Wednesday, 12 February 2014

When in Rome...

I set 2014 off in traveller style by booking a last minute trip to Rome, Italy with my five oldest friends. I've been to Rome before and loved it so was excited to reconnect with the cities history, food and people.
It didn't disappoint. In fact I ate better than I ever had before, including a delicious lobster pasta dish at my favourite restaurant Ciao Bella (I can call it my favourite now as I've been on both occasions).

I especially enjoyed St Peters Cathedral where I unloaded my heavy heart with prayer, stepping outside in the square to a gorgeous sunset cutting through the otherwise miserable grey sky.

A bummer was getting robbed while out and about at the Colosseum and having to spend far too long at a local police station filing a report and borrowing money from my bestie, I tried not to let it dampen my spirit and enjoyed each evening 'happy in the haze of a drunken hour'.

 For those thinking of a little trip to Rome, here are some tips, tricks and highlights:

  • Book your flights and accommodation separately. It will work out better than any of the 'deals' Groupon offer you and at least you can source your own diggs.
  • If it's a short trip make use of the 3day travel card, cheaper than buying daily tickets. Plus if you're there for four or five days you can spend one or two exploring your local area - especially if you're central to some of the attractions.
  • Please, please, please keep your bag and purse out of sight when wandering. I was to naive as I thought I was well travelled but thief's at tourist attractions are experts. Keep it back to front or even better under your coat.
  • Definitely visit the Vatican Museum, it's such good value to soak up so much history. If you're a little tight on cash, you can enter the church and cathedral at St Paul's without buying a ticket and this alone is breathtaking.
  • Dine out somewhere fancy at least for one evening. When in Rome and all that...
  • Wander the back streets and see where you end up, Rome isn't as big as London and you'd be surprised how much of it you can see on foot. This is great for finding little cafes and details of the city you might otherwise miss.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

American Hustle & Wolf on Wall Street

American Hustle~ love this scene

Home or away, one thing that remains is that I'm a movie buff. Luckily my other half is too, so much so we even joined up as members at our local cinema in New Zealand and averaged two films a week.

Two films I've seen recently that I would highly recommend are American Hustle - original direction/dialogue and great cast, transformed back to the 70's in all authenticity including 10 out of 10 for costume and a banging soundtrack!

american hustle screenplay
It's been said before but I'll reinforce for good measure that Jennifer Lawrence ensures plenty of laughs as she owns her character and the film itself takes on a few turns which keeps you on your toes.

I could see why following on from Gatsby, Leonardo Dicaprio would be cast in Wolf on Wall Street, this man really has got better with age in every sense and holds nothing back in this movie as his moods and emotions take him on a roller coaster including drug abuse and sobriety.
A shocking take on life in the stock market during this era, as usual thou as an audience you're rooting for the 'bad guy' so the obscene about of drug abuse/prostitution/profanity on screen becomes a norm and thankfully doesn't take away from the story being told.
      The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Martin Scorsese) - Of all the world's opiates, favour the one that conveys the rest.
It did make me wonder however when the time would come that there would be a story told of a woman in this kind of position of power as opposed to the female characters being secondary in a man's world and chosen for their physical appearance and mocked by their male superiors for the beauty regimes and shopping habits all the while being funded by them. (And breathe.)

Have any of you seen either of these two films yet?
Also my fellow fashion bloggers, I have a 70s theme birthday event this weekend, should I go fro and if so blonde or black hair? XO

Saturday, 4 January 2014

NYE ensemble

I love a new year celebration. Ever since I partied '08 away into '09 on the Las Vegas strip when I was 21 - it's held a special place in my heart and I like to party as big as I can.

Over the last five years, I've thrown a NYE house party twice (see my epic glitter party post from last year) - this year I was spending half my evening with one of my best friends and her family and the other half at a house party where I only knew the host and therefore had a room of strangers I could drunkenly enjoy. And I did.

Here is my ensemble for the evening. I REALLY wanted a tulle skirt and after leaving it too late to be frugal with my purchase I threw £50 at Topshop for this baby pink number (which I will now wear at least once a week for the remainder of 2014 to make it worthwhile).

I teamed this playful skirt with a silver sequined bra top (on sale) from H&M and I felt instantly a la Carrie Bradshaw.

Thanks to my Instagram following for giving my bra top the thumbs up and the extra boost of confidence to wear it. I hope you all had smashing new years celebrations? Any resolutions going for 2014?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Hello December - it's good to see you

I've been looking forward to this for a while, I know to some it may sound a little silly but one of the biggest draws for me to come home from my travels when I did was: December. Christmas. The possibility of snow. London full of markets and lights and warm fuzzy feelings. Me wearing my many hats again, scarfs, gloves and layering jumpers and finding a new way to be eclectic with my style.

November at home has been good to me. I celebrated turning 26. I reunited with all of my friends and family and met some new babies who came into the world while I was away. I spent November job hunting and flat hunting and slowly but surely my Decmeber is filling up with interviews and call backs. I'm feeling optimistic about this month and I plan to enjoy my home city through new eyes and make the most of these glorious Wintery days before the real cold of January hits us and the lights and festivity are no more!

How do you all plan to enjoy your December?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

My favourite drinking spots in New Zealand and Australia

By drinking spots, in this post I'm referring to alcoholic beverages. My favourite kind. Second to water, third to coffee. In fact, I will do a coffee post at some point also as I have found some delicious little coves of cafes and bars alike who served yummy coffee and had lovely atmospheres. Plus, I can't resist snapping a good looking cup of coffee. For now, here are some extra special watering holes of the cocktail and beer variety...

Wellington - New Zealand:

The Library Bar
Motel Bar

Hangover style, finding evidence from the night before

I had heard so many good things about Wellington City, the capital of New Zealand. I was told it was the creative hub of NZ and I would be mesmerized by the culture and spoilt for choice with the bars, cafes, restaurants etc...
We only had a one night stay with our Kiwi Experience bus tour so we really had to make the most of it, a blogger friend who previously visited told me I absolutely HAD TO visit The Library Bar. I got in touch with them and the owner of the bar said he'd be happy to offer us a special on drinks as well as show us his latest bar venture, Motel. A bar crawl was a go. I was excited.

As soon as we walked up the steps into The Library Bar I could see why Rosario recommended it, it had an almost polished grunge feel, lots of woodwork and of course books as decor around the room. Some on shelves to read, others purely for decoration.
It was packed!
Wednesday night had a happy hour on cocktails and locals and tourists alike were making the most of it, more locals I think. Always a good sign.

We settled into a table for two and soaked up the atmosphere, the menus came and we chose our drinks, when they arrived, they were exquisitely presented. Cocktail craftsmanship at its finest and not a shabby imitation. I would have happily drunk there all night, especially if I was out with my girlfriends.

The bar manager popped over to give me a tour of the place and was so proud of his work there over the last three years, the room with the bathtub for private functions was a wowzer for me, especially when he explained they fill it with bottles of bubbly/wine and ice for celebrations. If only it was my birthday!

When in Wellington City, The Library Bar is a must visit!

A sweet bar gal then led us out the back door, through a Chinese restaurant and out into an alley to enter Motel bar. I felt like a Goodfella. She excitedly told us Motel bar would soon have a VACANCY/NO VACANCY neon light, as it was a small place inside, they would let one in, one out when it was full. It sounded very exclusive, especially with the location being off the main road, a gem for the right crowd who happened to be in the know.

Stepping into the lounge, we stepped back in time, a mix of both the 50s and 70s? Jazz music was playing, a barman in a white shirt and red bow tie was shaking cocktails for two ladies sat on stools at the bar, a couple were canoodling on a retro sofa with leopard print cushions and the decor included a blowfish light and indoor palm tree.

The cocktail menu had both classics and some originals, we sipped on a strawberry blonde, a (the one with egg in the ingredients), and then shared the Motel special - Zombie. A concoction that was set on fire before being served. We were having a blast, if only we didn't need to be up early for our bus ride and skydive the next day.

                             Motel Bar, Wellington

For those backpackers travelling New Zealand's North Island these two bars may be on the treat yourself list, but they are still a steal compared to similar establishments back home in London. They're a nice excuse to dress up a little too, casual or fancy, the dress code is up to you but the standard of service and drinks at both places will hit the mark. Enjoy for me! Until I return...

Christchurch - New Zealand:

On The Rocks
The Dark Room

Considering, we spent most of our six months in New Zealand we didn't actually find many watering holes which we returned to. Maybe, it's partly due to our favourite spot On The Rocks having won us over early on. Based in Sumner, the beach town based about thirty minutes from the city centre, we initially went to On The Rocks for a pizza and salad lunch one afternoon when we first moved into the area. I could list heaps of favourite things about this bar, they include: the daily specials, free pool table, $3 drinks on tap, friendly bar staff, yummy food, live music, Joker Jackpot on Fridays (where you can win a heap of cash for picking the Joker playing card), the $4 coffee and cake special, the free wifi.

I spent many an afternoon there brainstorming my social media work and blogging while sipping a latte and biting into a brownie.
Come evenings, me and Conor both would go for apple cider drinks, leaving around midnight tipsy and having spent less than $20, Conor also liked it for the juke box and rugby games played on the big screen.

We even spent Saint Patrick's Day and his birthday celebrations there, it's somewhere we often reminisce about when thinking of our time in Christchurch.

The Dark Room we only went to once but it's got such a good supporter of local musical talent, it deserves to be mentioned. During our last few months in NZ, we rented with a lovely kiwi couple, Simon was a musician and would often be out and about at band practise or having gigs. We joined him one night at The Dark Room and the folk/acoustic/jazz/rock line up was awesome, they also serve some pretty original beers and ciders.

Rotorua - New Zealand

The Pig and Whistle

We checked in at our YHA in Rotorua and there was a promotional card at the desk offering a $1 beer or wine at The Pig and Whistle. Well, backpackers can't argue with that, especially when there wasn't even a catch to buy any food first.

We were meeting the auntie of our kiwi housemate Nadene that night, we suggested The Pig and Whistle and she confirmed it was a nice place for a drink, good live music and tasty food.

It was busy, both the restaurant, the bar and the outdoors area. It was clearly well known with locals - we stood for a while chatting, bottles in hand and kindly the waitress let us know when a table was available.

The band had just started when we left around 9.30pm, it was another place I wish we had the chance to spend longer to enjoy but we had another early morning start.

Sydney - Australia

505 Jazz Bar
The Baxter Inn

Friends of friends were fast becoming some of our favourite people. when we arrived in Sydney, we stayed with Matt, a bestie of our kiwi friends Anna and Pete. He was a wild one. Often partying to the early hours and rolling into work at 7am the next day.

On our first night, an old friend of mine who I styled for a promotional shoot in London was playing a gig at 505 Jazz Bar in Sydney - her new home. The three of us went along and had a blast. It was a Monday night so pretty quiet but it had such a lush interior and Matt introduced us to some yummy whiskey drinks (my love affair with whiskey had begun). Zana's acoustic set was awesome. It was a fun little night to start our Oz adventure and the Jazz Bar had a whole host of music sets for the month, if I was a local it would be a favourite for me.

Our first nighti. Sydney saw us catch a gig by a dear old friend, Zana Rose and her band partner Jenna Murphy

The next night? (It might have been the night after, they all blur into one ongoing party.) Matt took us to one of his favourite spots, it was another Goodfella affair. No exaggeration. The Baxter Inn up until yesterday when I messaged him for the name, was known to me as the cool underground whiskey bar. Another backstreet, no sign above the door, establishment. There was a bouncer and a red rope line however, once inside, we travelled through a barrel cellar for a few steps into a bar cove, the only drink on the menu was whiskey. Hundreds of kinds.
The clientele were lots of suits, after work drinks perhaps? There was fun music playing and free pretzels to snack on (trust me to remember the food), Matt ordered three whiskey cocktails, they were STRONG but delicious. I took a cheeky video of the guy making them (which made him really shy) while the other bartenders had good banter. I don't think this place needs or wants lots of publicity, they do what they do and they do it well. Pricey but sometimes that's the cost of quality.

Our Australia trip was such a blitz, we didn't find anywhere worth mentioning on the Gold Coast or Brisbane, although we definitely feel like we have unfinished business with Australia and hope to head back with a work visa for a year soon. If any travellers (or locals) have any recommendations for good watering holes here, let me know.