A few places to visit in London

My boyfriend has been living in London for almost three years now, and although I haven’t visited as often as you’d think (that’s a whole other story, one for another post!) I have visited some places during my somewhat sporadic visits. I thought it’d be nice to share a few of those here, from a ‘tourist’ perspective! Now there are the obvious places, like the London Eye, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, but I wanted to share a few others. I thought I’d do a list of some others, almost all of which don’t cost anything!

Oxford Street

Okay, so I’ve started with an obvious one. I thought I’d get this one on the list first, although not for as cliché a reason as you might think. Oxford street looks remarkably different depending on the time of day, month and year you choose to visit. Naturally it’s much busier on weekends than weekdays, but that’s to be expected of any major city. This photograph was taken close to Christmas time, at dusk, on a weekend. Although this means decorations which might not be present year-round, the shop fronts are ever-changing which means there’s always something pretty to be seen. There’s a certain lure that draws you to the street, and not just for the shopping – so urban and modern, but there’s a certain magic to it.

Southbank Centre

I have been back time and time again to Southbank Centre, and it’s another one of those which changes dramatically depending on the time of day, and season of your visit. This was taken before Christmas, so there are an array of Christmas stalls and lights dotted around the area. There are a number of shows which take place inside the Centre, and a gift shop plus a restaurant and just behind the Centre you can also find the food market. This is one of my favourite places as there is an array of foods available including burgers, curry’s, polish and pizza, plus many more including bakery goods, catering a variety of dietary requirements including vegetarian and also you can usually find something which is gluten and/or dairy free.

Kew Gardens

I’ve only visited Kew Gardens once, but I’m already anticipating a return trip. The Temperate House had recently reopened and although it was only May, it was such a hot day. From what I have heard, and seen on photographs, it varies greatly from season-to-season. The whole area is beautiful with its combination of indoor and outdoor elements. This is the only one on my list which costs, at the time of writing it’s £16 for adults (without a donation, £17.75 with) or £7.50 for students (without a donation, £8.50 with) when buying online. If you plan to make a day of it then it’s more than worth it, as they also have cafes and places to eat dotted around.

Chinatown

The lantern’s in Chinatown are beautiful, and although these can only be seen around Chinese New Year, the four Chinese gates can be seen all year round. There is an abundance of Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and souvenir shops all along the intersecting streets. Just walking through the area, you get so many delicious (and enticing!) smells and sights. It’s such a light and bright area, full of colour and excitement.

Victoria Embankment Gardens

I chose to finish on a very small, and most likely overlooked area near the River Thames. Stumbling upon this area of garden quite by accident was quite a welcome surprise. It’s an extremely beautiful area, and a complete contrast to the River on the opposing side of the road! Numerous fountains and bedded floral areas are dotted throughout the area, and there is also a bandstand which has events on during the summer months. Like all the others, however, the park is beautiful year-round, like on a crisp winter’s day in the sunshine as above!

Let me know if you decide to visit any of these or have any favourites of your own. I’d love to know, as I’m always looking for new and beautiful places to visit and discover!

 

Ps. If you don’t already follow me on instagram, you can find me here. I always love seeing new faces over there.

A mini haul from Femme Luxe Finery

Nothing really beats going into a store and trying things on for yourself, but sometimes time doesn’t allow for this, and sometimes, quite frankly, we just can’t be bothered to face the world. Online shopping can be really hit-and-miss and finding a new website to make an order from can be a challenge. Thankfully, the most recent online order I received from Femme Luxe Finery was all hit and no miss, which, for me, is a grand achievement. Being 5’8 and slim sometimes has it’s downfalls, and finding clothes that fit correctly is one of them!

The first item I found was this gorgeous crop top. Now, I love crop tops, I wear them all the time, but sometimes they’re just that little bit too cropped. I’m sure you’ve all been there, tried one on and it’s just a teensy millimetre away from being indecent? Well I can confirm that this crop top was actually the perfect length. Not too short, and not full length, just as it should be! The contrasting black text against the white tee works really well, and who can honestly resist a slogan tee?!

The White Vogue Printed Crop Top  – Molly can be found here.

I tend to like to buy things and know what i’m going to wear them with. I’m usually a plain trouser girl, but as soon as I saw this pair I knew they’d be perfect to pair with the crop top. The contrasting black with white piping matches, in an opposing way, to the tee. I also love that they have the floaty effect of a skirt, but the practicality of a trouser. The smart/casual vibe is exactly what I was going for with this outfit and I think I definitely achieved it!

The Black With White Contrast Split Leg Trousers – Tori can be found here.

Finally, I decided to opt for something completely out of my comfort zone. I love a two piece, so I suppose it wasn’t so far removed, but I usually keep my tones quite muted. I don’t usually wear prints or out-there colours, things are usually fairly muted in my own colour palette. I figured, as they often say “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone“, that I may as well take a tiny step in that direction with my clothing!

The Green Contrast Two Piece Set – Tara can be found here.

I was really drawn to the linear pattern online and when it arrived I was glad that I took a chance on it. It fit like an actual dream and the leg length was perfect, which for flared trousers was a miracle! I paired it with a pair of trainers, as I wanted that slightly more casual vibe. As I said already, I love a two-piece anyway, but I think I’ll definitely be taking some more risks with my wardrobe as this one  definitely paid off!

All of these items, and many more, can be found on https://www.femmeluxefinery.co.uk. Please let me know if you order any of these pieces, or anything else from the website, as I’d love to see how you style the items.

(*Disclaimer- this post is in collaboration with Femme Luxe Finery and I was gifted the above items from their site in exchange for this post. All opinions are, however, my own and I was not paid to write this post.)

When university doesn’t go to plan

It’s A-Level exam results day, which means it’s almost that time of year again. A deluge of soon-to-be freshers will fly the nest, spread their wings and (if you believe the stereotype) drink lots of alcohol and make lots of friends. Leaving home for the first time to go live by yourself, in a different town/city/country, whilst learning to live independently AND study is a lot to take on. I mean it’s considered a standard rite of passage for the average teen these days, a natural development to begin a career. (If that’s the path you choose to take of course…)

I pretty much always knew I wanted to go to university. I took A-Level’s in English Literature, Psychology & Art. When it came to 18 and I had to make the decision on which degree path to choose, I had no idea which of the three I wanted to pursue. I enjoyed all of them in different ways, and considering how varied they are, you would have thought one would have swayed me! In the end, I decided I enjoyed Art most, and chose a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design as I wanted to explore the avenues and find my niche before commiting to a degree. Fast forward a year and I’d chosen Textile Design. I had a couple of friends from my course going to the same university as me, and by complete fluke (or fate?) my boyfriend ended up being put in the same halls as me. With the set-up I had, and choosing a university only 30 minutes from home, I thought everything would be perfect. That I’d have the experience that we all are fed from the moment we start our UCAS application…

Now, I’m not going to sugar coat this, but I struggled. Textile Design required a basic timetable of close to 9-5 every day. Now for a first-year student that’s pretty intense. Whenever I told anyone else my timetable they’d look at me and laugh, probably because they thought I was exaggerating. I really wasn’t. I had a fab time in ‘lesson’ time, designing and being creative, and everything was great during uni hours. It was out of my timetable that I had a problem. I had plenty of friends but one of my biggest problems was that most of them lived at home still, or lived in different halls. I basically had class-time-only friends. In all fairness I know a lot of them probably didn’t know, or realise, that I would go back to my halls, go into my room and just sit there by myself. Sit there and aimlessly try to find a TV programme to pass the time. I didn’t hit it off with my flatmates, we were all very different, and accidentally living with your boyfriend of, at the time, 9 months, is pretty intense for a nineteen-year-old. I would go home sometimes, for just a couple of hours of an evening, just for some respite. I’d be exhausted and miserable, but I enjoyed my course. I finished my first year with a 2.1. I was super happy to finish, have some time at home, and start second year with a fresh start.

This is a far cry from what you hear about uni from the majority of people. I don’t know if I was the exception to the rule, or whether people just don’t speak about their bad experiences. If I’m being honest I probably wasn’t as open with the people I was friends with as I would be now. I think if people know how you’re feeling, or if you are isolated, the majority won’t stand there and laugh at you, as I was afraid of. I was also not confident enough, at the time, to help alleviate my loneliness and go and join a society on my own. I’m sure if I’d have looked in to it more, I would have found something, but hindsight is 20/20.

My uni path took a very different turn here, and the fresh start I had in mind for my second year took a very different turn. I wasn’t well that summer. I had to drop out of my degree (albeit two years later, after two attempts of starting my second year). I tried and tried, but sometimes that’s not enough. I was disappointed by this, but I don’t think anyone should feel bad, or any less of themselves, if they find out that uni isn’t for them. Whatever reason this may be for. I also don’t think everyone is the same. Not everybody performs well in an academic setting. Not every career path is moulded via a degree. I know plenty of people who have done completely different jobs from their uni degree. I also know people whose degree classification was never asked when they got their job. So whether it ends up not being for you, or you don’t get the grades you want, don’t feel disheartened. A university degree doesn’t define you, and equally it doesn’t change who you are. It may feel like it’s what you should be doing, but whatever you want to do is what you should be doing. You do you!

If you truly want a certain career, degree, or anything else for that matter, you’ll find your own way to it.

 

A trip to Portugal

My first stint abroad in 8 years was just over a month ago. After much deliberations and changing of country – Ibiza, Spain, Portugal – Portugal reigned triumphant. I am not well travelled in the slightest, and I didn’t even know that Portugal was close to Morocco until a few months ago, but we all start somewhere right?

Armação de Pêra is a quiet town in the South of Portugal. The Algarve to be exact. Travelling from East Midlands Airport (EMA) in the UK to Faro (FAO) took us around 3 hours, and then it was about an hour via private taxi transfer to our hotel.

Being on a budget can sometimes be a challenge, especially when holidaying in the majority of Europe. Not wanting to be a“Brit abroad” but also wanting to make sure everything was planned out, we opted for the Holiday Inn. Familiar, but different, and a huge thing that drew us in was that it was right on the beach.

Now, I’ve never been to a beach abroad before now. As I said, I am not well travelled. I am fairly well travelled in the UK, but outside of it I’ve only ever been to America. We didn’t make to the beach in the USA, so i’m used to UK beaches, which are not the best. The sandy beach in Armação de Pêra was utterly beautiful. Our balcony looked out on to a beautiful view of the beach and Palm trees lined the street outside our hotel.

We were there for five days at the end of June, including all the travel time, so it wasn’t a particularly long trip, but just enough to satisfy our cravings of a trip . We managed to pack a lot in to a short amount of time, which I was happy about as I’ve never been the kind of person who likes to sit around too much!

The Dolphin Emotions experience at Zoomarine was incredible and I would highly recommend it if you have the budget and/or the time. I swam with dolphins at Discovery Cove in Florida, but I think the actual dolphin experience itself was better at Zoomarine. (Discovery cove trumped it with the overall experience though, snorkelling with Rays was amazing!) You can also purchase your photograph’s and an entire video of your experience.

The Benagil Caves were absolutely stunning, and a definite must-do! You can swim, kayak or travel via boat to the caves. The water can be quite choppy, and it involves quite a blind bend when approaching from the nearby Benagil beach. We chose the boat tour, and we saw a number of other caves along the way which were utterly beautiful. Unfortunately the morning we chose to visit was the only cloudy time we had there, but you can still appreciate it’s sheer beauty, sunshine or not!

The FIESA International Sand Sculpture Festival in Guia was fantastic and I’d also highly recommend a visit if you can get there. The detail on the sculptures themselves is incomparable and there was such a range to be seen, including celebrities, film characters, figures of religion and more. The day we visited it was so hot, and there was no real breeze. There are no real shaded areas either, so i’d recommend either going later on in the day. We went around midday and it was just a bit too stifling.

Armação de Pêra’s primary dietary staple is fish and seafood. The coastline is large so it does make sense that the restaurants would be tailored around this. Monkfish was the highlight of the trip for me in terms of seafood, and the fresh taste of the food was incredible. I also had some amazing vegetarian meals too, including this beetroot risotto. 

The streets seemed to come alive after dark, and the stalls and shops stayed open til 10pm most nights. There were caricatures being drawn and the busiest time of day was after 7pm. The playground was always full, and there were couples and families alike.

In terms of alcohol and night life, I don’t drink so I have no idea about the beverages of choice in Armação de Pêra. Although, I think if you’re after bars and clubs, you’ll need to head round the coast a bit further to Albuferia as Armação de Pêra is a very quiet Portuguese village.

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten track with a lot of Portuguese charm and a gorgeous beach, I’d recommend a visit to Armação de Pêra and it’s surrounding attractions.