A trip to London…and a night out

One of the downsides of having children, if we’re truthful, is the lack of decent night outs with your husband, or girlie nights with friends. Sure it is fun enjoying Disney Shows and Walking with Dinosaurs, but sometimes you need to let your hair down and see a burlesque show and walk with the girls in uncomfortable and impractical high heel shoes.

And maybe that is why I’ve been getting excited about planning a weekend in London with the hubby to celebrate our wedding anniversary. A truly grown up weekend, meeting friends and making the most of not having Joe around. I’ve already been looking for ideas on the Late Night London website (http://www.latenightlondon.co.uk/) to help me plan a great night out, but I’m also thinking of previous trips to London, and places I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Here are a few of my fave London nights out.

IceBar London

It was freezing, and my drink (served in a giant ice-cube) kept sliding off the bar, but IceBar is still a really surreal, and fairly brilliant experience that everyone should try at least once!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

A good theatre trip is always a must in London. My sister dragged her hens (me included) to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which was brilliant, and stayed Alf from Home and Away, a total legend in my book. You can often pick up cheap tickets at the booths that are scattered all over London too.

Aqua

Aqua is a great venue, and if the we get great weather, this is definitely one of the best places to be in London, simply to experience the great rooftop bar with views across the capital. It was raining on the night I was there, but it was still worth a trip to the roof to admire London’s glittering lights.

With fellow blogger Marina and friend Dawn at Aqua

Proms in the Park

One London event I love is Proms in the Park that takes place in Hyde Park every September. On a warm night, with a champagne picnic and fabulous music, this is just a really enjoyable experience. I’ve been three times now, and am hoping to get to this year’s concert too.

Benihana Picadilly

Quite simply, some of the best food I have ever tasted was served at Benihana, the Japanese Sushi and Hibachi Grill restaurant located in Piccadilly. The food is cooked on a hot plate style table in front of you and tastes all the better for it. The fact that Bill Nighy was coming out as we were entering made the night even more special.

Fashion-mommy goes to London – a weekend in fashion land!

Hyde Park Corner. One of London's busy main ro...

Image via Wikipedia

In my humble opinion, London is the real fashion heart of the world and so I try to make as many trips as being a mom to Baba allows. One of my most unmissable London events is the Proms in the Park, which takes place in Hyde Park each September. Luckily Nanna Diane and Grandad Mick were on hand to look after Bab for the weekend, so Fashion Mommy and hubby were able to enjoy a fashion filled fun weekend amongst the grown up world!

My BFF Dawn relocated to London three years ago and is currently living in a fab Georgian Style flat in Putney. This is within easy walking distance of Putney High Street and a whole range of interesting shops, bars and restaurants. We arrived at Dawn’s flat on friday evening, and after admiring Dawn’s brand new Mulberry Mags bag (£208 bargain from Bicester Village Mulberry outlet) and comparing it to my white beaded vintage handbag (£9 from an antique stall on Tywyn market) we decided to enjoy a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio and a lovely Southern Indian meal at the Cochin Brasserie on the Richmond Road.

Dawn's Mulberry 'MAGS' bag. How gorgeous is this?

My vintage beaded bag - a £9 bargain.

Saturday was time for a shopping trip in Putney. Putney has one stand out store that is well worth a visit for any budding fashionista. The TK MAXX store is completely amazing for a range of reasons.

  • It only stocks items for women. There are bags, shoes, clothing, scarves, toiletries, accessories, but these are strictly for the girls only.
  • The store has a pretty boudoir feel to it, with lots of pretty wall mirrors, velvet seats and chandelier style lighting.
  • It’s a mecca for fashionistas stocking Lulu Guinness bags, Versace, Stella McCartney, Ronit Zilkha and BCBG Max Azria. I had a fabulous Lulu Guinness bag for £79 (rrp £199), a fab black 50’s style frilled cardigan for £20 and a Julian Taylor New York shift dress in grey flannel style with ruffled neckline for £25. I seriously regret not buying a pair of gold BCBG Max Azria pointed, buckled flats for £40.
  • The changing rooms are funny too. They are labelled as fashionista and bargainista. Guess where I ended up?

We spent ages in TK Maxx, frankly I could’ve spent the whole weekend in there, it is truly that fashion fabulous. However, shopping needs sustenance and so we decided on a spot of lunch at Hudsons. However, disaster struck when the heel fell off hubbies shoe. Now, hubby is funny about shoes. Despite having almost as many pairs as I have, he tends to wear the same pairs all the time, notably Gucinari shoes. Todays said, now broken pair, had been brought on a shopping trip on the KIngs Road before Baba was born. However, no simple trip to Office for a new pair was on the cards for Hubby. That would be far too easy. Instead we had to visit the cobblers in the Putney Exchange shopping centre, and hubby then walked around the shops for 30 minutes in his socked feet whilst Dawn and I laughed uncontrollably and thought of all the different words that could be substituted for scruffy, shoeless, tramp. Luckily hubby saw the funny side, even when I dragged him into Waterstones to look for fashion books whilst he was shoeless in Putney!

Hubby in bare feet in Putney exchange - still too funny!

We just had time then to hit the Putney British Heart foundation shop. This was a veritable Aladdin’s cave of fashionable bargains – Coccinelle handbags for £15-£30, Dkny newspaper print bag £20, Joseph shift dresses for £11 and KG bags for just £4. The most amazing section of the shop housed the shoes, with bargains from Hobbs, LK Bennett, Kate Kanzier and Dune for less than £5. I feel in love with a glittery pair of flat. pewter ballet pumps that were just £3, but by this time we were running against the clock. We had an appointment at Hyde Park and we needed to get ready so I lest empty-handed. It was not the last I was going to see of the glittery pumps!

Dressing for Proms in the park is a tricky thing to do. it was still gloriously sunny as we arrived at the flat, but when he sun sets it can be cold under the stars. Footwear needs to be chosen carefully too. It can be quite a trudge through the park to get to the concert venue, and then another trudge through the masses of blankets to find a good picnic spot. The first year I had gone to the park I wore a gorgeous geometric print maxi dress and wedge heels and looked frankly great. Nobody had told me we were going to walk from Green Park to Hyde Park in my new heels, nor that it would turn so cold when the sun went down. Dawn, who was wearing a fab pair of royal blue suede wedges on the same night, managed to fall from top to bottom of the stairs at Hyde Park corner tube station, so it was not a great fashion night for either of us.

This year we got it right. Jeans, with tunic style tops. Dawn had a pewter grey sequined tunic top from Wallis, whilst I had a long-sleeved peasant style frilled tunic in ditsy floral print.Dawn had her trusty Barbour Jacket for the evening cool, whilst I took my new frilled cardigan. The key accessory was the Union Jack flags for Rule Britannia.

Fashion is on display everywhere at Proms in the Park. Denim DIY hot pants and Wolford tights, soft charcoal jersey harem pants with mannish 1980’s style blazers with rolled up sleeves, 1940’s style chintzy teadresses with chunky knits as the night turned cooler. My favourite look of the night was a vintage 1980’s style black dress, thin straps, ra-ra style net layers, very Cyndi Lauper in styling and totally fun. The other fabulous look on display was offered by the Renee Fleming, the American soprano taking the role of Britannia herself, who had been fabulously dressed by Vivienne Westwood. She looked totally amazing.

The concert was enthralling and life affirming, as it always is, and we decided against trying to get a cab back to Putney and got on the number 14 bus instead. This offers a trip through nighttime Knightsbridge, when all the shop windows are lit up and Harrods shines like a beautiful beacon in the dark. I was absolutely enchanted by the fantastic window display in the Mulberry store which featured large, glittery panthers amongst its array of goodies. Harvey Nicks also looked amazing.

I then started to admire the styles of some of the females on the bus. One girl looked particularly lovely, with a black fluffy cardigan and large corsage over a simple black dress. Then a young girl got onto the bus and I felt my gaze drawn to her feet. And there they were, the pretty glittery pewter pumps from the charity shop that day. They looked so pretty, and so dressy for the evening that I decided that I would go back the next day and get them, if they were still there.

After getting off our bus, we had a nice walk to back to the flat. It was still a lovely evening and people were out in droves, but I was quite disappointed to see so many identikit girls in little black dresses and heels, all resembling a dodgy Robert Palmer video from the mid 80’s. Very Herve Leger and figure hugging, but hardly new and original. Dawn then decided that Sienna Miller(and hubby for that matter!) were not the only people who could walk the streets of London barefoot, and so abandoned her wedges for the walk back to the flat. I later found out from Dawn’s flatmate Lee that Dawn does this on a regular basis, which might explain all the  Liz Earle foot products in the bathroom!

Dawn's feet pounding Richmond Road a la Sienna Miller.

We took a long lie in the next morning, and after enjoying the papers, walked back into Putney so I could check out the rest of the charity shops. I crossed my fingers about those glitter pumps from the British Heart Foundation and was in luck. They were still there! So they became my first purchase of the day. Cancer research yielded yet more bargains. I got a pure new wool sequined pashmina in the softest greys and pinks for £10, a copy of Simon Doolen’s Beautiful people for £2, a great goldtone n with large jade stones for £4, and most amazingly, a pair of beige suede Salvatore Ferragamo kitten heels for £20. I was almost in tears, especially when they fetched the individual dust bags from the back of the shop.  Everyone in the shop was applauding my luck at being able to get my feet into them, I felt like I’d finally brought a winning lottery ticket that wasn’t just for £1.

Dawn also managed to get a fab faux wrap style dress in Diane Von Fustunberg style for £5, and then our shopping trip was over. We had to go home. After loading the goodies into the car we set off for the M25. And as we drove away, I pondered the fact that, to me, London will always be the home of truly great fashion, with style to be seen on every corner. And just at that point, some new shiny office buildings came into view. And be damned if they didn’t resemble Holly Fulton’s fab range of art deco inspired jewellery and dresses…

I'm in love!!!

Other bargains.

Why don’t you have a stylish September?

Sex and the City 2

Image by petesimon via Flickr

I love the last page of style magazine par excellence Harpers Bazaar. The page where each month a stylish fashionista (think Victoria Beckham, Manolo Blahnik, Chrissie Hynde, and, this month, my favourite 60’s icon Marianne Faithfull) gives a list of suggestions for stylish things to do during the new month under the title ‘Why Don’t you…’ I’ve decided launch my own suggestions for why don’t you each month. Enjoy, and if you  have anything else to suggest, leave a comment and add it to the site.

WHY DON’T YOU…

  • Enjoy a night out for charity. It is Vogue‘s ‘BIG NIGHT OUT’ tonight all over London. Fashionista’s everywhere will be putting on their glad rags and snapping up fashion bargains to raise money for good causes. Alternatively, if you are in the Midlands tonight, why not attend the ‘Sex and the City‘ evening of High fashion in aid of the Newlife Foundation for disabled children. This is taking place in the ‘Bank bar and lounge’ in Cannock from 7pm. Enjoy half price cocktails and buy guilt free jewellery, clothes and accessories on the night. You can then go home and tell Hubby that it was all for a good cause. Well, that’s what I’m going to do anyway!
  • Have a great outdoors style Saturday night, if you are in London, Swansea, or Glasgow you could enjoy the fabulous Proms in the Park and enjoy the range of rainwear and wellies on show. In Birmingham it is the weekend of ‘Artsfest, which is all totally free and includes Kerrangfest with The Twang, and stars of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. If you are attend ‘Proms in the Park’ check out Evans(www.evans.co.uk)  fab range of wellies which come in E nad EEE fittings, and don’t forget to add a bit of vintage sparkle to so British an event.

    these are fab wellies from Evans - great for wet autumn days.

    this might come in useful for Artsfest and Proms in the park. check out fab umbrellas from Fulton and Cath Kidston at Amazon.co.uk

  • Catch the Grace Kelly Style exhibition at the V&A before it finishes and see why this lady is still a fashion muse almost 30 years after her death. Until 26th September.
  • Check out the charity shops in the lovely riverside town of Stourport on Severn. At a quick glance last Saturday evening I did a mental count of eight charity shops. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon rummage followed by a few drinks on the river.
  • Sort out your wardrobe and ‘DONATE DON’T DUMP!’ Get rid of anything too big, too small, unworn, unloved and put a big smile on the face of Mary Portas. Charity shops are in dire need of new stock for the new season, do your bit.
  • Try out the new Levi’s website for their ‘Curve ID’ jeans. It’s fabulous. You just answer some simple questions about your shape and , hey presto, they find your perfect jeans. I tried it and was shocked when I noticed that the plus size model/real person wearing my perfect jeans actually had my shape. Prices are not cheap, starting at around £80, so you may decide to save money and try New Look’s new range of YES YES jeans that come in all shapes and start at just £9.99.
  • Pre-order your copy of Sex and the City 2 from Amazon.co.uk now. Ignore the critics, the girls looked fab, were older but not wiser and frankly I lived the chat between Miranda and Charlotte where Miranda said it was ok to love your kids but need to escape from them sometimes. Whilst waiting for the film to arrive, check out Amazon.co.uk ‘s Sex and the City store which stocks everything SATC related. And check out the Fab poster above, it made me laugh out loud as I don’t know a straight man ANYWHERE who ‘gets’ SATC.
  • Finally check out a gorgeous new hair style icon in the unlikeliest of places. As you know I am a mom to Baba, aged 20 months, and watch a hell of a lot of CBEEBIES. I have lately found myself obsessed with an amazing glossy auburn mane of May, the park keeper on ‘Big City Park’. May, played by actress Sarah McCardie is a plus size girl(size 16 maybe?) with a beautiful face, a great line in plaid shirts and the most truly amazing hair. And with not a hair extension in sight. Check her out and I challenge you not to be jealous!

check out that fab mane of hair. Sarah McCardie on Big city park

That’s it for September – but if you have a recommendation – pass it on in the comments box and I will add it to the site.