Playing Tourist!

5 July 2015

My Dream Vintage Dress Beyond Retro

Prepare for a bit of London overload in this post, I'm talking double-decker buses, phone boxes and the odd iconic black cab!  Although I've been up and down Regent Street many a time, I mostly end up battling to to get the Tube home instead of moseying up to a lush room at the Hotel Café Royal.  What is my life?!  Last weekend I swapped my usual flatsharing situation for a staycation on one of the capital's most iconic streets.  You might think that a hotel right near Piccadilly Circus would be pretty manic but it was the complete opposite, with amazing soundproofing and decor that transports you to 18th century France.  I knew I had to bring my Mum along for the experience, she appreciates hotel slippers and snazzy toiletries as much as me, plus she also overpacks ridiculously for a one-night stay.  Like mother like daughter...

Regent Street London
the perfect summer dress
Regent Street London
Tatty Devine rose necklace
Hotel Café Royal London
Hotel Café Royal London macarons
gingham vintage dress and headscarf
Liberty London flower stall
Orla Kiely pink bag Urban Outfitters hoes

Bag - Orla Kiely
Necklace - Tatty Devine

We definitely picked the right weekend for such an excursion, what with the Gay Pride parade happening and a real sense of fun and unity in the air.  I kept things simple with a vintage number from beyond Retro that fits like a glove (I may have looked slightly more pot-bellied after all the food consumed), plus my beloved Orla Kiely bag.  The Regent Street team planned a watertight itinerary to show us some of the area's hidden delights and Aqua Kyoto is somewhere you could easily pass without knowing of the rooftop terrace and stunning views.  It's a pretty swish Japanese restaurant, where you can watch the chefs prepare your sushi if you so wish.  We tried ishiyaki wagyu gohan, a beef, vegetable and rice dish that they finish cooking at your table (this is also on the cheaper lunch menu, joys) plus the nicest chicken wings with a hint of ginger and lime.  Afterwards, we popped to Liberty to scour the sale rails (had to embarrass my poor bro who works there), before an afternoon tea and spot of cabaret at Le Crazy Coqs.  I didn't even know Brasserie Zedel existed?  It's tucked behind the hotel and boasts stunning art deco features. We finished off our day with an Italian meal at Ristorante Frescobaldi before retiring to our room to watch the Glastonbury highlights.  It's definitely a novel experience watching Kanye West from the bath, because the mirror has a tv.

Hotel Café Royal London
hotel cafe royal london
Hotel Café Royal London
marble bath at Hotel Café Royal London
hotel cafe royal
Gay Pride parade Regent street
Aqua Kyoto Japanese restaurant
Liberty London flower stall
ristorante frescobaldi italian restaurant London
brasserie zedel london

A massive thanks to Regent Street for the weekend of a lifetime with my Mum, it's going to be hard to go back to my non-marble bath now!

Three Quirky South London Eats

3 July 2015

I'm a South Londoner born and bred.  Even though I've been a bit naughty and decamped oop North for a bit (well North of Euston anyway), I'll still champion our green spaces, diverse areas and amazing architecture.  What we lack in Tube stations is made up for in charm and places like Crystal Palace dinosaur park, plus the evolution of places I've been frequenting for years.  These three destinations are all socially savvy, filled with plenty of Instagram-able details and created with the local community in mind.  Editing these photos has made me want to hop Southbound on the Tube asap (engineering works permitting of course) to work my way through more of the menus.

Tart picnic hampers on Clapham Common
Smoked salmon and pea tart
Tart picnic hampers on Clapham Common
cakes, tarts and pastries from Tart Clapham Common
Tart picnic hampers on Clapham Common


It's probably about time we had a new foodie trend, after all we've had ramen, posh fried chicken and bao buns.  Thanks to Tart, a bakery/café nestled in a row of shops by Clapham Common, there's now an alternative to your typical lunchtime fare.  The duo of chef and marketer decided to whip up their own business idea after noticing that anything pastry-based could be treated as a bit of an afterthought and the flavourings needed a bit of a wake-up-call..  With a little bit of innovation, there's now combinations like pear, parma ham and gorgonzola plus my particular fave, smoked salmon, ricotta, mustard and peas.  Combined with a hearty salad, it makes a pretty reasonable lunch especially if you're wanting a break from burgers (rare, but it can happen).  Now that the weather's finally decent, their ready-made picnic hampers are the perfect solution if you can't be bothered to sort it all out yourself.  They even come with a stylish monochrome blanket and you just return them when you're done, so there's nothing to carry home.

Pop Brixton street food
Pop Brixton street food Made Of dough Pizza
Pop Brixton street food

Pop Brixton

When I heard that Brixton had it's own Boxpark, my first thought was 'Eh? How could they fit that in?'  I didn't even clock the disused bit of land next to the station and thanks to some entrepreneurs and council bods, Pop Brixton was born.  It reminds me a bit of an adventure playground thanks to its shipping container structure and maze-like layout, but instead of games there's a mixture of diverse street food, bars and retail units.  It's best to come with a group of friends who all fancy something  different to eat.  When I visited last Friday the place was heaving but not so much that you couldn't find somewhere to sit and chow down on a pizza.  Since Made Of Dough mainly pop up in festivals, it's unlikely that I would have been able to try on of their made-to-order, Neapolitan specialities otherwise.  Think of this place as the next school year of foodie businesses, next time I'll be checking out the Yumitubs Thai ice cream concept where they freeze and assemble it on a cold plate.  It'll probably be everywhere in 2016.

Cool places to eat in South London
Ben's Canteen Battersea menu
Ben's Canteen Battersea Crosstown Doughnuts
Ben's Canteen Battersea fried chicken burger

Ben's Canteen

Billed as a friendly neighbourhood eatery, Ben's Kitchen is enough to make you want to up sticks to Battersea.  Damn those crazy house prices.  They've got all the food trends ticked (avocado on sourdough, pancakes topped with a salted caramel sauce plus a quinoa superfood salad) but as per usual I went for my preferred burger and fries combo.  I fell in love with the font and branding as much as I did the buttermilk fried chicken and the fact that you can claim a free Bloody Mary when you Instagram is nice touch.  It's a shame that I'm not so fond of the cocktail but at least I can say I've tried one!

Kristabel Loves... #1

1 July 2015

my monthly beauty favourites

OK, so I'm finally joining the favourites bandwagon.  I can't help it, I've been using a few new bits on my face and I want to shout it from the rooftops!  To help differentiate I've given it a title that only I could use and I can't guarantee that I'll be doing these every month.  I guess the theme of this bunch is that they are all items I've been previously quite insecure about and have now learnt to embrace.  I'm talking short-sightedness, a fear of lipstick and an unwanted bosom.  Fortunately I'm a lot happier about these things now as they're a part of me and have helped shaped my perspective.  The main reason for the beauty additions came after researching my recent Buzzfeed article on make-up for darker skin tones.  I realised that even though my foundation options are pretty limited, there are some gems to cherrypick from the High Street and I'll probably be wearing them for the foreseeable future.  You'll be seeing the word 'natural' featured here a lot, I just want to pretend that I woke up like this! 

Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick in Snokey Rose
Cleo by Panache Kira set
Toyshades cool prescription glasses affordable
I'm wearing the Revlon lipstick in the first snap, then the Bourjois Colourboost with my Toyshades specs

The Super Six

Cleo Kira set via Bravissimo c/o - Since my last, slightly TMI post about underwear went down so well, I thought I'd update you on my progress.  I've now got a go-to brand by way of Cleo and a fitting at Bravissimo confirmed it.  Their bras make me look and feel my best and it's great to see fun detailing instead of the usual tack that some manufacturers assume that bigger busts want.  I also finally got fitted for a new strapless bra (after wearing the wrong size for goodness knows how long), so now I can make the most of my wardrobe and stop hiding my straps.  Summer, I'm ready for you!

Revlon Super Lustrous in Smokey Rose - Yay, a nude lipstick option for my two-tone pout!  I've tried so many kinds in the shop and gone home only to realise that I look a bit like a dodgy cartoon, so I'm glad I didn't suffer the same fate with this one.  This is great for the natural look I'm fond of and I don't get that uncomfortable feeling that has put me off wearing others.  I've also stumbled across this article on 'nude' lipsticks for every skin tone with a few other recommendations that I'd like to try.

Bourjois Colourboost in Sweet Macchiato -  This lip crayon does just that and the colour is a little bit addictive, it enhances my natural shade rather than just matching it.  I do have to worry about it melting in my bag in the heat though, you should have seen my face when I was looking for my keys!

Sleek Bronze Block (Dark) - Another hero product I've discovered, this is a blush and bronzer all in one handy product, which you just swirl together for an effect that looks far more complicated.  You can use it for a half-hearted contouring attempt or just a slight flush.  It's pretty hard to overdo and I've had a few compliments since using it, which is good enough for me.  

Nars Blush in Exhibit A - Whilst this is not quite so High Street, I had to put this on my list after a make-up artist used this on me (luckily a £10 off voucher for Liberty appeared in my inbox at just the right time).  It looks pretty scary in the pan and since Nars blushes are so pigmented, you have to be quite careful not to look like a rag doll.  When applied correctly though, it can look pretty subtle so it's all about being patient and slowly building up the colour. 

Toyshades Gortey Glasses c/o - Maybe it's a result of living with Lucy, but I've finally become a lot braver with my specs.  A few years ago these sorts frames would have been unthinkable to me but now I'm willing to be as adventurous as I am with my cat-eye Miu Mius or Vow London pair.  Speaking of sunnies, the best thing about Toyshades is that you can go for a tinted or clear lens, whether it's in your prescription or not.  This means you can go for styles typically reserved for pure posing at a really reasonable price (mine would have been £80 and the lenses have been thinned for my minus 8, yes minus 8 prescription). These did seem strange at first but I'm so used to them now and the way they frame my face.  Who knows what I'll move onto next?

Have you ever struggled with some of the same issues as me?  I'd love to know!