It feels as though this series just started, but here it is, the Girls Season 4 finale.

With Hannah and the gang reluctantly accepting it’s time to grow up (slightly) and creator Lena Dunham admitting she only ever planned to film four short series of the show, is this the end of the road for our shambolic Brooklyn friends?

Unless a lot of loose ends get tied up in tonight’s episode, we’re going to be left hoping there’s a Season 5 on the way. Or forever be furious that we never got to see how it all worked out.

Here’s some things I’d like to see happen in the finale, just incase it’s the last time we get to see Girls on our screens…

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Marnie loses her voice

Seriously, enough already! Has there ever been a more cringey crooner than the wannabe songstress?

As annoyingly gorgeous as she is, Marnie’s self-proclaimed songwriting ‘talent’ is not something she should be hinging her future on.

More disturbing is the creepy loser she seems to have attracted in her attempt to forge some sort of modern day June and Johnny Cash setup.

Lose the voice, lose the loser. Because he ain’t hanging around if there’s no dollars to be made.

Problem solved.

 

2. Adam lets Hannah rescue him

Because we all know that’s what this is about. The only way Hannah can save herself from her own insecurities is to save someone else that’s even more fucked up than she is.

Adam was always meant to be the challenge she took on and won. And for a while it looked like she was winning – she had the boy, the relationship, the job, the cohabiting.

It was all working out and so she decided to test it by moving to Iowa. He failed the test – he gave up on her and moved on, way too quickly, when all she wanted him to do was say that he needed her to stay.  

So come on Adam, just let her save you from yourself. It’s the only way to settle this once and for all!

 

3. Shoshanna says it like it is

One of my favourite episodes of Girls was in Season 3 when Shoshanna went cray cray and told her so-called friends what she really thought of them.

Given that the friendships haven’t really improved during this season, it’s about time Shoshanna reminded the girls that their behaviour towards each other is anything but friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Jessa hooks up with Pete Doherty

Let’s face it, he’s her soulmate. Kate Moss couldn’t handle Pete’s hardcore lifestyle but I have every confidence that Jessa could.

The English wild child would bond with the Libertines frontman during another stint in rehab and become his latest muse.

Jessa’s always been my favourite Girls character so I’d like a happy ending for her and this would be it.

 

5. Hannah dresses like a sane person

I don’t completely hate Hannah’s wardrobe but I’d say her choices are usually questionable.

Apart from the few passable dresses she owns, Hannah’s wardrobe is a complete reflection of her life: a mess.

I get the whole trying to look like a hipster (who manage to all look the same while trying so hard to look ‘different’!) with clashing prints and thrift store buys.

But, after watching her lurch from crisis to crisis in a series of ill-fitting shirts, I think it’s about time she paid more attention to how she dresses.

I’m not saying she has to have some sort of Victoria Beckham makeover but not looking like a Texan trucker would be a great start.

And that lizard crop top has to go. WTF even is that.

 

6. Mimi Rose Howard gets punched in the face

Just because. We’ve all been there, when you get replaced with someone else it’s always the worst person possible.

They’re either way worse than you or way better. Either way, you’re the loser who’s on your own while your ex has moved on to better/worse things. 

Mimi Rose is better on paper than Hannah, which only serves to fuel her self-obsessiveness and insecurity. 

And to add insult to injury she was only ever using Adam anyway. That alone is reason enough to punch her in the face.

 

7. Hannah writes a self help book

Because Hannah being a teacher doesn’t work out for anyone.

If the phrase ‘those who can’t, teach’ was where Hannah got the idea to enter the world of education then she really does need to assess her life choices.

Given that her mental age is on par with her potential students, Hannah should really steer clear of trying to educate impressionable youngsters on life.

A self help book is a win-win for Hannah. She could inadvertently end up helping herself through writing about her life, finally identifying what her problem is and why she can’t get her shit together, ever.

Way cheaper then eternal therapy sessions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. The Girls finally realise what true friendship is (and value it)

One of the main reasons people don’t like Girls is that there’s not one character you can truly like.

Likeability is a big part of identifying with a character, unless you hate yourself and therefore that’s not an issue.

These girls are horrible to each other.

In moments of need they resort to avoidance, ridicule and even pleasure that one of their so-called friends is a bigger fuck up than they are.

Is that really what girls are like these days? Whatever happened to girl power (ahem, ’90s kid over here)?

There’s enough people in the world queuing up to smile smugly when you fail, your friends shouldn’t be on that list.

 

The UK series finale of Girls Season 4 airs on Sky Atlantic at 10pm, Monday 23rd February 2015

 

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Now that the AW15 fashion weeks are over, I’ve been having a proper think about whose FROW style really stood out for me. London is probably a bit predictable but I surprised myself with my other fashion week choices. After scrolling through all the coverage, these are the looks that stood out for me…

 

New York: Leigh Lezark

I’m always fascinated by the raven-haired DJ’s style and no one does downtown New York cool like The Misshapes creative. NYFW was strange for me this year, almost like Rachel Zoe had attacked every skinny blonde with an ill-fitting pair of ’70s flares and told them they looked good. When Olivia Palermo’s taken to wearing tan cords you know a nasty retro revival is on its way. Luckily, Leigh and her monochrome magnificence saved the FROW.

 

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London: Alexa Chung

Told you it was predictable! Despite not being blonde Alexa is always one of my top fashion icons and never fails to disappoint at fashion week. She looked amazing at the London catwalk shows this year, though the floral dress she wore to the Topshop Unique show was maybe my favourite classic Alexa look.

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Milan: Chiara Ferragni

I was expecting a lot more glamour from Milan Fashion Week but in truth a lot of front row looks were tired, much like the over-tanned complexions of some of the middle-aged socialites that propped up many of the shows. It’s easy to see why Milan is always my least favourite fashion weeks, if you can say such a thing when you work in fashion. The Blonde Salad blogger Chiara Ferragni had a mixed bag of outfits, but I did like some of her less gimmicky looks at MFW. I loved the Valentino Rockstud 1973 rainbow camera bag she wore to the Roberto Cavalli show and the Moschino bear print scarf she rocked at the DSquared2 show is a definite AW15 sellout piece. Truth be told, Leigh Lezark was actually the best dressed again but I didn’t want this to be a LL love affair. I’ll save that for a later post!

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Paris: Leigh Lezark

Although there were a few individual looks I loved (Michelle Williams at Louis Vuitton, Poppy Delevingne at Chanel and Kim Kardashian’s platinum hair) no one could compete with Leigh Lezark. In a sea of ’70s-inspired tan, camel and flared denim, Paris looked way more chic with Leigh’s polished presence on the front rows. The mustard Chloe Drew bag was her arm candy of choice when attending the Chloe show, making it a certain contender for this year’s It Bag. Perfection!

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Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I never thought I’d be posting a recipe on the blog but there’s a first time for everything! Since I posted a photo of this attempt at being a domestic goddess, so many of my lovely friends and fellow bloggers have asked for the recipe. Which is great as I didn’t think the photo actually did the meal any justice!

I’m not that much of a cook but recently I’ve been taking inspiration from recipes I’ve found online in an attempt to eat new things rather than have the same meals every week. I don’t like anything that gives me too many dishes to clean up afterwards, but it’s great when you find recipes that aren’t that difficult to make and you can freeze extra portions for later.

When I come in from work most nights I’m too tired to cook and if there’s not something that I can throw in the oven for half an hour (hello Sainsbury’s Just Cook range) I end up either having a bowl of cereal (when my milk’s not out of date) or nothing. I just can’t be bothered cooking for one at 7pm, especially if it means missing Emmerdale! What I need, therefore, are tasty recipes, that are easy and quick to make in order to actually make use of the cooking utensils in my kitchen.

So many ready meals and jars of sauces are packed full of horrible ingredients and chemicals to make them last longer on shelves and it’s amazing how many of them seem to contain onions, which I absolutely hate! There cannot be a need for every jar of sauce to have onions surely?!

Anyway, rant over.

This recipe I found while looking for Chinese foodspiration. I love a takeaway but let’s face it you can’t have one every night and I refuse to buy Chinese ready meals in supermarkets as they don’t actually taste of anything but salt (and onions).

So when I came across this recipe I thought I’d make an attempt – I already had most of the ingredients in my food cupboard anyway so seemed like a plan. I’ve adapted it slightly where I didn’t have things and also added in some noodles to accompany the chicken, but it’s really easy to make and super tasty. If you try it I would love to know what you think!

Honey Chilli Chicken & Soy Noodles
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
314 calories
33 g
166 g
6 g
32 g
2 g
219 g
433 g
19 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
219g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 314
Calories from Fat 51
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 166mg
55%
Sodium 433mg
18%
Total Carbohydrates 33g
11%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 19g
Protein 32g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
92%
Calcium
4%
Iron
12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. Sunflower oil
  2. 2 chicken breasts
  3. 1 egg
  4. Plain flour
  5. Salt and black pepper
  6. Light Soy Sauce
  7. 80ml water
  8. Lemon juice
  9. 2 tablespoons honey
  10. Ground ginger
  11. Crushed or fresh red and green chillies
  12. 2 nests of Sharwoods fine egg noodles
Instructions
  1. Cut the chicken breast into strips, quite thinly, add some rock salt, black pepper and the flour to a bowl.
  2. Dip the chicken strips in the egg and use as much flour as you need to cover the chicken completely.
  3. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or frying pan on a high heat setting. Again use enough oil to make sure all of the chicken is coated with some oil so the flour is sealed on the chicken to make a crispy coating.
  4. Pour two tablespoons of lemon juice into a cup or bowl, add two tablespoons of the crushed chilli flakes, soy sauce, water and flour then stir together.
  5. Fry the chicken for a few minutes in the hot oil until golden brown and remove to drain on some kitchen roll. The kitchen roll soaks up the oil, ensuring your recipe is tasty without being greasy.
  6. Discard all but about a tablespoon of the oil from the wok and gently fry the ginger and a sprinkle of crushed chillies for a minute or so.
  7. Add the honey to the wok and stir whilst it is bubbling away for another minute.
  8. Next add the lemon juice, crushed chillies, soy sauce, water and flour that you mixed in the bowl earlier. Keep stirring and bring to the boil, the sauce will thicken.
  9. Add the chicken back in to the wok to heat through for a few minutes, coating it with the sauce.
  10. Leave the chicken in the wok on a low heat setting and add the noodles to a pan of boiling water.
  11. Simmer for three minutes then drain over the sink, add some of the light soy sauce and toss the noodles until they have a light brown coating.
  12. Serve the noodles on a plate and pour the chicken over them for a tasty homemade Chinese meal!
Notes
  1. This recipe serves two but if you're cooking for one, freeze the leftover chicken and reheat at a later date.
  2. Don't bother freezing the noodles - just boil a new nest to accompany the reheated chicken, as this part only takes three minutes.
  3. If you like a lot of soy sauce you can always add these to the wok after draining and fry for a couple of minutes in soy sauce.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
beta
calories
314
fat
6g
protein
32g
carbs
33g
more
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Bella Blondie http://bellablondie.com/
Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I’ve managed to escape being tagged in those Facebook posts currently clogging up newsfeeds; you know the ones – ‘thanks for the nominations, here’s 7 random facts about me’.

Some people are completely missing the point of course, with random facts turning into obvious lists of things we already know because YOU POST ABOUT IT ON FACEBOOK ALL THE TIME. The best ones usually go something like… 1. I love my family 2. My dog too he is amaaaazing 3. I have the best boyfriend in the world ever… yawn.

But some of them are actually worth a like and I’ve laughed to myself while reading things I never knew about my best friends or Facebook acquaintances.

So here’s my ‘7 Random Beauty Facts’, in no particular order…

1. I have an irrational fear of eyelash curlers.

Straight up, the contraptions terrify me. I have tried to put them near my lashes but always end up convinced that I’m going to accidentally pull them out and have bald eyelids. Forever.

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2. I don’t know what my natural hair colour is

I’ve dyed my hair since I was 14 and that is genuinely the last time I can safely say I saw my natural hair colour. I think it was a chestnutty brown shade, but since I’ve spent over half my life with dyed locks it’s very difficult to recall.

I started off on Wella Colour Mousse, dying every towel in the house a lovely shade of red, before discovering bleach and deciding that I was going to be blonde like my childhood idol Madonna after all.

 

3. I’m a blonderexic

My mane’s definitely been through the colour wars with me and my obsession with being blonder than blonde. I do believe it’s a diagnosable illness, when your hair’s whiter than snow and somehow all you can see is yellow brass.

It all came to a head the time I decided my hair wasn’t blonde enough and bought some peroxide and bleach toner for a few home improvement sessions… that ended with the left side of my hair deciding to fall off before I abused it anymore. It took about five years to bounce back. Painful.

These days the fear of having short, frizzy hair is enough to steer me away from any extra lightening activities but for moments of weakness I have silver shampoo and fake tan on standby, always guaranteed to make me feel extra blonde!

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4. Uneven eyeliner = bad day

It’s the one thing I can rely on in the morning, the barometer of how my day is going to turn out. If it’s fifties pin-up perfection then I know it’s been worth getting outta bed. If it looks like I’ve drawn it in my sleep, I should probably just jump back under the duvet and forget it. True story.

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5. I don’t straighten my hair (anymore)

This is the one that most people can’t believe but it was a self-imposed ban that has helped my hair get back to straight health after the incidents outlined in fact 3. My hair was never in need of being ironed daily to start with. But, like many girls in 2002, I was sold the GHD dream of poker straight shiny locks and developed a completely unnecessary ten year habit.

The problem with straightening your hair every day is that your hair actually becomes addicted to the heat, only sitting properly when you’ve run those ceramic plates through every last strand. It develops a frizz that is only tamed by heat pressing down the split ends, caused by the straighteners in the first place.

Unless your hair is naturally wavy, curly or coarse, steer clear of these things. It took me two years of only ever straightening my hair at the weekend or on special occasions to finally break free.

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6. I have a love affair with Double Wear

The best-selling Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation has been a staple in my makeup bag since I was 19. As a student this wasn’t a cheap purchase but it was worth parting with the student loan. Once I realised I could get flawless skin and it lasted 6 months compared to 6 weeks of the cheaper foundations I was using, I was sold. For life, it would seem.

These days I tend to wear Fresco when my skin is paler and Sand Beige when I’m tanned, but the formula has always remained one that works with my skin no matter the shade. I would actually be heartbroken if this was ever discontinued! The rest of the Double Wear range is pretty good too, the concealer and eyeliner are now also staples in my beauty bag.

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7. It took me 28 years to wear red lipstick

Properly anyway. I had tried it on many occasions, but when I looked at myself in the mirrorI felt like a wee girl who had played with her mum’s makeup bag. Not some blonde bombshell with sex appeal, as was promised by many a red lipstick advert.

It may have been bad hair, overly-smoky eyes or just the wrong shade, but for years I smeared the red lippie off my face just about as fast as I had put it on. That all changed when I tried Topshop’s Rio Rio (don’t think I’ve mentioned that shade before??) and at last I had found my fit.

These days I own a multitude of red lipsticks but that was the first one I had the courage to wear all night and actually felt amazing when people not only compliment but asked what I was wearing. Result!

They say there’s a red lipstick for everyone and now I really do believe it.

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Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

January’s a grim month so I decided to hide from the snow storms and hibernate in the luxurious K West Hotel & Spa for a night.

Situated in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, the 4 Star boutique hotel is only a few minutes walk from both the tube station and Westfield Shopping Centre, on a quiet residential street.

I had read previously that the modern, neon-lit building sits awkwardly across from a concrete council block and that the building’s surroundings were less than desirable but it’s central London and I’ve ventured into worse streets if I’m being honest.

Besides, if this hotel was anywhere in W1 it wouldn’t be half as affordable as it is currently.

Reception is located at ground level on the third floor – there are two floors underground for those who want to hide from the world and two floors above for those like me who prefer to know there’s a window that leads outside, even if the curtains are closed.

The bar at K West Hotel

The bar at K West Hotel

The building is a former BBC recording studio so the slick rock vibe lives on in the glamorous bar area, perfectly placed beside the entrance, and the quieter velvet chair filled reading room across from the lifts. I liked this space, featuring a nice pop art Amy Winehouse print and plenty of musical reads on the shelves to keep you amused during your stay.

Lounge area at K west Hotel

Lounge area at K west Hotel

After wheeling my suitcase along the seductively lit corridor that snaked round the building, I found my surprisingly spacious room just past the ice bucket in the wall (yes, really!).

K West Junior Double Room

K West Junior Double Room

K West Hotel junior double room bathroom

K West Hotel junior double room bathroom

The sleek, monochrome and metallic decor was right up my street and the bathroom was everything you hope from a hotel/spa, complete with white fluffy towels and miniature toiletries from The White Company. Two sets of K-West branded robes and slippers are provided, ideal for slipping on before heading down to the spa located in the ground floor of the building.

White Company miniature shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

White Company miniature shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

I had chosen the Snow Joke package for my overnight stay (25% off a junior double room with continental breakfast), but my plans changed on arrival and I decided to make the most of my time at K West by upgrading. I called reception with my request and they obliged immediately, updating my details so I had some added extras to my stay.

I went for the Love Sucks package (£119), ideal for one person who really does think that love sucks! I think the package is a total bargain for what you get and it was just what I needed. The package includes:

  • Overnight stay in a Junior Double Room
  • Continental breakfast
  • Complimentary movie with popcorn and soft drink
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Room Service Dinner – One main course and a drink (Glass of Wine, Beer or Soft Drink)
  • Complimentary WIFI in room
  • Access to the K Spa

After upgrading I changed into my swimsuit, robe and slippers, then made my way down to the spa. I’d never been to a spa before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I LOVED it! Talk about another world… this was the perfect way to escape the January blues.

K West spa

K West spa

Everything’s perfectly thought out, from the endless supply of pristine white towels, robes and flip flops to the hairdryers, GHD straighteners and cotton buds in the changing rooms.

Changing room vanity area at K West Spa

Changing room vanity area at K West Spa

The spa itself was smaller than what I expected but I think that was good – I had imagined a terrifying parade of perfect modelesque bodies in bikinis lining an endless swimming pool but that wasn’t the case at all. As I made my way to the hydrotherapy pool I noticed there was a mix of singletons, couples and groups of friends so I felt totally at ease doing my own thing. Most importantly for me, it’s a kid-free zone so no chance of boisterous brats ruining my chill time!

The hydrotherapy was like a large jacuzzi with metal bar beds and benches you could relax on. I got quite used to staring at the twinkling lights above me as the bubbles worked wonders on leaving my skin feeling soft.

K West spa ceiling lights

K West spa ceiling lights

After the pool I made my way to the solarium, a wood panelled room where you could lie back on a wooden bench to dry off. It felt just like sunbathing and I closed my eyes imagining I was poolside at a tropical resort.

I tried the sauna for five minutes but it’s just not for me – the extreme heat makes me feel like I can’t breathe! I’m sure it’s great if you can relax but I kept thinking I was going to faint. And therefore I couldn’t face the steam room for the same reasons!

The twin footbaths are a great idea, with bathsalts provided to soften the skin, but it’s not that much fun on your own so I moved on to the Snow Paradise. Yes, having flown down to London to escape the snow in Scotland, it wasn’t high on my agenda but I opened the door out of curiosity anyway… and couldn’t face stepping into it wearing a swimsuit and flip-flops. Again, I’m sure there’s some sort of pleasure in it, and I can vouch that it did look like real snow, but not for me.

Water jugs in the spa at K West Hotel

Water jugs in the spa at K West Hotel

I spent the rest of my Saturday night floating between the pool and the solarium, occasionally sitting on the chill out sofas with a glass of water from the lemon and lime filled jugs that the spa staff keep topped up. Quite a change from my usual Saturday night drink of choice!

After three hours in the spa, I got showered and changed into another fluffy robe in time to order my room service dinner. The food was amazing – I went for the lemon and herb chicken, served with corn on the cob, skin-on fries and BBQ sauce, plus a chilled glass of rose wine that was part of my Love Sucks meal for one (singletons need wine!).

K West Hotel room service dinner and movie package

K West Hotel room service dinner and movie package

As a treat I added on a dessert, the chocolate marquis with cherry sorbet and sauce, easily one of the best sweets I’ve tasted.

By sheer coincidence Bridget Jones’ Diary was the movie of choice on ITV1 that night, so I had a laugh to myself before swiftly swapping for the movie package film I’d chosen, The Wolf of Wall Street. Chick flicks ain’t my thing!

All that relaxation and the comfy bed meant I couldn’t keep my eyes open to watch the entire movie, but I did stay awake long enough to scoff half the salty popcorn and diet coke brought to me by the lovely room service waiter.

A continental breakfast was included in the Love Sucks package but after I saw the options for hot breakfasts in the welcome pack I decided to pay the extra £7 to get a full English in bed.

K West Hotel room service English and Continental breakfast

K West Hotel room service English and Continental breakfast

It arrived at 10am as requested and I managed to watch the rest of the film I’d ordered while munching on poached eggs, chestnut mushrooms, cumberland sausage, wholemeal toast, a selection of pastries and a hot chocolate. Had I not had to check out at 12pm, could easily have gone back to bed after that feast!

I checked out reluctantly as I could quite happily reside here forever but it was a great way to spend 24 hours nonetheless. The whole experience is made all the better by the hotel staff, who really do go out of their way to make you feel welcome and accommodate any (reasonable) request you might have. I think I’ll definitely be back, perhaps for longer next time!

K West Love Sucks package for one person is priced at £119, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

 

 

 

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I was lucky enough to live and work in London a few years ago, and I loved the place so much that I’m still a regular visitor to the city for both work and pleasure. Even though I now live back in Scotland, I’m always asked for advice on what to do and where to go when friends and family are visiting London for the first time.

I forget how daunting it can be when you’re a first time visitor in London – everything is different and there are more people living in the UK’s capital city than currently reside in the whole of Scotland. 7 million and rising! And people wonder why the tubes are packed…

Anyway, having been asked the question again, I thought it was easier if I just created a blog post with all my tips and hints for making your first experience of London an enjoyable, hassle-free one. Some of the tips are specific to Scots/Glaswegians landing in London for the first time but there are some general rules that apply to tourists visiting London from anywhere in the world…

1. Choose Your Transport Wisely

This one’s a bit confusing if you are used to one main airport and train station. So you leave from Glasgow Airport or Central Station, but where do you head to?

The train is easy enough as Glasgow trains end up in Euston or King’s Cross station, both in north/central London and much of a muchness. Go for the cheapest service with the least amount of changes and you’re on to a winner, as some Virgin and East Coast services only take 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Don’t even think about the dreaded mega bus – you have seen Trainspotting right?! Having endured this once a few years ago when I missed a flight, I’d say the depiction is pretty accurate. But if you insist… don’t forget the cairds! You might be safer having a pastime that doesn’t involve making eye contact with the general public on this vomit-inducing journey.

Too many airports to choose from is a headache though so think about where you’re travelling to once you get to the airport, as that can be a deciding factor. Along with price of course – Heathrow, served only by BA from Glasgow, is generally more expensive to fly to due to faster links into London from the airport (15 minutes to Paddington on the Heathrow Express).

In order of my personal preference, here’s your airport options:

Heathrow

Easily the best option – you can fly BA and get be in central London 15 minutes after landing on the Heathrow Express to Paddington. Usually worth spending a bit extra for convenience, but especially so if you’re staying in west London. If time’s not an issue you can save some money by travelling on the less expensive Heathrow Connect service, 30 minutes to Paddington.

Stansted

If you have to go budget airline then Stansted is generally a better experience than the other airports. The Stansted express takes 45 minutes but drops you in Liverpool Street station, east London, ideal for connecting with most of the main underground lines. Another handy tip for anyone staying in north London is that the national express bus will get you to Golder’s Green and Finchley Road in under an hour for around a tenner. Although the bus travels on to Victoria station, I wouldn’t recommend staying on to sit in central London traffic jams.

Gatwick

Not my favourite airport in the world due to the confusing north/south terminal setup but you do sometimes get decent BA flights here. As it’s south of London it does feel like you’re on a longer flight and the Gatwick ‘Express’ (listed as taking 30 minutes into Victoria but I’ve yet to be on a service that’s actually got me there in that time!) is nowhere near as good, fast or reliable as the Heathrow or Stansted options.

London City

Better if you’re staying east but has the added bonus of some BA flights departing and arriving here. A short trip on the DLR will hook you up to the main tube lines so you can continue on your journey to wherever your hotel is. I’ve only ever flown into this airport so not sure what the duty free options are like, but it is a smaller airport (think Prestwick v Glasgow) so you take your chance on this one.

Luton

Just avoid. Seriously, you would be as well considering alternative dates if this is your only airport option.

2. Choose Your Hotel Even More Wisely

If you’re setting up base camp in a central London hotel room then you do need to do your research. London hotels are like nowhere else on the planet I’ve decided. Do a quick search and you’ll find reasonably-priced 4 star hotels in Covent Garden that look grand… until you discover they’re 4 star dormitories you’ll be sharing with 12 other people, sleeping in bunk beds and using a shared bathroom. Even Travelodges in this town don’t come in cheap so it’s worth doing the ground work before parting with your pennies.

Besides decent TripAdvisor reviews and comparison site promotions, it’s always key to check the hotel on a map and see how close it actually is to a tube station. You will rely on the tube to get around so if it’s more than a few streets away and you don’t know the area, it’s probably not worth the 10% off promo code you’re about to type in.

As a general rule the areas surrounding Hyde Park are popular with overseas tourists, so make sure your hotel isn’t likely to be overrun with backpackers and school trips. Avoid smaller B&Bs and independent guest houses in this area and stick to larger, established hotel chains for a better night’s sleep.

And unless you’re visiting London for a specific venue/event outside Zone 2 (e.g. Wembley or Wimbledon), it’s best to keep your search to this area for convenience and travel costs when moving around the city.

3. Download a Tube Map

Even a seasoned Londoner will check the tube map if they’re travelling a route they don’t take often, just to make sure they’re taking the quickest route and avoiding any station closures.

The best place to get on is the Transport for London website – I keep one bookmarked for when I visit. It pays off to plan your journey before you get inside the tube station so you avoid clogging up the area in front of the in-station maps (Londoners hate this and will knock you out of the way if you’re obstructing their commute).

4. Buy an Oyster Card

Quite possibly the greatest invention for public transport, the Oyster Card beats Scotfail’s overly-complex and overpriced Zone Card every time. Order a preloaded card in advance of your trip from the Oyster Card website or pay for one when you arrive at most tube stations – either way, it costs £3 to activate and you can top up the balance as and when you need it.

The great news is that in 2015 the capped rate for Zone 1-2 travel is £6.40, so you can travel as many times as you like on the bus, tube or DLR in these zones and never pay more than this fare in one day.

5. Mind The Gap

On the platform, on the escalators and even on the overcrowded things themselves… London tube-hopping is all about paying attention to the gaps.

Tube etiquette is something quite incomparable to how you travel on the good ol’ Glasgow subway, fondly known as the Clockwork Orange (because of its colour, not through any reference to the Stanley Kubrick film… although I’m sure there are times when it’s just as anarchic).

Here’s some hints for travelling on the tube:

Stand To The Right, Walk To The Left

As a rule this is the best way to avoid the wrath of frantic commuters during rush hour. If you’re travelling with a suitcase, bear in mind that most tube stations don’t have the luxury of a lift for passengers so if you do have to haul one up the escalators with you, it needs to go either in front or behind you. Not to the left of you – that’s for walking, remember?

Don’t Make Eye Contact

It’s classed as suspicious behaviour. Smiling is even worse. And if you’re thinking of starting a conversation, be aware that you’re likely to be met with a swift safety barrier, otherwise known as a newspaper, between you and your potential travel buddy.

Snap Up A Seat

Normal manners don’t really apply when it comes to nabbing a seat on a packed tube. In other words, don’t rely on gender, age or imminent childbirth to guarantee yourself a comfy spot when you travel so get in there first of you see one. Very rarely will someone offer you a seat, even if you’re struggling to balance as you stand in the aisle wearing 5 inch heels. More fool you, should’ve worn flats. Yes, there are some rare displays of manners and chivalry at times, which are to be welcomed. But don’t expect it.

Avoid Rush Hour

If you really want to travel with a gap of more than a centimetre between you and your fellow passengers then avoid the hours of 7.30am-9am and 4.30pm-6pm Monday-Friday. It will still be busy outwith these hours but slightly less uncomfortable. If for some reason you do need to travel during rush hour, the central and northern lines are probably the worst so look for an alternative route if nose-to-nose travelling makes you queasy.

6. Leave Your Winter Coat At Home

This one always amazes me, when Londoners complain about the weather. Hello, have you tried walking to work in the west of Scotland when it’s blowing a gale and the rain is lashing you horizontally? No, you haven’t.

Granted, it can be rainy in London so do pack and umbrella, but as for the eskimo-like coat and scarf combo you’ve packed? Not required, even if it’s snowing.

The reason for this is simple – you’ll be spending most of your time travelling about on the tube, which is underground and naturally warmer anyway. Add on top of that the body heat of at least twenty other people in the carriage beside you and you’ll end up overheating, which is never a good look.

Even if you do have to walk anywhere, it is only ever five minutes before you reach the safety of a warm tube station so where’s the need?

7. Speak Slowly

Glaswegians are always accused of talking at a hundred miles an hour anyway but the further south you go, the harder it seems to become for people to understand your accent. Never mind that we’re expected to know what they’re saying at all times (you’ve watched Eastenders right?), you may as well be speaking Martian if you talk at your usual pace.

The first time I visited London I headed for Oxford Street looking for Selfridges. I should’ve got off at Bond Street, but didn’t realise this, so asked a member of staff in Boots how far away the famous department store was. Her response? A screwed up face followed by a very confused ‘Sorry love we don’t sell fridges, you’d need to try John Lewis or some fink’. The conversation went on like this for another few minutes until I wrote it down for her on my receipt and she realised what I was saying! Sometimes you do have to spell things out.

And I’m not just digging at Londoners here. In my experience 9/10 staff working in the service industry in London are not of British descent, which is fine, but they really don’t understand your Glaswegian take on the English language.

If you don’t slow it down, be prepared to deal with blank looks, requests for sentence repeats and the dreaded ‘Could you say that again in English please?’. Not even joking.

8. Take Scottish Bank Notes At Your Own Risk

Yes I know it’s legal tender and believe me I have argued this point many times. To be fair, this one is sometimes not an issue, but if it is then be prepared to get very angry.

As I’ve just said, the majority of service industry staff are not British anyway, so you do have to give them some sort of leeway if they’ve never come across a Scottish note.

But I’ve been told all sorts of nonsense before, including a member of staff in a branch of Savers (national retailer) in Ealing telling me that the bank no longer accepted them! She was very British and very English, so probably no excuse here other than being extremely confused by banks no longer accepting Scottish pound notes rather than not accepting any sort of Scottish notes at all. No point explaining what Sterling is either, this is a lost cause.

9. Take Advantage of Happy Hours

 

London bars often do happy hours where drinks are 2 for 1

London bars often do happy hours where drinks are 2 for 1

 

The good old SNP and their increased ‘protecting us from alcohol’ laws have practically wiped out this sort of promotion in Scotland so do make the most of it when you’re in London. A lot of bars in central London, especially in tourist hotspots, do happy hours between 5pm-8pm, so you can get 2 for 1 drinks and the like.

Like most things in London, including taxi fares and rental properties, alcohol does tend to be more expensive no matter where you drink so it pays off to make the most of happy hour.

10. Visit A Market

Yes we’ve got the Barras and that’s a unique experience in itself! But London markets are well worth a visit, no matter what you’re looking for when you go shopping. I’m probably not listing all the markets in the city but these are the ones I’ve visited and would recommend.

Camden Market

My favourite part of London holds the capital’s most visited market. Although some of its charm has been lost in recent years, with an influx of cheap stalls selling mobile phone cases and tourist tat, you can still find some of the more Camdenesque goods here that made the market a destination for alternative shoppers.

The Stables Market still houses some proper vintage stores selling everything from Pucci scarves to vinyl records and even the odd bong or two. It tends to get busier on a Sunday, with Camden Town tube station exit only in the afternoon, so try and pop along on another day if crowds don’t appeal. Situated on Camden Lock, next to a varied collection of bars and shops, it’s ideal for soaking up the edgier side of north London.

Portobello Road

The famous row of pastel townhouses featured in Notting Hill really does exist and it’s just as pretty in real life. So movie stars don’t fall in love with bookshop owners every day in these parts, but the area is just as charming nonetheless. Perfect if you love looking at antiques and vintage bags, clothing and jewellery, with the odd cupcake and coffee stop.

Spitalfields Market

Welcome to east London, Victorian style. The large covered market is an eclectic mix of independent fashion, beauty, art and food stalls, with a history that’s hundreds of years old. Open seven days but busiest on a Sunday, there are different markets running depending on which day you visit. Get here via Liverpool Street or Aldgate East tube stations.

Brick Lane Market

Only visit this one if you’re a true retro lover or fashion obsessive. That’s not a dig at this place but if Shoreditch hipsters annoy you then steer well clear at the weekends, when the markets sprawl over the streets here, packed with designer moustached men and budding fashion bloggers on vintage bikes. Lots of arty stuff happens in The Old Truman Brewery but there’s as much junk flying around this place as there is proper unique finds, so make sure you know your bargains from your bric-a-brac.

Borough Market

One for the foodies, this market is bustling with traders selling every food produce you can think of. Situated in Southwark, it’s right next to London Bridge station so easy to find if you’re that way inclined. You might not think market stalls selling food and flowers would be exciting but trust me you’ll easily fritter a few hours away filling your shopping basket with things you’ll never find in your local Tesco superstore.

11. Go on An Open Top Bus Tour

I’ve done this six times, once at night, and it never, ever gets boring. By far the best way to see all of London’s iconic buildings up close, the London bus tours are great value for money as your ticket is hop on/hop off and usually valid for 24/48 hours.

With the exception of Buckingham Palace, where you’d be best to get off the tube at Green Park and walk up to the grounds to wave to The Queen, this is the way to do it. You’ll see the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Marble Arch and the Tower of London with plenty of photo opportunities. Plus it also takes you down to Knightsbridge if you want to visit the iconic department store, Harrods.

12. Shop the Department Stores

Chanel SS15 at Harrods

Chanel SS15 at Harrods

Speaking of which… this is the best way to do some serious shopping in London. I’m not talking about going to Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser – we’ve got great branches of these in Glasgow. But the original Selfridges store on Oxford Street is worth a visit for the window displays alone or head down Argyll Street, off Oxford Circus, to see the monochrome magnificence of Liberty. For a truly Ab Fab fashion trip head to Knightsbridge where you could easily spend an entire day getting lost travelling up and down Harrods’ Egyptian escalators or bankrupt yourself in Harvey Nichols.

13. Enjoy A Bit Of Parklife

The Serpentine at Hyde Park

The Serpentine at Hyde Park

Not in the Damon Albarn meets Phil Daniels sense, though for any Britpop fan that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. London has a reputation for being a cold, grey city, and sometimes it is, but there’s a surprising amount of greenery in some parts.

I’m a north London girl myself, having been lucky enough to live in St John’s Wood, which is close to two of London’s most famous and beautiful parks, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. The latter is perfect for enjoying views over the city and sunbathing on a hot day, with the odd celeb spot entirely possible.

Hampstead Heath is a bit further north if you’re only visiting for the weekend and staying more central, but I’d also say this is one of my favourite areas in London too so have to recommend it!

Hyde Park is also fab on a summer’s day with the picturesque Serpentine gallery area probably my favourite place to park and look out onto the swan-filled lake. And Kensington Gardens surrounding Kate and Wills’ home, Kensington Palace, is another quieter part of London, great for an evening walk away from the busier parts of the city.

14. Be a Culture Vulture

Museums aren’t going to take everyone’s fancy however if you do like a bit of art or fashion then take advantage of some of the exhibitions on display around London. The V&A in South Kensington always has some fashion-related display and art lovers will appreciate a trip to the Southbank for the Tate Modern. There are hundreds of museums to choose from and some are free to visit so have a look at what’s on before you arrive.

15. Stay Safe!

I say this as someone who has had their purse stolen twice in Camden and a credit card cloned once in a bar in east London. And yes I’ve heard all the stuff about Glasgow being the most violent city in Europe and tourists being terrified of the place yadda yadda, but London can be a scary place at times for different reasons. Crime is everywhere, from crackheads outside tube stations to pickpockets actively working inside tube stations. A thief loves nothing more than opportunity and a tourist is an opportunity.

– Always keep your bag zipped shut, and hold it in front of you as you’re going up and down escalators in tube stations

– Check for people watching over your shoulder as you enter your pin number at card machines in bars and cash machines on the high street

– If you’re heading out at night after the last tube time, make sure you know your night bus route home

– Taxis are a safe option but never hail a mini cab off the street, always use a registered black Hackney or store a legitimate taxi number in your phone to call and book when required

– There’s safety in numbers so if you do get lost for whatever reason don’t wander off the beaten track, stick to busy areas like Trafalgar Square where it’s busy at any time of day or night and plenty of night buses to get you home safely

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

So last year I decided to write a list of fashion resolutions. Think I failed to achieve/stick to any of them!

The problem with resolutions is that they’re unnatural; we are cajoling ourselves into doing things that ultimately we’ve resisted doing up until this point.

Instead of creating resolutions that we’ll have conveniently forgotten by the time we’re munching on a Creme Egg (yes, they’re on sale already!), let’s just look at the failsafe buys for the year ahead.

These are my 15 wardrobe essentials for 2015, the ones I tend to update every year and the ones I usually never regret purchasing…

 

1. Leather Jacket

It goes without saying that I already own a few of these but if you find one that fits like a glove then it’s never a wasted purchase. The quality of the leather is just as important as the fit and cut, so it always pays to spend a bit more on a new leather jacket. I’ve made the mistake of purchasing a few high street versions from retailers that shall not be named – let’s just say squeaky leather didn’t make for an enjoyable wear!

A leather jacket need not be designer, though I do admire this cropped Valentino number. The best leather bikers I’ve had are from Topshop and I can vouch that they only get better with age.

Valentino Cropped Leather Biker Jacket

Valentino Cropped Leather Jacket

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2. Little Black Dress

It’s what I wear most days, and indeed needs, so this one’s inevitable. Choosing a black dress should be easy yet I find myself trying on multiple versions, deciding between fits and fabrics like it was a life changing decision. And sometimes it can be – the perfect little black dress can be your best friend when you need to look your very best.

Balenciaga Black Asymmetric Jersey Dress

Balenciaga Black Asymmetric Jersey Dress

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3. Trench Coat

This one can be slightly tricky for me as I love looking at longer styles but find a shorter trench coat suits my shape and height better. The iconic Burberry camel trench coat has spawned a thousand imitations, paying homage to the power this piece has when it comes to giving your look a perfectly polished feel.

Burberry Kensington Heritage Trench Coat

Burberry Kensington Heritage Trench Coat

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4. Shirt Dress

Another favourite dress style of mine, but harder than it looks when you’re bigger than a B cup up top. Buttons are the enemy and camisoles become friends when I’m shopping shirt dresses, but I still think they’re an essential part of a day to night wardrobe.

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5. Statement Necklace

Bring on the bling this year, as the statement necklace is here to stay. I keep reading that statement earrings will be where it’s at but that gets boring when your ear lobes start to droop at the mere thought of wearing heavy hoops and giant gems.

Yves Saint Laurent Vintage Statement Necklace

Yves Saint Laurent Vintage Statement Necklace

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6. Quilted Handbag

The quilted Chanel 2.55 will forever be the ultimate arm candy but until that’s actually attainable then I’ll continue to buy the tribute acts. Moschino and Marc Jacobs are doing well at providing affordable alternatives, complete with shiny gold chain strap.

Black Moschino quilted bag with chain strap

Moschino Quilted Bag

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7. Chic Cardi

It’s got to have shiny gold buttons, some sort of embellishment or a supersoft yarn to keep me interested. Here’s some of my most wanted coverups for the year ahead…

All Saints Wasson Cardigan

All Saints Wasson Cardigan

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8. Biker Boots

Buckles, studs and the odd chain detail make these irresistible to me. My only problem usually is which pair to choose…

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9. Silk Nightwear

I absolutely loathe onesies. Don’t understand why anyone would want to look like a giant baby, whether they’re awake or asleep. There’s nothing better than sleeping in silk, and the odd bit of lace. The dream is to look like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in her Rosie for M&S Autograph range. Unlikely, but it’s fun trying when the range is gorgeous as the model herself!

Rosie for Autograph M&S Pure Silk Chemise

Rosie for M&S Autograph Pure Silk Chemise

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10. Ballet Pumps

Still my flat shoe of choice, after many seasons of threatening to be replaced by the brogue, the loafer and the slipper.

Chloe Lauren leather ballet shoes

Chloe Lauren leather ballet flats

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11. Colour Pop Piece

Although I’m more inclined to shop for monochrome pieces, I do like the odd pop of colour. Pastels ain’t my thing but a bold bright occasionally takes centre stage in my wardrobe. Pillarbox red, royal blue and fuchsia pink tend to be my shades of choice so I’m glad to see some options already emerging for SS15.

Oasis Red 60s Bardot Dress

Oasis Red 60s Bardot Dress

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12. Parka Jacket

Much like the trench coat, the perfect parka is often an elusive thing. Common problems: too long, too short, too much padding (no one wants to resemble a stuffed Eskimo), fabric that’s not waterproof (why?!)… However I’ve found my perfect for with the Whistles Thea – detachable faux fur hood for rainy days and a wax coating makes it waterproof.

Whistles Thea Waxy Parka Jacket

Whistles Thea Waxy Parka Jacket

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13. Leopard Print

I prefer to think of leopard print as being more Brigitte Bardot than Bet Lynch. Which is probably why it’s the one print I’ll buy every season. I’ll always have at least one leopard print dress in rotation and I will never tire of buying leopard print scarves. An essential accessory on red lipstick days!

Oasis Animal Shift Dress

Oasis Animal Shift Dress

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14. Day to Night Boots

I have a love/hate relationship with heels – I love to look at them but usually hate wearing them. Therefore when I need height, a platform heel or wedge is my footwear friend. Also great for when after work drinks turn into 3am dancing sessions.

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15. Sunglasses

Don’t care what anyone says, this is the ultimate year-round accessory. A good pair of shades will see you through high summer days and low winter sunsets. They also hide a multitude of sins, from sleepless nights to hungover mornings, so choose an ace pair that you’ll love to wear.

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Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.