London haul

London haul

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I was in London two weeks ago. You will not have noticed much on here as I spent some time making sure I had enough material online. I went to London to do a spot of traveling and being a tourist visiting museums and doing some walking tours. I also visited lots of food markets and ate lots of great food. However, one cannot and not shop for some beauty products. Here’s all the bits I bought. london haul

London haul

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Travel report: London 2016

Travel report: London 2016

During May break I decided to do a spot of traveling again. This time, I went to London. Yes, again, London. I pretty much go there every year as I just love the place. During this particular trip, I wanted to revisit a few of my favorite spots, visit some new places and take a tour at the Harry Potter Studios. This post is all about what I did during my 6 day trip. So get comfortable as this will be a long and picture heavy post.

Houses of Parliament with Big Ben and London Eye

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London travels: the report

London travels: the report

You have seen the shoplogs (here and here), but of course I did a little more than just shop. Although I’m sure that if you go through those two posts you might have thought I didn’t. Nothing could be less true though. Apart from shopping my tail off, I spent 4 blissful days in London, going from exhibition to exhibition, threw in some dance classes at Pineapple studios and went on a 2.5  hours walking tour with London Walks. Excuse for the length of this post in advance. I will first provide you with a write up of my endeavors, followed by a few shots I took during the trip.

View of ‘the Shard’ on the train back to the airport

Now you should realize that this wasn’t my first time in London. So I didn’t hit up, nor took any pictures of, the usual tourist death traps. Instead I went to four different exhibitions: Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014 & Horst, Photographer of Style both at the V&A; Sherlock Holmes, the man who never lived and will never die, at the Museum of London; and Terror and Wonder, the Gothic Imagination at the British Library.

I saw the wedding dresses exhibition on day 1. The first afternoon I was in London, a bit delayed, because of the storm that had hit the UK and Holland the day before, but still arrived in time to squeeze in one exhibition. I set off to the V&A and got their around 3.30 PM. The wedding dresses exhibition was absolutely divine. Because the display encapsulated 300+ years of fashion you could clearly see how fashions changed through the ages. From flapper look fringe style drop waist dresses to Victorian highnecked modesty: it was all there. There were even some famous wedding dresses of recent times: Kate Moss’, Gwen Stefani’s and Dita von Teese’s dresses were all on display. Oh and they also had a marvelous little clip of royal weddings from the 40s right up to Kate & William.

Afterwards I strolled along the street and on to Harrods. Got some samples from Kiehl’s (which broke me out unfortunately) and went on to Harvey Nichols. They have an excellent beauty department which also stocks some lesser known brands and so I bought a few bits and bobs. Got the tube to Covent Garden and walked around until I found a restaurant that tickled my fancy. I ended up having a fantastic veggie burger at a place called Wild Wood. Friendly staff too. After food I was stuffed, so I decided to walk it off as the Covent Garden tube station was exit only during my stay. I walked North, all the way to Russell Square station. My hotel was near King’s Cross station so I figured it would be fun to find the Harry Potter platform 9 3/4, only to find it is now some touristy thing. I had fun with the two guys taking pictures though and went back to the hotel early because I knew the next day would be tiring.

Day 2 meant getting up early to go to Pineapple dance studios to see about signing up for dance classes. I got their around 9.30 only to find out you don’t have to sign up. Instead, I set off for The Strand and shopped at Twinings (my favorite teas!) and Superdrug (the best Superdrug in London I find). Made sure I had something small to eat before I went back to the dance studio. Then I danced for 2 hours. I took a general Jazz class and a Theatre Jazz class. Both were fun but I definitely noticed that I have a little way to go before I can claim I am back in shape. It was grueling, but it was a great challenge to take on and very satisfying to nail the routines right alongside the pros.

After two hours of hardcore dancing, I felt my body giving out so I decided to quit instead of doing another class. I left the dance studio around 2.30, and found Space NK and Urban Outfitters just around the corner where I shopped a bit again. Then, after two hours of stringent working out, I walked to Jamie’s Italian on St. Martin’s Lane to get some food into my system. Popped back to the hotel for a bit, to drop some stuff and change my bags and then went down to Bank tube station. Here I went on the 2+ hour walking tour of The Ancient City by Night by London Walks. I do one of their walks every time I am in London and they are excellent. We stopped at one of the oldest bars of London for a drink and afterwards I joined a few of the ladies on the tour for some curry on Brick Lane.

I was in bed by midnight and was exhausted. So next day, I took it easy. I bought breakfast (oatmeal porridge with honey!) from a kiosk called Giraffe’s, which serves Teapigs tea. And I’m in love, need to place an order with them soon. I brought it back to the hotel to eat it and then took my time getting ready. I was out and about by 10.30 AM and set off for the Museum of London for the Sherlock exhibition. It was again, marvellous. I loved how they had scene descriptions from the stories, right alongside pictures of Victorian London. It was great and if you like Sherlock, the stories, the series old or new and the movies then it is well worth a visit. It gives great insight into life in Victorian London as well as the world Conan Doyle inhabited and created around the famous character.

After lunch (I spent most of my time having meals at Pret a Manger, which is great if you have any dietary needs) I set off for Oxford Street to do some ‘real’ shopping. I went to Primark, New Look, River Island, Victoria’s Secret, Topshop and Selfridge’s, amongst other places. Around 6.30 PM, I was pretty much done in (and nearly broke, lol) and took the tube back to the Victoria & Albert museum to see the Horst P. Horst exhibition who was a photographer for Vogue all through the 30s and 40s. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed. So many stunning pictures and ladies of the day. I spent quite some time perusing the exhibit and was back at the hotel around 10 pm, absolutely beat.

My final day in London was quite chilled. I checked out around 10 AM, grabbed breakfast at Starbucks (who knew they sold scrambled eggs there?) and went to St. Pancras station to buy my train ticket for that afternoon. Right next to the station is the British Library, my next stop for my last exhibition. My love for Gothic fiction is large. I took two courses on the genre when I was in college and I’ve always been obsessed with any sort of fiction that includes the mysterious, the macabre and the insane. So this exhibition was just my thing. There were original manuscripts on display from Frankenstein and other famous Gothic works. I was surprised to notice how many of the works mentioned in the exhibition I have actually read. Plus there are some more obscure works that are on my to read list and waiting on my shelves. Thoroughly enjoyed that.

When that was done, I did the last thing on my to do list: hit up Waterstone’s! One thing I have to do while in London is do some serious book shopping. And so I happened to set out for Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday afteroon (bad idea if you hate crowds). I was in there for almost 2 hours and came away with a few things which you will be able to see below. Then I set foot in Fortnum & Masons, which I’m sure is lovely but I do think that 3 PM on a Saturday afternoon, just isn’t the best time. Next time I’m in London I will have to plan to go there earlier in the day. And then it was time to go home. I purchased some last minute things at the airport and was home around 10.30 PM. Tired, but thoroughly satisfied.

Right, time for pictures!

Buh-bye Holland!

My small, yet comfy hotel room with excellent shower & bed @ Wardonia Hotel

South Kensington Station

Glass sculpture in the entrance hall of the V&A.
Love the contrast with the Medieval woodwork in the background

Unfortunately no pictures were allowed in any of the exhibitions I visited.
After the Wedding Dresses exhibition I also walked around the regular fashion exhibit the V&A has.
This is quintessential Dior: the New Look.

Mushroom ‘burger’ with halloumi @ Wild Wood in Covent Garden

Night time walks: Sicilian Avenue

St. Pancras train station

King’s Cross Station

Interior of King’s Cross Station

Only picture of yours truly taken on the entire trip.
I am such a happy bunny trying to get onto the platform. I remember this being just a sign…

Covent Garden market without any customers

Covent Garden market all up in Christmas decoration already!

Defunct train station, but still visible from the outside.

Pineapple dance studios

Lemon merengue cheesecake @ Jamie’s Italian
Absolute delicious food and nice atmosphere. I had a super friendly server who actually sat across from me to talk me through their menu and specials. Makes a lone dining experience a lot more fun.

Book ceiling in Laedenhall Market

London skyline at night from London Bridge

Old wine tavern unaffected by the Great Fire of London in 1666

The new and the old: 15th century church with the Gherkin.

Museum of London time. Again no pictures allowed.

Selfridges’ all decked out for Christmas

British Library (again no pictures allowed inside)

New calendar for 2015.
Waterstone’s does the best ones if you’re a bit nerdy like me!

Robert Galbraith – The Silkworm
Stephen Fry – More Fool Me (already finished that!)
F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender is the Night (which I bought solely because I love the cover)
Moleskin 2015 diary

Ben Aaronovitch – Broken Homes
Ben Aaronovitch – Moon over Soho
(I have read the first two books in his series and loved them, will have to review them some time)
Alex Grecian – The Yard
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

And that concludes my rather long, but hopefully satisfying London travel report. This trip was in any case very satisfying to me. I just love popping over for a bit and just be away from Holland for a bit. Despite how tired I was afterwards, by now I feel revived and refreshed and ready to take on the rest of this school year. Here’s to 2015 and hopefully another stay in one of my favorite cities in the world.

What would you do on a trip to London?

London travel tips

London travel tips

Last month I made a blog post with travel tips regarding my favorite city in the world: New York City. Today I thought I’d bring you my tips for traveling a bit closer to home if you live in the Netherlands. It also happens to be my SECOND favorite place in the world and that would be good old London town. I’ve been to London several times, the first time being 1998 when I was on vacation with my parents as a teen. I later went on a mother-daughter trip when I mom and after years of not having been to the city of red doubledecker buses and Big Ben, I found myself booking a trip in 2009 to see no other than Britney Spears perform her Circus Tour at the O2 Arena. I went, fell in love and have been going back every year since. My most recent trip was October 2013, so that makes a grand total of 7 times that I’ve been here. These tips include the standard ‘this is what you have to do’ type of tips, but also some more off the beaten path ones. So I hope you enjoy.

Houses of Parliament with Big Ben (June 2009)

As with any trip you take time is your main constraint when visiting London. Also whether you’ve been there before or not is a defining factor in what you will want to do during your trip. In my experience, the best times to visit are October (crowds & weather if lucky) or May (weather). My 2009 trip was a very short one, so I did something super duper touristy and hand when you have little time to explore the city, but you do want to see most of the city: take a tour bus. If you have some more time on your hands my advice is you walk as much as possible and only take the tube back to your hotel when you are too tired to continue.

I’ve stayed at several hotels, from budget hotels to more midclass hotels. London is fairly expensive when it comes to hotel prices, and rooms are small, so don’t be surprised if you’re housed in something that looks like your broom closet at home. Every hotel I’ve stayed at in London so far came with a breakfast of some type, which is a nice benefit. If you’re flying into London I can recommend you looking for hotels that are close to the train stations that service the airport you’re arriving from. Heathrow Express goes to Paddington Station, Gatwick Express arrives at Victoria Station, and regular trains arrive at St. Pancras/ King’s Cross, but usually only run weekdays. I personally like the express trains. They’re a bit more expensive but they do get you to and from the airport quickly.

Tower of London (October 2013) – St. Paul’s Cathedral (October 2013) – National Gallery

When you’re only visiting London for 2 – 3 days I suggest you at least visit these places:

  • Houses of Parliament/ Big Ben. There are tours available for the Houses of Parliament, but only in July and August and apparently you can only go on one if you’re a UK citizen. Your best photo ops are from ACROSS the river Thames, so cross that bridge and take a right. Afterwards you can also walk along the South Bank and go to the London Eye if you’d like, though personally I am not a big fan of the ferris wheel.
  • Westminster Abbey (including tour). One of my main highlights of one of my London trips was Westminster Abbey. There are tours available at additional cost and I really loved the one I was on. It gives you a lot of information on the rich history of this very special church.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral (including tour). St. Paul’s is a must even if it’s just for a peek inside. You can climb the stairs and go up to the Whispering Gallery or you can take a tour which is done by a local volunteer. Very informative and also very interesting to hear more about the building of the Cathedral, which is nothing like a traditional cathedral at all.
  • Tower of London. The Tower of London is a must on every tourist’s list, but my advice is: don’t go inside. Unless you like shelling out over 20 pounds to combat long lines and gaze at less than spectacular crown jewels. The Scottish one are apparently not only better, but they also house the crowning stone that is placed underneath the throne (which is in Westminster Abbey) when a new King or Queen is crowned.
  • Tower Bridge. But when you’re at the Tower of London anyway, you will also be very close to Tower Bridge. Which is far more impressive than the fortress itself. You can walk across it to the South Bank and if you’re up for it you can hike all the way to London Eye and get some nice views of the city while you’re at it.
  • Buckingham Palace. Not necessarily to see the changing of the guards, but just to have a peek. Is the flag up? That means that the Queen is home. Walk along The Mall to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery (or turn right and walk up to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament).

Tower Bridge (October 2013)

If you’re there for a bit longer, there are other landmarks and places you can visit. But of course, a bustling city such as London also has plenty of activities you can do. Many museums in London are free of charge so it’s super easy to gaze at amazing art or brush up your knowledge on a rainy day.

  • Kensington gardens/ Hyde park/ St. James’ Park: London parks make for a great stroll on a nice day. They are inhabited by tons of squirrels which eat out of your hand if you feed them something they find interesting enough.
  • Camden market. For those of you who are into ethnic cuisine and wears and a bit of vintage, you have to visit Camden Market. One of the places where London’s melting pot becomes most visible. It’s a vibrant place and if you walk all the way to Camden Lock you’ll find some great food places as well.
  • Old Truman Brewery/ Spital Fields market. Calling all vintage lovers: this is where you have to go.
  • Marble Arch. On Oxford Street. Just go there, grab a picture and get your shop on!
  • The Mall. Close to Buckingham Palace so chances are you’ll go there anyway.
  • Trafalgar Square. See Nelson stand on his column at one of the busiest crossroads in the city.
  • The Strand. Street where you will find some book shops, Somerset House and some coffee shops. Leads away from Trafalgar Square.
  • Bloomsbury. This is a really nice part of London. There are some independent shops around and there is a university located as well as some museums.
  • Visit the big/ old stores: Harrods/ Fortnum & Mason. Just to be awed by all that extravaganza and expensive wears.

Things to do:

  • Visit museums! They’re free. Recommended: British Museum, National Gallery, V&A museum
  • Do a musical (there are discount ticket offices in the city, mostly situated around Leicester Square – Billy Elliot is great!)
  • See a ballet/ opera performance at the Royal Opera House. Just be sure to book tickets in advance as they sell out quite quickly.
  • See a play at the Globe Theatre. Also something to book in advance. The Globe Theatre features plays which are performed in true 16th/17th century fashion. It was built after the original Globe Theatre where many of Shakespeare’s plays had their debut. The Theatre is open roofed which means it only shows performances through spring and summer.
  • Watch the changing of the guards.
  • A tour from I’ve taken several tours with this company and it’s brilliant. You check the website, show up with the fee at the designated tube stop at the designated time and you go on themed walking tour around part of London. I can highly recommend the Harry Potter tour.

Temple Church interior (February 2012)

Of course there is plenty more to do and see when you visit London. Here are my tips after you’ve done the true and tested London must sees.

  • Highgate cemetery: unused Victorian Cemetery in Camden. It’s a super pretty location. You can walk up and visit the East cemetery any time. The West cemetery is only accessible by tours, but it’s well worth it.
  • Do a concert @ the O2 Arena. Tickets sell out fast, but you plan on seeing anyone play there anyway, you might as well book a longer trip.
  • Tour of the Royal Opera House. If you care for seeing how a huge theater operates, then this is for you. The Royal Opera House also houses the Royal Ballet and on this tour you have a chance to see the dancers go through their classes and warm ups. Each tour is different as one room in every tour is changed up every time. If you’re lucky you’re allowed to go into the main auditorium.
  • Somerset House. Has a lot of fun, more off the beaten track exhibitions.
  • Greenwich. It takes a while to get there, but Greenwich has more to offer than the meridian that gives us GMT. There are the Royal Naval Colleges which are used in tons of different movies (Les Miserables and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed there) and the town itself is small, quaint and comes with vintage clothing stores and record shops.
  • Tour of the Globe Theatre. If you have the time, take a tour of the Globe. It’s fun, informative and they have a great little store.
  • Take a day trip to Oxford. Not London, but close enough that you can go there for the day.
  • Visit Brighton. Same as Oxford. In case you need to get away from the business that is London you can visit this forlorn British seaside town.
  • Walk through Belgravia. One of the nicer neighbourhoods of London. Same goes for Notting Hill and Chelsea.
  • Temple Church. For Da Vinci Code enthusiasts, or just those of you curious in history and culture. A bit difficult to find and with strange opening times, but well worth a visit.

Houses of Parliament – Highgate Cemetary – Tower Bridge

Whenever I go to London, I at least reserve one day for shopping. Because apart from tons of history and culture you can shop till you drop in London town.

  • Westfield shopping centre. There are several locations in the city, some outdoor and some indoor. So even when it’s raining cats and dogs you can shop all major highstreet stores.
  • Oxford Street. For your highstreet shopping featuring Primark, Forever21, Urban Outfitters, Topshop flagshipstore, HMV, New Look, etc etc etc.
  • Soho. If you are into music and vintage shops, then Soho is the place to be. It has independent music stores, stores for instruments as well as London’s redlight district (which compared to Amsterdam’s is a complete joke btw).
  • Carnaby Street. Features the MAC pro store as well as Illamasqua. There are also a few fashion shops such as Monki.
  • Covent Garden. For all major chains. It also has a Dr. Marten’s store and more boutique type shopping.
  • Camden market. Vintage/ Ethnic market place. If you’re looking for more unique finds.
  • Vintage shopping is done in East London mostly though. The area around Brick Lane (also good if you dig Indian Food) has some great vintage stores.
  • Selfridges. Large department store with the best beauty departments ever. From Tom Ford, Nars, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, Illamasqua and Charlotte Tilbury: it’s all available from Selfridges. It’s located on Oxford Street almost across from Marble Arch.
  • John Lewis and Debenhams are two other department stores on Oxford Street where you will find make up brands such as Urban Decay, Stila and Smashbox.
  • Waterstone’s near Piccadilly Circus = 5 floors of book heaven.
  • Victoria’s Secret is located on a side street off Oxford Street and in one of the Westfield Shopping malls. Look up the address, because you won’t just stumble across it.
  • There is a Kiko store off Oxford Circus, but it hadn’t opened yet when I last was in London so I can’t tell you whether it’s any good.

View over Greenwich and London from the Greenwich Observatory (May 2011)

Last but not least, a few tips on going out to eat.

  • Garfunkel’s: a cheap place for steaks and burgers. It’s a chain which you can find all over the UK.
  • TGI Friday’s for American burgers, just know you’ll be in for a wait. In 2013, I didn’t want to wait too long and I found a diner across the street which was a Jamie Oliver pop up restaurant. Not sure whether it’s still there.
  • Covent Garden has some great places to eat. Just have a browse and you’ll find something you like
  • Camden Town does some great ethnic dishes of all scents and flavors
  • Brick lane is the place to go for Indian cuisines
  • Soho is the place to be for veggie places. I found the address for a great hummus restaurant before I went last time, but I didn’t have the time to go there.
  • Pubs! If you are looking for a true English meal, just pop into a pub and have some traditional English food. Fish and chips anyone?

What’s your favorite thing to do in London?

London 2013 shoplog: Topshop, Primark, Illamasqua, etc.

London 2013 shoplog: Topshop, Primark, Illamasqua, etc.

If there is one thing I knew I wanted to do it was shop. The main goal of the trip was to reward myself for finishing my Master’s degree and the crappy situation at my job in the weeks leading up to it. So I was all set on thoroughly enjoying myself and just not have a care in the world. So I shopped till I dropped for one out of the three days and I got quite a few things. It’s mainly clothes and make up with some reading material and beauty bits thrown in. I will first show all the fashion bits, then the make up and beauty bits and then some random things at the end. So let’s get started (oh and don’t forget that cup of tea…).

Black brogues (Primark) & Black 1461 Dr. Marten’s

I took home not one, but two pairs of flat black shoes that will go with my dress/ black tights combo for winter. I didn’t have a sturdy pair of low black shoes that are easy to walk in and that will go with almost anything. Unfortunately the Dr. Marten’s are far from comfy at the moment, but I’ve decided to wear them whenever I can for shorter amounts of time to break them in and then hopefully before the weather becomes absolutely dreadful, they will be comfy enough to be worn for longer stretches of time.

Topshop Joni jeans in stone/ acid washed denim & Topshop Jaime jeans in stonewashed denim

I don’t wear jeans very often, but that’s mainly because I don’t find the ones I have super comfortable. Most of the jeans I have are all actual jeans: stiff, coarse and baggy. The minute I put on one ounce I can’t fit into them anymore and even though they’re still nice, I only get to wear them during the winter months because of that. I wanted a pair of jeans that was soft, stretchy and preferably high waisted but still look flattering. The problem for me with buying jeans is that in The Netherlands all pants are to long as the don’t do a 30″ inseam in my size because in general Dutch people are so tall. So hip hip hooray for the UK: I found not one but two fabulous pairs of jeans that fit all of my criteria AND have a 30″ inseam.

Green Baroque skater dress & Tartan shift dress (Topshop)

I was a bit disappointed with Topshop this time to be honest. It wasn’t until I went into the basement of their flagship store that I found these two amazing dresses. My eye immediately was drawn to the green dress and since the fabric isn’t stretchy I was afraid it wouldn’t fit me. Luckily it fits like a glove and looks amazing on. The shift dress doesn’t look like much on the hanger, but it does when it’s on. Another thing on my wishlist: a tartan dress that wasn’t too school-girly and that had a nice tartan print. Check check, double check.

Snowman knit pj bottoms & Poppy print black shirt dress (Urban Outfitters)

I am not a huge fan of Primark clothes. Shoes yes, but actual clothes, not so much, apart from their PJs. So when I saw they had a Christmas edition sleep and loungewear out I couldn’t resist. The snowmen are simply the cutest and these things are the comfiest thing ever. The poppy dress is by the brand Cooperative which is sold at Urban Outfitters. It was on sale for 15 pounds and looks really nice on. I have to hoist up the skirt a little to make it fit but other than that it’s great. It’s got a flattering neckline, a button down front, strings in the back to give it a bit more shape and a nice overall retro feel.

Black floral boxy button up top (Urban Outfitters) & Plaid men’s shirt (Primark)

In Urban Outfitters I also went for this boxy buttoned shirt. Again the neckline scoops down a bit, like with the dress and it just is very flattering on. Now I just said I’m not a big fan of Primark clothing, apart from their men’s line. I spotted this flanel button down from the corner of my eye and when I tried it on it had a nice oversized but not too bulky fit.

Lush Rose Jam LE shower gel & Tresemmé Keratin Smooth heat protection

I hadn’t checked out Lush’ Christmas collection yet and not much grabbed my attention, apart from Rose Jam. It’s a sweet smelling and warm scent to me and I’ve been using it in my before bed time showers and it’s great at helping me go to sleep. Tresemmé is a haircare brand I’ve been wanting to try for some time and when I saw they had a new keratin line out I went with one of those products. A heat protection spray is important for me now, as I got a new haircut a few weeks ago and I have been reaching for my hair dryer, straightener and curling iron on a regular basis now.

Soap & Glory Hand Food, Body Lotion and Body Butter & Neutrogena moisturizer original and in Pink Grapefruit

A brand I had heard much about from British Youtubers is Soap & Glory and Boots had a buy 2 get one free deal on their hand and bodycare products. So I picked up a few mini’s to try it out and a full size handcreme which I have heard so many raves about it got me very curious. Neutrogena is another one of those brands I was curious about. And since I was looking for a moisturizer to help my skin during the colder months coming up, I decided to pick these up and give them a whirl.

Soap & Glory make up: blotting powder, eyeshadow primer & lipstick in Guavarama

Soap & Glory also does make up but that is far harder to find than the body and skincare products. I happened upon a display in Boots on Oxford Street and picked up these three things to try. I have swatched both the primer and lipstick below. The powder is translucent so no need to swatch it as it won’t show up on my skin.

Topshop lipsticks in Macaroon & Wicked

Whenever I watch shoplogs of Dutch beautybloggers who have been to England they have always ransacked Boots, Superdrug and Selfridges. But don’t forget Topshop! They do some great make up. I am a particular fan of their lipsticks with Rio Rio being my favorite red lipstick. At 8 pounds a pop they don’t break the bank either, are longlasting and there is a massive color range. Macaroon is a pinky coral tone and wicked purple berry color and by far not as scary on a swatch as it looks in the tube.

Illamasqua lipstick in Shard and blush in Naked Rose

Where on previous trips I hunted down a bunch of high end brands not available in The Netherlands, this time I had my sights set on Illamasqua. I had never before tried any of there products and heard great things, mainly about their blush and lipstick so I picked up one of each. I tried on both products before buying. Naked Rose is a great every day blush, completely matte and a great dusty rose color. Shard is a deep plum which looked surprisingly good on. I didn’t look dead and this can be worn as a stain or full on as well.

Swatches: Soap & Glory Guavarama, Soap & Glory eyeshadow primer, Topshop Macaroon, Topshop Wicked, Illamasqua Shard, Illamasqua Naked Rose

Barry M nail polish: Bright Red, Blood Orange, Blue Grape, Crush, Espresso, Duchess (swatches are in a slightly different order)

I of course cannot go to London without picking up nail polish. I picked up some Barry M mainly and these are my favorites. I especially love Duchess: a burgundy textured polish with gold reflects. I think the swatch (all the way on the left of the picture) is even prettier than the color in the bottle. I also love how Barry M now does Matte nail polish. I think both the burgundy and black look so classy.

Bloch dance shorts and footless tights & Primark fuzzy socks and statement necklace

Then on to some random things. I wanted to try some Block dance clothes but since the only stores they have are in London and Sydney and I had never tried on any of their stuff I decided to wait until I went to London. I bought a pair of spandex shorts and black dance tights. Primark is not only good for PJs but also for socks and accessories. I didn’t find too many interesting things, apart from these two.

Books & Magazines: Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Company & Leigh Bardugo – Shadow & Bone and Cassandra Clare – City of Bones.

Books are so much cheaper in England than here (same goes for CDs & DVDs btw) and so I always pick up a few things whenever I’m there. I also like buying magazines when I’m abroad as they usually focus on slightly different trends.

And that’s it! All I got in London. I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you again soon.

What’s your most recent purchase?

London Shoplog # 2: Shoes & Fashion

London Shoplog # 2: Shoes & Fashion

A few days ago I already showed you some of the stuff I bought during my London trip. That post featured books, CDs, make up, beauty products and accessories. But that wasn’t all I got as I also bought a bunch of clothes and yes, as a shoe freak I also got some shoes. So stay tuned and check out part 2 of my London haul.

Let’s first have a look at the shoes I bought. The first day in London I went to Spital Fields/ Bricklane and found these two great pairs of shoes at a vintage store called Blitz for only 10 pounds each:

Dark grayish blue tasseled loafers

Burgundy lace up loafers

As you can see I got two pairs of loafers. I already have two pairs of brogues which I bought last year and I love how they can give an outfit this nerdy/ boyish look to outfits. That is why I really hoped to find a nice pair of loafers as they give an outfit a nerdy/ preppy/ grandma vibe. Both of them are made out of real leather and the blueish gray ones have hardly been worn as the soles are in great condition. The burgundy ones are a lot more beat up but oh so soft and comfy because of it.

Now as you may remember I left for London with a bit of a wish list in mind. I am glad to say that I found some of the things on there and then some. Here’s the first thing I ticked of my list: colored shirts.

Primark t-shirts in peach, green and gray

Primark t-shirts in yellow, mint green and bright blue.

You’re just gonna have to trust me when I say that one shirt is green and not blue. I’m afraid my camera didn’t pick up on the color all that well. Anywho: I found the colored shirts I wanted. Only two of them have prints on them. The rest are all basic, boring, plain t-shirts, but these will look great when paired with patterned bottoms but they can also be paired with other colors. The way I see it: you can never do without a good set of basic shirts.

Green skinny jeans (Forever 21)

These pants look a bit weird in the picture. Again, I blame my camera, but they are a solid grass green pair of skinny jeans. And again, I wanted a pair of green pants so hip hip hooray for that. You’ll be seeing more of this green color in this post as my wardrobe was in desperate need of a pop of green. The color in the picture isn’t true to the color of the actual pants. They are more like the color of these pants. Other than that they are just a pair of plain low rise stretchy skinny jeans. I am thinking of pairing this with gray or yellow and maybe a bit of pink to tap into the color blocking trend.

Wool & cashmere red blazer (Blitz)

Wishlist item no. 3: check! Check out this cool red blazer. It has a very straight, men’s like cut to it which is what I had hoped to find. I had never bought a boyfriend cut blazer as none of the ones at H&M or other places ever looked good on me. They made me look bulky and the fabrics were usually pretty loose which just doesn’t make for a good look on me. This blazer however, fits like a glove and is super soft because of the material used. It’s very sturdy too which means it keeps is shape nicely when it’s on rather than turning into a straight hot mess.

Navy woolen cardigan with side pocket (Vintage stall at Old Truman Brewery)

This navy cardi just jumped right at me when I was browsing to the racks on my vintage shopping spree on Sunday. It’s a great fitting button down which I’m suspecting may even have been knitted by someone’s grandma as there are not tags in the sweater, nor are there any signs of any tags ever having been attached to it. It does show some pilling, but nearly all woolen items get that after a few washes. All I know is that it’s super comfy and not in the least bit unimportant: it’s warm too.

Oversized navy Aztec print sweater (Primark – men’s section)

Here we go again: another item I can tick off my wishlist. I found my bulky dark colored sweater! At Primark. For 10 pounds. In the men’s section. Yes, you read that right: the men’s section. This is a size XL men’s sweatshirt. It looks great on though. I plan on wearing this as a sweater dress with a pair of leggings and some booties or sneakers or brogues or loafers or whatever shoes I feel like. The print is super fun and in style right now so I’m a happy bunny.

Black & white bouclé sweater(Topshop)

The Topshop on Oxford Street is massive and it took me quite some time to browse through it. In the past I was always able to find the cutest dresses there, but this time round this sweater and the one below were the things that caught my eye. This sweater is again super comfy but it’s not super bulky. It’s not exactly tailored, but has a relaxed fit and will look good with nearly anything: riding pants, jeans, those green pants I showed you earlier. You name it and you can make this sweater work somehow. The black and white combined with the fuzziness also gives it a fun textured look.

Multi-colored pastel bulky knit sweater (Topshop)

Say hello to bulky sweater no. 2! The minute I saw this sweater I fell in love. If you look at it from a distance it looks like it could be a light gray sweater right? Now look more closely… There’s the slightest pop of color there. See what I mean?

Close up of Topshop pastel colored sweater

As you can see in this picture, the thread actually consists of different pastel colors: pinks, blues, yellows, greens, purples and creams. Your eyes blend it to make it look gray when you’re standing too far away. Sort of like a pointillist painting, only in sweater form. This is a very loose fitting sweater and I even bought it a size larger than I needed because I just thought it looked better on. It has rolled cuffs and has a nicely relaxed fit. Again, this sweater is soft and warm and it makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a hot cocoa just by looking at it.

Green polka dot skater dress with pussy bow (Monki @ Selfridges)

This dress combines 4 things I am currently loving into one: 1.) it’s a skater dress, 2.) it’s green, 3.) it has polka dots (I now own 5 or 6 polka dot dresses oops), 4.) it has a bow. I just think it looks super cute and I look cute in it (not unimportant). As with the green pants, the color is washed out as it is a much perkier green in real life. I did find it on the Monki website though so take a peep there if you want to see what the color actually looks like.

Green skater dress (Forever 21)

Last but not least I found another great green dress. See, I didn’t lie when I told you green would feature quite a bit in this post huh? This one is from Forever 21 and the green is a bit perkier than the one from Monki. I also loved the detail on the neckline and the thicker waistband gives this dress a slightly different look. It is very plain and simple but I’m thinking paired with some fun tights and shoes I can make this a casual or a more formal outfit.

And that’s it! That’s all I bought in London. Let me know in a comment below which item you like best. Also let me know which, if any, of these items you would like to see on. Perhaps I can make a bit of a lookbook with some of it or at least an Outfit of the Day. Have a good Sunday!

London 2012: Day 4

London 2012: Day 4

Ah my final day in London! This day was by far the laziest of all. I was so tired from all the walking I had done the days before that I decided to really take it easy. I slept in, checked out of my hotel and left my luggage at the hotel and headed out on the town for one last time. The hotel I was staying at was pretty okay actually. I was surprised that it had a good mattress. It was also clean, although the room could do with a bit of an upgrade when it comes to the decor, but other than that: it was good enough to rest my head as that’s all I did during my 4 days there. Best part: the guy at the front desk asked for someone to help me with my luggage on my way out. Always nice when they do that!

I set out the door of my hotel around 10.30 AM and first bought myself a train ticket to Gatwick Airport. It is advisable to just take a regular train and buy your tickets on the go, rather than getting on the Gatwick Express as it is cheaper and nearly as fast. During weekdays there are even direct trains going from St. Pancras to Gatwick for only 10 pounds for a single ride. On my way into the city when I arrived it cost me 15 pounds but that included a day travelcard for the tube. In total it cost me 25 pounds to get in and out of the city and I believe Gatwick Express costs around 35.

After getting my ticket I bought some magazines from WH Smith as I always like seeing what magazines in other countries look like and how they write about different topics. Since it was London Fashion Week right when I was there, many magazines had special Fashion Week editions out so I bought one of those and a discount pack. I was late for breakfast at the hotel so instead I went to Starbucks, grabbed a latte and a sandwich and found a spot just reading and sipping coffee for an hour. I then set off to go to The British Museum.

British Museum exterior

My other major touristy visit was this massive museum that houses everything having to do with ancient cultures such as the Assyrians, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians etc. It’s pretty much a collection of artifacts which the Brits plundered during the Victorian period. Okay not plundered, as many of the British aristocrats who provided artifacts for the collection often got permission from the countries the items came from, even though some of them now want it back. The museum is most famous for the Rosetta stone which is the only reason why anyone is able to understand Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Interior of the museum

Another thing the museum is famous for is the grand hall from which you can go and explore the museum. There is this massive circular staircase in the middle and this amazing glass roof that gives the impression of the room being 20x bigger than it actually is. I decided to just browse around as much as I can. I had already been to the museum once, a long time ago and only saw a few things at the time, so now I was set on getting a good browse around.

The museum starts with Egyptian sculpture and moves into Greek, Assyrian and Roman artifacts quite flawlessly. There are 5 floors in total and not all of it caught my attention. I spent most of my time gazing at the Greek vases depicting the works of Herakles or Hercules as he was known in Latin. And I also learned things about Greek & Roman culture that I didn’t know yet, or I remembered facts that I once used to know. During my teens I was obsessed with Roman, Greek and Egyptian ancient culture, especially the mythology and all of these facts just came boiling to the surface. I now I actually want to go and bust out my old mythology books and read up on them again!

Inside the museum: sculptures taken from the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis in Greece (Greece actually wants these back)

I spent nearly 3 hours at the museum. You could very easily spend the entire day there if you read everything and look at every artifact but like I said not everything grabbed my eye so I just walked right through the exhibitions on early Medieval artifacts and other things that didn’t interest me. By this time I was quite hungry and thirsty again and there was a Starbucks across the street so I huddled up again on a couch with a mag and just sat there for an hour reading and people watching.

By now it was really time to head back to the hotel, pick up my luggage and hop on a train to the airport. I arrived at the airport well on time, had a bite to eat and by the time I had finished my meal it was time for me to go to my gate. After an uneventful flight I arrived at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport safe and sound and got home around 10 PM to a rainy and windy Holland. Would you believe me if I said the weather in London was in fact better than at home? I’m sure that’s a rare thing!

This post finalizes my posts on my 4 day trip to London and I just made me fall in love with the city all over again. After New York, London is my favorite city in the world! I hope these posts make you see why. I still have one more post coming up in which I will show you what I bought fashion wise and then everything will be back to normal again on the blog. I hope you enjoyed my little ramble about my travels and since I’ll be going to the US and Canada over summer you are assured of more of these posts in the near future.

Do you love London as much as I do? If yes, why? If not, which city do you love most?