Scorchio! Summer Happiness Part One

Summer is definitely here… at the moment… don’t hold your breath, just enjoy it! In order to celebrate the heat-wave, I thought I’d share some of the things that are making me happy this month!

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Summer trips to London: it takes me a couple of hours to get to central London from my house, and although it’s not as though I’m a local, I’m still a fairly regular visitor. No matter how many times I go, I love every bit of it, from the cheesy tourist sights to the upscale department stores.

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There’s never a bad time to visit London, but when the sun is shining and there are flowers and bunting everywhere, it’s just that extra bit special.

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I’ve also recently taken up the challenge of walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, and since I started two and a half weeks ago, I’ve walked over 90 miles all in all (yes, really!). It gets boring going on the same old walks, so I’ve started going out in the evenings with my husband, taking advantage of the great weather to visit some places I rarely go (and playing Pokemon Go of course! Do I get hipster points for saying I used to play Ingress as well?)

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Living on the coast, and in between two beautiful national parks (New Forest and South Downs), there are loads of local places to visit – but even closer by we have some pretty views, and Southampton Common is one of my favourite places to go (especially since I worked out several routes depending on how far I want to walk or run!).

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I’ve also been enjoying going on family trips, most recently to Bath – including an awesome, super spooky ghost walk through some of the most haunted areas of the city centre!

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I also had to snap this shot of this canopy of colourful umbrellas in the town – a reminder that even when the sun isn’t shining, you can still bring a bit of brightness into your life!

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A trip to Lordington Lavender Farm allowed me to break out my new Ray-Ban aviators (been lusting after a pair for ages and finally snapped some up in the Next sale!), and dream of ambitions of opening my own lavender farm – or at least, planning a trip to Provence again!

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And speaking of accessories, all this summer heat makes me long for the days of cool nights, long strings of pearls, and sweet perfumes like La Vie Est Belle from Lancome. But you know, just because safari prints and neon accessories are in, doesn’t mean I can’t indulge myself from time to time, even if I look a little weird hunched over the BBQ wearing Chanel pearl earrings… I bought these from Harrods with some money my grandmother left me – my mother-in-law always told me to use inheritance to purchase at least one good keepsake to remind you of someone, and I think that’s great advice.

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I’ve also been making a ridiculous amount of smoothies thanks to Natural Blender, the smoothie delivery service, and my brand new Nutribullet, which I bought after yet another blender broke on me at the beginning of the month. I wish I’d bought one sooner – this baby is seriously good, and blends everything to a perfectly smooth consistency!

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And finally, where would I be without my favourite summer flower – the hydrangea – and my favourite ballet flats, from French Sole?

Let me know what’s making you happy this summer in the comments!

Pass The Pimm’s Please: Chestertons Polo In The Park

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If you thought summer activities were limited to wasp-infested picnics, rained-off bike rides, going to the races or being invited to another distant relative’s wedding, then you’ve obviously never heard of polo…

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Situated not far from Parson’s Green and King’s Road is Hurlingham Park, Fulham, home of Chestertons Polo – the best introduction to the crazy, furious sport you could hope for!

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Spread across three days this summer (at the beginning of June), Polo in the Park slots nicely into the summer social calendar and provides ample opportunity for you to dress up, stand in a field, eat burgers and get slightly tipsy whilst watching everyone else do some hard work. I can’t think of many more summer activities I like better…

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This year, Chesterons Polo in the Park had a new attraction – the Great Polo Food Festival, which was held in the Grazing Paddock, from Gorilla Events. The festival brought together some of the finest London restaurants and street food vans, including some of my personal favourites: Hix, Maze, the Meringue Girls, and Bubble Dogs.

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The food area was absolutely heaving, but there were plenty of places to sit (although, pro-tip, remember to bring a picnic blanket just in case. And water (preferably a few bottles already frozen!). And sunscreen!). There was so much to choose from but eventually I plumped on this gorgeous lobster roll from Hix – although this buffalo chicken burger from Maze was sooo tempting…

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The event felt very much like a mini Taste of London festival, which was fab! I also picked up some Meringue Girls treats for after dinner back at home – their dessert bar was incredible and included brownies and pavlovas – all picture-perfect and 100% Instagram-friendly!

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Their stand was one of the prettiest there, and I had to snap a few pics of their cool Smeg mixer, which the chap behind the stand was pretty chuffed with and eager to tell me all about how much better it was than certain other brands…

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I’ve followed the Meringue Girls on Instagram for ages so I was so happy to see them at the event – and felt the same way about seeing Rachel Black, the amazing milliner, there too! I have followed her for ages on Twitter, stalking her gorgeous floating feather headpiece for what seems like years… She even had one available for an amazing discount but I just didn’t have the funds. (So sad…) However, I swear one day I too shall wear a floating feather on my head!

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But as you can see, the floating feather piece is far from her most beautiful item – there are some truly incredible creations here. Check out her site!

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There were quite a few other fashion retailers, selling everything from jewellery (Stella & Dot, above, are another fav!) to fur coats and panama hats! Luxury skincare brand Elemis even had a treatment bus parked up for the odd impromptu facial or massage…

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Of course, just like all the rest of the punters, I didn’t come here just to eat and shop. No. I came to get an alcoholic beverage of my choice at a pop-up bar! And luckily, there were plenty of choices there, from the traditional Pimm’s…

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…to the rather more interesting Fentiman’s, which was selling its own drinks as mixers for tequila, vodka and gin. I went off-piste slightly with my order…

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Instead of a boring old G&T I had Boodles Mulberry Gin with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade – and it was utterly delicious! Fruity, floral and deliciously pink! I’d already tried the rose lemonade at a restaurant on its own, so knew that it would work gloriously!

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There was also a tropical themed bar – the Mahiki Coconut Bar –  which sold drinks in pineapples and coconuts.If you were feeling flush you even shell out for a treasure chest for £150, which served eight people and was a mix of Kraken Black Spiced Rum, plus more rum, brandy and peach liqueur, shaken with lime and sugar and topped with a bottle of Lanson Black Label Champagne – served, of course, in a treasure chest!

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But of course, I’m only kidding about the refreshments – the real focus of the day was the polo, and what a thrilling day it was! I’d never seen a polo match before and Chestertons was the perfect place to learn, because it’s geared up for everyone from families to fashionistas, to polo-fiends, to polo-newbies. There were even helpful leaflets explaining the action, including the lengths of the chukkas and what to do with a divot…

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That’s right – if there’s one thing I knew for sure about polo (apart from I was sure it was the horse kind and not the water kind), it’s that you have to go and stamp down the divots ripped up in the lawn by the action of the hooves and the mallets.

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This is why I recommend 100% wedges (or flats) for a polo watching session, because if you come in heels you’ll end creating divots of your own. I wore my trusty Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley Coco wedges in navy blue suede for just this occasion… (Teamed with my Mulberry Lily Gem in blue suede and my Hobbs Bianca sun hat! Oh, and some more familiar accessories, my Brora Gold Charm earrings.)

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(But, don’t forget a trusty tote to carry all those polo essentials, too, like your water, picnic blanket, spare flats, etc…)

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I would massively recommend Chestertons Polo in the Park to anyone who wanted a fun activity for summer – whether it’s a family day out (the day I went, Sunday, was perfect for kids as they had special activities and amazing games for children in the morning), to be seen out and about wearing your finest, to grab some amazing food, or to get out to a summer sport that isn’t horse racing… again!

Check out Polo in the Park here, and keep your eyes peeled for info about next year’s event!

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Battle of the Hotdogs: It’s Going Down in Charlotte Street!

If you head to Charlotte Street in London on hotdog related business, you may find yourself plagued with a decision the likes of which you’ve never faced before. Because in Charlotte Street there is not one, but two great hotdog places, both very close to each other, both very trendy and Instagrammable, and both selling delicious food.

Now, I don’t know you, but I’m going to assume you’re similar to me, and only eat hotdogs once a day. So that means I’m going to have to help you decide which one to visit. Don’t worry, I’ve done my research.

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Let’s start with Bubbledogs – arguably the trendiest of the two. You can’t book in advance but mysteriously when you go in, they’ll ask you if you have. I’m allergic to speaking on the phone, but if you are socially minded you might want to try ringing them to see if they’ll put you on the secret booking list.

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Bubbledogs’ USP is the fact that they serve champagne with their hotdogs (which came first? The concept or the name? I like to think they just made up the name first and then decided the only possible way to go ahead with a business called Bubbledogs was with champers and sausages… But I digress…) Because of that, the room is dominated by the glorious bar, dotted with dimmed lighting, and the exposed brick walls are adorned with cute pics of pups in various poses. Seats are high stools with higher tables – a pet peeve of mine, as I like to lounge when I eat. I assume I’m related to some kind of high up Roman senator or something.

The drinks selection is by far the biggest part of the menu. The food almost seems like an afterthought – but don’t worry, because as much care is lavished on the hotdogs as it is on curating the wine list. I plumped for the rose and waited patiently for my food to arrive before I supped away.

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Making a decision on the hotdogs was pretty difficult – before I arrived I’d fancied a Sloppy Joe – chilli, cheese and onions – but on the day I wanted something sour and strong, so I ordered a Reuben with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and melted Swiss cheese, along with a helping of sweet potato fries.

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It was delicious, but I still yearn for that hit of chilli and wish I could go back for a second helping of a Sloppy Joe – there’s just something unbeatable about that combo! Props go to Bubbledogs for the super traditional squeaky dog, springy, smokey, and savoury, and the soft, sweet brioche roll, as well as the fries, which were so crisp I could have shattered them against the bar.

On now to Herman ze German, which actually has several restaurants in London, offering a decidedly more rustic take on the humble hotdog.

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Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game here, and there’s also a lot more variety on the menu – you can order your hotdog without a bun, or even *gasp* skip the dog entirely and go for something completely different… as long as it’s German, of course…

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You’re supposed to fill out your wipe clean menu with your choices in a marker pen, and take them up to the counter to have your order taken – in reality, it’s a bit fiddly and unnecessary, and because the drinks options aren’t properly listed, you’ll still have to order those verbally. I’d recently tried currywurst in Germany (a country I have now visited twice for a grand combined total of three hours – and no, it wasn’t a layover!), so I went for a bratwurst with crispy onions and fries. Again, if I could reorder, I would go for a bockwurst – the bratwurst lacked the smokey taste I feel is essential for a hotdog.

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Interesting, the dogs are served on a French baguette style bun – I always prefer my dogs on a sweet, soft, bun, but the bread was perfectly baked, chewy and robust. The crispy onions are a great addition, and of course, just like at Bubbledogs, there’s mustard and ketchup available to add to your heart’s content – but Herman also offers mayo too, which is great if you’re pretending to be Belgian.

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Finally, don’t forget I said you could order other items – it wouldn’t be a German restaurant without a schnitzel! Crispy and moist, this breaded chicken breast comes with a salad, so you can pretend you’re being healthy while you eat fried food.

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On the Instagram level, I have to score Herman higher simply because there are two window seats which afford great daylight for those sneaky snaps, and the seating is a lot nicer too, although still has that cafeteria vibe thanks to the metal and wood furniture and the benches. Food-wise, I preferred Bubbledogs’ hotdog (but I still must try that bockwurst!) and bun, but Herman offers a more family friendly experience, is a little cheaper, and has a wider range of options.

My verdict? Go to Bubbledogs for style and substance, and go to Herman ze German for a heartily good nosh. And, try their melon and gin cocktail, it’s delicious!

Find Bubbledogs here at www.bubbledogs.co.uk, and Herman ze German here at www.hermanzegerman.com. Both are located on Charlotte Street in London, but Herman ze German has outlets in Soho and Charing Cross too…

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Beulah Sample Sale

Last week I was in London for work at the same time as the Beulah London sample sale started! I’d never been to the Beulah store so I decided to take an hour out for lunch to pop along to visit. Here’s a spoiler:

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Taste of London 2015: Glorious Gluttony in Regent’s Park!

I absolutely love going to Taste of London – the first time I went was in 2010 as part of my hen party (which also included afternoon tea at The Ritz, karaoke and Louboutin shopping at Harrods!) and it was such a ball I’ve been dying to go back for ages! This year the stars aligned and I managed to visit the June festival for the Friday morning sessions.

If you love food and you love the London restaurant scene, you should definitely make sure you pay the event a visit! Here’s my guide to the best the event has to offer…

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Friday Lust List: Alexander McQueen Reptilia Print De Manta Clutch

I’ve mentioned on this blog before how much I love McQueen’s De Manta clutches, which debuted in his final collection, Plato’s Atlantis in 2010. One of the final items designed by McQueen himself before his death, the python De Manta bag holds a special place in fans’ hearts, and was subsequently difficult to come by. However, thanks to the launch of Savage Beauty (the exhibition of McQueen’s work) at the V&A (going tomorrow, so excited!), the piece has been resurrected once more.

This is where my avid collector’s itch begins to bother me – although there’s absolutely no reason for me to own this clutch, as it’s not my style and doesn’t fit with anything in my wardrobe, I still really want to get my hands on a piece of McQueen history. I’ll have to reluctantly pass on this one, but if you’d like to partake, you can pick it up from the V&A’s own site here (priced £465). They have a whole range of Plato’s Atlantis goodies (in my humble opinion, the De Manta is the crown jewel of the entire range) here, as well as some gorgeous skull pieces here – which, as we know, is one of the things McQueen is most famous for. (I’m resisting the urge to purchase the skull bracelet here, considering I’ve just recently bought new Kate Spade and Stella & Dot bracelets!)

Anyway, I’ll leave you with my two favourite McQ accessories which I’ll be wearing with pride at the exhibition tomorrow – my ocelot print De Manta in twill, and some black suede pointed flats. If you want to find out more about how to see Savage Beauty at the V&A, follow this link for more info, and book tickets here!

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French Sole SS15 Press Day

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Last week I was invited to pop along to the French Sole press day for spring / summer 2015, held at the beautiful Brown’s Hotel in London! Needless to say, I was in shoe heaven – kudos to creator Jane Winkworth and her team for creating some fantastic collections for next year. There were three main themes for next year’s French Sole selection, and by far the most feminine and romantic was Floral Daze.

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Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium: A Review

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I have been waiting a long time to visit Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – the UK’s first ever cat cafe. I’ve been waiting since February 2013, to be exact, when I joined in with hundreds of other people on indiegogo.com to help get the business off the ground. I also covered the campaign in the magazine I edit, and waited patiently for the day to roll around when I could cash in my voucher for High Tea for Two – which was a present for my husband for Valentine’s day.

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