7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ Brooklyn New YorkWearing: By Malene Birger dress (old, but similar style here) // Valentino bag // Karen Walker sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // Dune sandals.

Hello lovelies! The past two weeks have absolutely flown by around here. I’ve been trying to make the most of the sunshine and have been cramming in as many hours outdoors as possible (hours spent reading in the park, having picnics, and weekend brunch outdoors with friends). This Sunday I’m so excited to be heading back to New York for a week! I’m actually going for a press trip with a few fellow bloggers to see Michael Buble (*faints with excitement*) and then I’ve extended my stay by a few days to catch up with my friends and just soak up the city. If you have any suggestions for great new cafes to try, your favourite things to do in the city, or how to score tickets to Hamilton, please leave me a comment below!

1. Is the weather going to be nice where you are? There’s only a month left of summer so make sure you get out and enjoy it. Last weekend y cousin came to stay and we got ice cream, lazed by the river, had a picnic and saw an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in the Kings College Fellows’ garden at sunset. It was just perfect. If you’re in Cambridge in the next couple of weeks, try to get to one of the productions of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival (they perform a different play in each of the college gardens and it’s one of our very favourite annual summer traditions).

2. I have lots of beautiful perfumes, but when I wear this fragrance, I literally get stopped on the street to ask what I’m wearing. I’ve never been to the Mediterranean Riviera, but I imagine this is how summer holidays there must smell. I have a major thing for Aerin (both the woman and the brand), but this is by far my favourite from her perfume collection.

3. I had a bit of a pre-emptive packing panic ahead of New York this morning and ordered a couple of new summer dresses, including this cu-ute little white number. I’m really not ready to say goodbye to summer dressing just yet, and thankfully it’s meant to be scorching hot everyday that I’m there, so I only want to wear dresses that pack well and that I can just throw on with sandals, sunglasses and little more.

4. Filling my home with art and prints I love is proving to be a very slow process (mostly because it takes me forever to get around to framing everything), but I’m gradually getting there. I just added this marvellous print to my collection and can’t wait to hang it by my desk (I also love the ‘London‘ and ‘Paris‘ prints).

5. Lipstick is one of my ultimate treats, and I recently indulged in two of the new ‘Hot Lips’ collection by Charlotte Tilbury (the 60s pink Bosworth’s Beauty + the perfect nude Kim KW) and they’re just as good as the hype. So good in fact that I’m going to go back for the fuchsia Electric Poppy.

6. When I travel, I always try and take a book set in the same city as the one I’m visiting. I bought this book from Strand Books (one of my favourite bookstores in the world) when I was in New York last May, and was so enthralled I’d finished it by the time my return flight touched down at Heathrow. It was so good, I’ve just ordered the second book for this trip (and will pick up another New York-themed book while I’m out there).

7. Every September I get that ‘back to school’ feeling and become obsessed with organising everything; life admin, working through my absurdly bulging ‘to do’ lists, and getting back on track with my New Year’s resolutions. Although I put all my appointments in my phone calendar, I still love keeping a proper agenda for scribbling all my thoughts, ideas and daily lists. I’ve just ordered this 16 month 2016-17 Kate Spade version (my annual favourite), but I also love this striped version.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Life: On seeking (and finding) that summer mindset + how I’ve been having the best summer yet
Travel: A weekend spent exploring beautiful Brussels
Style: A technicolour rainbow on the amazing island of Burano, Venice
Style: Weekend brunch dates in Notting Hill + the perfect little white dress for summer

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

How to Have the Best Summer Ever: on Seeking (and Finding) that Summer State of Mind

A Girl, A Style _ Summer State of Mind

Remember those heady days of our youth when school would break up for the year and we’d have the whole summer stretched out before us like a sea of possibilities? Honestly, I had forgotten what that feeling was like.

Between my university years (when I’d spend the entire summer holidays either working or getting as many internships under my belt as I could), and adulthood (when years of being a type-A workaholic had tricked me into thinking I couldn’t possibly take a proper vacation or things would fall apart at work in my absence), summer had a habit of slipping by before I had even paused to take a moment to enjoy it. Other than a few lovely Sunday adventures and afternoon picnics in the park, too often I’d over-schedule my life to such a degree or feel so guilty taking any downtime just for me that ‘summer’ became something I merely admired from my office window at work (I must sound like a bundle of fun right about now…)

So this summer, rather than planning my weekends and evenings to within an inch of my life, I did precisely the opposite: with the exception of work, I have virtually cleared my diary for the entire duration of summer. My usual ‘bucket list’ (you can see last year’s list here, should you need a little inspiration for your own adventures) was this year replaced by just three simple goals:

1) when the weather is nice, get outside and enjoy it (instead of spending entire weekends doing battle with my inbox and life admin ‘to do’ list); 
2) give yourself permission to take time away from work to travel and explore new places;
3) do things I enjoy when I feel like it with people I love. 

And you know what happened? I’ve been having the very best summer of my life.

Because rather than carefully organising my free time to maximise the fun (there’s nothing that says ‘fun’ quite like military-level planning…) but then being horribly disappointed when it inevitably rained that day or friends had to cancel, I am learning to be truly impromptu and listen to what I need or feel like that week. When the stress of ‘Brexit‘ got all too much a couple of months ago, I escaped to Italy on a whim (I couldn’t seem to relax at home so joined my boyfriend in Bologna where he had a conference, and we turned it into a mini vacation); it was neither expensive or planned-out and yet it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. The other day we saw the weather forecast looked good and found a great deal on a hotel, so booked a last-minute weekend in Brussels (and again had such a fun time).

Closer to home, having my evenings free has also meant saying ‘yes’ to things like punting on the river, impromptu dinner parties, or dates with friends (that I normally have to schedule months in advance because we’re all so busy). I found myself blowing off sunny Friday afternoons (which these days are ordinarily reserved for working on my blog) to get ice cream and sit by the river talking for hours on end with Caroline. The other day I met my dear friend Sasha for a last-minute trip to the theatre (after trying unsuccessfully to coordinate our schedules for about a year) and when we were having such a fun time that I literally missed my last train home, rather than suffering first-grade anxiety (as would be my usual response), I just went back to her place for a sleepover followed by brunch and a long walk through Regents Park the next morning.

And just today, when all my afternoon blog meetings were cancelled at the very last-minute, rather than getting stressed about the wasted time and journey to London, I met my friend Charlotte for a walk in St James’s Park (we were meant to go to an exhibition at the Tate but the weather was so glorious we both decided it would have been rude to be indoors and so changed our plans). When she had to dash off to get her train, I carried on lazing in the park beneath the shade of a an enormous fig tree to just watch the clouds float by and write this post (rather than racing home to work from my desk or having an internal meltdown that my post wasn’t up by lunchtime, as I usually would have done).

And so it was while sitting beneath this very tree, giving myself permission to just spend a couple of hours relaxing, that I realised I had accidentally struck upon that summer state of mind I spent years trying to find (or in my business, forgetting to even look for).

Whilst I still spend many a sunny day admiring the blue sky through the window at my office rather than on the beach, I’ve learned that the elusive goal of having ‘the best summer ever’ is not just about working through a ‘to do’ list of fun (or worse, being so busy I forget to make any time for fun at all).

But rather, as I have discovered this year, it’s about a state of mind: that vacation feeling of having a vague idea of what we want to see and do, but generally going where we like – at our own pace – when the mood strikes us. It’s saying ‘yes’ to new experiences when the opportunity presents itself, making new memories and exploring new places (or familiar places, from a new perspective, and playing tourist in our own city), having impromptu adventures whenever the sun is shining, or simply just spending the entire day lazing in the park if what we really feel like doing is nothing at all. In the first instance that means having the schedule that allows freedom (none of my usual type-A tendencies allowed, and of course it helps that we don’t have children to throw into the scheduling equation). But more inportantly, it is about giving ourselves the permission to just have fun and do as we please.

A concept I’d long-since forgotten from the days of my youth, but which I’m so happy to have rediscovered at last.

Here’s to the maintaining that vacation mindset, all summer long!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. And however you find yourself spending the rest of your summer, I hope it’s the best one yet!

Love, Miss B xx

 

City Guide: Weekend in Brussels

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Between all our recent European travels, I feel as though my feet have barely touched the ground the past few months. But one of my big New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 was to take more frequent small trips and explore Europe more (rather than eschewing the cities on our doorstep in favour of the extended long-haul trips we usually take).

Although I frequently travel to Brussels for work, I only ever get to see the Government district and the inside of the European Commission buildings while I’m there (with an occasional detour through the Grand Place on the way back to the Eurostar station if the weather is behaving). Given how easy it is to get there from England, I decided it was about time we properly explored all the city had to offer (which is so much more than just the seat of the European Union).

So when Alcatel asked if I’d like to put together a city guide in conjunction with their current promo (get return flights to one of eight European cities when you buy the new Pop4 handset), it was the perfect excuse to finally explore this grand old city. It was my first time trying the handset, but I have to say it was the ideal phone for travelling; because of the dual-SIM function I could put both my UK and travel SIM in at the same time, and the camera and maps were excellent for navigating our way around town without getting lost (and snapping everything along the way, of course).

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Brussels is the perfect size for a weekend city break; small enough that you feel you can cover a decent chunk of it in two days, large enough that you’ll have no shortage of things to do. These were the best things we covered during our stay:

Do // For a dose of culture, start with the magnificent Grand Place. A large cobbled square bordered by the opulent Town Hall and guildhalls which marks the centre of the old town; it is a Unesco World Heritage site and surely one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.

Afterwards, walk over to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (around €8) on Rue de la Régence for a morning with Rubens, van Dyck and all the Flemish greats. Afterwards, head to the Royal Palace next door; it is free to visit from July-September when the Royal Family go away, and the spectacular rooms are worthy of any Disney princess (I’m not sure I have ever seen quite so many chandeliers in once place). Afterwards, we bought an ice cream and happily lazed beneath the canopy of trees in the Parc du Bruxelles across the road.

Shop // Treasure hunt for antiques: We visited both the Sablon (every Saturday and Sunday at the Place du Grand Sablon) and Les Marolles (every day on the Place du Jeu de Balle) flea markets and the surrounding antique shops. On the first Sunday of every month there is also a vintage market at Halle Saint-Géry. I picked up vintage postcards from Paris and a set of 1960s cocktail glasses at the Sablon, and an antique bust of Marie Antoinette and a pair of golden pheasants for the dining room table at Les Marolles. During a sudden downpour at Les Marolles, we dashed into the Cafe La Brocante on the corner of the square for coffee, which was charmingly stuffed with locals and antiques in equal measure.

Grand arcades: Don’t miss the beautiful Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert near the Grand Place. Built in 1847, it is a beautiful glass-roofed passageway housing luxury shops and cafes. We loitered for nearly an hour in the magnificent Tropismes Libraires bookstore in the Galerie des Princes section.

Hip boutiques: For the best small, independent fashion, design and lifestyle boutiques, head to the Rue Dansaert / Rue des Chartreux district. We made the mistake of visiting on a Sunday morning when many stores were closed, so visit on a Saturday or weekday instead for the best range of options.

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Eat // It would be positively remiss to go to Brussels and leave hungry. From the famous chocolate and waffles to the traditional carbonades flamandes (beef stew) and moules frites (mussels and fries), there is no shortage of gourmand delights on offer.

For brunch, head to Peck 47 on Rue du Marché aux Poulets for eggs + savoury waffles or the original Le Pain Quotidien on Rue Dansaert (both a short walk from the Grand Place).
For lunch or dinner, make for local-favourite Le Fin de Siecle on Rue des Chartreux. We had dinner there on Saturday night and the atmosphere was lively and cosy; the food a delicious offering of Italian and authentic Belgian dishes.

Craving something sweet? Head straight to haute chocolaterie Pierre Marcolini for the best chocolate the city has to offer (not to mention glorious macarons and ice cream pops dipped in the chocolate of your choice). For a snack on-the-go whilst sightseeing, the chocolate-dipped strawberries at Godiva and the cheap as frites nutella-topped waffles (find them beside the Manneken Pis fountain) both earn an honourable mention.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Souvenir // I’m sure it’s obligatory to return home with a stash of Belgian chocolates in your suitcase. Pick up a box from Pierre Marcolini, Mary or Elisabeth (all have several locations dotted around the city), and a few blocks of Dolfin from the convenience store (I’m especially taken with their Earl Grey-infused dark chocolate tablets). A tin of Belgian waffles or speculoos (traditional cinnamon-spiced biscuits) from Maison Dandoy will also make a marvelous gift for friends back home. For something more unique, hunt for a vintage copy of Tintin or an antique tchotchke from the Les Marolles or Sablon flea market.

Good to Know // Brussels is small enough that you can walk just about everywhere, but if the weather is bad or you want to save your feet, the subway is clean, easy and goes everywhere you need to go (aside from hopping on the subway to get to our hotel, we walked the entire weekend). Everyone speaks English perfectly, but otherwise it’s the perfect excuse to practice your French.

A Girl, A Style _ BrusselsA Girl, A Style _ Brussels

Look 1: J.Crew jacket // Gap jeans // J.Crew top (similar style here) // Ferragamo shoes // Chanel bag // ASOS hat // Kenneth Jay Lane necklace (similar style here) // Chanel brooch // Karen Walker sunglasses.
Look 2: Zimmermann dress // J.Crew necklace // Ferragamo shoes // Valentino bag // ASOS hat // Karen Walker sunglasses // Michael Kors watch.

Have you been to Brussels before? Let me know if you have any more recommendations and I’ll try them on my next trip!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is in partnership with Alcatel, who are offering return flights to eight European cities when you buy the new Pop4 handset. 

The Island of Burano, Venice

A Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, Venice
Wearing: dress // hat // sandals // bag // bracelets // sunglasses // necklace

As those who follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat will know, last month my Fiancé and I headed to Italy for the most marvellous vacation (and some much-needed sunshine; England was in the throes of a very gloomy June). I thought I’d start with our day trip to the Venetian island of Burano; quite simply one of the lovelies places I have ever visited.

Whilst I had seen plenty of pictures and knew to look for the colourful houses, I hadn’t expected the entire island to be such a charming, brightly-hued rainbow. Traditionally, the houses were painted in bright colours so that the village fisherman could find their house in even the darkest storm when they returned each evening, and every single house really does look like that (or, as we say over on Instagram, #nofilterrequired). Nowadays the whole island is a UNESCO world heritage site so that the tradition is officially protected, and if homeowners wish to change the colour of their house, they have to apply to the government – who respond with a list of available colours to choose from so that no two neighbouring properties are the same.

As soon as you arrive at the dock, you’ll see what I mean. And it only gets prettier from there. We were lucky to have blazing sunshine and cornflower blue skies for our visit, and as we stepped off the main canal and explored the little alleyways, I couldn’t help but think how those sunbleached, cheery houses – with their laundry hanging from the windows, children playing happily in the streets, and contented cats lazing in the shade – looked exactly as they might have done a hundred years ago.

A Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, Venice

Given Burano’s small size, it hardly requires a ‘guide’ to what to do – instead the best thing is to simply walk down each canal and colourful side street, discovering your own secret corners and favourite spots yourself. But nonetheless, here are a few tips to make the most of your visit:

Good to Know // Burano is an island in the Venetian lagoon and is a leisurely half-day trip from ‘mainland’ Venice. The easiest way to get there is to either take a private water taxi or the number 12 vaporetto (water bus) which runs frequently, takes the same time as a taxi – around 40 minutes – but only costs €7.50 each way. Go early or late afternoon to avoid the largest crowds if you can (but don’t be put off either way, as the crowds quickly disperse between each vaporetto arrival).

Do // Burano is really a tiny little island; there are no roads – only footpaths and canals for the fishing boats – but you can walk the entire island and all it’s side streets in a couple of hours (add in another couple of hours for lunch and pausing to take approximately 16,000 photos along the way). There aren’t many shops on the island – which helps retain the traditional charm – but if you like lace, then be sure to stop into one of the little lace shops for the authentic lace linens the island is famous for (I’m still regretting the fact I didn’t buy a lace parasol and a stack of beautiful handmade napkins).

Eat // We had heard great things about Trattoria al Gatto Nero (my friend Julia had gone there earlier in the year), and the name – which translates to The Black Cat - had us sold, but when we arrived there wasn’t a free table to found until fully three days later (moral of the story: book ahead). My friend Alex had also recommended Trattoria da Romano, but both the restaurant and street looked a little too crowded with tourists when we passed. So instead we simply followed our noses and ended up at the charming, pastel pink Riva Rosa Enoteca, which turned out to be the very best choice of all. We had big plates of spaghetti alla vongole (a local specialty, pictured below) outside at one of the tables overlooking the colourful canal, and it was quite simply one of the most delicious, memorable meals I’ve ever had.

A Girl, A Style _ Riva Rossa Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceA Girl, A Style _ Burano, VeniceWearing: H&M dress // Eugenia Kim hat // Valentino bag (mini version here) // Dune sandals // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (necklace version here) // Tom Ford sunglasses // J.Crew necklace // Chanel brooch.
Beauty: Chanel ‘L’Eclatante’ lipstick // MAC ‘Dollymix’ blush // James Read tan // Essie ‘Limoscene’ nail polish

There was just something so magical about Burano, and I couldn’t help falling a little in love more in love with each street we explored. I’m so glad that places like this – frozen in time and still retaining every ounce of charm and history – still exist in the world. I can’t wait to return one day.

Stay tuned for Venice, Florence and Bologna soon!

Love, Miss B xx

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