The Broke Folks’ Guide to London: Disobedient Objects

Today, I decided it was time to get a bit of culture, what with living in a city entirely filled with art, music, fashion and theatre. So I headed to the V&A to check out their Disobedient Objects exhibition, an exhibition of everyday objects that have been used in protests across the world. Suck it, man who assumed I was there to see the wedding dresses.

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This is what a feminist looks like.

In Scotland, September basically might as well be January, so I foolishly wore the world’s biggest cardigan, only to take it off 10 seconds after leaving the house and cart it around all day. My life is so hard sometimes.

Anyway.

The exhibition is amazing. Genuinely breathtaking. My advice would be to shut down your computer right now and go see it yourself. But if you’re too far away, or can’t be bothered, or just want a little sneak preview, you cheeky thing, you, read on.

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The exhibition takes place in a small barred room, accessed underneath a security gate – a little nod to the use of barricades in protest since whenever barricades were invented. A soundtrack composed of music, chants and speeches from various protests is broadcast via a revamped Bike Bloc – an old discarded bike, with speakers welded into it, used to breach the security cordon at the COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. I fully regret not taking a photograph of it, it’s quite a contraption. Banners in every colour and language stripe across the ceiling, messages of hope and anger strewn through them in equal measure. And then, there are the Disobedient Objects themselves. I couldn’t take photos of all of them, so here are just a few of my favourites.

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After Hurricane Sandy hit, independent movements were set up to provide aid and assistance to those who needed it, as well as to criticise the lack of national response. When the National Guard did arrive on the scene, the immediately reported to the volunteers for training.

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Text reads “This season’s well dressed blockader may choose to carry -“. Because who says fashion and protest can’t mix?

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Legal advice for gay people in case of arrest, including the credit-card sized bust card advising them of their rights. Also, an excellently intimidating gay rights banner and a somewhat fabulous blockader’s guide.

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One of my favourite installations at the exhibition, this video showed a newsreel detailing the escapades of the Barbie Liberation Organisation. In 1993, the BLO switched the voiceboxes of around 500 talking Barbie dolls and GI Joes, before returning them to the shelves to be sold as normal. Serious props to the little girl who, when asked by a newsreader if she was disappointed when her Barbie started making explosion noises, said “I thought it was hilarious, so I just started laughing”.

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These are arpilleras, artworks made by women using appliquéd textiles. The practice originated in Chile, where the pieces were sold through solidarity networks, providing income for the women and their families. As powerful men are wont to do when it comes to poor women, the leaders of the country dismissed the pieces as simple “folk art”, blind to the frequently subversive messages they were disseminating.

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Oh, my mistake. How did a perfectly ordinary photograph of the Sun get in here?

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A museum sign which definitely was not in any way encouraging you to commit acts of protest against seriously fucking unfair income growth in the UK.

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Placards, stickers and billboards supporting causes still going on throughout the world. There was even a little hint of home…

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This is a seriously amazing collection, and I feel thoroughly honoured that I got to see these objects, and thoroughly grateful to the people who used them to improve the lives of myself and those like me. Stay disobedient, folks, it’s how things get done.

Happy Hair Days With Stunt Dolly

Exciting news everyone – I got a job! Sure, it’s only for a month, but it means for the first time in about a year, I have a bit of money to spend on me. There was never any doubt about where my first spend would be, the second I put down the phone with the recruiter, I picked it up again and booked myself a haircut.

Stunt Dolly is the kind of place that doesn’t really exist in Paisley. Exposed brick walls, rich wooden panelling, sleek styling chairs and an abundance of aromatherapy candles give this place the air of a tiny spa, smack bang in the middle of Dalston. Stepping through the doors, you immediately forget about the commuters, fruit sellers and neon signs all jostling for space at Dalston Junction.

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Photo from the Stunt Dolly Instagram.

Photo from the Stunt Dolly Instagram.

I was ushered inside, sat on the ridiculously comfortable couch, and along with the usual offer of tea and coffee, was also offered a glass of wine. These people are my people. However, having spent the entire day yesterday getting squiffy with one of my lovely cousins, I decided to save that for next time.

Important note: I am seriously socially awkward. Sitting in a chair making small talk with a stranger for an hour is basically my worst nightmare. Whenever I go for a haircut, I usually bury my nose in a book, raising my head only to answer questions that I can’t avoid. For some reason, Stunt Dolly was different. From the second Manny shook my hand, I felt totally at ease. We chatted through my hair wash, as he cut, and even, at points, battled with the hairdryer. I didn’t reach for my book once. These guys are lovely.

Now, I have a lot of hair.

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This is lots of fun for swishing around, but tends to elicit somewhat strained, terrified laughter from hairdressers. Manny was literally the first hairdresser I’ve ever been to who wanted to give me a style that looked great with my curly texture, not in spite of it. He chopped away, thinning it out, getting rid of the dreaded triangle-head and left me with beautifully shaped, light, bouncy curls.

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I left feeling totally pampered, utterly chilled out and looking pretty damn gorgeous, in my own very humble opinion. Less than an hour had passed since I walked through the door. Seriously, I can’t even blowdry my hair in under an hour. I have come to the conclusion that Manny was probably a wizard. Today is definitely a good hair day.

The Liebster

So, I think this means I have officially been accepted as a member of the blogging community: I’ve just received a Liebster nomination.

Tah-dah!

Tah-dah!

Don’t get excited, we’re not going to an awards ceremony or anything (yet). A Liebster is like a wave hello from the blogging world. A hug, but in the form of a list of questions. I’d like to thank A South Wales Blog for my nomination, and for some seriously lovely comments about my little blog.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Fiona. I’m a 22 year old over-enthusiast, aspiring funny lady, and Glasgow girl, slowly adjusting to life here in London. Very slowly. Like, tortoise stampeding through peanut butter level slow. It’s quite a culture shock.

This is my blog, the Escapologist’s Daughter. I’d love to say it had some kind of mission statement, but to be honest, I just like to talk. Its only real purpose is so that I can share my questionable adventures with anyone who wants to listen.

With no further ado, let’s proceed to the lightning question round:

1. Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I hate peas. Bonus points to anyone who got that reference, although I actually do hate peas.

2. What’s your ‘pet hate’?

Cashiers who put your change on top of your receipt and give it to you in one big, awkward handful. SERIOUSLY CASHIERS, get it together. Also, the fact that the word “focusing” never looks like it’s spelled right. I still don’t know if it should have two “s”s. And raisins. Fuck raisins.

3. What do you love about blogging?

The conversations that it starts! It never fails to surprise me, the things that people are interested in, or find funny, or want to know more about. People are wonderfully strange, and I think when you start reading or writing blogs, that all becomes a bit clearer.

4. What inspires you?

My family. I know, I know, that’s cheesy. But they’re pretty much the greatest people who have ever existed. And Elle Woods. She inspires me no end.

5. Where’s your favourite place to eat?

Tough one, mainly because I never have enough money to eat out. I love Italian food. My boyfriend hates pasta and cheese, because he’s a philistine, so whenever I’m out without him I head for the nearest Italian and order the cheesiest, pastaiest thing on the menu. Most excellent.

6. Have you got a pet? Tell us about them! If you have not, then what would you get if you could?

Oh, you are so going to regret asking this. I have a dog back home in Glasgow, called Juno. She is a flaming imbecile, but she’s entirely adorable, so gets away with it. For tales of her most ridiculous antics (including eating a tampon applicator, true story), feel free to click here.

Juno being generally awesome.

Juno being generally awesome.

I also have a hilarious rabbit called Smudge, who is great. He came with me to London on the train, and drew cries of “BUNNY!” from little girls and grown men alike. He roams around like a cat, and likes to demonstrate his affection by headbutting me in the legs. His heart can be won with grapes and coriander.

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7. What made you decide to start blogging?

I was actually struggling with depression at the beginning of this year, so I was having quite a lot of feelings, quite a lot of the time. The blog started as a way for me to get all the crap out of my system, and remind myself that there were still things that I liked about my life. It quickly became a lot less serious as I recovered, and grew into the madness that you see before you now.

8. If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 things would you take? 

Moisturiser. My skin doesn’t deal with with heat. Or cold. Or wind or rain or life, really. Without moisturiser, I quickly start to resemble a low-budget, peely Doctor Who villain.

A bouncy ball, for boredom related emergencies. My sister has a funny story about this, feel free to ask.

The boyfriend, to keep me company, and get high things out of trees.

9. What is your biggest of achievement in life so far?

I wrote a book! Not a published book, but a book nonetheless. When we were kids, I used to tell my little sister stories to keep her busy on long car journeys, so for her 18th, I wrote her a children’s book and got it bound. It’s nice to tick something off the bucket list that not many people actually get round to.

Tah-dah! Look, that's my name!

Tah-dah! Look, that’s my name!


10. What are some of your favourite blogs to read?

I’m still fairly new to this whole blogging thing, so I’m looking forward to discovering loads more, but I like the Londoner, despite every one of her posts making me bitterly jealous. Hyperbole and a Half is also amazing, and if you haven’t read all of her stuff then get the hell off of my ramblings and go read. You can come back and thank me later.

Okay, now for my nominations! As I said, I’m still pretty new to the whole blogging game, so I actually don’t know all that many yet. I’ll go ahead and nominate some of my lovely new Twitter followers. Tell me about yourselves, guys!

Prompts By Dee.

Est. Since 1984.

Katie Jane Online.

Questions:

1. Describe your blog, in only three words.

2. If you could take anyone, alive or dead, for a pint, who would you pick?

3. What has been your greatest beauty discovery?

4. Tell me the story of your first kiss.

5. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

6. What has been the most important thing that’s happened to you?

7. How likely are you to go double or nothing on a bet?

8. What was the first concert you ever went to?

9. What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?

10. What do you hope for most?

Wuthering Heights

Okay, so this post is late. Like, very late. Like, approximately three weeks late. But it’s not like I could let a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity pass by without a blog post, so you’ll all just have to deal with it.

I would like, if I may, to take you on a journey into the past. Let’s take it back three weeks.

*Time travel arms and sci-fi music*

So. We’ve had a pretty big development in Fionaland. I moved to London. Hooray!

My lovely little view.

My lovely little view.

And my lovely, lovely dad drove all of my stuff down to London. He and the little sister dropped the boxes at my flat and we headed into town for a date with a very special lady…

But before we could head for our final destination, there were a few very important things to be taken care of. Namely, eating and drinking ourselves into an early grave. We headed for Bill’s in Soho, where we took up residence for a couple of hours.

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Firstly, and most importantly, I’d like to shake the hand of whoever thought of putting leek in macaroni cheese. Assuming that it was Bill, I take my hat off to you, sir. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Bill’s juxtaposes bright, rainbow coloured tin with rustic scrubbed wood, squishy armchairs and opulent chandeliers. It basically feels like the coolest, cosiest family-run restaurant you’ve ever been to. We settled in with a round of Hedgerow Fizzes, featuring prosecco, elderflower cordial and frozen blackberries. And then we had another round. And then another for good measure. Then we reasoned that maybe we should slow down if we didn’t want a repeat of the antics from Sophie’s birthday. So we decided to overindulge in food instead. Sophie and I both went for the macaroni cheese with leek and asparagus, and enormous cups of chips. Dad went for a pie that I’m pretty sure took him to another plane of existence. After those enormous portions, there was no way we were managing a dess…wait, pecan pie on the menu? Down it goes.

Absolutely stuffed and in desperate need of a lie down, we decided to go check into our hotel. The Doubletree Hotel at the Tower of London boasts the kind of understated luxury that I’ve come to recognise as standard for Hilton hotels. Dad went to the desk to check us in, and Sophie and I decided to nosy around the lobby. There were about four books tastefully decorating the shelves, and I was very excited to note the significance of one in particular.

IMG_3960We were given cookies at check in, which, being so full, we couldn’t possibly have…oh, go on then, you devil.

IMG_3963After lying down and making star shapes for a while, we headed up to the very top of the hotel to check out one of my dads favourite London haunts, the rooftop bar. With breathtaking views of Tower Bridge and the Shard, and umbrellas fitted with patio heaters, I could have stayed there for hours.

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sky bar

Yes we did steal my dad’s iPad and upload this photo to his Facebook. Muahahahaha.

A quick lipstick reapplication and we were ready to hit the town again. This time, we headed for Mark’s Bar in Soho, the edgy cocktail bar underneath Hix restaurant. Enormous leather sofas, bar billiards tables and verging-on-dangerously-low-lighting set the tone for this seriously cool bar. The cocktail menu is as baffling as it is fabulous and more than once, we had to call over a bartender to explain an ingredient to us.

This is me pretending to be Don Draper.

This is me pretending to be Don Draper.

IMG_3977 IMG_3972My cocktail had smoke as an ingredient. Like, actual smoke. We also indulged in a little trio of bar snacks, which stubbornly refused to be photographed, but which included chips and curry sauce, slabs of pork crackling and chicken popcorn, which turned out to be actual chicken flavoured popcorn. Wild. I could try and explain this place to you, but I’ll never do it justice, so just go. The staff are ridiculously nice, and get genuinely excited when they have to explain the cocktails to you, unlike a lot of places that would immediately write you off as a philistine and refuse to serve you.

After the cocktails, it was finally, FINALLY time for the main event. For tonight, me and dad were scheduled to spend three hours listening to the unrivalled, incomparable Kate Bush.

I know. Touch me.

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This was probably the first gig I’ve ever been to where the ticket touts outside were frantically trying to get hold of tickets, rather than get rid of them. We muscled our way through the crowd, which apparently included Kylie Minogue and, wait for it, Mel from the Great British Bakeoff, to take our seats in the gallery.

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The curtain rose, the lady herself took to the stage, and so began three of the most bizarre and spellbinding hours I’ve ever spent in my life. The show is primarily made up of two separate performance pieces, the Ninth Wave and a Sky of Honey. I absolutely adored the Ninth Wave, the maudlin tale of a woman drifting in the ocean after her ship sinks, unsure whether she’s going to survive the night. Having read my programme from cover to cover, I have since learned that Kate got hypothermia filming the video sections of the piece, after spending seven straight hours in a water tank. That is commitment, people. Probably also insanity, but what’s genius without a little insanity? I don’t want to say too much about the show itself, because I don’t want to spoil it for people who have yet to see it. If you have yet to see it, you’re in for a treat, you lucky, lucky thing. No one commands a stage like Kate does. Her voice has deepened and enrichened (that’s not even a word, but I’m going to leave it there) with age, and now forms a seriously powerful instrument. Even the old, familiar songs sounded different to me. It was an absolutely amazing show, and I feel genuinely privileged to have seen such an absolute master perform. Actual once in a lifetime opportunities don’t come along all that often, and I can safely say that this is one I will remember forever.

The Broke Folks’ Guide To London: Fashion’s Night Out

This week saw the glamourous and gorgeous of London descend on the shopping district for a night of fun, fashion and freebies. Enjoy that alliteration, I did it just for you guys. That’s right, it was time for British Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out.

At first glance, I might not seem like the best fit for Fashion’s Night Out.

Everything in my wardrobe is at least two years old.

The vast majority of photos on my phone are failed selfies, deemed too embarrassing to ever see the light of day.

And I’m so skint that my dad took pity on me and topped up my Oyster card for me last week.

But I do love a good night out, and I thought, why shouldn’t the broke girls of London be represented? Note: these people can smell poverty, they really can. But if you can hold your own in a little River Island dress among a sea of Chanel and Mulberry, and feel totally fine quaffing the free champagne and sailing purchaseless past cross security guards, go for it.

Problem number one: I had nothing to wear. I raided my wardrobe and decided that you can’t really go far wrong with a pretty dress.

Tah-dah! My pretty little dress.

Tah-dah! My pretty little dress.

I examined my outfit from every angle, only to be completely ignored by the majority of people I encountered. Seriously, even the flyerers didn’t see me half the time. They can sense the high street coming off me.

I called my driver and had him take me to Oxford Street.

My driver is so darn generous.

My driver is so darn generous.

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Yes, that is a portable Elemis spa. I seriously considered it, but figured that it would probably be unwise having spent the past 45 minutes carefully applying my face.

First stop on my whirlwind tour was Jo Malone, who were launching a new fragrance: Wood Sage & Sea Salt. I grabbed my first glass of bubbles and set about sampling as many gorgeous fragrances as I could.

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The new fragrance was lovely, but as predicted, failed to knock Peony & Blush Suede off the pedestal as my favourite of their scents. What surprised me though, was that I did find a perfume which did: Nectarine Blossom & Honey. I’m not usually a fan of honey scents, but this one was light and sweet without being cloying, and had me wandering around creepily sniffing my hand for the rest of the evening.

Having hung around sipping champagne and sniffing things for as long as I could without becoming suspicious, I headed to my next shop, my favourite of the evening: Space.NK Apothecary. Despite the River Island dress, I received a genuinely lovely, warm welcome, and the ladies on the door made me feel right at home straight away. By the time I got inside the shop, I had another glass of champagne in one hand and a stripy box of popcorn in the other. Excellent.

The range of glorious skincare on offer was heaven for a skincare junkie like me. Seriously, reading about other people’s skincare routines is like meditation to me – tell me what you put on your face! I did consider sneakily giving myself a full Eve Lom facial with all the testers, but decided that would probably be frowned upon. But I am so definitely heading back there for some goodies when I am less broke. They were also launching their beautiful new Silver Screen lipstick range, which they were showing off by giving glamourous femme fatale makeovers in the back of the shop. And they were running a lucky dip, which proved very lucky for me!

Such happiness.

Such happiness.

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I won a gorgeous Lipstick Queen lipstick in Sinner Red, a cool-toned Cruella red that made my eyes green like whoa.

Lipstick and swatch:

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Swatch on my face:

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This creamy lipstick packed one hell of a colour punch, with not a hint of shimmer in sight. This was a big plus: I have serious attitude problems when it comes to shimmery lipsticks. It also boasts awesome staying power, surviving a plate of risotto and two cups of tea after I got home. Can you feel the glamour?

Heading up Oxford Street, I came to House of Fraser, where the red carpet was well and truly rolled out. Here, the official Vogue Fashion’s Night Out cover shoot was taking place, complete with the chance to get your makeup done by YSL head makeup artist, Fred Letailleur and YSL goodie bags. This was an agonising decision, dear readers, because if I had gone for it, this would have been a very short blog post: the queue was all the way into the back of the shop. If anyone got one of the coveted YSL goodie bags, it would be great if you could tell me that what was in them wasn’t even that good. Slightly heartbroken, I gawked at the skills of the makeup artist for a while and then slunk away to continue my journey.

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I stopped off at Molton Brown, my favourite splurging site, to try out the new fragrance they were launching: Oudh Accord and Gold. The scent was a bit honey-y for me, so I wasn’t crazy about it, but the packaging is typically beautiful for Molton Brown, with gold flakes suspended all through the product. Also, they had macaroons, champagne with gold leaf and a super-friendly security guard, so I’m willing to forgive them.

Continuing down Regent Street, I passed shop after designer shop that looked more like nightclubs than shops. DJs, photographers, velvet roped queues, even live magic acts were on full display all the way down the street.

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I browsed J Crew, which had the best champagne, but also the snootiest assistants by far. I seriously considered buying something, just to show them up, but then figured that that was probably the point, so refrained. They were launching two new fragrances, and having read a lovely interview with Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, I decided to try them out. No. 57 is a unisex fragrance, and of the two, it was the one I preferred. It was woody and smoky, and very sexy, but still not a patch on my beloved Jo Malone. I wasn’t a fan of the No. 31, it reminded me of the sickly sweet body sprays you fog yourself with as a teen. But if you like sweet, flowery scents, you might be onto a winner.

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The accessories section was absolutely jumping, and I soon discovered that free gifts were being given away with every purchase. However, even the embellished hair ties and coasters were coming in at about £15, so again, I had to resist. Lots of shops were doing free gifts with purchases, so if you were a broke girl with a little bit of money, as opposed to a broke girl who actually doesn’t know if she’ll be able to buy food in a month, the evening could be very lucrative indeed.

Last on my trip was a little flurry of bath and body shops. I nipped into Crabtree and Evelyn, and immediately fell in love with their Wisteria scent. It smells so much like parma violets. I realise that I just said I didn’t like sweet floral scents, but I will always, always make an exception for parma violets.

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Right next door was L’Occitane, a longtime favourite of anyone with a nose. I feel like I’m not alone in saying that I’d buy up the entire shop in a heartbeat, but I particularly fell for the Jasmine & Bergamot range from their Grasse collection. This was the one time in the evening that I truly swithered over getting my purse out. It is absolutely gorgeous.

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Last up was a shop a bit closer to my price range, and my heart: Lush. At this point, things were starting to wind down, but after five glasses of champagne, I didn’t really mind that too much. I just had time to nip in and pick up a tub of their much-applauded Ultrabland cleanser. Only having used it once, I can’t really say what it’s going to do for my skin in the long run, but in the short term, I’m impressed. The waxy texture makes it loads of fun to use, and the oil base means that it melts makeup away with no scrubbing or scraping. It’s also super moisturising, making it one of the few cleansers I’ve used that doesn’t leave my face feeling tight. Just soft, glowing glowiness.

Haul for the evening:

  • Five glasses of champagne.
  • A macaroon.
  • A box of popcorn.
  • A cone of donuts.
  • A beautiful lipstick.
  • A snazzy new cleanser.

And all that for only £8. Not a bad night out for a broke girl. I did all this in two hours as well, so if you were more committed/wearing more comfortable shoes, there was loads more on offer.

Things I’m gutted I missed:

  • Topshop were doing glittery lips. I know I said I had attitude about shimmer, but straight up glitter? Bring it on. They looked amazing.
  • SOMEONE was giving out champagne ice lollies. If anyone knows who, do let me know.
  • Links London were doing fashion illustrations of their guests. I walked past just after 6 and foolishly thought that the queue was too big. This was only because I had not yet seen the queues to come. So beautiful, and a lovely keepsake.
  • The Radley dogs were in House of Fraser somewhere. There are photos of them all over Instagram. I just have no idea where they were. Curse you, enormous department store!

Would I do it again? Hell yes I would. It was loads of fun, and I got to do tons of research for when my broke-ness finally ends (no word yet on when that will happen). Who knows, maybe next year I’ll have enough money to go on a shopping spree. But for this year, I’ll take all the free champagne I can get.