Friday, 29 June 2012

Holiday in Hastings

So after my exciting travels to Italy, I returned home  to Jubilee madness in London. My boyfriend and I decided to leave the city for the bank holiday weekend, and we managed to find a lovely little B&B in Hastings that looked beautifully decorated but still affordable. I'd heartily recommend Laindons to anyone visiting Hastings- the room was stunning, complete with all the little luxuries that made a stay away from home special; bathrobes, hot chocolate, a thick velvet eiderdown, vintage fireplace and beautiful chaise longue by the big windows with a wonderful view over the town. The English breakfast was plentiful and perfectly cooked.

 Laindons is located on the high street, which is full of my absolute favourite types of shops- vintage treasure troves, antique markets, bric a brac and charity shops and of course seaside shops selling rock and fudge. I also discovered the most amazing hardware store- a bit like London's Labour and Wait, the A G Hendy Home Store had such stunning stock that it could actually get me excited about cleaning. I only had my iphone with me so apologies for the shoddy quality of these images, but you can see from below some of the vintage- inspired brushes. I was also a huge fan of how they styled the shop windows which are pictured above- vintage chests of drawers and plates displayed in quite a modern, minimalist way. It really made the shop stand out from all the other little antique stores which were just crammed to the ceiling with bits and bobs (I'm also a big fan of this look, but can't help admitting the A G Hendy approach looked much smarter and easier to see what you were looking for!)

They also had whole ranges of vintage-inspired crockery that looked exactly like a set my grandmother used to have- it made me quite nostalgic. I found it particularly sweet that the shop doesn't even have a website yet! But they do have a facebook page; here it is.

Other gems I found include this ship's bunting- it was in a shop where we actually ended up spending a considerable amount of money on a pair of Art Deco mirrors. They're absolutely huge- about 6ft x 5ft- we think they actually used to be used as panels or doors. Though it felt like a lot to spend, the price we paid for the pair is, I'm sure, less than we would have paid for just one mirror similar to them in London. There really were some bargains to be had- I thoroughly recommend a visit if you're refurnishing!

The seaside in Hastings is really lovely- I wish I had taken my proper camera, but then again, it was very drizzly and grey so I probably wouldn't have got many good pictures anyway. I loves these giant beach-huts that are unique to Hastings- fishermen used to hang there nets in them to dry which is why they're so tall. There are, of course, many fish and chip joints around town, but we went to a little restaurant called Pomegranate on the recommendation of a friend and it was really excellent- I'm not a huge fish fan generally but this was really delicious, and not a lot more expensive than the average chippie takeaways!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Blogville Bologna - Part 4

So here's my final post on the Blogville trip I went on to Bologna- it may sound cliche but the most fun I had was probably shopping! Not that I bought much, I just really enjoyed exploring the town's local shops and markets; there were a few chains on the main high street, but otherwise it was all independent shops, cafes and restaurants which really add to the town's character.

There's a mix of really traditional shops and sellers like this florist transporting flowers in his bike, and the butchers below, and more modern boutiques.

Out apartment was only a few doors down from an incredible little shop called 'Memories' which sold all sorts of vintage jewellery, trinkets, books and postcards like these pin-ups below.

We also discovered a treasure trove of a jumble sale in the yard of a beautiful church- selling everything from old glasses, crockery, artwork, furniture and clothes.

I'm a bit of a vintage photo and postcard fiend- here are some of the nicest ones I bought in Bologna. I love sending vintage postcards to people, but I also love it when I find postcards that have been used- I found one sent from London at King George's coronation in 1911- I could translate that it said 'The coronation is next week, we hope the weather is good'- seems like all those years ago they had the same concerns we had for the Jubilee over a century later!

Also just on the doorstep of our apartment was the cutest little shop selling handmade clothes and artwork- like this adorable pair of baby booties with a rabbit's head and tail on the soles- so incredibly cute.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Blogville Bologna - Part 3

Welcome to my third and penultimate post on Blogville in Bologna! The day after we arrived in Bologna, we all ventured off to visit the neighbouring town of Emilio Reggio, where we visited one of the loveliest youth hostels I've ever seen, the beautiful theatre I featured in this post, and a fantastic education centre which teaches children about everything in a hands-on way, even letting them make their own food. They served us an amazing lunch including some of the best cheese and balsamic vinegar I've ever tasted- or so I thought....but that was before we made our final stop of the day, at Acetaia San Giacomo.

Andreas showed us round his beautiful home and the buildings where the balsamic vinegar is made- one brilliant feature of the site is that they had commissioned a local artist to interpret some of the most useful information about the vinegar making process into these gorgeous feature walls- illustrating the process of growing, heating and ageing. 

Since I've recently been doing some work for a whisky company, it was really interesting to see the similarities in the ageing techniques- the use of different types of wood in the various barrels giving the vinegar a different flavour.

We even got to try some of the most expensive Gold label vinegar- over 25 years old and 100 euros a bottle! It was absolutely delicious. We even tried a special bi-product of the vinegar making process- sapa- which is a result of over cooking the sugar out of the grape mixture. It's thick, gooey and very sweet but still has that vinegar kick- and was traditionally served to children on snow! We enjoyed it on ice-cream though,which was absolutely delicious.

I bought a bottle of the vinegar home- not the Gold Label but still better than anything we get here in England! As much as I would like to keep it for myself, I've decided to give away this bottle as a gift to you guys- so leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner later this week. Please leave an email address or twitter ID so I can contact you!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Blogville in Bologna- Part 2

Photo by Frankie Murray

Pic by our fellow Blogville guest Helene Lohr
So here I am in Bologna with Frankie and Akeela- this is just a brief post showcasing some of the looks we rocked at Blogville! You can read more about our trip here.
Akeela did my hair for me in 1930s style pincurls- it worked so well and I loved the look I was left with-it lasted for days too, which is really rare for my hair as it's so fine that curls hardly ever stay in. The other problem with having super fine hair is that it gets damaged really easily- so I try to avoid using too much heat on it. Akeela just did my hair when it was wet, I slept with them under a silk scarf, brushed them out in the morning then covered them with hairspray.Ta da! I've tried to do them myself a few times since the holiday and I've found these tutorials really helpful- the girl in them is just incredibly cute too.

Photo (and hair!) by Akeela Bhattay (In Hotel Orologio, read more about it here)

Akeela looking super stylish in a beautiful outfit by Eleven Paris

Frankie Murray in the most practical maxi dress ever by Hot Squash- it's made of special material that regulates your temperature- keeping you warm when it's chilly or cool when it's hot.

Akeela in a beautiful vintage dress from Penny Dreadful Vintage

Italian Vogue- always full of gorgeous editorials.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Blogville Bologna- Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Bologna in Italy as part of their Blogville programme- where travel bloggers from around the world visit their region of Italy and live like a local- staying in an apartment in the centre of town and experiencing everything from food to fashion first hand. 

This was the view from our apartment- pretty sweet, huh? I'd been to Bologna once before but only for a 24 hour styling job, so had only glimpsed the city- this time I was able to properly explore. It had everything I love about Italy- incredible architecture, surprises down every street, stylish locals, delicious food, amazing shops and it was even surrounded by incredible countryside. I actually lived in Florence on my gap year, and though I loved it, I have to admit I much preferred the atmosphere in Bologna. The population in Florence is 70% non-Italian- mostly students from abroad studying the language, history of art or such like. It was great fun but meant that I didn't really feel like I was experiencing the genuine Italian lifestyle, whereas in Bologna I felt we had a much more authentic visit. There are far fewer tourists in Bologna too, which means the locals are always really pleased to see you and keen to chat- such a refreshing reaction and so different to how tourists are treated in London!

This is the first in a series of posts I'll be writing about the trip, as there's so much to say! There are also a lot of thankyous to be said- so please bear with me!
First off are the airline German Wings who flew us out there and back- we were a little wary as none of us had heard of them before but they were great-much better than RyanAir!
Secondly, I must thank Nicholas who was our exceptional host in Italy- a real Italian gentleman with excellent taste in t-shirts.
And last but not least, the lovely Akeela who organised the whole thing for us- she's an absolute legend and fast becoming a travel blogging queen! Here's a snap she took of Frankie, me and Sara, a Finnish blogger who was staying with us too. The pictures above I took on my Diana lomography camera, the one below is Akeela's- I'm not sure what model she was using. There's a bloggers' workshop at Lomography in London next Saturday 23rd which I think I will pop along to- I'm still learning the ropes!

It's amazing how in foreign cities, we find even the most mundane things like street signs and bicycles completely charming.

Having arrived on the Thursday evening, we set off on Friday to discover some of the towns surrounding Bologna- first up, Reggio Emilia. My favourite place here was the beautiful old theatre which had incredible old posters inside, as well as stunning murals.

Here's a picture of Frankie in one of the beautifully decorated rooms people could hire for functions.

On the Saturday we moved from the Blogville apartment to a lovely hotel- The Art Hotel Orologio-organised by Akeela again, pictured here sipping tea in our hotel room. The hotel was part of a gorgeous chain or boutique hotels, this one had a very art deco feel and was full of ancient clocks. When we arrived we were greeted by From Russia With Love playing on our hotel room television- dubbed into Italian of course! It all felt very glamorous and luxurious, especially when we had breakfast with the hotel owner the next day, a lovely lady, timelessly stylish in that typical Italian way- mixing what must have been antique pearls with a modern Issey Miyake handbag and totally pulling it off! She introduced us to her son who worked for Greenpeace in Milan- between us we tried to explain to her what blogging and social media involved with the help of Frankie's ipad! Said technology was also the source of endless amusement as Frankie shared her 'Speak Italian' app with locals wherever we went - 'I won't do it without a condom' becoming our Italian catchphrase!
More posts to come soon on what we wore, what we bought and what we ate!Ciao for now!

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