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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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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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