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My Big, Fat, Greek Holiday.. A lesson in bed making

Poor Greece, it’s getting people a bit anxious with all its overwhelming popularity in the news, everyone but the Greeks it seems. Not to say that they are in any disillusion over their country’s financial and economic status, but that to visit them you truly would never know.

Perhaps the sum of it is that they are at ease with the fact that they’re are simply the passengers of the political chauffeurs who drove them into this economic car crash; you know a child will eat a sweet when they know you won’t tell them off for it, even when you told them not to.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

So moving swiftly on as I never have and never will try to pretend that my political fluency much beyond my own nose is anything but mediocre (something I’m working on but also something Good Morning Britain news doesn’t seem to have much aptitude to cover either. Must. Try. Harder).

I took a trip to Greece last week for a Big, Fat, Greek Wedding! And yes, that’s exactly what they called it! Flying from London Stansted to Thessaloniki in three hours, we touched down in time for a lovely late supper. We jumped in a taxi and somehow ended up finding ourselves a true Greek restaurant with live music and absolutely no English on the menus, it was wonderful!

Our Greek adventure had begun as we tried to decipher what the various dishes, translated to us by our waitress as, ‘fish’, ‘potatoes’, ‘salad’ and ‘mushroom’, might also include to warrant a whole meal, we resolved that our waitress was very enthusiastic but ultimately not bilingual. Thankfully the service was still wonderful and the ‘fish'(top of the menu), ‘salad’ and ‘fish'(bottom of the menu) was delicious!

The rest of the holiday involved three days of wedding activities in-between our minimal sleep and maximum party plans, the making of the bed on night two was the real start of the trouble, but as this was an evening invitation we took the day to explore a little of Thessaloniki.

The White Tower, was our meeting place for the rest of the holiday, right by the sea it once was a prison but now hosts a mass of Greek history, though it definitely helps if you get the English audio guide! I did a lot of staring blankly and hoping to learn something.. Mostly this was a sauna style, cardio exercise – beware there are a lot of steps and few fans!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

But the view is worth bringing your selfie stick for!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

We strolled around the city looking for some lunch. It’s filled with preserved, amazing ruins from the old city buildings and city walls.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

But we ended up back by the promenade… the sea beckoned!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

At this point we may have forgotten all about food and jumped aboard the Arabella for some sailing, cocktails and one hell of a party playlist… You just jump onboard and place your order!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Personally I enjoyed singing like a drunk ol’ pirate myself, ‘If you like pina coladas! And getting caught in the rain!…’ None of us could get tired of this sea, singing and swigging combo.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

I’m sure you can see why.

But soon we had to pull the scallywags to shore and scrub-up for the first special event of the wedding! The making of the bed.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

We were invited to the Marilena and Shawn’s flat to partake in the ceremony. Welcomed by the bride-to-be, Marilena (the gorgeous lady in white and gold)  we enjoyed a glass, or two, of homemade berry liqueur.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

A traditional Greek buffet was set out, pastries filled with cheese and spinach, sweet pastries and small, round doughnuts to dip in honey and crushed nuts, vine leaf parcels with rice and of course sugar covered almonds (always take two for luck!) All made by Marilena’s Grandmother, it was absolutely delicious!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

All while taking in the stunning view and sunset over their church for the following day’s nuptials.

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

I’ll briefly explain that the making of the bed in Greek tradition sees the single bridesmaids and girls attempt to make the soon-to-be married couple’s bed for their wedding night, but of course, us single gals haven’t a clue how this should be done!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

So after it being pulled apart by the bride – more than a few times…

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

…the married, elder women step in to show them how it’s done!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Then the guests throw the candy almonds (tough but sweet), rice (for deep roots) and money (for prosperity) on to the bed before chucking a baby on there for fertility, if Greek tradition is right, Marilena and Shawn should be having a little girl in no time as the sex of the baby thrown on the bed predicts their first born!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

The night continued into a haze of bars and clubs and excellent company with our new Greek friends until the morning light. Of course, where Sherin goes, the rain must follow!

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

But we made it through and managed to try our new Greek speciality.. Wine and coke. Ok, it might not be a Greek speciality per se, but it’s where we were introduced to the bizarre concept so it’s Greek to me!

Let me know what you think, have you tried it before? It definitely sparked debate amongst our group.

We clinked and toasted, “yamas!” to our new found friendships and adventures to come…

Cat Foley Survival Survival Greece Holiday Wedding

 

C.x

 

Words and Photos by Cat Foley

Couture Cocktails: Fashion Inspired Sips

Now, I would not necessarily suggest that fashion choices and cocktails go well together, one could end up with some rather outlandish and expensive wardrobe choices, but they are definitely two of my favourite luxuries in life.

And when they come together in a cocktail list hosting a symphony of  rose petals, twee cat glasses and black ice you just can’t help but adore the craftsmanship and what an utter delight it is when cocktails are paired with catwalk credentials.

Where on earth do I find these fiendish fancies, I hear you cry? Well when you approach you’d want to appear as refined and glamorous as the cocktails, because One Aldwych holds its own in the style battle, it’s a statement bar, suitable to host such cocktails of class. Fabulously high-back arm chairs and exotic and exuberant floral arrangements, this bar is located just off from Covent Garden which makes it  perfect place for pre-theatre drinks, an impressive date or much like my evening with Sherin, a fabulous bar for a catch-up with some equally fabulous friends.

Cat Foley One Aldwych London Fashion Week Cocktails Survival Survival Alice Temperley.jpg

Their Fashion Week Couture Cocktails, representing each of the four cities which host Fashion Week, are all Tanqueray based, a variation on London Dry or No.10, so you see, we’re off to a good start already. My personal favourite? (yes, of course I tried them all) The English Rose, inspired by Alice Temperley (London), as delicate as you would hope, this cocktail adds rose liqueur with home made jasmine syrup and lemon juice all topped with the most delicious bergamot foam and a velvety, pink rose petal delicately sits atop.

Cat Foley. One Aldwych. London Fashion Week Cocktails. Survival Survival. Cat Foley2

The other couture cocktails include the Calvin Klein inspired, New York, New York, with rhubarb liqueur , Martini Bianco, fresh pomegranate seeds and lemon bitters, this is not for the faint hearted and someone should warn James Bond it could be his new favourite. Cat Foley One Aldwych London Fashion Week Cocktails Survival Survival Calvin Klein.jpg

Chanel, Blanc et Noir,(Paris) a classic cocktail to match a classic icon, this uses lemon juice, Chartreuse, elderflower cordial and citrus bitters, topped with a lemongrass foam (the foam is a delicious revelation to the texture of these two drinks, I’d class these as dessert) Presented in a black glass for the necessary stylistic drama, this cocktail is delicate and soft eluding it’s ark, bold exterior.

Cat Foley One Aldwych London Fashion Week Cocktails Survival Survival Moschino.jpg

Moschino inspired the La Dolche Vita (Milan) with Martini Rosato, home-made wild berry syrup and cranberry juice, topped with champagne and served in a cat glass with a sauvignon blanc and mango mousse.. I don’t think I need say anymore about this, we’ve all seen the ‘C’ word.

Each cocktail is £13, and they’re available  until the end of Paris Fashion Week – 2nd October.

So go, be glam, drink glam and for glam’s sake don’t fall off those 6 inches after hanging out with CK and Temperley!

C. x Cat Foley. One Aldwych. London Fashion Week Cocktails. Survival Survival. Cat Foley Words and Photos by Cat Foley.

 

 

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What she really wants for Mother’s Day

Clocks will go forward an hour on Mothering Sunday as 2014 British Summer Time starts in the UK.

This means losing an hour of sleep in the morning – hardly a thank you to hard-working Mums across the land. So time for you to make up for this with a very special gift!

We all have an area of the house we like to call our own, our domain, so stop wondering what it is she might like this Mother’s Day and use your imagination to provide the inspiration! Well, either that or you could just let us do it for you… Take a look our guide to what Mums (and wives) really want on Mothering Sunday (or on any other special occasion).

 

The Kitchen Queen

Step away from the Anolon pan set and back away from the colour coded chopping boards, she spends enough time in that kitchen as it is. There’s no doubt an affinity with cooking suggests an attraction to good food. What she really wants it to be taken to a restaurant that delights her senses and to avoid the dishwasher and chopping board. So push the boat out and treat her to a Michelin star restaurant; laughable portions maybe but style, presentation and service fit for a Queen – spoil her!

The Garden Goddess

Yes,  she may have green fingers but that’s not to say she wants to be stuck out there in her wellies all day, give her the gift of inspiration by taking her for high tea and a walk around some of Britain’s most beautiful gardens.  If you’re located around London, Kew Gardens are a mere stone’s throw away and with Peyton and Byrne’s Pavilion Restaurant reopening for the Spring it’s the perfect location for a Sunday stroll followed by a slice of cake. If Kew isn’t your cup of tea (whoops, sorry for the pun) choose from The Independent’s ten best gardens to visit: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/the-10-best-gardens-to-visit-8575566.html  or try the Champagne Tea at the Wolsey in Piccadilly next to St. James’ Park.

 

The Pamper Princess

Does she have a penchant for pampering; pristine nail polish, long baths and a whole cupboard of those smelly lotions and potions? And why shouldn’t she enjoy the finer things in life? But step away from the bath salts and foot files, she does it for herself all year round, what she really wants is to be indulged with a luxury spa treatment. With plenty of day retreats on offer she’s going to be in her element. Take a look at the top spa resorts in the UK for some in’spa’ration! And for the romantic getaway, spoil yourself as well, and try one of the wonderful spas in our leading country house hotels.

 

The Health Kick Madame

She’s up before the kids and has more energy than a Duracell bunny; she’s got you eating all of the green stuff and takes no nonsense when it comes to getting out and about rather than sitting indoors. We all have one in our life and we all wonder where on earth she gets the energy from – relentless in her yoga efforts, her general wellbeing in her forties is better than yours was in your teens. But step away from the sweat bands and superfood sections, she’s not looking for  your input after all these years: instead offer her a wellbeing nutritionist package/acupuncture, this will put her in touch with her body’s natural balance, boost energy and help her feel younger than any super green smoothie.  

 

Adventure’s Leading Lady

It’s mostly grandparents that have the time for far-flung adventure days with the kids. But despite having the energy and razzmatazz to do such things the last thing she truly wants on Mother’s Day is run after her darling grandchildren at Legoland or Thorpe Park. Though there’s no doubt she will want to see her family on or around Mother’s Day, so why not head off on Saturday night to one of London’s top West- End shows. There are plenty suitable for all of the family, including the Lion King, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and long running favourite, Wicked.

 

Words by Cat Foley

Published: All About Commercial – March 14  

A Few Festive Frolics!

What should you be getting up to over the festive season? Let me clue you in….

 

Christmas comes but once a year, full of merriment, laughter and plenty of cheer, so wrap up your loved ones and head out to the snow, the warmth of the market, that’s where we’ll go…

Ah yes, it’s November which, of course means it’s the start of the Christmas countdown, though I’m sure the mince pies have been on the store shelves since August – correct me if I’m wrong. With The Regent Street Christmas lights being switched on 9th November there’s no reason to prevent yourself from enjoying a little mulled wine from here on! Christmas in London is magical, extensive and enjoyable on any budget and with such a vast array of options we thought we’d suggest a few of our personal favourites for the festive build up!

9. The Christmas Arcade, (c) Charlotte Fielding, portrait

Christmas Lights

They undoubtedly mark the start of the season, twinkling along the street illuminating the hustle and bustle of the last minute shopping and adding warmth to the mania. This year the lights in Regents Street will be launched on VIPeabody Day, Saturday Nov 9th, themed by Dreamworks’ new time travelling comedy animation. With fireworks and a mass of marvellous lights, it’s free fun for all the family.

Christmas Markets

A whole village made up of mulled wine, sizzling bratwurst with onions and novelty candy. The Christmas markets stock delicious goodies and host outdoor bars creating communal huddles for those braving the winter weather for a festive indulgence in something a little warming, and perhaps it’s the weather that makes it so right to do.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is the biggest in the UK, offering Christmas Markets, Ice skating, a giant observation wheel, for those who haven’t had too many mulled wines, and two circuses, ‘Christmas Circus’ and ‘Cirque Berserk’, from the family friendly Zippo Circus. With free entry into Winter Wonderland you can enjoy the atmosphere of an evening with rustic revelry around the bratwurst fire pits with simmering mulled wine, or pay for entry to the Magical Ice Kingdom with the kids. Ticket prices vary for various attractions.

2. Skate at Somerset House, aerial view (c) Marcus Ginns

Skate at Somerset House, aerial view (c) Marcus Ginns

Ice Skating

So your skills aren’t quite The Nutcracker on Ice? Well, we’d thought as much, never mind. The ice rinks that pop up all over town offer handrails for the shufflers and mostly people like to glide around in predictable circles.  It all looks great fun and if you have kids they’ll love it.

For the grown-ups looking for that teenage kick, Somerset House offers late night skates with DJ’s and hosts a skate lounge bar to top up that Dutch courage, whilst the Christmas arcade provides food and entertainment. Tickets start at £8.75

Bringing the kids along? The Natural History Museum is hosting a separate ice rink for children. In its glorious setting you can glide around or enjoy the fairground carousel and for those who prefer their feet firmly on solid ground there’s a balcony café for hot chocolates or perhaps some more of that mulled magic for the adults.

A Special Show

London’s theatre districts host incredible theatre all year round, but if you’re looking for something with that little extra sparkle over Christmas there’s nothing better than a good panto!

Plenty in local London theatres this November –  Jack and the Beanstalk opens at Kids’ Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, launching November 23rd, with tickets starting from £12.50 it’s a shame not to go.

For adults and children alike, Aladdin launches at New Wimbledon Theatre in early December, but best to book tickets now as Jo Brand will be making her pantomime debut as Genie. Think you’d want to miss this one? Oh no you wouldn’t! Tickets start at £10

 

 

 

Words: Catherine Foley

Pictures: Copyright of Somerset House and associates.

Original copy published: All about Commercial 

 

EVENT: Time to mix it up? London Cocktail Week

Time to mix it up?

We all know it’s a special something that happens to a few ingredients from the bottle to the icy cold, deliciously drinkable result in that dainty, garnished glass. Cocktails are imbedded into our culture as both an acceptably suave drink for the man while still remaining a delicate sipper for the ladies. Let’s be honest, if it’s good enough for 007, intrinsic to Ryan Gosling winning over the girls in ‘Stupid Crazy Love’ and versatile enough to tickle any taste bud we think you’d be stupid to shoo-shoo a martini or two.

With London Cocktail Week on its way get ready to shake, sip and party your way to a fantastic celebration of our capital’s unrivalled cocktail culture 7th– 13th October, its main hub based in the beautiful Seven Dials area of Covent Garden and endless opportunities to take part in the cocktail revolution outside of the capital and all year round, we implore you to relinquish the beer and bring on the bourbon.

London Cocktail Week

Over 150 of the best bars across the capital will be throwing open their doors to offer bespoke and unlimited £4 cocktails throughout the week to all those wearing a London Cocktail Week wristband. These partnering bars have been cherry-picked because of their shared dedication to delivering wonderful service, excellent drinks and a great experience – so if you always fancied that exclusive hotel bar, never got round to tracking down that elusive speakeasy, want to visit a brand new venue or revisit an old favourite – now is your chance!

LCW12 Bartender

Wristbands for the week cost £10 and allow the wearer access to the huge amount of sampling, cocktail demonstrations as well as the Cocktail Tours. To buy your wristband go to www.londoncocktailweek.com, for updates follow @LDNCocktailWeek

 

A sophisticated sipper are we?

For the smart and sophisticated drinker why not try out a high end, underground cocktail bar, many in London offer table service with live music and exclusive entrance to bookings only >>Find out more

 

Consider yourself a creative connoisseur?

Try your hand at the craft of mixology yourself: cocktail master classes are readily available, with this particular pop up class available throughout Britain. Harvey Nichols offers a fabulous master-class, followed by a two course lunch with a glass of Harvey Nichols wine in SEASON at the Fifth Floor Restaurant >> Find out more

 

Opening party (18)

 

Or perhaps it’s experimenting that intrigues you…

Make your own liquor, infusing spirits can make for a quick fix impressive cocktail, a saffron gin martini or a smooth long pepper gin over ice. OK, the infusing takes a little time, but for minimum effort you have maximum impact. This great blog www.BoozedandInfused.com offers a great range of guides and recipe ideas for home infusions!

 

For the real James Bond

Gin cocktail concoctions in a speedboat on the Thames, but of course. Need we say more, Mr Bond? >> Find out more

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Located out of London

Something spectacular beyond the usual cocktail menu options in your local restaurant? Book this in advance: Cocktails in the City are curators of extravagant, exciting cocktail evenings offering master classes and pop up events all over Britain, you can book in advance here >> Find out more

 

 

Words: Catherine Foley

Photos: All Rights Reserved to London Cocktail Week

Originally written for: All about Commercial 

EVENT: Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival & Summer fun stuff..

The Classic British Summer… Fashionably late but worth the wait.

The wholly British Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the first time in 77 years, Pimms, charcoal and paddling pool sales have hit a record increase and a heat wave hit St. Swithun’s day (guaranteeing 40 days of good weather for us). It’s time for cricket, scones – whichever way you say it – and building sand castles all around the British coasts as the kids break up for summer and the bridging industry winds-down and tops-up on the tan.. It doesn’t get any more British than this and by God don’t we love it!

So if you’re not skipping the small isle for the whole of the summer here are some things you should definitely consider doing…

Embrace the warm evenings with a picnic and an outdoor cinema screening

The Nomad Cinema has earned the reputation as ‘London’s best outdoor cinema’ [Evening Standard], popping up at an inspiring range of beautiful, curious and downright strange screening locations across London and beyond. Enjoy The Nomad experience when they pitch up in your part of the world, and know that you’re improving the quality of life for the families of a very different community on the other side of the world. With the evening air whipping up your appetite enjoy some of the fantastic pop-up street food from a mix of catering partners and vendors on-the-move from pop-up popcorn poppers to the coolest mobile coffee shops, bars-on-wheels and leading edge street food vans. Or bring a picnic with your favourite treats, just make sure there’s enough chilled wine!

Go away for a giggle at Edinburgh Fringe festival!

Running from 02 – 26 August there are a variety of shows now on sale and the perfect excuse to spend a weekend away in the highlands! (Unless of course you already live there, then there’s no excuse to miss out) As the largest arts festival in the world the Fringe offers a range of art in theatre, comedy, dance and film hosted in various locations throughout the capital.

Fring Festival

 

London Calling? The Mayor’s Thames Festival

This celebration of London and its epic watery backbone is the city’s biggest free open-air arts festival. Expanding this year to a ten-day stretch in September, it’s a huge, family friendly affair featuring live music, art, dance, installations, a carnival, river races, spread across the Thames itself and various roads, bridges and public spaces stretching alongside the river. One of the highlights is always the fireworks finale, grand enough to make November 5th scamper away in shame. And as this bumper pack of fun comes for free, you’ve got no excuse to miss out.

Go sailing!

Cowes week, annually organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, sees a regatta of over 900 sailing boats setting off in races that occupy the Solent over 31st July -7th August, from the starting cannons to the finale of fireworks it’s worth taking a trip down to the coast to admire the view and watch some races.

Entertain al fresco!

We have the weather, we have the means and surely we have the family and friends.. So forget the fancy dining and bring the abroad to the backyard with a BBQ, boasting with Pimms, rib racks, burgers and buns, maybe some bunting to make for a right ol’ knees up or some grilled fish and salads to get that Greek island feel, the best bit is there’s no waiting at the bar, no dodgy DJ and seats are accounted for all of your VIP guests.

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Words: Catherine Foley

Images: Copyright reserved to Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society

Originally written for: All About Commercial 

ENTERTAINMENT: The Best of Family Guy

So you’ve bought socks, the whisky’s wrapped and the novelty tie is sorted, but don’t you love a gift that keeps giving, something that gives you a little back this Christmas? We’ve found the perfect stocking filler for any man in your life, The Best of Family GuyDVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

A gift everyone can enjoy with crackers and cheese this season, the DVD includes twelve episodes; including Seth McFarlane’s top ten personal favourite episodes, a 90 minute extended Christmas episode, Road to the North Pole, as voted for by UK Family Guy Fans, and the previously unreleased and banned episode, Seahorse Seashell Party.

Festive fun for almost all the family, the DVD also includes bonus features with scenes too rude for tele (Rated 15, perhaps these will have to wait until some of your smaller relatives of are in bed waiting for Santa).

The Best of Family Guy DVD is available to purchase now, and as long as you don’t unwrap it before Christmas you can spend the morning munching on mince pies whilst watching Stewie and Brian trying to kill Santa Claus; in the seasonal episode Road to the North Pole. Oh how we love nostalgia! (Well at least it won’t be “Nigella’s Christmas Special” you’ll be watching…)

The two disk set is presented in a decorated sleeve and offers bonus scenes, extras and extended episodes – which at £19.99 RRP is money well spent for a profanity filled Family Guy Christmas! Even those who aren’t fanatics will struggle to be bemused by the comedy…

Put the kids out to play in the snow, (or lock them in the cupboard under the stairs) kick-back and digest your turkey, this is guaranteed to save you from some of those classic Bargain Hunt re-runs this Christmas.

9/10

Written By: Cat Foley

Originally published on Bringthenoiseuk.com

EVENT: Diner en Blanc: London 2012

September 25, 2012 by Cat Foley in collaboration with We Are Pop Up : View original article here


The Beginning
It is a wonder to many how Diner en Blanc came about. The first question is always, ’how do you know about it?’ The second question, ‘how does it happen?’ And the follow up comment runs along the lines of ‘why would you pay for something that requires you to bring your own table, chairs and food?’Let us enlighten you to the concept. Launched in France by François Pasquier, he was determined to assemble his friends for a meal upon returning from travels. To keep it simple, they all met in white as to identify each other. Now, 24 years later, Paris’ Dîner en Blanc annually assembles nearly 15,000 attendees worldwide. Luckily for us, they hosted their very first Diner en Blanc London on Thursday, 20 September this year.

From Euston Square to a Secret Location

We Are Pop Up’s Nicholas Russell and myself attended.  I was acting ‘Table Leader’ for our designated group and Nicholas was the pack-horse for all our required items: table, chairs, crockery, cutlery, napkins, tablecloth, candles, food and drink. It was no mean feat. We met our dazzling white group in Euston; the white did make it easy to recognise everyone! It was only now that the location was revealed…. London’s Covent Garden Piazza.

WAPU’s Diner En Blanc group leaders, Nick and Cat.

 

Our group entered Euston Station during rush hour – a band of brilliant white swimming upstream through the grey and black of London’s office workers.  We waited on the tube platform amidst gawks and giggles from co-commuters.  Mid-journey, the train driver announced, “To the people wearing all white and carrying the furniture, please give me a wave when you’re all off the train.”

We successfully, and not quite gracefully, made our way out of the tube at Leicester Square station, merging in to a herd of white with a number of other Diner en Blanc groups. We were a stunning and unusual site to behold as we enjoyed a short walk to Covent Garden.  Those seated outside of restaurants and standing outside of pubs were surprised and shared hearty laughs.  “Is this a flashmob?”

Is this a flash mob?

 

Dinner in Covent Garden Piazza

Once we arrived at Covent Garden my role was to set our guests’ tables in order. Before I knew it, hundreds of individually prepared tables immaculately adorned with candles inhabited the Covent Garden Piazza. Each table was laden with buffets and delicious bottles of wine glowing amber in the candlelight.

Napkins waved in the air: the symbolic the start of service. The brass band fired-up. A chilly evening turned glowing white meeting of strangers and friends. Diner en Blanc. Hundreds of sparklers brought the dinner to a close in as a twinkling ocean. The dance floor opened and diners gathered to warm up with a swirl or close embrace on the cobbles.

The atmosphere and ceremonial respect granted by all the attendees made it something special. Everyone graciously followed the event’s rules and provided vast effort to ensure the experience and ambience was a success. This kind of communal sharing is clearly the reason why Diner en Blanc has been popping up and expanding for the past twenty-four years. To be a part of something more, to put conscious and concerted effort into a communal experience so vibrant and articulate seemed a true cultural shift. Diner En Blanc finds a way around the norms and expectations of every day dining, and uses pop-up innovation to do it.

What does it mean?

There are many layers to Diner en Blanc, from the pure fun of joining a flash-mob to the more esoteric concept of rediscovering public spaces. Most of our world now seems to trend towards increasingly regulated experiences: pre-fabrication, pre-planned paths, pre-agreed meetings with pre-reviewed contacts. Too frequently this security comes at the cost of spontaneity and the fundamental joy of discovery.

Diner en Blanc is a kind of controlled chaos – a curious experience of communal discovery, but with strict rules:  “white clothes, white table cloth, white chairs, white hamper.  Arrive at Euston at 18.45.  Wave your napkin at 19.45.  Disappear without a trace at 23.30.”

The brilliance of discovery remains intact through the gaps between those numbers. The thrill of tromping into a square as part of a large group. The unique freedom to have an open-air dinner at a formal table in a place where you would never imagine it possible. The glee of a jovial dinner in the company of new friends.

This experience speaks to the ethos at the core of the pop-up movement: new things in known spaces.  The rigid structures of the built environment – right angles, abstract regulations and legal requirements – twisted or tipped sideways to allow space for organic experiences.  Unplanned evenings in planned places.

Check out our Diner en Blanc Pinterest board

Find Diner en Blanc on Twitter

FASHION: David Koma: Front Row Lessons…

David Koma was eagerly anticipated, assured I would love his collection, it promised to be sexy, edgy and girly in its emphasis on the swing skirts and hips… And oh how right they were. Inspired by female tennis the theme started at my (ehem) front row perch, where a bag of tennis ball themed chewing gums just waited to be squashed as I flustered to organise myself…

Photo by Martin Zahringer – martinzahringer.com

(Hold tight for one moment) NB: With great power – AKA ‘Front Row’, holds great responsibility you know. The rules: Look effortless, flawless and hold a pose somewhere in-between intrigued and informed, whilst at all times never looking too keen about anything.

So there I was, trying to arrange two bags suitably under the teeny bench, (note one was a tote full of what can only be called ‘stuff’) whilst deciding how I should sit as not to lose all dignity in my dress, still trying to avoid sitting on the tennis ball chewing gums.

[Do celebrities go on a course to learn how to cope? Panic management, stressful situations, distraction techniques, posture and placement, because personally it was like dealing with an agility course wearing a fat suit, I’ve never over thought sitting down so much in my entire life.]

 

Anyway, eventually sat down with Corinne to my right, suitably happy that no one was asking me for an interview or photo every two seconds… Or at all. Of course, I’ll have my ‘what I love most about Fashion Week’ speech prepared next year.

The show was as beautiful as proposed, structured patterns reflecting tennis racket design incorporated a stunning mix of silhouetted femininity through sheer cage tops and bodycon dresses with structured shapely lines, tailored folds and beautifully beaded definition. Top-to-toe, heels were designed on racket handles.

Hips were a big hit here too, as pleats were adapted onto most of the collections, the movement of which poked flirty fun into this demure yet bold collection, sculptured plaited hair by Kenna added a girlish wink to the sleeked back style.

Photo credit: Martin Zahringer - martinzahringer.com

Photo by Martin Zahringer – martinzahringer.com

The experience overall it was a multitasking disaster, taking photos, attempting to look effortless whilst doing so didn’t quite work out, and oh look! Here’s me sorting those bloody bags out again…

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