Sunday, 24 November 2013
Monday, 2 September 2013
This is definitely my most favourite hotel I have stayed at so far! I was totally in awe of my Darth Vader lampshade and couldn't believe that out of all the masks I could have had, I had one that matched my phone cover! The room was spotless and smelt very clean. The only small downside was the lack of lighting, it was literally only a few lamps, but I guess it complimented the overall aesthetic of the hotel... which was quirky!
The restaurant was just lovely and very well decorated. It had a chalkboard ceiling and many quirky touches....and don't even get me onto the food!! ... just wow! ... I was so content with my meal that I even had a little nap on the sofa!
The reception area definitely showed exactly what the hotel was about with a variety of gifts and toys to choose from and I just loved the tree stump seats!! There is also a very relaxed vibe upon entering the hotel, everyone looks so chilled out, even the guests!
I would 100% recommend this hotel when visiting Paris - but it takes about 20 minutes by car to get into the city centre.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
I stayed at the Lindner Hotel in Cologne during my trip to the Summerjam Festival which was located in the central and it was a really lovely hotel! It was very very clean and I liked the modern decor.
The bathroom was also pretty much spotless with all the things you need. I also liked the collaboration with Nivea (my favourite skincare brand), but the odd thing was that the product they had available was only for men.
There were 3 of us in a room (sorry I forgot to take a photo before we settled in!) and I anticipated it to be a small room but it was huge! Again, super clean and the bed was very comfortable. One little thing that bugged me were the curtains which were quite ugly but everything else compensated for it!
The restaurant area was nice but the breakfast buffet, although delicious with a wide variety of food, was very pricey - I think it was $35! ...great for those who can eat a lot in one go and will be full for most of the day, but not for those who can't!
Overall, I would definitely stay at the Lindner Hotels again but will consider eating breakfast somewhere else - or have it as part of the room package which I'm sure would have been much cheaper!
Friday, 16 August 2013
My most favourite beauty brand for skincare is most definitely Nivea... and I am so glad it is because it is also the most affordable!
However, I do also love to experiment with other brands, especially reputable ones and Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream has been one of the products that I always hear about!
So, when Beauty Expert had a £30 off offer (originally £65) to get a (really) huge tub (530ml) of this as a body cream, I had to try it! I had used the lipbalm version of the Eight Hour Cream so I knew that it was gentle and I was happy to take the risk of buying such a big tub of something I hadn't tried before!
I have used SO much of this since I took this photo - probably just enough left to moisturize my whole body 5 or more times. It really is an intensive moisturizer! My skin is so sensitive and prone to dry patches where clothing may rub, but this cream has kept my skin super hydrated even though I don't even use it every day! A little also goes a long way so even though it is a little pricey (I would not buy at full price), it is definitely worth it if you have dry areas that won't budge. The scent is definitely one to get used to (a little too herbal-like) - I don't love it and only like using it at home but apart from that, this is one damn good body moisturizer.
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
I've decided to review the hotels I have stayed at on my travels separately to the main blog post so, now that I know this is what I'm going to do, I promise to have more photos next time!!
First is Electra Hotel where I stayed at on my holiday to Athens in April.
My boyfriend and I chose this hotel because it was central to everything in Athens and was most cost effective whilst still looking 'decent'.
I think the photos we saw of the rooms on the website were a little deceiving, they had a look of luxury to them but they really weren't in person. I love both traditional and modern design ... but I felt that this was just a bad interpretation of doing both...and I hated the wooden flooring. I definitely prefer carpet!
The duvet cover was almost non-existent, it was SO thin and I really didn't like the tapestry looking cover either. So, along with the wooden floors, I just had a permanent feeling of being cold... and don't even get me started on the pillows! ... but I think I can rule this out because I do believe pillows are a very difficult thing to get right when it isn't your own!
However, the view from the very tiny balcony was good although a little annoying that it was too small for you to even sit down!
The bathroom was OK and to be fair, my photo doesn't do it any justice. If I had seen this photo of it before booking the room, I think I would have looked for something else! But again, it's all down to the decor, it was just SO old-fashioned. I hate the tan-coloured marbling, eurgh!
The shower was great but then again, my shower at home is totally rubbish so anything is better than that.
The hotel mentions 'sound-proof windows' which I'm not sure was true because I was too busy being distracted by the THINNEST WALLS IN THE WORLD. I could hear people in the room next door doing EVERYTHING. When a cupboard opens, when a toilet flushes, even ENTIRE conversations...which, I'm glad was foreign to my ears!!
WIFI usage was inexpensive and fast, the breakfast buffet was good and hotel staff were friendly and helpful. However, even though I don't necessarily see myself as a fussy person, I think the designer in me really didn't help and the ridiculously thin walls was definitely the defining point in why I won't be using this hotel again...but will consider the sister hotels.
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
When I had discovered that the original Sugababes had regrouped, I realised I hadn't been this excited about current music news...like...ever!!
I never go out of my way to listen to new music as I am still discovering tons of music from the past!!!
Anyway, everyone who knows me, knows this, so when I had mentioned that I was going to a Sugababes (nobody knew about MKS so I had to call it this for the time being) gig, I had the same reaction from everyone - laughter plus confusion! They obviously visioned the current line up (can't even remember their names) rather than the original line-up. So, I found myself having to explain the same thing several times!
When the Sugababes released their first single 'Overload' around 2000, I was 15 and they were honestly the most refreshing group out around that time and I remember everyone in my school loving them! I particularly loved how their music was quite eclectic and they didn't seem scared to experiment with different styles of music which I feel a lot of commercial groups lack. I never knew what to expect next from them, and I liked it! 'Overload' was such a cool song at the time with a simple video to accompany it. Also, I think the fact that they were from London made them even more like-able and how distinctive they looked as a group amongst all the other manufactured ones where it didn't seem like the music or the voice was priority.
Over the years, of course, each of the original members - Mutya, Siobhan, Keisha - started to leave. Well, Siobhan left very early on but I continued to listen to her solo music, and loved it! The Sugababes became slightly more 'pop' than anything else, but I didn't mind it too much as it still had a bit of an edge... but when Mutya left, it was full-on 'pop' and I felt that the group had started to blend in with all the other girl groups. I eventually stopped paying attention at that point, and went back to listening to my pre-1995 music!
Then, at some point, I can't remember how, I came across MKS - Mutya Keisha Siobhan - oh my god, the originals!!! I knew this was going to be an incredible reunion so when I later found out they were having a small gig at Scala in London, I knew I wanted to check them out!! I also remember telling my sister (who is 11 years younger than me) and how she had no idea what I was talking about! Because of our age difference, this happens a lot - where we have no idea about certain things - such as when she mentioned Justin Bieber to me years ago, and I had no clue who he was!!
Anyway, because she didn't know who MKS were originally, I thought this was a good opportunity to introduce her to something new!
The venue at Scala, London is quite small, but I thought it was perfect for this as the last thing you'd want is to be miles away from the act you've paid to watch!
They started with 'Overload' which of course was the perfect choice and the crowd went wild! See below for my recording of it! I also HAD to mention my amusement when there were literally only about 10 other women in the crowd!! There was also a super excited fan standing behind my sister and I who sang along to all the songs and I almost died with laughter when his voice broke at a very high note!
One of the most memorable moments was when they sang 'Stronger' and when Siobhan sang the part originally sung by Heidi Range (she replaced Siobhan) ... I could hardly hear her as the crowd cheered like there was no tomorrow, but from what I did hear, I preferred much more!
Overall, the gig was amazing and I couldn't help but chuckle to myself when my sister had afterwards said to me 'wow, they sound exactly the same from when you're playing their music at home!' .... of course she would say that when she grew up in an era where there were (UK) acts such as Atomic Kitten, Steps, Liberty X, and The Spice Girls - yes, they were all very successful but they most certainly did not sound the same when they were singing live! ...and anyway, when ridiculous songs like 'Can we fix it' by Bob the Builder become a Christmas No.1, it really makes you question UK taste in music...
Anyway, MKS got a brilliant reception,and I love their new single 'Flatline' ...super catchy! I can't wait to go and see them again!
Sunday, 4 August 2013
The pieces of this skirt has been sat in my 'to be finished' drawer for months and months and I finally did it! It only required sewing about 10 seams together and inserting elastic... It is so frustrating when I procrastinate over such simple things!!! Anyway, it is available here!
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
My boyfriend and I went to Amsterdam for a long weekend and it is definitely a place I would love to return to! Amsterdam is so beautiful and I found the bike-riding culture very amusing, they were everywhere!! I was getting pinged at (to move) every other minute and although at the time I found it quite irritating, I wondered how different London would look if it had adopted a similar attitude to travel. (It is starting, but I can't imagine it changing anything about the city until many more years).
I can't really say anything about the food because I could have easily been in a London cafe/restaurant ... the menus were pretty much the same! ...and I absolutely hate cheese so I can't really speak about that either and had to hold my breath every time we walked past a cheese specialist shop to my boyfriend's amusement!
One of the places I wanted to visit was the Museum of Bags & Purses. I didn't expect it to be anything amazing, but I do always love to see anything related to the history of Fashion when possible... and I was totally blown away! This museum is definitely a hidden gem and it exceeded my expectations. There must have been over 500 bags in the museum that covered over a century and most importantly, photos were allowed!!
I loved these carved ivory purse frames and the embellished bags were so beautiful!!
Of course, Amsterdam is known for its Red Light District so we just had to take a stroll through and it was so surreal! I felt like I was in a film, and these were all actors. It just didn't seem real, seeing these half-naked women, behind glass doors, trying to entice passers-by. We then popped into an Erotic Museum which was just quirky and very amusing! I think I was more amused at several groups of grown men giggling at naughty photos!
After visiting a couple of European countries this summer, it really occurred to me just how prudish England is!! I have lived in London for 27 years and if anyone asked me where there was an Erotic Museum, I would not have a clue!! I'm sure I would find one if I was browsing 'alternative museums' ... but why can't London just have one in a reputable place? I'm not suggesting the Victoria & Albert Museum, but it doesn't make sense that there isn't a prominent one here. However, even while I type this I wonder if my blog is going to be marked as an 'over-18' blog for UK visitors just for mentioning the Red Light District!
I took so many photos but I just had to include this one in my blog post... a lovely way of adding art to the pavement!! ...although I did wonder just how many people may have tripped over it!
The thought of going to the cinema while on holiday was always a little strange to me but there were so many films we wanted to watch on the big screen that we couldn't resist! So when we came across the Tuschinski Theatre, we just had to watch something there! The building is of the Art Deco (my favourite) period and just stunning!!! We didn't mind paying the premium to see it in its glory! I also found it very spooky and felt a chill down my spine when I was using the Ladies Toilets when I couldn't see where the exit was! The doors were camouflaged into the walls!
Overall, I love Amsterdam! ... we didn't do everything we wanted to do as this was our 'relaxing' holiday after our very busy holiday to Athens ... but we will certainly be back!!
Click here to see more photos including my visit to the Museum of Bags & Purses! nuvonova- Flickr
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
I finally got round to using my Living Social voucher for a 3 hour beginners session in Goldwork, ran by the London Embroidery School and it was so much fun!!
I have always loved embroidery and embellishment but always felt there were so many more techniques out there that I wanted to learn, and Goldwork was definitely one of them! I loved how luxurious it looked and it was always something that caught my eye whenever I was looking at costume design.
I dragged my sister and best friend along with me which made it even more enjoyable and here is a quick overview of what we did... (whilst trying to remember it all!)
We started by trimming down some yellow padding to fit within the pre-drawn leaf shape template that was attached on some calico and fixed in an embroidery hoop.
We were then taught how to correctly stitch this into place - using a couple of large stitches to hold it, then smaller ones are added in afterwards.
We were then given some copper coloured thread which we would pull through a piece of wax so that they would stick to one another, and therefore become another padded area in the leaf shape, and again, we would sew this into place while cutting certain areas off so that it would smoothly taper into shape. I found this part a little tricky as I got slightly distracted and couldn't remember what count I was at!... but looking at my photo, I think it looks pretty good!
Then the fun part!! Excuse my terminology as I'm not sure if it's right... but we added in a coiled wire called 'pearle purl' (on the left) to frame the padded shape... then we added 'purl' onto the copper thread area which was the part I wanted to learn about the most! It was much trickier than I expected because of how precise the measurements need to be to fill an area.
We were then introduced to 'bright check' which was like a square version of the purl. It could be used in the same manner to fill an area (like on the right) or tiny pieces could be cut off it so they were more like 'beads' ... I loved this as it was so sparkly and I can imagine just how twinkly it would look on a larger scale.
Now, you're probably thinking, how could all of that have taken 3 hours? (the leaf shape had a length of about 5cms!) ... well believe me, it did, and I was nowhere near finished! The 3 hours actually felt like 10 minutes and all I could see were black blotches for about 10 minutes after we finished because of the long period of concentration!
I am definitely looking into doing the other classes they have... I can see this turning into an addiction! On another note, I have also appreciated the skill more than ever, the patience and finesse required to embroider anything in that technique is just amazing!
Look out for my future blog posts on embroidery as this certainly isn't the last!
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
My friends (and sister) and I went to the Summerjam Festival in Cologne, Germany - and it was amazing!!! I only wanted to go because I wanted to go on holiday but I knew that I would like the reggae music anyway, even though I never really listened to it.
The festival was held in Fuhlinger See which is basically a humongous, beautiful lake! There were thousands of people camping on-site and when we took a wrong turn, we ended up seeing all of this in it's glory... walking past people cooking sausages over a fire, sunbathing in front of their tents, chilling and listening to music, and swimming in the lake.
The main area was split into sections for each stage and obviously the 'bigger' artist had the bigger stage to perform on. This included Snoop Dogg, now called Snoop Lion who has also released a reggae album which, after listening to it a few times is actually pretty good! My favourite song is 'Here comes the King' which was most memorable during the festival. I didn't stay for his whole set purely because we weren't fast enough getting to the stage therefore we were on the outskirts and he drew in the biggest crowd I've ever seen! But he performed many of his older songs which were total crowd pleasers!!!
We spent our last day exploring Cologne and I'm glad we decided to do this because it is such a beautiful city! I could not believe how clean it was... there was also a parade which after turned the streets into a mess, but in no-time, there were suddenly these huge trucks sucking up everything! ... then a few minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened upon those streets. I could not believe the efficiency!
There were also so many places to have desserts!! I was spoiled for choice! This kiwi and strawberry masterpiece was absolutely delicious!!
Another masterpiece on a much larger scale was the Cologne Cathedral. I was in absolute awe walking past it...it was incredible!!! I loved how tarnished it looked and the details were just jaw-dropping. I wish we had time to have a look inside but I would definitely come back to this city in the near future!!
More photos can be found here! nuvonova - Flickr - Cologne, Germany
Monday, 22 April 2013
My boyfriend and I adore Greek Mythology so when it was holiday planning time, visiting Athens was an instant choice! We decided to stay right in the centre of Athens so that it was easy to get around and also close to the Acropolis, the main reason for our visit.
The first thing we noticed upon arriving in Greece was the huge amount of graffiti. I mean, there are many places in London that is covered with graffiti so it wasn't a total culture shock, but in Athens, it was literally ev-er-y-wh-ere. I don't personally mind graffiti, when it actually looks thought-through. I love Art so I can and do appreciate it... but I can't say I was that impressed with the amount I saw, especially when they were on would-be beautiful buildings (such as the University of Athens)...or when they were just scribbles and were clearly there from boredom... and I was pretty horrified at skateboarders using the column of a statue as a ramp.... my my, I must sound like I am 70! ...although I am impressed at my photo-taking skills!
There were also stray dogs everywhere, you would see one every couple of minutes. Admittedly, this made me feel a little on-edge as I have a bit of a fear towards dogs! The overall feel of Athens was very busy but there was also a very laid-back vibe from everyone/everything. My boyfriend and I were humoured by pigeons that were just sat on the pavement with no care in the world, whereas the pigeons in London would be walking around trying to get their beaks into the next piece of bread someone would throw for them (I hate this!)... same with the stray dogs, most would just be asleep in doorways and along the street. .. and most amusing were the policemen! They were all young looking men with motorbikes who all seemed to wear Ray-bans and they just stood in groups of 4-5 just having a chat and I honestly thought they looked like they were mimicking the T-Birds from the film 'Grease' - total coincidental pun! This was everywhere! Not once did I see any policemen that had the same stern, ready-to-catch-you look as London policemen! The feel of Athens was so different to London!
We arrived early-evening so were looking for a place to eat and decided to just wander around until we were approached by a local older man who looked like he had just been shopping. He seemed quite groomed, his English was fair, he was very polite and most memorable is that he looked like an older version of the actor Vincent Cassel! He asked what we were looking for and as he was so polite, we continued the conversation with him. He said there was an 'excellent restaurant' not far from where we were so we decided to let him lead us (of course, if I was alone, I would have run a mile).....we ended up at Old Ithaki restaurant which was only a 2 minute walk, and it looked beautiful from the outside. My boyfriend and I joked that the guy that lead us here should get commission for bringing tourists to the restaurant!
We decided to try the popular Souvlaki which after 2-3 bites was nice, but then I personally began to tire of it. I have always loved Asian, British and Italian food the most with a dislike for salad, so I wasn't surprised that I didn't love it, however, my boyfriend adored it and finished off what I couldn't eat!
Now, a few minutes before we finished, the guy that had brought us here had reappeared! He sat down somewhere else in the restaurant and smiled when I caught his eye. This was more of a 'oh shit I thought they may have gone by now' kind-of smile! So, our previous joke about him had suddenly started to unravel! He was clearly friends with the owner and must have gotten a free dinner or something for bringing us to the restaurant! This was amusing at first and we didn't care much because the food was 'nice' ... but we still felt a little conned by it!!
And just to top it off, we saw him again a few days later approaching another couple at around the same time he approached us and he was carrying the SAME BAG! I'm a creative so I will always see the details!! Obviously a prop to make it look like he was just passing through! Eurgh!
After this discovery, we weren't very impressed!! ...and on the other nights where we looked for places to eat, we were very annoyed at how pushy the restaurants were for customers. It really GOT ON MY NERVES. They would end up walking down the road with you trying to get them to read their menu. One front-of-house guy even made us go into the kitchen to look at the food and slandered the other restaurants nearby by saying that their food was unclean or not freshly prepared. I don't know how he thought this would make us want to eat at his restaurant...
In the end, we decided to go for the 'least' pushy restaurant, which I have to say, was a tricky decision to make, and left us feeling very irritable.
One of the places I really wanted to go to was Lake Vouliagmeni Hot Springs which took a very long time to get to. We did half the journey by tram which was easy and gave us more of a view of the city, then we tried to get a bus for the rest of the way but unfortunately all the bus information was covered in graffiti. I had to laugh otherwise I would have cried. So we ended up walking for a long, long time! We finally found it and it was beautiful but due to my optimism, I assumed there would be towels and other things available, but there was not! The only thing I had was my swimming costume! ...and as it was quite late by the time we had reached it, the weather had become quite chilly...so, this was a bit of a disaster!
The next day, we decided to do a day trip to Aegina Island. This was a short, slightly expensive boat ride from Piraeus port...but when we got there, we were so happy to have done it! The island was beautiful and looked more like how I expected Athens to look. I loved the pastel coloured buildings and everything felt fresh and inviting. I squealed in delight when I spotted the horse & carriage rides, this was one thing I was not going to miss! This gave us a greater understanding of the island and we passed many beautiful houses and an amazing white graveyard. We also had lunch in a restaurant by the sea which was lovely and I opted for a good spaghetti bolognese!
We continued to wander around the island and came across beautiful churches, small museums and many lovely little souvenir stores.
Coming towards the end of our holiday, we visited the amazing Acropolis (the reason why we didn't visit it straight away was because we were waiting for International Monuments Day which was when there were free admissions!) and I really wish we had taken the reviews we read about visiting the Acropolis much more seriously in regards to getting there very early to avoid large tourist groups! We were permanently trapped between two different tourist groups and felt like we had to wait them to move, before we could!
Nevertheless, everything was amazing to look at. The Parthenon was just incredibly surreal, the scale of it!... and I loved the Erechtheion which is a temple built in dedication to Athena and Poseidon.
As you walked around Athens, you can pretty much see the Acropolis from every angle especially at night when it is lit and looks like it is almost floating!...and I've just noticed how strange the road lamp looks in this photo!
I also loved the souvenir shops!!! ... there was SO much stuff I could have easily bought if I had the disposable income for it! I loved the religious and mythological framed imagery and sculpture! ... if I had a garden or a large house, I would fill it with these statues and a hundred decorated vases!!
Lastly, one of the most recommended places to visit when in Athens was The Poet Sandal maker of Athens, where you could get custom made leather sandals in a variety of styles. Reviews boasted about how they had made sandals for The Beatles, Jackie O and many other celebrities.
The interior is very eclectic and you will keep spotting new things you hadn't noticed before! I was very adamant that I would get some custom-made sandals because my feet are between a size UK 2.5 and 3 ...so I always struggle finding the right sized shoe and often need to add insoles, heel grips, wear a couple pairs of socks etc!!!
I went for the 'cleopatra' and they fit EXTREMELY well! I firstly had to try on a few soles then the straps were adjusted and clipped with my foot still in them, then they were taken away to get nailed... and it was only around €30! Definitely my best footwear buy in a very long time!
Overall, the holiday was lovely but I wish that we were staying on an island and had taken a day trip into Athens, rather than the reverse. The graffiti bugged me a little because it really was pointless, and the constant hounding from restaurant owners also left a bad taste in my mouth. The food wasn't my favourite and I found a lot of things quite expensive...and that coming from someone who lives in London, is saying something!
I'd like to visit the Acropolis again first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd as I feel that it was really distracting and also because there were a few other places my boyfriend and I missed due to an early closing time (3pm).
More photos can be seen on my Flickr! : nuvonova flickr - Athens, Greece
Friday, 29 March 2013
I ate at Thai Tho (42 Rupert St, City of Westminster, W1D 6DP) quite a while ago so I can't really remember the exact names of everything I ordered but what I do remember is that it is great, delicious, authentic Thai food! There are so many places to eat Thai food in London, but I feel a lot of them (such as Busaba) has been really westernized...so I am always happy whenever I find a new place that serves true Thai food!