Sunday, 19 August 2018

TRAVEL | HOW TO SPEND 48HRS IN PROVENCE


Near the end of last month, my family and I made a pretty spontaneous decision to visit the south of France just in time for lavender season. I whipped up an itinerary a mere week before we left, packed my DSLR, dad's drone and a tripod, and we were off! It was sweltering hot the time we were there but that didn't manage to put us off from enjoying the breathtaking and ever so unique landscapes of Provence. Here are some of my recommendations for making the most out of the region if you're thinking of heading there in the future.


To stay:

We based ourselves in the commune of Mane, which is a much quieter area than the famous Aix-en-Provence. It's about an hour and 15 minute drive from Marseille airport and only half an hour away from the famous lavender fields of Valensole. We treated ourselves to a stay at Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel. They are owned by beauty brand L'Occitane, whose very name I'm sure evokes the image of endless purple rows of lavender. The hotel is quite small but boasts some beautiful private surroundings so it felt like having a huge farm as a backyard and there are no cars about. It also used to be a convent, which makes the architecture so much more unique and they've done such a great job at interiors and juxta-positioning the old with the new. When we stayed there it was quiet so it was pretty much like having the hotel to ourselves. I think the guests are all super relaxed there so the vibe is slow paced and no one gets in your way. They have a restaurant overlooking their own lavender field, a L'Occitane spa, and a spacious lobby. The perfect place to just unwind under a huge tree with a drink or lay about by the pool, or if you're anything like me, turn all the quaint corners into photo opportunities.


To eat:

Less than a 20 minute drive from Mane (you'll need to drive or take a taxi because the road is super steep and winding), lies the village of Lurs. It's situated on a hilltop and there is a lovely little family owned restaurant there called La Terrasse de Lurs which serves hearty, homemade food on an open terrace over looking a breathtaking view of Provence. I had the swordfish with ratatouille and it was delicious!

If you're craving Asian food, there's a really good restaurant that does a fusion of Chinese and Thai on Rue Plauchud (unfortunately the name has slipped me but I'm pretty sure it's the only Asian restaurant in that area). One of my favourite delicacies is frog legs but not many countries have them even though it's a very common meat in Asia. France is the perfect opportunity to eat as many frog legs and escargot as you can and you'll find them cooked in both Asian and French styles in almost every restaurant you come across.

Last but not least a wander around the charming town of Mane will surely warrant a coffee stop and there are several small ones around that serve a great brew and the tables set up on the side of the street are the most idyllic setting for a sip and an instagram worthy snap.


To do and see:

You obviously cannot visit Provence in the summertime without seeing the famous lavender fields in Valensole. Prime time to visit would be in June, we went a little later in July so some of the rows had actually been harvested by then (still plenty though). There are quite a few lavender farms around this area and if you're lucky, you might also spot sunflowers growing side by side with them, so the best way to go about it would be to hire a car to Valensole so you're free to stop by on the side of the road at any time. 

Hot air balloons are also pretty iconic in Provence with plenty of places offering rides including L'Occitane at our hotel and one in Forcalquier. They operate every day weather permitting, taking off at dawn so you're able to witness the sunrise from the balloon and the rides typically last for around 3 hours.

Explore the neighbouring towns of Mane, Lurs, and Forcalquier. If you're a bit of a hiker than it's only about a half hour walk (though very steep), each commune is so unique in architecture and landscape with dramatic hills and a rich collection of monuments from the Roman Empire including Cistercian monasteries, and medieval palaces and churches. The scenery reminds me of the buildings of the mediterranean Italian countryside mixed with the cinematic inclines of Positano (I've never been to either locations bahah but they still remind me from what I've seen them to be like).



Wearing (in order of appearance):
Stevie May dress / Primark hat
People Tree dress / Aldo shoes
Urban Outfitters dress / ASOS floral headband / Aldo shoes / Cult Gaia bag
Stevie May dress / ASOS hat (old) / ASOS shoes (old)

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

THEATRE | ARISTOCRATS STARRING DAVID DAWSON


Fun fact: the Donmar Warehouse was actually the first theatre venue in London I ever saw a play in. The production was called Red and it was back in 2009 with Eddie Redmayne and Alfred Molina. It was my first experience in such an intimate theatre (I'd previously only watched more lavish productions such as Les Misérables in Australia) and I remember feeling fascinated at being so close to the actors and seeing how they acted their socks off with such minimal props and fanfare. Naturally it's now stuck with me as my favourite theatre venue and since then I've returned to see countless plays there. Imagine my pleasant surprise and delight when the Donmar newsletter pinged into my inbox with the announcement of a production of Aristocrats with a cast that included my favourite actor, David Dawson. Okay, perhaps those were too gentle a choice of words to paint an accurate picture as I was literally bouncing off the walls of the house like a broken pogo-stick that morning. It's almost been three years since I last saw David on stage in The Dazzle, and that production has since cemented itself as my favourite play of all time. I was beyond excited to see him return to the stage and also to return to the Donmar Warehouse.


I'm not familiar with Brian Friel's work as a playwright though I've heard that another of his plays has been getting rave reviews at the National Theatre. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to see that one though it's probably also fairer that I don't have anything to compare Aristocrats to. The play tells the story of the four O'Donnell siblings, part of a once grand Irish Catholic family, who have just reunited in their father's home of Ballybeg Hall for their youngest sister's wedding. Their father (a former judge) seems to be elderly and ill now, only his voice can be heard, full of authority but barking nonsense through the baby monitor. The eldest daughter Judith (Eileen Walsh) is the most sensible out of the four, housebound to look after their father and a woman of few words though it is later revealed that she had an illegitimate child that her father forced to put in an orphanage. Alice (Elaine Cassidy) lives a comfortable life in London with her husband Eamon, she has a drinking problem and her marriage is rather unhappy. Casimir (David Dawson), the only son, dropped out of law school and now works in a sausage factory in Germany. He constantly talks about his German wife and children though we aren't sure if they actually exist as apparently none of the family have ever seen them. The youngest, Claire (Aisling Loftus), whose wedding is what initially draws the family back together, is marrying a grocer who's much older than her. She plays piano at home all the time as she had dreamt to be a concert pianist though her father disallowed her to pursue it. The O'Donnell's past and secrets are steadily unravelled by Tom Huffnung, an American scholar who has come to the house to study the dying Irish aristocracy. 


I love seeing how the Donmar's small space is transformed with every single production and Es Devlin's stage design does not disappoint. It's simple and un-convoluted, much like I found the Aristocrats storyline to be, with a doll's house as the primary prop, a gorgeous sage green light washing over the entire stage and a back wall that gradually peels and scratches off as we delve further into the family's past, finally revealing a beautiful painting of Ballybeg Hall in it's heyday. As I mentioned, I found the play quite easy to follow even though it's dialogue heavy. The actors carry this production and truthfully they are all brilliant though I think I speak for the majority of the audience when I say that David Dawson is the stand out. I can honestly say I'm never a biased reviewer but David's portrayal of Casimir is just pitch perfect, and I feel like his character is given a lot of the dialogue and action in the play, thus effectively holding the entire narrative together like glue. He's the life of the party, recalling (imaginary?) childhood stories about their past aristocratic life, enthusiastically playing games with Claire, a constant ball of jittery energy and charm that draws the audience inwards. But the moments when Casimir breaks, we are already in too deep. Anyway, I often wonder what it's like to act with David Dawson. Every play I've seen him in, he has easily outshone everyone else on the stage with his intense performances and I truly believe that you haven't experienced acting if you haven't seen David Dawson act. 


Praises for the main man aside, I really enjoyed all the other performances too. As I said, it's a very character driven play with so many interesting personalities. I recently saw Elaine Cassidy in another Donmar production called Les Liaisons dangereuses which she was also great in. Her character here is very different though and she spent a lot of time on the side of the stage where I was sitting so it was almost unnerving for me to be just a couple of centimetres from some of her scenes. Aisling Loftus' portrayal also had me relating a fair bit to Claire, I'm not sure what that says about me as a person but a play is always more effective when you can relate to a character or two. The play is split into two parts with the second act taking a much sadder turn. I've always been a bit of a crybaby when it comes to any emotional turn out, whether it be in film, television, or theatre. In saying this, I revel and often find quite a lot of beauty in sadness, especially in art. I had expected this play to be quite somber from the synopsis and what I heard from others that had seen it before me. In the end, I didn't find it had ripped out my heart strings as I had initially assumed it would (perhaps more of a gentle tugging). It was no Dazzle in the way that it didn't actually make me shed any physical tears (even though seeing David cry as any character, never fails to trigger me). I'm uncertain whether this is because I didn't relate to the characters as much and therefore lacked the empathy to feel, whether I didn't quite catch the societal relevance of the decay of Ireland's Big Houses whilst I was watching it, or whether this production wasn't fleshed out enough in what felt like quite a short running time. Still, it's a very minor downside for me and I still enjoyed it as such that I would definitely love to see it again. Believe me, David Dawson is worth the ticket price alone.


Aristocrats is at the Donmar Warehouse until the 22nd of September and tickets can be found here.

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Sunday, 12 August 2018

LONG TIME NO SEE


I'm back! I can't believe I haven't posted on here in over a month. It feels like a huge deal to me as in the five years that I've had this blog, I've never missed my weekly post schedule even noticeably so that my consistency was once brought up in a magazine interview. However unlike me it may seem, looking back I can definitely see the signs of struggle in my previous posts and how uninspired I had become with this little corner of the world wide web. Eventually I realised I couldn't force it any longer and just decided to take a step back. I tweeted that I'd be taking a hiatus from blogging but I definitely knew I'd be back sooner than later. In fact, I'm sure many of you might not have even noticed that I'd gone, what with my instagram still up and running. In the time that I had off from here, I focused my energy into upping my photography game, finding new locations and posting daily on instagram until I curated a feed that I could say I was proud of. I've done just that and whilst I was enjoying my time on that photo sharing app, I thought to myself: do I really need to return to blogging? Is there a future in it when essentially people are micro-blogging through instagram? Do I continue to put in the effort? The answer is yes. No matter how many people say that blogging is a dying art, it was my first love and I still enjoy writing. In fact, I sorely missed it even though at the time I felt like I had nothing to write about. A month off has honestly done wonders for my mind and I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back on Adventures of an Anglophile. To kick things off I thought I'd fill you in on what's been happening with me this past month...


 ❥ I'm actually blonde now!
One consequence of taking so many photos in bulk is accumulating them and then not getting round to posting them till a little later. Most bloggers do this but then again, most bloggers don't get clocked because their hair colour doesn't tend to change every month haha. Right now I'm no longer a peach head, I had washed it all out in preparation for another colour but halfway through the process I looked at my blonde base and decided to keep it this way for a while. It's strange, I've never stayed blonde for more than a day even though I've always bleached my hair before dying it. I always just see it as my base colour but right now I'm suite enjoying the change and not having to worry about clashing anything with my bright mop. However I do still have quite a few photos with this peach hair that I'm yet to share so please bear with me.

 ❥ I travelled to the south of France
Whilst my parents were visiting me in London, we made a bit of a last minute decision to take a trip to Provence to see the lavender fields whilst they were in bloom. Not going to lie, this resulted in a manic, stress filled week as my parents agreed to leave all the planning to me and I attempted to make an itinerary from scratch. All worth it in the end though as I surprised myself by managing to not forget anything and the holiday ran pretty smoothly. I even mastered taking many of my own shots with a tripod as neither my mum or dad have the steadiest hands. I'm planning to write up Provence and Paris city guides for the blog soon so look out for that. It was also the first time in over five years that I went on vacation with my parents so that was super nice!


 ❥ I saw my favourite actor return to theatre
I'd been patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for David Dawson to do another play for almost three years! It was the first question I asked him every single time we met and although he kept teasing that perhaps something was just around the corner, the time hadn't actually come till now. In my humble opinion, he really is the best actor of my generation and on the stage is where he truly showcases that. So you can be sure to expect a little theatre review on here soon but in the meantime you can check out the ones I've written on the last two plays I saw him in.

❥ I learnt to draw digitally
The future is digital and it's something I've become increasingly aware of. I'd been meaning to pick up digital illustration for years what with my predominant art background since I was a little kid, I thought it was definitely time to take a step with the world and make the move from paper to tablet. Although I had assumed it would be easier said than done, I'm surprised that I've managed to pick it up relatively quickly, even though mixing colours on a wheel and painting on different layers still confuses me.


Black Milk dress / Chloe flats

Asides from these awesome updates, there were some pretty mundane ones too. My work office moved to a different address so it was a bit of a 'mare trying to transport things on the tube in this heatwave as you can imagine. Speaking of heatwave, I wrote in my last post how the temperature had really been getting me down and how I suspected it was the culprit that forced me to take this hiatus in the first place. I'm currently typing this as rain patters on the window from outside and it's a breezy 19 degrees so I'm going to give myself a pat on the back for getting through the hottest time of my least favourite season (but let's not jinx it please). Excited to transition into autumn fashion and September is mine and DD's birthday month! Hope this past month has been a great one for you too and I'll talk to you again very soon.
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Sunday, 8 July 2018

IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE A SUMMER GIRL + HOW I FOUND MY SUMMER STYLE


Truth be told, summer has always been my least favourite season. 

"Oh you must be used to the heat, growing up in Australia and Singapore." People always say. Well no actually, I really dislike the heat and I just suffer through it. It makes me more prone to migraines and I feel exhausted 24/7. Unfortunately I'm also the type of person that sweats a lot. TMI but it's annoying when my makeup melts off as soon as I step out the house and the moisture around my hairline and neck means that my hair develops a life of its own. I've come to accept that the summertime will never be a pleasant experience for me and I honestly do feel completely in the minority when others keep banging on about how lovely the weather is (erm wot u on about, this is torture, mate). I feel like I'm also 50% less productive during a heatwave... hence why I skipped my weekly post schedule last Sunday and why I'm now writing about my summer woes. Not only because I cannot think of anything else to talk about, but combined with the fact that my mind just constantly fixates on the thought of how much more fun I would be having if it weren't so gosh darn hot. 


Basically that's a bit of context behind my relationship with summer for ya, and now moaning aside, the thing I want to chat about specifically is how I always hit a roadblock in terms of creativity and style over this season. Fashion doesn't feel as fun without the layering aspect. The weather makes me lazy af and want to just throw on a loose dress (much comfort) every time I have to leave the house but this tends to sacrifice a lot of my favourite opportunities for self expression and most times I don't feel very "me". To solve this I have gravitated towards colourful printed dresses that could make more of a statement on their own.  I'm personally not comfortable with flashing too much flesh even as the temperature rises and although bardot dresses are some of my favourite silhouettes in general, my shoulders do tend to burn first so if it's super sunny, I will cover them up. My closet has gradually been filling up with wrap dresses for the past year and it's showing no signs of slowing down. They're definitely my go-to style for summer dresses, when I'm not trying to hide a food baby under a smock, it's nice to be able to adjust a tie waist. This pink one from & Other Stories is in a really comfortable and flattering heavyweight jersey that doesn't flap open in the breeze. A contrasting shoe against a daintier dress has always been my preferred choice. These Valentino flats have seen me through over five summers now, adding a tiny touch of rock'n'roll to any feminine ensemble. I'm thinking of how nice it would be to get back into vintage shopping again, actually. Without dwelling on the fact that many shops in London feel like human ovens nowadays, the outcome of a successful vintage shop is always a wonderful feeling and I love finding one of a kind dresses for the summertime.

I'm not sure if I've technically "found" my summer style or so to speak, but I know this is how I've really been enjoying dressing to beat the heat. In the midst of all this summer glorification, it's okay to feel like you haven't got your sh*t together and you don't have to wear all the latest trends that keep popping up on the influencers on your feed. For example, if you don't feel comfortable baring your pins in shorts and minis, than go for the bermudas or flowing midis. 
Dress for yourself only and don't view what the fashion industry tries to feed you as completely cookie cutter. Let it inspire you with fresh ideas instead of dictate you. This way of thought will seriously put a spring in your step, and if you're anything like me, it will help make the summer feel more bearable. For what better way to build confidence then when you feel completely comfortable and awesome in your outfit. Summer style is about a new season to try out new things, and nothing about showing more skin. 

If you feel like you're the only one left completely uninspired because of the weather, here's proof that you're not. We'll get through this heatwave together.

Other Stories dress / Valentino shoes / Shrimps bag

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

THE POWER OF ACCESSORIES


Much more recently I've truly started to appreciate the power of accessories. It's safe to say my sense of style has evolved quite a bit since my first blogging days of vintage dresses and never being caught dead in jeans. I used to be the type of girl who'd simply forget to throw on a ring even if I had set it out on my bedside table prior. Nowadays I'm often inspired by a more classic look (call it growing older or blame it on the Scandinavians) so the effective touch of a bit of jewellery or a statement bag is not lost on me. I'm still quite guilty of forgetting accessories before I leave the house though (haven't quite shaken the habit) so I've discovered the middle ground is to invest in a couple of solid pieces that will go with plenty of different outfits, making sure I can wear them every day. Gold jewellery was the first stepping stone for me. It's funny because I was definitely a silver only kind of gal back in the day but now I find that gold exudes a grown up elegance that I sometimes need to feel more put together in the mornings. Currently I have four gold necklaces in varying lengths to switch between depending on the neckline of the top/dress I'm wearing and I can also layer them up if the mood arises. For rings, I prefer daintier designs as I find the chunkier ones get in the way of typing or playing the piano. Most of mine are from Regal Rose, who do beautiful and unique designs in 18k gold plated sterling silver, which in my opinion, offers the perfect medium in terms of price and the bands not tarnishing. 


It's no secret that hand held bags are all the rage at the moment. Personally they're quite a departure for me, who's always loved a good crossbody. Perhaps I initially thought that they weren't the most practical design, and associated them with the stereotypically posh posture of carrying a Birkin bag in the crook of one's arm. After dipping my toes (or should I say fingers in this case) in the trend, I have to admit that I've been converted. I now quite enjoy the feeling of not having any straps dig into my shoulders and surprisingly all the bucket/basket bags I own fit a substantial amount in them which I didn't expect due to their rigid shapes. I reckon the fact that they are structured also means that you can clearly see down into your bag and it's a lot easier to find items without having to fish around for a good ten minutes every time if you know what I mean.

Topshop blouse / Topshop jeans / ASOS belt / Staud bag / Gucci loafers / Missoma x Lucy Williams necklace

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