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Wedding and savoy 101

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On the summer solstice, I spent a magical day at my old school friend’s wedding at Mannington Hall in Norfolk. It was a truly lovely occasion set in the grounds of a fifteenth century house, encircled by a moat and set amongst heavenly rose gardens and fields of lambs. (Warning: this post is very image-heavy.)

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I travelled from London to King’s Lynn by train the night before with my friends Lottie and Karl and spent the night in Lottie’s equally beautiful family home, located in Sandringham. My room had triple (!) aspect windows with William Morris curtains and stunning views over her mum’s pretty flower beds and my much beloved Norfolk countryside.

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We went to investigate our bell tents which we were renting as a group. They were situated metres from the reception marquee, within the grounds of the stately home, and were very welcoming – complete with vintage crochet blankets and enamel kitchenware. (In my opinion, the experience of camping is infinitely improved when the tents – and beds – are are already set up prior to arrival.) There was even a log burner in the bell tent for chillier evenings.

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After Vicky and Tom’s wedding ceremony, there was plenty of time to explore the magical grounds before sitting down to enjoy the picnic-themed dinner. Several traditional games were in full swing, including boules and coconut shy.

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I wore a very special vintage 1940s rayon dress I spent far too much money on and hardly every wear as I feel it is too precious for regular use. After wearing it on this occasion, it reminded me how much I love 1940s tea dresses, how unique the prints are and how they are often more wearable they than their flouncier sisters from the fifties and early sixties. I paired this dress with a 1940s raffia and early plastic handbag I found in Snooper’s Paradise in Brighton, a vintage 1950s grey wool cardigan  featuring embroidered roses from Rokit in Covent Garden, a vintage Art Deco cut glass necklace I procured for a mere £2.50 at an impromptu flea market outside Lewisham church and the black Mary Janes are originally from Zara, although I purchased my pair from eBay.

As I was recycling an entire outfit from my existing wardrobe, I treated myself to a new lipstick – a NARS satin lip pencil in Luxembourg. I now have my beady eyes firmly set on Cruella and Dragon Girl.

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My ultimate goal in life now is to one day own a house with a moat. And a mock ruin of a Greek temple.

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The wedding was a lovely reunion of old school friends and I even had the opportunity to share a table with my history teacher from secondary school! As we posed for group photographs in the golden hour of midsummer’s day, there was a pause for reflection on the seven years that had passed since we sat our A-Levels, before we returned to the marquee to dance the night away and to drink the bar dry

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There were sore heads all round in the morning however, a cup of tea made from water boiled in an enamel kettle (and five aspirin) alleviated the pain and was further assisted by a roast lunch, followed by a very sleepy train journey back to London.

All photos by Jian Wei and I.

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The Savoy Hotel opened on the Strand in 1889 and was the first luxury hotel built in Britain, featuring many innovations such as electric lighting, constant hot running water and marble en suite bathrooms for almost every room. It was built using glazed brickwork to prevent discolouration caused by London smog and the hotel was managed by Cesar Ritz who later opened his own equally famous and lavish hotel.

Setting the standard for opulence in turn of the century London, the hotel proved popular with fashionable clientele and hosted notoriously decadent parties, including one in which the central courtyard was flooded to create a miniature Venice: complete with gondolas, a baby elephant and a five-tier birthday cake. The Savoy also featured heavily in the Wilde trials, as Oscar Wilde rented apartments  in which he had conducted his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Claude Monet and James Whistler both created works of art featuring views of the Thames from their rooms at The Savoy and, during the second world war, Winston Churchill held cabinet meetings over lunch.

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The Savoy has welcomed countless illustrious guests over the decades, including Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Marilyn Monroe, Christian Dior, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and so you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to the hotel to write a review of the spa. Approaching the gleaming Art Deco entrance to the foyer, complete with potted palms and bellboys in tops and tails, I couldn’t quite believe my luck.

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The staff were waiting for me when I entered the spa and ushered me to where I could find a fluffy robe and slippers to change into. I was then led to the treatment room for a brief consultation before commencing the treatment. I opted to sample the deep cleansing facial, which was heavenly, and involved steaming, hot towel compresses and a freshwater mud mask, applied whilst reclining on a heated bed in a candle lit room. Essential oils were applied with massage techniques to my neck, shoulders, arms and face and, for the first time in a long time, I felt the effects of true relaxation. Needless to say, I didn’t want the treatment to end.

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After the treatment, I swam a few lengths of frog-stroke in the elegant swimming pool, being very careful to keep my face out of the water to let the essential oils work their magic. (I was particularly lucky to have the place almost to myself hence my ability to take so many surreptitious pictures.) The water in the pool is purified by the Kinetico purification system and so is incredibly soft, with barely a hint of chlorine. All in all, it was an exceptionally enjoyable experience which left me feeling very spoilt and with a taste for luxury that I will struggle to replicate in my day to day life!

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Wapping Old Steps

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One sunny day, Jian Wei and I took the DLR to Wapping to walk the Thames Path into central London. Along the route of regenerated wharf buildings and the occasional secret garden, we discovered some algae-smeared steps leading down onto the riverbank. I have always wanted to go ‘mud larking‘ as the Thames served as the metropolitan rubbish dump for hundreds of years and the shingle embankment is reported to be strewn with of all sorts of curiosities including bones, pottery, glass and oyster shells. It is apparently possible to find objects dating back as early as the Romans however, on this occasion, I only came away with a couple of pottery tobacco pipe heads and a keen desire to take up ‘mud larking’ more seriously.

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Whilst scrambling through the debris, we noticed the old steps leading down to the water’s edge, running parallel to the newer, more accessible stairs. These steps, we were informed by a fellow rambler and local history enthusiast,  date to when there was only one bridge spanning the Thames and so Londoners used ferries to cross the river whenever required. The old steps lead down to where these boats were stationed and serve as a reminder of how much the city has evolved, now that they linger obsolete.

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One of my older sisters gave me this lipstick as it was too orange for her. The shade is ‘Bang’ by Urban Decay and it is intensely pigmented, matte and velvety – I love it.

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Wearing a new old dress I found for £4.99 in a charity shop in Falmouth, Cornwall. It is so easy to wear, not too short and perfect for those breezier English summer days although I do harbour concerns that it is actually just a frumpy 1990s maternity smock. The bag was stolen from the attic of Jian Wei’s mum and is a firm staple. The battered loafers were a £1 charity shop find and are still the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. All worn, of course, with my trusty trench that you must be sick to your back teeth of seeing on here.

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Introducing Avenue 32

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When Avenue 32 contacted me to enquire as to whether I would be interested in sharing some of my favourites from their website, little did they they know that I had already compiled a substantial wishlist. Stocking a tightly-edited selection of the coolest of contemporary fashion brands – including A.P.C, J.W Anderson, Sophie Hulme, and Carven – alongside made-to-order Italian shoes, Avenue 32 was firmly on my radar.

I wish I could add the navy silk polka dot playsuit pictured above to my holiday wardrobe. It is by Sophie Hulme, one of London’s brightest talents, who launched her own label only months after graduating from Kingston University in 2007.

Avenue 32 stock a fine selection of investment staples alongside more extravagant and outlandish pieces. I have always found it surprising how well leopard print pairs with classic Breton stripes. There is something so aesthetically pleasing about such a controlled clashing of established prints – especially when paired with denim and red lipstick. (A taste acquired, no doubt, through consuming images of Alexa Chung avidly for the past five years.)

 

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I adore the Liberty print A.P.C playsuit, pictured above, and can picture myself wearing it on my upcoming trip to Lisbon with the hems rolled up, teamed with my Saltwater sandals. If it is further reduced in the sale, I may just yield to temptation.

It is always encouraging to see new businesses championing British manufacturing and Avenue 23 stocks a selection of shoulder bags and backpacks handmade in the UK by Alfie Douglas. Rendered in the finest leather with real copper hardware, the quality and workmanship of these bags offers real value for money. A classic Breton top and sturdy trenchcoat are year-round staples in the UK but also make a welcome addition to your suitcase when packing for an unexpected climate.  As for the made-to-order Italian velvet slippers embroidered with a metallic sun and crescent moon, so luxurious! I can only dream of owning a pair some day.

Make sure to bookmark Avenue 32, not only for the incredible summer sale currently running, but for first dibs on the covetable AW14 lines as they begin to be added.

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The village of Durgan is cared for by the National Trust and features a scattering of idyllic fishing cottages perched on a hillside overlooking a private shingle beach. For those interested, the cottages that lead on to the beach can actually be rented as holiday homes. The water is surprisingly clear and green and, if the weather had been slightly warmer, I would have been very tempted to swim. The walk down to the village is every bit as lovely due to the profusions of wild flowers including foxgloves and English bluebells. All in all, a charmingly secluded location to spend a mild, yet overcast, day with a picnic and some Cornish cider.

Wearing cashmere sweater from Muji, 1990s floral dress from a charity shop, Saltwater sandals from Office, Alex Monroe necklace and sunglasses by RetroSuperFuture from Liberty, vintage bag from a charity shop.

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Gyllyngvase Beach

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Vintage 1950s novelty print dress : Once Met Vintage
Navy cashmere sweater: Muji
Saltwater Original Sandals: Office
Vintage bag: Charity Shop
Sunglasses: RetroSuperFuture via Liberty.

Jian Wei and I recently escaped the city for a blissful week in Cornwall where Jian Wei’s mum is currently living and studying.

Despite the weather forecast predicting five days of heavy rain, the sun showed its glorious face and I had the opportunity to wear my new Saltwater Original sandals. They have been wonderfully comfortable from the first wear and can be worn in and out of the sea, perfect for exploring rock pools and spotting anenomes.

The 1950s novelty print shirtwaist dress has been waiting patiently in my wardrobe for its first outing since I swiped it from Once Met Vintage on Etsy during the winter. I have a weakness for vintage novelty prints and this one features boats, trains, penny farthings, wagons, carousel horses and bicycles – what’s not to love?

More Cornish adventures to follow over the coming weeks.

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Cornwall has a botanical life force all of its own, with all manner of Triffids and palm trees in abundant supply. I like how this picture looks like it was taken in California rather than the chilly reaches of western England.

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