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Plus, the winners for the 5th Anniversary giveaway!

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White coat – Charlie May AW13. Leather trousers – Topshop (similar Topshop). Shoes – Kurt Geiger. Sweater – H&M.

I’m a simple person, not minimalist simple, just tea in a mug, juice in a glass type of simple, in fact, I may be one of society’s flock of sheep that buy things with louder packaging. I’ll even add a beeehhh while I’m at it. Is it just me, or minimalist simple seems a somewhat superior form of lifestyle – I mean, how do you deal with so much white with all the food flying around in life? I have orange bedsheets for when I feel like taking my Spaghetti Bolognese dinner to bed, for example – which is every day except curry day. Curry day is green sheets day. I pinched this coat (Charlie May AW13) off Charlie’s studio the other morning when I’d arrived completely underdressed for a coffee date, and given my history with food/drinks and how famously it orbits the massive body that is, well, me, naturally I was hesitant to take it out. Alas, it was freezing and eventually I convinced myself that since I’m craving a flat white anyway it could as well be fine. I don’t know about the chocolate brownie though.

Thank you so much to those who entered the 5th Anniversary giveaway. Here are the five winners by random selection, congratulations!* Additionally, I’ve decided to pick 8 extra winners because I figured that’s the least I can do for the beyond amazing response I’ve had in the past week. I’m sorry if you weren’t one of the 13 to be picked, but if my love is worth anything you can download some here.

*Winners will be notified by email, please make sure you add shini@parkandcube.com to your contacts so that none of them end up next to ‘you win £3 million’ emails by Nigerian princesses, I can’t compete with that.

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Que pasa, Barcelona!

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Arc de Triomf

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White skirt – Mango. Frill bra-let – Topshop. Check shirt – Motel Rocks (similar). Heels – Mango. Pyramid leather cuff – Mango. Rose-gold watch – Guess. Clutch – Kurt Geiger Dino.

This is my seventh year in London and I have a feeling I just may have crossed over to the dark side sometime in the past year or so. The dark side where everything is blown out of proportion, that is, most especially the weather: where basically, anything other than overcast, dull skies is considered a gift from the apocalypse. So now I’ve come to accept that a bit of wind and rain is a HURRICANE, a bit of snow a SNOWSTORM, and hot-dang it’s sunny out, there must be SCORPIONS lurking outside the door. Any reason to cancel work and stay in bed with tea… it’s quite clever actually. I noticed this though, only as I was packing for Barcelona, because it seems I had exaggerated SPAIN in my brain and packed a summer vacation wardrobe. I really should have stuck my arm out the window, i.e Googled, and learnt that autumn in Barcelona is actually a slightly warmer version of autumn in London – definitely not bikini top and straw hat weather. Good thing there were clothes a-plenty at the Mango DIY workshops, because apparently a denim shirt and boyfriend jeans a great pair of long-johns make. Enough about me, Barcelona: what a beauty! While not my first time in Spain, it was my first time in the city and hence the region of Catalonia, and once again despite my exaggerated image of hammocks-and-palm-trees Spain, it was quite the contrary. The Barcelona I found, was a true West-Europa metropolitan city, bustling with professionals shuffling by busily with their heads low, or with tourists that walk with their heads generally fixed on a second floor level, Carrie (travel buddy) and self included in the latter. You won’t believe how many photos of beautiful balconies and building detailing I came home with. The city is rich in architectural history: Gaudi to the famous Gothic quarters (Barri Gòtic), although in our under-researched pride we’d seen very little of either. In fact, we’d spent the afternoon tossing Cheetos’ into eachother’s mouths under the Arc de Triomf, convinced this was the place to be, blissfully ignorant of the hip El Born area around the corner we meant explore. Oh, mañana.

By the by, my Polish friends wag their fingers at my tweets about how I may die of trench-foot because it’s 10 degrees (50°F) out. Yes, I have failed them.

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Cardigan – Massimo Dutti. Denim skirt – ASOS. Shoes – Nike x Liberty. Bag – Couronne. Top – Topshop (US). Watch – Sekonda. Necklace – Rue Gembon. Ring – Michelle Oh

This is one of those ‘where are you looking, my boobs are down here‘ tops that I own, I get very tactical with my clothes sometimes. That’s from growing up with braces and bony legs (where did that go), I guess; I had a ‘Please be my friend’ t-shirt at one point too and I’d wear it when I’d feel particularly desperate, or when all my Regina George tank-tops were in the wash. Anyhoo. This was shot just before the weather turned a corner to coldsville, in fact, it was this particular day when Kit and I huddled up under her tiny black umbrella outside the British Museum with jumbo icecreams from Baskin-Robbins. That’s what I love most about being an adult, the fact that you can choose be a kid anytime. Like yesterday I swam in the bathtub, or the day before when I wailed for half an hour in Sephora because I lost my mother near the YSL counter. But I do my own taxes, I swear.

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The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

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Elderflower blended with raspberry, tarragon and lemon

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To start, brown and Forrest smoked salmon on a platter

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Chicken schnitzel

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Lake District sirloin steak with brandy mushroom sauce

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Chocolate mousse, marshmallow, walnut ice cream

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Wearing: Blouse – Zara. Wide-leg trousers – ASOS (similar ASOS). Heels – Lucy Choi. Bag – Couronne. Glasses – YesStyle.

If I may interrupt the fashion week service – not that there has been much of a ‘service’ going on (this blog is becoming a bit like MTV… no Music, just other random stuff) – I’d like to show you where I had a wee lunch the other week.

I must admit, there are still some ‘public’ places that I’m frightened to enter in London, after nearly seven years of snooping around town. Not in a lone-light-basement type of frightened, but a sort of intimidation you feel in a completely ‘non-you’ surrounding – a Cartier boutique, for instance, or anywhere I ask for a pedicure, really. The St. Pancras Renaissance hotel was one of those few, until I had lunch at the Gilbert Scott with Kit the other week, and realized I will have no use for the couture gown I stuffed in my purse. It does look like a palace, doesn’t it? And get this, you don’t need to step out of a Porsche (so I had to return that the next day…) I’ve obviously played this through in my head a few too many times – soundtrack from a Bond movie, Bond girl that needs a diet…etc. In actual fact, the hotel is one of the Gothic beauties designed by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1866 who also designed the Albert Memorial and the Victoria & Albert museum. I sure don’t have problems entering the V&A, heck, I’m regularly kicked out for hopping around taking photos. Despite the size and grandeur, the interior is welcoming, what with all the elaborate lines of Victorian decor and the gold leafing, all casting a warm glow in the corridors. The Gilbert Scott restaurant does a surprisingly down-to-earth, hearty fine-dining, championed by Marcus Wareing, and although the price bracket still puts it into a special occasion, the whole package is there. Ask for a custom mocktail that would wake your appetite, and you must end with the chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallows and walnut ice cream dessert. Forget the diet, just do a couple of zig-ah-zig-ah‘s* before you leave.

*Spice Girls’ Wannabe music video was filmed in the hotel in the year 1996.

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Wearing: Sweater – Topshop. Skirt – Zara. Heels – Valentino. Bag – Nina Ricci ‘Ballet‘.

For those kind, brave-hearted folks who follow me on Instagram will know that I’ve recently taken on a 6-week beginners’ ballet course at the City Academy, all part of a personal ‘spring clean’ campaign brought on by a sudden onset of severe eczema a couple months back. It’s still a bit of a battle, although the flare-ups are much less aggressive nowadays… I’m still trying to adjust my lifestyle and work towards curbing it, accepting it can’t be completely cured. A spot of ballet every week seemed like a gentle, manageable solution to get myself back to being a little physical, while revisiting something I loved doing imitating when I was a kid. Coincidentally, a week into the course, I got an email  from Nina Ricci to work on a video to coincide the launch of their new bag, named Ballet. It felt natural, so I accepted. We shot the video in Frame, my preferred dance-studio in Shoreditch (long time-followers will also remember this particular Black Swan-inspired barré class 2 year ago), and while I was hoping to explain the connection to my personal initiative, we decided to keep it light and frothy (+ squeaky). Thankfully, the bag isn’t all that fluffy and airy in character, it’s actually a very solid construction of beautiful, supple leather met with suede; golden metallic detailing that hint on a bit of maturity and luxuriousness. If anything, it”s the size of the bag that gives away the personality of the owner, carrying a little more than what’s necessary, perhaps hiding a secret or two it the interior. Hope you enjoy the video!

Collaborative post with Nina Ricci.