Girl Crush #1: Shannon Wardrop

Monday, 20 April 2015

Shannon Wardrop What Olivia Did BW
Meet Shannon...

She'll be the last person to admit it, but Shannon Wardrop is bloody cool. She's the kind of girl that can wear a film camera around her neck (with it being more than just a mere accessory), channel double denim and never make it look like a Canadian tuxedo and belt out a few notes as if she's doing her ABC (and according to my mum, sounding a bit like a certain Ms. Welch too)- and it all looks so easy. On top of that she's absolutely lovely- and talented, did I mention that? With fans including Ray Davis (y'know, the one from that wee band, The Kinks- were they?) and having just filmed with one of the UK's most important fashion brands (more on that later)- this little lady is one to watch and the perfect girl to begin my new 'Girl Crush' interview series with; where I chat with some of the most inspiring women in various creative fields- kicking serious ass as they go...

Shannon Wardrop What Olivia Did BW
So! First things first- for those that aren't lucky enough to have heard of you before- tell us a little about yourself!

Hello! I am a 22 year-old singer/songwriter and guitarist from Berkshire. I'm really inspired by 60's and 70's music, particularly bands like The Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane etc etc, and I try to create a sound and style that incorporates these influences but with a modern twist.

I remember you saying you were in a girl group when you were a little bit younger- have you always wanted to be involved with music? Was the Wardrop household a musical one?

Haha yeah! It was a little band my friends and I formed at school as a bit of fun and I guess I progressively started to get really into playing and performing music from then on. Nobody in my family is musical in any way but my dad in particular has always been really into music so he would play loads of great music to my sister and I when we were little and I just got really into it and eventually began making music of my own.

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What's your earliest musical memory (any first CD's etc)?

You're gonna laugh at this but I'm sad to say it was Vindaloo by Fat Les! Not very rock and roll haha! I even chanted it with my dad on karaoke on holiday somewhere soon after it came out, which always makes me laugh to think about as an embarassing memory!

Where do you seek inspiration for in song writing? Do you base things on experience, or is it solely a chance to get creative and tell a story?

I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to songwriting and it's definitely not my musical strong point! I find that every song comes to me in a different way and when I try to sit down and come up with something in the same way that I wrote my last song, it doesn't materialise. Sometimes I'll come up with a riff or a chord progression first, and other times I'll come up with a melody or a phrase first. I try to work off of expressions quite a lot and run with the emotion/vibe of whatever that expression is. I also find for some reason that I begin a lot of my songs by improvising in jibberish when I'm driving alone. (I've had some funny looks from doing this! haha).

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Your live shows are amazing (and have been known to make grown men cry- haha)- how do you prepare for a show, do you get nervous?

Ah that's so nice of you to say - thank you very much!! I'd be a big fat liar if I told you that I don't get nervous because I'm truly forever quaking in my boots pre-show! Even if it's just a tiny venue I still get so nervous, especially if it's a solo performance! I don't really have any pre-show rituals though, but I like to be alone to gather my thoughts and calm myself if I'm at a venue where I'm able to do that!

As well as having an incredible set of pipes- you have an amazing sense of style too. How important is image when performing? Is there anyone who's style you like to reference/look up to in the ol' wardrobe department?

You are full of compliments, Miss Purvis! I think image on stage is important because it helps you get into character even if your character is only a slight extension of yourself. I tend to flirt with certain styles more in certain seasons, but generally speaking my day-to-day muse couple are Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards. I really love their mix of flamboyant and bohemian styles and the music that is attached to it. Being an unsigned developing artist I don't tend to have a lot of money to spend on clothes so when I buy something I try to make sure it's something that will stand the test of time in my own personal style and not just something that will be deemed as unfashionable by the following season!

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You've recently filmed an acoustic set with Burberry (still so proud)- what has been the highlight of your career so far?

Thank you! That was such a surreal and exciting experience to be filmed for one of their videos as I have been watching their sessions and catwalk shows for years and Burberry are obviously such an iconic brand! I'm still really early on in my musical career so for me the Burberry experience is probably one of my highlights so far, but I also got to meet and go in the studio with Ray Davies (one of my personal musical heroes) a few months back and he gave me some really valuable feedback which I consider to be a highlight too!

Which women in music, or otherwise do you admire/girl crush on?

Again, Anita Pallenberg is high up in my list of style inspiration! But also there are many other amazingly stylish women I look to for inspiration like Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung, Kate Moss, and recently I have been majorly girl-crushin' on Camille Rowe and Pandora Sykes! So many stylish ladies!

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Finally, what's next for Ms Wardrop? When can we next catch you live?

Well recently I have been focusing a lot on writing and getting my 'sound' together so I'm now starting to rehearse again with a band and we'll announce some London shows in the next couple of months before heading back in the studio! But in the meantime, I'm playing an unplugged/acoustic set at Lion Coffee Records on the 26th April and Upstairs at Ronnie Scott's on June 16th!

You can listen to Shannon Wardrop here and check out her blog here


Anytime Anywhere

Saturday, 18 April 2015

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(Top: Zara, Trousers: Topshop, Bag: Lulu Guinness, Shoes: C/O Butterfly Twists)

Over the past couple of weekends I've learnt to embrace an important skill. Not a new sport, or a new means of getting crafty (although I'm still yearning to learn the art of knitting and get out my pencils soon)- but taking time out. Switching off, putting my laptop down and invaluable out of office on- and relaxing. Spending the afternoon watching a film I've never seen (or, y'know, Pretty Woman again) or going out and seeing a new part of the town I live in. It's such a luxury to have a spare moment to spend with someone you love, or do something you enjoy- and being able to embrace that along with 'TGIF!' tweets at the end of each week is a treat. So, along with a spot of free time (and an afternoon dedicated to tea and cake)- Joe and I hopped on a (diverted Southeastern) train (the realities of weekend travel, y'all) and headed up to a grey London, and our playground for a few hours!

In theme with Butterfly Twists 'Anytime Anywhere' campaign- and the idea that these flats are so much more than just easy 'pop on' day shoes, I donned my most comfortable nautical navy and white ballet flats by the brand (you'd never know they had memory foam inside them too- here's laughing at you, blisters!), along with a favourite monochrome pairing- and enjoyed every moment of the walk around Whitehall, Leicester Square and the little nooks and crannies around it- with no moment wasted needing to swap shoes, or worry about any extra miles and exercise sulks, care of yours truly- ssh! On top of that, I could easily slip another pair in my bag for the evening (because that's what sparkly shoes were made, right?) and switch them over without compromising essential camera bag space- but don't tell anyone, ok?

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Post in collaboration with Butterfly Twists


The Best London Afternoon Teas...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Afternoon Tea- one of life's luxuries, and one of the best reasons to ever venture into our fair capital, am I right? Consisting of a tower of finger sandwiches, scones, mountains of jam and cream- along with some pretty cakes if you're lucky- this funny little British tradition is one of my favourites (eating and drinking endless tea all afternoon can't be too tasking, can it?) and one that I've been lucky enough to sample in a few different places too. So, seeing as I can't personally offer every reader a sandwiched jam and clotted cream scone who reads this post, I can offer you a tip off of some of my favourite places to get them, and indulge in a special afternoon too!

Although this post mainly focusses on the 'classics and greats' of afternoon tea (my friend Carrie did another lovely guide with some smaller hideouts too), I'll try and add to this whenever I can- so try and keep this bookmarked, as I'm constantly (hoping) to try more- so would love to keep this up to date with lots of lovely happenings! Where are your favourite places for afternoon tea?

The Wolseley:
The Wolseley Afternoon Tea The Wolseley Afternoon Tea
Although renown for their amazing breakfasts, The Wolseley is one of the absolutely greats for afternoon tea in London. With the restaurant reminiscent of a party at Gatsby's, with 1920's art deco style interiors- curling up in one of their booths whilst whiling an afternoon away with sandwiches and tea is quite something- but be sure to book far in advance, this place is very popular for a reason!

160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB - £33.50 PP or £10.75 for Cream Tea

W Hotel:
W Hotel Afternoon Tea W Hotel Afternoon Tea
The W Hotel isn't the first place I'd think of for afternoon tea, but after sampling it last weekend- I feel foolish having never been there before. Nestled in Leicester Square, the W offers afternoon tea with serious sparkle. Although the menu changes every few months (which definitely gives you a good reason to keep going back)- the current tea is their Fashion Power Tea, based on the exhibition currently on at the Design Museum. Inspired by Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Lady Gaga- everything down to the cakes (and cheeky gin cocktails) have been considered, making for a truly special tea. It's only available until 26th April so get booking!

Leicester Square, 10 Wardour Street, London, England, W1D 6QF - £27.50 PP

Balthazar Afternoon Tea Balthazar Afternoon Tea
Inspired by one of my favourite designers, Matthew Williamson, the afternoon tea at Balthazar is a step away from some of the more 'typical' hotel hideouts, but oozes a splash of New York cool (as anyone who has visited the restaurant can vouch for too). With each cake (including macarons), inspired by Williamson's designs, the treats are undoubtedly a work of art in themselves, and truly give meaning to the phrase 'too good to eat'. With cocktails on offer to boot, it's the ultimate way to spend a truly Carrie Bradshaw afternoon.

4-6 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HZ - £25 PP

Fortnum & Mason:
Fortnum and Mason Parlour
Whether your visiting the Tea Salon (perfect for the ultimate London afternoon tea experience), or the Parlour (which is more informal, but offers an incredible array of ice cream sundaes and scones too) Fortnum and Mason is the epitome of British tea tradition (they have a tea salon people)! Although the menu is certainly more expensive, they do offer a special dietary and children's menu at slightly lower prices- but it indefinitely makes for the ultimate treat (and if you can't quite stomach the £40- the Parlour still makes the perfect pit stop).

181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER - £40 PP

Liberty Cafe Afternoon Tea Liberty Cafe Afternoon Tea
I'm yet to meet someone that hasn't instantly fallen for the charm of this iconic London department store (or Instagrammed it's beautiful shop front florist), and more so their hidden cafe (tucked away on the 2nd floor). Although Café Liberty unfortunately don't take reservations, this is the perfect place to make a post-shopping pit-stop for tea and cake, where, you can usually get a table pretty rapidly. The tea is certainly fantastic value, and although slightly more informal- offers an incredible selection of treats- presented to truly 'gram worthy standards too (plus, who can resist a browse of the shop afterwards)?

Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH - £19.95 PP or £10.95 for Cream Tea

The Sanderson:
The Sanderson Afternoon Tea The Sanderson Afternoon Tea
If you've ever wanted to 'tumble down the rabbit hole' in true Alice and Wonderland style (or at least taste what it'd be like)- afternoon tea at The Sanderson is pretty irresistible. After visiting as a birthday present from one of Joe's gorgeous sisters last year, we were able to sit outside in the hotel courtyard (which was perfect for the summer weather), and sample some seriously magical delicacies, including marshmallow mushrooms, a 'Drink Me' potion as well as a 'Jelly Wonderland'- which certainly made for a welcome twist on a classic treat.

50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG - £38.00 PP

And some other special places...

The Grosvenor:
A rumoured favourite of a certain Royal Family, The Grosvenor near Victoria is one of the most special places I've ever been treated to tea (for my 18th birthday, here)- and it's truly somewhere they treat you like a Princess. With pretty-much bottomless sandwiches and tea, and the most special setting (think beautiful sofas and stunning paintings on the wall)- it's the closest I'll probably get to being the next K Mids, but I'm pretty ok with that.

The Savoy:
There's something incredibly special about sitting down for tea whilst essentially being serenaded by a pianist, and that's exactly what happens at The Savoy. Perched in the centre of the hotel, and underneath a stunning glass dome- The Savoy is another beautiful central London tea favourite. Saying that, at £50.00 per head, the menu is definitely one of the most pricey in London- plus, on experience, we weren't able to take any leftovers away- so you do have to make the most of it! Perfect for a super special treat though.

Although I don't have many pictures (you can see a very old post here), Sketch is one of my favourite places for afternoon tea in London (or otherwise, it's pretty amazing all round). Despite the toilets being one of Sketch's main talking points (I won't spoil anything here- but they are egg-cellent)- the tea is absolutely wonderful too, and whether you're simply stopping by for a cake, or going the whole hog- you'll be able to experience different parts of the restaurant, which is a treat in itself.

The Berkeley:
If the thought of being able to eat the infamous Moschino 'M' bag, an Alexander McQueen 'armadillo' shoe and Charlotte Olympia boot all appeal to you- then you will fall head over heels (literally, hohoho) with the Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley. Every fashion lovers dream, each treat is inspired and designed to look like various iconic catwalk designs, season to season, including special glittered macarons too, which, to me, is an edible dream- you can see an old post on it here.

Cabbages and Kings:
Although completely out of London (in Kent in fact)- if you're ever venturing into the Garden of England, Cabbages and Kings is one of my favourite weekend spots, both for brunch and afternoon tea (their coconut bread is my absolute numero uno)- and well worth popping in to (especially if you're a sucker for home wares and gorgeous interiors). Plus, I believe they also double up as a B & B- so if you fancy a mini weekend getaway AND tea, here's a pretty good bet!


Defying Dry Skin

Monday, 13 April 2015

Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
One of my major skin qualms is dryness. I don't necessarily suffer from oily, or spot prone skin (only during 'my time', ahem)- but dryness is the first reaction my skin has to everything; be it lack of water, exposure to sunshine or even lack of moisturiser (which, I've been prone to forget from time to time- eek)! So, upon working with Burt's Bees over the last few months, to wrap everything up- I've been sampling their new Intense Hydration collection- a range created and packed with natural ingredients, with it's sole purpose to rehydrate tired and sad looking skin- the challenge is on, Burt's! So, after giving them a go I thought I'd document some first impressions of the products- in hope that if anyone else suffers with similar #skinprobs we can battle the parch together!

The Intense Hydration Cleanser...
Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
So, first things first- cleansing! Although it usually takes me a while to appreciate the quality of a new product, this little number swept me off of my feet (and that's not mentioning the delicious scent). It felt like it scrubbed and softened all in one- and left my skin feeling squeaky clean- the perfect balance of gentle treatment and performance. Joe also took it for a spin, and although stated that it felt like 'yoghurt' (this is a boy who doesn't know massive amounts about skin care)- commented on how soft his skin felt too, which is saying something!

The Intense Hydration Eye Cream...
Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
Now, I'm usually a little lazy for eye cream- but things are going to be done properly from here on in! After spotting the cream a little under my eyes (super gently, FYI)- the super delicate cream absorbed rapidly, and left no grease or any residue behind- making a perfect lightweight base for any under eye concealer, top marks (also, how cool is the pen like applicator?! More like this please)!

The Intense Hydration Day Lotion...
Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
Now, this little bottle packs a punch- and in a good way! A little can take your face a long way, so after applying a pea sized amount, I was able to massage this day cream all over- leaving my skin feeling like it'd had somewhat of a mini-facial. Although this felt quite thick for a day cream, it absorbed into my skin leaving no residue- perhaps running with the fact that my skin literally drank it up (hohoho)!

The Intense Hydration Night Cream...
Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
Thicker than the day lotion, the night cream makes for a perfect night time treat. With all of the products containing Clary Sage (a plant that thrives in dry environments due to it's ability to retain moisture)- it oozes a pretty gorgeous fragrance (which makes sense, as it's also been known to be used in aromatherapy and essential oils) as well as moisturising the driest patches of my skin (read: forehead).
The Intense Hydration Treatment Mask...
Burts Bees Defy Dry Skin Campaign
And finally- the treatment mask! Although this is definitely more of a 'once a week' treat (or when I'm needing a little extra TLC)- this mask is a multi use maverick of sorts. As well as promising to reduce fine lines and keep skin more watered than your window boxes- not only can you use it as a face mask of sorts, but you can leave it on overnight for a full on face-drink and the perfect way to refresh your skin after a long week- pretty dreamy indeed!

I hope this sheds a little light on the new collection for any mutually dry ladies (or gents) out there! These are of course first impressions, but since using them have noticed make up sitting happier, as my skin has a better base and far less dryness- huzzah! You can keep up to date with more Burt's Bees goodness on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram- as well as shop the collection here!

This post is in collaboration with Burt's Bees, although all thoughts, (former) dry skin, and feels are my own


The Horniman Museum

Sunday, 12 April 2015

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(Sunglasses: C/O Taylor Morris, Top: Urban Outfitters, Jeans: ASOS, Bag: Beyond Retro, Shoes: C/O Orla Kiely x Clarks)

If there's one thing I love more than anything but don't do nearly as much as I should- it's explore London. When I travel, I'm the first person to rifle through Instagram, Bloglovin' and Pinterest- scouring out the cutest exposed-wood tabled cafés (Instagrammable tables not always obligatory), hottest burger bars and messiest (but gloriously filled) vintage hideouts; but when it comes to exploring my home town- and my favourite ever city, I'm a little bit lazy- and it's something I'm determined to change this summer.

So, starting as I mean to go on in this sunny weather- this Monday, Joe and I did a little research and decide to delve a little further into our native Saaaff London- by finally visiting the Horniman Museum (by way of the most delicious brunch at Canvas & Cream). After hearing so much about it, and it merely being a couple of bus rides away- it seemed all too naughty that it's taken this long to visit. With it's cabinets adorned with the most natural history you can find this side of the river, and primates including a dodo (although I can't promise it's a real one ; )- learning more about our animal counterparts and admiring the stunning Victorian conservatory in the sunshine made for a hugely rewarding afternoon- without even venturing into Zone 3- huzzah! The museum also holds different exhibitions throughout the year too (there's currently a fascinating one on Romania)- so it's worth seeing what's on there too...

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All photographs on this blog were taken by me (unless otherwise stated), please don't pinch them without asking and crediting to my blog