Winter

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If you read my recent accounts of my Los Angeles adventures (part i & part ii) you will have gathered that I recently went on a work trip to America; where I spent 1 week working from the West (Best?) Coast and then jetted over to New York for another week. Obviously my initial reaction when finding out about this trip was WAHOOooooooOoOooOooooOOo! However, my second instant reaction was, what the HECK am I going to pack for 2 weeks, 2 cities and 2 entirely different weather systems (not to mention an itinerary of formal work presentations, tourist treks and bar crawling)?

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After weeks of jotting down outfit plans in Evernote and hours of frantic trying-on sessions which resulted in my room looking like it had been burgalised on more than one occasion; I finally had a suitcase filled with lessons learnt on how to pack for two VERY different climates. In LA the weather hovered around 28-30 degrees with blazing sunshine; although out on the coast there was a wind chill to contend with. In NY there was a blizzard to welcome my arrival and the weather barely crept over zero degrees, mainly sticking to the minus section of the thermometer. I found it really tough to adapt by the time I reached New York as I had got so used to just skipping out into the California sun every day, so on my first lunch break in NY I eagerly packed up my bag and embarked on the 4 flights of stairs down to the street in just my cardigan. I had got so used to the bliss of no-coat living. The second I stepped out into the frost bitten city streets I realised my error and skulked back up 4 flights to retrieve my coat, scarf, gloves and did NOT make that mistake again!

Top Tips for Hot to Cold to Sunny to Snowy Packing

01. Layers 

It’s the classic mum-advice whenever you visit a different climate and if it’s good enough for mums worldwide you just know it must be wise owl stuff, and it definitely is the first rule of thumb for packing for multi-climates. I would have a basic outift, then a multitude of others bits and bobs that I would carry around in a tote bag ready to layer on as the sun set or the snow set in. I sound smarter if I make it look mathematical:

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Even when I was beach-bumming around Malibu I still had a few emergency layers stuffed into my bag for when the sun set. You can see from this photograph, taken on the same day, I could wear a short-short dress and cardy during the day, but by dusk I had added my trusty American Apparel hoody, pink cotton scarf-snood and a pair of Uniqlo thermal leggings. Which takes me neatly onto…

 02. Thermals

I have been a fan of thermals ever since you could only buy them M&S and they were of the frilly/holy/granny variety. Luckily nowadays thanks to the kings aka HEATTECH Uniqlo and their subtle, fashionable thermal collection, life for chilly boned bods like me has vastly improved. In fact the latest tie-up between Uniqlo & Orla Kiely produced such thermal beauties that they were begging to be worn for the world to see, rather than buried beneath winter woollens. For my trip I took a camisole, vest, t-shirt, long-sleeved and legging versions of the Uniqlo thermals. I also took thermal tights; which you can pick up in Primark and are so thick they don’t have a denier. They are like leggings with feet! Finally, I took my trust thermal socks. If you have survived winter without making the discovery that is thermal socks with all your toes intact, I want to shake your hand! Thermal socks are the worlds best invention. They are fluffy, furry and take the heat you create whilst walking around and circulate it around your hoofs leading to toasty, happy feet. Mine are from Primark but I have spotted higher-brow versions in Fat Face.

03. Key Pieces

The skill of any great packer is an eye for key pieces. There is nothing worse than chucking a bunch of stuff in a bag and arriving at your destination to discover not one item matches! I have been guilty of this myself; usually when I’ve been travelling somewhere on a Saturday and just one drink after work on Friday turns into staggering in at 2am and up-ending a drawer into my weekend bag and hoping that the items somehow miraculously turn into outfits en route. They never ever do. One of my key pieces for this trip was my cream lace midi dress. It’s comfortable, work/fun friendly and they main reason is; it looked lovely in LA with just bare legs and sandals. It also looked as lovely in NY with tights, clompy lace-up boots and all the layers listed above. I used a snazzy Stylight board here to highlight what I mean, I could spend hours on Stylight making boards. It’s certainly captured my cut & paste/mood board interest where Pinterest failed.

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Here is another good example of a versatile outfit pick. I’m obsessed with this birdcage tropical River Island T-shirt (a steal at £15!) and in the Cali sun I matched it with a denim highwaist buttondown skirt and sandals and a leather jacket for the evening. In NY it worked just as well with thick tights and my boots and a woolly cardie.

04. A good excuse for SHOPPING

Now lets just get this straight. You don’t want to pack toooooo well, as if you have a few items missing it’s the perfect justification to hit the shops. By the tailend of my second week on the road, life was getting stale. That musty aeroplane/suitcase smell was wafting after me like a cartoon cloud and I was thoroughly sick of the same few choices. So, I scuttled to Broadway and spent the last of my precious per diems in Forever 21, Madewell & American Eagle. Was I sensible in my picking up of warm weather supplies? No, of course I got dazzled by the stocks of spring/summer/sunny offerings so shivered my way through the final weekend and am now seriously hoping we get a glimpse of sunshine so that I can debut my results of New York foraging.

I will be posting all about my Big Apple antics this week, but in the meantime I wanted to say thanks Shopping Unlike for picking Like A Skeleton Key as a highlight on their blog this week and giving it this write-up. Shucks.

 

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This time last week I thought I would be in London this weekend, pottering around a market or watching Django Unchained and zooming about on the tube. Actually, I am back home in Yorkshire! During the week I spoke to my Mum and had a sudden urge to pay her a post-birthday visit. I started scrabbling through the pages of my already-scrappy 2013 paper diary and with a heady combination of Morocco holiday, NY & LA working weeks, a 30th, an engagement party and two hen do’s (suddenly realising that I am so that age!) I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Yorkshire until April at the earliest, so quickly booked myself a ticket for this weekend and here I am.

It is never a hardship for me to come back home. I’m fortunate enough to remain extremely close to my parents so any real-life time (rather than Skype time) is always much appreciated and only a 3 hour train ride away. I also still get massively homesick for the village, the city, the country and the NORTH that I grew up in and feel like I breathe easier the second I walk through the door to the home I have lived in my whole life. I’m sure nowadays it’s quite unusual to have only had one family home and I appreciate that I’m very fortunate to still be able to bluster in full of London stories and tense work shoulder stresses and dump myself on the sofa and be in the first and only proper home I have ever known. Now that I visit at the age of 28, being well and truly moved out for approaching a decade, it’s sometimes almost like going to a museum of memories. In every part of every room I have existed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager… and sometimes the ghosts of yourself in days gone past creep upon you when you least expect it. I’m a nostalgia sucker anyway and constantly pick the scabs of good and sad times gone by, but the anonymity and scale of London makes it far easier to avoid triggers of past times and constantly recreate yourself and your life. Once you are back in a land of everything familiar and covered in layer after layer of people and moments and heartaches and experiences it’s like opening the floodgates to everything that’s ever happened to you.

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So I seem to have transformed myself into a SNOW HUNTER! This time last week my whole weekend revolved around snow, and this weekend… despite London swooning away in positively balmy sunshine, I have been back out in the snow as about 7 inches fell overnight here. It was my mum who suggested taking the sledge (!) so we bundled up with some serious knitwear (and showing her increased intelligence, my mum opted for waterproofs too, whereas I typically had to slope home with a soggy bottom and jeans dripping in thawing snow). The amazing thing about this snow day was the bright blue sky overhead. I’ve got used to the claustrophobic low mushroomy London sky this week, so it felt like we were somewhere far more exotic and piste-like than Bradford. The snow was so incredibly deep that my first attempt at sledging involved me sitting on the snow, moving about a foot, and then sinking. Clearly my weekly 5k run/pilates/swimming regime has not shifted enough of those Christmas pounds yet!  We had to adopt a very scientific approach to creating a proper sledge route which involved compacting the snow down with our wellies and then sledging over and over again until it was super-speedy and slick. I am definitely a far worse driver than my mum though, as I kept nosediving into snow banks and twice the sledge stopped and I carried on going, getting some classy derrière friction burning.

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We even tried once going down together in the sledge and recreating Cool Runnings. Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see two fully grown women trying to fit onto a tiny piece of plastic and whooping down the hill! Can you see how hideous my wellies are? They are bright neon pink with yellow Mr-Blobby spots and I can very clearly remember buying them when I was 15, so its a good job my feet haven’t grown. That’s another thing I love about my family home, there’s always the odd old item around for emergency weather. After haring up and down our sledge track for a good half an hour, I was scampering about like an idiot and DROPPED my iPhone in the snow! The snow was so deep that it instantly covered the spot where my phone had fallen in, like a vortex. I am ashamed to say that I think I reacted with the speed and fear of a parent who’s child has just fallen in a lake or something! I dove head first and dug dug dug until I found my (white – helpful) phone and ripped the cover off, trying to get the melting snow to stop creeping into all the nooks and electricity ports. After giving it a big wipe with my jumper and blowing on it a bit,  it miraculously seems completely fine? I am aware that after 5 minutes buried in melting snow this should not be the case… so really hope that in a few days it doesn’t die a death, but its charging away and sending messages and happily posting my 1000th photo to instagram, so perhaps I got really lucky.

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As we were leaving there was a mum with two toddlers setting about a sledging session herself, and I was really tempted to point out to her that she could very well still be doing this in her sixties with her grown up kids if she was anything like us! Considering I had no idea or plans to be here this weekend, it’s definitely turned into a memory I’ll always treasure and never forget. I better go retrieve my clothes that are drying in various places all over the house and go get an afternoon bath (such a guilty pleasure) and attempt to finish my current book. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which fits well and truly into the modern fairy tale genre that am a total fiend for (if you haven’t read any I’d recommend Of Bee’s & Mist, The Man Who Rained & The Snow Child). Sometimes a book comes along that just captures your attention and heart immediately, and The Night Circus is definitely one of them for me. The writing style is incredibly evocative and uses every sense to ensure you feel that you not just reading about the circus, but that you’re actually a part of it too. It so vivid that I’ve had three dreams about being at the circus from the book now, and quite like the way it’s dominating my sub concious slumbering (way more fun than dreaming about keynote presentations and VFX job jargon). I’ll be quite sad when I finish the book but I have to stop dawdling as I am falling way behind in my pesky 51 book challenge.

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SNOW!

I really wasn’t going to do a snow blog, because my brain is bursting with other things to blog about at the moment and I know you can’t blink on twitter/instagram/facebook without seeing another photo or reference to the cold white stuff but… it’s just SO pretty! And I get the hype, it’s so rare that we get a decent depth of snow to roam around in that it just brings out the sparkly child in everyone and what’s not to like about that?

I’m very fortunate that Hampstead Heath is basically my back garden and after 18 months of living around the area, I know it’s nooks and crannies pretty well. I know the best tree to climb and the secret sledge runs and even the areas you can be guaranteed not to see another soul (not even a shifty character!) But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it looking more beautiful than today. Snow definitely suits the heath. The sky was as bright white as the ground, obviously full of more snow just waiting to fall again. This transformed the winter trees into spindly silhouettes and the hoards of sledgers on parliament hill took on a ghostly Lowry-esque quality.

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When people ask me what my favourite season is, I don’t really have a favourite. I just like proper seasons. I like my spring to be cherry blossom cardigan weather. I like my summer to have long balmy evenings drinking cider on a picnic blanket in the park. I like my autumn to burn through yellow orange and red colours and finally I desperately want my winter to dazzle me with Hollywood snow. So far winter has just been wet in London. Grey, wet, glum and with the occasional chilly night (always at the most inconvenient times when I’ve braved massive heels or left my woolly hat at work) so I knew it was vital to make the most of this fleeting snow day. Nick was a very willing companion as we bundled up in thermals and woollens and started a near-2 hour trek from one side to the other of the heath, stopping to do as much cheesy snow stuff as possible – snowballs, snow men with twig afros, snow angels, nearly falling into the frozen lake…

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I haven’t made many snow angels before and Nick had never ever made one (I think they are quite an American thing? I only learnt about them as a kid from watching Groundhog Day obsessively) so I gave him the patch of snow that didn’t have a single footprint on. I was at least smart enough to wait to the end of the walk to go rolling around in the snow as once you’ve angel-ed it manages to find it’s way in everywhere and suddenly I had damp patches and icy trickles everywhere, brrr! I really liked getting so cold though,  there’s no point being all adult and sensible in the snow.  We soon warmed up with a giant cup of tea and a big wedge of cheese & chutney on toast at home. We also finally finished True Blood season 4 – Did you watch it? What did you think? I have been a huge True Blood obsessive since season 1. I even have a Merlotte’s tee-shirt! I loved everything about it; the southern drawls, the incredible opening titles, the theme tune, the sultry Sookie, the vampires, the concept of true blood itself, Sam… In fact I thought season 3 was the best so far and was so excited for season 4 but wow. What a mess! Half way through the season I just couldn’t care less about any of the characters and the stories seemed to have gone off in a witchcraft weird tangent and there were constant wtf moments. I barely watch TV at the moment so when I do have a boxset feast I want it to be really good! I’ve never been so underwhelmed by a season finale and definitely won’t be watching season 5, I’ll probably just read the episode summaries on wikipedia and continue to be disappointed! The first one I looked up had the phrase “giant blood spraying vampire goddess” in it. Next up for boxset viewing for me is The Hour (which is a bit ridiculous I never started watching as I adore Mad Men and this is meant to be the UK attempt) and Community which my sister is desperate for me to watch and discuss and that’s a good enough reason for me. Ok, end of TV tangent…

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^By far the classiest photograph of me on the internet! Also Nick, despite being a first timer, is certified more angelic than me. We saw lots of sights on our snow mission; like a jack russell being pulled along on an old fashioned sledge, alot of questionable snowboot footwear oh and I absolutely loved creeping up to what I call Hansel & Gretel’s fairytale cabin which is actually the mens toilets (!!
but in typical Hampstead style, super stylish) and Nick thinks my obsession with it is ridiculous as he claims “if you’d visited them, and smelt them, in the height of summer you wouldn’t love it so much”! But look how cute it is…

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Finally, just to fashion up this blog a bit, here is my winter hat, glove and scarf combo. As you can see not a single item matches! Higgedlypiggeldy or what? The hat is long suffering bluey that I bought in San Francisco Urban Outfitters for $2 after arriving there and realising that my hotpants, vests and sunglasses were not going to fly in 7 degree fog (I just assumed it’s in California = it’s sunny. Wrong!) Then the scarf is a snood, I’ve recently discovered the wonder of the snood. I think I’ve avoided them because of the silly name but it’s just a giant extra toasty scarf without the long dangly bits that I always get caught in the tube door/any door. Finally my owl gloves. I know that animal covered knitwear is totally played out, and everyone owns a panda hat or hood with ears, but I quite like clothes that straddle costume/fancy dress so they still make me smile. These are the only version of animal knits I own though, they were a very welcome Christmas gift and I’ve barely taken them off since (except to roll snowballs!)

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As you’ve probably gathered, I have never been so happy to kiss goodbye to a year as I was as 2012 ticked into 2013. I know resolutions divide opinion and of the blogs I read, it seems to be pretty evenly split by haters and hopers. Personally, I never reflect and mull (get it!) more than I do over the festive December period. I think it’s a combination of being around loved-ones and family, the kind messages scribbled into Christmas cards, spending time back in the house and town I grew up in… oh and the fact I am drunk at some point most days. This means that when December 31st comes around, I couldn’t be in a better position to really give myself a shake and think about what I want from the year ahead.

They are probably of way more interest to me than anyone else, but I feel if I put them out for the world-wide-world to see, then perhaps I’m more likely to achieve them.

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2013 New Years Resolutions

01. Read 51 books: In typical fashion, after basking in my 50-book reading challenge victory for about ten minutes, I decided it had to be upped to 51 for this year. So far, so good, and I am on book number two. I’m currently reading Invisible by Paul Auster which from the description I was desperately hoping for something similar to one of my absolute favourite books The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It doesn’t really bear any similarities other than being based in an American university but it is a very captivating read. I am only a quarter through but the fact that whilst reading it I was stood in the kitchen cooking my dinner and let the the pasta boil over for about three minutes whilst I got through a particularly tense bit says quite a lot.

02. Learn to surf: In February I’m finally taking the holiday I was meant to have in October but my cyst Vs body take over hijacked. Nick & I are spending a week in the depths of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and amongst many activities (hikes, a bird sanctuary, haggling at souks, star gazing… oh and a few massages and dips in the pool of course!) we are going to spend the day learning to surf in the bath-water warm sea. I’m so excited to try something so entirely new, although not too hopeful at my ability since I am clumsy enough walking on two feet in flat shoes.

03. Visit 3 countries (not including Europe) and 10 new cities: This sounds like a vast amount but with Africa already booked, then being fortunate enough to travel with my job (although it’s not like a holiday as I used to naively imagine work jet-setting would be. Oh no! Try 15 presentations in 14 days, with jet lag and a broad accent that not a single person understands thrown in) and a few other tricks up my sleeve… well lets just say I think I’ll be a different person come 2014 with a much broader view of the world and my place in it. I’m going to buy a big map and some coloured stickers and chart all the place I go. Note how I even manage to make something fun and spontaneous like travelling, organised and colour code-able.

04. Climb Snowdon: I’m also keen to make the most of the UK and see more of it this year. Part of this is a pact I have made with a good friend to join him on his conquering of Mount. Snowdon in Wales (his new years resolution is to climb a mountain in England, Scotland & Wales). I know it’s probably wrong that at the moment I’m most excited about what things I can bake for a picnic (!) but it will definitely feel like a real achievement.

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05. QUIT caffeine: Caffeine is pretty sinister. I highly recommend the you are not so smart blog on it. I never really thought I was addicted to caffeine, I just knew that I loved coffee in all it’s forms and also as a proud Yorkshire girl had an excuse to drink 20 cups of tea a day. I’m not kidding, I regularly had 2 or 3 cups on the go at my desk (the difference in shades of tea-brown was very aesthetically pleasing!) Then had my C-scare and all round month of medical misery, and I did everything I could afterwards to find out how to avoid a relapse. Part of this was seeing a nutritionist who believes that the key (in my case) is to keep everything in my body as balanced as possible, and part of this is avoiding spikes in blood sugar/adrenaline. And part of that? Quit caffeine. At the point I was given this I was having 3 coffees a day and yes, about 20-25 cups of tea.

Soooo… I didn’t go cold turkey obviously, but I started replacing tea for the wonder that is Rooibos (rank on it’s own, yet a taste sensation with milk). I also made the glorious discovery that my beloved Yorkshire Tea make a decaf version and are still are polite enough to use the lets make a proper brew tagline on it, even though I am from Yorkshire and definitely don’t think it’s a proper brew with non of the good (hmm, bad) stuff in it. 3 Months on and I now just have one coffee a week, as a treat on a Saturday! Cutting down was far more brutal and painful than I ever imagined. I got the absolute worst splitting headaches that no pain killer could touch. I swayed deliriously between napping on the bus and nights of sweaty insomnia. I know this is very un-PC but at one point I did say “If it’s this hard to come off coffee, how hard must it be to come off heroin?“. I just massively under-estimated that yes, I was addicted to coffee. In fact (and my bank balance could have told me this years ago) I was a heavy user. Anyway, this year I aim to cut out all caffeine entirely.

06. Finish knitting my scarf: For a decade my new years resolution was consistently to learn to knit. I have finally succeeded! So proud! I’m so nauseatingly twee that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t actually knit before. The other day I found myself knitting, drinking herbal tea, wearing a floral dress & listening to the Magnetic Fields. I actually out-tweed myself.  So I am well on the way with a neat maroon/navy striped scarf. I need to get a wriggle on and finish it in time to gift it next winter, and to finish the knit-your-own-owl (!) of dreams Craig bought me.

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07. Brush up my Spanish: I did Spanish GCSE and got a B. Nowadays I can still pronounce the funny j noise and I can say I’ve got a hangover. Then it all gets a bit fuzzy. In 2003 I backpacked in Spain and after a week of stuttering and stammering over my hola’s, me and my backpack buddy went to a Spanish rock club and drank aLOT of bodka and suddenly I was conversing with everyone in there about how many brothers/sisters they had and whether they preferred the beach or the forest. Important GCSE level questions  My friend couldn’t believe it and thought I had been lying the whole time about my level of Spanish ability… but it proves that with me it’s a confidence thing as much as a forgetful thing. So I signed up for a 10 week course (beginner level as I miserably failed the intermediate online test!) and am really looking forward to getting grips on another language again. And I got given a really beautiful handprinted notebook for Christmas that I can use for my homework. New stationary makes any project instantly exciting non?

 08. Write half of the secret-project: Well isn’t this annoying? It’s something I am sworn to secrecy until the future, so this is all I can say… for now!

09. Blog more than 2013: Given the fast and furious pace I am blogging at the moment I have probably already achieved this! You’re going to be sick of the sight of me. It feels really good to be writing for myself again, rather than just at work, and it seemed such a shame not to be using my little slice of the internet pie that actually costs me money every year. I’m not really hung-up on the fact it’s not a beauty blog, it’s not a fashion blog, it’s not a book blog etc etc. It’s a lifestyle blog. That covers all bases right!

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09. Alter my work/life balance: I graduated university, I moved to London and I became a rat race face and never looked up. I dread to actually think the hours I have worked in the last 5 years and getting ill made me realise that the body can only take a certain amount of burning the candle ferociously. So I have thrown myself back into my pilates, swimming and am being really strict not to book & doublebook every evening, night and weekend up with seeing people and going places and packing and unpacking and then tossing & turning all night having feverish work-dreams. Something definitely has to give, and I’m determined not to end up on the operating table again any time soon.

10. Be brave: I never associate myself with being brave, and it’s something I aspire to be and know I am really, but this year more than ever I will be putting myself in positions out of my comfort zone just to keep on growing into a big tough lion girl… woman.

11. Get back in music: I used to be surgically attached to my mix tapes, homemade CDs and always ahead of the curve with new bands. I am now SO sick of the same songs on my itunes and the fact that I ‘forgot’ to get the new Metric CD… who are one of my favourite bands?! Also that I didn’t even know about the Kings of Convenience side project? Poor show. Going to End of the Road festival  really whet my musical appetite again and since then I’ve enjoying some of the lesser-known acts I discovered. I’m currently listening to a lot of Alessi’s Ark, Tennis, Dead Man’s Bones, Foxes, Kimbra, Band of Skulls, Kurt Vile, First Aid Kit, John Grant, Django Django, Miracle Fortress and Tame Impala. It’s so nice not to be stuck on a permanent shuffle-shuffle-shuffle-same-old-stuff cycle.

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12. STOP saying “Oh my God”: Why do I say this? Why oh why. I have actually adapted it to Oh my gosh but that’s still very annoying. How do other people express surprise?? I hear myself saying Oh my godgosh in my shocked-voice and I must say it multiple times a day and I hate it. Can you please recommend other words? Or maybe I just need a shocked noise?

13. Daily Records (Thirteen resolutions for 2013!)Last year I took a photo every day and it was so useful for my sieve brain to remember events and orders of occurrences that usually drop out of my head as soon as they’ve happened. This year I am going to continue taking a photo a day as it’s a natural habit, but I’m also going to take a photo of my face everyday! I’m not really vain I promise, but as I head towards the big 3-0 (not til 2014, phew) I am really curious to track my outfits/hair style and well skin to see if I start to look older. I’m not going to put them anywhere public, just for my beady eyes. I’ve shared one below though, which perfectly illustrates my current no-make-up state and also the lions man hair that I couldn’t tame. The final record I am keeping is that I bought Lol & Craig this for Christmas. You get asked a question a day, and keep it for 5 years. Then another one arrived from Amazon randomly so I get to partake too. The questions are brilliant and go from the deep (Can people really change?) to the inane (What was the last restaurant you went to?) I never know what on earth to write in a diary, so the daily prompt is perfect.

& That’s it. Have you got a resolution? Have you seen any other good bloggers list theirs? I’ve seen a few but I’d love to see more. Roll on 2013, I have a really good feeling about you being sparkly and shiny and super.

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I think in London it’s easy to become tenaciously obsessed with finding secret places that others might not have yet discovered, to try and clutch a bit of the city close to your chest for a while before it vanishes again or gets over-exposed and guest list only.

I’ve wanted to go exploring the Old Vic Tunnels since I heard about them opening last year. The tunnels run undernearth Waterloo train station and used to belong to British Rail (remnants of this fact can still be spotted by the eagle-eyed visitor, like old abandoned lockers and dreary staff toilets) but since 2010 the space has been reclaimed and used to host various theatre productions, events and gigs.

When you appear dazed out of tube and head out into the dark from Waterloo station don’t be alarmed when you have to vanish into the dodgiest, dankest looking subway you’ve ever seen – as the entrance is just down the steps. The tunnels have been decorated enough to make them feel cosy (candles and chintzy lamps) but also have enough original features to make it feel like somewhere you shouldn’t really be. There is a central tunnel, with ominous vast doors leading off into various rooms. One of the rooms is a fully fitted cinema screening room, complete with red velvet chairs; the perfect spooky enclosure for its recent run of Hammer Horror movies but outside festival-time the screening room is programmed and run entirely by the Old Vic Tunnels volunteer scheme.

As well as all the ticketed fun stuff occuring, there is also a huge bar area. On the recent date night that my boyfriend partner in crime and I ventured in there was a great band performing, massively cheap drinks (£2.50 for a spirit and mixer) and tons of sofas to sink into in the dim lighting, as we chatted away over the roar of the trains clattering above us. OH and there were £3 brownies although sadly due to a miscommunication about what we were actually going to see (something about red riding hood and needing to bring cake for the wolf? I really still dont know!) we had arrived pre-kitted out with our own packet of extremely chocolate mini rolls so couldn’t sample the baked goods, but judging on smell alone I’d give them 10/10.

Anyway we were there for the The Vault festival which ran in February, and I am really hoping returns again later in the year.  Basing our choice more on what night we were free rather than something we were desperate to attend, we plucked at random to buy tickets for The Folk Contraption which is the current project from the Rogues Gallery who are a group of actors, writers and directors who were “fed up of waiting for the phone to ring” and decided to create their own work which is brilliant in itself and should be supported. Also the description of the performance was ‘ramshackle’ which is probably my favourite word and style of thing too.

The Folk Contraption took place in a tented-off area in the vaults, and as everyone sat cross-legged on the floor with wide eyes I got the impression everyone was as unsure what to expect as we were. What followed was the most enchanting, amazing performance (definitely living up to the ramshackle promise) that consisted of stories, poetry, songs, music, sketches, comedy and basically anything else you can think of. They describe it as part play, part gig and part magical mystery tour which is pretty accurate! All the performers were so talented, that it was often impossible to know who to keep your eye on as they roamed through the seated crowds performing as they towered over us. The content was so diverse that I hardly even blinked and I didn’t get at all fatigued (I usually have a pretty short attention span for all things theatre).

It’s an unusual thing to be able to say and actually mean, but the show made me laugh out loud AND shed a little tear, as well as tons of other emotions in between. Everything was themed around London through various ages and felt like a real celebration and reminder of why I choose to live in this sometimes tough, rough city. I can’t recommend this show and bunch of performers highly enough, I know I will be stalking their twitter (@roguesgallery10)obsessively to find out if they are doing anymore shows in the future!

Take a trip down to the Old Vic tunnels soon for a drink or movie before everyone discovers it (Maybe start with the amazing Animal Party! ) And tell me how the brownies are…

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Lately…

01-03: Camden crawling. Had to pick up a small treat so got this waist long camera on a chain from one of the stable stalls.

04-05. Thinking pink. So not impressed that after neatly packing all my winter woollens away (I know, so premature!) that I’ve had to dig them all back out.

06-09: Street art on the warren of roads behind Brick Lane. The Antiantiantianti piece goes on for an entire street!

9-10. I went to see Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Kings College. I appreciate the stamp detailing. Don’t be put off by the name, this band are amazing!

11. I recreated the holy Counter Cafe french toast! at home this weekend. It was actually really simple and cheap. I just dunked some bread in egg, fried it and served up with raspberries (99p for a bag of frozen ones at Tesco) and two sliced bananas which I also fried until caramelly. CC use brioche in their version so might try that next time!

12. Agent Cooper posing. I haven’t featured her on here for ages. Monday was my ONE YEAR anniversary of having her. One whole year and I haven’t broken her, phewf… I must be a real grown up.

There may be a little blog lul now (expect for a super special scheduled Sunday announcement) as I am packing my bags and speeding up to the north to be northern for a bit and see my friends & family & The Decemberists.

It’s forecast to snow – great welcome home!

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Carrying on my monthly weekend-escape resolution, this weekend I hopped on the very slow train to Stoke on Trent. Luckily I’m reading a brilliant book right now (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters) and so six hours travel time means I’m nearly finished it. Now I’m sure S-o-T doesn’t conjure up the most exotic visions in most peoples minds; but it’s the home of my best friend, so I’m becoming pretty well acquainted with it. Saying that, most of the weekend usually revolves around sitting in her lovely house cooing at her cute cats, chattering a hundred words a minute, watching Airline episodes from the 90s, listening to Wing covering ACDC and drinking frangelico. So, we could be anywhere really!

We were meant to do useful things like (her) wedding planning today, but instead we just watched The Wrestler. I can’t believe it has taken until now for me to see that film; as usual I got sick of the hype around it and the missed the boat entirely. It was so beautiful and I thought the ending was esquisite. If you’ve not seen it, it is definitely worth a Sunday afternoon screening.

On the way home I ate my first Easter snack! Remember my posts on Top 5 Halloween snacks and Christmas Sandwiches? Well both of these seasons have got NOTHING on Easter confectionery and I don’t even mean zz mini eggs or the creme variety. If you haven’t noticed yet the shops are going wild with chocolate mostly based around two things: 1) bunnies and 2) caramel. Two of my favourite things! I’m going to use this blog as an excuse to buy every one I see and write about them in great detail. Oh it’s a hardship.

 

 

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This dress is one of my favourite ever charity shop purchases. It was £3, and I’ve had it for 3 years, and probably worn it 100 times. It’s a great summer frock, although the slit up the back makes it a bit bum-skimmy so only for days when I will be mostly sitting down!

But… I haven’t worn this dress for over a year. And it’s all because, the last time I wore it, I BROKE MY FOOT! Isn’t that ridiculous, so ever since then, everytime I look at it hanging sadly in my wardrobe, it reminds me of cracking bones and hours in Whitechapel A&E (aka scariest place on the planet) and general trauma. Do you think you can be superstitious about clothes? I know people have lucky pants, pulling dresses etc… but what about when your connotations with an item of clothing are bad?

I think in the past if I’ve had clothes that were bought for me by ex boyfriends, I have probably jumble-saled them, but that is a little bit different. With bad-memory items, it’s almost like I’m scared that by wearing it again I’m bound to have bad luck. But, I’m being brave, and lets hope the day passes with all my limbs intact and I can break the curse…

I love the candy striping, the big tacky gold buttons, the pockets (of course) and the silhouette of pinched in waist and poofy skirt section.

To face the blustery big smoke I’m surgically attached to my H&M fur coat. I get pangs of pain when I realise Spring is coming and I won’t be able to snuggle into it for much longer.

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I Am A Tourist

I think I’m a little bit, a little bit, a little bit in love with you.

London has been extraordinarily pretty lately. I think February suits it.

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Dear Deer

Last weekend I went to say hello to the deer who live in Richmond Park.

Now I have sampled all London parks and have strong feelings on the winners and losers. One of the top winners is Richmond Park because it is so rough and wild feeling in places. Also because of the roaming deer which turn an afternoon stroll into a sort-of safari adventure!

Just watch out for the yknow-what under foot.

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