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.
🍑 A B Y
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.
🍑 A B Y
Hey, so it's been a while... This last month I've been busy at work and hitting the gym pretty hard, plus planning some exciting things for June. Instead of trying to push myself to write content, I took a break, I've been exhausted for a few weeks and just wanted to focus on myself. However, I've got lots to share! I've been busy planning an action packed birthday month, starting with Birmingham Coffee Festival, I'm doing Rough Runner 15K next weekend, followed by a week in Barcelona (lots of content from that trip I promise, including some video stuff because I've been practicing my editing) and finally a weekend in Manchester with Danny (on my actual birthday). We'll be staying at the Cow Hollow Hotel, I've been so excited for this month to start and it's finally here!
BACK TO BIRMINGHAM
It's been 18 months since my last visit to Birmingham, I had a friend that used to live here so I visited fairly regularly. It had definitely been too long and what better excuse for my return than a Coffee Festival at the Custard Factory. After possibly too many cups of coffee (is there such a thing?) and a couple of vegan cakes, I hit some of my favourite spaces, camera in hand. (Read about my previous Birmingham trips here).
A BULL IN A COFFEE SHOP
I caught the train down from Crewe a little after 7AM (booking this earlier in the month meant it cost me just £14 return), the Coffee Festival didn't open until 10am, but this meant I could wander around an empty Birmingham city centre. I've never seen the place quiet before, when I've been around on the weekends it's usually buzzing with people. It was beautiful to wander around without the stress of bumping into anyone. Once I had finished awkwardly trying to film my very first ever vlog intro, something to look forward to seeing, I headed straight for the Custard Factory. Getting there early gave me time to photograph the Custard Factory and its amazingly quirky creative vibe. It's a collaboration of street art, graffiti, sculptures... seriously though, if you are into that sort of thing you need to check this place out! Not to mention the independent retailers and the people who run them, it was great to talk to individuals who make up this creative hub, whether they're making coffee, cakes or craft beer.
When the doors opened at 10am I quickly joined the queue, this was made up of more casual coffee fanatics (like myself), professional bloggers and writers, and people who ran other independent coffee shops. I love taking trips like this on my own because it allows me to people watch (unapologetically), and slip in and out of other peoples conversations unnoticed (Danny was working so he couldn't come with anyway). It also helped me to get some of the best photos I have in a long time. When I'm on my own I constantly have my camera on, because I don't have to be conscious of neglecting whoever I'm with. I've found recently I'm much happier behind the camera, as my confidence has grown I've learnt to embrace other peoples gazes. It usually leads to people asking me what I'm doing and that's a great way to meet new people and network.
Having worked as a barista over almost 5 years for 3 different coffee shops, I can certainly say I felt right at home. The smell of coffee brewing just takes me to my happy place. It's funny how a shared love for something makes connecting with people so much easier. I chatted to a few people, both those attending and those who were showcasing their products. One woman compared it to Amsterdam Coffee Festival, a few artsy looking types also had their faces hidden behind different sized camera lenses, another guy was doing some market research and I overheard a group of guys discussing the latest Doctor Who whilst casually sipping there cold brew. It was clear their was an exciting mix of people that you wouldn't normally all see together.
Over the last few years my taste has dramatically changed. I've gone from drinking black coffee (especially when dieting), to lattes. From semi-skimmed milk to coconut or soy, I've also quit adding any sugars (apart from the occasional shot of vanilla). The event catered to all tastes, but I found myself at the Alpro stand first. Sampling a golden soy latte (turmeric in case you were wondering) and a coconut cinnamon chocolate, both undeniably delicious. I followed those up with a stop at 200 Degrees, for a flat white with their blend described by the barista as 'strawberry shortcake'. It was strong, dark and definitely fruity. Next, living up to my expectations was the oat-some latte, oat milk is such a great alternative that works for me because I find dairy a little too sickly.
After an hour, I was practically buzzing so I switched it up with some cold brew coffee, and began collecting business cards and printouts for my desk at work. Living the life of a designer does mean I'm particularly sensitive to printouts, but thankfully there wasn't a poorly kerned logo in sight. In fact I was pretty impressed with the packaging for a lot of the products. I was starting to get hungry so I decided to look for a sweet fix, Big Fat Slab was the stall I ended up choosing. They had doorstop sized cakes that were all vegan! I treated myself to a dark chocolate flapjack, a dark brownie and the most delicious carrot cake I've ever eaten. It's safe to say there are none left now as I am writing this. OMBAR also caught my eye, with their offering of chocolate. The organic dark chocolate bars were beautifully packaged, with flavours ranging from lemon & green tea to 90% cocoa. I even got a handy tote bag which came in handy the rest of the day.
My last few stops included a latte art stand, where a very skilled barista was creating colourful patterns (clearly too pretty to drink). I observed the mini masterclass, it's something that I never quite perfected as a barista myself. The more I walked around the venue, I found coffee infused cocktails, offerings of homemade flavoured fudge and even reusable cups. From Cakesmiths to Hundred House Coffee, it's a good job the samples were small. After exceeding my usual daily dosage by about quadruple, I ventured back into the city centre.
24 CUPS OF COFFEE LATER
The IKON gallery is a must see for me (it's free), I'm always interested in seeing what is considered modern art at their latest exhibits. It's a fair walk from The Custard Factory (I covered 9 miles in total over the day), but you do walk through the city centre, so there's plenty of stops you can make along the way. I passed street performers, bikers, dinosaur hedge sculptures and oddly enough a bunch of people kayaking (or canoeing, I'm not sure of the difference), in the river along side the longboats. The IKON had a digital themed exhibition on which was right up my street, it's always hard to describe things like this as every one will have a different opinion, but there are usually a couple of different exhibits on, so maybe one will take your fancy. I liked it, especially the first floor artwork by Langlands & Bell, titled Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe, which included pixelated typography and photography. It was a little abstract but I liked that it challenged your mind to make sense of what appeared illegible at first, my favourite piece read 'Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind'.
I stopped by the Bullring shopping centre for lunch and a little retail therapy. I prefer shopping alone because I'm definitely a browser, I love to take my time and try things on, which can be a time consuming process. With just a couple of hours until the train back I grabbed a quick milkshake from Eds (seriously yum), then hit some shops. There's no end to the options, whether you're looking for clothing, tech, a good book or a sweet treat, they've got you covered. I couldn't resist a stop in Victoria Secret, especially as there was a SALE on. I also have a mix of vinyl at home that I've picked up from Camden market (Queen - Don't Stop Me Now), Manchester record stores (The Stranglers) and occasionally HMV, who I bought Chvrches new album from just last week. The HMV here had such a large stock, I'm surprised I managed to just leave with Lorde - Pure Heroine. The Game of Thrones and Baby Driver soundtracks were very tempting indeed.
Reluctantly, I headed back to New Street Station with less than an hour to kill until my train back up north departed. A hot chocolate in Pret tied me over, while I updated Instagram stories and looked through my camera roll. The footage I'm happy with but it isn't until I start editing, that I know what works and what doesn't. There's usually a few standout clips but that's why it's important to film as much as possible. That way you can cut out the bits that don't cut it. It definitely was worth the trip and knowing now that it's pretty much like getting on the train to Manchester (an hour is easy to do), I will be planning more day trips into Birmingham. Maybe a weekend to Leeds and Sheffield too, because I just haven't seen enough cities in the UK. It's such a creative hub, with some great food spots and bars that I'm sure Danny would be happy to come check out with me (as long as I supply him with regular coffee).
I'm going to keep an eye out for future events at the Custard Factory. They do film screenings and artsy events, or even the christmas markets would be a treat to experience. Plus I've been meaning to check out the record festivals at The Custard Factory for ages and now I think the next one I will definitely be popping down for, but until then Birmingham...
Video Update Coming Soon.
🍑 A B Y
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.
🍑 A B Y
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.
🍑 A B Y
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.
🍑 A B Y
Since moving to Northwich, I find theres some Artisan market on nearby almost every weekend! I went to the ‘Makers Market’ in Knutsford a few weeks ago. I’ve been a couple of times now and it’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Running from around 11am to 4pm, the streets are full of wooden stalls selling local ales, crafts and baked goods. There’s so much food on offer it’s difficult deciding which treats to buy and I usually end up going a little overboard. With my trusty little Manchester bamboo travel coffee cup in hand to keep me in caffeine (I actually picked this up in the Northwich Artisan Markets), here's what I've gotten up to on my visits so far.
It’s a pretty small place and parking isn’t always ideal in my experience. If you do have to park then Booths is a good place as it’s free on a Sunday, for 2 hours, enough time to make the most of the markets. I apologise in advance if this post makes you hungry, about 75% of the stalls are some form of food whether that be relishes, pies, flapjacks, watermelons or brownies. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a healthy appetite when you go, Every time I go, I try something new. There's tons of tasters on offer when you walk around, helping you make decisions when deciding what to buy.
Whether or not the sun is shining it doesn't stop me from grabbing an ice cream (I absolutely love ice cream, in any weather), my favourite so far has been the vegan ice cream (made from crushed bananas) which was a lot more refreshing and guilt free, although the toppings weren't exactly healthy (pictured top of post). I snapped up one of these adorable ‘Beer Can Cacti’ last time and added it to my windowsill. I really love the window boxes though and am pretty tempted to pick one up when they next pop up. Plants are such a great home addition and being a graphic designer (as well as lover of craft beers), the cans really caught my eye. The most difficult decision was finding the perfect combination or beer can design and cute cactus.
The markets are great for picking up hand crafted homeware and decorative bits and bobs. I often see a lot of prints I’d like to hang on my wall, but I do tend to design this sort of stuff myself. If you know a crafty person then it is an ideal hotspot for birthday or christmas gifts. It is for a specific audience I feel, those who enjoy high end brand store shopping, probably won't find this all too appealing. The outdoorsy dog lovers however, will appreciate the atmosphere and I definitely fall a little more into this category (most of the time). As Danny would say I'm a bit of a hipster.
There’s this vintage crockery stall that sells mismatched teacups and saucers, that makes me fell a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole. If only I had a tea party planned they would be perfect. If you're into gardening then theres countless floral bouquets on offer to add to your home or garden. I stick with the cacti because they're a lot harder to kill, (more independent that most plants) but it's a very colourful affair with some blooming beautiful flowers.
Then when it's time to stop for a bite of lunch. If you’re not already stuffed from all the goodies on offer they do have a kind of food court set up. This ranges from stonebaked pizza made fresh in front of you (I always tend to be drawn to this, I really should do a pizza post), hotdogs, noodles, burgers and loads more. It’s hard to choose just one, I always say go with someone else (one or two friends preferably) and then split your options. That way you can try a little bit of everything you fancy! The watermelon bowls are another favourite of ours because they don't feel all that bad for you (unless you add the cream of course), I try my best to stick to the healthier options. However, I do usually take home a sweet treat box for with a cup of tea when I get home (a scone, brownie or cinnamon bun will do) because it would be rude not too. Support your local businesses!
If you're in Knutsford (the markets are the first weekend of every month) I would recommend heading over to Tatton Park if the weather is nice, it's full of wildlife and a perfect place to relax in a little afternoon sunshine. There is also a delicious local honey shop just a short drive from the town, (check it out) that sells every flavour infused honey you could imagine, candles, lip balms and jars big or small. I've already had 3 jars from them and each was sweeter than the last. Not going to lie I think for me this will be a monthly thing, it's a different pace from my usual working weekday or weekend of hiking. Plus, enjoying a coffee with a box of macaroons never gets old.
🍑 A B Y
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...
🍑 A B Y
Last year I spent a lot of time in Birmingham. Whilst down there I was shown around a lot of really cool, interesting places that I thought I would share with you. My visits mostly were over the weekends and included food, drink, culture and a beautiful park known as Lickey Hills.
I will start my post with a place that to me resembled the character of the Northern quarter in Manchester. With quirky pop ups shops, festivals and events - The Custard Factory is a must see. If not for the shopping definitely for the street art. The place is a canvas for colourful illustrative graffiti that brings the dull brickwork to life. I have included just a few of my favourite pieces i have found but I wouldn't want to ruin the experience so will leave you to discover them for yourselves. Inside of The Custard Factory you will find brightly coloured buildings not a million miles away from Balamory, with strings of lights flowing between them. There is also a massive looming sculpture of a tree like figure, anyone who has seen Guardians of the Galaxy might be reminded of a certain someone.
My first visit included a pop up vinyl shop, I'm an avid collector of vinyl and anything retro so I couldn't resist a little browse. The next time I went down they had left so I will note that if you see something you want get it, some of the places might not be stopping around for long. Next I discovered a craft beer shop called 'Clink' these guys have an amazing selection including limited edition bottles. Here in Knutsford we have one called 'Dexter and Jones', I am sucker for craft beer not just the flavours but the bottles.
My designer background makes me a little obsessed with packaging especially when its something so creative. I have been know to make the 200 mile round trip to pick myself up a couple of bottles! An American alternative metal band called Deftones released a beer with Belching Beaver Brewery in San Diego. I spent ages trying to get a bottle for the guy I was seeing at the time (they're his favourite band), but sourcing them in the UK was a nightmare. Then earlier this year they posted on Instagram that some had arrived in store, so I messaged them to reserve me a couple of bottles and drove over. They didn't disappoint! I drank one before seeing the band live in Manchester not long ago, it was delicious, and the other is proudly on display in my flat!
My last trip I stopped by the most recent addition was a bicycle themed cafe that I have forgotten the name of. Inside they sold tons of art and nerdy items including movie prints, mugs and other collectables. The cakes and coffees are top notch, quick service as well as a relaxed atmosphere and a pick and mix of tables and chairs gives the place a charming appearance. If you are looking for good food and drink though I would recommend 'The Mockingbird' it serves craft beers, wine, spirits and offers delightful bistro food. They hold a lot of events because it also has a 101 seat cinema. I really want to attend one of the classic film screenings, or movie marathons they have, in the past I have missed a couple of opportunities. I'm considering a trip over summer maybe early August, better keep an eye on tickets!
Our second stop is further out, Lickey Hills is one of Birmingham’s most varied and treasured parks. It covers 524 acres and is located just 10 miles south west of Birmingham. The place is perfect for an afternoon run, jog, walk with the kids, dogs or even a romantic stroll. I've been here several times and I'm such a nature lover that I could happily walk around for hours. Take a picnic with you on a summer day and just get lost, there are plenty of kids play areas but for the more adult of you I would recommend just going a little off path and heading deeper into the woodland.
Heading up these hills gives you some incredible views and a clear shot over all of Birmingham. Having been taken up here on late nights, it's a pretty beautiful sight when the city is all lit up. Very romantic and peaceful. You really can't beat hideaways like this, I love Delamere forest for the same reason and trips to the Lake District or Wales so it is amazing to find one so close to the city.
My final stop is in Birmingham city centre, now the national gallery is stunning if thats your thing, stocked full of oil canvas paintings and chocked full of history. But if a more modern style is what you're into a great little find is the IKON gallery, they change it up every so often and you don't quite know what you will get. It is set over just a few floors usually holding 2 or 3 exhibits of work. Personally, any gallery to me is interesting because you can get such weird and wonderful pieces in modern art places. As you can see in the photos its quite a cold building with stone floors and walls, giving it an industrial feel.
Now there is plenty on offer in the way of food from all your mainstream restaurant chains to pubs and bars. Walk down the canal and you will find a buzzing nightlife especially on a Saturday afternoon. Take in all the boats floating on the water, passing some delightful pubs and theres a lovely little restaurant quarter over the bridge, I really need to return here and tick a few off my list! The Bullring shopping centre is perfect if you want to do some retail therapy, its massive but I prefer to avoid the big hustle and bustle of shopping centres for a more unique experience of the city.
If you plan on going for a weekend I hope the recommendations help, it's a pretty awesome place and I find with any city I have every been too just walking around and getting lost you usually find the best places. Hopefully my next visit will include some new hotspots to show you as I am planning on going to one of The Custard Factory's record festivals very soon!
🍑 A B Y
Aby, 24. Northerner.