Ascot 2014

This weekend marks the King George Weekend (A Modern British Classic) at the Ascot Racecourse near Windsor.  It also marks just over a month since I graced Ladies Day at Ascot with my beautiful girlfriends (from left to right: Georgie, Chaz, Myself, Shona and Becky).  Here’s what happened:

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After a bright and early start we all met at Georgie’s house for the 30 minute taxi journey to Ascot.  As we were in the Silver Ring, we were allowed to take 1 bottle of sparkling wine/champagne/cava per person as well as a picnic taken in a cool bag or hamper. I settled on a bottle of Prosecco and a ladylike burger from a stand inside.  Here’s a snap of us before we all went in.  I’m the short one in the middle.  Whilst I contemplated wearing heels, I also figured there would be a lot of walking involved on the day, to and from the betting stations and the bar (of course).  So I bit the bullet and went for my fancy Dune sandals of 4 summers ago, and I’m so glad I did!  Sparkly feet and no foot pain whatsoever, winning.  Whilst I can’t remember where all the girls outfits are from (but if you’re interested, comment below and I’ll find out for you :)) my #OOTD is as follows:

Fascinator – British Heart Foundation Charity Shop

Dress – Planet at Debenhams

Watch – Vintage

Clutch – Florence and Fred

Sandals – Dune

Cheers!

Cheers!

After we found ourselves a patch of grass amongst the throng, we sat down to toast the day and drink our bubbles.

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We’re all such busy ladies, so it was lovely to catch some sun, chill, chat, drink and giggle catching up.  People watching was beaut too!  (Also can we please acknowledge Georgie’s gorgeous hair?!)

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As you can see, it was utterly crowded in the Silver Ring, but it was great because it added to the atmosphere in so many ways.  It was lovely seeing everyone dressed up and having a good time.  Just before the races started the Queen popped on by in her carriage, we didn’t see her, but had this pretty good view of the big screen!

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Next the races started.  There were 6 in all, between 2.30pm and around 6pm with about 30/40 minutes between each, enough time to pop to the ladies, the bar, or make your bets.  We all got involved in the betting.  Whilst my Dad had very methodically selected 6 horses with the aid of the Racing Post, we all picked the horses we liked the names of!  I came away £25 up!  #Winning

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After an AMAZING day we got our taxi home where we descended on Yates’ in all our finery to watch the England game, and we all know how that turned out!  Nevertheless we had a fantastic time, it was a great experience, and I’d really recommend Ascot to all!

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John O’Groats

I love trains.  I really really do.  So, whilst I’m in my final ‘summer’ so to speak (although still working full time, as and when) I felt it was only necessary to take the train to John O’Groats.  As you do.  Snaps and stories.

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We took the sleeper train from London Euston up to Inverness.  This was my beaut of a berth.  If you haven’t been on a sleeper train, I’d really recommend it.  It’s so much fun toddling down to the dining carriage bar for a drink and to mingle with the other passengers.  (Note my left over gin and lemonade glass.)  It can be a bit hit and miss as to how well you actually sleep, but I find the swaying and to and froing really rather comforting.  Then waking up and finding out you’re in the middle of Scotland and that the London lights are 300 miles behind you, pretty breathtaking.

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We wandered around Inverness for a bit before catching our next train, from Inverness to Wick.  This was a 4 hour pretty bumpy ride through the Highlands but was absolutely beautiful.  I saw puffins, deer, even majestic stags and of course, lots and lots of sheep.  It was gorgeous.

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From Wick, we took another very bumpy bus up to John O’Groats (the most northern part of the UK) itself.  It was crazy, literally nothing there.  I felt extremely overwhelmed about how far north we were (which is weird, cause I’ve been to Australia heaps of times LITERALLY the other side of the world) but is was beautiful and desolate at the same time.  Excuse the pretty casual get up here.  (I’d spent upwards of 12 hours on trains).  But FYI my tee is ASOS, jeans are trusty BDG at Urban Outfitters favourites, socks are Topshop and sneakers are Vans.

After a twenty minute stroll around John O’Groats we got the same very bumpy bus back to our hotel in central Wick (located on the shortest street in the world, don’t you know).  After relaxing over a bottle of cava we headed down to a gorgeous dinner and some drinks in the bar, before collapsing into bed.

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After an early start, we got the same (bumpy) train from Wick down to Inverness where we spent the day strolling the Ness and the Isles of Ness, shopping and gorging on Pizza Express.  At 8pm we boarded the sleeper train to head back to London Euston where we arrived 12 hours later.

So that was it!  It was a beautiful trip and exactly the break I needed.  The Highlands were just gorgeous and I can now say I’ve been to the most northerly point in the UK!  Next, Landsend.

 

Summer So Sneaky

Isn’t summer sneaky?  One minute you’re sitting in your onesie with candles and a cup of tea then next minute … BAM, it’s 23 degrees, you have to shave your legs and pimms is on offer everywhere.  Sneaky eh?  To round off a beautiful and summerful weekend, we headed out for dinner at a lovely local restaurant.  Here’s what I wore:

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Necklace – Ideal Home Show

Overlay Lace Top – New Look

Underlay Boob Tube – New Look

Jeggings – Topshop

Sandals – Nine West

Bag – Topshop

Now off you pop to enjoy a beaut of a summer evening!

 

 

Paris

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These are pretty standard Paris photos.  The standard tourist shots.  But to me, they’re beautiful moments of a whirlwind week-before booked long weekend in the City of Love with the boyfriend.  And we certainly had a beautiful time.

We roamed the streets breaking in my new Vans, stopping for cheese and macaroons, paying 10 euros for a pint (sinful), climbing spiral staircases galore (don’t), got angry at Ipad tourists, drank cheap wine by the litre, read books by the river and even got a little sunburnt.  It was a beautiful weekend, it really was.  I’m thinking of doing a couple of niche posts about a market we visited and an incredible restaurant experience we had – interested?

Fall in love with life.

 

 

March Verbs

A little late in the game here (well, only 9 days but you get the point!).  I’ve moved house!  March has officially been moving month, which I can safely say has completely and utterly taken over my life.  But not in a bad way, I hasten to add.  I have absolutely loved every second, sofa shopping, interiors buying, packing, life in boxes, Ikea flat pack (not so much) .. the list goes on.  It’s definitely the biggest and most exciting thing boyfriend and I have ever done, a new chapter!  And we couldn’t be happier.  Here’s what I got up to in March:

Watching: Kirstie’s Best of Both Worlds

I absolutely love Kirstie Alsopp.  I giggle at her and Phil Spencer, lust after her ladylike elegant dresses and aspire to have her home and property knowledge, which is all rather funny, because boyfriend cannot STAND her.  Anyway, she’s got this great new show on 4od which involves couples searching for the best of both worlds between urban and rural. Being a homeowner and all (squee!), property is another interest added to my list.  This show takes you all around the country, seeing different properties, prices and ideas – a great watch.

The lovely lady herself.

The lovely lady herself.

Reading: Debenhams Catalogue

Not particularly literary genius, I know.  Since beginning on my quest for my ideal home, I have found Debenhams homewares to be absolutely excellent.  I think they have the best variety of quirky and colourful designers (right up my street) at reasonably affordable prices (but make sure to wait for the sale!).  The catalogue allows me to peruse at my leisure and pin point bits and bobs I might save up for, all to make our lovely flat a little more lovely.

My March Must-Read

My March Must-Read

Listening To: Moving House Playlist

Oh yes, we made a playlist.  Since we were without the internet for a while, we reverted back to grand old reliable Itunes to make a moving playlist.  We were so lucky to have all our friends and family rallying round helping us, so it had to be something everyone would like (and not get sick of!).  It mainly included the likes of Bastille, Simon and Garfunkel and Katy Perry.

Bastille made regular appearances in our move.

Bastille made regular appearances in our move.

Wearing on my body: BDG Bad Boys – Comfort Edition

Long term readers may remember a post I did last year about my FAVOURITE ever pair of jeans (which you can read about here:https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/bdg-bad-boys/ ).  BDG has since become a favourite brand of mine in the jean stakes, and I haven’t been out of this pair this month.  They are really ill fitting Mum, Helen Hunt style jeans, but are comfy as anything.  They are 90s high rise straight leg, but look good with anything and have been a life saver in the moving house department.

They look a bit like this.

They look a bit like this.

Wearing on my face: Maybelline Baby Skin

Having big pores, the same as my Mother and my Grandmother, I have found the recent pore minimising beauty products a life saver.  After a year of shelling out £20+ for Benefit’s ‘Porefessional’ version, when Maybelline launched Baby Skin at just £7.99 I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  Whilst the quality and coverage isn’t quite as good as Benefit, Maybelline’s product still acts as a great pore minimiser and primer for foundation (just make sure you let it set!).

Baby Skin

Baby Skin

Eating: Pizza

Anyone who knows me will know how much I like (okay, love) my pizza.  Our new flat is a stone’s throw from a Pizza Hut, so pizza became a well loved, easy, cheesy comfy favourite in the dinner department.  But April is now here and I’m a year older so I’m trying to only have pizza once a month now.

Too much?!

Too much?!

Drinking: Leffe

As a thank you present to all our friends and family for helping us move, it was only fair we stocked our brand new Whirlpool fridge with ice cold beer for the hot and sticky weekends.  We go to Belgium most years, and this beer has become a firm favourite.  Leffe Blonde is the version we’ve mostly been drinking and is very light and refreshing.

Blondes are clearly the best.

Blondes are clearly the best.

What did you get up to this March?

Moving House and The Ideal Home Show 2014

Its that time of year again!  Where I drop everything, take the day off and saunter off to Earls Court to take in a whirlwind day of interiors, food, drink, make-up and nick nacks.  You’ve guessed it, it’s the Ideal Home Show.  One of the reasons it was so important for me to head to the Ideal Home this year is because I’m moving house!  Therefore, it was absolutely essential to pick up some great interior ideas.  (And now – I’ve lived with boyfriend for 10 months and he’s finally come round to my taste!  No more tartan!)

Being quite the regular (you can see a post on a previous visit here:

https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/the-ideal-home-show/)

I know what I like, where to go and most importantly when to go.  I.e., you must lightly jog to the show homes at 10.02am to avoid 3 hour queues.  Here’s some snaps of the day:

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The amazing entrance!

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I absolutely loved this two tone wallpaper, almost dip-dye style.  I think its a design that would like great on a feature wall (I’m maybe thinking of this for my bathroom in a red), because it gives you that colour without being too bold or overpowering.

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We’ve got a lovely little alcove wall like these in our new living room, so we’ve decided to fill it with some feature wallpaper to make it really stand out.  I love this library look, but not the entire ensemble of the pictured room.  Whilst I like some elements of Scandi design, the whole wood, burning fire place and off greys is a bit much for me.  But hey, that’s my taste!

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I really like the idea of having that shelving above the bed.  I’ve invested in an incredible 5 foot head board that will really draw the eye to the bed, which is of course, the main focus of the bedroom.  We’ve expecting storage to be a slight issue in our new abode, so a shelf across the top of the bed could really help.  You can display treasured items like in this picture (which I’m sure I’ll have a few of!) or have it as more functional storage, with pretty and colourful boxes perhaps.  A great idea.

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This is just incredible, I love it.  Its by an artist called JJ Adams, and I’m seriously considering purchasing it.  We’ve got a great wall space in our kitchen where we could really do with some amazing art.  And well this, this pretty much fits that bill!

So there you have it!  I’m moving house (so apologies in advance if I’m a bit AWOL with internet problems etc.) and the Ideal Home Show!  Ta-ta.

 

Afternoon Tea at Vertigo 42

Last week I went for afternoon tea at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar on the roof of Tower 42 in the City of London.  We received a deal via Amazon Local and being partial to the odd finger sandwich and scone, thought we’d give it a try.  We entered the lobby and were directed to a maze of lifts to take us to the 42nd floor.  It was definitely quite a dated building, which you could tell by the 1980s decor in need of repair.  The lift actually arrived on the 41st floor meaning we had to walk the final flight of stairs to get to 42.  Not great for someone afraid of heights (but then again it was called Vertigo ..!).

We entered the champagne bar and the first thing that struck me was the incredible 300 degree (not quite 360 it has to be said) views of London.  It was a typical British day on which we visited; hazy, rainy and sunny all at the same time.  We were led all the way around the bar so we were facing the North of London.  Being a south of the river girl myself, I think I would have preferred to have sat the opposite side of the bar, but it didn’t matter too much.  We had a great view of Ally Pally and the Emirates Stadium, and the rolling hills of the north of England (i.e. North of Watford).

The attentive waiters wasted no time in swiftly bringing us a chilled glass of champagne, which was absolutely delicious, followed by our towering tray of goodies.  At first sight it looked lovely, but as a savoury fan myself I would have preferred to have seen a few more sarnies.  The finger sandwiches were nice with good flavours, but I think a little bit more attention to detail could have been paid.  There were a couple of sandwiches with crusts on and the filling servings were under generous.  Call me picky but I have high expectations with fine dining!  The next trays were fruity and chocolatey tart trays and then scones, both of which were delightful.  We rounded the tea off which a lovely pot of English Breakfast.

When we had finished tea, the waiters had no problem with us sauntering round taking some photos, but I could tell were keen for us to leave so the next herd could be fed and watered.  Whilst I overall had a lovely time, I don’t believe the Afternoon Tea experience would have been worth the full price.  Having experienced Afternoon Tea elsewhere such as the Ritz and the Landau, where the service is excellent and sandwiches a-plenty, it just didn’t measure up.  I had a lovely afternoon and the views were incredible, but the food just wasn’t up to par.

Vertigo 42

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IMG_3157Next stop, The Savoy!