Sunday, 2 December 2018

Lifestyle: Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia London

festive cakes afternoon tea the corinthia london

Afternoon Tea is an integral part of British culture and as such widely appreciated as an activity to spend your Sunday afternoon. The classic experience is usually offered by cafés and 4-star hotels. Think Ascot, Sketch or Peggy Porschen as London's top addresses - but even in Central, high-end hotels in Westminster have been very popular for the extravagant tradition. In particular, The Corinthia Hotel is worth mentioning here as it serves Afternoon Tea* in the most traditional British fashion set in the most luxurious surroundings you'll ever see.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Fashion: The Best Deals For The Sales Season

the best sales and promotions during sales season

With the end of the year comes sales season: Black Friday, Cyber Monday or even the Boxing Day post-Christmas sales. These are all great opportunities to shop for Christmas and birthday presents at a bargain and discounted price so there's literally no need to get anything at full price.

Some of the deals are recurring annual deals, such as Hotel Chocolat. You can literally set your clock for their sales which are usually one day after Christmas, one day after Easter and one day after Halloween with lowered prices of up to 60%. With other retailers, I've seen usual discounts between 20-30% and to be honest with you, these percentages have been too low for me to get in the spending mode. However, last year was phenomenal and I actually got all of my gifts at discounted rates between 60-70%. Now that's when we're talking! So this year I've compiled a small list with items that I got during the last sales season and which shops are worth checking out this year as well. Let's go! 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Lifestyle: Adidas City Run. My Clapham 10k Playlist

the ultimate running playlist with songs you need to listen to when you run a 10km race

When I finished my first 10km London run at Richmond Riverside last month, I was determined that I would not participate in another race for a while. I had completed a 10k, ticked off the box, what’s next? But then I picked up the 25th anniversary edition of Runners World and besides an inspiring interview with Mo Farah (who runs 130 miles per week!), a full-page advertising had caught my eye: the Adidas City Run series.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Lifestyle: From Couch To 10km. My First Run In London

from couch to 10km my first london run

One day in April, I started "running". Well.....I started very slowly to avoid muscle damage and since I have a thyroid condition have to make sure I don't overheat too quickly. I set myself a time target of around 20minutes lightly jogging two rounds in my local park with one lap afterwards walking and then do it all over again for another three turns. I had downloaded an 8-week training schedule from Runners World but only used it for the first week or so. I went running every second evening and found it more of a relaxing activity for me to clear my mind and to get some sort of exercise rather than doing it for building stamina or weight loss.

I managed to stay persistent for exactly one month - which is a major achievement as a Gemini! - then life came in between and it was June when I restarted my running regime.

One day in June, I logged into my Facebook after God-knows-how-many-years-of-absence and I saw an ad by The Fix Events promoting their Richmond Riverside 10km run. I was intrigued because I love the Richmond area and running along the idyllic river sounded good to me. A nice change from the usual monotonous laps I do in the small greenery of my local area. Within the next minute, my enthusiasm and naive optimism signed up for the run. With less than three weeks to go for the event, I exercised precisely twice. T-W-I-C-E.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Lifestyle: Olé España. My Spain Round Trip. Part 1

Spain Round Trip Summer Holidays

To me, no other country has summer holidays written all over it than Spain. Having grown up in Germany, summer trips to Spain were annually kind of mandatory. Spain and summer belong together such as the refreshing ice in ice tea and sand on the beach – but there’s so much more to the country than just beaches, Ballerman and the certainty that every day will be filled with sun and heat.

Last year, I planned a different summer holiday than the usual one – a round trip to explore more of Spain’s culture, learn about its versatile nature and of course there was time for a little break on the beach with ice cream. 

Round 1: Mallorca - Island of Diversity

Away from the partying and retiring Germans in Palma, Mallorca positively surprised me with its diversity. Wherever you go, you can tell the island is wealthy and invests a lot in tourism. The streets are neat and modern, the villages still sleepy and untouched though very well connected with the infrastructure, there are hiking paths for you to get lost along the coast or simply the fact, that wherever you go in Mallorca may it be to the lush vegetation in the mountains or the crystal clear coves at the coast, you’ll always find an excellent restaurant serving local cuisine and fine dining experience.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Lifestyle: A Day Trip To The Mayfield Lavender Farm


I'm tired of London.

There, I said it.

The hectic and changing lifestyle, the never-ending hustle & bustle as well as the masses of people were all a tiny bit too much for me lately.  All I've been craving for is a bit of space to myself for some much needed “Me time” but places for seeking solitude and getting an inch to breath is hard to find in a mega city such as London – not quite! They do exist if you’re willing to invest a bit of time and are up for an adventure to visit these places.

Having read a couple of blog posts about the amazing day trips to the surrounding countryside to escape the city, I felt inspired and ventured out by myself. So one sunny afternoon it was that I decided to take my camera and a good book on an adventure trip to the outskirts of London, namely the Mayfield Lavender Farm in Banstead/Surrey.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Events: Exploring London By Megabus

megasightseeing with megabus

My love story with London began in 1999 at the tender age of 14 when I visited the city for the first time on a school exchange. Coming from a very rural countryside of Germany into the “big smoke” was going from one extreme to the other – I was simply blown away by London’s charm and vibrancy. It was everything I’ve ever dreamt of and more: there were theatres, restaurants, museums, libraries, cinemas, shopping at your doorstep, the people and the constant impulsive energies never seemed to stop. It was on that school trip that I realised I needed life around me in order to feel alive – it felt inspiring and as if I had woken up from a dream. From that moment on I knew that I wanted nothing more than to get out of my small-minded town in Germany and demand more from life.

Fast forward a few years to my A-Level graduation and it was all set in stone that I would go to London to attend a private language school. Over the years the desire manifested and stayed persistently with me so, in 2005, I finally moved. Though it was only temporarily, I felt that I had made the right step into a great future. London was still exciting and I’m grateful for the friendships I made, mainly with internationals and the experience bonded for a lifetime. Sadly, after my course had finished I had to return to Germany to start uni and finish an English language degree.

The years to follow were marked by working hard to shape my academic career but I never lost touch with London. I regularly returned to roam its streets and explore new areas to add to my personal London map so soon I knew the city and its secrets inside out. No matter how often I kept coming back discovering new sides of the city, I died inside when I sat on the plane back home. The romanticised version I kept of London ever since my first visit was stronger than ever and I knew I wanted to be here – ideally forever.

Monday, 9 April 2018

A Trip To Miniature Japan

isle of dogs film exhibition london

Is this a film or travel post? To be honest with you, I wasn't so sure either when I planned it. However, as soon as I stepped into "The Making of Isle of Dogs" exhibition I felt immediately transported to a wondrous dream world - but let me start from the top. So *takes a deep breath* after one of these aimless scrolls on Instagram, I noticed a picture posted by my former colleague Ben. In the shot, he had been up close to the puppets of the newly released Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs. Feel free to judge me, but I'm not the biggest Wes Anderson fan. I do appreciate his artistic work but feel his ideas/visions are a bit too eccentric and absurd for my taste. Anyway, some stalking research later I knew that my colleague had been to a pop-up exhibition showcasing various sets and puppets from the film. And where else would be a better place for something so genius as this? Right, the X Store on 165 The Strand (we remember the legendary LV Series 3 fashion exhibition). The best bit was yet to come - the exhibition was completely for FREE.  

This was certainly a  unique collaboration between the X Store and the distributor Fox Searchlights since pop-up exhibitions revealing insights into the world of film making are rare. I love a good artsy exhibition - may it be film, paintings or fashion collections, I was so up for this. One fine Saturday afternoon after brunch with friends, I went over to the X Store and joined the queue. The wait wasn't too long and after 20 minutes I entered the building.

The entrance was plastered with film posters and additional information about the stop motion film. Isle of Dogs was mainly filmed at 3 Mills Studio in East London. Here, more than 17 sets have been created alongside over 1000 puppets and more than 144,000 still frame shots to make the movie. In total, 670 people were involved in the production. Once you've been taken through the hard facts of the movie making it was time to delve into the alternative Japanese dream world of Isle of Dogs.

Upon leaving the forest of film information and learning about the conditions of its making, I've entered a life-sized version of the film's well-known Noodle Bar. The lively hustle and bustle with the smell of fresh Ramen in the air and chatter resembled a Japanese food street in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I can't share pictures of the scenario as something terrible has happened when I started drafting this post. I must have taken over 100 pictures that day and I cut and paste the images onto my work laptop which I no longer have. This is such a nightmare as I didn't take copies and have been retrieving data all afternoon from my SD card - so far no luck. Luckily I saved a very few pictures from my Olympus Pen onto my iPhone for Instagram purposes but it's still very embarrassing, hence why this post only comes with four images from the day.

puppets in laundrette
dog puppet in cage on trash island

From there, I went straight into a dark section of the main exhibition space which showcased Megasaki City at night. The display was simply spectacular. The amount of detail and work that has gone into creating the set was sheer overwhelming as everything looked so authentic. The model was at least 2x2 meters with skyscrapers, mini houses, trees, cars and many many lights to give a realistic replica of a Japanese megacity.

And it wouldn't stop here: there was even more to see and to explore. Original sets such as Trash Island including a deserted fairground, the Noodle Bar, a TV production studio, an Asian bathhouse, a temple, a Japanese sumo wrestling scene, or a laundrette were all easily accessible for you to inspect and enjoy. Of course with Alexandre Desplat's score subtly playing in the background for that added bonus feeling of actually being in the film.

It was incredible how close you were allowed to get to the sets and view the meticulous constructions. The rich details and very fine eye for accuracy made these sets standalone artworks. Even without having seen Isle of Dogs I felt I've known quite a bit about the plot and learned much of its main characters. This was certainly a wonderful experience and I wish more film studios would follow this example and make a glimpse behind the scene possible to the general public.

dog puppet on set of isle of dogs

The exhibition runs for another week due to the high demand. So far it has been visited by over 3k fans per day which make up for a total of over 40,000. I highly recommend the exhibition as it will take you on an unforgettable journey to miniature Japan and will, even more, excite you to see the movie.

Thank you so much for reading. Till next time,

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Film: Lost In (Movie) Space. Gravity DVD Tip

I haven't done a film post in a while, so what better opportunity than to share a quick DVD review in today's post. Alfonso Cuarón was recently awarded an Oscar for his work Roma, which I've not seen yet, but I have watched some of his other films. Whilst I still think he ruined Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for me, his other children's book adaptation A Little Princess, one of his earlier movies, was full of magic and inspiration. 

After Harry Potter 3, Cuarón has been on the Academy's radar before for Gravity, a Sci-Fi thriller which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. In the film, first-time astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are thrown into the vast openness of space after an accident which involves a Russian satellite and the Hubble Telescope. Cut off from communication, their space shuttle destroyed and colleagues killed, they must survive the cold and isolated space environment.

Gravity boasts impressive design and stunning visuals and so it requires 3D to be fully appreciated. The acting by Bullock and Clooney is as expected solid and precise. Dense in the atmosphere, the excellent camera work takes the viewer to explore unusual never seen before perspectives in orbit.

The film captures the harsh and lonely nature of space magnificently. However, the visual set pieces distract the audience from having enough of a connection with the characters. Sadly, the characters stay two dimensional but have potential – something I think that Cuarón seems to have substituted for the special effects.

My concerns would be whether without 3D the film would have had such an impact, and could highlight why Sandra Bullock’s character only had six month’s training. A balance of character development and greater complexity of narrative would have provided a more complete film.

Thanks so much for reading, 
Till next time,

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Events: What Makes A Great Blogger Event?

Very Valentines Event

One of the many perks of blogging is to receive invites to branded blogging events. Personally, I absolutely love these events having been invited to a few myself and the opportunity to create and execute branded events professionally in my previous job.

Blogger events provide you with unique opportunities and according to a recently conducted Twitter poll, bloggers mostly enjoy networking (43%) and meeting the brand (23%). Events can make you feel “special” as they are highly exclusive and London events, in particular, are usually great nights out and a lot of fun!

Speaking from a brands perspective, events are a key to working with wider influencer networks and let the brand connect with their audience on a very personal and interactive level through an immersive experience. An event can also position the brand as an expert in their field by telling stories and creating engaging experiences to bring their message, products and services across. After all, what counts most to bloggers is a great event atmosphere (75%), followed by structure (12%), venue (8%) and an influential guest speaker (5%).

Having been invited to the Valentines Press event last week, I would like to share in today’s post my 10 ingredients for a successful blogger event to create a memorable experience for a lasting long-term momentum.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Fashion: Dancing On Ice

ice skating wifa skates blog review

Happy New Year, how is 2018 treating you so far? Please accept my apologies for not posting in so long but last year ended with a few unexpected life changes and I had to take off some time from London and blogging.

However, whilst I spend some time at home in Germany, I’ve rediscovered one of my oldest hobbies - figure ice skating. It’s one of my hobbies, which actually stayed with me for many years. As a child and later teenager, I was very fickle with sports and I changed my mind so many times. I did bowling, swimming, taekwondo and even attempted ballet but nothing fascinated and engaged me as much and for as long as figure ice skating has.

The winters from my childhood were usually pretty cold and the nearby lakes and the town moat would freeze so all children would go skating sooner or later – I miss the afternoons on the ice playing with friends until it got dark at 4pm. We would play chase or hockey. However, I didn’t always have ice skates as they were very hard to get in Germany in the early 2000s. At first, I used to have strap blades to tie to my shoes, but those weren’t a great deal. My first pair of ice skates were then bought at a local sports shop but the shoes weren’t of great quality. The faux leather was very baggy and didn’t provide much support for my ankle. The shoes weren’t insulated enough so my feet would regularly freeze and get numb which shouldn’t be the case with good ice skates. It took me 13 years to find my perfect pair and here is my story:
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