Sunday, 14 September 2014

Invictus Games ~ Wheelchair Rugby - 2nd half

Sandwiched between the Bronze medal and the Gold medal match at the Invictus Games Wheelchair Rugby was an exhibition game unlike any other.
Exhibition Teams included HRH Prince Harry, Zara Tindall, Mike Tindall, Jason Robinson, and Dame Kelly Holmes. Two teams Invictus and Endeavour tipped against each other, managed and mentored by Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Woodward.
If the crowd had needed any warming-up for the finale then they couldn't have picked any better way.
Harry heading up team Invictus against Mike Tindall's Endeavour.. meant that it was a huge family affair, alongside some of GB's military heroes. The game was much fun, especially seeing the fantastic camaraderie between Harry, Zara and Mike. Harry scored the opening goal of the closely contested game. With Jonny on the side-lines coaching the team I didn't know where to look.
The exhibition game was fun, and just showed what great sports the royals are. At the beginning Harry tried to bribe the referee by slipping them money to much amusement. As Harry scored the first goal, he turned and gave Mike Tindall a taunting handshake. The pair larked around throughout the game, pretending to tip each other out. When Mike scored a goal on his wife, Zara tapped him playfully on the back as he crossed the line, and later when Harry was sent to the box for fouling Denise Lewis, he hung his head in pantomime shame.

Supported on by team managers Johnny Wilkinson and Clive Woodward, both teams were brilliantly enthusiastic. The game was really in keeping with the spirit of what the Invictus games are all about. Culminating with  Harry's team claiming victory.
The game was really in keeping with the spirit of what the Invictus games are all about. Culminating with  Harry's team claiming victory. A fabulous prelude to the Gold medal game which followed.
Had a fabulous evening amongst so many greats completely embracing the essence of the Invictus Games.... Harry should be proud of what he and his teams achieved.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Invictus Games - Wheelchair Rugby - 1st half

After a fabulous evening at the Opening Ceremony for the Invictus Games I headed back to Queen Elizabeth Park on Friday for an evening of Wheelchair Rugby.
After a hectic week at work I was toying with giving this a miss.... I'm so glad I didn't, I had a fabulous evening which culminated in Great Britain winning the Gold in a hard fought contest with the USA.
This was my schedule for the evening:
12 Sep 17:30 - 20:30
  • 5TH/6TH PLACE PLAYOFF - ITALY V NEW ZEALAND 
  • BRONZE MEDAL MATCH - DENMARK V AUSTRALIA 
  • CELEBRITY MATCH - INVICTUS V ENDEAVOR        
  • GOLD MEDAL MATCH - UNITED STATES V UNITED KINGDOM
The Playoff game between Italy & New Zealand introduced me to the rules and pace of the game. Similar rules to rugby, including the 'Sin' bin for naughty players... its frenetic, you soon loose sight of the fact that these competitors are in wheelchairs and just loose yourself in their willingness to win. Also cheering for the players was Prince Harry who was in the sound box, watching all the games.
2nd game was the bronze medal match between Denmark and Australia, which resulted in Denmark taking the Bronze... a tough fort game between the two sides.
Following on from the Bronze medal game was the Exhibition match (separate post to follow) which I had no idea about and was beyond excited when Harry & Jonny Wilkinson appeared!
By this stage the Copper box was full to the rafters and the energy in the arena was amazing which when the GB and USA teams wheeled themselves out for the final, the roof  nearly came off.
The game was heavily contested, the constant clashing of the wheels of the chairs indicated just how much both sides wanted to win this game. The crowd were roaring on their feet routing for GB to take Gold and in the dying minutes, Captain Charlie Walker scored with just 36 seconds remaining to claim a famous 13-12 win.  |Here is a clip of the final minutes.
Here are the celebrations post win, with the whole audience on their feet celebrating complete with the army military.... the medal presentation was complete with Harry's under armour pants!
I had an amazing emotional evening filled with Pride.

Invictus Games - Opening Ceremony

Wednesday evening saw me heading to the Olympic Park now called Queen Elizabeth Park for the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games.  The Opening ceremony was held on the South Lawn of the park.
The games are the inspiration of HRH Prince Harry and are the 'Olympics' for wounded military from across the world. The films running across the stage showcasing some of the athletes participating were inspirational, humbling and emotional... a preview of what the 4 days of competition would be.
The games opened to a fanfare from the British military bands, full of pomp, circumstance  showcasing  why our military is one of the best in the world.
With the Royal Family arriving onto the stage it was time for the games to begin... with a Red Arrows fly past across the East London sky.
Opening highlights for me were Idris Elber riding out to the podium and reading the Invictus poem to all ... The Invictus poem written by William Ernest Henley.
It was now time to welcome the athletes into the arena to loud applause and cheers. This was so emotional, was incredibly proud to be cheering and clapping these heroes into their stage.
It was given to Michelle Obama (via VL) to introduce Prince Harry to the stage and thank him on behalf of the countries represented for the Invictus Games.
 
Here's Harry's speech.

With the games declared opened....courtesy of Harry and a gun salute from the Queens horses and lots of ticker tape....it was time to head home, emotional but so proud to have been a part of such a humbling, inspiring evening.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Queen of Bakes....

Last week I got the chance to meet the Queen of Bakes herself - Mary Berry. The grandmother who has crept into our hearts through 4 seasons of Great British Bake Off with her twinkling eyes, and floral bomber jackets. In person she is as delightful as she comes across on the television.
Dressed in her signature look of floral jacket, she was immaculately styled and was delightful. With the queue snaking around the culinary fixtures of the lower ground cookshop department, it was the perfect opportunity to browse whilst waiting!...
loved the pistachio kitchen aid mixer and the tula vintage accessories. Really liking the kitchen-aid bakeware which is heavy duty craftsmanship and first time available outside the USA. It's not cheap but a great baking investment and it will save on contributing to a 'heavy' label on my luggage allowance when coming back from New York!

Mary was in to launch her new book - Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect.....
I got a sneak peak of the book prior to launch, and loved it, perfect for the novice and the experienced baker, filed with gorgeous recipes from simple lunches to feasts for dining with friends & family. The recipes are simple to follow and the visuals are stunning.
This is a gorgeous book a perfect gift which will span generations and decades... if you have a loved one heading off to university then this is a perfect going away present, if you are a GBBO fan its a must for the collection or if you are just a Mary Berry fan then this is a fabulous addition to the bookshelf. This was my 2nd time meeting Mary and getting one of her books signed, and ever she was gracious and delightful.....

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wednesday Words ~ September

After a summer hiatus I am back with the reads that have been keeping me entertained throughout my commute under London and lazing in the park under a tree!
  • Lucy Diamond ~ One Night in Italy - 3 women's lives collide when they meet at an Italian evening class; Anna who leads a relatively dull life, with a relatively dull boyfriend accidently discovers that her father may be Italian.... this embarks Anna on embracing her 'Italian' heritage whilst she seeks to find him. Sophie has spent the last decade travelling the globe. Whilst serving gelato in Italy she gets a call to say that her father is seriously ill, and its time for her to head home. Catherine finds herself home alone, when the kids fly the nest to Uni and husband shacks up with mistress!.... An Italian evening class brings the 3 together where they discover new friendships, secrets and a love of Italian!.... thoroughly enjoyed this book and the characters in it. I laughed lots as I shared the journey that these 3 ladies took. It also got me researching weekend adventures in Italy!...'magnifico!'
  • Katie Fforde ~ A French Affair - Gina and Sally are sisters that inherit a stall in an antiques centre called The French House from their Aunt Rainey. Aunt Rainey is a little eccentric and sets some rules to the inheritance, which will be over seen by the owner Matthew. Matthew is a little staid in thinking and the girls embark on a journey to generate business and get Matthew thinking a little different. This book was an easy read, no great surprises, but a fun delve into the world of vintage treasures.. a great gift for anyone who is obsessed with antiquing daytime TV shows!
  • Karen Swan ~ The Summer without you - Rowena and Matt have been together for years, before finally embarking on marriage & kids  Matt chooses to take 6 months out and travel through Asia. Rowena who is a professional photographer embarks on her own journey where she finds herself in The Hamptons in a house share ... a huge change from her cottage in the suburbs of London after a chance encounter at a wedding. Here she finds her own adventure along with questioning her longevity of her relationship with Matt.  I loved this book, Karen Swan is becoming one of my favourite authors. The supporting characters are just as great as Rowena and their summer in the Hamptons. As with Karen's previous books it made me lust as much about the setting as the characters.... actively researching a stay in the Hamptons!
  • The Best Thing that never happened to me ~ Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice - Debut novel written by 2 friends, sharing one story from 2 perspectives ... Alex and Holly have been friends since they were 11, sharing love, laughter, and friendship through their teens... the book flips between the 2 spanning from present day back to 1999. Having lost touch when Holly moves to London from Yorkshire, they find themselves again when Alex moves to London as a teacher. Reminiscent to David Nicholls One Day this book is a gorgeous story of First Loves, Second Chances and lots of cross wires!.... loved both characters and really didn't want it to end.
  • The Teashop on the Corner ~ Milly Johnson - the teashop on the corner run by Leni becomes a impromptu meeting point for Carla, Molly and Will... Carla discovers her husbands secrets on the day of his funeral, Molly's ex-husband re-appears trying to make amends for his wrongs and Will's wife walks out on him when his business goes bust... all find themselves looking for comfort, friendship and support in a place they least expect. I really enjoyed this book the main characters along with the supporting cast are lovely. Every corner should have a Tea shop like the one run by Leni... who along with the others has her own heartbreak and surprises.
  • The Silkworm ~ Robert Galbraith - another gripping mystery for Comoran Strike from JK Rowling. Cormoron is asked to investigate the disappearance of an author from his long suffering wife. Quine has been known to go off for a few days, however when he is found brutally murdered, the publishing world is awash with rumours of slanderous manuscripts, who has silenced the author? ... Loved this book JK sucks you into a world of darkness, murder and mystery at every chapter. This book is dark, compulsive and a complete page turner. Always amazes me where JK's imagination goes to write the stories that she does... graphically descriptive, compulsive storyline and a wounded hero that you just love. Assisted by Robin his temporary assistant  Cormoran embarks on the 2nd biggest investigation of his career. It takes you from the glamour of Bloomsbury to the seedy streets of Soho. This is a fabulous thriller from start to finish. I cannot wait for the next instalment. Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of JK Rowling, and any editor that passed up the first book The Cuckoo's calling must be kicking themselves.. Her narrative is as descriptive as any HP novel and she has created a character that will make the adult population rooting and willing him to succeed in the same way that every child did with Harry.... Bravo JK.
As you can see I've read a an eclectic mix this month and enjoyed them all. Here are my previous Wednesday words posts of books read this year. I am thrilled that I will be meeting 2 of the authors favoured in todays post at a book event later this month; Karen Swan and Lucy Diamond along with Jane Green. Pop back  at the end of next week when I share my evening of literary fun with Karen, Lucy & Jane. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

New York Loves ~ Fashion week

New York loves has had a brief hiatus over the summer period however with New York fashion week in full flow I thought it would be a good starting point to share some NY associated fashion  favourites.
Garment District
Stretching between 33rd & 42nd street and across 5th, 6th and fashion avenue 7th, the Garment District is a gorgeous. The Garment District houses every store possible to make and design gorgeous fashion, filled with button stores, zip stores, ribbon stores along with yards and yards of fabric outlets. It may not look glamorous but its NY and its just fabulous. Along with amazing fashion outlets the Garment District houses a Fashionistas Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame features 28 fashion designers, 14 posthumously, featuring Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscarr de la Renta, Marc Jacobs.
The Garment District also hosts a free walking tour which takes you on all the hidden treasures of the area and the history of its area.
Bryant Park  - has been the home of Fashion Week for many years and usually as the white tents are erected the buzz starts across the city. Featured in many films and TV shows as the fashion home, S/S15 moved to Lincoln Centre this season.
DVF in the Meatpacking District. - Diane has been in the fashion world for many years, her biopic is a fascination read, the women who bought the wrap dress to us all. Her studio and store are iconic in the district, often seen in TV shows - The Hills, The City and coming this Autumn DVF has her own reality show, which will see her give 8 contestants an opportunity to compete for a job with her brand.... The Apprentice for Fashionistas.
Parsons - The New School for Design - famed in recent years for the home of Project Runway, this fashion school has 6 campus's in Manhattan.
As with all NY loves posts I have plotted a map of the key areas blogged, along with 2 of my favourite photographs from the Garment District. The big button and needle along with the bronze Garment Worker.  Alas Teresa's bakery is no longer there and is now a Chase bank, but this is one of my favourite images of a snow capped worked in the city from many years ago.
 Here are other posts from previous visits, along with my previous New York Loves posts.Please let me know if you would like a particular topic covered in my NY loves posts, pop back next week when I will be sharing my London loves equivalent from London Fashion Week.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Social Media Sunday ~ August

Its that time again when I share what I've been liking, and loving on Social Media during August from Instagram, Blogland and Twitter.
Blogland
About New York ~ Campbell Apartment - I've read Elizabeth's blog for some time now and really enjoyed this post on Grand Central station. GCS is one of my favourite places to visit in New York and had no idea that the Campbell Apartment existed... its been added to my 'to do' list for my forthcoming trip.
Adventures of a London Kiwi ~ Maltby Street Market -a new blog discovering for me and I'm really enjoying Emma's life in London. It's lovely reading all of Emma's adventures from food, her life in London, to book recommendations. Loved Emma's images and content on Maltby Street market, a hidden gem hidden under the railway arches of London Bridge.
Ramblings of an introvert ~ Fiction Burns - A big thankyou to Andrea for sharing this post, I loved it and could relate to so many of the points raised in the article written in the Huffington Post.... thanks again for sharing.
Vivianna Does Make-up ~ Chanels Autumn Drops - loved Vivianna's  post on the new Autumn Chanel collection, ironically read it the evening I had popped 3 of the collection in my shopping bag at work!... V writes a fabulous blog on beauty which I look forward to reading it each week.
Fashion Foie Gras ~ Robin Williams - this lovely post from FFG was one of the loveliest posts that spread through cyber world on the death of Robin Williams. A sad loss for a comic genius that bought love and laughter to lots across the world. This post on 8 memorable quotes showcases just how versatile he was.

Instagram loves
2 lots of Instagram loves this month as I started to collate some NY favourites in preparation of my trip later this year.
the pink diary - gorgeous styling shots filled with macarons, chanel and lots of gorgeousness
hop interiors - loved this fabulous picture of the Cambridge Satchel Company from Mary Ellen
mrs button - 2 images from Mrs Button this month this fabulous picnic by the sea shot, which looks like something lifted from an Enid Blyton book and the simplicity of the candle, lit for remembering the fallen from world war 1.
Saracens - the Saracens boys took to Instagram to share their adventures in Liverpool street station and the city prior to their game at the HRC.
 
Instagram loves New York
Dantvusa - two gorgeous photographs of the super moon over the city from Dan are beautiful. Dan is one of my favourite photographers, his images from across the pond are stunning.
BucketlisNY - this image from Penn station is perfect symmetry of  photographic timing. Love it.
David Loftus - this gorgeous photo from Grand Central station captures so much essence of this beautiful icon of New York with fantastic light it is stunning. DL is a fabulous photographer who has recently been sharing some of the images that he shot for Jamie's new book.... gorgeous.
FDNYinsta - love this shot from the FDNY and a NY subway - a new follow for me, loving the images from the FDNY taken through the city.
Michael Kors - love the images shot through the city showcasing MK products.... a little guilty pleasure.
Finally a new post from me.... a little of the fun that I've been having on Twitter. August was filled with Books, gorgeous food and the Spandau Ballet boys!...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Summer in the City ~ The Tower Remembers

Bank holiday Sunday I spent the day exploring London along the river, part of my day was spent revisiting the Poppy installation Blood swept lands and seas of red at the Tower of London.  It was 4 weeks since I was last there and was amazed at the progress that has been made. The fabulous achievement by the volunteers and curators of this works. Here's my post from the end of  July when I visited previously.
The poppies have been created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, and set design is by stage designer Tom Piper. 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower's moat from the dates of WW1 commencing to Armistice day in November. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war.
Not only does the installation create a stunning visual display but also allows space for reflection and remembrance.
There are a number of different ways the Tower is remembering this occasion... here are more details on their website.

This installation has been one of the most tweeted, instagrammed, and talked about things in London during the summer.... it been a weekly talking point in the office. I've loved visiting the Tower during the summer, and look forward to seeing how the space evolves during the Autumn. It has been my 'MUST' visit for 2014 recommendation for the summer.
One of my favourite Instagram/Twitter sites is from the Metropolitan Police Helicopter team, @MPSinthesky / @mpsasu they have regularly tweeted pictures from the sky of the poppies in the moat... here's a collage of favourites
Pop back in at the end of September when I update with more Poppy adventures.... or let me know if you have visited, what did you think?... are you planning to go?... would love to hear from you.
 

Monday, 1 September 2014

# Project Life ~ August

I cant believe as I sit and type this that its the 1st September .... we are  now nearly 3/4's of the way through 2014, summer is coming to a close and we are heading into Autumn....
August was a month filled with celebrations, birthdays, lazy days in the sun, work and fun.... looking at my Instagram and IPhone library its filled with the colours of summer.
Project Life August ~
  •  Kate Spade iPhone & kindle case - Birthday treats from friends
  • David Beckhams latest underwear campaign... brightened a very dull Tuesday commute.
  • Barbecoa & St Pauls ~ explored and ate great food in this location.
  • Louboutin Nail polish ~ I can now have matching nails & heels! - blog post to come!
  • Orange is the New Black ~ a colour worn often and lots through August
  • Birmingham Selfridges at the Bullring ~ frequented often during the month for work.
  • First Class commuting ~ perfect opportunity to catch-up on some blog planning.
August is also a busy month for celebrations, coming out of mine & bruvs birthday at end of July, I have Bestie J's birthday, then Mums, Godsons, Nephew's, Sister-in Laws and friends .. also in the mix this year was Nephew's GCSE's results along with 3 other close friends & families children... so its been busy & expensive!.. Plenty of opportunity to indulge in a little wrapping!.
I'm looking forward to September and the "Back to School" vibe,  its the start of one of my favourite seasons, Autumn.
 Normal timetable of blogging events will start again in September after the school holidays... I have so much still to share from my summer in the city and with a calendar full of activities in September it looks like a busy month. Here's what's in my diary so far;
~ meeting the Queen of Baking ~ Mary Berry
~ Invictus Games ~ cheering on our war heroes at their Olympics
~ Book evening with 3 of my favourite authors
~ An evening with Spandau Ballet.
So Hello September!...... how have you spent your summer, would love to hear from you....

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer in the City - Food with a view

Part of my Summer adventures in the city have been exploring the old and the new within London. Part of my new adventures this summer has been New Change at St Pauls, a shopping and food centre adjacent to St Pauls Cathedral. A hidden gem of New Change is that you can visit the roof terrace and admire the view across the city landscape.
Entry is via a cool glass elevator which offers fabulous moving views of St Pauls Cathedral. Like a grown up version of Roald Dahls Glass elevator.
The rooftop also features a cocktail bar and restaurant for socialising and fun & food with fabulous views.  Along with the Rooftop bars, New Change also features Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecoa. This is the UK's first Barbecue steakhouse, featuring traditional fire-based cooking with amazing ingredients, all with provenance. This is the statement on the website by the menu:
"You will not taste a steak like ours anywhere else in the world. Every cut of beef has been handpicked to our exact requirements and dry aged in-house for anything up to 70 days. But that's not all we cook - we also serve melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork, delicious aromatic lamb skewers, crispy calamari and amazing vegetable sides.
To match the food, we have the widest range of American whiskies in the UK, a wine list that references every corner of the globe, the best beers that the US and UK have to offer, and a cocktail menu to rival any City bar"
Last Sunday I lunched at Barbecoa and can say that the menu statement is true... my steak was amazing... my only steak which could rival this was one I ate in New York at 5 Ninth. I opted for the RUMP on a bed of Charred Aubergine, Yoghurt, Rocket and double fried beef dripping chips. Both absolutely melt in the mouth delicious.
As you can see I had stunning views across to St Pauls Cathedral which was the perfect backdrop to a mouth-watering lunch. After leisurely lunch it was time for dessert!.... With so many delicious options on the menu it was too hard to choose,
DESSERTS
  •  Amedei white chocolate panna cotta Wild Strawberries, Champagne & Basil
  • Peanut Butter cheesecake Poached Black Cherries, Black Cherry Sorbet & Peanut Brittle
  • BarBecoa Brownie Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Sorbet & Aerated Chocolate
  • Amalfi lemon Meringue tart Red & Black Currants, Confit Lime & Lemon Balm
  • Pecan & BourBon seMifreddo Candied Maple Bacon,
  • Caramalised Banana, Dark Chocolate & Caramel Sauce
so I opted for the Sweet Treats board a sample of some of the dessert menu... featuring Peanut Butter cheesecake in a cute mini mason jar, Barbecoa raspberry brownie, Amalfi Lemon meringue, Chocolate macaron and a wine gum.
Barbecoa is a gorgeous restaurant, clean lines, stunning views, and good service with a friendly knowledgeable team. The ambience and décor is an urban mix of chrome, wood, & fire. It did have the meatpacking vibe of New York which I completely loved. 
I enjoyed my unplanned  visit here immensely and will visit again. This is a restaurant that is an indulgent treat and not a budget option... perfect for special occasions and treats.



Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ St Pauls

Last Sunday I took some time out to enjoy what now feels like the last rays of the summer, and me and my camera spent it exploring London. Part of my day featured St Pauls.... I sat outside on one of the benches in the gardens and listened to the choir singing and enjoyed just relaxing in the summer sunshine.
St Pauls is in my top 10 favourite parts of London, it's iconic cathedral dome sits proud against the back drop of the city skyline an icon of our capital.
The surrounding grounds have been developed over the years and now feature family friendly and relaxing places to sit, picnic and enjoy the nature around.
Currently within the cathedral grounds, a bed of wildflower's and poppies have replaced their normal structured flower bed.... an homage to the WW1 memorials currently sited across the city.
Sited opposite the Cathedral on the pathway to the millennium bridge is a fabulous memorial to the Blitz, which St Pauls famously survived.

I have visited this lovely space often during the summer and enjoyed my time around here.... even had some selfie fun with the artwork around the site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ Cupcake treats

Tucked away in a small side street just off of Covent Garden is a very cute cupcake eatery, from Primrose Bakery. If you are unable to get to the original café bakery in Primrose Hill, then this is a great introduction.  I stagger my visits when I am in this vicinity between Primrose and the coffee shop around the corner Notes, as both a little indulgences.
Primrose Bakery is 10 years old this year and was one of the first places to launch the cupcake in London. Primrose Bakery's styling is gorgeous pastels, reminiscent of the tea parties that we all either wished for or had when we were children.
The bakery is small with a couple of tables for eating in, and a cute bench to sit on outside in the sunshine.
The bakeries offer the following  flavours daily Carrot, Chocolate, Chocolate with Vanilla, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Vanilla and Gluten Free Vanilla. The salted caramel is one of my favourites and the Vanilla is perfect with a cup of coffee.
They also offer daily specials, here is the weekly menu:
As you can see when I visited it was around Independence day so American cupcakes were in abundance along with some fab specials.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Covent garden and feel the need for a sweet treat and a quick rest, then pop into Primrose for a cupcake & coffee. Primrose Bakery have produced some gorgeous books and a great little app. I am really looking forward to their Christmas book which is launching in October.... I'm not sure that I can wait to see if Santa pops one in my stocking on Christmas eve!.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Invictus Games ~ Wheelchair Rugby - 2nd half

Sandwiched between the Bronze medal and the Gold medal match at the Invictus Games Wheelchair Rugby was an exhibition game unlike any other.
Exhibition Teams included HRH Prince Harry, Zara Tindall, Mike Tindall, Jason Robinson, and Dame Kelly Holmes. Two teams Invictus and Endeavour tipped against each other, managed and mentored by Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Woodward.
If the crowd had needed any warming-up for the finale then they couldn't have picked any better way.
Harry heading up team Invictus against Mike Tindall's Endeavour.. meant that it was a huge family affair, alongside some of GB's military heroes. The game was much fun, especially seeing the fantastic camaraderie between Harry, Zara and Mike. Harry scored the opening goal of the closely contested game. With Jonny on the side-lines coaching the team I didn't know where to look.
The exhibition game was fun, and just showed what great sports the royals are. At the beginning Harry tried to bribe the referee by slipping them money to much amusement. As Harry scored the first goal, he turned and gave Mike Tindall a taunting handshake. The pair larked around throughout the game, pretending to tip each other out. When Mike scored a goal on his wife, Zara tapped him playfully on the back as he crossed the line, and later when Harry was sent to the box for fouling Denise Lewis, he hung his head in pantomime shame.

Supported on by team managers Johnny Wilkinson and Clive Woodward, both teams were brilliantly enthusiastic. The game was really in keeping with the spirit of what the Invictus games are all about. Culminating with  Harry's team claiming victory.
The game was really in keeping with the spirit of what the Invictus games are all about. Culminating with  Harry's team claiming victory. A fabulous prelude to the Gold medal game which followed.
Had a fabulous evening amongst so many greats completely embracing the essence of the Invictus Games.... Harry should be proud of what he and his teams achieved.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Invictus Games - Wheelchair Rugby - 1st half

After a fabulous evening at the Opening Ceremony for the Invictus Games I headed back to Queen Elizabeth Park on Friday for an evening of Wheelchair Rugby.
After a hectic week at work I was toying with giving this a miss.... I'm so glad I didn't, I had a fabulous evening which culminated in Great Britain winning the Gold in a hard fought contest with the USA.
This was my schedule for the evening:
12 Sep 17:30 - 20:30
  • 5TH/6TH PLACE PLAYOFF - ITALY V NEW ZEALAND 
  • BRONZE MEDAL MATCH - DENMARK V AUSTRALIA 
  • CELEBRITY MATCH - INVICTUS V ENDEAVOR        
  • GOLD MEDAL MATCH - UNITED STATES V UNITED KINGDOM
The Playoff game between Italy & New Zealand introduced me to the rules and pace of the game. Similar rules to rugby, including the 'Sin' bin for naughty players... its frenetic, you soon loose sight of the fact that these competitors are in wheelchairs and just loose yourself in their willingness to win. Also cheering for the players was Prince Harry who was in the sound box, watching all the games.
2nd game was the bronze medal match between Denmark and Australia, which resulted in Denmark taking the Bronze... a tough fort game between the two sides.
Following on from the Bronze medal game was the Exhibition match (separate post to follow) which I had no idea about and was beyond excited when Harry & Jonny Wilkinson appeared!
By this stage the Copper box was full to the rafters and the energy in the arena was amazing which when the GB and USA teams wheeled themselves out for the final, the roof  nearly came off.
The game was heavily contested, the constant clashing of the wheels of the chairs indicated just how much both sides wanted to win this game. The crowd were roaring on their feet routing for GB to take Gold and in the dying minutes, Captain Charlie Walker scored with just 36 seconds remaining to claim a famous 13-12 win.  |Here is a clip of the final minutes.
Here are the celebrations post win, with the whole audience on their feet celebrating complete with the army military.... the medal presentation was complete with Harry's under armour pants!
I had an amazing emotional evening filled with Pride.

Invictus Games - Opening Ceremony

Wednesday evening saw me heading to the Olympic Park now called Queen Elizabeth Park for the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games.  The Opening ceremony was held on the South Lawn of the park.
The games are the inspiration of HRH Prince Harry and are the 'Olympics' for wounded military from across the world. The films running across the stage showcasing some of the athletes participating were inspirational, humbling and emotional... a preview of what the 4 days of competition would be.
The games opened to a fanfare from the British military bands, full of pomp, circumstance  showcasing  why our military is one of the best in the world.
With the Royal Family arriving onto the stage it was time for the games to begin... with a Red Arrows fly past across the East London sky.
Opening highlights for me were Idris Elber riding out to the podium and reading the Invictus poem to all ... The Invictus poem written by William Ernest Henley.
It was now time to welcome the athletes into the arena to loud applause and cheers. This was so emotional, was incredibly proud to be cheering and clapping these heroes into their stage.
It was given to Michelle Obama (via VL) to introduce Prince Harry to the stage and thank him on behalf of the countries represented for the Invictus Games.
 
Here's Harry's speech.

With the games declared opened....courtesy of Harry and a gun salute from the Queens horses and lots of ticker tape....it was time to head home, emotional but so proud to have been a part of such a humbling, inspiring evening.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Queen of Bakes....

Last week I got the chance to meet the Queen of Bakes herself - Mary Berry. The grandmother who has crept into our hearts through 4 seasons of Great British Bake Off with her twinkling eyes, and floral bomber jackets. In person she is as delightful as she comes across on the television.
Dressed in her signature look of floral jacket, she was immaculately styled and was delightful. With the queue snaking around the culinary fixtures of the lower ground cookshop department, it was the perfect opportunity to browse whilst waiting!...
loved the pistachio kitchen aid mixer and the tula vintage accessories. Really liking the kitchen-aid bakeware which is heavy duty craftsmanship and first time available outside the USA. It's not cheap but a great baking investment and it will save on contributing to a 'heavy' label on my luggage allowance when coming back from New York!

Mary was in to launch her new book - Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect.....
I got a sneak peak of the book prior to launch, and loved it, perfect for the novice and the experienced baker, filed with gorgeous recipes from simple lunches to feasts for dining with friends & family. The recipes are simple to follow and the visuals are stunning.
This is a gorgeous book a perfect gift which will span generations and decades... if you have a loved one heading off to university then this is a perfect going away present, if you are a GBBO fan its a must for the collection or if you are just a Mary Berry fan then this is a fabulous addition to the bookshelf. This was my 2nd time meeting Mary and getting one of her books signed, and ever she was gracious and delightful.....

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wednesday Words ~ September

After a summer hiatus I am back with the reads that have been keeping me entertained throughout my commute under London and lazing in the park under a tree!
  • Lucy Diamond ~ One Night in Italy - 3 women's lives collide when they meet at an Italian evening class; Anna who leads a relatively dull life, with a relatively dull boyfriend accidently discovers that her father may be Italian.... this embarks Anna on embracing her 'Italian' heritage whilst she seeks to find him. Sophie has spent the last decade travelling the globe. Whilst serving gelato in Italy she gets a call to say that her father is seriously ill, and its time for her to head home. Catherine finds herself home alone, when the kids fly the nest to Uni and husband shacks up with mistress!.... An Italian evening class brings the 3 together where they discover new friendships, secrets and a love of Italian!.... thoroughly enjoyed this book and the characters in it. I laughed lots as I shared the journey that these 3 ladies took. It also got me researching weekend adventures in Italy!...'magnifico!'
  • Katie Fforde ~ A French Affair - Gina and Sally are sisters that inherit a stall in an antiques centre called The French House from their Aunt Rainey. Aunt Rainey is a little eccentric and sets some rules to the inheritance, which will be over seen by the owner Matthew. Matthew is a little staid in thinking and the girls embark on a journey to generate business and get Matthew thinking a little different. This book was an easy read, no great surprises, but a fun delve into the world of vintage treasures.. a great gift for anyone who is obsessed with antiquing daytime TV shows!
  • Karen Swan ~ The Summer without you - Rowena and Matt have been together for years, before finally embarking on marriage & kids  Matt chooses to take 6 months out and travel through Asia. Rowena who is a professional photographer embarks on her own journey where she finds herself in The Hamptons in a house share ... a huge change from her cottage in the suburbs of London after a chance encounter at a wedding. Here she finds her own adventure along with questioning her longevity of her relationship with Matt.  I loved this book, Karen Swan is becoming one of my favourite authors. The supporting characters are just as great as Rowena and their summer in the Hamptons. As with Karen's previous books it made me lust as much about the setting as the characters.... actively researching a stay in the Hamptons!
  • The Best Thing that never happened to me ~ Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice - Debut novel written by 2 friends, sharing one story from 2 perspectives ... Alex and Holly have been friends since they were 11, sharing love, laughter, and friendship through their teens... the book flips between the 2 spanning from present day back to 1999. Having lost touch when Holly moves to London from Yorkshire, they find themselves again when Alex moves to London as a teacher. Reminiscent to David Nicholls One Day this book is a gorgeous story of First Loves, Second Chances and lots of cross wires!.... loved both characters and really didn't want it to end.
  • The Teashop on the Corner ~ Milly Johnson - the teashop on the corner run by Leni becomes a impromptu meeting point for Carla, Molly and Will... Carla discovers her husbands secrets on the day of his funeral, Molly's ex-husband re-appears trying to make amends for his wrongs and Will's wife walks out on him when his business goes bust... all find themselves looking for comfort, friendship and support in a place they least expect. I really enjoyed this book the main characters along with the supporting cast are lovely. Every corner should have a Tea shop like the one run by Leni... who along with the others has her own heartbreak and surprises.
  • The Silkworm ~ Robert Galbraith - another gripping mystery for Comoran Strike from JK Rowling. Cormoron is asked to investigate the disappearance of an author from his long suffering wife. Quine has been known to go off for a few days, however when he is found brutally murdered, the publishing world is awash with rumours of slanderous manuscripts, who has silenced the author? ... Loved this book JK sucks you into a world of darkness, murder and mystery at every chapter. This book is dark, compulsive and a complete page turner. Always amazes me where JK's imagination goes to write the stories that she does... graphically descriptive, compulsive storyline and a wounded hero that you just love. Assisted by Robin his temporary assistant  Cormoran embarks on the 2nd biggest investigation of his career. It takes you from the glamour of Bloomsbury to the seedy streets of Soho. This is a fabulous thriller from start to finish. I cannot wait for the next instalment. Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of JK Rowling, and any editor that passed up the first book The Cuckoo's calling must be kicking themselves.. Her narrative is as descriptive as any HP novel and she has created a character that will make the adult population rooting and willing him to succeed in the same way that every child did with Harry.... Bravo JK.
As you can see I've read a an eclectic mix this month and enjoyed them all. Here are my previous Wednesday words posts of books read this year. I am thrilled that I will be meeting 2 of the authors favoured in todays post at a book event later this month; Karen Swan and Lucy Diamond along with Jane Green. Pop back  at the end of next week when I share my evening of literary fun with Karen, Lucy & Jane. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

New York Loves ~ Fashion week

New York loves has had a brief hiatus over the summer period however with New York fashion week in full flow I thought it would be a good starting point to share some NY associated fashion  favourites.
Garment District
Stretching between 33rd & 42nd street and across 5th, 6th and fashion avenue 7th, the Garment District is a gorgeous. The Garment District houses every store possible to make and design gorgeous fashion, filled with button stores, zip stores, ribbon stores along with yards and yards of fabric outlets. It may not look glamorous but its NY and its just fabulous. Along with amazing fashion outlets the Garment District houses a Fashionistas Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame features 28 fashion designers, 14 posthumously, featuring Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscarr de la Renta, Marc Jacobs.
The Garment District also hosts a free walking tour which takes you on all the hidden treasures of the area and the history of its area.
Bryant Park  - has been the home of Fashion Week for many years and usually as the white tents are erected the buzz starts across the city. Featured in many films and TV shows as the fashion home, S/S15 moved to Lincoln Centre this season.
DVF in the Meatpacking District. - Diane has been in the fashion world for many years, her biopic is a fascination read, the women who bought the wrap dress to us all. Her studio and store are iconic in the district, often seen in TV shows - The Hills, The City and coming this Autumn DVF has her own reality show, which will see her give 8 contestants an opportunity to compete for a job with her brand.... The Apprentice for Fashionistas.
Parsons - The New School for Design - famed in recent years for the home of Project Runway, this fashion school has 6 campus's in Manhattan.
As with all NY loves posts I have plotted a map of the key areas blogged, along with 2 of my favourite photographs from the Garment District. The big button and needle along with the bronze Garment Worker.  Alas Teresa's bakery is no longer there and is now a Chase bank, but this is one of my favourite images of a snow capped worked in the city from many years ago.
 Here are other posts from previous visits, along with my previous New York Loves posts.Please let me know if you would like a particular topic covered in my NY loves posts, pop back next week when I will be sharing my London loves equivalent from London Fashion Week.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Social Media Sunday ~ August

Its that time again when I share what I've been liking, and loving on Social Media during August from Instagram, Blogland and Twitter.
Blogland
About New York ~ Campbell Apartment - I've read Elizabeth's blog for some time now and really enjoyed this post on Grand Central station. GCS is one of my favourite places to visit in New York and had no idea that the Campbell Apartment existed... its been added to my 'to do' list for my forthcoming trip.
Adventures of a London Kiwi ~ Maltby Street Market -a new blog discovering for me and I'm really enjoying Emma's life in London. It's lovely reading all of Emma's adventures from food, her life in London, to book recommendations. Loved Emma's images and content on Maltby Street market, a hidden gem hidden under the railway arches of London Bridge.
Ramblings of an introvert ~ Fiction Burns - A big thankyou to Andrea for sharing this post, I loved it and could relate to so many of the points raised in the article written in the Huffington Post.... thanks again for sharing.
Vivianna Does Make-up ~ Chanels Autumn Drops - loved Vivianna's  post on the new Autumn Chanel collection, ironically read it the evening I had popped 3 of the collection in my shopping bag at work!... V writes a fabulous blog on beauty which I look forward to reading it each week.
Fashion Foie Gras ~ Robin Williams - this lovely post from FFG was one of the loveliest posts that spread through cyber world on the death of Robin Williams. A sad loss for a comic genius that bought love and laughter to lots across the world. This post on 8 memorable quotes showcases just how versatile he was.

Instagram loves
2 lots of Instagram loves this month as I started to collate some NY favourites in preparation of my trip later this year.
the pink diary - gorgeous styling shots filled with macarons, chanel and lots of gorgeousness
hop interiors - loved this fabulous picture of the Cambridge Satchel Company from Mary Ellen
mrs button - 2 images from Mrs Button this month this fabulous picnic by the sea shot, which looks like something lifted from an Enid Blyton book and the simplicity of the candle, lit for remembering the fallen from world war 1.
Saracens - the Saracens boys took to Instagram to share their adventures in Liverpool street station and the city prior to their game at the HRC.
 
Instagram loves New York
Dantvusa - two gorgeous photographs of the super moon over the city from Dan are beautiful. Dan is one of my favourite photographers, his images from across the pond are stunning.
BucketlisNY - this image from Penn station is perfect symmetry of  photographic timing. Love it.
David Loftus - this gorgeous photo from Grand Central station captures so much essence of this beautiful icon of New York with fantastic light it is stunning. DL is a fabulous photographer who has recently been sharing some of the images that he shot for Jamie's new book.... gorgeous.
FDNYinsta - love this shot from the FDNY and a NY subway - a new follow for me, loving the images from the FDNY taken through the city.
Michael Kors - love the images shot through the city showcasing MK products.... a little guilty pleasure.
Finally a new post from me.... a little of the fun that I've been having on Twitter. August was filled with Books, gorgeous food and the Spandau Ballet boys!...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Summer in the City ~ The Tower Remembers

Bank holiday Sunday I spent the day exploring London along the river, part of my day was spent revisiting the Poppy installation Blood swept lands and seas of red at the Tower of London.  It was 4 weeks since I was last there and was amazed at the progress that has been made. The fabulous achievement by the volunteers and curators of this works. Here's my post from the end of  July when I visited previously.
The poppies have been created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, and set design is by stage designer Tom Piper. 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower's moat from the dates of WW1 commencing to Armistice day in November. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war.
Not only does the installation create a stunning visual display but also allows space for reflection and remembrance.
There are a number of different ways the Tower is remembering this occasion... here are more details on their website.

This installation has been one of the most tweeted, instagrammed, and talked about things in London during the summer.... it been a weekly talking point in the office. I've loved visiting the Tower during the summer, and look forward to seeing how the space evolves during the Autumn. It has been my 'MUST' visit for 2014 recommendation for the summer.
One of my favourite Instagram/Twitter sites is from the Metropolitan Police Helicopter team, @MPSinthesky / @mpsasu they have regularly tweeted pictures from the sky of the poppies in the moat... here's a collage of favourites
Pop back in at the end of September when I update with more Poppy adventures.... or let me know if you have visited, what did you think?... are you planning to go?... would love to hear from you.
 

Monday, 1 September 2014

# Project Life ~ August

I cant believe as I sit and type this that its the 1st September .... we are  now nearly 3/4's of the way through 2014, summer is coming to a close and we are heading into Autumn....
August was a month filled with celebrations, birthdays, lazy days in the sun, work and fun.... looking at my Instagram and IPhone library its filled with the colours of summer.
Project Life August ~
  •  Kate Spade iPhone & kindle case - Birthday treats from friends
  • David Beckhams latest underwear campaign... brightened a very dull Tuesday commute.
  • Barbecoa & St Pauls ~ explored and ate great food in this location.
  • Louboutin Nail polish ~ I can now have matching nails & heels! - blog post to come!
  • Orange is the New Black ~ a colour worn often and lots through August
  • Birmingham Selfridges at the Bullring ~ frequented often during the month for work.
  • First Class commuting ~ perfect opportunity to catch-up on some blog planning.
August is also a busy month for celebrations, coming out of mine & bruvs birthday at end of July, I have Bestie J's birthday, then Mums, Godsons, Nephew's, Sister-in Laws and friends .. also in the mix this year was Nephew's GCSE's results along with 3 other close friends & families children... so its been busy & expensive!.. Plenty of opportunity to indulge in a little wrapping!.
I'm looking forward to September and the "Back to School" vibe,  its the start of one of my favourite seasons, Autumn.
 Normal timetable of blogging events will start again in September after the school holidays... I have so much still to share from my summer in the city and with a calendar full of activities in September it looks like a busy month. Here's what's in my diary so far;
~ meeting the Queen of Baking ~ Mary Berry
~ Invictus Games ~ cheering on our war heroes at their Olympics
~ Book evening with 3 of my favourite authors
~ An evening with Spandau Ballet.
So Hello September!...... how have you spent your summer, would love to hear from you....

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer in the City - Food with a view

Part of my Summer adventures in the city have been exploring the old and the new within London. Part of my new adventures this summer has been New Change at St Pauls, a shopping and food centre adjacent to St Pauls Cathedral. A hidden gem of New Change is that you can visit the roof terrace and admire the view across the city landscape.
Entry is via a cool glass elevator which offers fabulous moving views of St Pauls Cathedral. Like a grown up version of Roald Dahls Glass elevator.
The rooftop also features a cocktail bar and restaurant for socialising and fun & food with fabulous views.  Along with the Rooftop bars, New Change also features Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecoa. This is the UK's first Barbecue steakhouse, featuring traditional fire-based cooking with amazing ingredients, all with provenance. This is the statement on the website by the menu:
"You will not taste a steak like ours anywhere else in the world. Every cut of beef has been handpicked to our exact requirements and dry aged in-house for anything up to 70 days. But that's not all we cook - we also serve melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork, delicious aromatic lamb skewers, crispy calamari and amazing vegetable sides.
To match the food, we have the widest range of American whiskies in the UK, a wine list that references every corner of the globe, the best beers that the US and UK have to offer, and a cocktail menu to rival any City bar"
Last Sunday I lunched at Barbecoa and can say that the menu statement is true... my steak was amazing... my only steak which could rival this was one I ate in New York at 5 Ninth. I opted for the RUMP on a bed of Charred Aubergine, Yoghurt, Rocket and double fried beef dripping chips. Both absolutely melt in the mouth delicious.
As you can see I had stunning views across to St Pauls Cathedral which was the perfect backdrop to a mouth-watering lunch. After leisurely lunch it was time for dessert!.... With so many delicious options on the menu it was too hard to choose,
DESSERTS
  •  Amedei white chocolate panna cotta Wild Strawberries, Champagne & Basil
  • Peanut Butter cheesecake Poached Black Cherries, Black Cherry Sorbet & Peanut Brittle
  • BarBecoa Brownie Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Sorbet & Aerated Chocolate
  • Amalfi lemon Meringue tart Red & Black Currants, Confit Lime & Lemon Balm
  • Pecan & BourBon seMifreddo Candied Maple Bacon,
  • Caramalised Banana, Dark Chocolate & Caramel Sauce
so I opted for the Sweet Treats board a sample of some of the dessert menu... featuring Peanut Butter cheesecake in a cute mini mason jar, Barbecoa raspberry brownie, Amalfi Lemon meringue, Chocolate macaron and a wine gum.
Barbecoa is a gorgeous restaurant, clean lines, stunning views, and good service with a friendly knowledgeable team. The ambience and décor is an urban mix of chrome, wood, & fire. It did have the meatpacking vibe of New York which I completely loved. 
I enjoyed my unplanned  visit here immensely and will visit again. This is a restaurant that is an indulgent treat and not a budget option... perfect for special occasions and treats.



Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ St Pauls

Last Sunday I took some time out to enjoy what now feels like the last rays of the summer, and me and my camera spent it exploring London. Part of my day featured St Pauls.... I sat outside on one of the benches in the gardens and listened to the choir singing and enjoyed just relaxing in the summer sunshine.
St Pauls is in my top 10 favourite parts of London, it's iconic cathedral dome sits proud against the back drop of the city skyline an icon of our capital.
The surrounding grounds have been developed over the years and now feature family friendly and relaxing places to sit, picnic and enjoy the nature around.
Currently within the cathedral grounds, a bed of wildflower's and poppies have replaced their normal structured flower bed.... an homage to the WW1 memorials currently sited across the city.
Sited opposite the Cathedral on the pathway to the millennium bridge is a fabulous memorial to the Blitz, which St Pauls famously survived.

I have visited this lovely space often during the summer and enjoyed my time around here.... even had some selfie fun with the artwork around the site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ Cupcake treats

Tucked away in a small side street just off of Covent Garden is a very cute cupcake eatery, from Primrose Bakery. If you are unable to get to the original café bakery in Primrose Hill, then this is a great introduction.  I stagger my visits when I am in this vicinity between Primrose and the coffee shop around the corner Notes, as both a little indulgences.
Primrose Bakery is 10 years old this year and was one of the first places to launch the cupcake in London. Primrose Bakery's styling is gorgeous pastels, reminiscent of the tea parties that we all either wished for or had when we were children.
The bakery is small with a couple of tables for eating in, and a cute bench to sit on outside in the sunshine.
The bakeries offer the following  flavours daily Carrot, Chocolate, Chocolate with Vanilla, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Vanilla and Gluten Free Vanilla. The salted caramel is one of my favourites and the Vanilla is perfect with a cup of coffee.
They also offer daily specials, here is the weekly menu:
As you can see when I visited it was around Independence day so American cupcakes were in abundance along with some fab specials.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Covent garden and feel the need for a sweet treat and a quick rest, then pop into Primrose for a cupcake & coffee. Primrose Bakery have produced some gorgeous books and a great little app. I am really looking forward to their Christmas book which is launching in October.... I'm not sure that I can wait to see if Santa pops one in my stocking on Christmas eve!.