Saturday, 30 July 2011

Home, heart and wanderlust

Finally!!  A beautiful day in London and I'm feeling better after a few days of being under the weather.  Spent the day doing a bit of shopping, gardening (well mostly sitting in it!) and baked an apple tart .. very homey for me!!! Since the summer has decided to kick in for a few days we're planning a barbeque with the neighbours tomorrow .. got to make the most of it while it's here.. you never know how long it will last!!  

Watched a dvd tonight .. 'Due Date' .. a very funny film but set me thinking again about my road trip in North America next year. All those long seemingly unending highways crossing hundreds even thousands of miles of country. Gets my mind working overtime trying to figure out which route I will end up taking. 

My trip around Europe some years ago took the best part of three months. There were initially six of us - all friends from school.  We bought two old VW camper vans, stocked them up ready to leave London in mid July.  The night before we left, one of the vans was vandalised and set alight .. could have been a hindrance but undeterred we all piled in the one van, bought two tents and headed off across the English Channel to Calais.  We travelled leisurely through France, Spain and Portugal and crossed the sea to Morocco in North Africa for a couple of weeks. Our journey then took us back to Spain, South of France (almost forgot Monaco) and Italy where the van eventually died on us and we all split up and went our separate ways. Three of us stayed together and we bought train tickets back to England, stopping off in Austria, Germany (for the Oktoberfest) and Belgium - returning to London flat broke.  It was an unforgettable experience and I'm so glad I did it.

Did you know that the word 'wanderlust' originates from the German words wandern (to hike) and lust (desire)?  ..source Wikipedia.. well I don't plan on hiking much but there certainly is the desire, a craving for travelling, seeing new places, meeting interesting people. I won't ever be one of those people who sit there at the end of their life saying 'I wish I had done that!'

Thursday, 21 July 2011

London can be beautiful even in the rain!

Up with the larks this morning to get myself down to the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square to queue with all the other hopefuls for an I-visa.  It was a dull, misty morning with a fine spray of light rain in the air.  The walk to the underground evoked a hint of nostalgia for me (I rarely use the tube unless I have to) as it reminded me of days gone by .. the grey skies, the aroma of fresh coffee emanating from the various cafes and the smell of cigarette smoke from people walking in front of me!  Some things never change!  The tube was surprisingly uncrowded .. perhaps the school holidays have kicked in and people are away.   Coming out of Bond Street Station it was so refreshing to see Oxford Street devoid of people bar the few going to work and the occasional tourist ambling down the street obviously excited to be here.
The line at the Embassy was not too bad and thankfully I sailed through the security checks ... at the end of the process my visa for work in the USA was approved!!  Yippee!!!!  First stop the US Open Tennis championships at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.  I am really looking forward to it .. at least the weather should be a whole lot better than it is here!

Feeling slightly elated as I left the embassy and as it was still relatively early and quiet, I strolled into Selfridges and had a look at the Bobbi Brown make up counter where they have some lovely new tortoise shell eye palettes in colours that would easily take you from late summer to autumn. There are two to choose from .. sand and bronze .. I went for the bronze as the colours are a little richer for warmer skin tones .. The palettes are double decked so no problems fitting it into your make up bag .. nice and compact and at £48 good value for money!

To see Bobbi's video on how these shades can work for you, go to ....
I predict that this is going to be a new fave in my make up kit .. or better still perhaps I will keep it just for myself!!!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Lake Constance: Switzerland, Germany and Austria all in one day!!!

Karen B. is on the razzle again .. here's another little trip she has just done!!

Yet one more hen's party (Swiss German style) that I attended with a difference!  Location - Lake Constance which is situated in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.   The German city of Constance (and the lake) is off the beaten track but well worth a visit during summer.  My day started in the Swiss city of Kreuzlingen, just a walk across the border into the City of Constance where I and my eleven companions took an excursion boat (not the standard ferry) to the small German town of Meersburg.  We meandered through the cobbled streets of this medieval town up to the Hotel Weisshaar.  What awaited us there was a magnificent view of the lake from the terrace and fabulous freshly made cakes.  (You may just have to have another cheeky little slice of the plum crumble!)  

From there it was a short walk down to the thermal baths where you pay by the amount of time you wish to spend there but we decided our fingers would look like prunes if we stayed longer than 3 hours!  There is a lovely warm indoor pool which leads to an outside pool where you can relax while your body is massaged by jets along the wall .... all of this and a view of the lake as well!!  Blissful!!!  An important point to remember though - in Germany saunas are usually mixed sex and bathing suits are not worn ..... keep this in mind when in Europe.
Throughout the day we saw a zeppelin flying back and forth over the lake.  Flights are available and prices for 30 minutes start at Euros 200 but unfortunately we didn't have time ..... oh well .. maybe next time!
After our pampering it was back to Constance by boat for an aperitif and a bite to eat.  There are plenty of restaurants to choose from.  To end the day we had a tour of Constance by the Night Watchman.  (At one time the town of Constance had a bigger population than Berlin and Cologne.)  This walking tour takes  hrs and is Euros 6.50 per person and it is taken by a local historian.  The night watchman was responsible for telling the time (before clocks) and getting people up in the morning (6am), putting out fires and was also the local policeman.  As this role was a lowly role he was not allowed to live in the city.  If he fell asleep during his watch the local towns people took a dim view of this and would kill him (as they did to a night watchman in Bern, Switzerland).  He was not allowed to do his rounds with people (unless he was collecting the dead) so took animals for company.  The most popular animal (or bird) was a goose as it appears to sense danger ahead of time.  There were lots of other little interesting stories and some explained how certain German phrases originated.  Unfortuantely this particular historian only spoke German but it gives you a taste of what is available on a cultural note in some European cities/towns for a very reasonable price .. and usually the guides are multilingual.

Train to Constance:
Zeppelin tours over Lake Constance

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vintage inspiration

I would like to share a piece that was written by my friend and colleague Sharon for her blog a while ago. She runs the Vintage Hair Lounge in Southampton which specialises in vintage hairstyling and barbering.  If you are interested in brushing up (no pun intended) your hair skills they also run weekend courses in vintage hair styling for camera .. contact for more information.

"With new Besame stock on display at Vintage Hair Lounge this week, it's about time we told the story of the influence these beautiful vintage inspired cosmetics have had on the development of the Vintage Hair Lounge brand and vision.

Tinks Reding introduces Besame

Back in 2007, when I (Sharon Holloway) was a fellow Hackney resident with tv and film make-up artist Tinks Reding we often shared our thoughts of the future, and over a drink one day Tinks enthused about developing a professional make-up store with a glamorous vintage feel. Besame, she told me, was the brand leader of vintage make-up products, and she'd seen it in the States and fallen in love with it. She was determined to bring it to the UK. I listened intently, went home, and googled the Besame website. I too fell in love with the brand, but no matter how hard I tried, including pacing up and down through Selfridges who were rumoured UK stockists, I couldn't find a single Besame product anywhere in London to actually look at."

Subsequently Sharon went on to import and supply this wonderful brand to the UK and now uses it extensively for photo shoots and films as well as selling it to the public at the salon.

For product information go to

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Plans heating up for August!

Shopping in Milan
Summer is in full swing (well kind of) and as August is fast approaching I'm fixing my travel plans already .. I also had some great news today regarding more travel but I'll let you know that all in good time!!  In a few weeks I'm heading to Lugano, Switzerland for a long weekend and throwing in a girls shopping trip to Milan, Italy for the fun of it!  After a few hours pounding the pavements it's so great to sit at a sidewalk cafe with an espresso and later indulging in a glass or two of prosecco before dinner.  By then sadly, the end of the summer season will be in sight but the gorgeous new winter clothing collections will be in the stores.  It's a good time to go and grab those things that sell out quickly or that may never be available in your town. Last year I scored a Max Mara cube coat that I had seen online and coveted .. it wasn't even on display in the store but I asked if they had it and voila! tried on and bought in a nano second!  By the time winter had started it was out of stock everywhere, not to mention more than £200 more expensive in the UK!!!  It was my favorite coat last winter .. and I really needed it with the freezing weather we had!   This year I probably won't be so extravagant but you never know .. depends on what's out there!  But the highlight of my jaunt to Milan is visiting the make up shops .. namely Sephora and Kiko .. I can't wait to see what treasures lie in wait to fill my little shopping basket!