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


24 February 2017


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


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

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


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


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


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


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 

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


4 February 2017

Magical Lantern Festival

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

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