24 Hours in Edinburgh

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edinburgh, scotland, visit, tourist, visit scotland, visit edinburgh, travel
Last week I went on a flying trip around the country. My first stop was Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities in the UK!  Continue reading

How To Have A Cheap Christmas

christmas, christmas cheap, cheap christmas, christmas flatlay, christmas decorations, christmas sweetsI’m used to having no money at all and it’s very hard to justify spending lots of money this time of year when typically (for me anyway) it’s a low-earning month due to holidays. So for anybody in the same boat.. here are some of my top tips to have a great Christmas without spending anything!

christmas, christmas cheap, cheap christmas, christmas flatlay, christmas decorations, christmas sweets

1. Go Outside
With the “luxury” of being freelance (I’ve put that in quotes because it is not as easy as everybody seems to think) I’ve taken the last two weeks of December off, and I’ve spent most of each day out of the house. Why not meet with friends to walk around your town centre for free and look at the decorations? London is always decorated beautifully for Christmas and it costs nothing at all to go and marvel at the displays outside.

christmas, christmas cheap, cheap christmas, christmas flatlay, christmas decorations, christmas sweets

2. Decorate With Everything
I do get a pang when I see people with beautifully dressed trees and roof to floor co-ordinated decorations, but at the end of the day we can’t all afford that! We’ve decorated our house using chocolates we received as a gift, Santa pegs, ribbon (also good for accessories) and these milk bottle top/wine cork decorations my Mum made back in the 70s as a poor student with zero cash. I also did a run to the pound shop and came back with Christmas coasters, bows, and angel chocolates – for a fiver I’ve decorated the whole of our house. Thank you!
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3. Dress Festive
I can’t tell you how annoyed I get at Christmas fashion being plastered everywhere. Like people really want to spend their hard-earned cash on something novel they will wear once! This year I grouped all of my festive* clothes and have been wearing them exclusively; I was surprised both by how many christmassy items I had and also how festive I felt just tailoring my wardrobe a bit. See also: Christmas hair. DOES NOT COST A PENNY.
*anything sequinned, red, green, white, cream, gold, silver, sequinned, featuring a deer/polar bear/penguin, adorned with pearls, or velvet.
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4. Say “Merry Christmas” To Everybody You Pass
This began as a joke and now we all feel super-festive and the whole street knows of us as “the christmas house”.
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5. Christmas Music Everywhere

This costs NOTHING to play all your favourite Christmas tunes! If you ever need a break from excessive novelty music just switch to Ella or Frank and you’ll still feel suitably classy. I blogged earlier this Slogmas about festive music so have a listen here if you like. 

That concludes my advice for having a fun Christmas that is easy on the bank wallet! Let me know your favourite cheap Christmas tips below as I’m always on the scout for new ways to avoid spending that crucial dollah.christmas decorations christmas tree presets wrapping decoration minimal colour

Mini-guide: Cardiff

Crown arcade roof detail interior cardiff

I’ve only been to Cardiff a handful of times but I thought I’d create this little guide of our favourite shops and cafes I discovered on my most recent visit there. We spent our days in Cardiff shopping for vintage clothes, admiring the adorable arcades and eating wonderful food. I highly recommend a trip to Cardiff if you can get there; it’s beautiful!
Be warned, there are a lot of photos in this post – everything was so pretty I just wanted to document it all! I’ve written about the place underneath the photos and I’ve put links in all the headings if you want to find out more.

Vintage zizou front
Vintage Zizou display cardiffVintage zizou layouts

VINTAGE ZIZOU

(16 Crown Arcade, CF10 1BU)

Vintage Zizou is a clothes and accessories shop for women; for a relatively small premises they have a very varied stock with vintage and contemporary clothes, bags, jewellery, vintage accessories and some gorgeous bridal wear. My friends were quick to drag me away from the wedding dresses before I could spend another half an hour dressed in tulle. Prices were fairly reasonable; I got a beautiful costume jewellery for £6 and one of my friends took home a stunning sequinned top for £25 which was in mint condition.

Childrens books lined up on a wallsecond hand book store sign

TROUTMARK BOOKS

(39-43 Castle Arcade)

Troutmark Books is an absolute must-visit if you’re a bookworm like I am. The shop appears deceptively small from outside but once you get set foot inside you’re confronted with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The shop spans 3 floors and has a huge selection of genres available. The shop owner is very friendly and we spent a long time poring over various titles in this shop. Being the kid I am, I especially loved these old children’s books with beautifully coloured spines and the impressive comics collection.

Sophies cafe in Cardiff

SOPHIE’S

(16 High Street Arcade)

There are a huge number of cafes around Cardiff and I won’t lie, we chose to go in to Sophie’s purely because we had a Sophie in our group. Sophie’s specialise in crepes and galettes and although there were no vegan options listed they were happy to accommodate and create something new for me. Again this cafe was deceptively small; however downstairs there was a spacious seating area where we occupied the sofa for a good hour or so.

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Hubbards Cupboard interior
Cushions in Hubbards Cupboard
Hubbards Cupboard front window display
Hubbards Cupboard dress window

HUBBARD’S CUPBOARD

(35 Castle Arcade)

This shop was so beautiful! Light, airy and very well-presented; we spent a long time in here as it was also one of the first places we found with a decent mens section. The shop was split into two sections; vintage on one side (with a great selection of dresses ranging from medium to high prices) and crafts, stationary and wedding bits and pieces on the other side, all laid out impeccably. I’d recommend this shop to seasoned vintage shoppers or crafty people with an interest in aesthetically pleasing displays!

Barkers afternoon tea
Barkers Tea interior
Barkers Tea Danilo reading

BARKER TEA HOUSE

(High Street Arcade)
I’m genuinely upset I don’t live closer to this place as I have been telling everybody about Barker Tea House since I got back to London. I am a prolific tea drinker and the mate infused with mint that I tried at Barker Tea House was exquisite! This was the last “meal” we had in Cardiff; the mini afternoon tea for one came with scones and chocolate brownies that were extremely rich and shared between three people we had more than enough. The upstairs area has a lovely interior which kind of reminded me of an updated country house or old-school british library; I loved the floral tiles that were used as accents and the stripped wood everywhere. I can imagine whiling away a lot of afternoons chatting with friends in this place. (Side note: doesn’t Danilo look like an advert for beards?)

Hobos in CardiffHobos vintage shop in CardiffFriends outside Hobos

HOBO’S VINTAGE

(26 High Street Arcade)

Cardiff is well-known as a vintage destination and I don’t know if Hobos is the oldest vintage shop there but it certainly seems to be one of the most iconic. The stock isn’t hugely varied, instead focusing more on popular vintage items (such as silk blouses and varsity jackets). You’re unlikely to stumble across a sequinned ballgown but the items they are all in excellent condition and available in a good selection of colours and prints. For people who take a more streamlined approach to vintage shopping or those who have a more classic style I’d recommend Hobos. They also had a great selection of upcycled vintage items and retro inspired clothes (including the Northern Soul dress I wore in this post!).

Barkers Coffee

COFFEE BARKER

(13 Castle Arcade)
On my previous trip to Cardiff with James we had an idyllic meal here; I can’t remember what I ordered but I can remember both James and I talking about how great the food was on the train home. Another gorgeous cafe where I could happily spend a few hours if there weren’t so many other things to go and see! The interior has a kind of New York coffee bar feel to it, with squishy brown sofas and lots of cute metal signs.

Garlands Cafe

GARLANDS

 (4 Duke Street Arcade)
A couple of locals recommended their Garlands so we headed there on our final (hungover) morning. The vegetarian/vegan breakfast was so filling and although quite a small and busy place the staff let us sit around for a while which made us feel very at home. Prices were great and the plates were so large it was really good value for money. I also recommend their juice; it was amazing!

Claire Grove Buttons displayClaire Grove buttons shop

CLAIRE GROVE BUTTONS

(45 Castle Arcade)

This shop was about to close by the time we got there but a quick look around confirmed that they have a HUGE selection of buttons and beads from all over the world. The shop has been there for over 30 years and they also have a selection of quirky cards and prints. If there was a specific button or bead you were after I imagine you’d be able to find it here but it’s a great place just to browse as well – the shop is quite small but beautifully laid out.

Cardiff Fashion Quarter outside colourful entrance
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Cardiff Fashion Quarter mural
Cute displays at Cardiff fashion quarter
Retro kitsch designs at Cardiff fashion quarter
Interior layout of top part of CFQ
Vintage clothes at Cardiff fashion quarter
Colourful displays at Cardiff Fashion Quarter
Cute paper flower display
Rhinestone cowbosys

CARDIFF FASHION QUARTER

(Womanby Street)

Cardiff Fashion Quarter is almost a miniature shopping mall of independent traders selling a combination of vintage and contemporary clothes, books, jewellery and furniture. It’s based inside a converted cinema and is spread across two floors. Some of our favourite shops were Rhinestone Cowboy, Nelly’s Treasures, Rock-Ola Reborn, Bada Peng and Freak Unique Boutique. The whole space was beautifully decorated with fairy lights, bunting, paper flowers and pretty wallpapers covering the space and each stall had cute displays, we spent such a long time just wandering around and browsing all the cute retro toys!

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Other places I would recommend based on my previous visits to Cardiff:

Chapter Arts

One of my favourite arts centres with a really good programme of events, also the cafe is absolutely amazing!

Spillers Records

Obviously I collect records so I’m always biased towards record shops anyway but even if you’re not a vinyl owner this shop is worth a visit anyway – it’s the oldest record shop in the world.

Natural History Museum of St Fagans

The Gate Arts Centre

Bute Park

 

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So there we go, a few of my suggestions for Cardiff! I’ve not really written any city guides like this before so let me know if it’s useful or if you’d like to see more. If you have any favourite places in Cardiff pop them in the comments so other people can go there too!

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Tiny Islands

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Today I’m going to share Ile Aux Cerfs and Ilot Mangenie, two beautiful islands just off the east coast of Mauritius and about a ten minute boat ride from where we stayed. Mauritius itself is a very small island and these neighbouring islands are about the size of one or two football pitches.We spent the most time on Iles Aux Cerfs as Le Touessrok has a boathouse there offering various activities for free. We tried out kayaks and pedal boats and explored the mangroves, trying to catch a glimpse of the monkeys. We also took a trip by speedboat to visit a waterfall. On the way we passed lots of colourful houses and a tree filled with sleeping Mauritian bats. The bats are endangered and theres been a lot of conservation efforts to increase the population so it was amazing to see them in their natural habitat.

We stopped on Ilot Mangenie for lunch with friends; it was completely idyllic. The dogs were strays who were hoping for scraps of food; you can see James is frowning at one rather persistent canine under the table but all in all they were very well-behaved, sitting patiently next to our table. There are over 400,000 stray dogs and they all look pretty similar as you can tell from the two I photographed. Strange to think they might all be members of the same family.Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le TouessrokJames doing his best Hollister model impression.Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok bard b q-3Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok Mauritius Port Louis Ile Aux Cerfs Laila TapeParade Lifestyle Fashion Blog Island Tropical Beach Sunny Exterior Le Touessrok

Scouse

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(Lucha Libre – a mexican restaurant we visited on the first night)

Have you ever been to Liverpool? The moment I set foot on scouser soil I felt strangely at home. Whether it was just being in a busy populated city following the rural Devon villages we’d been visiting or some vague part of my brain remembering happy primary school trips into Liverpool, I felt really happy to be back. One of my favourite people I met during university was from Liverpool and I was fondly reminded of him whilst surrounded by that distinctive accent. I spent most of my time in the Unity Theatre preparing and performing the show, but the hour or so I spent wandering around I explored nearby Bold Street and their HUGE array of aesthetically charming shops.

CLAUDIA PINK

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(exterior and interior of Claudia Pink)

Claudia Pink was the most gorgeous array of unique necklaces, exotic earrings and dazzling brooches. It was lovely to chat to Claudia herself and find out more about the business and her design process.

LITTLE RED VINTAGE

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Stellar visual merchandising from Little Red Vintage, I felt a little as though I had wandered into a fantasy, candy-coloured dressing room crossed with a Sofia Coppola film. I absolutely loved these neon, translucent plastic pom-pom chandeliers.

BOLD STREET SWEETS

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(exterior and interior of Bold Street Sweets)

It’s a giant sweet shop. With old fashioned pick and mix. American sweets. Lucky Charms. Dark chocolate M’n’Ms (my personal all-time favourite sweet). Yay!

ARK

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(interior and exterior of ARK)

Apparently Ark is not a one-off Liverpool independent store but a fairly large chain with stores around the country, so the fact I’d never come across it before is indicative of my own poor knowledge of the outside world (i.e. life past Zone 6). These photos were all taken in their vintage basement where I found the most amazing silver dress. I’m not sure if all the stores have a vintage section but this one was huge and laid out beautifully!

BOLD STREET COFFEE

Hendrix and coffee.

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