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  • Infashion, travel

    What I Wore :: A Night at the Mozart Haus, Vienna.

    I’ve never believed in love at first sight, until now. Strolling into Urban Outfitters one weekday afternoon, it was there… waiting for me. I’m talking about this sixties print shift dress. I like to think it had chosen  me. However, like true star-crossed lovers, the hefty £48 price tag was determined to keep us apart. I sought back up in the form of the Instagram jury, blog readers, even the boyfriend. I loved it but I needed that extra push. 
    Convincing myself that it was a transitional purchase, I bought it. I know that in autumn I’ll be able to team it with a pair of cut out boots, tights and a layered jumper for a more casual look when I go to Berlin. At that price, I’ll have to. As my mother would say, if you wear it, it’s worth it. 
    Whilst we were in Vienna, we went to the Mozart Haus to see a string quartet. From a young age, I have played the piano and naturally, as I progressed, I learnt pieces by the greats: Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, etc. So, when the boy surprised me with tickets to see music by Mozart and Haydn performed live… I was really touched! Yes, I am a music geek.
    Have you ever thought, what do you wear to a classical concert? I was baffled. Most concerts I go to are alternative: indie or rock. Not wanting to stand out by looking overdressed, nor underdressed, I opted to debut the dress (as it shall now be known.) Turns out, we did stand out…as being the only people under the age of 40 attending. 
    I rarely pack jewellery when travelling. For me, it’s so hard to be selective and choose pieces that will match most/all outfits. With Ryan Air being so restrictive on weight, I took very little. However, I had to pack this necklace. I think the hexagon matches the geometric theme running through the dress. It cost a grand price of 50p, in the George sale. Bargain, ja?
    // Shift Dress :: Urban Outfitters //
    // Clogs :: Lotta from Stockholm //
    // Necklace :: George at Asda //
    // Bracelet :: Primark //

    I have to be honest, I loved wearing this dress. It made me feel so girly whilst indulging my love of sixties styleYes, it’s not the cheapest high street buy but it’s something I can see myself wearing year after year!
    Ah, it feels good to reminisce about Vienna. Now I’m back at school, it seems like such a long time ago. Sigh. Like most Fridays, I’m linking up as part of  Rachel the Hat and Lena B‘s Passion for Fashion. Why not come and join in?
    Have you ever been to a classical concert?
    What did you wear? What would you wear?
    Are you a fan of collared shift dresses?
  • Intravel

    Bratislava Calling :: Travel Tales Part One

    Bratislava. Slovakia’s capital and a place I’d never considered visiting before. However, finding flights for £140 is a very tempting thing. When we did our research, we discovered Austria’s capital, Vienna, was a mere 1 hour train journey away. We booked flights aiming to spend a week in two cities. 
    A 6.50am flight meant an incredibly early morning but a full day of exploring Bratislava. Arriving at lunch time, we were thrilled to find our hotel was right in the centre of Bratislava’s Old Town. It had been rated #4 on Trip Advisor and we were not disappointed with our suite. You might have seen my giddy photographic spam on Instagram. For this, I apologise. 

    A quick change and we were headed to the Slavin Memorial, a cemetery high above Bratislava to remember fallen Soviet soldiers. It promised spectacular views, what better way to get to know this new city? However, the weather had other plans. We’d been walking ten minutes when the clouds gathered, the wind whipped up and the rain poured. We darted into Bratislava Castle. Handing over 5 Euros, each, we were disappointed to find a white washed renovated castle lacking any soul or history. We aimlessly rattled around the building, looking for exhibitions. When we found little, of course we resorted taken pictures of our happy, but sleep deprived and rained on selves, in the huge mirrors. As you do.

    Even though it was still raining, we darted to a nearby restaurant for lunch, Slovakian style. Pork chops, cabbage and sausage. It filled a gap. After a quick change back at the hotel, we were back out ready to explore Bratislava’s soviet remnants. Discovering a rundown park, we imagined that it had once been the pride of Bratislava, many years ago. It seemed full of soviet ideas.

    The first Polaroid of the holiday was taken right here. It seemed such a momentous occasion that I had to take a snap of John’s agitated face whilst we waited for it to develop! One of my favourite sights in Bratislava? Slovakia Radio, or the inverted pyramid building as I liked to call it. Imposing and dominant on the skyline, there was something about this building that seemed to defy gravity.

    Even though we were surviving on less than 3 hours sleep, when there’s street art in a city it’s always worth a few miles walk to go and see it. Cough cough. We spent the rest of the day staring and snapping an abandoned building covered in art by notorious artists such as C215, Pez and London Police. More on that in a blog post to come!

    By the time we returned to our suite, we were weary to say the least. Another quick change and we were seated in one of Bratislava’s many Irish bars enjoying a Zlaty Bazant and a Hoegaarden. I don’t know how we summoned the energy that night, but it was glorious just to sit and enjoy a beer in a new city to us both.

    Have you been to Bratislava? What were your impressions? What did you see? 

    As always, much love,

    Donna x

  • Intravel

    Bratislava :: In the City

    I love a city that feels like a town. For me, Bratislava has the perfect mix of heritage, culture and charm. John and I have been here for two nights and, in the morning, we’re travelling to Vienna. We’ve seen so much in just two days and indulged our cameras to the point of using spare memory cards. It really is a beautiful city! There is so much history here, you can see the reminders of a soviet era all around the city. My favourite part? The old town, without a doubt. It’s here that we’ve enjoyed Slovak cuisine and downed a Zlaty or two. I’ve been updating Instagram with my favourite shots and will continue to do so! In the mean time, you’ll be able to read my eBay tips and meet Karen, guest blogging about her eBay experiences.

    As always, much love,
    Donna x
  • Intravel

    Kendal Calling :: Part Two :: And, After All This Won’t You Give Me A Smile?

    You can find the story of day one at Kendal Calling here.

    Full up on latte and disco hits, we decided to call it a night and hit the hay. Trudging back in darkness, we became distinctly aware of the dip in temperature when we could see our breath. Foreboding crept in. Our tents were no different, everything was damp to the touch with the night’s dew. Burrowing down in our sleeping bags, teeth chattering, I struggled to think of a night I’d been colder. It was a long night, one that I couldn’t wait to end.
    Finally, morning arrived and we all struggled to get our aching bones moving. The lure of a hot coffee and a bacon barm is a powerful motivator and I rose, Kate Bush hair in tow. Inside the arena, we managed to bag this kitsch table to brunch at. Let me tell you now, this is probably the final shot of us that we took, vain much?

    Pleasantly full, we settled on a grassy mount to watch a Liverpool band I’ve wanted to catch for some time now, The Tea Street Band. These Liverpudlians are the sound of summer. Sun shining, sunglasses on, wellies aligned, we watched the entirety of their set whilst chatting about the upcoming sets of Dutch Uncles, Ash, London Grammar and The Charlatans. 

    I don’t know if you know, but Kendal Calling holds a fancy dress theme each year, this year’s theme was ‘Kendal Calling goes to the movies’. So, whilst we milled about we saw a eclectic mix of characters; Wayne and Garth, Velma, Minnions, Pink Ladies and of course, Superman, everywhere! They were trying to break a world record, the largest gathering of people dressed as Superman They smashed the previous record of 566, with a total of  867 people dressed as Superman. Super, hey?

    By tea time, the sun was still shining as I devoured my pie, chips and curry sauce, an odd mix perhaps but anything goes. I needn’t have fretted about burning, because just as Ash too to the stage …it started to rain. Nevertheless, it was worth getting soaked for Ash. They remind me of my college days, so when they played Girl From Mars, oh how my floral boots stomped in the mud.

    The rain was constant as we waited for I Am Kloot. Fed up and drenched, we decided to head to the Calling Out tent to get to the front for London Grammar. I am so glad we did! If you haven’t heard of them, I suggest you stop reading right now and click here to watch what I saw. Magical, simply magical. Hannah, the lead singer, has an incredible voice. I see big, big things. Plus, don’t you think Dot looks like Harry Styles? One Direction fans need not thank me.

    After being spellbound, we darted right over to the main stage to catch The Charlatans. Ah, it’s no secret, I admire Tim Burgess. He’s had an amazing life and can do no wrong. Genuine top guy.

    The rain just didn’t up, so we decided to head for the warmth of the much loved Tim Peaks. I’m so glad we did! Warm, dry and cozy, we arrived just in time for musical bingo. We didn’t win, but even so it was exciting. I typed that and thought, ‘I need to get out more!’
    Absolutely shattered from our previous night’s sleep, we decided to head back and assess if the tent was waterproof. Turns out, it wasn’t entirely. On the brighter side, it’s true what they say, it is warmer when it rains. We layered up, burrowed down and prepared for another long night. Ironically, I slept better in our damp tent than I had the night before. If you minus the occasional drip on the forehead and a wet sleeping bag, it was all but perfect.

    Clare can now safely tick this off her bucket list. I doubt we’d ever go ‘wild camping’ again. Kendal Calling is fantastic, but next year you’ll find us glamping.

    Have you been to a festival this year? Did you camp? Would you camp? 
    As always, much love,
    Donna x (I’m a happy camper!)
  • Intravel

    Kendal Calling :: Part One :: I’m a Happy Camper!

    Have you ever fancied going to a festival? Kendal Calling perhaps? Clare did. Who’s Clare you might ask? Clare is a good friend of mine who decided that right at the top of her bucket list should be a festival experience, minus camping. Kendal Calling, held in Lowther Deer Park, was to be the festival of choice. Being the good friends that we are, we decided to help Clare notch one off the list. After all, a weekend in the Lake District B&B, accompanied with good music and friends didn’t sound too much of a bad deal. Go on, then!
    However, when Kendal Calling didn’t sell day tickets and decided that weekend ticket holders weren’t entitled to exit and re-enter the festival, camping became our only option. Discussing it in our local, we mulled it over; three nights of camping, how hard could it really be? Turns out, hard. Very hard indeed for our GHD, rollers and shower loving selves. Oh, how our future selves would have laughed, then laughed some more. I’m talking deep, uncontrollable belly laughs at our pure naivety and blind optimism. 
    Arriving at the Kendal Calling drop off point, we were right to be a little concerned at the impending trek to the campsite. Loaded up, we struggled with the elegance of obese camels in the midday sun to find the perfect place to pitch our tent. Hot, bothered, narked but pitch found successfully, our thoughts and sentiments were echoed with the arrival of Lynsey and Liz and those words of greeting, “Please don’t laugh, or I may want to smack you in the face.” Priceless.  
    Pitched perfectly, we headed into the arena. Now, every time I mention the arena, I don’t mean that in a Hunger Games way. This arena was a magical land of music and wonder: carousels, big wheels, fantastical houses, numerous tents filled with music, bars…I could have pitched a tent there quite happily… with the help of Clare (tent pitcher extraordinaire).
    Naturally, as fans of The Charlatans, the first thing to do was to find Tim’s diner, the aptly named Tim Peaks. It was to become our home away from home, or shelter away from tent, and little did we know then, our shelter from the upcoming torrential rain. Oh yes, that bad boy was in waiting.
    The sun was shining, the festival cider was flowing and, naturally, tattoos became an imminent option. The immortal words, “I didn’t think I was that pissed, but clearly I am,” echoed from Clare’s lips. However, it was too late and the Tim Burgess mega fan club was born. One for one and one for all, or something like that. 
    Giddy from our new tattoos, we decided to bask in the sun’s warmth and enjoy a drink, or two, whilst we waited for the first act. Have you noticed our gorgeous sunflowers? There’s a story behind those! We had dreams of prancing around in beautiful floral crowns and luckily, we found beautiful floral crowns. However, age is a cruel, cruel thing and I swear, the rose pink floral crown I found, seemed to wither when placed on my head. When Hospice at Home were selling sunflowers for their charity, it seemed fated. Festival clobber secured, we awaited Public Enemy. 
    It tickles me how we sat on the grassy mount in pretty dresses and floral brooches, all prim and proper, waiting for …Public Enemy! Before they came on, we’d been dancing to Roots Manuva, Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys. Clearly, we were hip hop fans. 

    New converts to the church of hip hop, our group decided to split when Basement Jaxx came on. For me, I’m more excited about seeing bands that I’m currently listening to. I know, I know, Basement Jaxx have had countless hits but…. 
    Theme Park! A band with twins! Twins! As if I need to say more. I absolutely adore their song ‘Two Hours’ and getting to see them live right in front of me, well I just don’t think Basement Jaxx could compete. 
    After seeing all the bands we could, we ended our night in the fabulous warmth of Tim Peaks for a nightcap of tea and coffee, with a dash of 70s disco hits. Rock and roll.  
    Part two to follow…
  • InLiverpool, travel

    Like Pebbles on the Beach :: Stay Calm

    They say, when life deals you lemons, make lemonade. 
    So, when work deadlines came rolling in and life became extremely stressful recently… I did just that. I was forced to miss Erica’s Big Night In, the FABB Bloggers Manchester event and, not least, a weekend of sunshine. Feeling pretty rubbish about it all, the boy suggested a couple of hours away from the laptop.
    In times past, work stress would cause me to lock myself away in a room and power through the work. In fact, I would only surface to drink coffee and eat the occasional round of toast. However, I’m so glad we decided to venture out to Crosby to see Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’.
    I’m fortunate to live where I do, because a lot of places of interest are a short drive away. Thirty minutes later, my toes were squelching  in the sand as we strode away from the crowds. Avoiding the jelly fish, we admired the barnacled men…although their features were slightly obscured from years of battling the sea. 
    Sea air, a sherbet adorned ice cream and sunshine beating down on our faces, I started to feel a whole lot better. We snapped and snapped, the boy taking artistic photographs, myself taking, shall we say, less artistic snaps. 
    So, with a mere two weeks left until the summer holidays, I’m very much looking forward to my time off.
    Have you ever been to Crosby beach? 
    Are you a fan of Antony Gormley’s sculptures? 
  • Intravel

    A Weekend Away :: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (Day Two)

    The beauty of visiting Yorkshire is that you are only a stone’s throw away from each of its towns and cities. Waking early, well early enough for a Sunday morning, we hopped into the car and left Sheffield for the short drive to Wakefield. 
    As you may know, I am from the small, industrial town of St Helens. Six years ago, a Channel 4 TV series saw us receive a 20 metres high statue called ‘Dream’ by Jaume Plensa (you might have seen it in this blog post here). Wakefield is home to Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) and more sculptures by Plensa. So, the boy and I decided to check it out, whilst we were in the neighbourhood. 
    After a picnic pit stop and a McDonalds refuelling session, we arrived at YSP. Free to enter, the park boasts 500 acres or rolling countryside and some amazing sculptures to boot too! Yes, you have to pay £7.50 to park, however that’s any Yorkshire man’s bargain when you consider it equates to £3.75 per person! 
    Now, I’m not a huge fan of sculpture, but I am an advocate of strolling around beautiful gardens in the sun and taking lots of pictures. Look at what my camera spied…
    Molecule Man! An almost identical sculpture stands in Berlin’s River Spree. It just goes to show that you’re never too far away from a blog post banging on about Berlin! You will be pleased to hear my next jaunt is far, far away from Berlin. Phew!
    Obeying thy stomachs, we decided to find a picnic spot in the 500 acres. I’ll admit, it was a definite highlight of my day Then again, that was until the midgies caught up and we were forced to move on and take yet MORE pictures!
    I was so relieved to see a piece by Antony Gormley. Finally! An artist I knew at least two facts about. I’ve even seen his other work, not to brag like. I was in awe of the piece so much, I forgot to take a photograph…doh. 
    Escaping the heat, we headed inside to see Yinka Shonibare’s exhibition, Fabric-ation. Unfortunately, there was no camera action allowed, which is a shame as his Blackberry wielding, bling covered ‘Urban Fox’ was pure genius. We did snap this little beauty in the YSP entrance though. 
    The perfect end to a smashing weekend? Putting the roof down on the car, soaking up the last rays of sun and finishing the last bits of our picnic. Bliss!
    As always, much love,
    Donna (Apparently, a culture vulture these days!)