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Lifestyle, London

Feeling Festive In London

December 15, 2014

It’s that time of year again when your favourite holiday tunes play non-stop, you eat far too many canapés at Christmas parties and suddenly find yourself panic buying, waiting in long lines at the post office and wrapping endless gifts late into the night before Santa arrives – sound familiar? The run up to Christmas can be hectic and sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming, even for Santa’s most efficient elf! Before you grumble bah humbug, just remember all the fun and festive things that only happen at this time of year, especially in London. It really is the most magical time of year, and here is why:

Sloegasms

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I always get overly excited about my first Sloegasm of the season – a fierce and festive combination of sloe gin and champagne. This tipple is sure to warm the cockles on cold and dark winter days. Catch up with your friends and family as you toast to the New Year ahead in style. You can find a step by step Sloegasm recipe here – chin chin!

Holiday Nibbles 

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There’s something about December that just makes you want to eat copious amounts! Decorating (and devouring) Christmas cookies, chocolate yule logs and gingerbread houses can bring out the festive spirit in anyone. All diets are on hold until the New Year and calories don’t count at this time of year. It’s Christmas time, so grab some chestnuts and a mince pie with brandy butter and eat up – the saying ‘eat, drink and be merry’ has never been more true!

*my top recipe for mince pies and sloe gin here *

Winter Wonderland 

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If you haven’t braved the rides at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland before, then the time to go is now! I’m still recovering from a trip on the The Power Tower and The Blizzard after my visit two years ago, but I loyally return every year for a warm overpriced cider, the Christmas markets and the hilarious party-filled chalets in the Bavarian Village. I honestly have to pinch myself to remember I am in the middle of London when I’m at this winter playground in the centre of Hyde Park. Act fast, as Winter Wonderland is only here until early January.

Get Your Skates On! 

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When I was a little girl living in New York, I went ice-skating at Rockefeller Centre religiously every Christmas. Skating in the centre of a bustling city with twinkling lights, the smells of hot chocolate and Christmas music will get anyone into the festive spirit – even Ebenezer Scrooge! The most jolly ice skating rinks in London have to be either Somerset House or the Natural History Museum. I recently went skating with a few girlfriends and miraculously none of us returned home with any injuries. Book a skating slot early to avoid disappointment and wear thick socks to protect your dainty toes!

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 An on rink mid-action ice skating selfie with lovely Megan – be impressed, very very impressed!

 Festive DIY

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I’m always so impressed and somewhat amazed when I receive home-made Christmas cards. One of my friends even makes her own customised seasonal wrapping paper using stamps- I take my hat off to her! Yes, some people actually make the time to do these types of DIY projects in the run up to the holidays, to make the rest of us feel less productive of course. Last year I made my first ever Christmas floral centrepiece at the lovely Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, which offers classes for those of us (like me) who are less talented in the flower arranging department. Earlier this month I went to Petersham Nurseries with all my work colleagues to make wreaths, which is highly recommended if you haven’t been before.

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I never thought I would say this (especially as I have a mild allergy to pine!), but there is something really fun and special about making a seasonal creation from scratch at this time of year, especially with friends. I look at my wreath each day with pride and fond memories, and I genuinely feel that much more in the holiday spirit when my apartment smells of fresh eucalyptus and cinnamon. Who knows, maybe next year I will bite the bullet and make Mrs Claus proud by creating my own Christmas stationary and decorating my house in picture-perfect fashion like this (a girl can dream right?!):

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So even if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and feel like you’re hanging on by a thread right now, remember to take a break from the chaos and treat yourself to some festive fun. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a sloegasm filled Happy New Year – cheers to 2015!

Lifestyle, London

The Chelsea Flower Show In Full Blondon Bloom

June 1, 2011
Who knew that I would one day be boasting about having opening day tickets to a flower show. Turns out getting your manicured Chelsea hands on tickets to the British flower show of the year, The Chelsea Flower Show, on members-only opening day, is more impressive than getting into this year’s sold out Glastenbury festival. Unlike my mum who can turn dust to gold in the garden, I can barely keep a cactus alive, so going to a flower show with gardening fanatics was quite an eye-opening experience! No need to wear your best Royal Ascot hat and sky high Essex heels, since flower shows are filled with triple shot venti latte working woman flats (so you can cover more ground faster), and casual cool tweed jackets. You might want to disguise yourself in a fedora and oversized shades, since you’ll be elbowing the pearl necklace clad Chelsea grandmothers to see the plant of the year.. kid you not!
Opening day at the Chelsea Flower Show
Attending an elite flower show will quickly make you realize that:
  • Every avid gardener thinks their home-grown plant last year was “far better”
  •  You can feed your giant venus fly trap steak tartare
  • You probably won’t appreciate the flowers as much if you’re color blinde
  • Plants are judged on the duration of their “shelf life”
  • Old ladies are known for stealing exotic plants at flower shows!
  • Gardening gloves for the serious gardener start at £70
  • You can go shoe shopping at a flower show – score! 
  • Diarmuid Gavin is apparently a hottie in the horticultural world
  • After 10 minutes of discussing this year’s top gravel, you will need a pitcher of Pimm’s
Without further adieu, here’s a slide show of pictures from the Chelsea Flower Show, which will make your gardening thumb green with envy.
This year’s gardening trend: textured walls



Carnivorous plants – watch your fingers!
The benefit of glass flowers? They last longer!
Chrysanthemums

Agapanthus
Lupins
Jackets made from flowers?! – MJ would have sold his antique collection for one of these
A chandelier orchid living room – looks just like mine at home
Irises
What’s hidden here? The make shift champagne bar. True story!
Test out your gardening skills and bring a bulb home?…
… or the new Hunter flats released @ the CFS
The glass ‘B&Q Garden,’ the tallest-ever garden to be on display @ the CFS
My favourite: ‘A Monaco Garden’
The Wild Swan” 2011 Plant of the year.. really
Made out of 100% flower
Just your average floral dining room arrangement
Garden sculptures went from modern..



to eye catching… 
… to downright terrifying
Loving this patriotic outdoor garden ‘lounger’ sofa
Tulips on steroids

Fields of lavender

 Will & Kate’s Seychelles honeymoon garden?

Tiki huts are apparently very practical for London gardens…
…so are these futuristic rotating outdoor orbs?

Shades needed for this gorg super-bright Nemesia

Now that I’ve seen the creme de le creme of green house production at the Chelsea Flower Show, I’ve come to realize that most of us could be spending a lot more time tending to our garden … and we could be receiving far superior floral bouquets. Watch out fellas, taking a girl to a flower show can really up the ante!