A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Nearly two months ago now (that’s how bad I’ve got at keeping up with posting), I met up with some of my old university friends in London to go for afternoon tea. We had a good look around on the internet for places to go before we came across the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson and our decision was made for us!

The Sanderson Hotel is actually really unassuming from the outside, so much so that we did almost walk right past it. Inside the foyer is filled with a very interesting selection of furniture – a giant lip shaped sofa, chairs with horns, chairs that look like Masai Mara carvings and something that looked distinctly like a space age coffin.

While there is a lot of outside seating as part of the restaurant we were taken to an indoor table. Whilst the outside looked lovely I wasn’t personally disappointed at being indoors as at the time (early June) the weather was still a little on the cool side. The table was beautifully set with specially designed Alice in Wonderland themed crockery, the menu inside an old book and sugar lumps in a working music box complete with twirling ballerina.

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First, we got to choose from a selection of teas – Strawberries & Cream, Mint Chocolate, Rhubarb & Custard and Green. The teas were all loose leaf and were brought round in small bottles that I suspect were old perfume bottles, they even smelt amazing just in the bottles. I went for the Mint Chocolate. It was very yummy (and came in a King of Hearts teapot).

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After some tea and much needed catching up we were presented with our afternoon tea treats, presented on a three tier cake stand that matched the designs of the rest of the crockery (I think you can also buy the crockery from the designers Luna & Curious).
The selection included sandwiches, sweet and savoury scones, mango cheesecake, mini Victoria sponge, green tea mousse, marshmallow mushrooms, carrot shaped meringues and a ‘Drink Me’ potion that consisted of a passion fruit coulis and panna cotta.

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The food was all beautiful, but too be honest I think there was actually a bit too much and (although I never thought I’d say it) there might have been too many sweet things compared to the savoury.
The sandwiches and both the sweet and savoury scones were great, and I really liked the Victoria sponge (decorated like a pocket watch) and the marshmallow mushrooms. I loved the coloured stripes decorating the mango cheesecake, but it was actually much too big and not the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. The green tea mousse was interesting, but not quite to my taste really.

Then all this was followed by a ‘Jelly Wonderland’ – a selection of jellies on a trolley. They were good jellies especially the Apple one and the Blackcurrant one, but I was too full to properly enjoy them. Also, in my opinion, four jellies does not a wonderland make.

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I had a lovely day meeting up with my girls, and I certainly felt quite special and a bit fancy having proper afternoon tea in a London hotel. I love afternoon tea and will definitely do it again, whether in London or somewhere else, but I won’t rush back to The Sanderson for the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, unless I know someone who really wants to experience it. The theme is a great novelty that clearly draws a lot of people in, if it appeals to you then you should give it a go, but I think I’d like to try some different places, themed or unthemed (I’m pretty sure somewhere in London does a Peter Pan themed afternoon tea).
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Has anyone else been for Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea? Or have anywhere to recommend for their afternoon tea?

Thank You for still reading,

Love

Betty

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Old Spitalfields Market Pop-Up Vintage Fashion Show

On Saturday, I made the trip up to London to take part in a vintage fashion show for Pop-Up Vintage Fairs and Old Spitalfields Market.

It was a pretty early start for me, having to be up, ready and out of the house in time to catch a train at 8am, much earlier than I’m usually up, especially on a Saturday! At least the tiredness distracted me a bit from how nervous I was! Having never been to Old Spitalfields Market, met any of the other great bloggers who had been invited or styled anyone other than myself, I was pretty terrified.

I managed to get myself to the market and met up with Jayne J Read of Jayne’s Kitschen and ReeRee Rockette of Rockalily. It was lovely to meet both the ladies, as I’ve often chatted with them on Twitter but haven’t had opportunity to meet up with them before. Needless to say, they’re both lovely!
After a bit of a chat we got shown to the stalls that were taking part to have a look at what was on offer. We were each to be assigned a model and a stall from which to put together two outfits for the catwalk show.

I got to work with the lovely Cat and picked outfits from Vintage Glitz N Bitz, with shoes from Rock on Ruby Vintage. I unintentionally ended up putting together two 70’s outfits – not a decade I normally go for, but the items just all came together that way and I was really happy with how it all turned out.
Candy Pout did a great job on the hair and make-up for all of the models.

Dress and Coat

Outfit 1
An orange shirt dress under a brown suede coat with fur collar and tan suede boots.
At first I wasn’t totally convinced by the tan boots, but they grew on me and I ended up very happy with the outfit.

Floaty Dress

Outfit 2
Dress with white, heavily beaded bodice and pale aqua chiffon skirt with white stiletto shoes

Cat was a brilliant model and totally worked it on the catwalk, as you can see in the gif below (created by the lovely Skin and Blisters – check her blog out!).

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The other bloggers also put together some gorgeous outfits (apologies for the quality of some of the pictures, it’s very hard to photograph moving models!). All the ladies were great and very stylish, you should check their blogs out!

Styled by ReeRee Rockette

ReeRee outfits

Styled by Jayne J Read

Jayne Outfits

Styled by Alison Tang

Alison Outfits

Styled by Sarah Ruppin

Sarah Outfits

As well as the catwalk shows there were performances from Swing Patrol dancers. I got involved and did a bit of dancing too, although my friends were totally resistant, one of the dance group members was on hand to be my partner. It was loads of fun, everyone else totally missed out by not joining in!

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I had a brilliant day, even if it was a bit exhausting. I hung around the market with some of my old uni friends for the rest of the day, exploring all the stalls. If you’ve never been to Old Spitalfields Market I really recommend you do, there are so many great stalls selling brilliant handmade items by some very talented crafts-people. If I’d have had the money I could have bought a lot of stuff! In the end all I did get was a new watch necklace for £5 and some cupcakes from Flavourtown bakery – which were so good they’re going to get their own post 🙂

I wish I had the money to get up to London more often.

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Love,

Betty

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My Quest for the Ultimate Carrot Cake; Lola’s Cupcakes, Selfridges

For some reason, I’ve had a pretty big break in my hunt for the perfect carrot cake. So much so that some of you may have not idea what I’m even going on about! Basically, I love carrot cake, it is probably my favourite type of cake, and I decided I would use my blog as a way of documenting every carrot cake I can get my hands on, to try and find the best one! (See my previous posts here and here).

On Tuesday last week I had to head into London for a work event. It was a really, really early start; the event started at 8.30 near Trafalgar Square, and I ended up getting up at 5.30am for a 7am train! As soon as I realised my tube went through Oxford Circus, I knew I’d have to make a stop and treat myself for getting up so early. As any sort of shopping is out of the question in my current financial situation, I settled for heading to Selfridges and indulging in a cupcake from Lola’s! I see so many tweets from people who are eating Lola’s cupcakes I wanted to get in on the action!
As if walking down Oxford Street wasn’t hard enough on it’s own, trying to avoid the temptation to go into the shops, Selfridges was ten times worse! Entering straight into the beauty hall, being lured by sales assistants with perfumes and make up and hair straighteners – Selfridges is not a poor girls friend! I made a quick detour through the Illamasqua stand, fortunately both the ladies working there were busy so I managed to leave with my bank balance intact! Then on to the food hall and Lola’s 😀
Despite the huge and beautiful array of cupcakes in the case, I managed to stick to my quest for carrot cake, although I could have easily bought one (or two) of everything! The staff were all lovely and the shop was so cute; colourful and light and bright.
The carrot cake cupcake isn’t even the prettiest looking cupcake – the brightly frosted vanilla cupcakes are by far more visually appealing – but joy of a carrot cake is much more subtle than that. The Lola’s carrot cake cupcake is filled with pecan nuts and topped with cream cheese frosting and more nuts, presumably also pecans.
There was a lot of anticipation for this cupcake, and I wasn’t disappointed in it, as a cupcake. It was a good size for a cupcake (definitely can’t be accused of being small!) with a good quantity of frosting; the cake was moist and the frosting had a nice flavour (possibly orange?). It wasn’t heavy or sickly and the frosting nicely complimented the cake. However, I am sorry to report, it was not the ultimate carrot cake. I’m not big fan of nuts in carrot cake, and there were quite a lot of nuts. Also, the frosting wasn’t rich enough in my book, a cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake should be amazingly rich and thick and this one just wasn’t. I was a little disappointed, as I had really hoped I would have found my ultimate carrot cake; but, on reflection I it’s actually perfectly ok that Lola’s don’t make the perfect carrot cake; they still make great cupcakes, and asking for a shop to make great cupcakes and great carrot cake might just be a step too far. If anything I’m just disappointed I didn’t let myself have something other than carrot cake! Next time (and there will be a next time, and a time after that…) I will venture outside my carrot cake obsession and try something else; Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream and Rocky Road are definitely high on my list.
If you’re in London then try and work a trip to one of Lola’s stores into your plans; they have stores in Mayfair, Selfridges and Topshop on Oxford Street and one in Harrods. Have a look at their flavour menu on their website here. I’d love to get a load of these cupcakes in for my birthday 🙂
I was so knackered by the end of the day but had such a lovely day. Although I’m pretty sure I could never live there, I really enjoy visiting London and I’m glad I live close enough to do so fairly regularly 🙂
I’m having cake craving pangs now – may have to bake soon!
Love

ZOMG Lipstick Launch Bloggers’ Party

Beware, some parts of this blog may not be suitable for work, but should you really be reading blogs at work anyway? :p

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent again. I was working so hard last week as I’ve still got so much work to get through and I wanted to make sure I’d done enough to allow myself some time off to head up to London yesterday for the ZOMG Bloggers’ Bash! An event run in honour of the new ZOMG lipstick created by Zozo of The London Lipgloss (awesome blogger) and ReeRee Rockette, the genius behind Rockalily Lipsticks (fantastic lipstick range).
I wasn’t one of the ones specially selected and invited, but I got myself on the waiting list and found an invite drop into my inbox about 2 weeks ago. I was really excited. Ok, I was pretty nervous too but mostly excited, especially looking at the fabulous list of other bloggers who were already attending 🙂

I spent ages worrying about my outfit. As I’ve already mentioned, I have been working on making a dress and hoped to wear that. I finally got all the pieces sewn together by the Saturday but didn’t try it on until the Sunday, and unfortunately it needed adjustments that I just didn’t have time to do 😦 So, in a little bit of a last minute panic, I raided my wardrobe and found a lovely royal blue dress that I haven’t worn in years and had almost forgotten I had! It fitted all my requirements; smart in a glamorous sort of way, sleeves to keep out the cold (and cover up my nasty arms) and a good length so I didn’t feel too exposed while wandering around London on my own. Plus, when I paired it with my awesome fur collar/scarf that I got for Christmas, it had a nice sort-of-vintage feel, and I had shoes that matched 🙂

I kept my make-up pretty simple. Just my usual black flicked eyeliner and mascara with a neutral lipgloss on my lips. I know it was a lipstick launch and it felt a bit strange to go not wearing any, but I just wasn’t convinced that I had a colour of lipstick that would be suitable with the blue of the dress :/

I headed into London all by myself, which was nerve wracking enough on it’s own! Once I arrived at Paddington I made a brief stop at Krispy Kreme to gather my composure and get some sugar inside me. They have just launched their new Valentines themed donuts; I had the Double Chocolate Cheesecake heart shaped donut, but there is also a White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake version.

Anyway, after that little distraction I made my way to the tube and then onto the venue; The Distillers Pub in West Smithfield. It was a great venue actually, deceptively big, so it held a lot of people whilst still feeling quite small and friendly. The decor was awesome, with a beautifully papered ceiling, uber glam chandeliers and a big sweeping staircase! Although, as I say, it was bigger than it looked, the place was still packed out with bloggers, chatting, drinking and getting involved in all the activities. I grabbed my name badge, made a guess at the number of lip shaped sweets in the jar (in the end I was WAY out) and picked up my ‘bloggers bingo card’.
There was a whole range of activities going on, including vintage hair styling, cupcake decorating, hats from Little Miss B and wigs from Wonderland Wigs to try on and mess around with! The crowd was really eclectic, which was nice, with lots of vintage and rockabilly styled ladies and some beautiful hair and clothes! As much as there were some beautiful more mainstream fashions on display, I do love the rockabilly look.
At first I felt very out of my depth. I arrived only about 5 minutes after the start time, but the whole place was already in full swing and everyone seemed to have already grabbed someone to talk to! I wandered around a bit like a lost child for a good while before I decided to head for the bar! One large glass of house white, £4.95, not too bad for London.
Eventually, I found my feet and got talking to some people, thanks to the bingo card! The idea was to meet people who fitted various criteria on your card, like ‘Someone who has their name in their blog name’ or ‘Someone who publishes using WordPress’. Then you put their name in the box and when you had completed two lines you put your card into a draw to win prizes! Brilliant idea in my book 🙂
As I grew in confidence I found myself talking to more and more people and met some great ladies, including Bethany of Arched Eyebrow, Annie from EpiphannieA, Camille from Camille Over the Rainbow, Jennie from Fancy Dresscapades, L from Good Morning Angel, Amy from L’Amour Et La Mariage and Lexi, the lady behind Rockabetty Studios as well as meeting up with Aimee from Dream In Colour who I had already met at the Xmas Bloggers Bash in Bristol. Honestly, I don’t think I could have got chatting to a nicer group of ladies anywhere else in the world, with such varied styles, backgrounds and careers, but a shared love of clothes, make-up and blogging. It was especially nice to find a fellow scientist in Jennie and to meet Lexi as I’ve followed Rockabetty Studios on Facebook for ages and think their pin-up photography is amazing (when I can afford it I am totally doing it!). In the end I had such a good time chatting that I took hardly any photos, hopefully other people have and I will be able to link to those.
Later in the evening there was also a couple of burlesque performances from Rubyyy Jones (**NSFW**) and Banbury Cross (**NSFW**). They were both beautiful and put on great, but very different performances. Rubyyy had quite a modern and comical routine based around talking to a man online and stripping on webcam for him, while Banbury had a more classical burlesque strip-tease that fitted perfectly with her stunning Marilyn Monroe looks. I’ve never seen a live burlesque performance before but I was blown away by the confidence of these ladies!

Clockwise from top left; Rockalily Lipsticks, Chandelier, Vintage hair styling, Cupcake decorating
The Beautiful Miss Banbury Cross

The final part of the night was the bingo prize draw, with great prizes donated from a range of great businesses including Little Miss B, Pip Jolley and Illamasqua. I was lucky enough to be drawn as the winner of a lovely necklace donated by Pip Jolley!

My Pip Jolley Necklace prize!

I had such a lovely evening, I can’t believe I ever considered not going (I did nearly chicken out)! It was such a great event, organised by great ladies for a great lipstick! It was such a friendly, sociable event, with a wonderfully selected guest list, fun activities that really got everyone involved and the blogger bingo was a really inspired idea. I only wish I had more hair so I could have got involved in the vintage hair styling!
I am so grateful for being invited and for having the opportunity to socialise with other bloggers. I really want to thank ReeRee and Zoe for throwing such a fantastic party and all the ladies who helped make the event so much fun.
If you are a blogger then I really recommend you try and get involved in some blog events; everyone gets nervous but it always works out for the best! I’m currently trying to decide if I can go to TOWIB in a few weeks time.
I am too poor to be able to own a Rockalily lipstick myself at the moment, but I’ve never heard a bad word about their lipsticks, from the colours to the packaging to the wear. You should definitely check them out here.

I hope you are well, I will really try and blog again this week 🙂
Love,
Betty
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I went all the way to London Town

Last Saturday the boyf and I took a trip into London. As part of out 2 year anniversary, he had signed us up to attend and eco/sustainability expo at the London Olympia 2, and we were going to meet up with a friend of ours who lives in London.
I had prepared myself with some internet research; train times, tube lines, prices etc. I never venture up to the capital without having checked things out online, although my anxiety is much better than it once was, it can never hurt to be prepared. Getting the train into Paddington, we needed to get on the District line to Kensington High Street, then change to a different District line train on to Kensington Olympia. Simple 🙂
It was a bit of an early start for me, especially for a Saturday, but I got up without too much trouble. We got to the station in plenty of time, just how I like it, and our journey passed by without a hitch. The train was a bit busy and we had to stand, but it wasn’t so packed that we were crushed up next to people, thankfully.
The expo itself wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The website kind of implied there were going to be more activities and that it would generally be more educational. Turns out it was more about companies and organisations trying to sell their ‘eco’ products. It wasn’t terrible though, even though we didn’t necessarily agree with all of their principles. Stands ranged from The Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts and FSC and The Vegan Society trying to recruit members, electric cars, organic meat, natural face creams, groups trying to encourage people to share and borrow items to prevent us all buying things we don’t really need, recycled clothes, solar panels, recycled bunting and even fairtrade rubber condoms. I liked a lot of the ideas, especially the idea of recycling clothing, but all the stuff they had was so goddamn ugly! I’d really like to try and find some decent eco-fashion. There were a fair few baby orientated stands that I didn’t pay much attention to, but I definitely liked the idea of the reusable nappies, and some of them were so cute! The highlight, however, was definitely having a go on an electric scooter. It was great fun but also a bit scary. I wasn’t overly confident before I began and the seat on mine was a bit high, when I got to the first corner, which was a bit sharp, I ended up misjudging and had a minor crash with the barrier. So embarrassing :/ I spent the rest of my trial screaming that I was going to die, maybe a bit of an over-reaction. I really liked the scooters, they’d be a great way of getting around, shame they cost around £1750! There was also some great art made from old car parts, mostly hubcaps, that was pretty cool.
It was interesting, but we came away feeling (without wanting to sound too elitist) that we knew too much about the issues involved, as 3 environmental scientists, to really buy into a lot of the ideas. One really useful website I found out about and want to pass on is Disposal Know How, that has loads of information about how to recycle just about anything. Recycling isn’t difficult but so many people get it wrong, it’s one simple step everyone can take to help the environment (Preach over, although you should also check out SuperScrimpers on Channel 4/4oD on reducing waste).

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After we’d exhausted the delights of the expo, we headed into north London with out friend for a BBQ at her house. North London was nice, I’ve never really been to any part of London other than the centre, so seeing the more suburban areas was a nice change. The BBQ was good fun, even if it was rather cold, even though the days before had been almost summer like, the Saturday in London was very windy and cold. I’m such a wimp in the cold and spent most of the time inside, huddled next to a radiator. Met some really great people, which I love, sometimes it’s too easy to feel like there aren’t many decent people in the world, and definately none like me, but these people restored my faith 🙂 As with many BBQs, food took longer than I had hoped, especially as the majority of the people there were South African and in South Africa they do BBQs by cooking things then keeping things warm inside til everything is cooked, then presenting a huge spread. I chose to stick to British tradition and ate things as they were cooked cos I was starving!! All in all it was a great afternoon/evening with some great people and some great music. We stayed much later than planned and didn’t get on a train back until after 11, by which time I was completely knackered.
It was so good to get out and do something fun and different. I had such a good time and really hope to see the new friends we made again soon.

Hope you’re enjoying yourselves,
Betty
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