Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In The Navy

No no, there's been no change in Armed Force this close to Remembrance Day, but T & I do have another function to attend on November 11th, and it's a proper black tie affair. Major panic- new dress needed as m usual black tie dress is a bit on the small side (last worn 3 years ago....) and has no back in it, which since my skin has decided it hates me, is also a problem.

Turned out the dress was the easy bit. I struck gold when I found a BNWT dress of dreams on eBay, and a starting bid of 99p. The end result of some nervous watching and sniping was a £90 dress, for less than £9. I'm happy. The only slight.... challenge, and don't get me wrong, I bought the dress knowing this, is that the dress is blue. Inky darky navy. Beautiful, but not black. Which is the staple colour the rest of my wardrobe works around.

Finding sparkles and jewels to go with navy isn't a problem, I have plenty of serious sparkles and some proper jewellery which is no problem, this issue is shoes. I say this like a bad thing, I love shoes, but for a black tie event, I have been struggling a bit with an appropriate colour to team with navy.

PicMonkey Collage

From L-R 1. Bourne Court Shoes - 2. Moda in Pelle Court Shoes - 3. Iron Fist Court Shoes

My best guess, and a a suggestion from my flatmate is try putting metallics with the navy. Silver is my preference in terms of the sparkles I already have to sit with it, hence these beautiful beaded courts (1). They appear to have a mid heel, which is a good thing for me, but the heel is super slim, which may be as bad as something taller.

My second thought is mostly just because I love the black and glitter combo. I'm trying to work out if anyone will notice them under my floor length dress....

As for the final patriotic choice, well again, a black toned theme, but mostly shades of silver- perfect for navy, and since my even is on Remembrance Day itself, it seems rather fitting. It's quite a tall heel for me, but I have been wearing heels more and more at work, so I'm hopeful I'd be able to pull it off. They are my current front runners (well, totterers.....).

Can anyone suggest something better for a navy formal gown? I'm finding this way more tricky than my usual green, which is mostly T's fault as we would clash in his particular Regimental colours. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Now... for an appropriate bag....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

With Love from Leipzig

I mentioned a few posts ago that in December I'm off back to Leipzig for a few days, and since I think it's the best city in the world ever, I wanted to do a bit more sharing!

I lived and studied in Leipzig back in 2009, I had the time of my life there, I worked hard and played hard, and was sad to leave a city that I felt so at home in. Leipzig about 1 hour south and east of Berlin and is very much part of the Former DDR, and is therefore very history rich in that sense, as well as having an extensive (hundreds of years worth) of music and literature history. And this is all before I get on to my main reason for going back.

Leipzig here we come.
Mum and I starting to get excited

We all know about the German Christmas markets these days, they take residence in cities and towns across the UK for big parts of December, but for me, nothing is quite like the real deal, and the Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt is well known as one of the best in Deutschland!

Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt SOURCE

So 6 of us- My parents, T & I, my Grandmother and her partner are all flying out to Leipzig just before Christmas to visit, enjoy the Christmas markets and eat lots of yummy things, instead of buying gifts for each other. Can you tell I'm excited?!

One of the reasons Leipzig is the destination of choice is because I know it well, and 2 of the things I'm most looking forward to showing T are:

Museum on the Round Corner
Leipzig was home to the Stasi HQ in DDR times, this museum is the most chilling experience and insight into East Germany I've ever had, but it's also fascinating.

The Germans really know how to do war memorials and this one is so tall that you can see the city sprawling out beyond it from the viewing towers at the top, as well as having some very impressing sculpture work inside too. The scale is just vast and it's an impressive little slice of Leipzig.

Something else I'm excited for is food (oh come on, like you didn't see that coming!)

A favourite sweet treat of mine if Kirchenkuchen, which I ate far too much of whilst living in Leipzig, but it's been a while, so I can justify at least one every day whilst visiting. But Germany is just about the baked goods, Auerbach's Keller restaurant has been on site for so long that it is featured in Goethe's Faust, they serve hearty and traditional German food in a beautiful surrounding with art work and music and excellent service. A return visit has been booked and so close to Christmas the atmosphere will be fabulous with their Christmas parties often including entertainment from actors. Bring it on!

And lastly- I can't wait to stock up on these!

Best mugs ever. #leipzig #de
Favouritest mugs ever. 

At the Weihnachtsmarkt, you give a €2 deposit for the mug your Gl├╝wein comes in, and you can take your mug back to any stall holder that sells something from a mug and get your €2 back, or you can keep them.......

So that's my big December treat to look forward to and I cannot wait. I already have a countdown running on my phone and I have to stop myself getting overexcite about all the things I get to see again and be reunited with. SO EXCITING.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grey Ghost

I'm the first to confess, I'm a bit of an eBay addict. Having recently realised I was running out of clothing, I headed to eBay to find a few easy bits and pieces, this top is the last to arrive (from China) and is a little on the large side but perfect for throwing on to make these Topshop leather trousers suitable for dress down Friday at work. I do love these leather trousers for an alternative to jeans and I was amazed they still fit when so many of my other trousers and shorts haven't in recent months.

Leather trousers, slouchy top, big pearl necklace 4

Leather trousers, slouchy top, big pearl necklace 2

Leather trousers, slouchy top, big pearl necklace

Leather trousers, Topshop (old) - grey jersey tunic top, eBay available HERE - jelly style printed flat shoes, Mel c/o Spartoo - layered pearl necklace, Primark (old) 

These new flats of mine are pretty cool, with of a twist on the usual ballerina style,the cross bar and the rounded point are lovely. These shoes are super comfy and I love the snake/lace print on them

Mel Flat Shoes

Oh- they're also waterproof! Happy days. 

Whilst this isn't a bad outfit, it's also what I happened to be wearing on the day my bike was ready for collection (more on my new beauty HERE). Normal people would wear trainers or sneakers to go ride a bike across the East End. I own sneakers, I own trainers. But nope, I couldn't wait to get my bike, so I had these on. Comfy they may be, cycling shoes they are not. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I've talked about cycling on my blog before, and it's a highly politicised topic at the moment, especially since TfL just started a new cycle awareness campaign. But shove all that aside, because there are several totally fun, totally awesome and totally nothing to do with is more right or wrong.

Foffa Grazia cream bike Fixie

Can we just remind ourselves that bikes are awesome? This is my amazing new bike, a Foffa Grazia, single speed, and absolutely freaking amazing. 

DISCLAIMER- I've turned into one of *those* people who likes to gush about their hobby. So sue me. 

A new bike has come about because my employer has just opened up a cycle to work scheme (cyclescheme.co.uk FYI) which basically means I get a tax free bike that my employer pays for outright and I pay for out of my salary. My Crimson Beast, love it though I do, isn't quite as suited to the commute I do on my bike as I would like, so I took the opportunity to upgrade. 

And what an upgrade. But the first thing, is that I stumbled across Foffa when looking at fixed speed and single speed bikes, and realised they made they make the bike of dreams, but it's only after that, that I realised it's super-bonus, they're local. 

I went to test ride my bike of dreams, mostly because I've never ridden single speed before. Single speed (no gears) and Fixed Speed (no gears and they don't free-wheel) bikes (Fixies) are a bit of a cult thing. They have a very 'vintage' look about them, and they can be funked up big style because the components are more versatile and therefore come in a huge range of colours. They're also pretty speedy, and my big interest in them- they're very light. My Crimson Beast weighed 18.5KG. That's a lot of bike to haul up stairs. My new baby weighs 9.5KG.... No working parts, and a very clever variation on a steel frame. 

Foffa Grazia Cream Fixie Single Speed bike

But I digress. Turns out the guys at Foffa, a mere 10 minute ride from home, are amazing too. They're helpful, they're not condescending when a girl with a limited understanding of the technology behind their product walks in the door, and they respect I know pretty much what I want. Oh and then they were super helpful in providing an above and beyond amount of help in sorting the Cycle Scheme paperwork. Pretty cool, huh?!

When making a purchase, especially something that's a biggie and that's super personal, I put a huge value on service, and Foffa really delivered. Even though my bike is a particular spec that was on sale, it was still built to order, the guys couldn't have been more helpful answering my questions, and were more than happy for me to test ride.

Now, if my pesky wheezy cough would do one, I'll be all good to get out on it!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Helpful Banking

The day before you're due to fly out of the country for a well deserved holiday. You've got your currency, you're almost finished rounding up at work, the boarding passes are printed, the packing is almost finished. Sounds great, except when your bank calls to say they need to confirm some payments with you for anti-fraud measures. Great.

Luckily, all transactions were legit. Except they still insisted, against my wishes, on cancelling my card. And so my saga with Natwest began. I don't often feel compelled to write really negative review posts here, but as my experience coincides with the new banking regulations for switching banks, I thought I'd share.

Although inconvenient, I would have gotten over my card being cancelled just before my holiday. I managed to persuade them to let me get some sterling cash out first. But if it had been that simple I might not already have put in my application for a new bank account.

Over a week after cancelling my card, I arrived home from my holiday, expecting to see a new card on my doormat. Instead I had a letter from a courier who only deliver between 0900 and 1700 on Monday-Friday, telling me that they had been unable to deliver my bank card, and that I would need to sign for it along with ID. Great. I leave for work at 0730 and return at approximately 1800, 5 days a week, Monday to Friday. But it's ok, because I can rearrange delivery to work.... so I did.

And I waited all day. And waited. And then received a call from the courier, refusing to bring my card to my office, and adamant he would only come as far as security. A 20 minute walk from the office.

Over an hour of phone calls and dodgy hold music later, I managed to request (another) new card to be issued- by regular mail, complain, and persuade the bank to cough up since none of their phone numbers are free. Sorted I thought. I'm definitely leaving Natwest, but at least the problem is solved for now, I thought. Incorrect! Yes, it really does get better.

My new bank card has finally arrived with me, it took 4 working days, not all that impressive, but hey, it's here. Unfortunately, despite me stating clearly that I would like the option offered of keeping my pin number, the new card requires a new pin. This arrived the following day. I laid the letter down on a flat surface, as instructed. I peeled gently, as instructed. I placed the bit against a flat white background, as instructed. Nothing. Turns out the peel away bit more away with it than it should have done.

Another lengthy phone call, another long period on hold and over 1 month since Natwest first cancelled my card against my wishes, I finally have a working bank card with a PIN again. Jaded, much.

The introduction of the new rules on banks having to deal with the switch over of a new account are interesting. Many are saying it's a great idea, and it will make a big difference but I have 2 major problems. The first is that if a high street bank like Natwest can't get a simple debit card right, I definitely don't trust them to get their heads around moving my Direct Debits and payments from one bank to another. The second is that lots of the smaller banks already offer this service.

The bank I'm moving to already offer their own switch service to make life easier, and I can't help wondering if they will do a better job because they want your business a whole lot more, and they're used to this service because they've opted to offer it in any case. I also think that some of the smaller banks compared to the major high street branches have some great deals to offer- as do building societies. Their services appears to be much much better as a whole, and their incentives are far greater because they don't take your custom for granted, and I haven't encountered any inconvenience or compromise on products offered- in fact things like mobile and internet banking seem to be better than ever.

If you're having banking problems, I'd strongly encourage you to take a good look at other service providers, and whatever you do, steer clear of Natwest.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stripped Stripey

I'm almost glad it's midweek., almost glad. I had a great, but tiring weekend whilst my parents were in London, having been lurgy filled for a week, I'm suffering for it now. I did try and make an effort to look presentable for a few outings though and it's the first time I've worn this ASOS sale bargain.

Chloe Asos Stripe Skater Dress

Chloe ASOS Skater Dress multi stripe

Dress, ASOS sale - Hamble Oak Brogues, c/o Clarks #ClarksStyle competition - shrug cardigan, American Apparel

Chloe ASOS dress and Clarks Brogues

I'm sure it's not for everyone, the colours are a whole lot more .... vibrant.... than they looked on the site before I bought it, but for £12 with a further discount, I thought it was a fun weekend dress. It won' surprise many to know that as far as Clarks flat shoes go, these are basically love. They seem to go with absolutely everything, and I'm still so impressed that they're so comfortable as they feel very stiff to touch. 

Since it's cooled down a bit further as well, I'm not on a mission to make sure I'm properly set up for the imminent winter, especially with my Germany trip. Since buying THESE I've had black ankle boots on the brain. Answers on a postcard for the best ones for those of us with heavy ankles? 

I'm off to make myself another huge vat honey and lemon and hope my voice returns soon since I can't currently take calls at work or generally make myself understood. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Out There

A while back, and I'm talking back when the sun was shining, I was contacted by some rather nice people at Out There Interiors. They very kindly offered to let me review something for them, the only snag was an imminent house move. Some may know, but until August of this year, T & I were renting a room in a supremely dodgy flat in a not quite so lovely bit of the East End. It's only real winning features were the DLR station for work and the view of Canary Wharf (slightly light polluted thanks to the street lamp outside the window). Following his return from a summer away, the mission was on to find a shiny new, more respectable and generally better place to live. Preferrably one where the landlord doesn't think it's acceptable to leave you with no heating and hot water for 6 weeks in  October/November. Yes. Really.

I won't say it was easy, but we did find somewhere that has worked out to be a dream for us. So I thought it was exactly the right time to be looking at shiny new furniture! Although our flat is furnished, our bedroom only had one bedside table. As a wearer of spectacles and lover of ambient light, I quickly put my claim upon the single table and lamp, and left T to fend for himself. But alas, this is no longer a problem...

Chloe Likes To Talk Room Tour 4

Chloe Likes To Talk Out There Interiors White French Nighstand Bedside Table

As you might be able to tell, I've sent T away to have the one we already had, and behold MY shiny new one. I always think that a person's beside table is quite a personal space, and it can probably tell you quite a lot about someone- I, for instance am striving for unnatural tidiness- note that minimal table top, and the headphones poking out of the drawer!

Chloe Likes To Talk Foffa Bike

This little docking station for my iPhone is one of the really old iPod ones, but it's quite useful for knowing where my phone is, and charging it overnight. I am now no the hunt for some small speakers as this dock has a headphone jack socket thingy, but doesn't play any sounds. But, right next to my bed, I don't want anything huge. Life's hard sometimes. The postcard I use as a kind of coaster for my dock is also a little slice of me on my bedside table there. My bike has featured a couple of times on the blog, and my twitter feed has many a reference to cycling antics, this card is actually a shop flyer of sorts, aaaaaaaand it's where my very shiny, very awesome new single speed bike is coming from. Build time is about 2 weeks, so by the end of October I should hopefully be zipping about on something HALF the weight of my current beast. I'm excited at least....

Chloe Likes To Talk Yankee Candle Clean Cotton

I also recently popped my Yankee Candle cherry. I've never really understood the hype around them and found them to be extortionately expensive, but this one was reduced to £17.99 (available HERE). Whilst I still think that's an expensive candle, I couldn't resist the scent of clean cotton, a total weakness of mine, and I'm reassured that it doesn't seem to be burning down to speedily, and the scent is pretty much perfectly balance. 

Now that we don't live in our room full time, and have actual living space, and everything, going up in the world, y'know?! Sorry, I'll stop now. Anyway, now we use our bedroom for sleeping and dressing pretty much exclusively, I like to keep it feeling like a place of relative calm and peace, and for me nothing says calm and peace like ambient light, pleasant scents and everything being in it's place. To many, the addition of my French style bedside table will sound completely trivial, as will no longer having to spend all our down time in our bedroom, but I can't begin to tell you how stressful our old place was to live in, and our move, along with little things like having somewhere to put my glasses before I go to sleep and not having to get out of bed to switch off the light, being able to have a photograph out, my totally amazing Harry Potter Studio Tour Butterbeer glass of water next to the bed rather than a gymnastic move over T on the table. Oh yeah.... 


Out There Interiors Nightstand French Style White

Come on, you know you love it too.

*This product was sent to me for review purposes with many thanks to Out There Interiors. All news, views and reviews are my own* 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hard As Nails

I like my nail polish, no secret about that, but no matter what I use over it, it always chips super quickly. I've had professional manicures before, and really liked Shellac as a concept, but it was punishingly expensive and a special occasion treat only.

Luckily for me I have a very generous flatmate, a generous flatmate who has a UV lamp and some Gel kit. when she said to me 'use it any time'.... I got a bit excited. That was my holiday nails sorted right there.

I'm not known for my steady hand, so I thought I'd try out DIY Shellac a couple of times before starting to build up my own collection, but with some patience, I don't seem to be too bad!

Not bad for a first attempt- Holidays nails that unintentionally matched my passport!

A messy start, but many lessons learnt- like why you need to leave a small gap between the gel and the cuticle.... So cue attempt number 2, where I bought a new colour to add to the collection

Shiny new shellac. Getting a tiny bit better.
Shiny. And green. And slightly neater than the first attempt. 

So it's all well and good, but I know the CCD Shellac polishes are quite pricey, and this is a bit off putting. I have lots of nail polish, and I don't think I'll be very popular if not only do I start buying/collecting more new polishes, but their super expensive too... 

So I did what any girl in my situation would do, I hit up eBay to see what was on the bargain market. And hello Jackpot... DING DING DING. 

*ahem* I get a bit excited about nail polish, can you tell..... 

Turns out that you can buy Gel polishes for a very reasonable price, in a myriad of colours and with great service. After sifting through a few sellers charging extortionate postage, and some with dodgy reviews, I found a couple of options- reasonable prices, decent delivery and huge choices of colour. The green pictured above is available HERE for £4.60 with free P+P. It arrived the next working day which was really impressive, and take a look at that shiny sparkly green!

I also managed to get a base and top coat at the same price, and now I have my eye on the matte topcoat for something different, which is still not a bank breaker at £6.20.

I'm really enjoying a longer lasting mani, and there are some great shades, unfortunately, Shellac and gel polishes are annoying to remove, and they take a fair soak in acetone and whilst there are some really nice shades about, there seems still to be a bit of a limit compared to the plethora of glitters and effect and colours available in regular polishes. My next job is to see if I can put a gel top coat over a one of my many standard nail polishes for a longer lasting version. 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Two By Two

I'm a sucker for a giraffe. Yes you did just read that right. I love giraffes because when you think about them, they're pretty damn odd- all the neck, all the print.....

Giraffe Jumper & Jamie Jeans Topshop & Xti Ankle boots 3

Jumper, eBay available HERE - Jamie jeans, Topshop - necklace, eBay - 

Green Necklace & Giraffe Jumper

Although it's a bit bigger than expected, I'm totally in love with  this jumper, perfect for a Saturday at home and for a relaxed Sunday outing. It's perfectly lightweight for the warmer autumn we're having and IT HAS GIRAFFES ON IT! 

Giraffe Jumper & Jamie Jeans Topshop & Xti Ankle boots 2

Outfit, as above - cowboy style ankle boots, Xti c/o Spartoo.co.uk

Xti Ankle boots

Also say hi to my first pair of boots of the season. I find ankle boots a bit tricky as I have chunky ankles anyway, and my thighs are currently taking over the world because I'm cycling so much and my quads are getting bigger, but I saw these Xti boots and decided to give them a go. I really really like them, but I do wear them only partly zipped to help alleviate the ankle issue. I think they're going to be my perfect ankle/mid boot for the autumn and winter. Plus- trying out new brands can be good, I am often quite brand-loyal, but sometimes that means I miss out on things because I don't search about. 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hamble Oak

I'm a long time  lover of Clarks Shoes, I own more than a few pairs, and when I saw a pair that I'd had my beady eye set upon in their recent #ClarksStyle competition, I was on it. And lucky girl I am, I won, and my beautiful new shoes arrived earlier this week. I couldn't wait to wear them, so I promptly reached for them on our dress down Friday. Like so.

Clarkes Hamble Oak Brogue Shoes & Denim Shirt Dress & Slouchy Jumper 3
Denim shirt dress, eBay - slouchy jumper, eBay - Hamble Oak brogue shoes, c/o Clarks via #ClarksStyle - necklace, Primark (several years ago)

Denim Dress & Slouchy Jumper & Hamble Oak Brogues Shoes

Can we take a moment to focus on these beautiful, beautiful shoes?! 

Clarks Hamble Oak Brogues shoes

Not for everyone and a bit of a departure from my summer of converse and skater dresses, but I'm ok with that. I should also mention that despite being a stiff hoe, there are no sharp edges on the heels and the soles have the freakin' amazing Softwear cushioning in them, meaning their super comfy, no breaking in, and they feel every bit as fabulous as they look. 

I also had designs on putting these with some wine coloured ankle length skinny jeans and my amazing new jumper, but when aforementioned jeans arrived, despite being the exact same size as the same jeans I already own in blue, TINY. Put paid to that. 

Happy weekend boys and girls. I'm seeing my bestest Scot Ayden tomorrow, since she's visiting the big smoke, and with my flatmate and T we're off to the Harry Potter Studio Tour *WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You Say Kitty, I Say Cat

This is all Milly's fault. If you're not familiar with Milly, you really need to follow her on Instagram. She's beautiful, she has awesome taste, and she enables purchases like this.

Zara cat shoes Charlotte Olympia style flats
Shoes, Zara

I know, I know, cat shoes, blah blah, but here's what you need to know- these are from Zara, actually from the Zara children;s section. I'm a size 5 and it's the largest size they do, happy days. They're £17.99. And they're black which means dress code appropriate.

Kids shoes are great because they don't have the same levels of tax as adult clothes and shoes. And these are super cute. The problem now is that I have 3 pairs of beautiful ankle boots in my sights, and it's all good because they're from the children's section which means they're cheaper.... right?!

I am working on the theory that shoes are my new pain relief. I've really been suffering this week with a very sore neck and shoulder, so much so that I couldn't really move my head much earlier in the week. Subsequently, breakfast has been looking a bit like this....

Pain relief

And a whole lot of retail therapy has happened after T & I realised this weekend that I may well be the only woman in London who really does have nothing left in her wardrobe to wear.

I've been so ruthless in clearing out my wardrobes, but haven't really replaced much, so aside a few work dresses, I was down to 2 casual dresses, 1 pair of jeans, a handful of casual tops, and not an awful lot else. Thankfully, eBay and the rest of the internet at large has saved my behind, and hopefully I'll have lots of shiny new outfits to wear blog by the weekend!

Happy Thursday, I'm off to *will* Friday to hurry the hell up.