Tag Archives: holiday

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.

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!

 

Fashionista goes to London: Carnaby Street and Chinatown

8th September 2015

Mr Jones and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary recently by taking a little weekend trip to London. Despite his protestations, I insisted on some shopping, but we mixed that with Chinese food, which works for us both…

The market at Covent Garden

The market at Covent Garden

Monki boutique on Carnaby Street

Monki boutique on Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street was popular in the swinging sixties and today it’s a mix of super brands and the cool, young boutiques it became famous for. Benefit has a beautiful little shop there, and close by there’s Monki, a playful clothing brand that features uber blogger Susie Bubble as its covergirl. Their style is fashionable and functional, with long-line coats and boyfriend jeans among their staples. I liked the designs but couldn’t find much to suit my petite frame and girly predilection, but their store design was just so cute, I had to go inside.

Rainbow stairs at Monki boutique

Rainbow stairs at Monki boutique

Rainbow stairs at Monki boutique

Rainbow stairs at Monki boutique

Their rainbow staircase in particular looks like a dream I once had. I’d love to do this in my house!

Just down the road from Monki, if you’re looking for a London souvenir but want something cooler than a tacky ‘I heart London’ T-shirt, make sure you stop off at We Built This City, a cute little enclave of creative goodies in Carnaby Street.

We Built This City on Carnaby Street

We Built This City on Carnaby Street

Graphic print wrapping paper at We Built This City

Graphic print wrapping paper at We Built This City

80s stairs at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

80s stairs at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

East London graphic artist Camille Walala has given this place an 80s inspired graphic twist, with patterned staircases and tutti fruity displays. Some of the décor actually reminded me of Betties + Baldwin’s in Bristol – it’s got a touch of rockabilly chic about it. Plus, they sell loads of cat related paraphernalia, which of course is my idea of a good time.

Colourful London merch at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

Colourful London merch at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

Colourful London merch at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

Colourful London merch at We Built This City on Carnaby Street

Mr Jones’ idea of a good time is eating, which is why we also went to Chinatown as part of our London trip. Not many people know this, but I am actually a quarter Chinese (my grandpa on my mum’s side was from China), so this might explain why the sight of dim sum makes my heart happy.

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

We went to Wan Chai Corner on Gerrard Street for lunch. This isn’t the most glamorous place in Chinatown, but its simple, greasy spoon café-like décor belies a menu of pure Chinese foodie gold!

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

We had a tough time choosing from the huge dim sum menu, but we decided to go for some fishy options because it’s different to what we would usually have at home and they sounded delicious. My personal favourites are always the steamed buns and prawns, but the octopus curry was pretty special too. The prices are also amazing – we spent about £22 in total for the two of us, which is fantastic value in London.

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

Dim sum at Wan Chai Corner

What we ate
(Dish names might vary on the menu, prices between £2 – £4 per dish):

  • Deep fried crispy squid with chilli sauce
  • Grilled turnip cakes
  • Prawns in pastry with sesame seeds
  • Spicy pork dumplings with peanut filling
  • Octopus curry (not pictured)
  • Steamed chilli buns
  • Jasmine tea

If you loved this, check out my previous post from this trip: Fashionista goes to London: Shoes at the V&A museum

Fashionista goes to London: Shoes at the V&A museum

30th August 2015

Bristol Fashionista this may be, but I’m originally from London and, this month Mr Jones and I headed back there for our wedding anniversary weekend to check out the latest exhibit at the Victoria & Albert museum, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain.

Shoes exhibition at the V&A

Photo: V&A Museum

As a self-confessed shoe fanatic, the V&A didn’t have to sell its latest exhibition to me; they had me at shoes! The exhibition brings together shoes from around the world, from the tiny shoes for bound feet from China, to chopines from Spain and even Carrie Bradshaw’s “urban shoe myth”, the Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane from New York. (Her feet were bigger than I thought!)

Shoes from times past were complimented by modern designs from brands like Charlotte Olympia, Christian Louboutin, Prada and, of course, Blahnik, among others.

Shoes exhibition at the V&A

Photo: V&A Museum

Upstairs there’s a little cinema (surrounded by shoe boxes, of course) which plays a film featuring some of today’s leading shoemakers exploring the process of deigning and making these little works of art for your feet. There’s also an interactive touch-screen display where you can explore shoes from different eras.

One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition was the case displaying the structure one of Blahnik’s designs – it showed the shoe as it looks on the shelf, as well as all the parts that went into making it laid out beside it, so you can see exactly how they are constructed. For a shoe-geek like me, it was a fascinating insight and will affect the way I shop for shoes in future.

Irregular Choice booties

Boots by Irregular Choice

I celebrated a morning well spent with the purchase of a pair of my own – these rather elaborate booties from Irregular Choice. The slightly lurid yet delicate pink fabric reminded me of Marie-Antoinette (the movie by Sofia Coppola that is) and while they probably won’t match anything in my wardrobe right now, I had to have them. They were on sale, so it seemed rude not to. Let them eat cake!

Irregular Choice store, Carnaby Street

Irregular Choice store, Carnaby Street

What better to follow shoes than cocktails? We spent the evening at The Jam Tree on Kings Road, Chelsea. I’m not sure if this place has ever featured on Made in Chelsea, but it looks like it should, with all its stylish chrome lamps and shabby chic décor.

Photo: The Jam Tree, Chelsea

Photo: The Jam Tree, Chelsea

It was totally empty when we arrived (it was a Monday night) but we found it utterly charming and the cocktails were some of the best I’ve had in a long while, so it was smiles all round!

Cocktails at The Jam Tree

Cocktails at The Jam Tree

Cocktails at The Jam Tree

What we drank:
• Confiture (£8.50) – vanilla vodka with raspberry jam, Chambord and pineapple juice
• Royale Tree (£9.50) – raspberry vodka, strawberry jam, orange passion fruit juice topped with champagne

While Bristol is most certainly my home now, London still has a special place in my heart so it was great to spend a couple of days there just being a tourist. This is the first of three blogs about our London adventures, so please do check back for more London recommendations from me.

Photographs are not permitted inside the exhibit, so some of these images are borrowed from the Victoria & Albert Facebook page. I’ve also borrowed the interior shot of The Jam Tree from the bar’s Facebook page, since I was enjoying myself far too much to take many shots on the night!

Summer holiday flat-spiration

13th April 2015

Heels are fabulous most of the time, but when packing for a summer holiday I can’t do without a good pair of flats to go exploring in…

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Above: Top – H&M, shorts – Zara, bikini – Primark, necklace – Dorothy Perkins, bangles – Primark, sunglasses – Take That tour (oh yes!), sun cream – Garnier, after sun – Monoi de Tahiti (amazing stuff!), nail polish – Nails Inc, suitcase – El Corte Inglese (Spain) and shoes by Superga

The sun is shining, the birds and singing and it’s time to book a summer holiday! Is there anything better? I doubt it! This year Mr Jones and I are making a road trip I’ve always dreamed about; we’re going to the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna! Along the way, we’ll be stopping in Brussels, Cologne and Munich – and who knows where else we’ll go on the way home? That’s the beauty of road trips.

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Above: Hat – Dorothy Perkins, top – vintage (SW Bloggers clothes swap!), jeans – Tu at Sainburys, bag – Karl Lagerfeld, shoes by Superga

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It seems appropriate, then, that the shoes I’m taking are equally European. Italian shoemakers Superga have been going for a rather incredible 100 years, making vulcanized rubber soles known for their comfort and quality. They’re weather-proof, water resistant and breathable – so no stinky soles in the bottom of the suitcase!

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Superga have just opened a new store in nearby Bath, so they invited me to pop down and check out the new collection. It’s a casual shoe and the shop has an equally relaxed feel, which is nice.

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They’re really proud of their Italian heritage, which you can see by the in-store displays – red, white and green shoes perched on a Vespa – you can’t get much more Italian!

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They have ranges for men, women and kids, so the whole family can be matchy matchy if you so desire! (The tiny ickle children’s shoes were adorable!)

The best thing about it for me was that they come in a really wide variety of sizes, including ones that fit my little pixie feet (size 35, a UK 2.5)! It’s really hard to find decent shoes for adults in my size, so this was a real gem of a find for me. They’re also quite compact, so they would be a neat little holiday shoe you can squeeze into your hand luggage and slip on and off easily at the airport if you need to.

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So that’s my shoes sorted – now I just need to collect up the rest of my looks for what I’m hoping will be an epic trip. Happy holidays, everyone!

Disclosure: Superga gifted me both pairs of shoes, but honestly at £40-£50 a pair I thought these were a real bargain for the quality of shoe you’re getting and would probably have bought them anyway if they hadn’t been so kind.