Instagram (@lelalondon) – left to right, top to bottom:
1. Pyjamas and makeup. Last minute Halloween costume? Sleeping Lion.
2. We’re driving cadillacs in our dreams.
3. We refuse to take brunch lightly.
4. Rough night.
5. It’s cold…get spicy. (New Food for Thought column at HungerTV.com)
6. In a league of their own.
7. Being British is a wonderful thing.
8. The cutest traffic jam.
9. #TBT. Books at bathtime. Room for twelve.
I’ve made one or two day trips to The New Forest before, but had never spent enough time there to trailblaze through the forest itself. Thankfully, my very sweet (and potentially psychic) boyfriend surprised me with a weekend away for our six month anniversary.
Puke, I know. Boy’s a babe.
With Airbnb on our side, we drove down to Sway on Saturday morning and set straight off for Milford on Sea. With the Great Storm on the horizon to hit the following evening, it wasn’t necessarily ‘beach weather’ but we had a perfect day nonetheless. Starting with some lunch and indulgent glasses of Mango-Raspberry Rekorderlig at The Raft, we then headed off to explore the town, beach, and do a bit of rock climbing before enjoying a pretty spectacular show of kitesurfing. Though the rather ridiculous winds were forcing me to steal Alex’s biggest and baddest coat, they were doing wonders for the kitesurfers. Look. At. The. Air.
After a packed afternoon, we took a cat nap before heading to The Silver Hind for dinner. I am in no way the type of woman who gets excited about pub food, but with things like venison dark chocolate steak on the menu, we were both pretty hyped. Major kudos to an unassuming village’s pub for creating such an inventive and delicious menu.
Sunday morning may have been spent in bed, but after hiring some bikes in Burley, we spent the rest of the day exploring the New Forest by pedal. As a child I never had a bicycle, so have spent probably less than 30 minutes on a bicycle in my entire life. To begin, I was nervous. To say the least. With cars peaking out of winding roads and a serious confidence struggle, the first five minutes felt tasking…and then the wild horses arrived. In Burley, wild horses seem to appear in the middle of roads by way of fairy dust. It is bewitching.
A few hours later and I was feeling like Lance Armstrong. Ish.
On our return the skies opened just in time to welcome us back to the town centre. We decided to pop into Burley-Licious (cute as only a rural cafe can be) to refuel/dry off with a pink hot chocolate, latte and a handmade scone for my man.
I am so in love.
A few months ago my close friend and PR superbabe Zoe Vaughan-Davies suggested we go on a trip to Manchester. Like all wine-fuelled decisions, it took us quite some time to remember we wished to do so. Then – THEN! – Vogue decided to move the UK branch of Fashion’s Night Out from London to Manchester. It was fate.
Last Thursday, Zoe, Julia from Stylonylon, Amy from Fashion Bite (BABES) and I hopped on a super-slick Virgin train and spent a speedy two hours chatting blogs, boys, and babies (!) in their gorgeous first class cabin.
In no time at all we arrived at the creme de la creme of Mancunian hotels: The Lowry Hotel. Checking in alongside a three-dimensional whos-who of the fashion industry (Voguers, designers, et al), we took a few minutes to freshen up, take advantage of our room’s complimentary REN goodies, and head downstairs for a ladies lunch in The River Bar.
Opting for fresh comfort food, I chose to refuel with a split club sandwich and chicken caesar salad before heading to the spa for a hot stone massage.
To clarify, this is not a normal day in my life.
Swapping four layers of clothes for a fluffy white robe is one of the greatest things one can do in their life, and a task I relished in at The Lowry. Once settled into the private treatment room, it took no time at all to be pulled and pummelled into slumber. An hour later I woke up refreshed, serene, and smelling like spa heaven. It was a dream.
Rushing back upstairs for a quick change before the first event, I was greeted by a team of Bobbi Brown make-up artists who were there to surprise us with smokey eye makeovers. Though the clock was ticking, these women speed-created the most va va voom smokey eyes I had seen in ages. Subsequently, I fell in lust with their new smokey eye kajal pencils which, by smoke standards, are a dream.
A quick trot across the Trinity Bridge and it was time to head to Fashion’s Night Out’s official launch party at Hugo Boss. After a short stretch of drinking cocktails, avoiding sushi and mingling with the likes of Henry Holland and Alexandra Shulman, it was already time to head for dinner at Manchester House. The review says it all (click!), but…GO.
Enamoured by Manchester House, we managed to spend a good chunk of our evening gushing over Pinot Grigio and emerged to find we had missed a fair chunk of our loosely planned activities. On a cuisine high, we popped into a few of the stores before enjoying a surprise concert from Jessie Rose at St Ann’s Church, catching the final few Fashion’s Night Out Instagrams on The Avenue, popping in at Australasia and dancing to reggae mashups with new friends at an unknown bar.
The morning after consisted of the perfect in-room recovery breakfast in bed, a morning of work in bed, and a post-shower nap in bed (#greatbed). The only thing that made leaving The Lowry bearable was the promise of Virgin’s first-class comfort once again.
What an unlikely and wonderful night.
Watch out, Tom Aikens. A new man chef with a wife and kids is vying for my consumptive affections. His name is Aiden Byrne. He can be found at Manchester House. He’s bringing the Michelin to Manchester.
All industrial elegance, the city has found a bit of a Northern Star in this resto. While Byrne’s credentials speak for themselves (Masterchef, Great British Menu, youngest Michelin-starred chef to date), they did nothing to prepare me for the exceptional experience of Spinningfields’ Manchester House.
Pre-starters, our table received small slabs of onion and bacon brioche with a quenelle of whipped sweet onion butter – a course on its own when paired with a smoky onion consommé. A tad extraenous (the heady consommé served my palate better as a dip), but a treat nonetheless.
Shortly thereafter the theatrics began. My starter of Squab pigeon with cherries, pistachio and violet mustard? Visual ecstasy. An obvious technical feat, flavours rocketed down my throat with each bite and truly kept me on my toes. Surprises like faux-cherries filled with foie gras will do that to a foodie.
Truly annoyed when there was nothing but plate left of my starter, it felt like Christmas morning when my main arrived. Turbot – cooked in fermented cabbage – sat atop a sliver of Morteaux sausage surrounded in a flavourful cylinder of red wine sauce and sauerkraut. With the addition of samphire and nori seaweed, it was so good it almost (almost) made me ignore my companions’ plates of Belted Galloway Fillet and Boddingtons steak and ale ‘pie’ (you have to see these silky masterpieces in person to believe them).
Initially convinced we had no time for dessert, we opted to share ‘Milk and honey‘ and ‘Szechuan, lychee and rose‘ between the four of us. While the latter dish seemed to be the one keeping my fork engaged, both desserts were an unbelievable collaboration of presentation, skill, and creamy, creamy luxury.
I’m now looking for any excuse possible to return to Manchester. The 12-course tasting menu is baiting me.
Most grown women I know – fashion obsessed or not – tend to have a story or two linked to their favourite sartorial memories as children. Mine took place in Miami. Growing up in Florida meant I had a natural appreciation of sun, sand and swimwear, but rarely wore more than a sundress (minimum time spent changing for pool time was of high importance). On my first trip from Orlando down to Miami, everything changed.
Taken into a ‘grown up store’ with my Mom and her friend, I wasted time hiding in circular clothing rails until emerging from a selection of coats and getting visually accosted by my first ever piece of designer love. On the wall in front of me hung a short, hand-sequinned silver party dress with more tassels than a craft store. It was disco heaven. Though it took a promise of a million lost allowances, the dress left the store in my hands.
My afternoon at the incredible cave pools of the Fontainebleau felt wasted. The dress sat – alone – in our room while my fluorescent, ruffled bikini mocked me until dinner time. All I wanted to do was wear that dress.
Pre-teen or not, the second I stepped onto the Miami strip – all sequinned and jelly shoed – I felt like the coolest girl in North America. That high has lasted over 10 years already.
Rumour has it that ASOS may be giving someone the chance to dust off their own party dress… Check back here on the 30th of September for news about a once in a lifetime opportunity!
The Monday Update!: If that video didn’t get you all hot and bothered, let me lay it all out for you.
Your adventure will start on 30th December when you will be flown to Miami to enjoy a VIP party in the city that night, before boarding a private jet the next day bound for Tulum, Mexico. In Tulum – also known as the City of the Dawn – you will see the sun rise on 2014 as VIP guests at a festival hosted by the Young Turks record label. The festival, headlined by the XX with support from Grimes, Four Tet and other Young Turks artists, promises to be as spectacular as the setting.
Enter today, babes. It’s your only shot!