Bon Appétit! Smakelijk! Vær så god!

As my adventure away draws closer I’m beginning to think about what lies ahead at the places I’m about to visit! The excitement is rather overwhelming and slowly bits and pieces are finally coming together.

So, I’ve mentioned previously that on the cruise I’ll be heading to parts of Scandinavia- but to expand (and so you can fully understand my excitement) I’m visiting Brugge, Copenhagen, Skagen and Oslo. I know, right? This is my first taster of what Scandinavia has to offer and I already know that in the future I’ll be planning to head back to some of these places, along with some new ones! This is an area of the world I’ve dreamt about visiting for so long and can’t wait to finally see it for myself. To hone in on one of the major reasons I can’t wait lets discuss one of the greatest things known to man.

Food.

I am a MASSIVE foodie (which is rather hilarious coming from who used to be the pickiest eater. No, I’m not kidding. As I child I was the fussiest eater you ever did meet), and it’s pretty much the main reason I keep visiting Paris (I’ve been 3 times now… Not counting 2 school trips).

There’s just something spectacular about eating local cuisine; whether it’s street food from a food truck, a sit down meal, food on the go (like a good pastry) or eating 3 desserts in one day just so I can try them all… Definitely haven’t done that (I’ve definitely done that).

My favourite meal in the entire world (sorry to betray you beloved pizza) is boeuf bourguignon (see tasty photograph to the left). It’s like a rich beef stew served with boiled potatoes and by god is it incredible! It’s one of those meals that is both extremely hearty and comforting, but also indulgent. Basically it’s just utter perfection. Now I’ll freely admit, I’m stubborn. So stubborn in fact that I waited years to try this dish, as I refused to try it at any of the restaurants in the UK. But I’m so glad I did as it was worth the wait and I eat it every time I visit Paris! However, I’m afraid to say I did the same thing with my now favourite desserts, Crème Brulee and Mille-Feauille. But remember good foods come to those that wait! That’s the saying right?

Where was I again? Apologies lovelies, my tummy just rumbled…

So basically, the hunt for the best Smørrebrød (Danish open sandwich), Rød Pølse (Danish hotdog) and Frikadellar (Danish meatballs) is on!! Not forgetting my sweet tooth (or should that be sweet teeth?) I’ll also be scouting out some delicious Belgian chocolate waffles and a Norwegian bakery in the hopes I can try KrumKake (honestly, google this delight… It sounds amazing!)

Have you ever ventured to this part of the world and know of fantastical foods that I simply have to try? Please contact me through here or Instagram, as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

But I have nothing to wear!

So sorry for my sudden disappearance lovelies!

I recently visited my parents back in my Northern hometown. This means I’ve been drinking all the cups of tea I can muster (the water is marginally different; any Northerner who lives down South will tell you this!) Eating from my favourite takeout place and spending time organising our mother/daughter holiday (or holi-yey, as I tend to refer to it).

I’ve been basically helping my mum put together outfits that can lend themselves to both day and evening wear. Then there’s the dreaded formal wear (dum dum duuuuuuuuum), this I think I’d like explore in another post. So for now let’s stick to prospect of day wear. As I’ve said before I love putting outfits together… Sorry, I don’t think you heard me in the back, I LOVE putting outfits together!! I know some find it easier to purely keep on buying clothes because of the “I don’t have anything to wear” syndrome, and don’t get me wrong we’ve all been there. But I only have so much wardrobe space (yey for city living) and for this holiday I only have one case so I have to think on a small scale.

So for those that do wonder how I put my own outfits together, I’m going to tell you how I do it. Personally I find it makes shopping a much more enjoyable experience and weirdly if the idea of shopping freaks you out a little; it makes it a slightly quicker experience too. These aren’t original ideas, just things I’ve picked up from other stylists along my journey, Trinny and Susannah (for those that remember “What not to wear”), Gok Wan and more recently Lori Goldstein.

Firstly, know your body. For me, this was a crucial life lesson. Like probably a lot of you I’ve spent years hating parts of my body! But it wasn’t until probably the ages of 18 that I started to really get to know what my shape was, even if I still was nowhere near 100% comfortable with my figure yet. I began to learn (over time) what the good parts were (and we all have good bits!!) Then it was a case of what could I do to extenuate those and disguise the parts maybe I wasn’t so happy with. I’ll be honest with ya’ll- my boobs are fairly small and my bum could probably rival Kim Kardashian. Most times I really don’t feel in proportion and the top half of my body feels too petite for the bottom half. Plus I really don’t like my legs, I never have. Ok, now the good bits. This is the hard one right? But if I can bare my soul, so can you! I really like my hair- I know one seems like a cop out, but your hair is your BIGGEST accessory. How your hair is styled can really impact on your outfit choices! My does for sure; having such a severe haircut like a bob can change your whole aesthetic and for me it helped shape the look that I have today. I really like my neck and collar bones- now I know you’re thinking “collar bones? That’s a little weird, no?” Yes, perhaps it is a tad! But again, that space between your neck and chest area can lend itself to so many different necklines. The only one I’d say I honestly dislike on myself is the v-neck (due to my severe lack of breasticles). But when having photographs taken way back in 2010, I had my collar bones compared to that of a Tim Burton movie… This was literally the most amazing compliment you could have given me. So I ran with it!  

So I’ve bared my soul a little and breathe. If you’ve never had the confidence to do this before, why not give a little try and if you’re not ready don’t worry! But like I said before, we all have good bits of our body (even if like me and it’s the slightly quirkier parts); and we all deserve to give ourselves self-love!

Now onto my little shopping trip tips!

Wearing all black is never the answer: I went through a phase of wearing nothing but black. My entire clothing collection was made up of black outfits…. And honestly? I’ve found other colours and even some patterns more slimming on my figure.

Create a mood board or a Pinterest page: this is great if you have an idea of the types of clothes or silhouettes you’d like to be wearing; but haven’t quite made it to the shopping stage yet.  

But if you know exactly what you like to wear- hunt for it eBay: If it’s cheap, you won’t lose anything by trying. I know this seems obvious, but eBay is such a great tool; if you’re not so keen on the whole changing room idea.  

Inject a vintage bag: This tip is for those that might not ready to try vintage clothes shopping yet, but you kind of want to give it ago. Why not go for an accessory instead? It’ll inject some originality and individuality into your day to day wear. I hear those thrift stores, charity shops and eBay calling your name!  

Scenario- you’re going away somewhere and have no idea what to pack: Why not check out with the local fashion is, the locals might give you some inspiration especially when it comes to the year-round weather!

Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns: Honestly, I live by this rule! I genuinely believe you can find patterns that can complement each other. Even if it’s the same pattern in different colours. Don’t be afraid to experiment- fashion is meant to be fun!

Do remember lovelies, these are just little guidelines by and I hope at least one of these can help you in your next shopping venture.

I’m here for all your queries, questions and qualms you may have m’dears, if you think I can help send me your fashion woes and let me help in any way that I can like a Fashion Fairy Godmother!   

Looking Ship Shape

God dag lovelies!

Now that’s just a little hint there of where I’ll be venturing off to soon- but more about that later!

One aspect I’m really enjoying about all this cruise prep is looking at outfits and seeing what clothing combinations I can put together (a capsule wardrobe, if you will and yes I learnt that from Gok Wan). If you know me, you’ll know I absolutely adore fashion (understatement of the century) and that over the years I’ve not been afraid of changing things up and experimenting with my look (apart from the bob, that goes nowhere). I love looking at where I’ll be travelling to and finding outfits that complement the place beautifully. I basically like to bridge the gap between stylish and functional! But I’m chockfull of personal style and can sometimes find it exceptionally difficult to just shop at one store.

Do you feel that way too? It’s really frustrating isn’t it! It just equals more tea and biscuit breaks, if you ask me.

I can however pretty much shop anywhere from Primark and H&M (their basic tee’s are an essential and a lifesaver!) to thrift stores and Lindybop for my key retro or vintage pieces. It takes longer to build a wardrobe that way then I care to admit. However it’s the simple matter of “you like what you like”.

However one person I know who struggles with this is my mumsy. I know over time she’s struggled to walk into a store, pick up more than one item of clothing and then proceed to walk out of that store with said item(s). I think it’s fair to say that unless you can afford designer clothing (Ah, Chanel), my mum’s age is simply not catered for.

I hear some of you exhale slowly, like I’ve just (ever so slightly) crossed over a line. But it’s just something I’ve observed in my many (30) years on this planet.

These extraordinary ladies want to look as stylish as say those in their 20’s and 30’s, and they absolutely deserve too (I mean, look at ladies like Cate Blanchett and Kristen Scott Thomas)! But without the worry that their dressing like their daughter, niece or insert younger relative here. I must admit, as someone who’s been on countless shopping trips with their mum I have seen the high street dwindle (over the years) when it comes to everyday fashion that it almost terrifies me at the prospect of getting older!

Lovelies, if this conversation screams you then please get in touch with me and tell me your fashion agony! Let me see if I can help anyway I can… I say this like I know what I’m talking about.

Now my mum is pretty classy woman (I think she’d be cool with me saying that). She knows exactly what suits her body type and has amazing Marilyn Monroe-esqe curves! However, I’m fully aware that although we both have similar body types she probably wouldn’t wear some of the things that I have in my wardrobe. I think it still astounds her when I can thrift a vintage dress or skirt and walk (aka strut) down the street in it like its Paris Fashion Week. She’ll always respond with “Now if I were to wear that I would just look old”. To clarify my mum does not look old and dresses exceptionally well despite what the high street has to offer.

So my dears I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find clothes and maybe stores that are solely online, in the hope that I find at least one store that provides exactly what women my mum’s age are looking for (that shouldn’t be too hard, right?) It seems such a shame that if you’re over a certain age shopping becomes less fun and more of a chore.

I just want my mum to feel absolutely amazing in whatever she’s wearing (even if it’s a paper bag), because truth be told she is.      

If any of you lovelies have any suggestions of places we could look that maybe we’ve never tried before please I’m all ears (not literally, of course).

Or maybe the answer to all this is “sod the high street Quinn and make your own clothes!!” In a kind of Mel Gibson Braveheart type manner… I mean it is International Women’s Day after all “FREEDOM!!!”

Can I have a cup of Anxietea please?

My lovelies I have something to tell you!

In a mere few months I’ll be going on an adventure, doing something I’ve never done before and possibly overcoming a fear at the same time.

I’ll be venturing on a cruise! Sounds exciting right?  

You’d think so, but here’s the thing… I actually have a fear of boats.

Now you’re probably saying to yourself “Wait. Hang on. Quinn… What are you thinking hun!?” (Or words to that effect) and quite frankly, I don’t blame you. I’ve been thinking it myself, don’t worry! However, the best thing about this scenario is that I’m not going alone (I’m not that crazy!) I’ll be going on this adventure with my best friend aka my mum. My mum went on her first cruise with my dad back in 2012, a celebration for their 25th wedding anniversary and they were hooked! They fell in love with the concept of having little samples of different places without the fuss of flight connections; especially since some cruises can journey to a lot of remote places. Although my parents have usually opted for self-catering holidays in the past, I think they rather enjoyed that feeling of being well and truly looked after and that touch of luxury. Now I’m going to experience all this first-hand, which I find both exciting and a little daunting at the same time! Is that normal?  

So let’s rewind a bit. I just told you all I have a fear of boats. Now (if you’re dying to know) this began at a very young age! Basically it was around the age of 3 (I think, correct me if I’m wrong here mum!!) and I got taken on what I can remember as a mini fishing boat. My parents clearly thought it would be a gentle ride along the sea…. Alas, no. Quite the opposite! All I can remember is screaming and crying the entire length of the trip. Yes. I was quite the theatrical child. But either way the experience stayed with me for a long time and I haven’t really been on a boat since. Somehow I don’t think an excursion on a replica of the Endeavour in Whitby for half an hour counts.

But this holiday symbolises a lot more than simply conquering my fear of boats and trying to re-enact a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean.      

Over the last year I have been suffering with severe anxiety and symptoms of agoraphobia, and within the last month have started to take action with the help of counselling to overcome things once and for all.

It’s something I’ve felt I’ve been dealing with for more than just a couple of years, but within the last year it really started to take its toll. Now m’dears first and foremost- I have absolutely no shame in telling you this! It’s something that I’m dealing with, but the important factor here is I’m getting the help I need! For those of you out there who might be going through a similar battle, whether that’s dealing with mental health yourself or have a friend/loved one who are fighting right now- know from me personally that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, I’m in the process of healing but I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without the support system I have around me. They’re helping me fight this battle. I know in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to conquer this without them. To put all this in nerd terms? It’s like Lord of the Rings! I’m like Frodo carrying the ring to Mount Doom, but yet Frodo didn’t do it alone. He had the help of the Fellowship. That’s what Mr Lee, my mum and Dad and my friends are to me. If you are going through a lot right now, even if it isn’t you personally going through mental health problems, but are connected to someone who is- remember you need support too!! Please speak to someone. Will you all (whoever you lovelies are reading this) do that for me? Even if professional help isn’t the first step you take (Believe me, I know it’s scary), that’s ok. But please speak to a friend, a teacher, a relative or even your hairdresser! Also, I have a contact me page- send me a message if you’d like. Don’t underestimate the power of speech! I know it’s not easy but you can get there. I may not believe in myself just yet (that’ll come with time), but I believe in all of you!

And breathe.

That’s a just brief history lesson of Quinn!

So right now I’m trying to get myself to a position where I know this cruise is going to be a piece of cake, without the heart palpitations or the panic attacks- unless those heart palpitations are from looking at pieces of cake…   

Belgravia, A catch-up… and Peggy (Porschen)

Did someone say cake? Part 1

When I say, “How about we go somewhere for some tea and cake?”  Where does your mind go to?

Could you demolish a cupcake with a pot of tea (for one, of course)? A slab of cake, that’s four layers high with a latte to compliment it? Or is it a case of “sod the cake; I’m going to be controversial and go for a biscuit or a pastry”.  Whatever your preference I’m going to test out as many places in London that specialise in tea/cake/coffee/all of the above! Why Quinn? I hear you ask. Well, my lovelies I shall tell you. Whenever I have friends or family come to visit it’s the same conversation every time!! Tell me if this sounds familiar?

“Where would you like to go?”

 “Oh I don’t know, why are you asking me? You pick, you live here”

“No, no! That’s exactly the point. I do live here. You don’t, you’re visiting. It’s up to you!”

“Well, where’s nice?”

It continues like this until I one of us ends up in full-on facepalm.

I’m a habit I can’t break! I go to the same places; it’s no doubt a Costa Coffee or Starbucks to make things easier on my guests. That way everyone’s happy! Now don’t get me wrong- I love a Costa Coffee chai latte as much as the next person (I really do. It’s my absolute fave). However, I feel I need to expand my knowledge! So when that opportune moment comes where I have to recommend a place I CAN without hesitation!!

To begin my journey, if you will, I thought I’d start at a place that seems to feature most heavily on my Instagram.

PEGGY PORSCHEN.

Oh my goodness. To say I was super excited to try this place is a MAJOR understatement and I definitely didn’t want venture here alone (although if you know me I’m all for a solo trip!) For this adventure I asked my darling friend Andy to join me, he’s one that really appreciates trying new places and it’d been so long since we had a good catch-up with each other. Put it this way, I greeted him by saying “Happy New Year”. No need to check your calendars I’m fully aware that it’s February. Like I said it’d been a while since we’d seen each other and knew this would be a great place for a chinwag!

This is just the exterior for the month of February!

Now From photographs this café looks like pure joy; as if Glinda the good witch floated down to Belgravia in her pink bubble and created a café completely based on her look and filled it with social media goodness.

That goes for the treats too.

Attention shoppers! There’s only ONE (singular sensation, sorry, MT reference for ya’ll) Peggy Porschen currently. There’s a second opening in Chelsea soon, but no date on the opening just yet. It’s a short walk from Victoria station and even shorter from Victoria coach station. Believe me; you can see it from the top of the street and as you walk more towards it you’re met with this beautiful pretty in pink exterior which is absolutely covered in flowers! Honestly, it’s truly gorgeous. It did start to rain, but it didn’t dampen our spirits and we began to queue with the others who were also eager to try this chic bakery.

Just to forewarn you lovelies, Peggy Porschen is immensely popular and I would 100% recommend visit on a weekday if it’s at all possible to avoid long queues!

Luckily we only queued for a total of 10-15 minutes. Personally I don’t think that’s bad, I’ve definitely queued longer in Primark (am I right lovelies?) but do beware you do have to queue outside, just in case you were wondering. However I reckon our queue timing could have been reduced if it was a sunnier day as they do offer outside seating. But queuing aside, it’s all worth it when the lovely front of house staff open the door to fetch you and bring you into a world of adorable pink Parisian chic (I didn’t even intend for that to rhyme!)

Can they come and decorate my entire house please?

Hold the phone. You’re going to want to take some photos. The décor is charming and absolutely adorable! Everything from the cute flower arrangements to the light fixtures, and I haven’t even got started on the cake yet (which is of course laid out beautifully, by the way!)

So let’s move swiftly onto what treats they had in store for us!

Andy and I both opted for a pot of tea for one (pfft, I was not sharing my tea with no one!) It works out slightly more cost effective buying a pot for two, but we really wanted to try a bit of everything. They have your traditional teas such as Afternoon and Earl Grey, but also teas for the more adventurous and I knew instantly that Andy would definitely opt one of those! So in the end I stayed quite traditional with the Earl Grey with orange and Andy selected the Sugar Plum tea…. SUGAR PLUM TEA!! I KNOW! Definitely one for those with a sweet tooth and who aren’t put off by brightly coloured tea (It was a very vibrant purple)!

Selecting a slab of cake or one of their deliciously, inviting cupcakes proved rather difficult. Honestly the selection process was hard! It was as if it was the literal Hunger Games and I had to choose one of those cakes to go into battle (with my stomach) “may the odds ever be in your favour”. Every single one of their flavours sounded heavenly and pretty traditional in terms of what’s available at most tea and cake shops nowadays. No real wildcard option, all quite safe options but by god did they all look and smell good! The two flavours we (eventually) decided upon were salted caramel and the lemon, raspberry and rose cake.

I’ll give it a second whilst your mouths are watering.

These cakes let me tell you were both WINNERS. They tasted beautiful and oh-so (apologies) moist. What I loved most about the salted caramel layer cake is that instead of a traditional buttercream sandwiched between each layer they used pure caramel. This BLEW MY MIND! It tasted rich yet light and fluffy, and I know how difficult that can be with that type of cake. But what they achieved was absolutely stunning! I can’t tell you how devastated I was once I realised that my plate was empty.  

The lemon, raspberry and rose cake was such a kapow of flavours that I did not see coming!! It arrives looking so delicate, matching in wonderfully with the décor…. Then you taste it. Wow. If you ever wondered what pink tastes like. IT’S THIS FLIPPING CAKE!! You immediately get this rush of raspberry flavouring that’s amazing and not at all tart (which I was afraid that might happen and it didn’t!) As the cake is simmering down on your palette then the lemon flavour decides it’s time to make an entrance; it’s almost like an after taste but a really good after taste. I honestly can’t remember if I got much of the rose or not, but the cake tasted that good I genuinely don’t care that I didn’t!  

I must admit, I did have a few concerns that in coming to Peggy’s you’d be surrounded by people glued to their phones, constantly snapping photos for Instagram and such. But I’m happy to report that if you also had those concerns then I can put them to rest for you! Yes, people were taking photos (I mean c’mon, it’s unquestionably stunning both inside and out, why wouldn’t you?) but it wasn’t to the extreme where no one was enjoying themselves or being antisocial. It was a lovely atmosphere and we were all clearly very happy to be there! There were younger people, mothers and daughters, families, husbands and wives. Just anyone wanting a lovely afternoon in this quaint setting with a good cuppa!

I’m so grateful when I can finally catch-up with my darling friends.

Oh and me? Well I personally cannot recommend this place enough! I’m firmly on board the Peggy Porschen train and cannot wait to take someone else with me to indulge in the pretty chicness of it all.

116 Ebury Street 
Belgravia 
London
SW1W 9QQ

Opening hours: 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week! 

Mary Mary Quant Contrary

If you know me you’ll know I’m obsessed (LITERALLY OBSESSED) with fashion. More specifically fashion from the 1950’s and 60’s. Flowing skirts aplenty, gorgeous tailoring, pinafores and polka dots. Oh my goodness. I’m going to have to stop right there and have a sit down. The ‘Mad Men’ fangirl within me can’t cope right now thinking about all these clothes.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got to visit the beautiful Swinging London exhibition this week. It’s currently on display at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, (a short walk from London Bridge station) and will be on display until June 2nd. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the British high street revolutionaries Mary Quant and Terence Conran.

Sir Terence Conran and Dame Mary Quant
Source: Fashion and Textiles Museum website

Wait… I’m sorry. But did I just hear some of you just ask me, “But dear Quinn, who are this glorious people you speak of?!” Well fear not lovelies I will explain in a mere sentence (or two) that will save you scouring google.

Fashion designer and legend Dame Mary Quant (apart from having one of the most iconic bob haircuts ever) is the fantastic human you have to thank for the MINI SKIRT (I know. Right?) One of her favourite statement pieces that she’s ever designed is the ‘Banana Split’ mini dress; which I will show you later. But she basically revolutionised the British high street! – We have a lot to thank her for (THANK YOU MARY!)

Designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran is the man behind the beautiful home furnishing store we know as Habitat. He made stylish home decor available to the masses! His ethos was to make designs that would “grow old gracefully and slip seamlessly into peoples lives and give them years of pleasure”. (Side note: you may also think “Conran, now that rings a bell!” you may know his son’s work as one of the many designers at Debenhams- Mum I’m looking at you here!) 

Now we’ve all had a history lesson, I shall move on. I bought my tickets beforehand, but there were plenty of walk-ups so if you wanted to head midweek I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem waltzing straight in! However if you’d like to be super organised and buy your tickets beforehand, check if the 241 offer through Timeout London is still available as it’s an utter bargain!!

Tickets purchased and dressed in all my retro glory, off we went for a jaunt!

It’s a rather condensed exhibition, nothing as vast as what you may see at the V&A; whom are also choosing to honour Mary Quant with an exhibition this year (Starting April 6th, if you’re dying to know). However it was super quaint and displayed with a lot of thought and care for the pieces.

My favourite ensembles in the exhibition.
I’ll take them both in all colours. Thank you muchly.

The downstairs floor in particular is filled with some of Quant’s most iconic work including the banana split dress, which to this day still looks like a masterpiece. This dress will always be in fashion because of its shape and its simplistic nature and as Mary herself once said “you can make it as exciting as you want”. Pair it with some brightly coloured tights- as the lady herself would have done and you’re good to go my friend!

Apologies for the horrendous quality!
Photos are allowed but do remember to turn off the flash
(you don’t want to ruin the fabric)

I would say if anything there could have been a few more pieces for the Terence Conran sections of the exhibition. As although there was a lot to see and was well integrated with the clothing almost into little scenes, my eyes were definitely more fixated on Mary Quant’s striking fashions.

However if you’re a fan of 60’s London, fashion history, furnishings, Mary Quant or you just simply want a lovely afternoon exploring whilst listening to fantastic soundtrack, then this exhibition is definitely a must-see!