Why you should be independent shopping this Christmas

independent shopping

Why independent shopping?

Independent shopping has become a hot topic, and with chains littering the high street it’s easy to see why. I for one am tired of poor quality mass produced items. And as more independent stores open across the country, it would seem that a lot of other people are too. My own hometown, Norwich, has seen a rise in independent stores and cafes, and they are thriving. But why? Well there are a lot of great reasons why you should be independent shopping:

  • Quality products
  • Unique gifts with a story
  • Support your local shops
  • Help someone do something they love

Where should I shop?

Well that’s entirely up to you. You may have some great local businesses and stores nearby. But if you don’t, or you just fancy checking out somewhere new, I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Trouva
    • This is the place for independent shopping. With boutiques across the UK you can shop from the comfort of your own home – or office desk etc – to find the perfect item for you and your loved ones. My current favourite is: Blabar
  • Stranger London
    • This one is for those who want a little bit of magic into their life, and homes. Run by my friend Yasumi, she focuses on unique pieces that scream adventure & personal wellbeing. The store boasts handmade pieces with nods to Japan, UK and Scandinavia. I’m a personal fan of her thread sketches.
  • Weathered Penny
    • If you’re into jewellery, this is the store for you. Their pieces come in a variety of contemporary styles, and they won’t break the bank. I love the hand earrings.
  • Triangle
    • Their choice of products is well thought out; they’re simple, functional and let’s be honest, aesthetically pleasing.
  • Aida
    • This is one of my favourite local stores for fashion, and not only because they have their own cafe on the shop floor. They carry a range of quality brands such as Rains, Veja, and Mads Nørgaard.
  • Botany
    • For the plant lovers and homeware addicts out there. I often stop by Botany’s store to browse their selection of plants. And I love that they offer workshops for those who really want to get hands-on.

 

Keep an eye out for my Christmas gift guides, coming soon!

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Images are courtesy of Trouva, however all views, suggestions and words are my own.

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Let’s Test the Honor 8 Camera! | Review

honor 8 cameraTesting the Honor 8 Camera in real London life situations

Does anyone actually remember a time before smartphones? No, me neither. As much as we all hate to admit it, our phones are a big part of our lives. I for one will admit that I feel lost without mine. That isn’t because I feel the need to constantly be doing something with my fingers. No. It’s because I feel disorientated if I don’t have a camera on me. That may be confusing, so let me explain myself…

The Honor 8 Camera: A Review

When I’m buying a new phone there’s only one thing I care about besides calls/text. The camera. Honestly, truly (anyone who gets that reference is my new BFF). I can’t live without a camera, and luckily nowadays I don’t have to, because every phone has one. However not all camera phones are created equal. So when I heard about the new Honor 8 and all of it’s shiny camera features, I just had to test it out!

Check out my review, and I photos took with the Honor 8 camera below.

The Tech

Following with previous models, the device holds a dual camera with two 12 MP sensors; one RGB sensor to capture colours and one monochrome sensor for detail. Minus an optical filter, the monochrome sensor captures three times more light than normal, improving the dynamic range of the image and reducing noise – even in darkness – delivering unparalleled picture quality.

On top of this, the Honor 8 camera supports an extensive set of functions and filters, from light painting and beauty mode to panorama frames, slow-mo, food mode, HDR, super night and water mark.

The Photos

We could talk tech all day, but does the Honor 8 camera pay off? Well I took the Honor 8 out for the day around East London to test it out. I took colourful photos, food photos, close-ups, even photos of moving water. I really put the camera through it’s paces.

The big screen was really helpful in framing my photos, and tapping on the screen brought up a selection of editing tools to help get the perfect shot. I was a little worried that the screen would show a preview of an image that wouldn’t actually translate to the photos. However the photos came out clear and sharp. The Honor 8 camera captures colour in an amazing way. The colour you see in front of you, is exactly what you see in your photos too. That’s not something a lot of camera phones can do. Probably the most remarkable was the photo I took of moving water. The image was ridiculously sharp; capturing every ripple and bubble. Colour me impressed.

Final thoughts?

The Honor 8 camera is seriously a massive contender for the best camera on a smartphone right now. I was blown over by the sharpness of the photos, and how crisp the colour was. And that’s just the basic camera! I don’t really take selfies, but the beauty feature is definitely a bit of fun. As is the ‘food camera’, which brightens and saturates images slightly – to bring the most out of your food photos. The pro camera is definitely useful for those who already know their way around an SLR. However it might be confusing for those who are new to these kind of tools. The night mode and water mark features are also quite exciting, and I’ll definitely be checking them out.

If you’re after a new phone and a camera is a big part of your decision, you should definitely be considering the Huawei Honor 8.

You can buy the Honor 8 at Three.

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The Huawei Honor 8 was gifted to me by Honor, however all views, photos and words are my own.

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honor 8 camera

Honor 8 Camera

honor 8 camera

A London Life… at Kew Gardens

kew gardensKew Gardens | Richmond, Surrey | Nearest Tube: Kew Gardens | Website

Apparently us English are pretty good at keeping a nice garden. Who’d have thought? As gorgeous as my grandmother’s back garden is, there’s no place more iconic in the UK than Kew Gardens. Tourists come from all over the globe to catch  a whiff of the roses, or a glimpse of the immense landscape. Heck, even bloggers come from all over London just to do photoshoots in the Palm House. In all honesty it’s easy to see why people love Kew, and it’s fair to say that I am right there with them. The gardens are beyond beautiful, and the grounds themselves are so vast you can spend a whole day there; with several picnics, of course.

So I decided to put together a little photo diary/travel guide, for those who are as fascinated by Kew as I am.

What’s so special about Kew Gardens?

  • First off, it doesn’t feel like London – It technically is still in London, but it’s south enough – hello, Richmond – that you lose the maddening crowds and chaos of Central.
  • The world’s most famous botanic garden – Kew is known far and wide for it’s gardens. It may seem like a tourist spot, but it doesn’t feel right to live in London – heck even the UK – without visiting at least once.
  • Historic architecture – Kew is full of magnificent buildings, including the iconic pagoda, and original Victorian glasshouses (that’s conservatories to me and you).
  • Iconic plants – Of course English roses are beautiful, but Kew has a vast array of plants, some of which you won’t find elsewhere. That includes the rare Amorphophallus titanium. Yup, the one that smells like dead people.
  • It’s not all plants – There’s also plenty of art on show (such as installations, sculptures and paintings), a gift shop, cafe, and some lovely walks.

You can visit Kew Gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB
See more: A London Life series

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Good and Proper Tea – The New Afternoon Tea in London

afternoon tea in londonGood and Proper Tea* | Brunch/Afternoon Tea in London – Cafe | Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane | Website

One of my favourite anecdotes from my time in Japan is the afternoon tea tale. Whenever I met someone for the first time (who had not been to the UK/had any British friends), they would without fail ask me “what time is afternoon tea?” This question came up again and again, and I quickly realised that people genuinely see afternoon tea as a part of everyday life in the UK. Unfortunately most of us Brits know this isn’t the case, but I do love to indulge a little every now and again.

The New Afternoon Tea in London

For me, brunch is the new afternoon tea, in London anyway. I love to spend a weekend morning – or a weekday if I’m feeling particularly luxurious – just relaxing with a cup of coffee, and a decent selection of hot food and pastries. In fact I enjoy it so much, I’m constantly searching for new brunch places. Luckily for me, I was invited along to the launch of Good and Proper Tea‘s new Leather Lane store.

Crumpets and Tea!

Ok let’s get to the food! VA and I shared a selection of G&P’s famous handmade crumpets and cakes:

  • Egg, Mustard, Ham and Cheese Crumpet – Subtle flavours on top of a pillowy crumpet. A unique take on the Croque Madame!
  • Marmite & Cheese Crumpet – Melted cheese oozes over a soft crumpet, whilst everyone’s favourite yes-no condiment adds a tangy edge.
  • Blood Orange & Poppy Seed Cake (vegan friendly) – Sweet and a little tart. Stodgy, but in a good way. I could eat this everyday.
  • Honey and Orange Madelines – These were so delectable and flavoursome. They are definitely my favourite sweet treat at G&P.

Alongside our food I tried the Dragonwell Tea and a Chai Latte, both are personal favourites of mine. Dragonwell tea (aka Longjing) is a roasted green tea. It went extremely well with my breakfast, as it isn’t too bitter or strong a flavour. My Chai Latte was made using milk, however dairy-free versions are available, which I do appreciate. It was a little spicy, and very creamy. Just the way I like it.

Let’s round it up

First things first, I’m the realest… Wait no, that’s not right. The decor! The decor is insanely gorgeous – there are some definite #interiorgoals going on here. Luckily Good and Proper Tea are as much about substance as they are style; as is reflected in their food and tea offerings. We may have gone for brunch, but you could easily while away an afternoon here chatting with friends, “working”, or of course, for afternoon tea.

You can visit Good and Proper Tea in Clerkenwell, Old Street and Brockley Market (find them here).
Read more: Where to Eat in London | A London Life

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A London Life… at Jackdaw Clapton Jazz Cafe

jackdaw-clapton-7Jackdaw Clapton | Jazz Cafe | Nearest Tube: Hackney Central Overground

I’ve always dreamt of myself as a jazz cafe person; black leggings, turtleneck and beret, a la Funny Face Audrey. Ok silly stereotypes aside, I really do enjoy jazz. And yet I barely have the chance to enjoy an evening of smooth music and a good cocktail. Enter Jackdaw Clapton, a Jazz cafe in the heart of East London. I stopped by with Eva one Saturday morning for brunch, and to check out the live music venue.

The Food

The food here is anything but your average grub. I was surprisingly pleased to find items such as jerk beans and spiced split peas against the usual breakfast favourites. Don’t get me wrong, I love eggs royale and French toast as much as the next person, but it does get a little boring when it’s on every menu. We had the Jerk Beans, Poached Eggs & Crouton (a spicy, filling start to the morning), Coddled Eggs & Spice Split Peas (great mix of textures & flavours) and Sausage & Mustard Sarnie (a classic) – all washed down with a flat white (Nude coffee, which I purchased using DripApp). In a nutshell, Jackdaw are offering up an innovative, interesting menu…and it’s pretty damn affordable. Our meal and drinks came to £23 total (£11.50 per person).

And The Entertainment

After our brunch we took a peak downstairs. We’d been told that this is where all magic happens, and we weren’t surprised. The coolest of the cool come here from Friday to Sunday, offering up jazz, funk, soul…the list goes on. And the intimate venue is as comfortable as it is cool. Eva and I commented on how we could easily see ourselves and some friends chilling out in the space. The line-up changes on a weekly basis, and at around £5 entry, it’s a steal.

Final thoughts on: Jackdaw Clapton

Jackdaw is a triple threat: food, coffee and music. Some places might find it difficult to do all three, but Jackdaw does it effortlessly…and in a very cool venue to boot. Put that together with some lovely owners and you’ve got exactly the kind of place Clapton needs. I can’t wait to pop down for one of the live music nights. And who knows, if you come along you may even catch my friend Eva performing.

Read more in my A London Life series.

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A London Life… at Sushinoen with Nuffnang UK

sushinoenSushinoen* | Japanese | Whitechapel | Nearest Tube: Aldgate East

London is a culinary melting pot of cuisines. We have the complete A-Z of food, from Algerian to Zambian – Foodies need not be disappointed. Whereas I do enjoy discovering new cuisines, there’s one I always go back to – Japanese. After living there, I have a handful of recipes that I like to re-create at home. However there’s nothing better than having someone else cook for you, am I right?

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be a guest at Sushinoen, courtesy of Nuffnang UK. A cute Japanese restaurant tucked away in the heart of Whitechapel, Sushinoen serves up a variety of Japanese dishes. We were sat at a sunken table (horigotatsu), which I always find super comfortable. After everyone had arrived we ordered a bottle of plum wine (umeshu) – my favourite Japanese tipple. Conversation flowed as the first round of food was brought to the table: Butakakuni, Agedashi Tofu, Beef Tataki, White Tuna Carpaccio, Mixed Seaweed Salad, Shumai, and Chicken Gyoza. Honestly I would recommend it all, but it was the Butakakuni and the Agedashi Tofu that really had something special. Agedashi Tofu is probably my favourite Japanese side dish, the crispy outer is complimented by the soft inner (and a wondrous tentsuyu broth). However it’s the Butakakuni that surprised me the most, as I’m not the biggest fan of pork belly. This though was so tender it fell apart and melted in the mouth – definitely my dish of the day!

At this point I was already starting to feel full, and then a wild plate of sushi rolls appeared! We had the Bravo Duo (seared tuna & salmon on California roll) and Spider (prawn tempura on California roll) rolls. I could only manage a couple of bites, but I was left wanting for more  – thank you Hidekazu Tojo for this marvellous invention! Unfortunately we were all too full to eat any Sukiyaki (the next dish on the menu), but nothing was wasted as we were given boxes to take home. The dessert of matcha ice cream & mocha was a light & refreshing end to the meal. Of course I always have room for something sweet – my friends say I have betsubara – especially if it’s matcha.

For any bloggers interested in working with brands, I’d highly suggest checking out Nuffnang UK.
And for those with a rumbly tummy, Sushinoen is definitely worth a visit.

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A London Life… at London Fashion Week

london-fashion-week-ss16-the-apartment-wellaThe Apartment | London Fashion Week SS16

London Fashion Week. You may have seen my last round up of it, earlier this week. I can’t believe it was three weeks ago already! But could I go back and do it all over again? Would I hang out at The Apartment and have my hair done by Wella again? Hell yeah! Would I shove myself through hoards of fashion-y types? Maybe. More importantly, would I ever want to set eyes on Brewer Street car park again? Yeah, probably not. But you gotta take the highs with the lows. After all that’s part of the fun of London Fashion Week, right?

So what did I get up to on the Saturday? There was… hair styling; at The Apartment. Plenty of wandering around the Royal Academy of Arts, thanks to Open House London. Where we also happened to take some outfit shots. And of course there was some more nibbling of sweet treats, courtesy of Aubaine. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to continue my adventure on the Sunday, but I had a pretty awesome time whilst it lasted. You can see the rest of my London fashion week adventures on the blog though.

Thanks to V.A (Chopstickpanorama) for the photos of me.

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