Not 30 Yet

Sometimes when you are in your twenties and living in London it is important to go out.  And I am not talking about drinks 🍷🍻 in the pub after work, I am talking getting dressed up 💃, and having drinks somewhere fun 🍹 and then going dancing somewhere even more fun 👯.So Mary rallied the troops and we decided to take a trip to Soho 🏮 on a Friday evening, because you know, we live in LONDON 🎡- and yes I do enjoy an evening out on the Northcote Road, and perhaps I have finally outgrown the Kings Road 👑 (although it is always a pleasure) and really it is important to do these things properly once in a while.So we went out (out) 💃.I got dressed up 💁 - sometimes this is my favourite part of an evening out, deciding what to wear 👗, trying on outfits 👚and discovering a great new combination 👘.  Occasionally I get carried away, and take a little too long doing this (it's so fun though) and accidents have occurred before - I once decided last minute that I needed to paint my nails green 💅💚 (you know, like Sally Bowles in Cabaret 🎩), and whilst sitting on the stairs diligently painting my nails 💅(I am expert at painting my nails most places - buses, trains 🚌🚂) - the bottle tipped, and it tumbled down the stairs and hit the landing, spattering my long suffering flatmate's cream carpet with a bright bright green 💚.  And this was not good.  So I now try to give my myself ample time to get ready and reach my destination of an evening....I got ready and headed over to the Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery 🎨 where we had to decided to have drinks 🍸, as they are open late on Fridays.  This was rather pleasant, as there really weren't many people, and we avoided that Friday night drinks after work crush.  We didn't actually make it into the Delacroix 🎨exhibition (that is for another day), but we did rather enjoy our drinks, and it's really nice wandering about the National Gallery at night.Next up we headed into Soho to Damson & Co as they have very good gin 🍹.  They infuse it themselves (I think this is the right word, I should remember from my Sipsmith talk!) and they have some rather delicious flavours.  The Kaffir Lime gin 🌿🍹 is particularly good with some tonic.  We did get hungry, so Katie and I may have had a sneaky Chilango 🍢- it was across the road and just willing us to come and sample it's delights.  It was great, exactly what I needed - it's a tortilla filled with all sorts of beans and rice and guacamole.It was then time for the really fun part, somewhere we could dance 👯, that didn't close too early.  And we settled on Little Italy 🇮🇹.  And if you haven't been here, you must go (with an open mind 👀, mind you.)Little Italy is a restaurant 🍝, bar 🍷 and there is a dance floor 💃of sorts (ideal) and it has a very old school feeling to it.  The bar is packed with every bottle of alcohol available, and the men behind the bar wear bow ties and red braces (the kind that hold your trousers up, not the ones that make your teeth straight).  We arrived post eating time, so the party was in full swing 🎶👯👯.  I think (apart from the fact they play excellent songs, all of which you want to dance to) Little Italy is all about the people 👩👦👧watching.  The Russians were downstairs and the Italians upstairs, with everyone else somewhere inbetween - and this is NOT your young hipster venue, the clientele were mostly a bit older than us 👵.  But they were all having a wonderful time, dancing the evening away.  We were herded from a table when a group of very nicely dressed up, on the older side of middle-aged, women turned up - who were attended to impeccably - waiters galore on hand, and no end of champagne 🍸🍸.  We did think they might just sit at their table all night being waited on hand and foot - but before too long they were also up having a wild time on the dance floor.It was a lot of fun.  The drinks are expensive (a bit too expensive 💵💵) and I did meet a man dressed as a woman in the loo 👸 - I am still not sure how to handle this, men just shouldn't be in the ladies.... but he was wearing heels, fishnets and a skirt...And we ubered it home 🚕  - and became excellent friends with the uber driver - he decided we were 'intelligent young ladies'.It was a very pleasing evening - and we certainly need to go out more, because London is great, and we aren't 30 ..... quite yet.Alice xxxIMG_4517IMG_4522IMG_4523IMG_4541IMG_4532IMG_4553IMG_4800IMG_4546

Do Be a Darling amongst the Cyclamen

The Darling

A recent trip to Amsterdam took me to 'De Negen Straatjes' or 'The Nine Streets', actually three streets, intersected by two canals, which are lined with charming independent boutiques.  The idea of the 'concept store' has really taken off in Amsterdam, and each clothing store is carefully curated like a gallery, but with the added bonus of the visitor being allowed to play with the items on display.My favourite was The Darling, a delightful shop on Runstraat 4.  Walking into The Darling made me feel as though I was entering the enviable walk-in-wardrobe of a good friend.  The clothes are beautifully displayed, the walls are covered in small prints and there are hydrangeas in vases.  Best of all, you can order a cupcake and cup of coffee and sit on their upstairs balcony, if you need need a break from browsing.The Darling sell a range of simple pieces in elegant fabrics - new, vintage and own brand items.  Their underwear particularly caught my eye, but the item I had to buy was the 'Darling' jumper.  I don't know if it was the connotation of the word 'darling' in English - it always seems to me slightly tongue in cheek, and makes me delightedly think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, in which everyone she meets is 'Darling' - 'Step on it darling....'.I wanted to do a photo with the Cyclamen flowers, as they are looking wonderful at the moment in white and purple.  These perennial flowering plants are so dainty, and also strong.  This species, Cyclamen hederifolium is native to the UK and pushes it's way up through the soil during the Autumn.  The nose of the flower faces downwards, the five upright petals look almost like little wings and they have dark green, patterned ivy-esque leaves.  Coming across clusters of these little flowers at High Beeches garden, growing under the dark cedar tree (cedrus atlantica glauca) you might almost think you had wandered into an enchanted forest.  A perfect setting for a photograph with my new The Darling jumper <3.Alice xIMG_4190 The-DarlingIMG_4191         Top image:Photographed at High Beeches Garden sitting under the Cedrus atlantica Glauca tree among the Cyclamen flowers.Jumper: The Darling; Trousers: Zara; Shoes: Elia B; Unicorn clutch bag: The White Pepper; Ribbon: MacCulloch & Wallis.Photographer: Sarah Bray @SarahBray50Bottom images:Photographs of The Darling in Amsterdam, taken by Alice Bray 

Battersea Park

???????????????????????????????There are many different gardens hidden away in Battersea Park, each with it's own particular history.  The recently developed Winter Garden has a wide variety of trees, shrubs and perennials, the Old English Garden tucked away by the cricket pavilion, the charming Rose Garden, the restored Russell Page Garden and the Sub-Tropical Garden.  The Park has over 4,000 trees, many of which date back to the original layout in 1858 - Tom Maxwell has created an informative guide to the trees.   It is a lovely place for an afternoon roam away from the city bustle, and there is much to discover.

 Russell Page Garden

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The landscape designer Russell Page's original Festival Gardens were designed for the 1951 Festival of Britain.  A green lawn and colourful flower beds were surrounded by a children's zoo, model railway and a funfair. Twenty thousand yellow tulips along with raised beds of crimson and pink floribunda roses were planted and regularly changed from spring bulbs to summer bedding.  The Festival Gardens were restored in 2004.

 

Sub Tropical Garden

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The Sub-Tropical Garden was originally created by John Gibson in 1863 and were the first of this kind in the country.  Gibson had been sent to India by the Duke of Devonshire to hunt for orchids and his journey took him via Madeira and South Africa.  Using the plants he brought back from this trip, he created a unique garden at Battersea, made up of exotic plants and colourful 'carpet' bedding.  During World War II much of the park became allotments to help feed local people, however in 1992 a palm tree was once again planted in this area, and they were restored to the original plans in 1992.

Dress: French Connection; Handbag: Lauren by Ralph Lauren; Shoes: Elia B.

Photography: Rhiannon Ryder

Photographed at Battersea Park, London.