BlogClub Bristol

#BlogClub December 2015: Bathtime fun for everyone!

11th December 2015

Last night Bristol #BlogClub headed to Bath & Unwind for a brilliant night of beauty, booze and…er…bants!

BlogClub Bristol

Bristol is a fabulous city for bloggers – we’ve got a really friendly and thriving scene here. While we don’t get to meet as often as we’d all like, when we do get together, it’s always a lot of fun and everyone says ‘we should do this sooner next time’!

BlogClub Bristol December

There was a great turnout at this month’s event and we had a few newbies join the group, which is always lovely to see. Hopefully we didn’t scare them off and they’ll be back next time too!

Crackers at BlogClub

bath and unwind

The team at Bath & Unwind certainly pulled out all the stops to make sure we had a holly jolly Christmas party. They were on hand with expert make-up tips, mini manicures and more mince pies than you could shake a stick at! My favourite part, though, was the Gingerbread decorating competition…

IMG_3115_Edit

IMG_3855_Edit

(The bikini Gingerbread lady was my prize-winning effort, but sadly the photo is a bit rubbish because I got so excited, I took it in a hurry! Haha!) And here is what I won…

Bath & Unwind goodies

I can’t wait to get stuck in and try these lovely smelling Burt’s Bees products. Of course, I’ll let you all know how I get on with them with a review later on…

Until then, Merry Christmas everyone!

luxemme high neck dress

Christmas party outfit 2015: Back to black

8th December 2015

You can’t go wrong with a little black dress and, thanks to my pals at Luxemme, I’ve got this year’s festive party frock sorted!

luxemme high neck dress

This cute little LBD from Luxemme comes in at just £35 and is the perfect length for a work party – it’s demure enough to wear in front of clients, but the sheer fabric and swing style hem means I can dance in it as well, which is perfect!

For those of you who haven’t shopped with Luxemme before, they’re an online fashion brand combining Parisian chic with Manchester street style. Their signature look is cool, clean and classic, but with edgy cuts. I’ve been spotting them around on quite a few blogs recently, so was really excited to discover their glam style for myself.

Luxemme swing dress

Luxemme black dress

This quite a loose fit dress, so I’ve cinched in the waist with a studded belt from Mango, which gives it a bit more of a fit and flare look. It would look equally good in the summer worn loose with flat sandals, so I might be loaning it to my cousins in Seychelles after I’ve worn it, as I know they’ll go crazy for it at the beach bar with jewelled flats. Here in Blighty though, it needed a Primarni leopard print jacket and furs on top to keep out the cold!

Lulu Guinness bag

When wearing a simple dress, I like to luxe it up a bit with accessories – in this case I went with my trusty Lulu Guinness Izzy satchel which, as you can see, I’ve already worn to death! The fur stole is actually a detachable collar from a River Island parka jacket I bought recently, but I think it works well worn as a standalone piece.

Brantano shoes

These shoes look a bit  vertiginous but are actually quite comfortable because they fit me perfectly. Believe it or not, I found them in Brantano, which is not somewhere I would immediately think to look for stylish shoes, but in fact they have an amazing selection of smaller sizes. I am a size 35 (UK 2.5), which is almost impossible to find in most high street stores, so this was an amazing discovery for me!

The hat is a bit witchy, I confess, and all black doesn’t sound very festive, but with a red lip and a blingy belt, I think you can wear top-to-toe black and still have a holly jolly Christmas if you want to!

What are you wearing to your Christmas parties this year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Disclosure: Luxemme gifted me this dress, but all views are my own.

BIG thanks to Amie Kewley at CreditCrunchChic.com for taking my outfit pics for me! 

Christmas with Marks & Spencer

26th November 2015

You know it’s the festive season when the glitter comes out! M&S invited local bloggers to indulge in some sparkly fun at their recent Christmas event in store at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Here’s what happened…

M&S Christmas table

IMG_2836_Edit

IMG_2837_Edit

As usual, the food and drink selection did not disappoint, with some beautiful new additions including a White Christmas cocktail, which is a sweet yoghurt liqueur ideal for after dinner drinks. If you’re having a Christmas party this year or have family round, you can find a huge selection of canapés at M&S – they do a 24 piece luxury canapé selection for just £14, which I think is pretty amazing – my guests will be lucky if they even get a look-in, to be honest!

The M&S team also created a photo booth for bloggers to dress up and take festive pics. Of course, Emily from Mermaid Gossip and myself too full advantage of this…

IMG_2845_EDit

IMG_2846_Edit

IMG_2850_Edit

If you’re not been to M&S at The Mall for a while, you might be surprised to see just how much the beauty department has grown recently. They now stock a huge range of branded products alongside own brand ones, including Stila, Leighton Denny, Nuxe and Ren. It’s a beauty junkie’s paradise up there! What’s more, they have some brilliant box sets, like the ones shown below, which make great Christmas pressies.

IMG_2856_edit

The womenswear team were also on hand to show us this season’s key trends. Of course sparkles were on the agenda, but they also had a wide selection of faux furs- my personal favourite is this coffee-coloured yeti number below. It was just so soft and snuggly!

IMG_2841_Edit

As ever, the M&S team put on a fabulous festive event and fed my ever-growing shopping addiction even more. Thanks guys!

If you want to see what the M&S Cribbs Causeway ladies have been up to, check them out on Instagram @cribbs_causeway – I warn you though, their pics will make you want to go shopping!

Disclosure: While I work in PR for The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, I’m not connected with M&S in any way and all these views are my own.

Fashionista goes home… Seychelles holiday 2015

10th November 2015

Thought you couldn’t afford a stylish island getaway? You CAN do Seychelles on a budget and here’s how…

6 seychelles

Seychelles is a dream destination for many British people. It’s got beautiful white sandy beaches, year-round sunshine and the kind of scenery you can only experience once in a lifetime, but it costs the earth to go there, right? Well, not really. There are ways you can enjoy it for less, and I’ll get to that very soon.

1 beach

Secret cove at Bai Lazare, Mahe

First though, I have a confession to make: I have been faking it. Faking it as an English person this whole time. I grew up here, I look like you guys and sound like you, but I am not one of you. Sorry. I am a Seychelloise. I was born there, my parents are both from there, and it lives in my head, in my dreams, how I dance when there’s no one to see me, in the way I eat a mango, my crazy superstitions, and the way I make a rum punch. So, while I still go there as a tourist, I also go there knowing that there’s a little bit of my brain, of my heart, that belongs to the Seychelles. So now I’m going to share that little bit with you.

Just chillin' at Bai Lazare, Mahe

Secret pirate cove, Mahe

Secret pirate cove, Mahe

The first thing you should know is that the flights will set you back quite a lot. Expect to pay at least around £600-£700 each on average. There’s no getting around this, you’ll have to swallow it. When you get there, it will be worth it, trust me. What you can save on though is accommodation. Most people opt for a posh hotel, which is great if you have the cash, but if you want to save some pennies, a self-catering cottage or apartment is an ideal option. There are some wonderful options on the island and, in particular, Beau Vallon and Bel Ombre are great areas to be in because there’s a fab beach nearby and lots of amenities for tourists.

Bringing in the catch at Beau Vallon

Bringing in the catch at Beau Vallon

Walking Dipsy the dog with my cousin Elsa at Amite beach in Praslin

Walking Dipsy the dog with my cousin Elsa at Amite beach in Praslin

Even if you’re not staying in a fancy hotel, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the amenities. In Seychelles all the big hotels have fantastic bars and most have swimming pools. Even if you’re not staying there, you can still head down there for drinks and lunch, and in most cases if you’re buying lunch you can use the pool as well. (I particularly love Raffles and also the Coco De Mer Hotel on Praslin island, and the Savoy on Mahe).

My aunty's pet giant tortoise

My aunty’s pet giant tortoise

If you’re going self-catering, you can pick up some amazing local food at the weekly Bazaar in Victoria. The fish is as fresh as you like, and you’ll find amazing fruits you’ve probably never seen anywhere else. You might be tempted to visit the big supermarket in town for your food shopping but, unlike in the UK, the supermarket isn’t the cheapest place to buy your food. In Seychelles, local corner shops are where people do their shopping, so do likewise and don’t forget to pick up some gateau piment (chilli cakes) while you’re there, which are super cheap but tasty and make a great snack.

Rum tasting at Takamaka distillery

Rum tasting at Takamaka distillery

Booze is really expensive in Seychelles generally and there’s no real way to avoid shelling out for it. Beer is quite pricey (unless you go for the local SeyBrew, which is pretty decent) and don’t even bother with wine – the prices are astronomical and it’s all cheap nasty stuff anyway. The only way to drink in Seychelles is to go for rum. There are lots of different types of local rum to be had, but my personal fave is Takamaka Coco rum, which is a coconut infused blend made on the main island. (You can even take a tour of the Takamaka distillery, which is well worth doing as it’s a lot of fun and includes a rum tasting session at the end.)

With Mr Jones at L'Union estate in La Digue

With Mr Jones at L’Union estate in La Digue

When it comes to getting around, it’s definitely worth hiring a car for at least some of your trip as there are some beaches that are tucked away and almost inaccessible otherwise. Public transport in Seychelles is almost non-existent. A ride on the infamous Tata bus, while cheap, is notoriously bumpy, and the buses are pretty infrequent. Seychellois drive on the left, so it’s not too different from the UK, although the roads are extremely windy and there are a lot of precipitous drops, so do be careful! On La Digue island there are no cars – the most common way of getting around is by bike, which you can hire close to the ferry jetty.

Most visitors spend the entire holiday on Mahe island but this is a huge mistake because the other islands are so beautiful and there’s so much more to see. Make sure you at least venture out to Praslin and La Digue – they’re less than an hour away and both extremely picturesque. The two main ways to travel there are via the Cat Coco ferry and Air Seychelles mini plane. Cat Coco is cheaper, but it’s worth trying one method there and the other method back because the views are spectacular from the air.

Botanical Gardens at La Misere, Mahe

Botanical Gardens at La Misere, Mahe

Finally, Seychelles is all about the outdoors. I believe our country has the most unique flora and fauna in the world – you’ll find plants and fruits that you won’t see anywhere else on the planet. While you may not be the hiking type (I know I’m certainly not!) it is worth making the effort because there are some truly gorgeous sights to be seen. Bon voyage!

Where we stayed:

Where we ate:

  • Boat House, Beau Vallon: every night is Kreol buffet night at this down to earth eaterie. It’s a little pricey but the food is delicious and authentic and you can eat as much as you like.
  • Baobab Pizzeria, Beau Vallon: cheap and cheerful local pizzeria located right on the beach. Ideal for a low-key dinner if you want to eat well on a budget.
  • Fish Trap, La Digue: beachside bar with live music, serving a selection of local dishes, as well as burgers and European food. Great cocktails and lovely, friendly service.
  • Pirogue, Praslin: Gorgeous local cuisine at affordable prices. Amazing Thali-like dishes combining the best of Seychellois cooking.

Bristol beauty: R&R Experience

9th November 2015

A touch of Parisian beauty in the heart of Bristol…

salon

Every now and then an email arrives which just brightens your day. This happened to me the other day when I heard from a lady called Ruth Chona. Having worked at a luxury salon on the Champs Elysees in Paris and posh hotels in the south of France, Ruth has now opened her own salon right here in Bristol, aiming to bring that five-star service to the west country. She invited me in to try one of their massages and, being a total spa junkie, of course I accepted.

Ruth’s Horfield salon, while simple in style, has been a total labour of love for the South American-born beauty therapist. From handpicking all the furniture, to putting up new walls and decorating – there’s no part of this small but cosy space she hasn’t been involved with.

Ruth Chona - the entrepreneur behind R&R Experience

Ruth Chona – the entrepreneur behind R&R Experience

That attention to detail extends even to the massage table – it’s heated and oh so cosy! For my 30-minute massage I was given a choice between lemongrass, geranium and lavender oils. Since it was the end of a long week and I was heading back home afterwards, I opted for relaxing lavender.

Having suffered from a few back niggles in recent months, I was a bit anxious about entrusting my knotted muscles to someone new, but Ruth was considerate and made sure I was comfortable with the pressure. Pretty soon I drifted away and half an hour felt like a lot longer.

It might seem a bit self-indulgent to buy yourself to a massage on a regular basis, but little treats like this now and then can make all the difference to your frame of mind. A 30-minute massage with R&R Experience is just £25 and, after a wonderful first-time experience, I can definitely see myself doing this again.

If you live in Bristol and fancy a little treat, book in with Ruth at randrexperience.com – after all, you’re totally worth it!

Disclosure: R&R Experience approached me to write this post and gifted me a massage but, as you know, I never recommend things I wouldn’t willingly pay for myself.

‘Tis the season to be Jollie

7th November 2015

Put your best foot forward and help someone less fortunate this Christmas with socks from Jollie Goods…

jollie socks tinsel 2

Whilst speaking at Fashion Exchange in London last month, I came across a lovely fashion start up called Jollie Goods. They’re a more-than-profit enterprise that sells beautiful socks and – here’s the best part – for every pair you buy, they’ll give a pair to a homeless charity. So this Christmas, I’m encouraging all my friends and followers to “wear a pair and share a pair” and help make the festive season that little bit brighter for someone living on the streets.

My cat Olive also liked the socks

My cat Olive also liked the socks

Jollie Goods was founded by Ed Vickers, who, while volunteering for a homeless charity discovered that there was a serious demand for fresh pairs of socks among people who sleep rough.

socks on jollie socks

“We realise socks are a very small step in the long journey of helping those dealing with homelessness, but we see it as our mission to do what we can to help look after the feet of those trying to get back on them,” said Ed.

“We’ve started with socks after seeing the unacceptable level of foot hygiene of many folk who sleep rough. We’ve seen many suffering with foot infections and diseases simply from not having spare pairs of clean, sturdy socks to change into.

“After spending time with many homeless charities and their clients, it was clear that amongst clothing donations, sock donations were minimal and in great need. We give warm, durable hiking socks suited for looking after the feet of those who live in tough conditions”.

Jollie open can

The socks retail at £15 a pair and come in a cute little recyclable tin which pops open. They’re designed in London and knitted in Leicester and they come in a variety of cheerful colours.

Jollie socks 3

For the fashion-forward among you, I can reliably reveal that the lookbooks for Spring/Summer 2016 are full of stripes, so you’ll be bang on trend with Jollie’s brightly coloured stripy socks. Also, they come in sizes 4 -12, so they make a great gift for both men and women.

Do your bit at jolliegoods.com

Disclosure: Jollie Socks approached me to write this post and I’ve been gifted a pair, but I plan to buy some to give away at Christmas too, so I am doing my bit!

Bristol Fashion Week AW15 in pictures

4th October 2015

Autumn/Winter 2015 was probably the busiest fashion week ever here in Bristol, with fashion, fun and faux furs aplenty!

sequins from john lewis

This season’s shows were presented by Mark Heyes and Denise Van Outen – a dynamic duo who really made the event sparkle. As usual I was on PR and social media duty, but did manage to catch a few snaps between work duties to give you a little peek at all the fun we had.
YSL LE smoking style

For the press show, I persuaded the marketing team to dress up YSL style in some sharp tailoring inspired by the brand’s iconic ‘le smoking’ look. Some people thought we looked like the Blues Brothers but I think we were quite sharp! Suits and sharp tailoring are all the rage for this season, plus it was super comfortable to run around in. I think this outfit is a keeper!

BFW team

We create a lot of content for Bristol Fashion Week, but my favourite bit this season has to be #ModelCam. We gave the models a couple of DLSRs and let them go to town with them backstage. Some of the shots we ended up with were a bit too risqué to be published (!) but there were some real gems, as you can see….

backstage at Bristol Fashion Week

backstage at Bristol Fashion Week

backstage at Bristol Fashion Week

Hands down, the most memorable part of the show was the Devil Wears Prada inspired scene, which showcased this season’s heritage update trend. Fashion Live did an amazing job bringing this look to life with vintage Vogue covers and model Denise had Meryl Streep’s sharp look down to a tee!

heritage update at Bristol Fashion Week

Fashion-wise, black was big news on the catwalk – I’m really looking forward to dipping into M&S for some opulent faux fur and velvet separates to mix and match this season.

m&s noir trend

As always, I picked up loads of tips from Mark – he’s such a lovely person to work with and really knows his fashion, so when he says it’s time to invest in flares, I listen to him! Denise was also a delight and they made an amazing team together. Although it’s my job, it rarely feels like work because it’s just way too much fun. As soon as this fashion week ends, we’ll start planning the next one, so stay tuned for updates!

denise and mark bristol fashion week

Can’t get enough of Fashion Week? Check out the Mall Cribbs blog for all the latest trend updates.

Catwalk photos: Charlotte Stone/Bristol Fashion Week

Postcards from Dismaland

29th September 2015

Wish you weren’t here…Banksy’s bemusement park packs a political punch…

Dismaland

Unlike everyone else in Bristol, I wasn’t one of those people frantically refreshing my browser trying to buy tickets for Dismaland, but I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend who had some spare tickets and thought ‘hey, what’s the worst that could happen?!’ My question was soon answered when I arrived and was searched by the guards for smiling too much! It was totally mortifying, which I guess was kind of the point.

Dismaland cereal

Every corner of Dismaland held a new, often horrifying surprise. It was nightmarish and hilarious in equal measure. One of the parts that disturbed me the most was the boat game involving refugees (shown below) where visitors could pay 50p to drive the boats around, crashing them into each other and sending the police boat racing after them. The “message” behind the work hits you around the head on first sight, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how I’d feel when I heard visitors whooping and shouting ‘yeah, go home f**kers!’ Clearly they were being ironic, but it was still quite shocking.

Dismaland refugee boat

 

Dismaland has been amazing for Weston – as someone who visits regularly, I’ve never seen so many people gathered on the seafront in one go. What was amazing was that you’d probably never see any of these people in an art gallery on a Friday night, and yet loads of them were there enjoying the experience and discussing the work. While some of the puns may have been obvious and the political agenda hits you on the head with a sledgehammer, it was relevant and exciting and got people enthused, which in my book can only be a good thing.

Dismaland fuckers

 

Far from being dismal, Dismaland was an eye-popping, passion-stirring event which brought people from all walks of life together, if only for a short time.

Bristol Fashion Week preview night with Accessorize

27th September 2015

To celebrate the launch of Bristol Fashion Week AW15, Accessorize at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway hosted a blogger preview night where we got a sneak peek at this season’s key trends…

IMG_1330_Edit

Bristol bloggettes Lyzi from Being Little and Jo & Victoria from She & Hem get a tour of the new merch from Accessorize store manager Amy.

Accessorize AW15 preview

As you can see from the style sheet above, this season’s key looks include 60s monochrome illusion-style prints, as well as some YSL inspired suits and tailoring. A full round-up of the trends will be presented on the catwalk at Bristol Fashion Week next week. This season’s trends are varied – from ladylike luxe styling, to cute and casual – so there should be something to suit every size, shape and style. It’s actually one of the most inclusive seasons of trends I’ve seen in a long while, so I can’t wait to see how everyone interprets the looks for themselves.

Leather totes Accessorize

Another key look for this season is 70s inspired boho chic, and Accessorize have the perfect accompaniment to this trend – these buttery soft leather totes. As my colleagues will tell you, most of my handbags are the size of a small child because I can’t leave the house without making sure I’ve packed everything! I am thinking of downsizing though and perhaps opting for a sleek and stylish tote like one of these.

Clair from All About Clair

Interestingly, many of the girls turned up already wearing a couple of this season’s must-have trends. As you can see above, Clair from All About Clair is already working the 70s look with this suedette jacket from George at Asda – I loved this look and couldn’t believe the price for this jacket! (Under £20 for one of this season’s hottest looks?! Bargain!)

Rings by Accessorize

Kitsch bag Accessorize

As well as a seriously luxe selection of 70s inspired leather and suede bags, Accessorize also has a gorgeous selection of Anya Hindmarch inspired kitsch shoulder bags in various designs including this chocolate milk one, which all the bloggers were drooling over!

Accessorize goody bag

This season the brand has launched a whole new range of beauty products in a surprisingly huge variety of colours and shades, which they were kind enough to gift us as part of their goody bags. I can see these products making great stocking fillers because the packaging is just adorable and the price points are really reasonable, with lip glosses from £6. But of course, my favourite item was the pom pom keyring – pom poms are going to be huge this season, we’ll see them on bags and purses on the catwalk and all over the high street – you heard it here first!

Bristol Fashion Week runs from 30 September – 4 October at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, with 17 catwalk shows presented by Mark Heyes and Denise Van Outen. Get your tickets online at mallcribbs.com. Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #BristolFashionWeek for the latest updates from the shows. 

Disclosure: I run PR and social media for Bristol Fashion Week, but the views in this post are entirely my own. 

Fashionista goes to London: Sketch and Spitalfields

15th September 2015

This is the final instalment in my series of London posts. We managed to pack so much into one weekend there that I couldn’t fit it all into one post! In this post, we have lunch at Sketch and visit Spitalfields market, although not in the same day since they’re not especially close together.

I’ll start with Sketch because this was a real highlight of the trip. Lots of friends had recommended it and now I can see why. The design of this place is just out of this world!

Sketch London

Sketch London

Club sandwich and •Blackcurrant and Hibiscus tea at Sketch

Club sandwich and • Blackcurrant and Hibiscus tea at Sketch

Sketch is the brainchild of restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire. It’s located on Conduit Street (close to Oxford Street), which makes it an ideal stop off point if you’re shopping, but give yourself plenty of time as it’s a unique experience you’ll want to enjoy. The food is, of course, sensational, but it’s the interiors in this place that really take the biscuit…

Pod toilets at Sketch London

Pod toilets at Sketch London

….just look at these space age toilets! They’re space-age pods with a loo inside, next to Victorian style hand basins, topped with a stained glass roof. How bonkers is that? The ladies that clean the loos are dressed like traditional Victoria housemaids, circa Downtown Abbey. Bizarre, but cool!

Cafe at Sketch

There’s an informal parlour, which is where we sat for lunch. It’s a mixture of brightly coloured shelves, bric-a-brac coloured furniture and sumptuous graphic print textiles. It serves tea, cakes and light bites, which is ideal if you’re just popping in for a mid-shopping trip lunch.

Parlour at Sketch

Parlour at Sketch

Bar at Sketch

Bar at Sketch

Then, there’s a fabulous plush dining room (shown at the top of this post) with powder pink booths and humorous black and white illustrations on the wall. This room is staffed by waiters in tux-style jackets carrying bottles of champagne, which adds to the more luxurious, formal atmosphere.

Next door, the Glade bar feels like a 1970s daydream, set in a garden. The bar is stocked with all kinds of cocktail-worthy spirits and the waitresses are dressed in boho style kaftans.

Sketch London

We only had a light lunch so I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, but even their humble club sandwich was unlike any other sandwich I’ve tasted. It was so rich, with surprising flavours and presented like a work of art. I’m not usually one for poncy food, but this was truly special.

Afternoon tea at Sketch

Afternoon tea at Sketch

What we ate:

  • Sketch club sandwich (£10.50)
  • Blackcurrant and Hibiscus tea (£4.50)

(They also had a marvellous selection of cakes which looked delightful, but we didn’t have room for any that day!)

Now on to Spitalfields – which is north of the city and best visited on a Sunday, which I believe is the ideal time to see the famous market. There, you’ll find an array of fashion stalls, as well as antiques, homewares and, well, all sorts really!

YSL Tribute sandals at Spitalfields market

YSL Tribute sandals at Spitalfields market

The vintage stalls were among my favourites because they housed some real fashion finds – this pair of YSL Tribute sandals were among the treasures there, but alas it wasn’t to be as they weren’t my size. It’s quite pricey when I compare it to some of the other vintage markets I’ve been to, because they know that it’s popular, but there’s usually a deal to be done if you know how to haggle.

Spitalfields market

Spitalfields market

One of the mistakes we made was going there after breakfast – there are so many yummy food stalls there with cuisines from all over the world, so go with an empty stomach and make sure you fill up on delicious treats!

Vagabond wine shop at Spitalfields

Vagabond wine shop at Spitalfields

And that concludes my little tour of London. If you loved this, check out my previous posts from this trip:

We’ll be back in Bristol in forthcoming posts, so if you’ve come looking for Bristol Fashion, don’t worry as we will get to that!