A Week in Paris

GOSH it's hot! I'm writing this lying stretched out on my bed in the most awkward style but it's extreme weather in the UK right now and I can't find a way to sit and type that doesn't feel like I'm wearing the air as a blanket. But hey, summer is here and sadly I don't have a tropical holiday on the horizon! Maybe this will change but my friends and I always prefer to discover another city rather than sit by a pool. I'm not sure you could look forward to a week of lounging as you can with a week of discoveries, but I probably need to widen my beach destination list. I need to feel like I've accomplished something when I have time off work and I figure I can sit on a sunbed when I'm older. I guess I'm not a sun worshipper!

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My holiday to Dubai in November wasn't all it was cracked up to be and was mega pricey, so we'd waited a while to book another break. I'd heard the getaway idea of spending a few days in Paris and a few days in Bordeaux, and we looked at switching that up to Paris plus the south of France. This would have been even more costly than two separate holidays so we booked off 6 days to spend in Paris! I've been to Marseille with my friends in a hilariously impulsive trip that cost just £20 to fly and it ended up being truly awesome and effortless, so Paris was the city to ticket off next. My friend is a huge Mumford and Sons fan and they were touring there at the time we wanted to go.

So Paris it was! And it was also a New York reunion for myself and two of my friends who are always up for an adventure; our aim is to be as social as possible. I had my sights set on seeing some beautiful landmarks, mixing with the ‘locals’ and drafting ourselves into the coolest circles and hotspots.

The flights from Birmingham airport are easy peasy as you’re at Charles De Gaulle in little over an hour and we lazily took an Uber to our (Booking.com) apartment; it worked out pretty much the same cost as train and metro travel into central Paris, and we all had large suitcases for the six days rather than our usual overloaded 10kg hand luggage allowance that we always abuse. We picked the central 14th arr. which had a host of local restaurants and supermarkets nearby, but we did end up getting Ubers and the metro during the day and night towards the centre of the city. I’d aim to stay as close to the Seine as possible to be the most central to the night life!

Our apartment absolutely blew us away as we were welcomed in by the owner, Bertrand. This flat was a work of art itself, with incredible 19th century furniture, hundreds of guide books on Paris culture and sights, and actual art and sculptures with their own spotlights. We charmed our way through his meticulous tour of the flat, “this is the kettle”… *extensive how-to lesson*… “this is the cleaning cupboard”… *extensive description of all items*... and he kindly left us with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful cake! What a delight. A hotel is great if you want the upkeep of new towels and a tidy each day, but an apartment crucially gave us the freedom to buy supermarket food to save on eating out constantly, and have some chill time rather than be cramped into one space. We had a hotel in New York but an apartment really worked in Paris as we did spend a fair time eating and getting ready there each days.

After a day of travelling, we browsed the local area with Bertrand’s handy custom maps and recommendations, and tucked into some fair French food with a slight touristy edge. Finding great restaurants is still not my forte as I’m not the biggest foodie but it does pain me to pay top dollar for dull food from a laminated menu full of photos. I was very torn on what to do that evening but one of my friends and I decided to head to a bar just for a few drinks as to not waste our first night, and I literally wore my matching leggings and lace up khaki set that I’d worn on the plane and just topped up my lipstick!

In the run up to travelling, I was actually the most chilled out I've been for any holiday. I had just changed my job a few weeks before and we unfortunately had a furry visitor under our floorboard at home, so I was too wrapped up and stressed about other things to spend my usual weeks leading up to a holiday knee deep in online guides and top 10 listicles. I did manage to collect a selection of bar and club descriptions, though this is an extremely hard task as there’s so much dated information online and a description of a club is so subjective. I’d managed to collect a list of decent-sounding bars and clubs though I annoyingly can’t remember the one we headed off to, which was a tiny dark hole in the wall with a basement cove of open brick-work packed with people dancing to a live band, and a bar circled with the most attractive French hipsters. It was all beards, long hair and smouldering looks, and after ordering two gin doubles that came to around 40 euros, we were slightly apprehensive this would be an EXPENSIVE holiday! A band of older dudes joined the first band on the tiny stage and they encored to the crowd’s delight, and we had a giggling gossip before heading home around 1am as we had to be up and out the next morning for DISNEYLAND!

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Now I’m not the hugest Disney film fan as I’m not particularly into cartoon films but obviously I appreciate Disney, the magic and a great chance to be entertained. We chose an off-peak day and the tickets for both parks were under £40 each, and we took a train from Paris straight there easily. I’m hilariously scared of rides and my friends had to coax me onto even the child-friendly ones, but we soon learnt that some queues were not worth waiting in as we spent way too long in the Toy Story area. We had a fast pass but didn’t realise you had to queue up at the start of the day to each separate ride and collect a timed ticket, and by the time we tried to go straight into Ratatouille, the fast pass ticket times were all sold out – oops! We queued up anyway for the top rides so next was the Finding Nemo rollercoaster which was actually super scary, and some 15 year old French girls in the queue were totally making fun of us behind as we waited which made for some hilarious commentary for our friends back at home when we sent an SOS Whatsapp message that we were being bullied by teenagers.

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After circling some more rides on the leaflet map and making a rough order of the day, we headed back to Ratatouille and skipped the massive main queue to get straight on in the ‘single riders’ queue. If you don’t have kids that have to be with you at all times, I’d recommend taking this queue as generally you are in the same set of carriages or cars as your friends, and most experiential rides don’t need you to be next to your mates as you aren’t exactly having a chit chat during them! That 3D experience was completely awesome, and I think we then went off for some lunch at Annettes, where I lived my dream of being at a restaurant with servers on rollerskates! We made a slight error in queuing up for ages for the Armagedon ride that just made loads of little kids cry, and the Tower of Terror was absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever been on! Especially when my friend were secretly touching my hair and I thought it was part of the ride.

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A few rides were shut for maintenance but we completed them all and then headed to Disneyland Park for the 5.30pm parade. At 5pm there were spaces along the street but after we grabbed a drink, the pavements were lined with families and it was harder to get a great spot. I’m gutted Ariel wasn’t in the parade but it was a delight to see all of the characters and dancers! I assume the parade is the time when lots of families call it a day as this park was open until 10pm and there were hardly any ride queues from there on in. We worked out way around Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast, It’s a Small World and every ride that was open that day, although I was too chicken to go on Space Mountain! Soon it really was late and we had to head all the way back home, make a supermarket stop for dinner, and get set for a night out.

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Another ingenious thing I did was to put in my Tinder profile that I was in Paris for a week and needed nightlife recommendations, and then swipe right for the first 100 guys that popped up. Dodging the many ‘I recommend you hang out with ME’ messages, most people did send over some great suggestions and we chose the hilariously named Le Titty Twister as our destination. We heard it was a rock club but as we stepped out the Uber, we didn’t realised it would be a roped off entrance reminiscent of New York. The door lady surrounded by bouncers asked if we were on 'the list', to which my friend replied yes and improvised with a random name, and we were let into the dark, swanky space themed on Tarantino film and playing hip hop and trap music all night. This wasn’t quite what my friends had in mind but it was more up my street, though we didn’t stay too long as it was rather pretentious and we weren’t feeling that for a Thursday night. We spoke to a few 'business owners' but whether they were real or phoney will remain a mystery!

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Plus the next day we were out and about in Paris as we’d bought the Paris Pass. We didn’t end up visiting all of the sights we’d hoped but it’s always useful to prebook as much as you can before heading somewhere so it’s as easy breezy as possible to get up and GO. We headed straight for the Louvre of course and browsed around the galleries before scoping the Mona Lisa, which has apparently been subject to theft, an acid attack and a fire?! She is one rad babe.

We explored Notre Dame and had some massive omelettes by the Seine, and paid a pilgrimage to Sephora before passing some hotties in the street and getting another recommendation for the best parties. The weather was beaut that day and we took a final walk to the impressive Panthéon for a browse before heading off home and getting set for that night. As it was Friday we hit a cocktail bar first in a cool side street packed with after-work drinkers, and got an Uber to Wanderlust. The queue was absolutely massive and about five people thick, snaking all the way down the road, but we confidentially walked straight to the front and basically just asked to come in. At first the bouncers looked bemused and grabbed a guy that could speak English, and we literally just said we need to come straight in while trying to look like we were ‘somebodies’ in an aloof, prestige sort of fashion, and somehow we just casually strolled in. I don’t quite know how we do it but you just need to walk straight in without a bouncer saying yes or no, giving the air that you are meant to be there! My one friend also casually walked straight past the 18euro entrance desk and we were on the huge rooftop party dancing all night and meeting Insta-famous body builders apparently.

Satisfied but a little delicate, we awoke to Bertrand’s alarm clock of a sublime classical music CD and headed on the train to the Palace of Versailles on the boiling hot Saturday. We spent most of the time walking and queuing, and saw little of the Palace after we discovered despite our entrance pass, visiting the gardens was a further 10 euros. 10 euros for open air seemed a little mean and we continued around the grand palace before travelling back to central Paris and not visiting Opera in time. We still had a few hours before we needed to head back to get set for the night out so we hopped on the nearby open top bus tour and chundered round the sites in a bus that really felt like it would topple over at any point! The extended tour did start lulling us to sleep and we soon hopped off and onto the metro home, refreshing ourselves for another night out at the Moulin Rouge club, La Machine. After our recent experiences of club entry, we mentally prepared ourselves to encounter some super strict bouncers, but this club seemed to be super casual and it was a night called Chronologic, where each hour played music from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and then the ‘00s in order - of course! We walked in at the end of the ‘60s era to a swimming pool-style low dance floor surrounded by balconies, and a stage with super camp dancers and crowd invasions. On the hour there was a grand countdown and the next decade of tunes began. This place was absolutely awesome but IT WAS SO HOT. It was literally the temperature of a sauna and I managed only a few songs before having to go stand near the entrance and popping back in to instantly hit a wall of heat. Next time I would wear something dark and super loose, and NOT wear your hair down! It was such a party but really impossible to stay very long - it was honestly a million degrees!

The next day we had our Mumford and Son’s gig in the evening so we attempted to book a wine tour but instead went on a boat tour down the Seine, which I wouldn’t really recommend unless it’s a sunny day and you can sit on the boat roof. We were so low down in the boat that you couldn’t see any sights over the river walls anyway and listening to a telephone spiel of the commentary was annoying so we just chatted and face swapped instead! I’d choose the bus tour over a boat tour any day.

We grabbed dinner and got back to the apartment just in time to get ready again and take an expensive taxi to the Zennith arena at the edge of Paris. The arena was quite small so it was an intimate-enough gig, and though I’m not a huge M&Ss fan it was a great show. We met some French hippies and a few English guys and hung out before it was home time in a giant shared Uber.

And then it was our last day! Which was actually rather lovely as we got up slowly and packed, realised one of Bertrand’s DVD collection was a film we had been talking about all holiday, and went back into central Paris to have a meal at the cutest, most authentic French restaurant that was truly delicious and opposite Laduree. We strolled down the Seine until sundown and grabbed snacks for an evening of Saved the Last Dance in our cool apartment, before our early flight the next morning.

As I hadn’t been away or taken a break from work for for 6 months, and I’m lucky enough to usually go on a short break with my friends every few months for the past few years, it was SO a few days away that I really needed and I came back feeling refreshed and motivated. It was the perfect mix of action and chill, and my camera was playing up so I didn’t concern myself with documenting the holiday too much. I did get a few shots for the vlog below but there was no full video this time!

We're thinking about a late September break that is relaxing and laid back with just a few cheeky local bars and a whole lotta sea and sand - can you recommend anywhere? We are considering Venice!


Competition Time! MTV Crashes Plymouth

Hi guys! I have a cheeky treat for you and myself to brighten up the beginning of our week! Myself, my squad and six of you lovelies will be hitting MTV Crashes Plymouth on Plymouth Hoe this month! I won’t be cramping your style – I have two VIP tickets to give away to you courtesy of CrossCountry trains! There are only 150 VIP tickets available each day and two of those babies could be yours. With the natural harbour backdrop, you could party with Example, Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Afro Jack, Subfocus and more – and when I say party with, I do actually mean there is a chance you could definitely score a selfie with some of those acts when you’re schmoozing in VIP on the Friday.

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I am from landlocked Birmingham in the centre of the Midlands but I’m hopping on a CrossCountry train directly there, easily whisking me away to the scenic coast. Along with the VIP tickets - which include exclusive access to mingle with celebs and artists in the VIP area, a cash bar, a buffet (no burger van for you my friend!) and a welcome drink – plus a VIP lanyard to flaunt around in your snaps, I also have four standard event tickets up my sleeve for two runners up to bag. The CrossCountry network is the most extensive in Britain so Plymouth is in reaching distance, and don’t forget your 16-25 railcard (mine has officially ran out, SOB) and 10% off with NUS Extra. Simply enter below for a chance to win the VIP or standard tickets for Friday 29th.

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Terms and conditions. The prize doesn’t include travel to or from the event. Please note there are age restrictions for each day.Three winners will be chosen at random and tickets cannot be exchanged for monetary value.


Sneak peek: River Island AW16

Call me a genius or call me cheeky but I recently had a brilliant idea! I could do with buying a few new work outfits and I really need an awesome new bag but I have no idea what to buy! I had a quick browse in the shops a week ago and was SO overwhelmed with the sales, especially in Zara where it seemed the entire store was on offer. Woah! But really we only have a few weeks left before AW16 takes over so there's no value in investing in trends of the moment, and we don't have long to wear summery things! I have my festival outfits just about sorted but I'd rather save my money now and wait to buy things I can wear for the next 6 months...
 
The September magazine issues usually give an overview of upcoming trends so you can scope out the first autumn drops right away, and fashion week in September is the perfect time to scout street style from editors and bloggers. I've browsed catwalk trends but by the time they hit the highstreet, they've been moulded and shaped into something much more wearable. I want to know now! So I had the brainwave of stalking the #AW16 hashtags on Instagram and thanks to the lovely people that managed to attended the press days and also the in-house designers behind the ranges, I've grabbed a few snaps of the upcoming collections! And let's start with River Island because they seem to channel trends in the most wearable yet desirable styles, and unlike Topshop, you don't see someone in the same outfit at every turn. The quality is top notch too.
 
Now I can't WAIT until autumn! There are so many things I love below, from the continuation of this season's retro patch trend into bright embroidery of florals and slogans. I'm definitely going to invest in more denim and upgrade to a pair of seriously statement ankle boots. I fancy taking my bomber jackets of this season and learning how to embroider a slogan onto the back or customise with the perfect patches, and I'm SO drawn to that pink puffa coat! 
 
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Credit: notjustanoutfit, its.reb, georginameehan, romydfonseca, itsdaniellehunter, elle_nl, emthomp7, rhiannonvwhyles, ashleyveraart sachabelle, deepalipatel, clemfieldsend, nadyia.stylist, bobbleheadmo, stellamagazine, fashcatherine, ajr1987


Summer Skincare Buys

Hello lovers. I've been debating what to post from my long list of news but first on my memory card was a few new skincare updates since my last venture and ode to Caroline Hirons. After those new found favourites ran out, I dabbled in a few replacements that I already had in my stash and tried to stretch out the time until I had to spend another three figure sum on lotions and potions. This is what I've been using recently and some lived up to their former skincare stars, while others just weren't worth the purchase. Maybe you can help me use them more effectively though! I've been trying to keep on top of my routine but when I'm feeling lazy, I sure notice it in the morning.

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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ - I and every other blogger has waxed lyrically about this moisturiser that actually unclogs your skin rather than lashing on layers. I use it whenever I have a breakout, which usually comes as a patch rather than one odd spot. This literally cools and clears overnight; I wish it was around while I was a teenager. It's always useful to have in your arsenal. I can't say I've noticed the '[+]' correct any marks, but my spots don't tend to leave marks.

Clinique All About Eyes - I think I had this with a free set or a Christmas gift but this really is a universally good eye cream. Lightly whipped and inoffensive, this settles calmly and restores moisture in the most delicate area of your face. If you're stuck of what to buy and don't want to go too heavy, you won't be disappointed.

MERUMAYA Everything Everywhere Beauty Oil - Despite rave reviews, this feels sticky and heavy on my face, and doesn't seem to absorb. I've tried patting it in and using a teeny amount of product but my skin refuses to 'drink' this! Is there another way I could try? If not I will add it to my hair and body routine!

Niod Photography Fluid - This was a complete impulse after noticing the insane reviews. It apparently anoints you with a beautiful glow under any foundation and gives a flawless selfie result that has lasting power, and some even ditched foundation. I felt it did help me get that glow on but a little goes a long way and it's easy to get a ghost face that looks like you've filmed the highlight challenge. After mixing a drop with MAC Pro-Longwear foundation, it is quite a shock to see the new sheen. The jury is out on this one - I need to experiment and test out different foundations. Also the packaging is absolute pants and the stuff gloops out the bottle when you pull out the pipette, which decants such a tiny drop that you need to keep plunging it back into the mess to get any more. Plus it's glass so this product is no travel companion.

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum - I bought this ages ago and hated it, but Caroline Hiron's praise intrigued me again. I STILL don't get it. It's such a clinical, uninspiring tube and consistency that I take no pleasure in applying it and see no visible results. Possibly I need to persevere and look for long-term results?

Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser - This is so popular and I feel like that's more about the decent price point as I saw no benefits to any other light cream moisturiser apart from the smell that made me feel slightly queasy every morning. I couldn't wait to finish it! It did not give any hydration benefits. Boo.

Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser - This was an awesome freebie from Look Fantastic (among many others) and I was keen to try the Eve Lom hype. Much stiffer than Clinique TTDO, it took a while to warm up and while wouldn't get down to dissolving the day's makeup, as the morning cleanser it is enough to lift any over-night grease or grim for a quick refresh from your head being slapped to your pillow for 8 (or 6) hours. Lovely, but I wouldn't fork out for this.

I fancy trying Pixi Nourishing Cleansing BalmEye+ by SkinOwl and Kypris Moonlight Catalyst next - and NEED Clinique Moisture Surge back in my life! If I win the lottery, I'll go straight for the Sunday Riley and Zelens too.


New Square Pop Up Fashion Event 2016

Last Saturday I attended a day of pop up fashion at New Square! I took my vlogging camera to showcase the shows across the day, with models dancing and performing in latest collections from New Square stores including Outfit Fashion (aka Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge), JD, Next and more.

I haven't vlogged in a little while so I was set with my camera in hand to capture all of the day's activities, plus get some tips from the on-hand stylist Jill on what I should be stocking up on. She also had bagfuls of vouchers to hand out to the unsuspecting audience and it was like Christmas had come again!

My favourite outfits were the CUTE denim pinafore and tee from Dorothy Perkins and a bronze Topshop bomber that I've eyed up in store many a time. Take a peek below!