The Budapest City Break | Day Four: Széchenyi Thermal Bath on Valentine's

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Alas it is the final day of my Budapest trip! I hope I've shown so far how rich with history, fun and charm the city is, all wrapped in a stylish, casual vibe that made us feel completely at home. The apartment continued to be a dream with its spacious rooms and quiet surroundings, and we began the day at our favourite vegan haunt for some much needed stodge after the previous night's 4am finish.

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Hair buns secured and a huge plate of ten delicious and different veggie dishes later, we hopped on the metro for a few stops to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. We'd left this event to our final day as it seemed the most relaxing and effortless!

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We hadn't booked as it was out of season, which meant we took our own towels and flip flops, and headed into the steamy underground group changing rooms. I'd definitely suggest prebooking a cabin room as it certainly riled up any germophobe tendencies! But soon we were stepping out into the freeeeezing air and plunging into the 25 degree baths. 

And it truly was like taking a bath with your mates and a few hundred strangers! I never go swimming and don't even have a bath in my house so being in the water was pretty lush, and we chilled for a few hours. We did jump out to get our cameras for tourist snaps, and diving back into the steamy water was totally satisfying compared to the chilly air! It was Valentine's weekend though so we were mostly surrounded by couples!

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I can see how the night time parties they have at the baths could go totally crazy as sometimes the steam totally fluffed up in the air and you could barely see the person next to you! It was interesting to see a wide range of ages there too and a laid back vibe.

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After our day of relaxing, though our skin was so dried out by the cold air and streamy water, we got dressed up again and revisited the most well-known ruin pub, Szimpla Kert. It was a Friday night so it was more of a party atmosphere, and when we pulled up there was a long queue but it decreased quickly and we soon had £1 glasses of wine in hand!

I've recommended Budapest to so many people; it was the best value city break I've ever had and would suit party goers, history buffs or cute couples. I hope you consider visiting soon too!


Dazzle with The Gracechurch Centre


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Now this is a challenge to get on board with! The Gracechurch Centre tasked me to hunt the stores for the most dazzling items of the season, as sparkles are a huge AW17 trend. So many styles have a holographic sheen, a metallic embellishment, or a few extra gems. Save the dates are already arriving for the December party season and it's time to snap up the outfit before anyone else! I love so much about this season and having a calendar bursting with events that require maximum glamour.

I struck most lucky in Topshop with this rose gold skirt that almost makes you feel like a wrapped present! The textured silver top could be worn over a pretty bralette or tucked into high waist, wide leg trousers or flares. The cute sparkly clutch is a subtle nod to the trend if you're not shopping for a Christmas party outfit just yet. Having something pretty to perch next to your cocktail offers great satisfaction!

I also discovered these classic OTK boots in New Look that feel much more seasonal than a pair of strappy sandals that would freeze your tootsies off. The slit of the skirt shows them off perfectly and of course they'd be perfect when you're heading around the shops after Christmas for the sales!

Bring on the sparkle season I say!

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The Budapest City Break | Day Three: Scary Labyrinth, Vegan Delights and Bob

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I'm 99% sure I already typed up this post but all of the text seems to have disappeared! But alas, onto the third day of my Budapest trip and I do think the cool tone of these photos shows just how chilly it was. Our apartment was right next to Fisherman's Bastion so we walked over and took in the beautiful turrets. All of these sights are totally free to explore, even with the city already being so low cost.

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I do think I look like a green snowman above but it was freezing! We warmed up with a hot drink and made our way towards Buda Castle, until we passed a sign advertising a 'unique and amazing labyrinth' just around the corner. Our intrepid explorer instincts were ignited, though I did feel slightly uneasy as the stone tunnel entrance lead underground via steep steps. A few paces in and a fee of round £5 let you into a mile of tunnels, some pitch black, with random Edwardian party scenes with mannequins at different points... ? It. was. CREEPY! It didn't help that smoke and eerie music was pumped out, and there was a Dracula themed section. Argh! A bunch of potentially German tourists behind us too were making spooky noises as they laughed at our screams. It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time and you can see in my vlog it was more of a Blair Witch-style filming experience. I was glad to finally reach the end!

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After our slight trauma, we browsed the castle grounds, with plenty of epic views, and worked up an appetite for the local vegan restaurant. We had spotted Eden right by our place and there's a hefty menu, but the star is a daily selection of special dishes that you can pick 10 of for around £10. I'm not vegan but my friends are, and this was super tasty despite it looking a little like a plate of slop!

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We snapped the parliament building from across the river and took a trip to a supermarket for pre-drinks (aka prinks) and frozen chips, though we forgot we didn't have an oven at the apartment and ended up pan frying them dry. Yum!

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There are a few larger clubs in a square so we jumped in a cab to one called Bob first and ended up staying there all night! First it was playing salsa music but then it was a load of chart stuff and everyone was dancing; there was no posing or perching at the sides. We were dancing with some guys and all I saw was one of my friends being lifted up by some random boy and then soar through the air like a bird when the guy dropped her! It was so funny but also completely not cool but also we were all  laughing so much. It was another easy, effortless night with so many fun moments. Budapest was a breeze! Every activity was just completely effortless, inexpensive and unique. Let's just not mention that labyrinth! 

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The Budapest Trip | Day Two: Free Walking Tour, Terror Haza, Karaoke Wars

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 As I said on the 'gram, are you even a tourist if you don't wear your bag to the front?! Onto day two of my Budapest trip and thinking back, we did so much that day! We'd only had a few drinks the night before so we were up and out bright and early for a free walking tour. Our apartment was on the opposite site of the Danube but we swiftly crossed the beautiful bridge and met the walking group, thinking it was a good opportunity to get our bearings and cover lots of sights in one go. One of the best things about Budapest is that there are SO many free sights and experiences, or it's super cheap. It was February so it was damn freezing and we departed with the group to take on St. Stephen's Basilica and the Parliament building. We were paying more attention to taking photos than keeping up with the group though!

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I wasn't sure whether to include a photo of the Shoes on the Danube but you can read about this moving memorial here. Budapest is cloaked in history and this felt open and significant, ready to reflect on without the tourist crowds around you.

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Despite it ending right by our apartment, we actually snuck off from the walking tour pretty soon! I would say you could plan out a tour yourself as the city streets are clear to navigate and sights are close to each other. It was so cold that it wasn't making sense anymore to be pounding the streets so we hung back and slipped away in search of a hot drink. The town wasn't very bustling but this made our search for a coffee shop rather redundant. In the end we grabbed a chai latte in an average Starbucks before moving onto the Terror Haza, a museum set in a place of great horrors of the fascist and communist regimes. The exhibits are hugely varied and use so many different, creative mediums to tell the story of the time, leading up to an eerie walk through the cells that's scary to think about even now.

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It was time for some fuel and we walked across the city to vegan restaurant Napfenyes to sample giant pizzas. The difference wasn't too obvious but a sprinkle of real cheese wouldn't have gone amiss for me! Dining is so cheap that we could have visited there every day and this cute eatery made for a lovely rest.

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Back to the apartment and onto the night! We joined Tinder purely to ask for local recommendations and made a plan to head towards another ruin pub. The apartment was an absolute delight and we were blasting music, applying piles of makeup and dancing around in pure comfort. This is going to sound ridiculous but half the clothes I brought didn't actually fit! Literally I walked into my friends' room with a dress barely covering my hips, so potentially that winter snacking crept up on me by surprise! Bring it on I say - the only problemo was that I only had limited outfits with me! I'd luckily packed a fair few extras of course. My friend Catherine had packed a set outfit per day but I always find I need so many options to mix and match. I dress on instinct and it strikes fear in my heart to think you might have to wear something that doesn't feel right on the night!

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I had this faithful Missguided midi skirt that looks like faux suede but is actually rather stretchy, and a handy Missguided cropped bralette that may seem off-shoulder, but it actually has sweet straps. My hair was damn curly from the day in the freezing weather so I had to tie a little up to appear somewhat less dishevelled!

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We snapped away on my Instax (the first thing I exclaimed when I saw the size of the apartment was 'this will be amazing for photos!') and had one last drink before heading to the bar. Gozsdu Udvar was an arcade full of cafes and pubs but on a Wednesday it was rather quiet. We dodged a bar with girls dancing on the tables and ducked into Blue Bird Cafe, soon realising... it was karaoke night!! Amazing. I usually hate karaoke but I included Snapchat videos in my vlog below because it was actually completely hilarious. We tapped our request into the iPad (Tribute - Tenacious D) and enjoyed streams of tourists singing everything from Disney songs to Queen in terrible accents, taking it extremely seriously, before complaining our song was taking forever. A traveller told us she had sneakily deleted all of the other requests before hers and that was the only way it played! By now though it was rather late and we just crashed other people's songs! It was such a fun night and didn't matter that we ended up staying in the bar as I've never laughed so much! Look out for my next instalment soon, or check out my vlog below for a sneak peek!


Pretty Western with The Gracechurch Centre

I just love trends! Is there anything more satisfying than a new season full of fresh garms to discover? The promise of unearthing a favourite new staple or cultivating the perfect head to toe look is what makes me dive into a stack of magazines, pages of the latest fashion weeks' street style, and of course hunting around the shops. Even before I started my blog ten years ago, it's what I've always loved to do! Working in retail makes this habit my day job too, so I never really stop thinking about what people are currently buying.

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It's a delight to be part of The Gracechurch Centre's summer campaign, Fashion in the Frame. Store windows are being graced with a new trend each week and when you snap and share your favourite on social media, you could win it! This week's trend is Pretty Western, and I'd bet this is the biggest hit on the high street this season. Gingham? Check. Embroidery? Check. Embellished denim? Check! It was not hard to hit the shops and peruse so many cute items with a western twist right now. 

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However I chanced upon this yellow prairie dress in Marks and Spencer, displayed on their campaign model in all its sunny glory. How beautiful is this colour! Complete with tassels and tiers, I was all over this buttercup beauty. It also left the trend open to a gorgeous embroidered bag or pair of heels - or both! These River Island sandals are undoubtedly the shoe of the season, with a perfect block heel and bold florals across the sole and straps too. How good would these look with a pair of frayed hem jeans or gingham smock dress?  The New Look clutch was another dose of punchy florals in orange, pink and blue, picking out the yellow of the dress with a burst of flowers and leaves. Such a pretty way to nod to the trend but also chance to accompany just about every outfit this summer with this bag of applique dreams.

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Have fun checking out the framed outfits at The Gracechurch Centre and good luck with the competition!

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A taste of lagom with Rekorderlig Cider #spon

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#StartTheSwedishWay

I was recently approached about the subject of lagom and was instantly transported back in time. Do you remember when I lived in Sweden for a year during University? I’m not even sure if Erasmus still exists but I studied in the small town of Borås and followed my fashion blogger dreams. Yes - then fashion blogging consisted of a handful in the UK but an absolute heap over in Sweden. Their forest photos, simple blonde top knots, giant circle scarves and understated vintage wears were just what the blogging community strived for. Rekorderlig Cider asked me to share how I could start my summer the Swedish way, as the ethos of lagom is that just enough is the perfect amount of everything, with a lack of fussiness being the key. To celebrate a cool, chilled summer, they are going on tour across the UK to give away free samples of cider! Read on to see just where they are heading.

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I even wrote about the vibes of the Swedish custom of lagom in a post here in 2009! It’s SO nostalgic to dip into the past and read a whole year’s worth of blog posts from my time there, which were often very personal as it lives out the true adventure of living abroad. The word lagom is literally translated as ‘just enough’ or ‘just the right amount’. When you visit Sweden, you are absorbed into a world of family time by the lake, picnics in the forest and chatting over fika – a coffee and a cake! The lifestyle is laid back, calm and mindful. If you take just the right amount from life, you reach peace and content. Is happiness balance? I think so! It’s the life you have around those Instagram moments and expensive events that make the difference.

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Over the Bank Holiday I dipped back into the lagom lifestyle and chilled at my mom’s pretty house with my family, enjoying the delicious Wild Berries and and Mango-Raspberry cider in the sunshine, served over ice with a zesty, refreshing twist. My siblings fought over the flavours as it's a truly fruit experience. My mouth is watering just writing this! Instead of organising a grand outing, we all moseyed our way over to Lichfield on the sunny Saturday and sampled that comforting home cooking that I so miss. Chilling on the sofa, cuddling the cat and admiring the birds. No fuss. Perfect!

It is truly nostalgic as Rekorderlig Cider is what we drank in Sweden at the international flat gatherings celebrating cultural days from around the world, and by the lake hidden deep in the huge, towering forest literally just next door to our student halls. I can remember collecting it during the trips to the nearby supermarket while slipping and sliding on ice, surrounded my metre-high snow during winter.

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You can also #StartTheSwedishWay this summer by visiting the Rekorderlig Cider sampling Van in Birmingham on 24th June. The van will be gracing a number of cities across 28 days so you can try a slice of Scandinavian style, drink, and culture too!

The Lagom Tour Dates:

  • Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 15th June to 23rd July 2017
  • Box Park Shoreditch, London– 15th June
  • High Street, Birmingham – 24th June
  • Gunwharf, Portsmouth – 30th June
  • Jubilee Street, Brighton – 1st July
  • Rose Lane, Canterbury – 2nd July
  • Queen Street, Cardiff – 6th July
  • Crown Square, Spinningfields, Manchester – 21st July

The post is in collaboration with Rekorderlig Cider.