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GREEN FINGERS

24 April 2017

Last week I received a parcel with 'Why send flowers when you can send Biscuiteers?' written on the outside.  Well, quite.  I love Biscuiteers - there are always squeals of delight at press days or when we're sent some at the office and I've featured the Easter egg tin before - but I also love gardening, always have fresh flowers at home, and my phone and camera are 80% full of flower photos (especially cherry blossom, magnolia and wisteria right now).  Put the two together and you have a very nice afternoon tea break indeed...

Biscuiteers Green Fingers biscuit tin - UK lifestyle blog

JOAN SMALLS

22 April 2017

I love fashion editorials which tell stories and create characters, like this chic, sunny Harper's Bazaar shoot.  Featured in the May 2017 issue, Puerto Rican supermodel Joan Smalls plays happy families as a luxe vacationer with a mid-century vibe - prim pearls, preppy hairbands, pastel colourblocks and bold prints - complete with a hot husband (Justice Joslin), cute kids and awesome poodle.  Shot by Peruvian photographer Mariano Vivanco, styled by Jaime Kay Waxman.

Joan Smalls chic fashion editorial for Harper's Bazaar US by Mariano Vivanco

BAY OF BISCAY

18 April 2017

When I took my Dad to Bilbao last summer for his birthday, we travelled west on the subway out to the Bay of Biscay using our 72 hour Bilbao Bizkaia cards - I'd recommend getting one as it's both a travel card for all public transport (including the cable car up the Artxanda mountain for incredible views of the city) and gives you free entry to lots of attractions, including the must-see Guggenheim museum.  We walked along the Ibaizabal estuary to see the UNESCO World Heritage-listed iron Vizcaya Bridge - the world's first bridge to carry people and traffic on a suspended gondola - and out to the beach to stroll to Getxo and Algorta in the sunshine.

Bay of Biscay beach day, Bilbao - travel & lifestyle blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: EASTER EGGS

14 April 2017

Pantone Easter eggs ffffound - UK lifestyle blog
Happy Easter! Enjoy the long weekend...

HANOI PHOTO DIARY

12 April 2017

I liked Ho Chi Minh City, but I loved Hanoi.  We were in Vietnam last year for a total of eleven days, spread over four days in HCMC before we headed over the border to Cambodia for a few days in Phnom Penh, a few days in Siem Reap, then back over to northern Vietnam for five days in Hanoi in between trips to Sapa and Halong Bay before heading up to Hong Kong.  The Vietnamese capital is hectic with its crazy streets and bustling markets, yet elegant with beautiful French colonial architecture, Chinese influences and lakes dotted around everywhere.  Here's what we got up to...

Emma Louise Layla in Hanoi, Vietnam - lifestyle & travel blog

JIMMY CHOO L'EAU

7 April 2017

L’Eau from Jimmy Choo is the newest addition to my fragrance collection; a light, fruity and floral scent in a pretty pink glass bottle which came out earlier this year.  I liked both Illicit and Stars a couple of years ago, so was keen to try out the latest adaptation of the Signature fragrance from the luxury British brand.

Jimmy Choo L'Eau fragrance - UK beauty blog

BOOHOO FLORALS

5 April 2017

How amazing is this weather? Even though we didn't have a particularly harsh winter, every time spring comes round it is an absolute joy to throw open the curtains in the morning and see sunshine, leave work when it's still bright outside and not have to worry about wrapping up in knitwear, coats and scarves.  Although saying that, I always get over-excited at the first sign of spring, pack away my winter coats and freeze once the sun sets...  Sorry Mum, still doing that.  The weather's lovely, the blossom and magnolia is in bloom (I can't stop taking photos) and I'm starting to get my cycling mojo back (let's be Strava buddies) after knee surgery last year.  I'm looking forward to a spring/ summer spent outdoors!

Boohoo dress of the month - London blogger Emma Louise Layla

RIGOLETTO

30 March 2017

Last month I went to the Coliseum to see the English National Opera's production of Rigoletto, set in 1950s Little Italy in Jonathan Miller's iconic New York staging.  Giuseppe Verdi's three-act opera is one of the best-loved in the repertoire and tells a tragic story of jealousy, vengeance and sacrifice.

English National Opera's Rigoletto at the London Coliseum - UK culture blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: GHOST CHAIRS

17 March 2017

Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs in the dining room - interior style blog
We're about to move into an unfurnished flat (I'm surrounded by dozens of stacked boxes as I type - oh joy) and I'm trying to convince my boyfriend about Philippe Starck's iconic ghost chairs for the dining table...

CINNAMON BAZAAR

13 March 2017

A few weeks ago, we navigated the busy Thursday night crowds in Covent Garden, walked down to Maiden Lane and through the bright green patterned door of the casual, vibrant Indian restaurant Cinnamon Bazaar for a delicious dinner.

Cinnamon Bazaar Indian restaurant, Covent Garden - London lifestyle blog

ESSIE GEL COUTURE

8 March 2017

Essie is up there with Nails Inc as my favourite nail varnish brand.  I love their products, gel manicures and ballet, so when I heard that they were bringing out a collection of ballet-inspired nude shades in their gel couture range, I wanted them all...

Essie gel couture ballet nude nail varnishes - UK beauty blog

GREEN & BLACK

6 March 2017

The weather's doing odd things at the moment: we've had rain, sun, gale force winds, hailstone, rainbows, showers and everything in between in the past week.  Trans-seasonal dressing is tricky at the best of times, but I've spent the past few days running all over London with scarves, gloves, hats and umbrellas in my bag.  So on the breezy but relatively mild weekend just gone, I relished carrying a small bag and wearing minimal layers.

Green and black outfit - London fashion blog

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST BEAUTY BOXES

1 March 2017

Like most girls my age, I grew up loving the 90s classic Beauty and the Beast, singing along (I still seem to know all the words to Belle) and dreaming of living in an enchanted chateau, swishing around a grand ballroom in a beautiful ballgown.  Hell, I still do.  Of all the Disney remakes, this is the one I was most excited about, so I was thrilled to go to the London premiere last week.  The film is SO good and my Emma Watson girl crush has soared to new heights.  There are lots of exciting collaborations to promote the new film, but this is my favourite...

Latest in Beauty x Beauty and the Beast limited edition beauty box for women

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE

26 February 2017

After four days in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, we took a flight to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh for a few days, then drove north to go temple-hopping in Siem Reap and took a flight back over to Vietnam for a few days in Hanoi.  In HCMC, we stayed at the chic Intercontinental Asiana Saigon and decided to stay at the Intercontinental in Hanoi too, situated just outside of the centre on the largest lake in the city.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, Vietnam - luxury travel blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: VINTAGE VOGUE

24 February 2017

Vintage Vogue Paris cover - fashion blog
I'll never get tired of vintage Vogue covers... Vogue Paris, Juillet/ AOut 1952

LA TRAVIATA

A couple of weeks ago I attended the last night of Richard Eyre’s classic production of La Traviata at the Royal Opera House. Written in the early 1850s by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and set to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, the three-act opera tells the story of a courtesan falling in love in 19th century Paris, based on Alexandre Dumas fils' romantic novel La Dame aux Camélias, itself based on the true story of beautiful courtesan Marie Duplessis.

La Traviata at the Royal Opera House - London lifestyle blog

It opens with an elegant party with ballgowns and tuxedos as the guests raise ‘A toast to the pleasures of life!’ in the famous Brindisi (The Drinking Song) and takes us beneath the glamorous surface of Parisian high society, with social tensions and doomed lovers.  Violetta falls in love with Alfredo, whose father Germont disapproves and convinces Violetta to leave Alfredo for the family's sake, whilst Alfredo thinks Violetta left him because she no longer loves him. When Germont sees the ill, lonely Violetta (the 'fallen woman' of the title) he understands how much she's sacrificed and confesses to Alfredo, who goes to Violetta's deathbed to see her before she dies.  It's one of the most popular operas for its breadth of dramatic emotions and wonderful melodies, and a must-see for all theatre-goers, classical music lovers and opera newbies.

 Read more culture posts & London features

ANNICK GOUTAL TENUE DE SOIRÉE

22 February 2017

Tenue de Soirée is the first Annick Goutal fragrance I've tried since the Vent de Folie eau de toilette back in 2014.  Launched last October, Tenue de Soirée is a sweet-smelling chypre dedicated to the sophisticated Parisian woman.

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soiree fragrance - UK beauty blog

Created by Grasse native Mathieu Nardin, the eau de parfum opens with fruity blackcurrant top notes, softens into a powdery iris heart and finishes with a warm, woody patchouli base.  It's sweet but not sugary, leaving a lingering gourmand scent on the skin for hours.  The perfume is beautifully-packaged in a chic purple glass bottle with a quirky detachable pompom to add to your keys or handbag.

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée EDP50ml £72 for 50ml and £96 for 100ml


CAMDEN TOWN

20 February 2017

When we came to London on day trips as a kid in the summer holidays, we used to come to Camden to visit the colourful market stalls and buy "rock" t-shirts, incense sticks, weird little bits and pieces for my room from alternative stores and, once when I was about 12 or 13, a rainbow plastic bead curtain to go above my bedroom door (sorry mum). As a teen, I used to go to dozens of gigs at Koko, Barfly, Proud, the Electric Ballroom and Jazz Cafe, and many a night out at Club NME nights at Koko. The Camden novelty wore off, I lived in Covent Garden then moved to London Bridge for six years, Paris for six months, and when it was time to look for a flat with my boyfriend upon my return, Camden called once more - I've now lived here for three years.

Emma Louise Layla in red ASOS dress in Camden - London fashion blog


CAFE MONICO

15 February 2017

Last week I went for dinner at Cafe Monico, the cosy all-day brasserie on Shaftesbury Avenue from the Soho House team.

Dinner review at Cafe Monico - London restaurant blog

A WEEKEND IN BILBAO

13 February 2017

When I was looking for a place to go for my Dad's birthday (which is conveniently the same week as Father's Day) last year, I wanted somewhere neither of us had been before, with cheap direct flights flying out early AM and returning late PM, and good weather.  The last time we went to Spain together was Menorca for my first birthday, so Spain it was!  After looking into Girona, Cadiz and Bilbao, I booked the latter for a long weekend as a surprise birthday present.  We had a great time; I've blogged about the chic, central place we stayed (Hotel Miro) and the best restaurant we visited (the Michelin-starred Andra Mari) and, as I was pretty snap happy, I'm sharing some photos from wandering around the pretty city for three days with my camera, along with recommendations for a lovely weekend break.

Andy Warhol at the Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain - London travel blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: ALL BLACK

10 February 2017

Julia Frauche shot by Andrew Yee for How to Spend It magazine
Julia Frauche shot by Andrew Yee for How to Spend It magazine 

PIXI BY PETRA

7 February 2017

Pixi is one of my favourite beauty brands. Launched by the gorgeous Swedish makeup artist Petra Strand in their flagship Soho store over ten years ago, Pixi offers beautifully-packaged, multi-tasking skincare and makeup products using natural ingredients and innovative formulas for women of all ages.  As a busy mother of four, Petra is all about convenience.  She's created simple, on-the-go products and clever multi-taskers for a quick and easy, low maintenance beauty routine.  Here are some of my favourites...

Pixi by Petra beauty products - UK fashion & lifestyle blog

MAGICAL LANTERN FESTIVAL

4 February 2017

Last night I headed to southwest London to visit the annual Magical Lantern Festival to mark the end of Chinese New Year.  Held in the historic gardens of Chiswick House, the outdoor event features over 50 colourful illuminations.

Magical Lantern Festival, London - UK lifestyle blog

WAREHOUSE DRESSES

31 January 2017

Warehouse is having a bit of a moment right now. The British high street retailer had a rebrand last year to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a new logo, fresh retail concept and streamlined aesthetic under new design director and queen of print Emma Cook focusing on sleek workwear, contemporary styling and cool separates for city life. Since Topshop seems to be chasing the tweens, Warehouse is slotting nicely into that 20s-40s mid-market (at a more accessible price point than Reiss or Whistles) and it's better than ever. Now January payday is finally here - hallelujah - I've been checking out what's new for spring and have my eye on these six gorgeous dresses from the chic SS17 collection.

Pretty pink lace peplum dress - Spring Summer 2017 fashion

ANDRA MARI, BILBAO

30 January 2017

Last summer when we arrived in Bilbao, we checked into the beautiful Hotel Miro, spent the morning wandering around the city centre then jumped into a taxi to go for lunch at the Michelin-starred restaurant Andra Mari for an eight course tasting menu.  What a welcome to the Basque region.

Michelin star lunch at Andra Mari in Bilbao, Spain | travel & foodie blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: HAUTE COUTURE

27 January 2017

Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 | dreamy fashion blog

I loved the Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 collection shown in Paris this week: the sparkling gowns, high waists, emphasised hips, feather details, bold brows and slicked back hair. Dreamy.

THE RED SHOES

23 January 2017

Last month I attended the press night of Matthew Bourne's world premiere adaptation of The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells, at the beginning of a six week run before it embarks on a national tour. Much like the movie of the moment La La Land, the ballet is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour - it's colourful, enchanting and you'll want to see it again and again.

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes ballet at Sadler's Well, London - UK lifestyle & culture blog

MANCHESTER WEEKEND

19 January 2017

In November we went up to Manchester for a long weekend for our friends' wedding.  As a Smiths obsessive and live music lover, I've been to dozens of gigs there - including a weekend in 2006 doing the Smiths tour during the day (visiting Salford Lads Club, the cemetery gates, the old house etc) and seeing Morrissey play for three nights on the trot in three different venues - but I hadn't been for years.  It was great to go back and spend a couple of days wandering around the hipster Northern Quarter and checking out cool indies, vintage stores and new bars.  We stayed at The Principal, a fantastic five star hotel in a massive Grade II listed red brick building on Oxford Street.

Emma Louise Layla at Salford Lads Club, Manchester weekend - UK travel blog

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

16 January 2017

So First from luxury French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels is a beautiful floriental, gourmand fragrance. I'm addicted. Created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson, it's a fresh new reinterpretation of First, the debut perfume launched in 1976, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

So First fragrance from Van Cleef & Arpels - UK luxury beauty blog

FRIDAY'S FFFFOUND: VOGUE PASTELS

13 January 2017

Vintage Vogue cover - February, 1931
Vogue, February 1931 (follow my Pinterest for beautiful vintage covers and editorials)

HOTEL MIRO, BILBAO

10 January 2017

To celebrate my Dad's birthday and Father's Day, last summer we went to Bilbao in the Basque region of northern Spain for a long weekend, staying at the chic Hotel Miró in the centre of the city directly opposite the Guggenheim Museum.  As you'd expect from a Design Hotels property, the hotel is cool and contemporary, with sleek, gender-neutral decor by Spanish fashion designer Antonio Miró.

Hotel Miró in Bilbao, Spain - Design Hotels review - travel blog

BUSABA

8 January 2017

The modern Thai restaurant Busaba Eathai is one of my favourite chains for a quick and easy, cheap and cheerful dinner.  Launched back in 1999 by celebrated restaurateur Alan Yau (also behind Yauatcha, Hakkasan and Wagamama), there are now 16 locations in London, Liverpool, Manchester and St Albans.  I recently went to the latest branch in Fitzrovia just around the corner from Oxford Circus for a casual midweek dinner with a pal.

Dinner at Thai restaurant Busaba Eathai, Fitzrovia - London lifestyle blog

LA SOIREE

5 January 2017

We recently attended the opening night of the new show from the acclaimed La Soirée cabaret theatre group at the pop-up spiegeltent smack bang in the middle of Leicester Square during the festive period.

La Soiree fun cabaret show - London lifestyle & theatre blog