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 xxx
The fourth day has been great.Two things happened - I went shopping 👭 with my littlest sister Susannah and I had the most excellent affogato ☕️👌.Suzie is at St Andrews studying International Relations (very serious, she is going to be a spy 🔫 or something like that...) but she also shares my love of shopping 👗 and as it is school holidays has some spare time on her hands. I really love shopping - I am a serious browser and spontaneous purchaser, and I prefer to shop alone, or at least with someone who understands the importance of independent shopping - which Suzie does. My worst joint shopping experience ever was when someone I didn't know very well, called me into a changing room and wept all over me because she thought she looked fat in her bikini 👙. These people make me angry - who shops for a bikini in mid winter in Scotland, and seriously never try it on in a shop changing room, the lighting is ALWAYS ghastly. Please in future just order all bikinis online - Coco Bay has some really quite excellent choices...Today I set myself a challenge - browsing only, NO purchasing (this is particularly hard, as it is January sales.)When I am shopping, items tend to fall into these categories:I don't really need it, but kind of want it (TK Maxx bright pink 💘 shiny stretch disco shorts that were £5)It goes really well with my current outfit - these tend to be surprisingly good choices (Topshop beanie in turquoise 💙, with multi-coloured pom pom )I will never be able to afford it, but I'm going to try it on (Sophia Webster shoes 👠)Things I can't afford, but decide to buy anyway (anything from J Crew 💋 and Kate Spade 🎀)I will buy it, know it is right, know when I will wear it, and may even wear it straight away (Whistles 👜Rucksack)So my non-purchasing shopping day panned out like this:I met Susannah in Beyond Retro on Great Marlborough Street, we were wearing scarily similar outfits - I am not sure who this is more worrying for - furry jacket, trendy rucksack and Nike Air Maxs 👟... probably me:Beyond Retro was super fun and, being vintage you never quite know what you might find, we tried on some great dresses:We then spent some time in Liberty, and tried on Fendi sunglasses 👓 , found a Marcus Lupfer skirt 👗 I would very much like please, and some sparkly Sophia Webster shoes 👟:Then French Connection which has some great items - I don't know if by this point the withdrawal was becoming too much ' I WANT EVERYTHING' but I genuinely may go back for these shoes 👠:And finally Topshop. I love Topshop on Oxford Street so much, the best time to go is first thing in the morning when you practically have the place to yourself. We headed straight to the shoe section in the basement and I got very jealous when these shoes were only in Suzie's size not mine - but probably for the best:I did make one very small purchase - a velvet diamante 💎 scrunchie from Beyond Retro - we got matching ones ❤️💙 😍.We had to go to Said on Broadwick Street to recuperate. I really wanted hot chocolate ☕️, they do proper thick, spoon-standing up stuff - but they were out of hot chocolate which really was terrible. So I settled for an affogato, which turned out to be one of the best things I have ever tasted - a ball of starting to melt milk chocolate surrounded by a small dollop of vanilla ice cream, all floating in an espresso 👌👌. It was amazing. Suzie had a 3 chocolate mocha. I am going to write more about hot chocolate ☕️ and chocolate 🍫 soon, as it is one of my favourite things ☺️.Catch up tomorrow.Alice xxx
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.
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.
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.
Photography: Rhiannon Ryder
Photographed at Battersea Park, London.