Britmums Live – My first experience

I was incredibly lucky this weekend as I was able to attend my first ever Britmums Live conference. I was fortunate in that I had sponsorship for this event from fab fashion brand Kaleidoscope, without which I could not have attended, and I am pleased to say that it was every bit as good as I thought it would be.

Here are just some of the reasons why.

1. The opportunity to meet with brands and their representatives was both useful and illuminating. From Butlins to Warner Bros, by way of fashion from TK Maxx, books from Paragon and Waterstones and children’s products from Tu and Little Ones from Sainsburys. One of the absolute favourite exhibitors was the Coca Cola stand who were reproducing those new legendary labels with your name on. Of course, I couldn’t resist getting a Fashion-Mommy one printed, although I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to drink it yet – far too precious!

Sainsburys Stand

Loving this cute cardigan from Tu clothing

TK Maxx lounge

Style on show at TK Maxx

2. Britmums is a great opportunity to meet other bloggers. There is such a friendly atmosphere that it is really easy to meet and chat to new people. I was finally able to meet some bloggers who I have chatted to online for a long time, Fiona from Avenue 57, Avril from School Gate Style and Kat from Does my bum look 40 in this.

With Avril and Fiona

3. Britmums is fun! I did wonder just how formal Britmums was going to be, but it was actually a whole lot of fun. From photobooths with dressing up clothes and funny inflatables, to large creatures from Madagascar wandering around the venue, not to mention Owls from Harry Potter movies, Britmums was surreal and funny in equal parts.

4. The quality of the talks and panel discussions. From the inspirational Katie Piper, who seemed to have touched everyone with her searing honesty and bravery, to the hilarious Katy Hill, who is basically just as bubbly and exuberant in real life as she is on screen, Britmums provides speakers you really want to listen too. In addition, the Q&A panels proved to be insightful, funny and honest, and full of hints and tips that could really help any blogger, from the novice to the experienced, further improve their blogs.

And finally…Britmums Live may be the only conference where you get to do silly poses with an ex Blue Peter presenter, in the toilets, while you both freshen up. And if that doesn’t convince you that this is a conference worth taking part in, nothing will!

With Katy Hill at Britmums

Getting set for Summer with TK Maxx

With temperatures in the UK set to eclipse those in Ibiza this week, now is definitely the time to be sorting out that Summer Wardrobe. And a key part of that has to be sunglasses. What fashionista would be seen without a pair of glamorous sunnies, whether it be day or night, a Red Carpet event or a photocall?

This season, fab High Street outlet TK Maxx has an amazing range of designer sunglasses available. Thankfully these come without the enormous price tag often attached to these covetable accessories. They have hot designer ranges including Valentino, Marc  Jacobs and lust-haves from the gorgeous Mr Tom Ford himself, with styles that range from the cute and quirky to ultra Hollywood glamour.

The prices are amazing, starting at £12.99. So whether you need you shades for relaxing poolside, driving on sun blazed roads, or merely for posing in the park, TK Maxx needs to be you starting point when it comes to selecting a pair of sunnies. Here are a few of my top picks for getting that superstar style this season.

Marc Jacobs

Famed for his love of the quirky and unique (who can forget Victoria Beckham stuck in an oversized paper bag, Marc Jacobs shades score highly on the fashion credibility rating. With stars like Gwen Stefani, Jessica Biel and Jessica Simpson fans of the range, you won’t believe that you can get the same looks from TK Maxx for £24.99!

Metallic Red Aviator Sunglasses Marc Jacobs 

Studded White Sunglasses Marc Jacobs 

Tom Ford

The epitome in elegance and sophistication, Tom Ford is the designer everyone wants to wear. Famous for holding his catwalk shows behind closed doors, celebrity fashionistas non-the-less queue up to wear his designs. Everyone from Kate Moss to Victoria Beckham has been photographed wearing Tom Ford sunglasses, and now you can get the look too, but don’t  be surprised if you find paparazzi following you wondering ‘Who’s that Girl?’

Metallic Aviator Sunglasses Tom Ford 

Brown Lens Metallic Aviators Tom Ford £79.99 

Valentino

A classic brand, Valentino sunglasses appeal to those who like to add a touch of classic Hollywood styling to their wardrobe. Va Va Voom star Sofia Vergara is a fan, as is Socialite Nicky Hilton.

Oversized Green Tortoiseshell Sunglasses Valentino £49.99 

Oversized Twist Detail Plaited Trim Sunglasses 

 

What are you doing to our Cities?

Like most people, I only watched one programme on the tv last night. The long running horror story that played put before our eyes on Sky News, as a mundane Monday night turned into some sort of Armageddon. I watched with horror as mindless, violent yobs tore  through city centres with violence,  destruction  and theft on their minds. And I felt sick as I saw some places that were very special to me, that held some fond memories, have their hearts torn out.

Ealing Broadway, Clapham Common, Camden, Hackney, and, above all, Birmingham are places where I have spent some happy times. Ealing Broadway saw one of my happiest shopping trips, when as a barely out of teens shopper, I made the trip with my best friend Dawn to visit her future sister in law, who worked as a nanny in Ealing Broadway. We took a trip to the town, and discovered a shop that sold knock-off Warehouse clothes for much cheapness, and promptly bought a bag full of stuff. Being sophisticated just 20somethings, the only place to possibly eat was the KFC on Ealing High Street.

Similarly, I’ve enjoyed lots of fab times in Camden. Buying  leather skirts from the market on the Lock, and immediately putting them on and heading for the Hawley Arms, long before the days of La Winehouse. Watching a good friend fall over and take a poor sandwich board man with him as he almost rugby tackled him to the ground. Shopping in Rokit for vintage bargains, Thai food from the market. Camden has always been a cool melting pot, and I just love it!

Memories of Clapham are more recent. When Dawn moved to London, Clapham was her second location. We all fell in love with the Junction. My favourite memory is when Dawn decided to do all her shopping in one trip, despite the fact that we had travelled on public transport. She filled trollies in the Debenhams that was so badly looted on Monday night, and then another in TK Maxx, and we then struggled to get it all back, once it was out of the trolley. I have never laughed so much as when  Dawn shouted to me about the  array of ‘focking stillers’ that were available in Debenhams – a spoonerism to treasure forever.

These are fond memories of fabulous places, so to see what has happened to them in the last few days is just heartbreaking. The fact that the acts have been perpetrated by people against their own communities makes it even worse. The mayhem and chaos in Birmingham has instilled a real fear into the city that is hard to escape from at the moment., whilst the whole of London seems to be on High alert. We are at the height of Summer, and yet there are talks of curfews, town centres are being closed down earlier, shutters pulled down, and people getting home as fast as they can. There are worries about travelling on public transport – is it going to run, what about if buses are targeted? This is the Ghost Town The Specials talked about in 1981, only worse, as  it is ruthlessly controlled by the social networking that is so important  in the 21st century.

Birmingham is my city, and I feel so angry that mindless hooligans are doing their best to destroy it. Many excuses will be put forward for what is happening, but, make no mistake – THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS. It does not target the politicians, but the people. In particular it frightens vulnerable shop staff, who are being caught in the middle of all this purely because they happen to have a job. The people involved in this need to be bought to justice swiftly in order to restore the  public’s faith in law and order, which is being tested to the extreme by the low number of arrests, and the seemingly powerless stance by the overstretched police.

I am travelling into the 2nd city on Thursday, and am scared about what I might see. But life does go on. The  social network which may have helped co-ordinate the riots are also the tool by which people are fighting them – sharing information with police, organising mass clear-ups, sending  messages of support and helping those in need with appeals for things that have been damaged in the last few days. This is truly the Dunkirk spirit in the 21st century. Lets hope it prevails sooner rather than later, before other lives are ruined in the quest for looted phones and ipods.