Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Night In WWII - Dad's Army Party

The hazy days that made up our early British summer seem but a distant memory now, as I begin to pull jumpers from the depths of my wardrobe once again but they did exist, once upon a time, I promise.  On one such summer’s day, my family and I hosted a small Dad’s Army themed tea party.  For those of you unfamiliar with the television program, it is a 1970s sitcom based on the Home Guard during WWII.  Armed with that common trait whereby one can idealise even the least pleasant of events, we put our hair into victory rolls (between you and me, I’d been desperately looking for an occasion to do so for quite some time) and put together out our best attempt at a wartime spread.

I made a Dig For Victory cake (very simple - Victoria Sponge with some homemade icing cut outs arranged on top) whilst my mother slaved over some miniature fish and chip ensembles wrapped in newspaper cones (although I sadly forgot to photograph these - sorry Mum).  Other delicacies included egg sandwiches, a sausage plait, rock cakes and an obligatory tin of Spam, which I stayed well away from.  My grandfather devised a WWII/Dad’s Army quiz and, of course, we watched a few episodes of Dad’s Army itself.

The weather was beautiful and it was a lovely way to pass an evening with my family.  If you’re under the impression, as I suppose I guiltily was, that fancy dress is an activity to be reserved for drunken nights out with university societies, then I urge you to think again.  A little bit of effort and a shared interest and your family can gather together to create a pretty fun evening, or so I found anyway.

Friday, 3 May 2013

14 Hours in Oslo

Oslo Harbour

I have to admit that the rare occasions on which I see 6am are usually somewhat miserable affairs - the dregs of a night out, the final few hours before a coursework deadline, the dreaded breakfast shift at a hotel summer job. At 6am last Friday, however, things were a little different. It was a bight, beautiful late April morning and I’d just arrived in Oslo, Norway, feeling astonishingly fresh given that I’d had just four hours of broken sleep on the overnight bus from Gothenburg, Sweden. I applied my makeup using a hand mirror on a bus terminal bench and set off to explore. 

By 9am I had already stumbled across Louis Vuitton, found the royal palace and located Åpent Bakeri, where I had a very Norwegian breakfast of fresh bread, stirred jam and coffee. Feeling refreshed, I wandered along the brilliantly named Gyldenløves Gate towards the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where I perched myself on a bench beneath the clear blue Scandinavian sky and began to draft this post, such was my excitement. 

Pretentious notebook scribbling over, I ventured into the park itself. A key Norwegian tourist attraction, the park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist and houses the life works of Gustav Vigeland. There were hundreds of sculptures set against expanses of grass and I found the experience thoroughly breathtaking. The quiet of the early weekday morning only served to amplify the magnitude of the sculptures, crafted from granite, bronze and wrought iron, and the comparative insignificance of the few people wandering between them. 

Many awestruck minutes later, I left the park and walked back through the city centre towards the Oslo Opera House. Again, I was left speechless. The Opera House is a huge building, built with sloping white ceilings which you can walk over, and at the top there are breathtaking views of the Oslofjord (interestingly, not a genuine fjord in the geographical sense of the word) to one side and the growing city to the other. 

I’m not sure quite why I fell so much in love with Oslo but I know that my amour was at its peak either atop the Oslo Opera House or looking down on the Vigeland Sculpture Park. There was something about the city which just grounded me and left me dumbstruck in a way that very few, if any, cities ever had. There was a sense of the incredible, usually only seen in natural phenomenons, yet Oslo has somehow created it with the clever placement and combination of the natural, the old and the new. 

Feeling completely inspired by the sheer beauty of the city, I finally climbed down from the roof of the Opera House and back towards the royal park in order to find the Oslo Litteraturhuset (in English, simply ‘Literature House’) which I’d read was the perfect place for a book lover to eat lunch. The reviews were not wrong. I walked into a large, open room, one half of which is a book shop and the other half houses Kafe Oslo and its delicious lunch menu. I opted for a chicken and apricot terrine on rye and the most delectable sorbet I have ever had for dessert (unfortunately I show my true colours as a rookie lifestyle blogger here and have to admit I got swept up in the eating and forgot to take any pictures...oops). Even the cafe walls were lined with reading material and it was a wonderful place to while away a few hours. 

Litteraturhuset was situated next to the Palace Park so after lunch I wandered back towards the Palace to watch the changing of the guard, which happens around one thirty in the afternoon. I was lucky enough to visit in one of the summer months (as deemed by the royal house, although the temperature wasn’t quite withstanding by this point) when the Norwegian military band marches through the city centre towards the palace in time for the changing of the guard. Quite a crowd gathered and it was another quite spectacular event, only heightening that “something special” feeling I already had about Oslo. 

Once the guard was safely changed, I meandered around the city centre some, browsing the many shops and taking a couple of coffee breaks. I later attempted to find the Grünerløkka district, which was the old working class neighborhood, now home to an array of cosy cafes, exciting bars and vintage dens. Sadly, I got a little lost on the way and most of the shops were closed by the time I arrived, but it was a nice place to wander around on a late Friday afternoon nonetheless and, from the look of the shop fronts, it looks like I missed a fantastic opportunity for some vintage rummaging. 

One more coffee break in Grünerløkka and it was time to head back to the city centre and take the bus back to Gothenburg. On the journey home, trying to ignore my aching feet, I reflected on my whistle stop tour and officially awarded Oslo the much coveted position of my favourite European city, knocking Budapest from the top spot. It’s hard to explain without sounding horribly corny but I left Norway feeling like I’d taken one huge breath of fresh air. I find myself getting mild Paris syndrome about most places I visit, as they just don’t quite live up to the enormously high expectations I have of them, but Oslo surpassed all I’d hoped for and more. Congratulations Norway, I’ll be back soon, and hopefully for at least a whole day next time.

Louis Vuitton

Vigeland  Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Modern Oslo Architecture



Kafe Oslo, Litteraturhüset

Norwegian Military Band

Changing of the Guard

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

On A May Day Morning

Dress - Primark
Jumper - Topshop
Shoes - Topshop
Necklace (Short) - Miss Selfridge
Necklace (Long) - Unknown

Anybody who knows me at all would be able to tell you that organisation is not something that comes naturally to me and when I do attempt it, it has been known to backfire on me slightly.  For instance, I have been known to think I've lost clothes that are in fact hung up in the wardrobe, it's such a rare occurrence.  Just yesterday, I phoned the bank in a panic after checking my online statement and seeing a £700 cash withdrawal I absolutely had not made.  It turned out I'd opened a savings account and forgotten all about it.

Equally, when I tried to take outfit pictures at some ungodly hour last week before meeting my cousin from her early morning flight, I learnt that the sunshine which is usually so welcome makes indoor outfit photos all but impossible.  I really enjoyed this outfit though for some reason, so here we are.  I'm sorry.  I'll sleep in next time.

As some of you may know, I'm coming to the end of a slightly extreme spending ban at the moment, which came about as a result of one of my new year's resolutions which was to not buy any clothes (or shoes or accessories) between January 1st and June 1st.  I found it surprisingly easy at the beginning, as most of the shops were still stocking the dregs of their A/W collections which weren't very tempting and it was too cold to even contemplate new outfits.  However, now the S/S ranges are fully launched and the sun has finally come out, I am having to employ a little more willpower.  In a bid to make it through the last month of the challenge, I've been raiding last year's summer wardrobe and, as always, trying to mix and match items in new ways.

The result, one day, was this outfit.  It has been beautiful weather here in Gothenburg but not quite time for bare arms yet, so I pulled this old Topshop jumper over a favourite Primark dress.  I really enjoyed both the bright coral paired with the colours in the dress pattern and the feel of the heavy cotton knit against the thin summer dress.  I know that the old story goes that you should wouldn't wear tights after April 4th but, hey, we're living in an era of global warming and I'm pretty sure there was still snow on the ground in the UK at the beginning of April, so I think I'll let myself off.

I haven't blogged for nearly two months which is pretty bloody atrocious.  I apologise.  I think you might be seeing a bit of a shift towards more lifestyle blogging in the future though, which I'm excited for.  As much as I love shoes and lipstick - and I do love shoes and lipstick - I find myself lacking inspiration quite often because I'm just not sure that I can convince myself that it matters enough.  Anyway, onwards and upwards!  

I hope 2013's May Day marks the beginning of a beautiful season for you all.  

Until next time,

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Back to School

Dress  - Topshop
Blouse - H&M
Satchel - Warehouse
Necklace - Accessorize 
Brogues - Unknown Swedish

I've got to admit that I don't have a whole lot to tell you about this outfit, except that I felt a lot like I was heading back to school whilst wearing it.  I'm sure you can see where that feeling came from - the satchel, the brogues, the shirt, the skirt (/dress - shhh), the bun.  All together, if I'd added a tie, I could have easily sat myself down in an exam hall and not looked an inch out of place, although I'm sure somebody would have told me off for the tied shirt.

Speaking of which, I don't think I've knotted the tails of a shirt since 2010.  It was a look that I used to quite like but I think I went off the whole idea when New Look and Dorothy Perkins introduced a ghastly range of t shirts with ready to tie hems.  I'm a little opposed to pre-made anything at the best of times - layers, rips, etc,  I think it just completely contradicts the whole vibe that is at the heart of such looks - but on too thin jersey, cut so the tie sat at an unflattering point of the abdomen which cupped any excess stomach you were sporting?  Just no high street, just no.  

Here we are though, three years later, and getting dressed this morning I suddenly found my hands fumbling to craft the perfect fisherman's knot before I even kew what was happening.  I think I kind of like it though; it adds a hint of St Trinian's to my otherwise wholly Malory Towers get up (please say I'm not the only one who grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton tales?) and, somewhat inexplicably, made me feel a little Byker Grove too.  Now, don't ask me to supply any kind of logic to go with that reference as it comes with neither rhyme nor reason.  I certainly have no recollection of ever seeing tied shirt tails on the show, but I just have an inkling that in between youth club rivalry and dabbles in teenage pregnancy, the Byker Grove best wouldn't have been stopping to button the bottom half of their shirts.  Call me crazy, but that's just how things were today.

Now, before I put a stop to this incoherent dribble to which I am subjecting you today, I'd really appreciate a little feedback from anybody reading this.  What are your feelings on the text/picture placements in blog posts?  Do you like pictures placed all together at the beginning, all at the end, or half and half?  Do you like the text in one block, or the paragraphs alternated with pictures?  I think I've tried pretty much all of the above at one point or another, most regularly opting for a picture-text-pictures routine, but I just can't make my mind up.  Any opinions will be greatly appreciated.

Happy Monday,

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer - A Bittersweet Review

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Stellar 

For me (and the majority of the online beauty community and indeed the world at large, or so it seems), February brought with it a much anticipated addition to my makeup collection in the shape of a Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer or two.  Whilst I may be a little late to the show when it comes to reviewing this product, I wanted to added my two cents nonetheless, as my feelings about the Apocalips were bittersweet.

I'll start with the good news.  I found the lip lacquer astonishingly easy to apply; they provided the pigmentation of a lipstick, with the ease of gloss application.  They perhaps even trumped the matte formulas to which I am usually so loyal as it took just one swipe of the product, blotted, to give a colour payoff that would usually require at least two coats of regular lipstick.  Not only is the immediate colour gratification excellent, but the staying power of the Apocalips formula is pretty darn impressive too.  I applied it in the morning and hours later, having encountered wind, rain, sandwiches and litres of water, it was still looking picture perfect. 

As I said though, I wasn't 100% impressed by the product.  If I wanted an easy and, let's be honest, fun alternative to a standard lipstick, I couldn't fault Apocalips, but that's not why I bought them.  I have an extensive range of matte lip colours already but I wanted something more from Rimmel's latest offering.  I wanted colour payoff, yes, but I wanted it to come with a gloss and shine that you could almost see your reflection in.  And, on first application, that's exactly what you get but boy oh boy is it messy.  I wore the product like this for less than an hour before the endless transferring onto every surface got a bit too much to handle, and I urgently reached for a tissue to blot with, thereby achieving the aforementioned effect.

The big question: is this product for you?  If you want a hassle free lip colour with incredible pigmentation and superb longevity in a nice range of shades, then yes yes yes, I urge you to pick up a Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer. However, if you're looking for something a bit different, something that'll give you a glossy Hollywood smile, then I suggest you think a little more carefully.  Unless you love your new lip colour so much that you want a trace of it on every surface, that is, in which case go ahead and enjoy.