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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cool Cats' Café - the coolest café in Camberwell!

cafe review london

There are so many amazing cafés in London these days. Coffee culture has taken off here in a big way, and it's only going to get bigger, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it seems as if there's a gorgeous café with incredible home baked pastries on every street corner in this city, and a lot of them have a queue coming out of the door. That said, I don't think that there's enough love for cafés south of the river - there are some absolutely incredible family-run businesses in South London, but there's a misconception that everything south of Borough Market is some kind of barren wasteland full of bin-fires, rancid chicken shops, and people using their own shoes as telephones to the beyond... Basically, what I'm trying to say is that people are scared of South London, which is a massive shame.

I've lived in Camberwell for three years now, and I've visited a fair few cafés in the area. However, I actually only discovered Cool Cats' Café when I was frantically googling somewhere close to where we live that we could visit with my in-laws, since Dan's Mum is super allergic to our cat and can't come into our house! It has only just occurred to me when writing this that it was maybe a bit of an odd thing to do, to take someone who is allergic to cats, to a café named after cats. Oh well.

After a leisurely walk through the park and past a bustling baptist church, we found the Cool Cats' Cafe to be a perfect brunch escape. Dan's Dad was happy with the up-tempo jazz music that was playing, and I really loved how light and airy the place was. Dan and his Dad both chose the Camberwell Breakfast, which was a totally home made Full English Breakfast, right down to the baked beans. Dan's Mum had Eggs Florentine and I had Eggs Benedict - I'm pretty sure the hollandaise sauce was home made too, and it was absolutely decadent. I got chatting to Roger who helps run the place, and he recommended sprinkling a few drops of tabasco sauce on the top which was INCREDIBLE.

south london cuppa
fry up south london
family brunch cafe review

After we'd eaten, Dan and his parents had a lot of stuff to discuss about the logistics of us moving back to stay with them for a couple of months, as well as the new flat we'll be moving into when we come back to London, so while they got on with those discussions, I took the chance to snap a few photos around the café. We were lucky to be visiting at a strange time of morning, so there weren't too many people around. I chatted more with the people who worked at the café and they told me about all of the art exhibitions they've hosted, and some of the awesome live music events they hold in the evenings. I'd absolutely love to go back to experience the café in its restaurant incarnation because I can imagine that the ambiance is really different but just as comfortable and laid-back. The dinner and cocktail menus look really good.

bar glasses dof
cafe idea south london
cafe cool gig events
camberwell arts scene

Initially, I was going to write, "if you're in the area, you should visit Cool Cats' Café", but I'm going to revise that. I actually think that this place is worth travelling for. The people who work there are really helpful and kind, the food is gorgeous, and it strikes this fantastic balance between hearty south london fry up and modern sophisticated hangout. My in-laws loved it, Dan loved it, I loved it, and I think you would probably love it too. South London, I'm really going to miss you. <3

dancing chef picture

Cool Cats' Café can be found at 149 Southampton Way, Camberwell, SE5 7EW. If you go, tell them I sent you!

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Behind the scenes on Owl Girl - The Blog Hop

blog secret behind the scenes

What do bloggers actually do all day? Blogging can't be that hard can it? Don't you guys just go to tonnes of parties and get given loads of free stuff?

Well, I can't speak for all bloggers, which is kind of the point. We're all different and we get up to a lot of different stuff, we've all got unique perspectives and outlooks on everything. (Funny that, what with us all being different and individual human beings...) Anyway, I was nominated by Hayley-Eszti, who is an absolutely fantastic blogger (are blog-crushes a thing? Because I think I might have one on her...), to do this little 'blog hop' challenge, which is where I get to give you guys a little insight into my creative process with this here blog! I hope you find it interesting! Oh and most of the pictures in this post are outtakes from other posts, because ~behind the scenes~...

Writing blog notes

1. What am I working on/writing right now?

At the moment, I am planning quite a few foodie posts, starting with a review of another amazing independent cafe in Camberwell, and a few recipes too. Food is a big part of my life - Dan and I love cooking together, and visiting lots of the amazing restaurants that London has to offer. I want to do more outfit posts because putting outfits together is such fun for me! I try really hard not to repeat outfits because I like the challenge. Once we've moved into our new flat, you will be able to expect a lot of home decor posts and a house tour as we about decorating our first proper home together. I mean, we've been living together for years and years now, but always in places that we've not been able to decorate! I can't wait to share that process with you!

2. How does my blog differ from others of its genre?

Like Hayley-Eszti, I don't really like to compare this blog to other people's! It makes me sad, and it doesn't do anyone justice. Some of the things I love about my blog is that it's packed with lots of pretty photos that I took myself (or that Dan took of me!) and it provides a great meeting point for some of my biggest interests: fashion, music, food, the city, craft, the countryside, travel... I feel like I can write with confidence about these things and do the topics justice. So that's what I love about my blog and my writing - I know I kind of cheated with my answer to that question, but it's my blog, so nyeugh...!

Cheeky Basil herbs

3. Why do I write what I do?

I blog because it is the apex of writing, photography and creativity. I am happiest when I'm making something, either physically, or on the internet. I can look at it and say, "I MADE that!" which is so satisfying. I've been making things and writing things for longer than I can remember (somewhere there's a cassette tape of me telling a long, long story about a princess who killed all of her prospective husbands by turning them into inanimate objects using magical powers. I don't remember making this story up but I LOVE that my parents thought to record me telling it!) and ultimately, I want my career to involve creativity. It would be a dream come true to be able to make things, create outfits, make music, write, and take beautiful photographs for a living. And hopefully with a lot of hard work from me, and a bit of help from all of you guys, that could become a reality some day!

4. How does my writing process work?

I start by making a big ol' list in my little notebook. There are so many lists of possible blog posts and fragments of ideas in there, and the lists are always growing. Sometimes something urgent will happen, like I go to an incredible cafe that I simply must blog about, or we go on a surprise holiday that means I HAVE to write a post about aeroplane fashion... But mostly I will blog about things that I think you guys would like to read. I block off some weekend time to take photos for a few posts, which usually involves a little trek to somewhere pretty, and then once I'm satisfied that there are enough photos to choose from (sometimes we take hundreds...) we come home. Dan makes me a cup of tea in my favourite mug, and I bury myself underneath a bunch of blankets to edit photos, write, and assemble my post. Once I'm satisfied, I check the previews and then publish it. Dan proof-reads it once it is live, which means I usually have to make a couple of tiny edits. When we're sure that it's okay, I promote it on social media and you guys come and read it! :)

Cat in shot! Ha!

I hope this was fun to read - I feel like I've been quite honest in this post, and I'd love to know what you guys think! Is there any kind of post that you'd like to see more of? After all, as much as blogging is for me, I want to create something that makes people happy!

I'd like to nominate Jessica, whose blog The Pyreflies is this incredible mix of gamer culture and twee fashion; Victoria from VVNightingale which is a blog packed with amazing fashion and lifestyle picks, and some honestly written posts; and Kerri, whose blog Crumbs in the Bed documents her adventures in academia and Belgium.

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

This Autumn is going to be BIG

Autumn resolutions

I think that Autumn will always represent new beginnings to me, for as long as I live. While the leaves are falling off the trees and the weather is getting wetter, signalling the end of summer, I'm planning new projects and looking ahead to all of the exciting things there are to come. As a child, Autumn would be heralded by new shoes, a new pencil case, and plenty of academic milestones. Now that I'm out of education, I have to work harder to justify this innate sense of 'newness' that comes around every Autumn.

This year is going to be a bit different though as the next few months are going to be some of the busiest of my life. In fact, the Autumnal fun has already started with a surprise last-minute invitation to BloggersFestival, an exciting networking event organised by Scarlett who blogs over at Scarlett London. This was my first ever bloggers networking event, and I was really bloody nervous beforehand (and a bit during too), but I think it ended up going pretty well! I had some really interesting chats with some nice brand representatives from Urban Outfitters, Ecco, Bee Good, and loads of others too, as well as picking up some adorable little goodies such as a Lee Stafford hairbrush (which I've yet to try) and a lovely lip balm from Bee Good. The best bit for me though, was actually getting to meet an absolute boatload of really inspirational bloggers face to face, and make some great new friends. It was fantastic to have conversations with people who completely understand "Wait a sec, I just need to take a photo of my own hand" and who don't think it's weird to rearrange all of the lamps in the house to get the lighting just-so for an Instagram photo. I've really enjoyed catching up on their blogs this afternoon!

bloggers networking cards
Bloggers I met and loved: Cassy Fry, The Lifestyle Directory, Married to a Geek, Jessica in Your Ear, Miss Sue Flay, The Little Colt Posts, One Little Vice, and Captain ChARGHley!

So what else is going on in Candyland this Autumn then? Well, in a couple of weeks, Dan and I will be moving out of our little flat in central London, back to his parents' house near Cambridge for at least a month. The landlord of our current flat wants to sell the place, and the place we're trying to move to isn't ready yet, so we're going to bridge the gap in the countryside. For my everyday life this will mean LOTS of commuting and living out of boxes whilst project-managing a renovation back in London. Oh, and our cat will be staying in Brighton with my stepdad *weep weep weep*. For you guys reading my blog, this means some beautiful countryside scenery, some home decor inspiration, and maybe even a few recipes from the beautiful kitchen of Dan's parents. Hopefully, by the end of November, we'll be safely installed in our new home, and a whole new chapter of our lives can begin!

So let's talk about some of my goals through this weird old Autumn:

- Step up my blogging game - make more regular posts, and keep them exciting despite the oncoming stress-deluge.
- Cook some lovely meals for Dan's family.
- Make our new home completely beautiful.
- Start to introduce exercise back into my life. I've been holding off on the exercise front over the last few months because I've been adjusting to life with a diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but I've been told by several doctors and researchers that Pilates and swimming will help me, so once we've moved, I am going to get the heck ON that exercise.

One of my other favourite things about Autumn is the fact that my sense of style is already inherently Autumnal. I have to deal with so much, "You must be really hot" and "Why are you wearing tights?" all Summer, and in Winter I just have to cover up my carefully planned outfits with a coat... but Autumnal fashion is when I come into my own. I love it! I especially love having an excuse to crack out the kilt collection.

Back to School kilt
autumnal fashion uk

So, Autumn... come at me bro! I'm ready for you. If you love Autumn like I do, and you're a nostalgic soul, why not look at what I wore last September, or my 2012 "Autumn Resurrection".

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

August's Greatest Hits!

August favourites UK

Welcome to my second 'favourites' style post. There's been a lot to love this August, and as usual, I don't really think I came up for air at all this month, I've been so busy! I've made some new friends, been to some parties, and worked really bloody hard! That said, I am fully aware that this September is going to be the busiest month yet... But that's another post for another day.

August's most memorable moment

Portobello Road fun

This month we took advantage of the bright and sunny weather to have quite a few little outings. I want to write all about my wonderful trip to Brighton last weekend, but that only just happened, so I feel like it would be cheating a bit! A couple of weeks ago we went to Portobello Road and braved the crowds to have a truly life-changing burger and chips. I blogged about it here, so check it out if you missed it!

August's Instagram moments

gritty london kitten love
obligatory granola picture is this a lob


Despite all of the sunshine and lollipops of the first half of August, I've been much more interested in the cooler, more muted late-August vibe. I've eaten some sexy granola, changed my hairstyle for Autumn, and had lots of cosy cat cuddles as the rain beat against the window. I mean, let's face it, every month is going to involve cat cuddles, but I reckon you're all totally down for that, aren't you? Follow me on Instagram for more autumnal whimsy as the days grow shorter!

Songs on repeat in August (Click the links to listen!)

I've got a bit of an eclectic mix for you this August. My top pick for the month is a bit of a weird one, but I think it's spectacular. My stepdad has notoriously... interesting... tastes (think ten-hour-long documentaries about Belgian suspension bridges) but every now and then he recommends something to me that I end up absolutely loving.
This month, it is the song Get Amongst It by Fjokra. I can't put my finger on Fjokra's genre and I think that's why I love his music so much. Here's the "cooking video" version of Get Amongst It, cunningly titled Baguette Amongst It. Every single song by Fjokra is completely different and I find them all so compelling! Any band who makes a six foot long baguette whilst grooving out to their own music gets my vote. Still, I suspect this recommendation may be a bit of a "Marmite" one, so here's another of my favourite songs of the month: Houses by Great Northern. I found this band ages ago when searching for some Twin Peaks related stuff online, and I've been obsessed with this song ever since. It's such a great song with a really sweeping Autumnal mood to it. It's around this time of year that I start to get into 'heavier' music... I'm still a little goth at heart!

Blogs I've loved this month

I received three Liebster Award nominations this month, from three incredible bloggers: Jessica from Sweetness and Solitude, Arielle from A Simple Elegance, and George from Caramel Latte Kiss. They're all such lovely women and their blogs couldn't be more different. Arielle is, as her blog promises, SO elegant, Jessica is adorable and organized, and George is such a strong and individual person, and (fun fact!) we used to be pen pals! You should check out these blogs and let them know I told you to say hi! :)

What was your highlight, this August? And please recommend me your favourite song of the month!

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brighton Lights - A whirlwind trip back to my hometown

Modern Brighton Postcard

Brightonians (as we call ourselves) are notoriously filled to the brim with pride in our fantastic city. Yes, Brighton IS a city! I count myself so very lucky to have grown up in this wonderful place, and I'd love to bring my kids up here too. It's big enough that I could become street-wise, but small enough that I'd ALWAYS run into someone I knew when wandering around town, and it's sandwiched so beautifully between the seaside and the countryside. I've always loved Brighton but I've never appreciated it as much as I do now that I live in London. Much as I love the bustle of London, and the fact that you can pretty much get EVERYTHING here, there's nothing quite like the inclusive, friendly atmosphere of Brighton. Case in point: I received four compliments on my skirt in Brighton, and whilst I know my skirt is fabulous, I've never received an innocent compliment about my fashion choices in London!

Colourful houses Brighton
Chicwish Neon Lights Skirt Blog
Alleyway fashion shoot
Bokeh skirt blogger style

We decided to travel down to Brighton for the day on an absolute whim. I missed my hometown and if you've got a rail card and you go on the slow train, a day return from London only costs £6. We wandered around the shops, ate hearty donburis at Pompoko, a super cheap and cheerful Japanese place, wandered some more, and had an incredible vegetarian dinner at my favourite restaurant Terre à Terre. We had a tapas plate to share, and a sharing dessert too. Both were absolutely beautiful, complex and perfect. I've wanted to take Dan to Terre à Terre for years now, and I'm so glad we went.

terre a terre tapas review
terre a terre dessert menu

Bellies full, we waddled along the rapidly darkening seafront to the glowing lights of the pier, because Dan has never been to the pier at night. I had a great time playing with the light to make it match my skirt, and telling Dan all about all of the different memories I had of times I spent on this pier in my childhood and adolescence. We walked right to the end, looked out to sea and tasted the salt on our lips, before paying to ride the ghost train (which is actually quite scary since they've renovated it. It includes a really horrific zombie bathroom scene, and a severed head burning in an oven... Dark...)

Typical Brighton Sunset UK
The Palace Pier at Night
Bokeh Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier night fashion
Pier rides Brighton
Blurry lights effect
Merry go round fashion
sunset fashion brighton uk

Brighton is often portrayed as this pastel, saccharine seaside destination, all stripes and sticks of rock, and Mr Whippy ice creams with a flake stuck in at a jaunty angle. Yeah, we've got all of those things, and to the casual visitor it is probably easy to restrict your visit to these aspects of Brighton if you want to. But to me, Brighton is so much more than that. Brighton has a dark, grimy underbelly. It has a thriving arts scene and more youth music than you'd think possible. It's got restaurants and cafés for every taste, it's got countless creepy kebab places, it's got winding alleys, lanes and laines, boulevards, landmarks, local history, and so much character. This has been a love song to my favourite place. I miss you, Brighton, and I'll be back soon, I promise!

Skirt: Chicwish
Top: H&M Basics (it's actually a bodycon dress)
Shoes: Dr Martens


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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Owl Guy: City breaks for couples

Romantic holiday New York

Hi, It’s Dan again! This time I am going to talk about holidays. You might have seen a few of Candy’s posts about holidays we have been on, and if so you might have noticed that we tend to go on a particular kind of holiday most of the time. Yup, city breaks! Now I do love to soak up the rays on the beach, but given our busy lives and thus limited time we want to pack as much “doing stuff” into our holidays which means that we inevitably end up going on city breaks.

Seoul Night Lights
Couple in Norway
Oslo Tram Guide tourism
Western Couple in Korea
Parasol or Umbrella Seoul
Shibuya Guide Starbucks

Going to a new city as a couple is great, you get to share all of the new exciting things with someone but there aren’t so many people on the holiday that you all want to do different things. (For group holidays I would totally recommend skiing!) Going to a new city is such a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, there are always so much to explore! Our favourite way of exploring a city is walking, most cities, when you get down to it aren’t really that big, even London or New York! and walking lets you get a real feel for the atmosphere and take in some of the more obvious sights (how better to look at Korean palaces, downtown New York or the Tokyo tower?). If you do have a long way to go public transport is also great, not only is it usually pretty cheap but you get to feel like a local, just for a few moments! Obviously all that walking has to end somewhere, we usually try to fit in a few local museums and galleries, a good bit of shopping and of course, most importantly lots of restaurants! I mean I’m pretty sure it is a saying that “The best way to get to know somewhere is by its food!” Speaking of museums, everywhere has some totally unique ones and it is great fun to explore them. Oslo has the Fram museum (it has a giant boat in it!) which Candy blogged about, Tokyo has a museum for basically anything you can think of and Venice has a fascinating little museum about the local Jewish population!

Venice sunset scene
Budapest twilight

If you have a little bit of extra time it can be really fun to make a little day trip or two out into the countryside (or another city, whatever floats your boat). We did this during our honeymoon in Tokyo, we made 2 day trips, getting the shinkansen (bullet train) out first to the Tokogawa shrine and then to Aokigahara forest where we got caught in a thunderstorm in a the forest on a mountain and thought we would never make it home!
Finally, one of my favourite things about going on city breaks as a couple is that you get to experience all of these awesome things with someone that you love and spend some time together totally away from all the stresses and anxieties of life! So what kind of holidays do you guys like, and do you usually go with family, as a couple, with friends or as a solo adventurer?

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fancy dress costumes on a budget!

axolotl hair band

I’ve always loved to dress up. Costume parties and fancy dress have been the top of my priority list since 1995. Part of the appeal to me is the bit where I get to decide who or what I’m going to be. And yes, I often go as inanimate objects. I once dressed as a matchstick to go to an ‘M’ themed birthday party, and one fateful Hallowe’en in my first year at university, I went as a treasure chest. Make of that what you will.

When deciding what to dress up as, I often feel like the process should go like this:

1. Decide who/what to be.
2. Source costume and props.
3. Dress up.
4. Go to the party.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve got tons of money to spend on expensive ready-made costumes (boring) or you are going to the party dressed as a modern day civilian (even more boring), the process of preparing for a fancy-dress party is not as smooth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a really effective and wearable outfit for yourself with minimum effort. I’ve found, over the years, that you can make almost any costume using clothes from around the house, scrap pieces of felt, and headbands.
Now let me be clear – I am no cosplayer. I am forever in awe of those who spend months crafting their hyper-accurate TARDIS costumes to go to conventions and gatherings, or learn intricate makeup techniques to become mythical creatures. And in addition, (although this goes without saying...) I am not a professional costume designer. My incredibly talented friend Eleanor Bull is, and her fancy dress costumes always trump everyone else’s, as far as I’m concerned. When we were little, we used to make all sorts of magnificent costumes out of scarves, sheets of fabric, old clothes, bits of cardboard… And it’s that kind of boundless, unselfconscious creativity that I think we should harness when creating costumes (and in all getting-dressed endeavours!).

Children in fancy dress

The key to a good costume, for me, is all in the headdress. Not only does a headdress bring a well-curated outfit together, it can also make a completely non-fancy-dress outfit into a costume! You can basically make a hat out of ANYTHING, which means the possibilities for easy costumes are endless. Going to a zoo themed party? Hot-glue some plastic animals to a headband! Want to dress up for a summer themed party? Put your hair in a bun and wrap some tiny bunting around it! You’ve got to think outside the box a bit, but I know you can do it.
I’ve made my fair share of really simple headdresses over the years. Some have been a little bit more labour intensive than others, and some have been more effective than others, but they were all fun little projects!

axolotl costume idea
cute ginger cat girl
cat man costume headdress

Animal headdresses are probably the easiest to think of, and they can be some of the easiest to create too – especially cat ears. That said, I made a unicorn headdress once that didn’t work at ALL. My top tip there is to keep the ears/axolotl gills/horns/whatever head appendage small, to avoid any embarrassing flaccid headdress incidents.

bacon hairclips

For my Eurovision party this year, (Eurovision is my favourite religious festival) I was Denmark. I came up with a ton of convoluted puns and ideas (Cover myself with gloves and go as HANDS Christian Andersen…) but eventually I decided to go with a red and white dress (Denmark’s flag colours) and a couple of (Danish) bacon themed hair clips (see above). Like almost everything I make, the hairclips were made of felt, sewn and glued, and fitted to hair clips.

What you need, to make an impromptu headdress:

1. Felt in a variety of colours. You can buy selections very cheaply online or in fabric shops.
2. Glue (you could use a glue gun, or UHU glue, or any other strong glue)
3. Hairclips, hairbands, headbands etc. You can get the little flimsy plastic ones so cheaply and those are perfect for this kind of thing.

Optionally, you could also add glitter, sequins, plastic bits of tat (I’ve been known to glue a plastic tea set to a hat…) and ribbons to your arsenal of headdress-making gear. Let me know if you’ve ever made any awesome hats or headdresses, or tell me about any awful pun costume ideas. You can comment down below or tweet me at @candyowlgirl. And tell me if you’d like to see more costume ideas and more detailed tutorials in the future. :)

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