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Afternoon Tea at Sketch

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For me, afternoon tea is one of those occasions where you want to be taken away from reality for a couple of hours. A little bit of glamour, a lot of indulgence and a sprinkle of fantasy. London boasts a host of afternoon teas, from the classic scone and tea cup affair right through to the weird and wonderful. Whatever you fancy, it’s there with a tier of finger sandwiches and mini pastries for you to spoil yourself. I’m no expert but I imagine Sketch is up there with the best of them in the city.

Situated in Mayfair on Conduit Street, right in the centre of everything, Sketch offers all you want from an afternoon tea experience – exclusivity, fascination, indulgence, charm and the perfect setting to lap up the luxury. Walking through the black curtains, across the chalk hopscotch and through the enchanted forest themed Grace Room; there is something to marvel at with every glance.

After leaving my coat and bag in the cloak room I was taken through to the gallery, a room to keep all senses entertained at all times. Everything is draped in a dusky pink, the velvet chairs lined with a rose gold trim base, a grand circular skylight overlooking the room and the walls covered in David Shrigleys signature art – simple, slightly absurd and full of humour.

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I joined my friend Stacey at our table and from the second we sat down, we were looked after – our every need attended to. Because it was 1pm on a Monday afternoon we played well-behaved and opted not to have a glass of bubbly but stick to a sugar high for our poison of the afternoon. As we waited for our treats we noticed that even the tableware had something to offer thanks to Shrigley.  Stylish, white, ceramic and all with a message to share – again in true Shrigley signature style; simple and playful. Our favourite being the ‘Forget About It’ memo at the bottom of our cups.

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Once settled I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about the famous Sketch toilets that people have talked about. From the hazy pink glow of the gallery I walked through to the bright white lights of the toilets and followed the sound of farmyard animals (yes, you read that right) up a large white staircase to be met with a futuristic wonderland – a space age, farm-yard, disco dancing room that fills you with imagination, almost making you forget that you are there to pee. A giant bird’s nest sits under a brightly coloured ceiling that looks over the space age cocoons topped with geese (not real ones) – you enter a pod to use the loo and are greeted with the sound of geese whilst you do your business – strange but true. Even the sinks had their own flare with wall sculptures, plinths, and quotes to see you on your way right.

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Returning to a tower of delicacies, the mini offerings were an exploration in themselves. The classic finger sandwiches of cucumber, salmon and egg were jazzed up with caviar, a warm quail’s egg and fresh ricotta cheese. Warm cheese pastries wrapped up in paper and a yellow bow, tiny circular apple crumbles, mini macaroons and blueberry éclairs – all tasting too good not to say yes to a second round when asked by our waitress (who was also lovely). Although I opted for coffee as I’m not a tea fan they had a wide selection of really amazing sounding teas to go along with the finger food.  We finished off with a fresh scone served with homemade jam and cream.

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Sketch is a work of art, an experience to remember and definitely one worth trying. It’s a must for any afternoon tea lover. To be honest, I would advise you to go – even if it’s just to check out the toilets. This is another glorious London gem.

https://sketch.london

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Obsessed Right Now: Music

You know those songs that you have on that playlist that you play over and over again? Well, this is my version. Some new, some old, most amazing. Hope you enjoy!

Joey Bada$$ – My Yout (remix) feating Maverick Sabre

This tune just screams Summer. The beat is so feel good. I’ve had this one on repeat for a few months now.

Bring Me The Horizon – Can You Feel My Heart.

This was a great album of last year and this track is one of my favourites off the album.

Danny Brown – Clean Up.

I’m pretty obsessed with Danny Brown right now. His ‘Old’ album took a while to grow on me but once it did, that was it. This track has been on repeat for the last couple of months and Im not tired of it yet. No video for it but it doesn’t need it. Just listen….

Pharrell Williams – Happy.

How can anyone not like this song? It makes me want to dance with random strangers on the tube. Pharrell, my man, you’ve done it again!

Chloe Howl – How Proud.

Chloe Howl is one of those new artists tipped for big things in 2014 and I hope it happens for her. I’m loving this track!

Flume – Insane featuring Moon Holiday.

This has been another new discovery for me and is a growing love. I have a feeling Flume will be an artist I listen to a lot in 2014.

Indiana – Mess Around

I don’t know much about Indiana, I only know about this song but ‘Mess Around’ is an excellent introduction.

Sam Smith – Nirvana

He’s won the Critics choice Brit and the BBC Sound of 2014 so looking set for a huge year. I’m not sure I am that excited by Sam Smith but this song is pretty amazing so maybe he’ll surprise me.

AWOLNATION – Sail.

I heard this song on the radio, I shazam’d it and that’s where the love affair started. I haven’t looked back. I’m looking forward to discovering more.

The National – This Is The Last Time. 

I am very late to the party when it comes to The National and I cannot believe it has taken me this long. This song pulls at every heart string. Its beautiful. It uplifts and destroys me all at the same time.

Sampha – Too Much

I fall in love with music a lot and I am totally in love with Sampha’s voice.

Katy Perry – Unconditionally. 

This is just pop music at it’s best. Play it loud and sing your heart out!

Banks – Waiting Game. 

Yet another tipped for big things this year. Banks is another that I have fallen in love with.

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The New Food Obsession: Banana Tree

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I have been meaning to write about the brilliant Banana Tree restaurant for some time now; it is very quickly becoming one of my favourite places to eat in London.

Introduced to the Indochinese restaurant by the second worst date of my life so far, the food was pretty much the only good thing about the whole evening, just as well really since he wanted to stay for three courses and talk to me about his whirlwind career in online poker. Yes, it was as thrilling as it sounds. Thankfully that evening sparked my long-lasting love affair with Banana Tree.

Since that eventful first trip I have frequented the eatery on numerous occasions and NEVER been let down by the food, even if I have been by the company.

The menu is so full of tasty treats that I struggle not to order everything and now, being somewhat a self-proclaimed connoisseur of ‘the tree’, I have my darlings that I will always go to and the ones that I consider to be the best bananas on the menu.

On my last visit, I opted for something that I had never had before as a starter, the Street Style Crispy Dough, which came with an incredible Kajang Satay sauce. Other favourites on the starter menu include the spring rolls, satay chicken and dumplings.

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When it comes to the main event, I have two dishes that I find it hard not to go back to, and I take great delight in repeatedly cheating on one with the other. The first love is the crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce. It is exactly what it says is, its crispy, sweet yet fresh and not overpowering. My second love is the string tied braised pork belly with green coconut juice. The pork falls apart like it has been stewed to perfection and the sauce is the sort you sort of want to drink from the bowl afterwards. No? Just me?

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For desert I always go for the same thing because a) it is pancakes and they are my favourite. b ) it involves nuts and coconut and they are my favourites. c) the pancakes are bright green. That is everything anyone should ever want or need from a dessert.

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Another thing that is worth mentioning, especially for people who don’t drink alcohol or love a good fresh juice, their raw juices are to die for. My favourite is the passion fruit mix.

Of course, ‘the tree’ has lots of other delightful things on the menu. They have a few in London spread around so definitely one to bear in mind for an awful date or an excellent dinner.

Check out the site here for more details

 

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The New Music Obsession: Angel Haze

There are quite a few female rappers around right now that are doing well for themselves; Azaelia, Iggy, Nicki. The ladies are very much holding their own in a male dominated scene.

Like a lot of rap music, the great bars and beats the females are presenting don’t always offer real substance. I don’t mind their tracks, I will dance to them in a club and there’s no denying that they do things well, but would I go and buy a whole album? Probably not. Then there is Angel Haze….

 

I first heard Angel Haze on the track ‘New York’, which showed the female rapper paying homage to where she grew up. The track was good. The beat was strong. Haze‘s flow was right up my street. At this point though, she could have fitted into that category with Azaelia and the rest of them. Yeah I could listen, but the true substance wasn’t there for me yet.

It was when I heard Haze bare her soul and let us into her dark, personal world that she really grabbed my attention. On her mixtape ‘Classick’, Haze did a version of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’, which took us to a brutally honest, uncomfortable place. She revealed a childhood of sexual abuse and what it took for her to be still alive and standing where she is now. Not only is it hard-hitting, but it also shows her talent as a lyricist, writer and music artist. The passion felt on that track could hit the calmest of nerves.

After hearing ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’, I had to download the full New York EP. The six track release features another favourite of mine ‘Werkin’ Girls’, as well as ‘Chi, Supreme’ and two remixes of ‘New York’.

Haze‘s most recent offering ‘Echelon (Its My Way),’ doesn’t go as deep and personal as we know she’s capable of, but still holds her up high above a lot of other rappers in the current hip-hop world.

 

What sets Angel Haze apart from others at the moment is that there is definitely more to come. This is a girl who has something worth saying. Not on all of her tracks, mind – we obviously need some club bangers – BUT the substance is very much there and very much real!

I’m really excited about her debut ‘Dirty Gold’, which is due out later this year. To keep myself and other supporters satisfied, Haze is dropping a freestyle every single day for 30 days. So far she has put lyrics over Jay Z’s ‘Tom Ford’, Kanye’s ‘Black Skinhead’and Drakes ‘Worst Behaviour’ to name but a few. Her latest is over Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’ where she opens up about her sexuality.

 

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The New Beauty Obsession: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat Nail Varnish

YOU THERE!!!! Impatient painter of nails….

Do you suffer the urge to move around and touch things shortly after you paint your nails? Yep, me too. It’s that time when we realise just how impatient we really are and how we cannot sit still for 5 minutes.

There have been very few times that I have finished painting my nails and they are completely smudge free, it just doesn’t happen. UNTIL NOW! (drumroll please)

The Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat Nail Varnish is a dream come true and has now become a must have when pampering my hands.

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I discovered it after a friend suggested I try some quick drying nail varnish after never being able to not smudge my supposed works of art. I went and had a browse around a Sally’s beauty store and after asking the shop assistant her recommendation she couldn’t rave about it any more.

It’s pretty self-explanatory. You paint your nails as you usually would then apply a topcoat of the Seche varnish and wait for a minute. I waited two just to be sure but that seemed like more than enough time. My nails were smudge free and ready to go. The Seche varnish also made my nails chip resistant and they stayed looking slick for a week (usually mine would chip after a couple of days)

The Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat Nail Varnish can be found in Sally Beauty stores, Boots and bought online from stores including ASOS and Amazon. The prices vary from £9.00 to £13.00. The cheapest and probably the most convenient if like me, you live in London, is Boots: http://www.boots.com/en/Seche-Vite-Dry-Fast-top-coat_1321809/

You can read more about the varnish and other Seche products on their website: http://seche.com/products/product-83005.html

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