The V&A has always been one of my favourite museums, no other place houses so many beautiful objects and curiosities and such a variety of beautifully designed items. There is something new to discover in every corner and each time I visit I discover some new treasure to admire.

The area of South Kensington which houses the museums is lovingly referred to as Albertropolis, owing to the cluster of museums, being the brainchild of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. This includes the wonderful V&A a museum which celebrates all forms of art and design.

I often think of Prince Albert and his vision for the museum and how pleased he would be to see it enjoyed by millions of visitors every year. And I feel he would definitely approve of the latest addition to the museum. This week sees the launch of a new entrance, a new courtyard for visitors to relax in and an inspiring new exhibition space to house the museums temporary exhibitions. Collectively these new spaces are known as The Exhibition Road Quarter.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to see the new spaces before the opening this Friday. We were introduced to the project and shown round by curators and architects who worked on the new areas and I was blown away by the impressive finished space.

Having not previously had an entrance on Exhibition Road, alongside the Natural History Museum and The Science Museum, the V&A were keen to open up an area that had previously been home to a boiler house. Visitors to the museum have increased to over 8 million in recent years, so a new entrance was a necessity. Architect Amanda Levete and her practice AL_A won the project and got to work creating a space that is both functional and unique.

The new area is accessed from the street via The Aston Web Screen. This was formally a high and domineering wall, blocking views of the boiler house that had previously been on the site. The wall bore the scars of shrapnel damage from a WW2 bomb that had fallen near by. After a lot of hard work to get planning permission, the wall was opened up into columns, to allow visitors to walk in from the street. The new gates within the colonade were fabricated to include impressions of the original damage, paying homage to the past. I loved this design element, which is very in the spirit of the V&A.

Once you have passed through the impressive new colonnade, you are greeted by The Sackler Courtyard, the first porcelain courtyard in the world. This beautiful space is paved with 11,000 handmade tiles, which were inspired by the rich tradition of ceramics at the museum. The area also houses a new cafe. I absolutely love the contrast between the ornate Victorian building and the clean curves and bright modernity of the new tiled courtyard. Its wonderful to see external walls and features of the original building that were previously hidden away as well.

The Sackler Courtyard, V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, designed by AL_A ©Hufton+Crow

Past the courtyard you will find the new entrance to the museum The Blavatnik Hall. This lovely open space has glass walls bringing you a view into the museum garden. This area really brings the museum together and makes other areas of the museum far more accessible.

You can then reach the new exhibition space down a winding modern staircase. The huge open expanse that greets you as you enter the Sainsbury Gallery is breathtaking. It is built directly under the courtyard and creating a column free open space of this size, below ground is a hugely impressive feat of engineering. The hall is lit from above by skylights which also allow you to see in from the courtyard. I loved seeing peeps of the Victorian building above us. This was a rare opportunity to see the gallery empty. As it will be the home of the museums major temporary exhibitions it will usually be divided off by partitions.

At the event we had the chance to sample some of the lovely food from Benugo, that will be served in the courtyard cafe. This would be a great place to share coffee and a cake with friends or stop off for a delicious lunch. I’ve always really liked the other food areas at the museum and I think this is going to be another I’ll really enjoy visiting.

A special mention must also be made for the loos. I always judge a place by the quality of the facilities and all the visitors were blown away by the clean lines and stylish pink walls. No area of the new addition isn’t completely design focussed, this is the V&A after all. Both male and female toilets also have baby changing facilities, which I know makes life much easier for parents visiting with littles ones.

I really enjoyed my visit and really felt inspired by the light, design and creativity of the space. I loved the daring architecture, which begins its own chapter in the history of the museum, rather than just continuing the existing one. I love that its brings something completely new to a much-loved building without needing to emulate it. Most of all I love the idea of people visiting these new areas, making memories and having fun.

To celebrate the opening of the new spaces, the museum is hosting a week-long free public festival. Reveal offers the public the chance to experience the spaces before they host their first exhibitions this Autumn. There will plenty to see for all ages including art, fashion and family activities.

I would really recommend a visit, just to appreciate the amazing architecture and engineering behind this impressive project. I’m definitely looking forward to returning and seeing how the spaces are used in the future.

You can find out all about the museum, the festival and the new areas on the V&A website.

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At the moment I’m feeling a bit fed up of London. Its been a hard few weeks for the city I grew up in and I spend a lot of time thinking about our future here. But then I remember all the things I love about living here. The diversity, the museums, the heritage and culture and of course the food. Trying new places to eat and exploring the city through food, will never be something I get bored of. I absolutely love finding new places to enjoy a meal with a friend, there really is nothing better for the soul than good food and good conversation.

I have digressed a little from the point of this post! I recently visited the fabulous Wild Food Cafe, I loved this place so much I just had to write a little review and talk about what I thought.This wonderful little spot,  is tucked away in the vibrant Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.  This wonderful little spot is an oasis in the busy city, a lovely little retreat from a busy day. If you need a little colour in your life head to Neal’s Yard.

I absolutely love healthy food, I’ve always loved my fruit and veg and fresh beautifully cooked meals. I also love my treats, and I do like to indulge in delicious things. The cafe has a fab menu of plant based foods, as you’ve never seen them before. Healthy, colourful, vibrant food at it’s best. I visited the cafe a few weeks ago with Fay.

As soon as we arrived, we were seated on  a long table, by a window looking out on Neal’s Yard. We had loads of questions about the food and the waitress was absolutely fantastic, she talked us through the menu, made recommendations and explained ingredients to us. By the time we ordered we were really happy with our choices and it was just really nice having a chat with someone who was passionate about the food.

The menu has loads of great choices and almost all the ingredients are things I really enjoy. The menus are seasonal and we chose from the Spring menu. They’ve now moved on to an exciting new summer menu and I’d love to go back every season and see whats new.

For my main I opted for the Quan Yin Bowl, a beautifully presented combination of wild and black rice, asparagus, sweet potato, avocado, sprouting broccoli and pili nuts, served with kohlrabi slaw and grain mustard. All good stuff! The presentation was stunning and this tasted every bit as beautiful as it looked. It was very filling and utterly delicious.

The dessert was every bit as lovely as the main. I opted for the White Chocolate and Goji Berry Tart and Fay chose the Matcha Cheesecake. Both desserts were beautiful and considering all the lovely healthy ingredients they tasted every bit as lovely as their more surgery counterparts elsewhere.

I was impressed with everything about the Wild Food Cafe. The location is lovely and the perfect fit for relaxed atmosphere. The food is beautiful and the staff are lovely. If you find yourself in the area looking fro a good meal, then I couldn’t recommend it enough. The meal along with a freshly made juice cost just over £20, which was very reasonable for the quality of the food.

Find the cafe at – 1st Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP

Find out more on The Wild Food Cafe website.

Last week on a sunny Thursday afternoon I headed to Camden for an afternoon tea at the gorgeous York and Albany. The tea was hosted by Johnny Loves Rosie, a premium jewellery and accessories brand. I was joined by several other fantastic bloggers and it was absolutely lovely getting to know everyone, while checking out all the pretty things.

Johnny Loves Rosie Blogger LunchWhen I arrived the tables were beautifully set out with displays of the latest collection of jewellery as well as lovely personalised gifts for us, including a monogrammed clutch bag and little initial necklaces.

Johnny Loves Rosie Blogger Event

Johnny Loves Rosie Monogram BagThe latest collection is filled with lovely sparkly statement pieces, as well as more modern on trend items. They have also launched a bridal range which includes hair pieces, corsages as well as beautiful jewellery for your big day. I particularly liked the hair accessories and I have my eye on quite a few of them for the summer.

Johnny Loves Rosie Corsage

Johnny Loves Rosie Earrings

Johnny Loves Rosie Necklace

Johnny Loves Rosie Statement EarringsThe afternoon tea itself was absolutely delicious and included a cream tea, as well as a delicious selection of mini open sandwiches and cakes.

York and Albany Scones

York and Albany Smoked Salmon

York and Albany Lemon CakeThe whole event was absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed looking through some of the beautiful accessories and I’ve spotted lots of things that I’d like to add to my collection over the next few months. If you’re looking for the perfect accessory for a wedding, festival or just a treat for yourself I’d definitely recommend taking a look at the Johnny Loves Rosie website.

Last week I went to see Blanc de Blanc, a show which is part cabaret, part circus and part burlesque at the Hippodrome Casino in London. The show, which features a wide array of performances is brought together with the theme of champagne.

Blanc De Blanc Programme CoverThe show is most definitely just for grown-ups, with plenty filth and frivolity. The host for the night was Monsieur Romeo, a rather gorgeous French lothario, who starts the show in a suit and ends it in a pool of bubbles wearing just a tiny pair of briefs.

Blanc De Blanc LondonThe show is unashamedly filthy, and in amongst beautiful sensual aerial performances, there is plenty of full nudity and sexual innuendo. The show is a glamorous merry-go-round mixing a plethora of performance genres. I absolutely loved the acrobatic and dance based sections. They were stunningly choreographed and the breath-taking stunts were a pleasure to behold.

Hampus & Milena - Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Pamela Raith Photography - (037)The contortion display by Shun Sugimoto was both horrific and entrancing, watching him stretch his body into impossible positions left me wishing I could look away! The comic aspects from the clown Spencer Novich were both dark and hilarious and a great addition to the show.

Blanc De Blanc CastEmma Maye Gibson provided some of the lewder entertainment, with plenty on show. In the programme she is described as an ‘obscene beauty queen’ which just about sums up her performance. She provided a very entertaining performance with her riotous escapades across the stage.

The cast of Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Pamela Raith Photography - (043)Where the show really shines, is when it moves away from light naughty entertainments and striptease and the sheer talent of the performers is allowed to shine through. The opening piece – an aerial performance from Masha Terentieva on a suspended hotel luggage cart is simply amazing. The other aerial performance from Hampus Jansson and Milena Straczynski is so sensual and beautiful that it is definitely the finest part of the show.

Blanc De Blanc ReviewThe more surreal and creative performances are also really fun and entertaining to watch and the sheer variety of the show makes it worth every penny.

I feel that the whole thing must have been really fun to make, the performers look like they are enjoying every minute and there is plenty of audience participation which is great fun. I even ended up with Monsieur Romeo sitting on my lap at one point. I wasn’t complaining!

The cast of Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Photo By Darren Bell - (10)The Producers Strut and Fret did a great job creating a show that no one will forget in a hurry. It is the perfect show to be hosted in a casino and the intimate cabaret theatre area was just the right size for a small audience.

Blanc De Blanc CostumesThe thing I appreciated most about the show would have to be the stunning costumes. There was plenty of glamorous vintage showgirl inspired glitz from costume designer James Browne.

I’d recommend this show to anyone who likes a little naughtiness and isn’t put off by slightly bawdy entertainment.

The show is running at The Hippodrome Casino London until 28th August. 

For more information and booking details visit the Hippodrome website

*I received two complimentary tickets to the show for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own. 

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All of a sudden the days are longer, the sun is shining (well, sometimes!) and our heads are full of picnics and Pimms. We think that the perfect way to enjoy these long idyllic days is with a vintage themed summer of pretty dresses and lazy daytrips with friends. Nothing says summer like a 50’s sundress, striped deckchairs or high tea in the great outdoors. With this in mind we have the best vintage fashion and lifestyle tips to keep you stay cool and stylish on summer days.

What to Wear

The sundress is the perfect way to style up this summer. Try a 50’s style in an easy to wear cotton for a real vintage vibe.

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The fun thing about these sundresses is the eye popping array of designs available from feminine florals to nautical stripes and everything in between, meaning there is a design for every taste and budget. The cinched in waist is also a flattering shape for pretty much all body shapes. For a real summer vibe pair with some wedges and a vintage straw hat to add some lady like cool to your look.

For those more active summer days try a cropped trouser or high-waisted short with a tied off shirt or blouse and a pair of ballet pumps. Perfect for messing about on the river or a summer bike ride out in the country.

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The Perfect Picnic

A proper vintage themed picnic is much more than a few warm sandwiches and wine in plastic cups. A vintage picnic should be about style, elegance and proper planning and is the perfect way to celebrate a special event this summer. First things first, this absolutely calls for a great picnic basket with flatware and glasses, you can pick these up online or in vintage stores and this will instantly up the cool points of your event. You will also need a cute vintage style blanket to complete the theme. Then plan a lunch of elegant nibbles, champagne and of course a cold jug of Pimms!

vintage-scarf-liberty-orange-ivory-stripes-floral-squares-frontVintage Seaside

Make a day at the beach a stylish event with a vintage look and accessories. Forget the sand covered beach towel and sun bleached costume, choose a vintage high waisted two piece to bring elegance and femininity to the seaside. Keep cool with an up-do covered with a vintage scarf and team with some cats eye sunglasses and red lipstick for screen siren cool.

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A traditional striped deckchair means you can sunbathe in vintage style and an authentic parasol will keep off the rays. For a real taste of the vintage seaside hire a beach hut with friends and experience a truly retro day out.

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation and what better way to enjoy this summer than to draw nostalgic inspiration from a more elegant age. So hit the vintage stores and stock up on the perfect accessories for a long, cool summer of classic style.

This lovely post was written for me by Nick from Mela Mela Vintage, a wonderful vintage shop in Twickenham. The shop is full of the most beautiful original vintage clothing and accessories and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a really special true vintage item. 

Visit the shop in person – Mela Mela Vintage, 74 High Street, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 8JD

or see their extensive range of vintage fashion on the Mela Mela website. 

*sponsored guest post

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