The Ballerina

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I just adore the ballet. If you ask me, there are few things more enchanting than the sound of an orchestra tuning, the lights dimming in a grand old theatre, and the red velvet curtains raising to reveal a line of ballerinas pirouetting in their tutus like the most graceful creatures alive. As a girl, I used to dream of growing up to be a ballerina for the Royal Ballet. Alas, my ballet years came to an end at 16, but spending an evening at the ballet is still one of my favourite things to do in London.

After I posted a picture from The Nutcracker at Christmas, I bonded with Roberta Marquez (my favourite principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet) on Instagram over our love for… well, all the same things. A few weeks ago, she very sweetly invited me to come and see her perform in Giselle, one of the great romantic ballets.

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Before the performance, Charlotte (my date for the evening) and I were lucky enough to have our very own tour behind the scenes of the Royal Opera House with Roberta. Entering the stage door and being able to see the ballerinas dancing around the rehearsal room, the company’s spectacular costumes and props, the makeup artists at work and best of all, Roberta’s private dressing room (complete with film star lights around the mirror and an entire wall of ballet slippers) was such an honour.

The performance itself was breathtaking, and Roberta dances so beautifully that it is hard not to fall in love with her just a little bit. As she twirled across the stage in that majestic theatre, it was like watching a dream come true.

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Thank you, Roberta, for one of the most wonderful evenings of my life!

Love, Miss B xx

 

On the Pastel Streets of Notting Hill

Of all the neighbourhoods in London, Notting Hill is one of my favourites. I first stumbled upon Portobello Road ten years ago (on my first visit to London by myself, all wide-eyed and overly enthusiastic and probably searching for Hugh Grant), and it was love at first sight. Even though these days, Portobello Road is horribly overrun with noisy tourists every Saturday (and tacky souvenir shops have subsequently popped up between the antique shops), the neighbourhood still retains all of its bohemian charm.

I love treasure-hunting for vintage jewellery, china, antique maps and curiosities on Portobello, the cafes and boutiques along Westbourne Grove (where I always stop for Diptyque candles and lunch at Ottolenghi and, when I have a bout of homesickness, a beauty fix at Aesop and the perfect Australian brunch at Granger & Co) and strolling the leafy, mansion-lined residential backstreets (and dreaming of living in one of those glossy townhouses myself someday).

For me, this place is doubly-special for all the wonderful moments I have spent there, and whenever I have a case of the mean reds (to paraphrase Holly Golightly), a day wandering Notting Hill is always just what I need to put me back in a good mood. Dearne, my dearest friend and fellow-Australian-in-England, and I would always meet here on weekends for brunch, treasure-hunting, walks around the neighbourhood (she actually did live on those leafy streets) and endless chats about boys, shoes and the meaning of life (see previous case in point here).

So it was only fitting that for our last girl date before De moved back to Australia, we crammed in all our favourite things in Notting Hill. I put on my most ladylike skirt, pinned on a few brooches (favourites from previous Portobello Road treasure-hunts) and raced off to meet De by the curiosity shop on the corner. After scrambled eggs at Granger & Co and a stop at Diptyque (obviously), we strolled those gorgeous streets searching for the prettiest pastel townhouses in her neighbourhood and soaking in the last of the summer sunshine. After one last twirl around Portobello Road, we said a very teary farewell on that perfect, pastel street.

Yet as hard as it was to say goodbye to someone I treasure so much, I feel so grateful to have such special people in my life and to be able to make memories in places this wonderful.

 Wearing: Topshop skirt (sold out, but similar styles here), ASOS shirt, Zara sandals (sold out, but gold version here and similar style here), Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets, vintage brooches (from Portobello Road, but similar styles here and here), Chanel ring (sold out, but similar style here), Jersey Pearl necklace, Grand Bazaar necklace, Chloe sunglasses.  

Oh Notting Hill, I love you!

Do you have any favourite places that are so special to you? And I’d love to hear your Notting Hill suggestions!

Love, Miss B xx

Thank you De for the photos (I miss you already!)

 

Trooping the Colour


There are few things the English enjoy more than a good dose of pomp and circumstance (save, perhaps, for tea, Shakespeare, talking about the weather or an especially orderly queue). Living in Cambridge and working in Westminster (where it seems there is a royal visit every other week), I am certainly no stranger to such ceremony, but there is no finer display than the annual Queen’s Birthday Parade (or Trooping the Colour, as it is more commonly known).

Every year since the 17th century, the Household Cavalries and 400 musicians of the mounted bands march on Horseguard’s Parade in Westminster for an explosion of military regalia as Her Majesty looks on and receives the royal salute. For those not familiar with this very British tradition, think along the lines of the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace (and if you have never watched this, you simply must do so next time you find yourself in London) and multiply that by 100.

I am lucky enough to be given parliamentary tickets, and it is becoming one of my very favourite annual traditions here. It’s a great thrill in itself to get dressed up and head to Westminster on a Saturday morning (because I work there, I generally avoid the tourists descending on the area at all other times), but I especially love witnessing the procession of royals, dignitaries and aristocrats filing past Downing Street in their top hats and morning coats to take their seats before The Queen arrives.

An event with Her Majesty and just about every dignitary in London does throw up quite the sartorial challenge (one can’t just turn up in any old thing…). Though I wouldn’t say no to one of those dashing scarlet braided military jackets (or a shiny pony), in my book, the perfect little black dress, some red lipstick, a good pair of heels and the right attitude can take you to almost any occasion. So I pulled on my favourite ruffled RED Valentino cocktail dress, hopped on the train to Trafalgar Square and skipped down Whitehall with the Clever Boyfriend towards Horseguards Parade to be a part of the spectacle.

After all, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderfully English than putting on a cocktail dress and pearls and spending the morning with Her Majesty and her scarlet-coated cavalries.

Wearing: RED Valentino dress (past season, but similar styles here and here), Chanel 2.55 bag, Mulberry bow heels (past season, but similar styles here and here), Michael Kors rose gold watch (also available here), Marc Jacobs ‘Stam’ bag chain (worn as belt), Jersey Pearl necklace (similar style here), Jimmy Choo sunglasses. 

I’d love to hear how you all play tourist in your own town! Do you have any favourite London traditions?

Love, Miss B xx

*Photos of me thanks to the lovely Annabel Moeller

Glittering Festivities

Here in England, I’ve been in fully-fledged festive mode for the past week. Despite long hours in the office each day, I’ve been cramming in nightly playings of all my favourite festive tunes (Frank, Bing and Dean), having cosy Christmas movie marathons (It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Love Actually, A Muppet Christmas Carol…), ice skating (badly) at the outdoor rink, wearing glitter and sparkles with everything, and generally making the most of this wonderful time of the year.

Last weekend, I met up with some of my favourite blog friends for an all-day festive girl date. We began with shopping and the Christmas windows at Liberty (my favourite London department store), black cab rides in the rain, walks through the West End (amidst, inexplicably, thousands of chaps dressed as Santa), afternoon cocktails overlooking Trafalgar Square, dinner at the National Gallery and my very favourite Christmas tradition, the English National Ballet’s performance of The NutcrackerAs well as those festive rituals I already treasure each year, I love the English Christmas traditions I’m now making my own; the novelty Christmas jumper (which is simultaneously fun and hideously bad taste) – this bedazzled version is my 2012 version, mulled wine, and hearing the glorious choir sing carols from Kings College in Cambridge.

Now, I’m tucked inside my family’s place in London for a few nights of cosy laziness, too much of my Uncle’s good food, walks along the Thames and board game marathons until midnight.

And with that, I wish you all a very happy festive season (whatever you celebrate).

Wearing: Topshop crystal-embellished jumper, Uniqlo oxford shirt, Witchery skirt (old), Chanel shoes, 2.55 bag and crystal ring, Mimco necklace and clear bangle, Michael Kors Paris watch, Lulu Frost for J. Crew bracelet, bow hair clip from Tokyo, Chanel ‘Malice’ nail polish, Mac ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick, the smile of an excited child at Christmas.

Love, Miss B xx