Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Blood & Tears Murder Tour - London

So word is spreading among family and friends that I have a morbid curiosity; to the point that my Aunty bought me tickets to a serial killer walking tour around London. I was actually thrilled. I love this kind of thing, and there's so much about the history of London that isn't widely known, so I was more than up for a bit of a macabre stroll in the dark around London on a Friday night. 

After a quick but oh so filling bite to eat at The Diner, Soho, we rushed over to Barbican to meet our tour guide. The name of the tour was actually The Blood & Tears Walk London and was bought from . 

There were only four of us on the tour, me, the boyfriend and another couple, which I was worried would make things a bit awkward but actually worked in our favour as we got one-on-one time with the guide and weren't having to poke our heads above a massive crowd to hear what was being said. Obviously the tour isn't very popular at this time of year because of the unpredictable weather, but with the tour starting at 7, I find doing the tour in the dark had an influence on the thrill factor of the tour. 

Now I'm not going to divulge too many details of the tour because I don't want to spoil it, but this is more than just your average reading-from-a-guide-book-with-loads-of-facts tour. It's more interactive and actually engages you in discussion about certain serial killers and gets you to consider the psychology behind their acts. 

The tour guide himself Declan McHugh specialises in these evil beings and what makes them tick - he even wrote a book called Bloody London, so not only are you in good, knowledgeable hands, but your guide is someone who is passionate about this subject, and you'll pick up on that straight away. 

From Jack the Ripper and Dennis Nilsen to grave robbers and London pubs frequented by serial killers to pounce on their victims, this tour gives you a real insight into the mental workings of some of London's most calculated serial killers. Declan encourages you to piece together the stories yourself and psychologically profile these people so as to get a real understanding of their motives. You may even solve the unsolvable: Who is Jack the Ripper? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour and think it makes a great evening out. Some of the information is quite grim, but if you're of a morbid disposition like me, you wont bat an eyelid. As well as learning about the evil of London, you also learn about its history and walk through areas of London you probably never knew existed. 


Monday, 9 February 2015

The Diner - Soho

One of my favourite things about being in London is discovering new places to stuff my face. Being a tourist can be pretty hungry work, so knowing a place where you'll get good grub that'll fill you up and add to your list of places to return / recommend to others is a blessing. 

When you're hungry and looking for something to eat in London before going home or heading to the theater, the time constraints and rumbling tummy can lead you to diving into the first place you see and paying ridiculous money for pretty crappy food, so when I find somewhere worth writing home about, well, I do. 

I've known about The Diner for quite some time, in fact I think I may have eaten at the one in Camden a few years back, but couldn't remember a thing about it. Last weekend, me and the boyfriend were looking for somewhere to eat before going on the Blood & Tears London Walking Tour (all about infamous serial killers from London. Macabre, I know). After running through a list of different cuisines, we decided we wanted something dense and greasy to fuel us for the two hours of walking we had ahead of us. An American diner is THE place to find that kind of food. 

There are a few of these specific diners scattered across London, with restaurants in Camden, Covent Garden, Islington, Shoreditch and Soho. With Soho closest to us, just off Carnaby Street, we popped in, got seated straight away and focused intensely on the menu. 

One thing I'll recommend if you're not planning on having a big meal is their milkshakes. Specifically, their hard shakes. They're a dangerous concoction of naughty treats and alcohol that goes down a little too easily. I had the Creamy Nut (hazelnut and pistachio ice cream with Baileys) a while back, and I need it on tap. 

This time round, we were planning on filling up to the max, so I tried The Diner Blend Ice Tea (perfect combo of bitter and sweet, and very refreshing) and Kurtis had a Coke Float. 

To eat, I had the Diner Chicken Burger (buttermilk fried chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese, coleslaw and pickles) whilst Kurtis had the Corned Beef Hash (salt beef, onions, potatoes and two fried eggs) from the All Day Breakfast menu. We also shared a side of Hanger Fries (cheese, smokey onions and burger sauce). 

If you're ordering a burger or hot dog, prepare for things to get messy. You just have to embed your face in the greasy goodness and chow down. Not great first date food. I was really pleased with my burger. The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy, and the coleslaw was crispy and surprisingly full of flavour (I feel you can always tell a good restaurant by its homemade coleslaw). The chips were amazing too. I do get worried about diner chips like this with so many wet toppings that the chips will turn to mush, but these ones maintained their crisp. The burger sauce, dare I say it, may have been better than McDonalds. It was so zesty and flavoursome. 

A main, drink and side came to £15, which is brilliant when you consider the size of the portions and where you are. For London that's excellent. 

So if your looking for comfort food with a stylish retro American feel,The Diner should be on your list of places to visit. Oh and they also play amazing music! 


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Getting Our Goth on at the British Library and Camden

If you were to ask me what my favourite place was, it would be a draw between Camden and the British Library, both for sentimental reasons. 

Go back 7 years and you'd find a 15 year-old Stephanie adorning a heavily studded belt and checkered Vans, rocking out to My Chemical Romance in a bedroom smothered in Kerrang! posters. So I'm sure you can understand why to me, Camden was an absolute goldmine. 

The Camden Market Fire of 2008 brought heartfelt tears to my eyes. This place was a home away from home where I could spend my hard-earned Saturday job money on badges, stickers and t-shirts of my favourite bands. 

It was during this time that me and the BFF George formed our awesome partners-in-crime friendship, so whenever we meet up in London, Camden is always our first port of call. 

It was also during this time that I discovered my love for literature and all things Gothic. Studying A-Level English Literature introduced me to the world of Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein and my absolute fave, Angela Carter. This love of the Gothic lead me to discover Alexander McQueen, and hey presto - my love of fashion. 

Going on to do English Literature at university has made books an integral part of my life, so when I saw that the British Library was holding an exhibition called 'Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination' I gave a nerdy squeel, and me and George decided we HAD to go .

This is one of the best exhibitions I've been to. Not only did it allow me to reminisce over my literary education, but discover sides of not only Gothic literature, but film and culture in general that I wasn't aware of. 

Featuring handwritten drafts of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, this is an absolute geek-fest for any literature lover. I actually collect antique books, and it was so hard for me to just stand and look at the gorgeous first editions on display. They've even got a real fricking vampire slaying kit! 

We spent a good two hours in there, and I would say if you're a fan of literature, the Gothic, or anything dark and macabre. Get your tickets and go. They're only £10 and it's definitely worth it. 


Friday, 7 November 2014

Dishoom London: The Trendy, Budget Friendly Indian Restaurant

Today I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite restaurants: Dishoom

Finding somewhere to eat in London is always a stressful endeavor. We all love to explore something new when we go to London, yet so many of us fall into the disappointing trap of sticking to the old and familiar. But I myself will admit it's hard to find a balance between the generic, uninspiring chains and pretentious rip-off gimmicks.

You can spend hours trawling through review sites, and never really find what you're looking for, and I honestly believe the best way of finding out about new places is word of mouth. I'd seen a few people on Facebook talking about this restaurant, so when me and the boyfriend were in London in the Summer for our anniversary, we decided to check it out.

I loved it so much, that when in London on Tuesday with my best friend, I just had to take her there, 

The first thing you'll encounter when going to Dishoom, both in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, is the queues. I see queues to a restaurant as a good indication of how popular the place is. Whether it's lunchtime, a weekday evening or the weekend, there will be queues. But trust me when I say they go down pretty quickly and it's worth the wait. You'll be served samples of they're non-alcoholic beverages in the meantime though: the hot chai is delicious. 

If there's room, they'll send you to wait at the bar with a buzzer until your table is ready. Make the most of this and check out their cocktail menu: all their cocktails feature an Indian twist and are made right in front of you. I would recommend the Chaihito: A mojito with chai spices. Embrace the atmosphere, and before you know it your table will be ready. 

The second thing I'd suggest you take in whilst you're there is the decor. I fell in love with it instantly. I'd describe the interior design as following a strong 1920s Bombay direction, with dark woods, coppers, pastels and monochrome. Vintage Indian portraits and paraphernalia deck the walls, and the whole venue has an exotic yet homely vibe. 

 FOOD. Let's talk about the food. I swear I'm addicted to Indian food. It's my cuisine of choice, so I've tasted a fare few curries in my time. The first time I went, I tried their Dishoom Calamari to start. Being Greek, I've had so many variations of Calamari, but this was by far the most interesting. I don't know what spices they put into the batter, but they made it quite sweet, which was then combated by garlic and chilli. Delicious. 

This time round, me and George (the bestie) got the Chicken Ruby Curry and the Mattar Paneer Curry. I'd tried the Chicken Ruby before after being told by the waiter that it was the best thing on their menu, so I had to get it again. 

Both these curries are soooo flavoursome, they'll put your local curry house to shame. The bowls you can see in the picture look small, but I could barely finish mine. The sauces are rich and fragrant in both. The chicken melts like butter in the mouth, whilst the paneer is creamy and soft and soaks up all the flavours of the sauce. We had a bowl of rice and a plain naan with these. The rice is fluffy, and the naan is thin and crispy and lightly brushed with butter. 

This seems like a really cliche Indian meal, but the subtle twists in flavours and the execution of simple things like the naan bread mean it's set way above your normal curry and rice. To top that off, this entire meal came to £11 EACH!! 

I'm sure you'll admit, for one of the trendiest, most popular restaurants in LONDON, whose food is something you'll forever crave after your first visit, that is an absolutely steal!!. 


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

London Fashion Weekend Street Style

London Fashion Week flashed by me in a blink of an eye. I barely got a chance to sift through some of the shows and pick out some common trends for SS15 before it moved on to lands afar. If like me you saw the whole event as a bit of a blur and wanted a well-rounded summary of the whole thing, then London Fashion Weekend was the place to be. 

For those of you that haven't heard of LFWEnd before, it's a more commercial version of London Fashion Week that's open to the general public, with tickets available at a variety of prices. The whole event spans from the Thursday to the Sunday and consists of dozens of designer brands showcasing their wares and giving anyone with a ticket cheeky discounts! If that wasn't enough, there are also designer and trend catwalk shows. This season's event featured designers such as Amanda Wakely, Nicholas Oakwell Couture, Notte by Marchesa and Fyodor Golan.

The trend shows are a summary of the top 4 key trends of the season. That's right!! Instead of watching shows of trends you can't get your hands on for a whole year, LFWEnd focuses on the trends for the very next season, making sure we've got our wardrobes in order for when winter does arrive.

Now if you are a fan of the whole seasonal event,  you'll know that street style is where everyone's eyes are really at. What people where to the LFW is just as important as what's on the catwalk, and that vibe still runs strong into the weekend.

Whilst I was milling around eyeing up some of the fantastic clothing and jewellery stands, I happened to notice a few people whose style game was on point! There were 4 main trends that were really prominent throughout the day, and these girls had those trends nailed.

1. Grunge
If you've read any of my fashion posts before you'll know that grunge is my go-to style. I'm addicted to black and when it comes to shoes, the chunkier the better. These were girls of my own heart. With grunge style, if you are going to be wearing a lot of the same colour e.g. black, texture and layering are key. I love how the tartan pleating contrasts with the monochrome fur on the jumper of the girl on the left, and just adds a touch of colour.
The girl on the right has added a sport luxe element to her grunge style with the sports bra style crop and the loose fitting trousers. The long cardigan works to pull the two pieces together and the cute up-do takes away any harshness.

2. One and Only
This is one of the trends focused on during the LFWEnd trend shows. It's all about patronizing one particular colour, using texture and tailoring to create feminine yet severe silhouettes.These two girls caught my eye from a mile off. The tailoring of the high wasted trousers and the crop teamed with the pixie crop hairstyle created an elegant androgynous feel. So simple yet so dramatic, and a perfect way of bringing an edgy vibe to what was already a strong shade of blue. 
White can be worn in a variety of ways, from sporty to severe, but I think this playful display of white is my favorite. It's an outfit that brings a smile to your face instantly. There's nothing over-complicated about this outfit which really goes to show that with this trend, less is more. The shift dress hangs effortlessly whilst the cleated soles take it to a casual yet kitsch level. It contrasts brilliantly with the perfectly coiffed afro, and the pastel blue bag is just the right touch of colour. 

3. Monochrome
We all know for a fact that the monochrome trend will NEVER die, so why not embrace it like this  girl has done! When its a gorgeous sunny day, sometimes all black and a bit of white can seem too harsh, but swap that black for a silvery grey or even a gunmetal shade and you've added a bit of sun to your outfit. The soft grey of the coat works really well in contrast with her light blonde hair and the white t-shirt, whilst the sunglasses again add remnants of summer. I don't want to sound cliche, but the only way I can describe this outfit is cool. And it is. It's effortlessly cool, and the epitome of casual street style. 

4. Vintage 
If vintage is your favourite style, then really the world is your oyster. Just from these three girls alone you can see the variety, and that's why I chose them. Each of them is individually unique in the way they have styled a vintage look. Vintage means you can get as crazy and daring as you like, and a perfect example is how the girl on the left has teamed a classically vintage shirt with a metallic silver pencil skirt. The chunky boots collaborate with the skirt to bring a modern edge to the shirt. The contrast of the tight fitting skirt and loose fitting shirt is always a flattering silhouette too. 
I absolutely adored the way the girl in the middle roles up the legs of her dungarees and paired them with some dainty heels, showing off just the right amount of ankle. There isn't much you can do with a pair of full length dungarees, but the way this girl has styled hers is a worthy template for everyone. 
Last but certainly not least is the girl on the right. If I'd have seen the fluffy bardot top and the vintage peg leg trousers laid out together I never would have thought they'd work, but sometimes, when you try an outfit on it can drastically change, for better or for worse. Here the outfit definitely changes for the better. The trousers are so vibrant and colourful that it needs something simple to go with it. I never would have guessed white as a worthy companion, but in this case the contrasts compliment each other. 

Steph x x x


Friday, 22 August 2014

Camden Bargain Buys



Ahh Camden. My home away from home. 

I'm forever discovering new and interesting places in London that fulfill my needs for the weird, wonderful and bizarre, but every time I go to London, I'll always at one point or the other find myself returning to Camden. 

Not only did it play a huge part of my childhood (yes I was an Emo/Scene Kid) but it is an amalgation of all the things I love: music, fashion, food and BARGAINS!

During the months of June/July, I got to visit Camden twice. Once with the lovely Fi Shemmans before the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass, and then with my best friend George Puddephatt for a nostalgic catch-up . 

Camden has changed a lot since I was 15/16, especially when it comes to shopping. It has definitely become more commercial. I'm not complaining, it just means you have to hunt a bit harder for those unique items. 

The t-shirt pictured above I bought from the market on the right hand side of the river, with the Vespa seating area. Because of all the food stalls there I always forget that there are shops behind them, but on this occassion Fi reminded me, and we spent a good hour or two there. The t-shirt came from a stall selling tonnes of garish yet eye-catching graphic print tees. Falling back into my monochrome habits, I fell in love with this particular one. It's got a sports luxe meet grunge vibe about it, and I could instantly picture in my head how I wanted to style it. For only £12 I thought it was an absolute bargain. 

The sunglasses were an emergency buy. Whilst waiting for George to meet me in Camden, I'd realised I'd forgotten my sunglasses, and the sun was blinding. Upon walking towards the main stables I  found a mini market on the left side of the street, with one vendor selling hundreds of on-trend sunglasses for £5. From flip-up sunglasses to oil slick, this guy had everything. I must have spent a good 20 minutes trying them on before deciding on this gold-rimmed oil slick pair. They are a proper statement and for £5 I won't be to heartbroken when I loose them (and believe me I will). 

Lastly but certainly not least are the bohemian bracelets and bindis. These came from a Middle Eastern shop just a few minutes Camden station. You can smell the incense a mile off, and the gorgeous colour scheme of oranges, reds, yellows and pinks draws you in. This shop has a pic 'n' mix system, where you grab a bowl and sift through piles of bracelets, rings, anklets and incense all priced between 20p and £1. It's hard not to go overboard, but when you see how much jewellery like this is going for in high street brands you'd be well and truly justified to do so. 

So if you're ever in London and looking for a bargain, take a little trip to Camden. Even if you don't buy anything, I guarantee it's a visit you won't forget.  


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Birthday Diary: Zoo Lates at ZSL London

Hello all, 

Yet again I am guilty of not having blogged much recently, but I promise I have a very good excuse.

 As of last Friday, I've had some MAJOR BIRTHDAY ANTICS going on. My birthday was actually on the 28th, but not being happy about having a Monday birthday, me and my boyfriend (whose birthday is on the 31st ) have decided to turn the last week and a bit into a joint birthday extravaganza. 

I really enjoy turning my birthday into a reunion event for me and all my friends. There's a lot of them that I don't get to see very often, and it's just so lovely to have one day a year where they can all meet each other and we can just have a really good night out. 

I researched for months beforehand for some ideas without much luck. I'd found out about the Zoo Lates events last year, and it popped into my head in one of those rare but magical light-bulb moments. It just seemed perfect for the kind of night I wanted. Firstly, who doesn't love the zoo? Secondly, on top of all the normal zoo attractions, there were comedians, animal demonstrations, face painting, wine tasting, acoustic bands, a food festival and a silent disco. However what really sold it to me was the fact that it finished at 10.30. I know that probably sounds weird, but considering I had friends travelling from far and wide, I wanted an event that didn't mean them leaving early and missing out to catch a train. 

I was very lucky to get tickets. The event is only open every Friday in June and July, and tickets for each date usually sell out a good 2-3 weeks before. Unfortunately the events for this year are all done and dusted, but it's certainly something to bear in mind for next year, as it's definitely worth it. 

One bit of advice that I would give anyone thinking of going is that even though the event starts at 6 and gates don't close until 8, get there as early as you possibly can. We didn't get there till 8 and at that point a lot of the animal enclosures were empty (which is to be expected). The earlier you get there, the more chance you have of experiencing everything the event has to offer. 

Despite this, I had such a fun time. The vintage car pimped out as a photo booth was such a laugh, and the pictures you get from it are a lasting memory of hilarity. Loads of people attended in fancy dress, and I saw some amazing face paint. Even if you don't get to see and do everything, the atmosphere is so feel-good that you and your friends are guaranteed to have a good time. I'm definitely doing it again next year.