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Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

John Keats House

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

A couple of weeks ago, Jian Wei and I went to visit the home that John Keats and Fanny Brawne shared in Hampstead. As fans of the film Bright Star, one of the most heart-wrenchingly depressing and exquisitely beautiful films ever made, it was lovely to visit the London home of the Romantic poet and to explore the house in which the tragic sweethearts had met. (I am not sure quite how historically accurate the film is but it is certainly enchanting.)

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

John Keats House

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

I wore a 1950s silk blouse I recently discovered in a charity shop for £1 (score!) along with an old favourite vintage skirt you have probably seen many times on this blog. The vintage wicker and leather bag is another great charity shop find and it holds a camera and picnic ingredients, with room to spare, whilst preventing the contents from being squashed. An absolute steal at £5.50 considering its generous size. The belt is American Apparel, the necklace Alex Monroe and the shoes are Ferragamo. Ther cardigan, featured later, is from Orla Kiely.

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

The weather couldn’t make up its mind and careered between blazing sunshine, showers and thundery grey skies. However, it didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the final blooms of the summer, or from a bracing walk across the Heath, where we spotted Ricky Gervais out jogging. Or rather, Jian Wei did, whilst I was trying to disentangle myself from a bramble bush that had clawed onto my cardigan.

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John Keats House

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

Hampstead Heath and the home of John Keats

John Keats House

Bright Star
BY JOHN KEATS

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

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Madly MariaLux

On September 7th, I turned twenty-six and was bestowed with the most enchanting selection of gifts from my nearest and dearest. Some I had hinted heavily at, others were complete surprises, yet all contributed towards a distinct ‘vintage beauty’ theme which works perfectly with the current selection of trinkets that clutters my dressing table. (Please excuse the dust.)

Madly MariaLux

Madly by MariaLux is a niche luxury fragrance, exclusive to Liberty London, that I had been coveting every since I first locked eyes upon the gorgeous Art Deco crystal bottle. The scent is every bit as lovely as the packaging: powdered sugar followed by heady notes of tuberose and I am so happy to have found my ‘signature scent’, even if I must save it only for very special occasions.

vintage Italian ceramics

vintage Italian ceramics

This sweet little ceramic pot was a complete surprise from my eldest sister. It is vintage midcentury, handpainted in Italy and is from the same range as the large, slightly cracked, pink lidded jar I had found for £3 in a charity shop two years previously. I love this range, it is so pretty and stylish and epitomises the elegance of Italian design in the sixties.

vintage Italian ceramics

Alexandra Mann wash bag

My lovely colleagues surprised me with this limited edition Alexander Mann wash bag, also exclusive to Liberty London, and constructed from Liberty Art Fabric. I adore the Arts and Crafts feel of the orange tree print. My pals in the department also treated me to a Nars Velvet Matte Lip Crayon in Cruella, the ultimate vampy 1940s red.

Benefit It's Potent eye cream

Spending hours squinting at a computer screen means that a good quality eye cream is a must. ‘It’s Potent’ by Benefit comes in the daintiest glass jar, like something from a Victorian apothecary, and has a wonderfully rich consistency. This was a gift from my parents and younger siblings. A tiny dot of this cream goes a long way and so it should hopefully last me until my next birthday…

Benefit It's Potent eye cream

vintage kitty compact

This unusual kitty compact mirror is carved from alabaster with a tiny brass hinge. I have never encountered anything quite like it before and so it is quite tricky to date. Does anyone have any ideas? It is so adorable and a truly special gift from my second older sister.

vintage kitty compact

Benefit Majorette

Finally, what is not to love about this kitsch packaging and creamy peach blush? ‘Majorette’ is a recent launch by Benefit and I was able to trial it for the first time when shopping in Norwich with my family. The colour is a pretty peachy-pink that transforms on the wearer’s cheek to match their skin tone. It is a very fresh and feminine look and the blush also smells divine.

Benefit Majorette

When combined with afternoon tea at Sketch, a day trip to the Art Deco fair at Eltham Palace and a very naughty A.P.C coat purchase, I guess it is fair to say that I have been exceptionally spoilt this year! Expect additional posts to follow documenting my other birthday treats…

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Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Jian Wei took these pictures to document an evening walk we enjoyed on our second night in Lisbon. I wore my 1950s Egyptian hieroglyph print skirt from Recultivation Vintage on Etsy. I cannot resist a novelty print from the fifties or early sixties and this particular design was just too eccentric to refuse. It has also become one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe as, not only is unique, it is also surprisingly wearable when paired with a simple cotton t-shirt in white or grey. Judging from the label inside, it may have once been sold as a holiday souvenir to those visiting the pyramids in the middle of the century and so I enjoy imagining who once bought it and how they wore it.

On this occasion, I teamed the skirt with a t-shirt from American Apparel (I am wearing a size large, they come up surprisingly small!) and beloved Saltwater sandals from Office. (Some colours, such as gold, are now on sale.) The straw bag was stolen from Jian Wei’s mum’s attic.

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

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Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

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Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

I am a little late in the game, I know, but as the Mayflower Supply Co. has just launched its new summer look book, I have been reminded of how much I also adored their earlier spring shoot.

There is no escaping the fact that palm imagery is in vogue this year and, with scenes as charming as these, its easy to see why. There is something so magical about crumbling greenhouses filled with exotic specimens from distant climates and I have been enchanted by them ever since visiting Kew Gardens as a child.

The lush botanical gardens of Smith College provide the perfect backdrop to these clean and subtle summer pieces. The wild fern print leather envelope clutch is particularly covetable, as is the palm print sunglasses case. Oh, and that simple denim dress.

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

Mayflower Supply Co. Spring Look Book

Mayflower Supply Co. Look Book Spring 2014

These lovely scenes feature vintage clothing from the Mayflower Supply Co., art direction by Liz Hull, photography by Greg Wasserstrom, styling by Emily Theobald and the look book is modelled by Ali Breslin.

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Lisbon: Day One

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Jian Wei and I enjoyed a week in Lisbon in July. We both agreed that it is a gloriously underrated city, with its abundance of miradouro, midcentury signage, unfettered blue skies and colourful azulejos adorning charmingly decrepit old buildings. One of the most pleasant things about Lisbon is the opportunity to potter the pretty streets without feeling any pressure to ‘see the sights’. During our walks we discovered all sorts of wonderfully archaic shops with old-fashioned counters, an open air concert of classical music and even a tinned sardine café.

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Here I am wearing a vintage 1950s cotton dress I procured for free when shopping in Brighton with Kerry and Olivia in the spring. (Read more about how this beauty came to be mine here.) I love the earthy tones and the simple, yet elegant, cut and it proved to be one of my favourite items in my suitcase.

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leopold

(Image above borrowed from here.)

On our first evening we ate at Leopold, an experimental kitchen stylishly located in a former bakery on Rua São Cristóvão.  The restaurant seats only eight covers at a time and all dishes are immaculately prepared by the chef behind the original bakery counter and cooked in a vacuum to preserve the flavour and nutritional content of the ingredients. Many of the wonders we ordered were served on kitsch lettuce leaf crockery adding a playful touch to the otherwise gourmet feel. Unbelievably, we only spent about twenty euros each for several courses plus wine; a bill that would be unthinkable in London for dining at this standard. I really cannot recommend Leopold enough, even if only to savour the wonderfully eccentric ‘vegetables beneath the earth’ dish. (I will keep the details secret.)

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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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group shot

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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