Sunday, 25 October 2015

An Afternoon At Ascot

An Afternoon At Ascot Ladbrokes

If you would ask me what I feel is typical ‘British’, I will most certainly name you all the clich├ęs: meeting the queen at least once in your life, enjoy fancy afternoon tea with cakes and sandwiches or a visit to the famous horse races. 

Thanks to Ladbrokes, I can now cross out two of these very ‘typical British things to do’ from my list. Alongside a handful of bloggers, I was invited to the QIPCO Champions Day*, the grand finale of horse racing at Ascot Racecourse. We were treated to a four-course meal followed by afternoon tea and in between enjoyed a taste of horse race gambling.

Champions Day at Ascot

I arrived at 10am on Saturday morning and I wore a dress which I bought very last minute from ASOS. I also invested in a headpiece (fascinator) which I always wanted to wear and finally was given the chance to do so. When I arrived at Royal Ascot, however, no one seemed to be wearing hats or fascinators. I saw people dressed in riding clothes or simply in everyday wear, so my initial confidence was knocked down a bit.

After a while, though I thought ‘Nah come on! When will you ever get the chance to come back to Ascot?’ and then I pulled myself together and brought my fascinator out. So glad I did, as the other blogging ladies arrived in equally stunning headpieces and outfits.

What to wear to Ascot fashion ootd
My outfit for Ascot. Dress: ASOS (£55), Fascinator: Debenhams (£49), Heels: New Look (£19.99), Watch: Daniel Wellington (£159)

When everyone arrived, we made our way to the Royal Pavilion were two tables were booked for us. Perfectly set tables with fresh flower bouquets welcomed us and it was exciting to see posh people arrive, who dressed up smartly too and had a good chat with the other blogging ladies. It didn’t take long for the starter to be served: a pea parfait (vegetarian version) and salmon parfait with crispy bread.

Pavilion at Ascot
Table at Ascot Champions Day

After the first course, our party went outside to the racing grounds to see the first race of the day. I have to confess that I paid little attention to the gambling bit and who was rated the favourite, as I was overwhelmed by the entire atmosphere and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

Ascot is a unique experience which I’ve only known from pictures in my school textbooks, so to be actually in the middle of racing excitement felt surreal and thrilling at the same time.

Racecourse at Ascot
Please click on the picture to enhance the panorama.
Champions Day Horse racing at Ascot

Back at the pavilion, we enjoyed our mains; tender pieces of chicken with potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Will and Victoria, the two representatives from Ladbrokes, handed out gifts to everyone, which came as a big surprise! 

They thought instead of giving us goody bags, we should have a little memorabilia from our shared afternoon, so we all received a personal teacup with matching saucer. I love to have this beautiful piece for my new place in London and I found the gesture extremely thoughtful. I’m still very touched by the generosity and that my name is spelt correctly (which doesn’t happen very often!).

The afternoon brought more racing spectacle and we got to watch the winners parading in a separate ring. Olivia and I shared the photo booth and Khrissie got very close to the queen! Back at the pavilion, dessert in the form of a fluffy chocolate tiramisu waited for us and after that, we enjoyed a full afternoon tea including a cheese plater, scones (yum!), macarons and sandwiches.

Horse racing at Royal Ascot
Horse parading at Ascot
Ascot in Autumn

The day went by quickly, but that’s always the case when you’re in a charming company and enjoy delicious food. Paloma Faith was announced to be playing her DJ set at the afterparty at around 4pm but most of us preferred to finish the last piece of cake and make a move homeward bound.

An Afternoon At Ascot

The races at Ascot reflect a long tradition and are to me a quintessential part of British lifestyle. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

*I was kindly invited to join the Ladbrokes team for an afternoon at Ascot.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Life Lately In London 4

Louis Vuitton Series 3 Exhibition London

After a week of severe eye-straining and permanent headaches, my body forced me to slow down my busy schedule and I had to 'relax' and 'stay away' from the screen for a few days. I still feel massively tired and burnt out a little so this weekend will be spent in the Forest of Dean and hopefully, I can refuel on my energies. But before I go into a social media and blogging free weekend, I'd like to give you a quick update on what's been happening this week in London.

1. I visited the LV Series 3 Exhibition

I spotted an advertisement for the Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition whilst on the tube and the opportunity to go and see it came up when Alex had an appointment in Covent Garden. Whilst he went there, I would visit the exhibition on The Strand. The venue for the exhibition was only a few meters away from the iconic Somerset House and easy to find. 

Entrance to the exhibition is free but upon arrival, you'll have to 'sing in' and leave your personal details with them. The exhibition itself started with a few rooms of artistic installations which would stir your imagination and you would feel where the designers got their creative vibes and inspiration from. 

I would describe the installations as futuristic and modern, as they would use different sounds, lightning effects and various screens to create the atmosphere. Like the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition, the Series 3 was organised and run highly professional showcasing and worshipping fashion as art rather than everyday wear.

LV Series 3 London fashion exhibition
LV Series 3 London fashion exhibition
Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition London

I made it to the first two rooms and then I got a bit lost, to be honest. There wasn't much of a guide where to continue the tour and in the dark, I couldn't see the entrance to the next room, so I ended up approaching the exhibition from the other end. However, for this post, I arranged the pictures according to the route you are meant to follow.

After the room dominated by the screen (pic 1 above), you would enter a room with screens displaying the runway show (pic 3 above). This was brilliantly made as visitors had the chance to sit down and fully appreciate the different designs. The contrast of movement from the models on screen and the static environment of the room worked extremely well and yet again highlighted LV's latest collection as a piece of art. 

Handbag maker Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton handmade bag
LV Series 3 Louis Vuitton fashion exhibition

The next room would have some physical pieces of the collection. The main focus of the room was to highlight the making of LV handbags, having two designers and their workstations on display. I spoke to the lady briefly and she told me that one handbag takes up to 30h in the making. Everything is selected by hand and carefully crafted. It was amazing and interesting to see a professional at work and how precise and accurate every little detail came together.

From a rather dark room, you would walk into the other extreme: a bright white showroom of the most iconic handbags you've ever seen. I'm not particularly fond of the original brown LV style, but these were absolutely gorgeous. 

From the way they were displayed to the rich and elaborate details of every piece, I would hear myself screaming 'MUST-HAVE' in my head all the time. Absolutely pretty and amazing. I can't find the words to describe it, you really have to see it yourself.

One of the last rooms was designed as a big walk-in wardrobe with mirrors all around you. You would walk on thick, fluffy carpet and view dresses, shoes, handbags, suits and glittery two-piece combos displayed in a glass wardrobe. 

I loved that the pieces were displayed openly. Not a single sign of a thick windowpane would keep you away from the items which made it easy to get as close as possible and fully appreciate them. 

Fashion showroom London LV
Louis Vuitton Fashion exhibition London
LV Series 3 Handbag collection Fashion

The exhibition finished with a room full of sketches, storyboards and pictures from the collection. You would be given free posters and stickers to take home, which I found gave the entire exhibition an individual touch. It was impressive to see how a fashion brand would advertise and showcase its latest collection. The idea to present the range as an art exhibition just underlined the exclusivity of LV as a luxury brand and also as art rather than fashion (hope that made sense).

Have you seen the exhibition, too? Or are you planning on going? The exhibition runs for another week and will close officially on 18th October. Entrance by free admission and bring some time with you. I rushed a bit through the rooms as Alex's appointment finished after 35minutes. In total, I think I could have spent easily an hour or so at LV Series 3.

2. I went To Three More Interviews (For The Same Job)

A few weeks ago I was invited by a big digital marketing performance agency in London to interview for a role. My task was to prepare a presentation which I absolutely loved. I used to give 90minute talks and lead academic discussions at uni so I was completely in my element when I worked on my talks' structure, designed a ppt and studied my actual speech. 

The presentation was picked up very well and though I missed the topic slightly, the interview panel was impressed and asked me if I'd like to present myself to another team of their company. So I did and they invited me back for three more interviews. I haven't heard back from them just yet but please keep your fingers crossed. 

3. The BareMinerals Christmas Range Event

On Thursday night I was lucky to get an invite by BareMinerals and had a little sneak at their new Christmas range. The products were beautifully displayed but sadly, the venue was rather small. At some point, moving was no longer possible, but this wasn't necessary, as the event brought together a little Bloggers Festival reunion. 

I saw many familiar faces and chatted literally the night away. I was glad I arrived early at the venue to take some pictures before all the networking. I'm really sorry about the poor quality of the pictures but the venue was dark and the lighting predominately red, which made taking pictures not that easy. 

I can tell you though that the BareMinerals Christmas range is inspired by the theme 'Enchantment' and features gorgeous glittery and nude shades. The packaging is festive and very pretty which makes any lip gloss, eyeliner or eyeshadow palette a wonderful gift for beloved ones. 

BareMinerals Whimsical Wonders Christmas Range
BareMinerals Christmas Range eyeliner
BareMinerals Christmas range lipstick Enchanted
BareMinerals Christmas Range Enchanted

4. I Spent Half A Day Watching Films At Cineworld

I made good use of my unlimited card and watched The Martian, The Walk, The Intern and Macbeth. I found The Martian very easy to watch with great acting performances by Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. The plot now and again felt a bit too smooth, in the sense of that the main character barely faced any problems or if he did, his plans to solve the issue always worked. Alex also felt that the film went a bit too flawless and we both agreed that the 3D effect was well worked out.

However, the 3D effect in The Walk was magnificent. We watched the film on a super screen and I had sweaty hands all the time. It was a nerve-wracking and absolutely gripping movie, loved it. The story starts a bit slow and needs a bit of time to accelerate and Joseph Gorden-Levitt as an external storyteller might be a bit unusual and cringe but a) it's a PG film and b) I felt this was needed to explain the character's motivation and ambitions. The Walk is based on high wire artist Phillipe Petite's story and I've never heard of him before, but I had to research him after the film to find out more. His story is so inspiring if you ask me with the empowering message of never losing sight of your dreams and do what it takes to make them come true - with the help of true friends who will always support you.

The Intern, on the other hand, was less inspiring. It was very cliche and underwhelming, to be honest. Easy to watch, but far too much sugar and predictable. A plotline as thin as the wire in The Walk, a super charming Anne Hathaway and situations beyond reality couldn't make it over my 5/10 mark. It's a film you can enjoy after a long hard working day or on a rainy Sunday afternoon, but not necessarily for £10 per ticket at the cinema.

Same applies to Macbeth. The movie was so atmospheric and the cast and acting were brilliant. However, I'm not sure if Shakespeare works on screen. Whether it was Romeo and Julia or Hamlet, I don't think Shakespeare plays adapt well for the cinema. The medium of film is highly based on visuals whereas Shakespeare relies on the language. You really need to pay attention to the prose as all of the dialogues carry the plot and action. If anything distracts you, you miss out on details (we all know how complex and rich in detail Shakespeare is) and get totally lost. It's hard to focus on two very strong competing elements (visuals of the film and language of the play) and if you're not familiar with the play, then it gets even trickier.

So, now you've got a little update on what's been happening lately. What have you been up to? I'd also like to make a little announcement in terms of my blogging schedule. For the rest of the year, I'd like to take a step back from blogging. As I've mentioned at the beginning of this post, I had some health problems in the last couple of weeks and I think I should still keep busy, but maybe slow down a bit. That's why I'm going to publish a bit less than normal until the end of the year.

Also, in the year and a half that I've been blogging, I got struck by writer's block. Lately, I feel uninspired and demotivated. To be honest with you, I'm not very happy with my latest posts and I feel I can do so much better, but my mojo is low. This frustrates me a lot. The promotion (setting up tweets, work on Instagram) and picture editing have been far too dominant and I lose more and more my passion for writing. I love writing but it has been pushed back tremendously into the background by all these other blogging related tasks. In having a break I hope to get my mojo back and also focus more on my text production, rather than shooting the 'perfect Pinterest-worthy picture'.

Furthermore, I've got a few personal related goals that I'd like to achieve by the end of the year, which will require all of my attention. I will still be active on Twitter and hope to attend the one or other event to feature on my blog, but really I need to slow down a bit as I don't fancy starting 2016 with burn-out-syndrome. 

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 
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