The London festival experience

GALA Brixton

As spring is firmly underway – or so we hope… c’mon, it’s still around 13°C most days here in London!– and daylight gets one extra minute each day, we get closer and closer to the wonderful stream of festivals that sweep across the UK. However, it seems like long gone are the weekends of mud, sweat and tears…

It seems that, as years have gone by, people are less interested in what some still love to call *the festival experience*. By that they mean camping for three/four days, often braving horrible weather conditions, large quantities of mud, bad toilet facilities, with little or no possibility of freshening up, let alone having a shower.

GALA Brixton

For someone who loves freshly washed hair (although I thank the Gods every day for dry shampoo!), clean and crisp clothing and the comfort of my own bed, this reads as my description of HELL.

I was never into this idea of ‘festival experience’, and I remember going to V Festival in 2006 and saying “oh my word, I cannot BELIEVE I’m home”. Don’t get me wrong, the festival was incredible! And it was even more so because in 55 minutes I was at my door, skipping happily to my warm shower.

I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone in this. The new festival experience involves VIP bracelets, a “sweat only if you want to” attitude, gourmet food trucks, drinks from independent producers and –the best of it all – a short tube/bus/Uber ride home.

LOVEBOX

It is no wonder that inner London festivals are becoming big players in the music scene. Field Day (Victoria Park), South West Four (Clapham Common), British Summer Time (Hyde Park), Wireless (Finsbury Park), Lovebox (Victoria Park) and GALA (Brixton) are some of the main festivals happening within London this spring and summer, taking advantage of the appeal of being at home after a long day (and sometimes night) of partying.

And let’s not forget that 2017 will be the first year where we’ll be able to use the night tube during summer! This is something I’m really looking forward to, in order to reduce my late night post-partying Uber addiction…

So, if you ever thought that you wanted to experience festivals but wouldn’t be happy applying your makeup in a muddy compact mirror, after cleansing your face with just a baby wipe for the third day straight… I HEAR YOU. Have a thorough look on all events happening within London and I’m sure you’ll find something that tickles your fancy – and with travelling time possibly shorter than your daily work commute!

written by Carol

Right, you know the drill… this is a bit of a PR post.

Festive, me?

2017. I am doing festivals. What?! I hear you shriek in disbelief. Really?

That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I dipped my toes for a day once, a couple of years ago, but never really got into it.

The fact that on festivals you can get away with copious amounts of glitter on your body is too big an attractive for me to pass.

But fear not, it’s still me and you won’t catch me camping anytime soon.

To open the season, I am going to ease myself with GALA, in Brockwell Park on the 28th May, bank holiday weekend, and welcome summer with Carol in a disco fashion with a very local vibe.

Of course, preparations have started – you know me, nothing happens without due preparation.

I’ve decided silver holo is the way forward for this one, because…disco ball. Stars, chunky and fine glitter are waiting to be devised into some shimmery face adornments.

As for outfit, I am keeping my options open. It’s London after all and the weather will dictate what I wear (plus I won’t tell you in advance, silly!) but expect some fun and comfortable, married with comfy footwear. I might crimp my hair. Just putting it out there.

In my bag, Dove deodorant, Gucci Guilty roll on perfume, the Garnier Ambre Solaire SPF mist, lollipops, lipstick, glitter, a fan and a power pack for the phone.

Juuuust in case it turns into an after party (or just for that post frantic dancing much needed touch up), I will have some powder, concealer, eyeliner and that e.l.f. Baked highlighter/blusher duo at hand.

Now, enough about me. Let’s dissect this. GALA will host the holy trinity of disco: Studio 54’s Nicky Siano, Paradise Garage DJs and Horse Meat Disco.

And that is not all, expect to also boogie to the sound of Late Night Tuff Guy (a Bowie tribute), Moxie, Honey Soundsystem, Afriquoi, Stevie Wonderland, Crazy P Soundsystem Live, Love Glove, Mood II Swing, Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda, Bas Ibellini, Krywald & Farrer and NixWax.

Gala 2016

What if all that dancing get you hungry? Fear not, there will be a feast of South London independent food on offer: The Joint (delish BBQ, bread from prison guys), Kriket (Indian small dishes), Bill or Beak (pulled duck? Drool. You know what I’m having).

They are joined by The Chicken Shop (succulent rotisserie chicken), Kerbisher and Malt (traditional fish and chips), Fatties Bakery (deserts. Amazing ones. Salted caramel dreams. I am not going to disagree), Made of Dough (pizza, pizza!), Killa Dilla (sexy quesadillas) and Oh My Dog (also sexy hot dogs) to make sure you’re suitably fed. Yum.

And to ensure you’re properly watered, the Soulshakers (they are bar and cocktails experts. Here’s my number), Brixton Brewery (local, independent, full of craft beer), Brick Brewery (a Peckham microbrewery) and Canopy Beer (a Herne Hill microbrewery) will be at hand for refreshments galore.

This is a bit of what went down last year!

Now, how much you ask? Tickets started at £20 but at the moment, they are on third release through good old Resident Advisor (how I love thee) for £35 plus £3.50 booking fee, which is excellent value for money.

You can also get a group ticket for £140 for 5 people or early entry (before 13:30) for £25, and the 10% booking fee also applies.

It starts at 12 and goes to 22:30, last admission at 17:00, with an after party at Jamm (£10 + £1.30 booking fee).

And you might bump into me (YAY). I’ll be the shiny disco ball-like girl bouncing around.

To get all the information go to thisisgala.co.uk.

Right, you know the drill… this is a bit of a PR post.

Urban yoga

My body has now entered rehab mode. My gluteus tendonitis, which is an office injury, means that circus is, for now, off the table.

So I am giving my body time to heal and what better than yoga to help the process? Add all the much needed mind benefits and there I was, with a smile on my face to be invited to the launch of the Karma Sanctum Yoga brunch club.

Taking place monthly at the lovely boutique Karma Sanctum hotel in Soho, London, the experience has a whole hour Vinyasa flow yoga with Katie Silver, coconut water, Lululemon yoga mats, a goodie bag, bottomless healthy brunch at the lovely heated hotel rooftop.

Oh, and did I mention there is a hot tub you can also use after your practice? Of yeah, THAT.

Carol and I headed to the inaugural yoga session, which took place at their cinema room. I found Katie excellent; an instructor who delivered a class for all levels.

Her voice and presence are calming and soothing, her instructions paced and clear, her adjustments fair and focused on you, even on a large class. And the orange oil she used at the end was divine.

Carol also pointed out that Katie was very available (and smiley!) after the practice, talking to some attendees about their technique, how to improve postures, etc.

On the bottomless, al fresco buffet brunch menu devised by James Cathcart, coffee, rolls, pancakes, plenty of fruit, fresh juices, yoghurt, scrambled eggs and avocados (made into a delicious guacamole). Being able to mix and match is really great. The setting is calming and it was great to be outside.

Carol and I were expecting to perhaps see gluten free carbs opposed to white rolls and very healthy smoothies/green juices, but those were not available, although we were satisfied with the fresh and filling fare provided.

Then I got changed and took a dip on the fabulous hot tub, with some super relaxing jets that soothed my muscles post-practice. I left feeling light, relaxed and open. What a delightful way to reset for the new week.

Overall, I believe it is very good value for money!

If you want to snap up one of the 20 monthly spaces, go to sanctumsoho.com and get booking. Yoga sessions start at 10 and finish at 11, with brunch/hot tubbing going until 13:30 on a Sunday. The next one is on the 4th June, then 30th July and it costs £40 per session.

On the goodie bag, great brands such as Skin & Tonic (which I love!), Yogandha Body Oil, Gallinee Hand Cream, Potion London, Orelia and Hype Clothing, probably worth more than the session alone!

To find out more about Katie, visit her website.

We are better together: Carol Aquino for So Many Lovely Things

Wow. That’s how I am opening. I never thought I’d get someone other than my selfish and picky self to write on So Many Lovely Things.

The day, however, has come. Welcome Carol Aquino *all clap*.

Our paths crossed randomly a few years ago but just recently we realised we may have more in common than previously accounted for. Add to that the fact Carol, originally from Rio but a good old London soul like myself, has enviable credentials and boom.

In all honesty, I am over the moon (surprised and a bit incredulous, tbh) she agreed to become a collaborator on So Many Lovely Things. I cannot say enough how ecstatic I am to get a bit of her shimmering sea of knowledge, professionalism and fun over the blog.

Ms. Aquino brings extensive fashion, style and communications expertise, plus a ridiculous gift for seeing the future (she works in trend forecasting) to the little blog, to make up for some of my shortcomings, mainly in knowledge, but also in, erm… lazy assness time to create more posts.

The low-dow:

  • MA in Fashion Journalism (London College of Fashion)
  • Extensive experience on international trend forecasting (she worked for Stylus and trendwatching.com)
  • A background in economics, mainly providing poignant research for politics.
  • An undying love of glitter and dancing (hello! <3)

Some of you may have already seen her on my Instagram or at an event, so will not be surprised to see her face (and wise words) ’round here too.

Carol will be covering fashion, trends, style, lifestyle and to be honest, anything she wants, gracing us with her fabulous flair and that eye in the future!

Catch her on Instagram (@carolaquino), Twitter (@querouaquino) and of course, here real soon.

Bliss! It’s a Bathing Under the Sky pop-up

Bathing Under the Sky is made those amazingly lush red cedar outdoor spa wood fired bath tube that have been successfully gracing festivals for quite some time and I was really lucky to try back in 2015 at the Innocent Unplugged festival.

Now, why wait for a festival to enjoy this amazing experience? You don’t have to! Bathing Under the Sky now has an amazing pop-up at the Bourn Gold Club, near Cambridge.

In the next month or so you can book your ticket to experience the 40 degree bliss.

The combination of the hot water, the wood burning, the cold weather (and even the rain) is a relaxing and re-energising antidote to rushed modern life.

Apart from the baths, they also have the amazing barrel sauna on location, a bar, changing facilities and showers.

And while the weather was truly horrible, once you get in the bath, all the miserableness is magically wiped away and all is left is relaxation.

And the feeling you can never, ever actually leave the bath.

Each ticket gives you access to the site for 3 hours and of course, to the Swedish-style wood-fired hot tubs, the dry Finnish barrel sauna with cooling shower, one complimentary drink served to your hot tub, chill out area with deck chairs, fire-pitches and blankets, hair-dryers, straighteners and mirrors, one sarong style towel, showers with toiletries and lockers for valuables. Phew.

All that for £28 per person!

Also worth noting that this a lovely family business, grown around Cambridge where all members work hard to give you the best experience. Plus they are just so adorable!

I thoroughly recommend this experience. And fear not, if you miss the pop-up, I am sure you’ll be able to catch Bathing Under the Sky in a festival near you!

They will be at Bourn Golf & Leisure, Toft Rd, Cambridge CB23 2TT on the weekends of 11-12/25-26 March, 8-9 April, 29 April – 1st May and 13-14/27-29 May. More dates will be confirmed soon for the summer and they have another location, Fanhams Hall, Ware, Herts SG12 7PZ, in the pipeline!

To book, go to bathingunderthesky.com.

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains an experience offered by PR. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Party transformation: from desk to dance floor

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-1We’ve all been there: great party straight out of a stressful day in the office. And now with the end of year parties in full swing, it is likely you are finding yourself in that situation more often than not.

So you can shine from desk to dance floor, I put a few tips and saviour products together that at this time of the year are dead certain to give you that helping hand, especially when you keep it going a few nights in a row.

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-2For skin that has been in the office (and in party mode) the Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster is a god-send.

I love applying it lightly on my skin throughout the day to retain and maximise moisture; it is also great dabbed on top of make up for an extra glow and to take that powdery finish away from the skin.

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-12To refresh your makeup, invest in a little multi-tasking palette which doesn’t take much space and will go a long way.

This Sleek Eye and Cheek palette fits the bill and even has a sparkly shade to build on top of the neutrals after hours and turn up the party vibe!

I also decant my foundation into small pots to carry on the go, and use small makeup brushes to apply.

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-11For you lips, my newest obsession, liquid lipsticks are just perfect as they are quick to apply. At the moment, Kat Von D Vampira is my autumn go-to shade and scream edgy party look.

Taking about that, the Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray is great to fix your makeup in place and keep it going all night long!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-4A small deodorant goes a long way – I love the little Dove Invisible Dry that ensures your black or colourful attires are free from marks. very important in a hurry!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-8Sore feet? Carnation has a fabulous range to maximise your heel-wearing span and I love this Anti-Blister Stick, which minimises the party-busting shoe rubbing.

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-5Make sure you always carry flats; I love these Sinderella foldable pumps as they are super comfy to walk on. Perfect for moving in-between parties if your Uber budget is getting close to exhausted!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-3For extra hair oomph use a good dry shampoo. I love the Swell Ultimate Volume Dry Shampoo as it has no nasties and refreshes hair as well as giving some volume!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-6I always carry a good brush with me, and this mini Wet Brush is brilliant!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-7Has barely made it home for a shower? This tiny Gillette Venus razor is perfect for shaving on the go. Showers in the office or the gym? Done! Just make sure you rinse the floor well :)!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-8And talking about those pins, at this time of the year nothing beats a little bit of fake tan. Garnier Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer is a fine dry mist that is easy to apply and you don;t need to rub in! It’s available for face too!

desk-to-dancefloor-beauty-9Finally, to smell good, nothing better than a roller ball fragrance. The Gucci Guilty is my festive one of choice at the moment – and perfect for the handbag! Many fragrances now have a roll on version available and I just love it!

Do you have any office to party hacks? Do share. And happy celebrations!

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You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains a mix of products I have bought myself and PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

That festive smell

crabtree-evelyn-rose-pineapple-review-1For me, Crabtree & Evelyn have the best hand creams in the market. Undisputed. When they add a festive spin to the scents, they become unbeatable.

crabtree-evelyn-rose-pineapple-review-4This season sees the rise of Rose Pineapple, a gorgeous scent that combines the classic delicate and subtle rose with the tropical, sweet zing of pineapple. It’s like something you never smelt before.

I wouldn’t need to say much more apart from the name of this scent: Festive Fig. I love figs, especially festive ones! This scent is warm, combining ripe fig, damson plum, black pepper, resinous wood and winter flowers.

crabtree-evelyn-rose-pineapple-review-3Having loved the two fragrances about, I must confess my biggest surprise was the gorgeous Spiced Earl Grey fragrance. It’s got a sweet spice scent with a hint of lemon that is totally intoxicating and soothing.

On those three fantastic scents I got to try the hand therapy, which comes as the Festive Hand Therapy Trio that at a reasonable £15, comes with one 25g cream of each scent.

crabtree-evelyn-rose-pineapple-review-2I also have the fabulous Christmas cracker, which also comes with the three seasonal hand therapy creams in a handy 10g.

Worth pointing out you can get the 100ml Hand Therapy Cream in each one of the festive scents (and the packaging is lovely!) separately, for £16.

However fabulous the hand therapy creams are, the star of my festive Crabtree & Evelyn collection has to be, doubtless, this amazing three tier candle.

crabtree-evelyn-rose-pineapple-review-5Prettily set on frosted glass rectangles and stackable, they deliver a durable punch of the fabulous festive scents to really set the mood and create that seasonal ambiance.

The Triple Scented Candle costs £45 and together burns for around 6 hours per candle. Best thing? You get it free when you spend £100. Deliveries are free on purchases over £50.

And if you think that’s all for Crabtree & Evelyn Christmas love, you’re very wrong! From home scents to foods, the selection is just wonderful – their Christmas shop is a must visit!

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You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Organic Beauty Week is coming!

soil-association-organic-beauty-week-hero-products - 1As a beauty lover, I am looking out for the best for my skin. And organic is proven to be better for the skin, and the environment, so I was really happy to get involved with the UK’s leading organic certifier, Soil Association, to promote their “Look for the Logo” campaign, as part of Organic Beauty Week, starting on the 19th September.

The biggest and best organic beauty brands and experts will be together to increase awareness of the segment and products available, as well as some of the ground work these companies are involved with.

The only way to be certain a product is certified organic is to look out for the logo. When you see the Soil Association logo in there, you know that product is truly organic, free from synthetics, sustainable for the communities and very importantly, kinder to the skin.

And to illustrate the depth and breadth of the organic beauty offering available, they picked a few hero products I am absolutely in love with.

I think what really comes across here, apart from the superb quality, is that organic beauty products can be much more than affordable than what we think and it is well worth exploring the possibilities and giving new brands a chance (which is my favourite thing to do!).

soil-association-organic-beauty-week-hero-products - 2I featured the Herbfarmacy before and of course, they have heroes here too. The gorgeous Mallow Beauty Balm is a multitasking product fit for many beauty needs – moisturising, nourishing and radiance-boosting, it can be used as a cleanser, moisturiser or deep skin repairer. Costs £18 for 30ml.

Skin & Tonic is a company I’ve been following at a distance and finally got to try one of their products: it was everything I was hoping for. The Naked Beauty Oil feels amazing on the skin and helps heal, refine, hydrate and soothe. It sells for an amazing £25 for 30ml.

Love at first sight was with Made for Life by Spiezia Organics. Not only they have soul mending products, but their ethos is fantastic. This little box of calm, energy and focus really makes a difference in busy lives. Costs £25 for 3x 10ml.

Plus, at the launch event, I got to meet the founder, the beautiful Amanda Barlow (also entitled Queen of Hugs) and that hug I received from her filled me with joy and hope, and still keeps me going just by thinking about it.

Most people are familiar with Neal’s Yard Remedies and their products never disappoint. The gorgeous Oil Free Hydrating Serum is a bliss for hydration boost in the daytime. Costs £30 for 30ml.

soil-association-organic-beauty-week-hero-products - 3Therapi is another beautiful company that has honey based products. Their Lemons Myrtle Honey Gel Cleanser is gorgeous on the skin and the

Pai is also known brand from the organic world and their Treatment Masks are great. Loaded with nutrients, they are gentle and effective. Costs £30 per 75ml.

A body oil also features amongst the horoes: Voya Nourishing Body Oil is super-hydrating and has citrus and sea fragrances, as well as added rosehip. Costs £32 for 100ml.

Organic face wipes? Natracare has it. Made of organic cotton, 99% biodegradable, they are infused with oils and SLS and parabens free. They are gentle an affective. Costs £3.99 per pack.

Bamford is a massive authority in organics and their Hand and Body Wash and Lotion Duo are gentle and plant based, to clean, nourish, protect and hydrate the skin. Costs £22 for 250ml.

Finally, Terri Verde FranChouliPom Facial Serum has frankincense, patchouli an pomegranate oils, as well as argan to boost skin suppleness and nourishment. Costs £27 for 30ml.

Organic Beauty Week also aims to clarify what organic certification means with events, shopping discounts, panel discussions, Twitter Q&As and much more.

Get involved – check the Soil Association website to find out how to get into a whole month or organic awareness and discovery.signature1

This post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Cool down, deliciously

img_7066Summer. The last couple of weeks have really felt there is a summer in the UK, albeit late I’ve been enjoying every bit I can.

And to help me keep cool, and have a deserved break during my working hours, I was sent me some delicious Magnum Double – Chocolate, Caramel and the new (my favourite), Peanut Butter.

img_7063Perfect for these days, The Magnum Double Peanut Butter is one of those indulgences that doesn’t cost a lot, under £2 per ice cream.

The sweetness of the chocolate and the ice cream are balanced by the saltiness of the peanut butter, making this the perfect ice cream for me.

img_7075Each Double has the normal velvety ice cream encased in chocolate, a layer of smooth sauce and another layers of chocolate. Biting into it is pure luxury for the senses: the taste, the textures, the sound of the crunch…

With the scorching sun, I took a break in my busy day to have lunch, clear my mind, enjoy the sun in Bloomsbury Square and treat myself to a delicious Magnum. Yum.

img_7067London certainly looked better that day! And there is still time to grab one to enjoy this warm bank holiday!

You can buy the Magnum Doubles in supermarkets nationwide. Multipacks are £3.35, for 3 and individual ice cream cost £1.90.

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This post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

 

Step back to 1877 with Stella Artois Time Portal

We love London, right? And we love Wimbledon. Plus we have a penchant for all things Victorian…

No surprises then when Stella Artois, the official beer of Wimbledon, invited me to The Time Portal, an immersive theatre experience that took me back to Victorian London in the search of the first Wimbledon tournament, I couldn’t say no.

img_5056Under a cinema sign on Stoke Newington Road in Dalston, East London, I was taken into an adventure to help someone make their little tennis tournament known. And guess what? At the same time a certain beer, was also just starting out.

Full of one to one interactions, last night I stepped into a time machine, came off into a Victorian market and helped little pickpockets perform their tricks, solve a murder and give Scrooge peace of mind – all for the noble cause of helping Spencer Gore win the very first Wimbledon Championships and get the cup from Queen Victoria herself.

After my little adventure, I was transported to a bar where I quenched my thirst with some Stella Artois beer and cidre.

The whole experience was very dynamic, lively and a lot of fun, loaded with East London cheekiness, as well as nicely set – be prepared for that eastend rundown vibe.

For four days only, you can experience this trip back in time, by acclaimed theatre companies Olivier Award nominated Les Enfants Terribles and Framestore, especially commissioned by Stella Artois, that inspired me a bit to think how I’m making my own mark in the world.

The Time Portal run from 7-10 July and is priced from £13.50 – £18 (including a £1 booking fee), lasts 40 minutes and includes two complimentary drinks.

Of course, the bar will be open for business if fancy more!

You can book your tickets on the Stella Artois Time Portal site – and hurry, just like going back into the past, if you blink, you’ll miss this one!

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Stella Artois kindly took me to 1877 – thanks! – but opinions are my own.