased a new pair of Autumn boots on my trip (it was fashion week after all so I needed to look my best), and took to chance to get another candid shot (shown top). The setting was perfect, a piece of board covered in ‘GUESS’ advertisement pages, some torn and peeled back, it created a very edgy backdrop for my outfit of the day. I didn't do too much shopping on this trip, it was more about capturing the city through its artwork and architecture, I'm at my happiest when I'm out snapping away, my camera in one hand and a coffee in the other.
Heading down Regent Street, I found Maddox Gallery off a side street, they had created a huge bouquet outside there window which could have made it easy to mistake them for a florist (I wasn’t the only person who stopped by to snap the stunning window display). We passed multiple street performers and singers who had more talent that I could hope to in that department (pretty sure I’m tone deaf), who just brightened up the city and showed the variety of artists that occupy the huge creative hub that is London. It was a particularly sensational Saturday on the streets, vibrant in the culture on offer.
I found potentially my new favourite shop for gifts called ‘Sass & Belle’, they offer the cutest little creative knick knacks and I left with an adventure notebook for my upcoming Trek (matching my passport cover I ordered from them online last month). It will be handy to jot down little comments ready to write my blog on my return from the states. Another couple of coffee breaks along the way, including a Starbucks (basic I know) stop off for the seasonal Pumpkin Spice (I even treated myself to the loaf cake this time). It was getting into the afternoon, my camera was filling up and we headed back to Euston to catch our 4.45pm train.
On the walk back to Euston I passed by a group of people painting a shop front in a rainbow of colours ‘Watch This Space’ in bold font across the front. I don’t know what shop is coming but I got very excited about the prospect. We got to Euston with an hour to spare, I filmed the people coming and going before it was time for the train journey home. I’ve said this again and again, London never disappoints! It doesn’t matter if you go with money burning a hole in your pocket (there’s no better place to go shopping) or if you go simply with a camera and some spare change for a coffee, there’s plenty to see and experience.
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
With 23 days to go before Trek America I think the next few weeks will involve packing and staying up North for the time being. I plan on a trip to the Vegan Food Festival in Manchester this weekend, not sure how well that will fit in with my holiday diet but if it’s vegan it’s healthy right?
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It's official Autumn is here! I've had my first pumpkin spice of the season (basic I know) and I am ready for the halloween movies, fluffy jumpers, log fires and festive fun to begin! This also means a change in fashion. In the last month I have picked up a few key pieces (in the SALE of course) that are going to see me through the winter months and all the wonders that await. As well as a few party pieces that I want to share. It does however mean putting away my rather impressive collection of sunglasses, I've been adding too all throughout summer. Before that happens though, here are my favourites from August.
First up, I've seen the blogging community going crazy for big earrings, especially tassels. In Topshop's SALE I managed to pick up these ornate gold and rose coloured long earrings for just £3! These beauties are perfect for the coming months and will add a bit of glamour to an understated outfit, like a pair of ripped jeans and oversized jumper combination.
Sunglasses have been a massive thing for me this summer (they weren't something I ever really invested in before). I've been drawn to the more bold and creative shade styles (pictured below), my favourites being: Rose gold aviators with pink lenses from Primark (£3), my catwoman-esque black patterned shades from Topshop SALE (£5), and finally a pair of gun metal grey aviators (£3) from Urban Outfitters SALE. As I like to mix up my style often, its important to me that I have lots of pairs to choose from.
This last month has seen me getting into denim in a big way. I've always been a skinny jean, ripped knee denim lover. However, the past few weeks I've been living in my distressed mom jeans paired with a chunky statement belt and crop top, they give off a perfect 90s vibe. Next on my 'to buy' list is this ripped denim jacket, shown above (I tried this on in Topshop but sadly I couldn't convince myself to spend the £49). Double distressed denim is certainly a look for me, I will be investing shortly when payday next rolls back around. I love the idea of collecting patches for the back too when on my travels, to give it a little more personality.
I've been a lot bolder in my style choices last month, throwing out the usual choices of little black dresses and fitted tees (I've enough of these already). Introducing a bardot style, or a bit of embroidery can go a long way in brightening up your fall wardrobe.
I love a shirt but crisp white ones remind me of high school uniforms. Then I found this safari inspired shirt (Topshop SALE) with it's bold embroidery across the chest, decorated with palm trees and giraffes. It's a fun item to pair with plain black jeans or tuck into a leather a-line skirt. The second shirt added to my collection is this oversized red check classic print (more of a dress on me). This stood out because of its off the shoulder, bardot style tops and just screams autumn time. Paired with tights and chunky black boots or converse it's going to be a staple item in my wardrobe for the next few months. The green lace dress (made me instantly think of Tinkerbell) is for a birthday this month, I bought it because I don't usually wear pastels but the cut and colour are unlike anything I already own. Plus it was only £7 in Topshop SALE, it really does pay off to be patient.
I also updated my everyday bag, usually I stick with black (it does go with everything), but I decided to invest in this little red babe, it'll add a pop of colour to every outfit. Finally, I've been obsessed with my Olivia Burton Rose Gold watch again, it's understated and sophisticated. I lost it a while back but was lucky enough to be reunited, so it's never off my wrist now. Think it may be time for a new model though.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Through August I've also been investing in some gear for my Trek America adventure. This includes my Cobra Adventure Camera (£80 from Very), as well as all the accessories and attachments. I have been playing non stop with it and it's been the best thing I've bought this month. For anyone interested in creating content (but wanting to experiment before investing in anything too expensive) I would recommend one, especially if you do a lot of travelling (around the UK or abroad). Capturing adventures on film is very different to photography, the results are more individual and I think it's good to be able to replay those memories.
Now I have walking boots I plan to take already but rather than packing my normal running trainers, I wanted something a bit sturdier for the hiking. I found these outdoor Timberland ones for just £31 reduced from £105 (or something around that) on SCHUH. I've currently got an order coming with my sleeping bag, power bank, memory cards and polaroid film all on its way, so I think that a packing blog is on it's way (because I have no idea how I'm fitting it all in my case).
I can't lie, the idea of digging out all my scarfs, bobble hats and jumpers makes me very happy indeed. Experimenting with layers and adding chunky jewellery to my chunky knit jumpers. I'm going to try and create some seasonal look book content for next month. Maybe even documenting my outfits and placing myself into quirky backgrounds around nearby cities. Just thinking of all the Halloween and christmassy content I will be able to shoot soon, theres going to be lots of market mayhem coming up.
I always say this is a work in progress, and I'm slowly finding my footing so feedback is appreciated. My videos aren't pristine they're fun and rough round the edges. My posts don't have the most staged shots in them but I'm working on it. In the next 12 months I'm hoping I will be a lot more skilled at producing this stuff. There are a few goals I'm setting myself that I hope to share here soon.
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It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I'm finally getting chance to write this post after editing all morning. On Friday, I took a 5am train down South with Danny to start our weekend. It's no secret that I absolutely adore London and miss it often, but trips like this make me appreciate it's uniqueness so much more. The day began with a 4am wake up call and all of the coffee (can't say Danny was too impressed by this), before heading to the station to catch a 2 hour train ride into Euston. We arrived just after 8am and we'd certainly picked the perfect weekend, the sun was shining and I was buzzing to start the day.
What About Second Breakfast?
First stop Farm Girl Cafe, we jumped on the underground heading to Tottenham Court Road and then towards Marble Arch. I'd heard a lot about this place and seen some interesting Instagram posts, rainbow lattes and healthy brunch options that made me excited to check it out myself.
The walk there consisted of multiple balamory-esque houses I'd dream about, wondering what the insides must look like and deciding which I'd buy (if only I could afford one). Finally we reached the cafe after walking straight past it once. You go through a little white doorway and enter a small courtyard area which could be set abroad, the white walls stand tall on all sides decorated with ornate windows. We decided it was such a stunning morning that it only seemed fair to be seated outside, I opted for the Butterfly Matcha (Organic blue matcha powder with almond milk) it was a difficult decision as I was drawn to the Charcoal Latte but the black colour I found even more bizarre than my blue beverage. Danny had a lemonade and wasn't hungry (he had eaten on the train), but I couldn't resist the Berry Pancakes a buckwheat mix with amber maple syrup, peppermint, fresh strawberries and sprinkling of coconut.
After our second breakfast we had planned to walk to the Natural History Museum, just 30 mins away. This gave me the chance to have a little photoshoot along the way in Kensington (outside of more dreamy apartments, I'm pretty certain I couldn't afford without a lottery win). I'd worn tights which turned out to be a mistake, but the temperature had been a lot lower at 5am. Pairing my black converse with a red corduroy skirt I bought in the Topshop SALE last year and a River Island bardot style oversized red check shirt, I picked up with a gift card a few weeks ago. The windows were dressed with beautiful blooming flower boxes and the more we travelled around London (30,000 steps approximately) the more stunning bouquets we came across.
Time for a History Lesson
Eventually we found our way into the museum (there were some works going on so we there was a little confusion on how exactly you got inside) the building itself was breathtaking. It's funny I've been around Kensington and Knightsbridge before exploring Harrods and the V&A, but somehow missed the museum. I didn't take many pictures inside because it's something you should really see for yourself, ENTRY is free (apart from some special exhibitions). We went for the dinosaurs (nerdy I know) but theres a lot of other cool exhibits and cafes, you could easily lose yourself in here for a couple of hours, I'd recommend you do.
Next we decided as time was getting on and our phones had died, we should probably go grab coffee and lunch (also giving us some time to recharge). I decided to take Danny (a pizza lover) to my favourite pizzeria, Pizza Pilgrims in Kingly Court on Carnaby Street. My name is Aby and so it's quite fitting that I love Carn-Aby so much. The colourful courtyard, festival of food on offer and vibrant window displays never disappoint. It's a beautiful little escape from Oxford Street which I personally find a bit too busy, the atmosphere here is more creative and unique. After refuelling with some delicious carbs we headed off.
Whilst we were here, I figured shooting a time lapse on the river Thames could be cool (my little adventure camera certainly got a lot of use), so we strolled down to the bridge to test it out. The footage came out pretty great actually and I'll be linking the video below. The walking certainly helped to burn off the several coffees, pizza and pancakes from the day so far.
Now I never head down to London without walking through Covent Garden, there's always some beautiful display, artwork or street performers on. There were some vintage shops I wanted to check out nearby so I figured why not. I am so happy that we did because they had the most gorgeous floral swing seats set up all around, with huge flower carts and bouquets dotted throughout the market place. Naturally, I took this as an opportunity to get a new profile picture (who wouldn't, if only the people in the background had been a bit more camera shy).
We didn't have much planned for the rest of the Friday afternoon and so wandered, which is usually best because I always find myself in parts of the city I have never explored before. I've walked around the Soho area before but this time I found a little vintage shop called Rockit and an insanely good Gelato place! I opted for a hazelnut double scoop and Danny had strawberry perfect in the summer sun. After a bit of window shopping (saving at the moment so I was kind of on a budget) in some more stores I'd never heard of, we decided to end our day in Hyde Park. Off we strolled down towards Marble Arch.
With a cup more of ice cream (mint chocolate chip this time) we parked ourselves in some deck chairs (until we were asked to move, turns out they weren't free) put our feet up and watched the sun begin to set. Families, friends and couples all celebrating the end of their working week with a kick about or a cold one, it was a perfect evening.
Every time I take a trip down South I discover something new in London, it's a city that never gets boring. I have my favourite stops, as I'm sure everyone does but I always try and check out at least one new cafe, shop or bar. It's a good idea to walk as well, not just jump on the underground for every stop because this is how I find myself stumbling onto the cities hidden gems. (I'd highly recommend a weekday visit or for a weekend going on the Friday because it can be pretty chaotic on the Saturday or Sunday so I try and avoid the very centre of the city).
I've had such a beautiful weekend and got some pretty picture perfect moments (especially thanks to my instax mini 8 camera, the polaroids are always a great little souvenir). I can't wait to plan my next trip but until then I'll be staying in the North, Winter is Coming after all.
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Last weekend I finally took the plunge with something I have been wanting to do for quite a while! I went from beach blonde to BLEACH blonde. I figured, if I can commit to something as permanent as a tattoo, then I could take a risk with this. I'm happy to say it paid off! This post is just a little information about the process and how I am now looking after my hair, as I never had to worry about it as much before, but the aftercare for bleached hair is pretty essential.
In my own personal opinion, something major like this needs to be done in a salon, I wouldn't risk attempting to bleach my own hair at home. That's a bit too much responsibility for me. It was worth investing in a trip to the hairdressers, because my hair needed cutting anyway and it made the whole process into a less stressful experience. It feels more like being pampered when you have someone else do your hair for you. I also worked out that with the cost of two boxes of bleach (because I have longer hair), two boxes of toner, silver shampoo & conditioner (not to mention the time it takes to ready all the instructions and not destroy my towels in the process), it wasn't any cheaper anyway!
After a quick conversation with my hairdresser, who I know from previous trips to Hair & Beauty Link (Rainhill), she started mixing the bleach. I had gone in for a skin test a few weeks earlier and shown her some photos of what I was looking for, so it was easier to get started when I arrived for my appointment. I've never bleached my hair before and I know it's not the best thing for you, so aftercare is important. I got some tips from my hairdresser, because this was a long visit taking in total about 3 1/2 hours.
NO GOING BACK NOW
The bleach was applied (which took quite a while because I have pretty long and thick hair) then once most my hair was covered we played the waiting game. It's no fun when you don't have wifi or data on your mobile either, lesson learned. After reading multiple magazines and editing photos on my phone, I began to see the colour lighten, this was when panic set it. Had I made the right decision? I'd been dreaming about white blonde, platinum silver hair for the past few months so I tried to ignore the doubt and thought if the worst happened, I could just go back darker. It's not like trying to get light hair back once you've dyed it dark, I did this in high school and it took years to get my natural 'baby spice' blonde back.
After the bleach had been left on for about an hour and we could see that it had lightened my hair enough, she then mixed up more of it too bleach my roots. Now, because these were completely 'virgin' (untouched by any hair dye products) the bleach took to these a lot quicker and they ended up virtually white (in no time at all). This is why she didn't put the bleach on the whole of my head because we were aiming to get an even colour all over. It's also not recommended because bleach on your skin can get uncomfortable, so I've heard. I didn't have any problems luckily, if anything it felt like a normal dye job, just like my previous experiences when dying my hair at home in the past.
Another 20 minutes later, my hair was finally ready to be washed. She used plenty of conditioner and silver shampoo to tone down any brassiness that was left. There was some slightly blonde parts that hadn't fully lifted (my own fault for all the colour experimenting over the last 12 months. Did you know, pink is difficult to shift out of blonde hair), but all together it was a pretty even tone. This is one of the most difficult things to achieve yourself, especially as you can't see the back of your head.
I only wanted a little trim to get rid of any split ends and a quick cut in the front to frame my face a bit more. It wasn't until she began drying my hair I realised just how light it had actually gone. The colour was very bright! I think now it could have done with some toner on it but I had plans to go out afterwards with my sister. I decided against it because this was something I could work on at home. I didn't take a photo after just leaving the hairdressers because there were still some strong blonde tones, but it was completely fine to go out around Liverpool with in the afternoon. (The pictures below are from the day after). Once it had a couple of washes with the BLEACH LONDON silver shampoo and conditioner, as well as an overnight treatment with some hydrating hair mask by MARK HILL, I was officially a 'Targaryen'.
I'm super happy with the finished result (for now). I can be quite impatient which was why I spent the following two nights shampooing and conditioning to get the colour right. I didn't realise the difference the products would make! Having never used silver shampoo before. I got the BLEACH LONDON silver shampoo & conditioner from Boots, along with the Mark Hill MiracOILous 2 Minute Mask. The mask smells sensational, very tropical and has Moroccan Argon Oil in it.
Now the silver shampoo says to leave on for 5 minutes but I left it on for closer to 15 (for a more intense colour). Then I used the silver conditioner afterwards and these worked wonders on toning out the remaining brassiness. In certain lighting there are still more blonde bits than I would like, I'm hoping that by using more of the silver shampoo and conditioner in the coming weeks, I can get it to the silvery finish. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the process, it wasn't as complicated or nerve wracking as I had been anticipating. Bleaching can seem like a daunting experience and after watching some blogs were people had struggled to do it at home I opted for a salon, and found it to be an exciting makeover. I've since slept in my MiracOILous Mask a few times and it really has helped the silky smooth condition of my hair. I can't wait to get out and take some photos for future posts with my new do.
Not going to lie I do feel a little like a member of 'The X-Men'. I've already had one friend tell me it makes me look like a superhero, another call me Casper and the obvious 'Game of Thrones' reference (Daenerys Targaryen). You always worry with this stuff you won't like it but wheres the fun in life if theres no risk involved. I would definitely recommend both the Mark Hill Mask and Lee Stafford Coco Loco Hair Mask (with coconut oil). I've invested in both and they've worked wonders for me, I tend to alternate and use the Mark Hill one to sleep in once a week. I'm using the silver shampoo for every wash (at the minute) but will begin alternating to keep the colour from getting a purple tint. This lighter, blonder me does mean that I can now experiment with colours. The temptation is strong but I'm staying blonde for now, just excuse me while I go browse the BLEACH LONDON colours collection.
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We're Going Shopping!
Yesterday we decided to head over to the Trafford Centre in Manchester, on the understanding that after I had done my mini shopping haul, food and Spider-man: Homecoming were on the agenda. The sun was shining when we arrived just after 10am. After a quick stop off for our daily caffeine fix, I was off to find some bargains.
The Trafford Centre is one of my favourite shopping destinations! It's not often I get to go and I always try to be sensible, but with so many stores under one roof its difficult to leave empty handed. It is an absolutely stunning building offering a unique shopping experience because of its unorthodox style of architecture. The centre is filled with all the biggest brands and labels from food to fashion which attracts the majority of shoppers. When it originally opened in 1998 it was the largest shopping centre in the UK. However, it lost that title soon after in 1999.
First stop, TOPSHOP! My go-to store, I always find that their collections suit my particular sense of style and combining that with a SALE, I figured I couldn't go wrong. It actually turned into a pretty disappointing selection this time. Nothing quite jumped out at me and I've been on the hunt for some statement pieces lately, anything out of the ordinary, that will really stand out over summer. I did manage to find a delicate little gold typographic necklace with the word 'mermaid' on it and an iron on pearl stitched shell patch. I instantly fell in love with these, on my third lap of the store, but my phone died before I could get a picture. As the queue was ridiculously long, I missed out on purchasing them but will have a browse online to see if I can find them!
Next PULL & BEAR caught my eye. This store is a perfect blend, I find it is affordable like H&M but offers way more in the way of fashion similar to Topshop. They have a huge selection of quirky illustrative tees, hoodies and sweatshirts. As well as the more adventurous patterned pieces, including tulle shirts and a shell print bra top, that made me feel like a mermaid for a minute. A quick visit to the changing rooms proved unsuccessful, but I did find some cute items that I considered buying.
Including a grey sweatshirt that had the phrase 'Yes But Not With You' written across it, I was tempted by this but managed to resist as my collection of hoodies is already pretty substantial. There was a cool camo shacket that was on sale for just £9.99 and a tulle oriental print blouse, that was sadly a little too transparent for my taste. In store I was completely in awe of a pair of mom jeans that I knew I wanted! They came in a bleached denim with paint strokes splashed down the legs, and ripped patches. Unfortunately, they only had these in a 6 which were a little too snug of a fit, or sizes 14 and up so I was forced to leave them behind. This did influence the rest of my shopping trip and spurred me onto a hunt for the perfect pair of mom jeans...
I then ended up in ZARA, after a few other fashion store stops along the way still not proving fruitful. I have only a couple of items from them but they really do have some out there fashion choices available, perfect for what I wanted. I always forget to check out Zara online when I am shopping but after today I think it will move further up my list! The SALE signs were bold and I was staying optimistic, despite the day so far being a bit dissapointing.
You really can't beat those red stickers though! Finally I found what I'd been searching for. A stunning pale pinky peach blouse, that was similar to an oversized tee but in a heavier cotton blend, with fluffy trim sleeves. It instantly caught my eye and I was in love, I knew I had to have it! It helped that the top had been reduced to just £5.99 and there was one left in a small, it was fate. Next, I made my way over to the denim, still lusting after the Pull & Bear jeans. It was quite the gold mine, so much so I bought not one but two pairs!
The first wear a standard ripped and pleated mom jean with a cutout ankle, these were just £9.99 reduced from £29.99. The fit was great and paired with some heeled boots I knew they were exactly the cut I had been looking for. They were lacking the paint marks but I figured I could always get a little creative with them myself, not that they need it. My favourite purchase of the day had to be a stunning pair of floral embroidered cropped fitted jeans. ZARA had large selection of embroidered denim on offer, but the pink palette and delicate flower bouquet on this particular pair was super pretty. These had also been reduced to £19.99 from £39.99, an absolute bargain and in my opinion I was basically saving money. Especially as I have always loved embroidered jeans but find they are often way too expensive, usually around the £50 mark in TOPSHOP and RIVER ISLAND.
Along the way I stopped into a few of my other favourite stores. Trying on some summer shades in RIVER ISLAND, I have recently purchased a couple of new pairs but I think they're my new weakness. The 'Old Sweet Shop' which had brand new vanilla latte pop tarts, it was difficult not to walk away with the whole stand. LUSH smelt just as amazing as always but my bathroom is so full of bits from my last visit, I gave it a miss on this occassion. SELFRIDGES always gets a look in, more so for the Food Hall and Art Prints sections personally. I've been on the hunt for these prints by Fred Birchal, after getting a 'Back to the Future' one the last time I was in store. As you can see below he creates graphic fashion prints based on popular characters from tv, film and music. I've been keeping an eye out for the 'Fight Club' one but not been lucky enough to find it yet. I was definitely considering the 'Indiana Jones' and 'Star Wars' one, but for now I'm holding out.
Love at First Bite
After working up an appetite from all the shopping over the last couple of hours, it was time to eat! We decided to try the Italian restaurant Est Est Est, it was a good choice. Danny had the Calzone A Vedura, stuffed with roasted Mediterranean vegetables & mushrooms in pomodoro sauce, he opted for it without the cheese (he's not a fan). I went with the Zucchini 'Spaghetti', spiralized courgettes with goats cheese, Mediterranean roasted vegetables, fresh basil and olive oil, accompanied by a salty side of olives.
The service was really good and the food itself was delicious! I've never had 'courgetti' before and was pleasantly surprised, it reminds me more of noodles and isn't as heavy on the stomach as normal pasta. The goats cheese and roast vegetables complimented it well, it was quite a healthy choice that left me satisfied without feeling stuffed like I usually do with pasta dishes. I also ordered a Strawberry & Basil Smash, a mix of strawberries, basil and a dash of agave lengthened with soda water, a great alternative to sparkling water. There is so much choice in the food hall at the Trafford Centre that it can be difficult to make a decision, I find every time I go we eat somewhere new. Although they have such a wide range, no matter what you fancy I'm sure you can find somewhere to cater to you. I would also recommend trying out GIRAFFE you won't be left hangry.
Popcorn & Peter Parker
After lunch we had a an hour to kill before the movie started and this gave us chance to go for another quick browse. Anyone who has seen my tattoo post will know I recently got an inking of the little blue alien Stitch. The DISNEY STORE had so much new merchandise I couldn't help snapping a few cute pictures. SELFRIDGES had also got in on the Disney action with some cute Mini Mouse themed cupcakes being sold on one of the pop up stalls, at the front of the store. I didn't pick anything up because I couldn't decide on any single item, so to prevent coming home with a bag of Disney magic, I managed to keep my spending in check.
It was soon time to head back over to the ODEON for 'Spider-Man: Homecoming', popcorn and pick & mix in hand, I was pretty damn excited! I've always been a pretty big fan of marvel, the 'X-Men' franchise is my usual go to. Either that or 'Guardians of the Galaxy', and after enjoying the previous Andrew Garfield 'The Amazing Spiderman' films I was optimistic about this one.
The film itself was the perfect blend of action & comedy, unlike the more recent marvel films, this one focused on the main character. It didn't get too distracted by pulling in other heroes from the marvel universe, but rather gave an insight into Peter Parker both with & without his Spider-man persona. I won't say too much on this because I wouldn't want to produce any spoilers, but stay for the after credits scene, both of them. As a graphic designer, I really have to mention the end credits animation! This was really well executed, in a collage scrapbook style of comic, the colour was eye catching and the imagery had a really sketchy feel. The soundtrack was awesome, since the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' playlists I have found myself just as excited for these, as the film itself.
The guys in charge of the soundtrack never fail to reintroduce me to some classics I have forgotten about, as well introduce me to some new gems I wasn't even aware of.
Finally, after a very long day we headed home. Stopping at Mr.Pretzel on our way out for a bag of cinnamon sugar pretzel bites, these tasted so good! There were even a couple of extra bites buried beneath the sugary sand at the very bottom of the bag. Saturday calories don't count right? I picked up a Blueberry Blast Smoothie from BOOST for the sunny car ride back as well, my sugar quota for the week was well and truly met. Any trip to the Trafford Centre turns into a full day event, I'm thinking another trip before Christmas is on the cards. I love Christmas shopping and with such a selection under one roof, I can usually get the whole family done in just one visit! Maybe I will nip to do a final Trek America shop for supplies as well, any excuse to do a bit of shopping...
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Here is a bit of trivia about my tattoos, I recently got my 5th one and wanted to share the experience of being tattooed as well as my reasons behind each individual one. Now, whether or not you like tattoos they have become a huge part of society. Big ones, small ones, colour, monochrome, words, pictures... they're for everyone because they can be completely personalised, you can have whatever you want inked into your skin. However, it's not a decision to be taken lightly as they are a permanent addition to your life, some people seem to forget this, just watch Tattoo Fixers. The best way I can describe it is uncomfortable, I believe my dad actually said he thought it was like being scratched with a compass (like you used to get in those school maths sets). That is the most accurate description I have found so far!
Now I am going to start with my latest tattoo, if anyone reads this blog then you'll know in the last couple of years I have become something of an outdoors enthusiast. Climbing 7 mountains in the last 12 months, not to mention the countless walks, camps and hikes I have been going on. This tattoo I've placed next to my 2nd one, combining the two together kind of. As you can see below, the latest addition to my collection is a little mountain range, this is supposed to represent both a literal and metaphorical message. I have climbed a lot of mountains but also overcome obstacles in my life, which I am sure everyone has. The physical accomplishment of climbing a mountain gives me a great sense of self worth & confidence, I intend on continuing to travel and challenge myself more as I grow, so it was a perfect choice! The little ankle swallow sat next to the mountain I got at 18. Now this one was because I wanted to travel & at the time living in a small town I felt very confined. This was an inspirational tattoo, it definitely did inspire! I've travelled to America, Germany, Dublin, Canary Islands and around the UK, but don't plan on slowing down anytime soon! Just wait for the countless trips next year I want to check out a lot more of Europe and potentially do a few weeks travelling from city to city. I promise to share those experiences on here with you.
Tattoo number 4 I had done about 6 weeks ago. This one is a combination of my love of Disney growing up and an important realisation that you can't count on many things in life, but your family are important. No matter how little or broken, family means nobody gets left behind...
Have you worked it out yet? (The pictures a big give away). It is of course stitch, my one and only colour tattoo, he is a reminder of how much my mum, dad and sister have been there for me. We don't have the largest family, but we're there for each other. I've lost friends over the years, people go but you don't really forget them. Lilo says 'If you can want to leave you can, I'll remember you though. I remember everyone that leaves.' The messages in this film really stay with me. If I had to choose a spirit animal, it'd be Stitch.
My 3rd tattoo was emotional & impulsive. It is extremely personal because it's a selection of lyrics by the favourite band of a person I used to be really close with, I'm purposely being vague in case you were wondering, I don't want to go into too much detail. This person meant a lot to me and so I got it done as a reminder of all the good times we had, its kind of bittersweet I suppose but I don't regret getting it done, I like to think i never regret any decisions I make. I actually went to see the band 'Deftones' live this year, they played Rosemary & they were awesome.
I don't actually have a good photo of my first tattoo but it is a little tribute to the Manchester band Take That. This may seem cheesy to some but I got it on my 18th birthday, at the time I was quite overweight & did it because I was trying to find a way to love my body. I didn't really like myself, but by putting a tattoo onto my skin of something I really loved, it gave me away to control how I felt. The band were also a massive part of my life growing up, they were something I shared with my mum & the first band I ever saw perform live (I will update with a picture once I take one, it's in an awkward place).
For now I don't plan on getting anymore tattoos, I have always advocated I don't want them on a lot of parts of my body, especially anywhere visible because for me they are a personal note of my life experiences. However, when I do Trek America in October it will be my first time flying solo (literally) to another country and so I would like to document it whilst in LA, with a little trip to a tattoo parlour. We shall see if I get chance to get myself a little inked memento.
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Hey, this is my very first blog post!!! (I want to build a sort of back catalogue over the next month, of what I've been up to the last 6 months). I have had such an insane start to this year and found myself really motivated to do more with my time, be adventurous, travel and step out of my comfort zone. What better way to document it all than on my very own blog.
This is a quick little intro with ten things to know about me. Not the boring profile stuff like age, hair colour... This hopefully just will give you an insight into my life, who I am as a person & what I like to get up to. I can't wait to share some photos from the past 18 months, but also start planning more for the future to keep you guys reading! (If anyone is even there).
So lets get to this list:
ONE. I suppose I can start with the fact I have 5 tattoos, I may do a post about them later. I got my first one on my 18th Birthday and the latest just last week. Each one is very personal and they tell a part of my story which I feel is important with tattoos for me personally.
TWO. There will be a lot of running posts here but what people don't generally know is that I used to be quite overweight. About 4 to 5 years ago I decided to make a change and began working out at the gym constantly. In total I lost around 4 stone which has had a massive impact on who I am today.
THREE. I moved into my first flat at the grand old age of 23, in April this year. To say the least it was an eventful experience! I love having my own space but it has been a lot to take in lately. With working, saving for holidays and being generally a very active person, I have found the home improvement stuff takes a back seat. I really need to get stuck into putting my mark on it!
FOUR. I work for a publishing company in Knutsford, anything I do online is just because I enjoy it. The blogging is more for me to look back on rather than me pursuing it as a career. I like the idea of having an outlet to go with my Instagram and Twitter, where I can really write about my experiences rather than just post a photo.
FIVE. I am a graphic designer and although I don't actively do much freelance I also this year put together my first official website. I will link it to this blog but it is abydesign.co.uk, you can buy prints and stuff on my Society6 page but it is just a bit of fun (at least for now).
SIX. I have two sisters, they're called Hannah and Lara and I am the oldest. I am 24, Hannah is 21 and Lara is almost 19. We are all completely different and its been strange all of us living separately now after growing up together. I am sure they will feature on here at some point.
SEVEN. I would probably say my favourite city is Manchester, at least at home here in the UK. I don't live too far away and spend time there whenever I can. It's just such an exciting place and there will be plenty of posts featured around it in the future I am sure, not to mention the Northern Quarter has amazing food and drink on offer.
EIGHT. I lived in London for a while, doing a placement working in digital publishing. It was my first experience being away from home and I absolutely loved every minute! Despite moving back up north and being in a much more rural area now, I thrive in the city atmosphere. It just has this buzz about it. There are lots of little hideaways I plan on writing about and sharing with you all.
NINE. In the last year I have become a budding mountaineer! In love with nature and camping I have been climbing mountains in the UK, most recently Snowdon. I did that for my birthday just last week with Danny, in less than ideal conditions! The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Wales and Scotland are such beautiful places that I can just never get sick of. Sometimes you forget what is right on your doorstep.
TEN. Finally, I studied Photography and English Literature whilst at college. I always wanted to get into photojournalism and documenting things, so I suppose in a way it has come full circle. I have been so busy working in the design industry. But now I am settled in my career and adulting successfully I feel it is the perfect time to create something like this.
I promise much more of a visual post next! As I mentioned I turned 24 last week and so a lot of celebrations included visiting a new restaurant/bar in Manchester, camping in Beddgelert, climbing Snowdon, getting tattoo number 5 and doing the Manchester Color Run...
... so I am going to get stuck into writing some more blog posts now.
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Aby, 24. Northerner.