Monday, 28 August 2017

Thoughts On Bloggers Selling Out And Faking Lifestyles.

When I first started blogging over six years ago, it was a special place filled with people who just wanted to share their life with others and share their favourite new dress, lipstick, restaurant, travel destination, or whatever. The reason blogging grew so quickly and became so popular, was because it was so refreshing to read impartial reviews from real people, rather than magazines filled with adverts and articles by journalists who are incentivised by companies to give their products coverage. Not only that, but it was suddenly an opportunity to really see how other people lived their lives, and make us all feel a little more normal and relatable.
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Friday, 25 August 2017

Girl's Night Out at Charlie Berkeley Street, London.

As you all know I'm a huge fan of a good night out, and after my trip back home I think I need to update my Top 7 Luxury London Nightclubs, as Drama Park Lane and Charlie are now firmly on my 'favourites' list of London clubs! Set very close to Green Park station in the space that used to be Funky Buddha, Charlie Berkeley Street is effortlessly cool and very instagrammable with funky neon lights everywhere. On one of the Saturdays I was in town, the girls and I (and Sid) decided to check it out, and we all absolutely loved it!



As always I'm a creature of habit, and I always tend to go to my same regular favourites. Before I moved to Sydney last year Charlie and Drama were both on my list to go to, but I just didn't have time so prioritised them when I was visiting, and I'm SO glad I did!



The club is inspired by Charlie Chaplin (a British comic actor and film-maker), and while the main nightclub room is your typical club, there's a separate bar called the Haig Club Room, dedicated to Haig Club's single malt whisky. The bar feels a little like a traditional gentleman's club, with dark woods and Chesterfield style chairs. Another thing I loved was how nice all the stuff were, which is SO rare in nightclubs!



We spent the night throwing shapes on the dance floor to the epic tunes, and resting our weary feet at the table inbetween our fave songs. The vodka was flowing and we all had the best time! 

It was just so much fun being in a proper nightclub again. Sydney doesn't really have 'proper' nightclubs, and I've missed nights out like this SO badly! 



We all loved our night at Charlie Berkeley Street - definitely recommend it!


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Monday, 21 August 2017

My Travel Plans For The Rest of 2017.

I was originally going to write this post back in June as a 'half way through the year' post, but my plans weren't 100% confirmed so I thought I'd wait. Also I think this might be a nice break from all my London content for you all ;) If you can't remember my original travel dreams for the year, check out my '2017 Travel Plans & Wishes' post. I've actually done pretty well with completing it, aside from the South Pacific Islands, which are now on my list for 2018 (more on this later)!

Photo via Hamilton Island


So far this year I've managed to visit; Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Cambodia (a new country for me), Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Canberra. Singapore and Hong Kong were both on my original list, and I also said how I wanted to visit more of Australia. As you know, Perth is somewhere I've been to dozens of times before and I lived there when I was a child, but apart from Western Australia I'd never really visited many other places here. I loved my Melbourne and Canberra trips, and I have a couple more Aussie trips lined up for the second half of this year!

So, where else am I going this year? I've now booked all of my travel for the next few months, and am SO excited about it all! 

The Great Barrier Reef


September is a super busy month for me travel wise. I'm going to Cairns at the very beginning of the month for 2 nights as one of my little weekend '48 hour' trips. My main reason for going is to visit the Great Barrier Reef - you can only swim in the water up there 6 months of the year due to the jellyfish, and with the ongoing coral bleaching issues I was desperate to visit ASAP. 

There aren't really any 'luxury' hotels in Cairns, so I'm just staying at the Hilton as I have my Diamond status with them so get a small discount and free breaky etc. I have two days up there, so I'm planning on doing a day trip out to the reef on one day, and then a half day on Fitzroy Island the next day. You have no clue how excited I am about this, and I can't wait to share it with all of you!!


Melbourne


Yep, Melbs again for the second time this year! Last time I went just for 2 nights and the main reason we went was for the Australian Open Tennis finals, so I'm pretty excited to go again mid-September for 3 nights and actually experience Melbourne and it's crazy cool bar scene properly! One of my besties from Perth is flying over, and another two friends from Perth now live there, so it's gonna be a little Perth reunion :)


New Zealand


Another trip to visit friends! This is a very quick New Zealand trip as we have a public holiday in early October, so I took two days off work to coincide with it. I'm flying out to Dunedin on the Thursday night via Wellington, then flying back to Sydney from Dunedin on the Tuesday. 

The flights were super expensive because of the public holiday, and the cheapest ones included a long stopover in Wellington. Luckily I also have a friend who lives there, so I'm staying there for a night and will have a few hours to explore, before getting back on the plane to fly down to Dunedin on the South Island. 

One of my oldest and closes friends from England, Katie, moved to New Zealand last year, so we're just going to have a few days together catching up, exploring Dunedin and the surrounding countryside, and eating all the food!

New York


After New Zealand I then have a two month travel-break before my big NYC trip. I want to be in Sydney for the start of summer, and then I fly off to New York mid-December. It's always been a dream of mine to visit NYC around Christmas time, and every time I think about my trip my heart gets those excited flutters! 

I'm flying from Sydney to NYC in First Class with Singapore Airlines as I had a whole bunch of frequent flyer points, and I don't think I've EVER been this excited to get on a plane before! I've already booked my meals with their 'Book the Chef', and I'm having lobster twice and steak. #yolo. Sydney to New York is a bit of a pain in the A, you have to fly to Singapore (I'll be stopping off in Singapore for the day to give myself a break from flying), then to Frankfurt, then to NYC.

When I'm in NYC I'm gonna do all the traditional Christmas things, including seeing the Christmas Jazz concert at the Lincoln Centre, and the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall!


Iceland


When I was looking at flights from NYC to London, all of the one-way flights were coming up at over £1000, but then I found ones with Icelandair for just £250. You could choose between a one hour stopover, or a 9 hour stopover...so I thought I'd do the 9 hour one and see a bit of Iceland! Because it's winter it will be dark when I land, so I'm going to go to the Blue Lagoon so I'm there when the sunrises, and then head into Rekjavik to explore a bit, before heading back to the airport in the late afternoon.


London


And then it's London!!! I was in Perth for Christmas last year and found I really missed Christmas at home. Don't get me wrong, I still had a really awesome Christmas, but the heat just isn't quite the same as having a proper cold Christmas. I'll be back in London for two weeks, and I'll be working in the London office for a few days before I go on holidays for a week over Christmas and NY. I'm not gonna have much time to catch up with friends, so I'll probably just do one big event in a bar for my main group of friends, then see a few of the ones I didn't get to see much when I was back in July individually. 


Dubai


This one is still up in the air as I need to get the days off work approved first, but at the moment I'm planning on flying to Dubai on 30th Dec so I can spend NYE in Dubai with Nigel and Laura as a little reunion from our epic time together last year! I've heard Dubai is one of the best places in the world to spend NYE because of all the parties, so fingers crossed I can get the holiday days!! If I do get the holiday days off work, I'll be heading to Abu Dhabi to visit the Grand Mosque, and possibly back to Oman to see more of the countryside there.



It's no secret that I spend the majority of my disposable income on travel, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. There's just something so magical about spending your hard earned money seeing the world and experiencing new things, instead of on random 'stuff' and clothing! Each time I go somewhere new I learn something about myself, and that is invaluable. Every year I aim to visit at least two new countries I've never been to before so I'm not *always* going back to the same places. This year I'll have three new countries under my belt; Cambodia, New Zealand, and Iceland.

Next year I'm hoping to finally get to the South Pacific islands, but what I've found this year when trying to book, is that it's REALLY difficult to get to them. Despite their close proximity to Australia here are only a couple of indirect flights a week, and they're on annoying days like Tuesdays and Thursdays etc, so I think I'm just gonna have to take a couple of weeks off work in 2018 and do a little island hop to 2 or 3 of them. 


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Friday, 18 August 2017

How To Do A Day Trip to Paris.

I've always wanted to jump on the Eurostar and go to Paris for lunch, spend a day wandering around the city and then get back on the train and be back in London by midnight. While I was in home in London visiting friends and family in July, my travel buddy Claire and I decided to do just that. We woke up early one morning and just a couple of hours later we arrived at Gare du Nord in time for croissants!


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Monday, 14 August 2017

Ting at Shangri-La At The Shard, London.

I wasn't originally going to write a review of Ting, but we enjoyed it so much I just have to tell you all about it! We were really lucky to have our dinner included as part of my review of the hotel part of Shangri-La At The Shard, and after testing out the cocktails in GŎNG, I met Edd outside Ting for dinner with the most incredible view! So, what did we have exactly, and why did it impress us...?


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Friday, 11 August 2017

A Wild Night at Drama Park Lane, London.

While I was back in London there were a couple of nightclubs I wanted to check out that I didn't have a chance to experience before I left for Sydney last year (mainly because I was too busy going to all my faves!). I was only back in town for four weekends, and so I needed to balance visiting my old favourites, with testing out some new ones. Thankfully I managed it and left London pretty chuffed with the awesome nights out I got while I was there, and they were so good I just had to tell you all about them!




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Monday, 7 August 2017

Lux Life's Return to London - July 2017.

My London visit last month was pretty intense, but absolutely amazing! Instead of doing loads of posts I thought I'd just do a big wrap-up one, and then I'll do a couple of individual posts of some really special places and events I went to. I was just back for 3 weeks, and after ten months away living in Sydney it was wonderful to see all my family and friends, and eat ALL the Pret dark chocolate!! So, let me tell you more about what I got up to...



I landed on Thursday afternoon, and after getting home to my parents house and unpacking, I met Mimi, one of my oldest friends, for dinner. We just went for dinner at Pizza Express in Guildford, but the familiarity of somewhere I used to go all the time when I was a poor uni student was just what I needed. 

The next day I did all of my 'chores', things like getting my hair cut, manicure, eye test, go to the dentist pick up prescriptions, eat a Gregg's sausage roll, etc etc. I then had a night out with the girls, so got ready and drove over to Mimi's to pick her up.

Mimi and I have been friends since we were in secondary school, when we used to cause chaos in all the lessons we had together (most of them), and our school reports would always say how we were a distraction to each other. Every term the teacher would try and split us up and move us over different sides of the classroom, but neither of us were very good at following rules, so we would always end up next to each other again.

Anyway, so I drove us up to London and we met Amy, Jemima, and CMK in Bart's for some cocktails! It was SO lovely to be reunited with my girls again, and it was super weird feeling like I'd never even been away. After drinks at Bart's, Jemima headed home while the rest of us continued over to Soho for a night out at Archer Street! As you all know, Archer Street is a fave of mine, especially when DJ Daza is on the decks. We danced out little socks off to 90s pop tunes and Beyonce, and Amy and I even managed to do our usual 'One For Sorrow' Steps dance on the table with Daza, lolz.




The next day I drove up to London again for Arleen & Chris's wedding. You may remember them from the blog a coupla years ago. Alex and I pushed them together, and whaddya know, a few years later they're married!! The day was so beautiful, and it was great to catch up with a bunch of friends. The day was in two parts; the ceremony (dress code traditional), and the reception which was black tie.

My friends and I got a taxi from the ceremony venue over to the Oxford & Cambridge Club for lunch, but there was a huge protest happening against austerity, so we had to jump out at Trafalgar Square and walk the rest of the way. So. Imagine this. Five of us in full morning dress/Ascot dresses and hats, walking through Trafalgar Square, tourists taking photos of us.

Then we bumped into the austerity protest and people with signs saying not very nice things about the Tories...well, Simon in his top hat used to work for the Conservative Party, so we all decided to run for it. It was pretty funny the five of us running past this protest towards the club on Pall Mall, haha! The police also thought it was hilarious and were chuckling at us all.



After a long and tiring day and night of celebrations, the following day I drove up to North Wales for just 24 hours to see my Grandma. One of my best friend's, and her hubby and daughter (my god-daughter) live 10mins from my Grandma, so I got to see them too! It was a blissful 24 hours of strawberry picking, eating my Grandma's homemade burgers, and going to Llangollen and the Horseshoe Pass for a wander. 




Monday evening I drove home, and arrived back to my parents and Dylan! They'd been on holiday when I first arrived, so it was the first time I'd seen them since I got back. It was SO great to see them all in person, and hug them, and just chat face-to-face instead of over the phone.

Unfortunately the next day I had to go to work. I was working in our London office while I was there to save my holiday days and meet the UK client and agency teams. Luckily the office is in Farringdon so it's super close to heaps of good restaurants, but it felt really weird getting my old train and doing the exact same commute to Farringdon I did five years ago when I first started working in London! 



On the Wednesday I went for dinner with the 'old old' work girls at The Big Easy in Covent Garden. These girls you guys. The three of them make me so happy, and Shev is pregnant so we're all really REALLY excited about Baby Vinny coming into the world in November (just in time for my next visit in December)! After dinner we walked into a random pub for a drink, and BAM, an ex of mine is sat there and waves across at me. FML. What are the chances!

Anyway, the following evening I went for drinks with my 'old' work colleagues, and then after a quick couple of drinks with them I did a quick change and headed over to The Savile for dinner with Peter, James, Caroline, and Alex. Pete and I got there earlier than the others, and we got way too drunk and then I basically stole all of Pete's food right off his plate because he got my favourite starter that I didn't order because 'it's too unhealthy' (it was squid ink risotto with octopus). Like he said to the others as they all watched me remove the food from his plate, we're just far too comfortable with each other. 

Friday night was CMKs birthday at Bunga Bunga. A group of us ate far too much pizza and drank some delish cocktails, did some Karaoke, and then danced the night away upstairs in the club! I do love Bunga Bunga, it's always a fun night out. 



I had a quiet one with the family the next day, we went up to Newland's Corner for a bacon and egg butty, and then went for a stroll around Shere. That evening was the Inter-Club Summer Ball at the RAC Woodcote Park, and the theme was Wimbledon. After not fitting into my epic green dress, I had to put on my plain ole black one. It was still a super fun night though, and I'll be telling you more about it soon! 

After the ball I drove up to London to see Adam (you may remember him as that one who planned my entire 25th birthday party for me, the one I visited in Geneva, and from this post). I parked my car at my old spot on Savile Row, and he walked up to meet me so he could help me walk to the club in my heels. Seeing him again literally felt like I'd only seen him a week before, but oh my GOSH had I missed his hugs! We walked from my car over to Piccadilly, and then down to Tramp just behind Fortnum & Mason.

The night was pretty perfect, we spent the rest of the night dancing like the old times, and then moved to the restaurant and sat side-by-side in a booth giggling and catching up and making up for lost time. We ate some delish food, and then it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and 'see you next week's!', and unknowingly that was the last time I would see him. If I knew that was the last time I would see him, I would have said goodbye so differently. But it's always the way, right?



The next day my parents and I drove down to Worthing to visit my Nan, and my Grandad and step-grandma. We went for our usual fish and chip lunch at Bluebird cafe, then walked along the beach to give Dylan a run. It was a beautifully sunny and warm day, which is rare for Worthing - I feel like every time I go there it's cloudy and miserable haha!



Monday lunchtime I had lunch at Foxlow in Farringdon with some of my fave bloggers, two of which had been to Sydney to visit! Jasiminne, Emma, Aftab, Angie I've known for years, but Reena I'd never met before so it was lovely to finally meet her!! That evening I went to my friend Claire's for dinner with her and Ciara, and we heard all about what Ciara's been up to with her new obsession with cooking, baking, and basically acting like she's in the WI! She really does make the most incredible cheese scones though!! 

The rest of the week I went to the Evarae summer party with two of my oldest friends, Emma and Beth, and then after the party we went to Meatliquor for ALL the burgers and onion rings! And then there was also the Lansdowne Club Hog Roast, where CMK and Sarah and I ate ALL the pork and all the Oreo cheesecakes!



On the Friday I worked from my client's London office which is located right on The Strand so super handy for me coming from Waterloo. We had a delish lunch from a cute little place in Covent Garden, had some *amazing* wine later in the afternoon, and I told everyone back in Sydney how awesome the London team were haha. That evening I went back home, got changed, picked Mimi up and we drove up to London again! We picked up Jemima enroute, and the three of us went for a girlie dinner at Nobu. After Nobu we headed to our old favourite, Cuckoo Club.

The funniest thing happened at the end of the night, Mimi and I were driving home and while I was 100% sober, Mimi was not. She suddenly decided she needed the bathroom when we'd just got onto the A3, so I pulled into the 24 hour ASDA and she ran out. She was AGES and I was panicking that she was more drunk than I thought and had collapsed or was vomming or something. 

Turns out she was just hungry, and she walked out of the doors in fits of giggles carrying a huge carrier bag filled with food! I couldn't stop laughing, and we sat in my car for about half an hour and ate Dairylea Lunchables and crisps and chocolate and sweets. I love that a few hours previously we'd been in Nobu...and now we were in an ASDA car park eating Dairylea Lunchables. Too funny! 



Saturday evening I had drinks with friends at The Jam Tree in Chelsea, and then a few of us went to Charlie's on Berkeley St for dancing. Imma tell you all about this soon, because I LOVE this club so so much. It's awesome! Adam was supposed to come too, but things didn't exactly go to plan. (also can we please just take a moment to appreciate the ugly unimpressed face I'm pulling below as James decides to wear my hair?! hahaha).



I got home and had my classic cuddles after a night out with Dylan! It's like a tradition, I've always had cuddles with Dylan whenever I've returned home after a night out. Even if he's fast asleep he'll wake up and sleepily stretch as I fling the lights on, and then his tail will start wagging and he'll just lay there while I give him a cuddle lol!

Anyway, Sunday meant family time, and a walk and pub roast! It was bliss.



Monday evening was awesome, we went to Smith & Western at Box Hill with my Aunty, Uncle, and cousin. We've been going since we were kids, and they honestly do such amazing American comfort food and incredible frozen Margaritas! Tuesday evening we saw Dreamgirls at The Savoy Theatre, oh my gosh it was amazing.



Wednesday was the day I was finally reunited with Edd! He was away my first couple of weeks back in England, so we had a pretty epic couple of evenings planned. I had a quick lemonade and ice-cream in the garden at ROSL, then walked next door to St James' Hotel & Club for a really cute event to launch their new Wind In The Willows afternoon tea.

After the event I met Edd at Polpo in Soho, and it was like we'd never been apart! We spent the entire time at dinner laughing while we regaled each other with stories and caught up, and after dinner we took our classic mirror selfie under the mirrored ceiling/walkway in Soho.



The following evening was our big night out. I checked into Shangri-La At The Shard, and we had an incredible dinner at Ting Restaurant. After dinner we got the tube over to Green Park, and had the craziest night. We started at Trader Vic's for a quick cocktail (or 'quicktail', as they're apparently called these days) and then headed to Drama. We ended up staying in Drama until the lights came on at 3am...we were dancing non-stop for 3 hours! I got a taxi back to Shangri-La and spread-eagled in the bed until I *had* to get up and go to work.



Friday night I went out and did it all over again. I was sensible though and only stayed out until midnight. We went to Archer Street again and it was fun, but DJ Daza wasn't there so the music wasn't as good as it is usually. Saturday I took the parents to the RAC Woodcote Park for coffee and lunch (but lol, I only paid for coffees and Dad paid for lunch coz I'm poor after my return economy flights cost me £1500), and we went to Wisley Garden Centre as well for a wander around the gardens. 



Saturday night I went for dinner at the very trendy MNKY HSE with Dan #1 and Jasiminne. We had a really fun time, and the food was ah-mazing, so I'll be telling you all about it in more detail soon! Like the previous Saturday I was supposed to see Adam, but things weren't great after an argument the week before. Instead of meeting in person and talking about it we stupidly did it all over message and it didn't really end well, so I didn't get to see him before I left for Sydney.

As always, Pete was there to bombard me with messages and make me feel better, and when Dan #2 called me to find out where I was and why wasn't I meeting them to go clubbing and I just cried down the phone at him, he told me to pull the car over and talk to him. I pulled over and Dan talked with me for so long I started freezing up inside my car from the lack of heat, but he made me laugh when I didn't think I could (literally by telling me 'babe, don't worry, you have the best white girl ass I've ever seen' haha).

These guys are truly amazing and I honestly don't know what I'd do without them! So here's a pic below of us looking fly AF at the 2015 Christmas Ball (Dan #2 is in the red velvet jacket, Pete is the one in the blue velvet jacket).



I got home and had cuddles with Dylan, it was like he knew I was upset - he put his paw on my chest when I laid down next to him and that made me sob even more haha! Luckily though Dylan cuddles combined with what Pete and Dan had said to me made me feel loads better. I sorted myself out and pulled myself together so I could enjoy my last day at home. Friends are so important to me, so when I argue with them, I really REALLY feel it and get a bit over-emotional.



My last day in England I spent with the family. We had a lazy day and Mum cooked a roast dinner which was amaze! I finished packing, and panicked about my luggage being overweight, but it actually ended up being 4kg under - score!!! 

I landed back in Sydney after a very long journey (I had about 7 hours in Singapore airport, but luckily went to one of the transit hotels and got some sleep), and went straight into the office. I actually felt really good about being back in Sydney. I loved my three weeks back home, but after everything that happened at the end, being back in Sydney has given me the space I desperately needed. Somewhere where there are no memories and I can just recharge and do my thing. 

My first week back was spent catching up with friends and work, with a big night out on the Friday night (standard), lunch on Saturday at Manly Pavilion, and then a rooftop BBQ Saturday night and a few drinks out in Newtown. I slept in until midday on the Sunday (it was bliss), and then I ended July with a cold, which I still have now - boo. 



So, London, you were epic. I love you, and I will see you again in December for Christmas. To all my family and friends, you were also epic, and I love you, and I will see you again in December for Christmas. Sydney, if you can hurry up with the warmer weather now, that'd be perf. 

Oh, and I also managed to get to Paris for a day while I was in London too, but I'll tell you all about that very soon ;)

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London.

While I was back home in London recently, I had the incredible opportunity to stay in The Shard and experience the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard's Summer in the City package. This special package includes a one night stay at the hotel, an English breakfast for two at TING restaurant, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in your room, and the gorgeous Shangri-La afternoon tea in your room too so you can relax while ogling the incredible views. I've been SO excited to share this stay with you all, so without further ado...

View From Shangri-La At The Shard, London


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