City Guide: 36 Hours in The Netherlands

A Girl, A Style _ Bloemenmarkt Tulips, Amsterdam NetherlandsA Girl, A Style _ Amsterdam, The NetherlandsWearing: Coach trench coat // Current Elliott jeans // Paul & Joe top // Ferragamo flats // Marc Jacobs bag // Tom Ford sunglasses c/ VisionDirect // Chanel brooch 

Last week, I found myself in The Netherlands for a whirlwind 26 hour trip. Although I was in The Hague for a TED event for work, I managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing around the talks, and booked myself on the last flight back on Friday night so that I could spend the whole afternoon exploring Amsterdam. I hadn’t been to Holland since I was small and travelled around the country with my family, so I was so happy to be back in this beautiful country.

Honestly, I couldn’t have loved it more. I had forgotten just how gorgeous this city was, and each street and canal I happened upon seemed even prettier than the last. I was blessed with the most glorious sunshine on what felt like the first spring day of the year, and had the most perfect two days in Amsterdam and The Hague. I’m already planning my next trip back!

A Girl, A Style _ Amsterdam Canal HousesA Girl, A Style _ Amsterdam Canal HousesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m not sure I can really call this a city guide (as I was only there two full days, and much of that was taken up with work commitments), but here’s what I got up to and enjoyed the most in my (far too brief) time there:

Do // Amsterdam:

Culture: It would be rude to arrive in Amsterdam without making a pilgrimage to one of the exceptional galleries which pay homage to the great Dutch artists. Don’t go past the grand Rijksmuseum or the equally spectacular Van Gough Museum nearby (smaller and thus more realistic if on a tight schedule, as I was this time).

Soak up the city: The best way to see the city is just to meander around those beautiful streets or 17th century canals at the most leisurely pace you can manage. Rent a bicycle or just wander along the streets of the negen straatjes (nine streets) – my favourite part of the city – have a picnic on the banks of a canal, or sit outside a little neighbourhood cafe at sunset. My favourite way to do it is to just head to the area and then wander with no particular destination; there is no such thing as a wrong turn here, as each street in the area is prettier than the last.

Day trip: The Netherlands is relatively compact, and there are so many beautiful trips you can take out of town (even if you only have an afternoon to spare). On this trip I spent most of my time in The Hague, but I also remember loving Gouda (famed for its dairies and cheese market) and Delft (my mother went a bit crazy for the blue and white porcelain back in the day) and will make a trip there next time.

A Girl, A Style _ Vintage Books, Amsterdam NetherlandsA Girl, A Style _ The Hague, Netherlands

The Hague // My first day in the Netherlands was spent in Den Haag; most famous for being the seat of the International Criminal Court, the UN, and more government bodies. They are worthy sites to visit in their own right, but the most spectacular is the Binnenhof – the cluster of buildings that house the Dutch government and wouldn’t look out of place in Hogwarts (I was lucky enough to be inside the old Hall of Knights for one of my events).

Just beside the Binnenhof, overlooking the Hofvijer (a picturesque stretch of water), sits the magnificent Mauritshuis museum (below), which houses all the Dutch Masters – Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, et. al. I snuck away during the lunch break to spend an hour exploring the rooms in here, and can honestly say it is now one of my favourite galleries in the world. As an art lover, I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of all those works I had grown up appreciating (not to mention the gorgeous gallery itself), that I was physically moved to tears several times when I would walk into a new room; and that was even before I spotted Vermeer’s The Girl With A Pearl Earring. A must-do for any history buff or art-lover.

If you’re visiting The Hague on a Thursday or Sunday, there is an antique and book market beneath the canopy of trees on the beautiful stretch along Lange Voorhout (during the winter months, it is held on Thursdays on Plein Square beside the Binnenhof). I am powerless against the lure of an antique market, and managed to squeeze in a happy half an hour – though I could have spent triple that – browsing the stalls before a talk, and came away with a couple of antique maps from 1900 for just €10 each.

If you’re making the trip to Amsterdam, then I absolutely recommend a day trip to The Hague. Although most of my time there was taken up with work, I had such a lovely time strolling the streets lined with blooming spring tulips and handsome architecture.

A Girl, A Style _ The Binnenhof, The Hague, NetherlandsA Girl, A Style _ Vermeer Girl With A Pearl Earring, Mauritshuis, The Hague

Shop // I didn’t have much time to hunt down the best shops before everything closed at 5:30pm (as it was such a flying visit, seeing as much of the city as I could trumped shopping), but these were the gems I spotted along the way:
Frozen Fountain: a design store filled with the coolest decor, art, gifts and things for the home you didn’t know you needed until now.
De Weldaad
 (below): A veritable cabinet of curosities; brimming with a curated collection of vintage furniture and homewares (I imagine it’s where the Anthropologie homewares buyers come for inspiration).
Flea Markets: The city is brimming with markets of every variety, so I will be working through this list of the city’s vintage markets on my next visit.
De Bijenkorf: I could have spent an hour on the homewares floor of department store (but as it happened, only had 15 minutes for a speed-lap of the store on the way back to Centraal Station to make my flight).

A Girl, A Style _ Amsterdam, The NetherlandsA Girl, A Style _ Wooden Clogs, Amsterdam Netherlands

Souvenir // A tin of stroopwafels (delicious little caramel waffles that are traditionally served with coffee) from the airport, some Dutch tulip bulbs from the bloemenmarkt (flower market) for your windowsill garden back home, a block of Edam or Gouda cheese, or a set of golden tealights shaped like little Amsterdam canal houses by Pols Potten (a dutch interior design label) from De Bijenkorf.

Stay // Because I was there for work, I stayed in a standard-issue Mercure in The Hague, but when travelling for pleasure I always book into a small boutique hotel with character and a pretty location. I’m already planning my next trip back (hopefully this autumn), and plan to stay at either The Canal House, The Andaz, or The Dylan (below; I passed this whilst walking around the nine streets area and it looked so charming; right on a canal with bikes out the front for guests to borrow).

A Girl, A Style _  The Dylan Hotel, AmsterdamOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood to Know // It is a short train ride (20 minutes / €5) from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam Centraal station (flights from London take around an hour). Once there, the city is entirely walkable; I walked all over the city without needing to take transport once. The Hague, Delft and Gouda are each less than an hour away by train (trains go every 20 minutes or so and cost less than €10), and are both easy day trips. Everyone can speak English perfectly (it is the second official language), and I found everyone I met along the way to be exceedingly friendly and helpful.

Have you been to The Netherlands? Please do share your suggestions + favourite things to do in the comments below; I’m already planning my next trip back!

Love, Miss B xx

Bow and Arrow

A Girl, A Style _ Bow & Arrow
A Girl, A Style _ Bow & Arrow 3

Confession: I despise the concept of fast-fashion. Of course I’ll indulge in fun, inexpensive updates to my wardrobe each season just like everyone else (and I must do an ASOS at least a few times a month), but generally I prefer to see my wardrobe as a collection of treasures which I curate, edit and build upon each season and love for years to come. Like any collector, I have my weaknesses that I’m drawn to again and again; give me a French detail (little black dresses, breton stripes, pearls and chain-strap bags), lucky charms and love talismans (cupid’s arrows, lip motifs, hearts and wishbones), or put a bow on anything (it must be chic, never twee) and I’m powerless to resist.

On this blog, you’re far more likely to see me wearing a mix of a new favourite items teamed with the pieces I’ve owned and loved for years and years rather than a head-to-toe look I’ve just bought that week and might never wear again. That’s not how I dress in my daily life, and it’s not how I like my wardrobe; I don’t believe in consumerism just for the sake of it, and will only buy things if I know I’m going to get mileage out of them. Whilst that probably makes me a bad blogger (I rarely post the latest trends just to drive sales), it does mean that if something appears on here, it’s because I genuinely love and wear that item (and think you might too).

A Girl, A Style _ Lulu Frost
A Girl, A Style _ Corpus Christi Clock Cambridge
A Girl, A Style _ Bow & Arrow 2

Take this outfit, for example: I bought this little Marc Jacobs ‘Stam’ bag about 12 years ago (I loved it so much I invested in three versions of the same bag and still bring them out each year, because to me they’re classics), these sunglasses were a gift from my fiancé about 10 years ago (they’re so classic that they’re still Chloe’s bestsellers every season), and I bought these Louboutin heels a few years ago and still love them (even though they’re entirely impractical). Throw in a dress which works as well on weekends as it does at the office (it’s both fun and classic at the same time) and some jewels which feel like vintage treasures, and it’s the perfect formula.

So my point is this: invest a little more in those labels and pieces that make you the happiest (they’re usually the items you are drawn to again and again, regardless of trends), treasure them for years and just add a few fun new things into the mix to keep things fresh each season.

If you embrace the items you can’t help but collect, then your wardrobe will always feel like a curation of treasures.

A Girl, A Style _ Marc Jacobs Stam Bag
A Girl, A Style _ Bow & Arrow 6Wearing: Carven dress (sold out, but similar styles here) // Christian Louboutin heels (old, but similar styles here) // Marc Jacobs bag (old, but available here) // Lulu Frost necklace (old, but similar styles here) // Lulu Frost earrings (similar style here) // Kenneth Jay Lane ring // Chloe sunglasses.
Beauty: MAC ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick // Deborah Lippmann nail polish // NARS ‘Impassioned’ blush

Which pieces do you collect time after time? I’d love to hear about your most treasured items and talismans!

Love, Miss B xx

Photos by Amber-Rose

At The Flower Market

A Girl, A Style _ At The Flower Market 4A Girl, A Style _ At The Flower Market 1

There are few simple pleasures I love more than a trip to the florist to pick up a big bunch of fragrant blooms (as anyone who follows me on Instagram will know). Since moving to Cambridge, a weekly trip to the flower stall at the market has become one of my favourite rituals at the end of the work week.

To me, those flowers are so intrinsically linked with happy memories and moments throughout my life, that it is a luxury I’m happy to indulge (I’d take a bunch of roses over a coffee, any day). Growing up in Australia, we had a beautiful English garden which exploded with perfumed blossoms each season, and some of my happiest days were spent hosting tea parties under the peach trees for my (usually imaginary) friends, helping my father tend to the flower beds, and collecting armfuls of fragrant roses, hydrangeas bluebells and ranunculus with my mother to bring inside.

A Girl, A Style _ At The Flower Market 12A Girl, A Style _ At The Flower Market 10

Although I don’t have a garden here in Cambridge, it is a tradition I try to maintain to this day. Each week, I’ll pop to the flower stall before a massage and date night with the Clever Boyfriend on Friday evenings, or cycle to the market early on a Saturday morning for coffee, flowers and long chats about life with my best friend (we’ve been friends for 16 years, and by some wonderful stroke of fate, we have always seemed to end up in the same places in the world at the same time ever since and now both currently call Cambridge home).

A Girl, A Style _ At The Flower Market 3Wearing: Alice by Temperley dress (sold out, but similar styles available via Shopbop, Net-a-Porter and TheOutnet) // Whistles leather jacket (past season, but similar styles available here) // Marc Jacobs Stam bag (available at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus) // Chloe sunglasses (similar style available at here) // J. Crew pearl necklace (also available in cheaper faux pearl version) // Kenneth Jay Lane pearl bracelets (sold out, but similar style available at J. Crew and necklace version available at Net-a-Porter) // Chanel brooch + ring (past season, but very similar styles available here and here). Beauty note: MAC ‘Ruby Woo’ lipstick // Essie ‘Bachelorette Bash’ nail polish (available at Nordstrom and Debenhams and Liberty).

Regardless of how hectic my week has been, life always just feels wonderful again after these weekends filled with love, friendship and those beautiful flowers.

Do you have any small pleasures you adore which always seem bring about happy moments? I would love to hear!

Love, Miss B xx

Sponsored post in partnership with Flowers of Holland

Spring Forward

A Girl, A Style _ Spring Forward 3A Girl, A Style _ Spring Forward

Oh, springtime, how I adore you! I never fully appreciated the magic of this season until I moved from Australia to England, and had to learn what winter really is. In Europe, the clocks go forward this weekend (hello long, golden evenings!) and needless to say, the arrival of blue skies and the sight of spring flowers bursting through the ground has me positively giddy with joy.

There is something about the changing of the seasons that feels so fresh; full of anticipation and possibility. After the long winter, I’m ready to welcome the season and make the most of these glorious days. For me, I’m starting it as I mean to go on: this weekend is all about spring cleaning my home from top to bottom until it sparkles, lazy brunch dates, planning weekend adventures with my love (Paris and Vienna, oh my!), bike rides down fragrant blossom-lined streets and buying more bunches of scented flowers than is necessary.

It’s a glorious new season, and it feels so wonderful!

A Girl, A Style _ Spring Forward 4A Girl, A Style _ Spring Forward 7

Wearing: ASOS tulle blouse // Topshop crystal necklace (also available as earrings and similar style available at J.Crew) // Vintage sunglasses (similar style available at Topshop) // Marc by Marc Jacobs rose gold watch c/- Selfridges (also available at ASOS + Shopbop) // Vintage crystal bracelet (similar style available at J.Crew + BaubleBar) // Kenneth Jay Lane pearl bracelet // J.Crew pearl necklace // Alex Monroe ‘love’ ring (available at Liberty + Harrods and similar styles at ShopbopBaubleBar) // Greta Collection diamond initial rings (from my friend Laura’s beautiful jewellery line).
Beauty note: Deborah Lippmann ‘Blue Orchid’ nail polish (also available at Selfridges, Net-a-Porter (US) + Nordstrom) // Clinique ‘Curvy Candy’ Chubby Stick lip colour (available at John Lewis, Selfridges, Nordstrom + Sephora). 

Happy Spring! I hope yours is filled with loveliness and beautiful new beginnings. Now, wind your clocks forward and celebrate the arrival of the season with style!

Love, Miss B xx