California Dreaming

As far as ‘Busman’s holidays’ go, my recent sojourn to LA served up a pretty balanced combination of work and pleasure.

For those who know me and in true ‘Nadia style’ I made sure that I maximised every minute of my 10 days, as well as every opportunity I had to enjoy the blue skies.

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Having spent the first part in Downtown LA showing our Nadia Minkoff London collection at the California Market Centre I spent the latter part visiting vineyards, driving along the coast, exploring desolate beaches, collecting moonstones ( for real) and finally back to LA for some much needed retail therapy.

My chosen ‘companion’ on this journey? The Richmond midi tote in yellow and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint.

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Going to let the photos do the talking as they are SO good. A big thank you to Director of Photography Dennis Madden for these beautiful captures.

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My travel lowdown:

I flew out from London Gatwick  to LAX  with Norwegian Air on the brand new Dreamliner, can’t recommend enough! Return trip with luggage and x 2 meals from as little as £500

Stayed at the  Millenium Biltmore Hotel, in downtown LA. This hotel has seen more glamorous days the lobby is grand but alas the rooms are in need updating, still the location is great. Rooms start at  £150 per night.

Don’t leave downtown LA without trying Pitchoun Bakery, the raspberry croissants are as tasty as they are beautiful! You will be spoilt for choice

For some of the best handmade noodles you will ever try and an impressive selection of beers to boot visit Peking Tavern

Mexican with a twist at B.S.Taqueria, so bloody good, take me back today!

The Landsby boutique Hotel in Solvang, Scaandi interiors to die for, wanted to move in. Double rooms start at US$350 per night

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Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, if you are after spectacular ocean views, moonstone collecting and sea lion viewing, this is the perfect location… complete with your very own in room  fire place , Doubles start at US$ 200 per night

Rock n Fish restaurant, Manhattan Beach LA, for some regional food and super fresh fish dishes, beautifully served in this gorgeous seaside corner of LA

The Griffith Observatory, immerse yourself in La La Land, watch the stars, the Hollywood Hills, the view of LA, have a dance if you want!

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Luxembourg with my Hoxton Bag

Low cost air travel has meant that weekends away with your ‘besties’ are doable, now and then.

Yes, the cheaper the flight the more ungodly the time of departure often involving long queues at the departure gate, very limited leg room and of course there is the dilemma of taking hold luggage at an extra cost or making do with the one, albeit small, piece of hand luggage.

Now, the hand luggage option does mean either a small suitcase or a handbag but not both.

No handbag?? Girly weekends without a handbag are just not the same. Yes, you can pack your handbag in your small suitcase but this leaves little space for shoes and other important necessities.  Make way for The Hoxton bag, a neat little 3 in 1 bag which can be used as a small hand held bag, worn on the shoulder or cross body as well as the perfect clutch.  Best of all it is so flat and so compact so as not to take up any space in your luggage.

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Our merchandiser Sawako jetted off to Luxembourg for a weekend with her best friends, The Hoxton bag to hand ready to test drive the bag whilst enjoying the city.

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Small and strategically placed in the heart of Western Europe, Luxembourg is one of the three richest countries in the world renowned for its natural beauty, historical monuments and high standard of living.

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Well, it stood up to its reputation: beautiful, interesting and relatively expensive.

So here goes:

  • Flew out of Heathrow with BA, flights during January average at £90
  • Stayed at the Hotel Central Molitor approx. £95 per night
  • Visited… too many to list but top 3 in no particular order would be:

Mudam Museum of Modern Art, a wander in the Grund area with its picturesque river and village feel, The Chocolate House for hot chocolate and giant cakes.

  • Drinks are expensive! just saying…. the virgin cocktail at one of the trendy bars cost 14 Euros and that was the cheap one!

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‘Tis the season for travel

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For many the festive period is a time for travel: going home to the family, reuniting with relatives or taking time off to get away.

I used to love travelling but no more, I find airport security necessary but long and tedious, in a bid to economise my flights seem to take off and land at challenging hours be it first thing in the morning or late at night. The seats are smaller, the baggage allowance is shrinking, food is for purchasing and well, there is nothing much glamourous about my travel agenda.

That is until I designed our The Brewer travel bag and now I genuinely think that travelling, even low cost travel is quite a glamorous affair, in fact, I look forward to the opportunity of putting my Brewer bag to the test and seeing just how much I am able to squeeze out of it ( and into it) in one trip. Deceptively light for its size means I have the perfect opportunity to fill it to the brim! the soft leather and fantastic finish just screams style, the internal (and detachable) zipped pouch has comfy pockets for all my belongings, I am able to stuff my jumper down one side, my scarf, book and paper down the other and it even comes with its own nifty (and again detachable) leather wristlet clutch.

Going to let my Brewer bag do the talking, shot on location: London, Paris, Geneva, up the Alps, down by the lake, in the heart of the city… an investment piece definitely worth considering

Out & about with The Brixton Backpack

8Just so you don’t think we brag about our bags without good cause we do genuinely ‘test drive’ them to see if they perform up to scratch. They do need to look the part but we also take great pride in ensuring they are as functional they are good looking.  Someone gets the lucky ‘chore’ of testing  any new bag we release over a period of a week and reporting back to us.

We try and ‘test’ them in the environment where we think they will be used: travel bags go travelling, evening bags get taken out to town, tote bags go to work and as for backpacks…

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Well, backpacks are the newest babies in our range, The Brixton is the first backpack we released, designed to be small, lightweight and extremely feminine, a midi bag but worn on the back ! With plenty of pockets, draw string fastening and adjustable straps the idea was it would work from day to night, from fast paced walks to bicycle rides to car, from work to leisure.

We’re happy to share photos of the bag in action, Test-driven in the big outdoors surrounding Lake Geneva on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland. It took long walks, bike rides and tram rides. From University to the sleek town centre, from lectures to concerts, weekdays, weekends, rain and shine.

 

And the verdict?

We’ve been told it is great! comfortable, useful, lightweight, secure and most importantly very much admired.

The Brixton backpack is now available in black and grey from select boutiques nationwide, from our webshop and  from Wolf & Badger. If you plan on visiting our stand at The Ideal Home Show in London Olympia, 23-27 November 2016, you could even try one out yourself, we’re quite sure you won’t want to let it go!

Paris with my ‘The Brewer’ Holdall

Hit by the tough economic downturn as well as recent unrest there seems to be quite a big divide in opinion when it comes to Paris:     It’s beautiful- it’s dirty, it’s exciting- it’s dangerous, it’s cool- it’s run down, it’s delicious- it’s full of fast food

I Paris hop regularly and am never 100% sure how I feel about going these days, when the sun is shining I think ‘OK, it will be fine’ but when it rains I wonder ‘what on earth am I doing going there in the first place?’

For my most recent mid-April trip I left Kings Cross International ‘armed’ with my lovely ‘The Brewer’ travel holdall, now that on its own (I confess) is enough to put me in a good mood.

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A couple of hours later I arrive ,Paris is kind and greets me with sunny skies. I set off on my mad schedule, I certainly know how to pack in a full day’s work made easier by the fact that I’ve been so many times that making a B line from the station to my favourite haunts is second nature.

Say what you will, there is always something new and exciting to discover here and that is what really makes Paris so unique.

So a quick run-down of what excited me this time:

An amazing cheese shop caught my eye, the large milk urns leading to the door and the outdoor cooled fridge packed with cheeses .Even though I didn’t buy or try any it was just spectacular.

It’s asparagus and strawberry season and all the green grocers have them out on display, they just look so good and they display them so beautifully

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Lunch break for me and my bag ….

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In a little corner café I take the ‘dish of the day’  which turns out to be the most delicious home-made ravioli and green salad.  I just love it that in France it is completely cool to wipe clean the sauce on your plate with your bread, how good is that!

 

The flats in Central Paris, especially the buildings that taper into a corner are beautiful.

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The independent clothing boutiques are the best I have seen anywhere, absolutely and without a doubt.  But even the larger Dept stores embrace fashion in the grandest of manner. So Spring has hit Printemps and you just can’t miss the buzz, large floral rabbits included.

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As I step out of Printemps the heavens open, hailstones the size of golf balls followed by a heavy downpour. I head on back into Printemps and the quiet oasis which is the Cojean café in the lower ground floor. White and silver minimalism, healthy alternative snacks and salads, vegan cakes and lots of lovely teas. My tray looks great on the table top and my The Brewer holdall looks even better hanging from its under table bag hanger- how thoughtful of them to do this.   Any bag designer and bag lover reading this blog will totally get this,surely this is what life is all about.

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Back at the Gare du Nord I regroup my thoughts, the intention was to go to Paris armed solely with my Brewer travel holdall which is very spacious and to fill it up with a few bits and pieces bought on the way and that’s it.

Did I stick to my plan? Why of course not, too many things to buy in Paris!!

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Graffiti inspired

This is not my first blog about Graffiti, nor my last I suspect… I really do love it. Wherever I visit round the globe I am intrigued by the art of it and by the social statements that it often conveys. During my visit to London’s Bow area, as written about in my previous post, I was blown away by the graffiti, on walls, on boat houses, on steps, in bars.

Here are some of my favourite, to see them all visit my Graffiti board on Pinterest.

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Where E3 meets E20

London’s E3 district Stratford, commonly known as Bow didn’t quite have the best reputation as far as London postcodes go, in fact quite the opposite. A mixture of run down council estates, tree lined Georgian houses & industrial warehousing, with little night life and not much in the way of fine dining, it wasn’t the code of choice for most although many artists moved in some years back taking advantage of cheaper than average London rental prices and a thriving artist community was established. That is until Stratford was earmarked for re-generation in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics games.

During 2011, in the run up to the London Olympics Royal Mail officially introduced the E20 area code for the Olympic park, which up until then was a fictional postcode created for the long running popular TV soap Eastenders. And so E3 met E20 and the rest as they say is history and still in the making. With its waterways and warehouse style re development, Bow embraced modern urban living, vibrant street culture, great markets, trendy arty folk, intriguing restaurants and great shops. It is a fun and vibrant place to live and pretty cool too, canal boat or canal side, on foot, by bike or by waterbus, modern, converted or run down- the appeal is huge.

 

E20 firmly on the map

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River boat dwelling or river view?

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Not to forget the riverboat roof top Vegetable garden!

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Fantastic stroll down the Old Ford Locks

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With the Olympic Village backdrop

 

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Chilling out at The Cygnet waterside Bar and Bistro

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And whilst I loved it and plan on going back many, many times..  in fact this is one postcode which , if given the choice I would quite happily consider moving to, I fully understand the plight of the local artists and dwellers, being pushed out due to the mind blowing increase in rental and property prices.

The Graffiti on the wall summed it all: Rent too high, pants too low!!

 

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