That’s amore – A bellissima wedding in Tuscany –

I always knew my half-Italian friend would have a beautiful wedding in Italy, even before she met her future husband!

I wasn’t disappointed. When they got engaged last May, the planning commenced and we booked our flights to Florence in September.

The wedding started off in the centre of Florence in St Mark’s English church, after which we threw rice at the newlyweds while tourist buses hurtled past!

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Being in such an amazing location meant fabulous photos were possible, like this kissing shot in front of the Arno river and Ponte Vecchio.

bridge shot

The guests then made their way to hotel I Parigi Corbinelli. The reception was just how I imagined it would be, set in a beautiful Italian garden overlooking the Tuscan hills.

tuscan view

Delicious canapés and fizz were served before we all gathered at the gates to welcome the new Mr and Mrs who arrived in classic style!

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car

Enjoying ourselves so much, we (somewhat reluctantly) took our seats in the sauna-hot marquee – it had torrentially rained the day before so this was the contingency plan, though luckily the skies were clear on the day of the wedding. However, it wasn’t long before we got used to the heat, and started to excitedly await our Italian feast.

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marquee

tables

The details were delightful – the table centrepieces and place settings fit beautifully with the setting, making use of fresh lemons and rosemary for a splash of colour.

centrepiece

name setting

After eating what felt like an endless supply of food, it was time for the speeches as the sun set over the garden, after which it was time to party. The garden was lit up with twinkling fairylights, and the couple had created cocktails named after themselves, which was a lovely touch.

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cocktail ar

A gorgeous and memorable day with great friends in the most perfect setting. That’s amore!

Oh, and I caught the bouquet…!

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Meet Stella & Dot

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog will know that I love an extra curricular hobby, whether that’s expanding my mind with more study, reading, travelling, taking pictures, exploring London or blogging.

My latest endeavour is jewellery – meet Stella & Dot.

Stella & Dot (named after the two founders’ grandmothers which I love!), is a US based costume jewellery company that offers women a great way to juggle their own business with other responsibilities. It centres around the concept of in-home parties, much like the Avon or Tupperware parties of the 90s, but its been well and truly updated and transformed into social selling, with excellent marketing and social media support, digital training videos and a brilliant network of likeminded ladies.

So far, I’m loving it. The jewellery and accessories are great quality, designed by amazing experts in New York and San Francisco. They’re in a mid-range price bracket I’d say – not as affordable as the high street but not into the several £100s, making it a great option for amazing gifts to others – or yourself!

I went to the annual sales conference, called Hoopla, and the vibe in the room was just electric. Lots of beautiful, empowered ladies in attendance, talks from the truly inspiring leader Jessica Herrin and creative office Blythe Harris, as well as fashion tips from Harper’s Bazaar and jewellery viewings. Every girl’s dream! I’m excited to see where it takes me.

At the moment, I’m working on getting the word out, amongst friends, and in the local area. I’ll be regularly blogging about this and other fashion and style delights over at Style by Alexa.

If you’re interested in learning more, having me over to host a party or joining the team, give me a shout. And feel free to visit my store and shop online!

Here’s the new collection for you to salivate over…

Brixton bar review – Three Eight Four

Last Friday night I sampled week-old Brixton bar Three Eight Four. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have my finger firmly on the pulse, as it was purely by chance. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time!

As I was meeting a friend in Brixton Village for a bite, she discovered the intriguing looking place with its minimal exterior and exposed brick walls on her walk down Coldharbour Lane to meet me and suggested we give it a try.

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Once inside we were welcomed by smiling faces, some complimentary ‘margarita’ Tabasco infused popcorn and a refreshingly different-from-the-norm cocktail menu.

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Once we’d selected our first tipple of choice, we were offered a bar tab…I proffered my credit card but it was refused! ‘We trust you’, said the barman! What a novelty! Indeed, a novelty that sadly may not last long should some unsavoury types inevitably take advantage of it, but a novelty nonetheless.

Delicious cocktail was followed by delicious cocktail. Amongst our favourites, the beautifully presented ‘Bombay kitchen’ complete with a side of poppadums and chutney, and the brilliantly named Mr. Flambastic, made with peaches flambéed on the bar. We didn’t try their small plates but if the cocktails are anything to go by, I’m sure the food will be anything but bland!

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Three Eight Four has a great vibe. Chilled, friendly, quirky (check out the light fittings), with a sprinkling of excitement. I don’t think it was opening week excitement either, I think the staff, and the punters, were genuinely happy to be there.

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Give it a try, it’s perfect for a weekend catch up with friends. You’ll find it by its name – Three Eight Four Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. I hear there’s a Three Three Six coming soon…

Challenge Instagram

Following the success of Project 366 in 2012, last year I challenged myself to make better use of photography app Instagram, and I think I succeeded, notching up a couple of hundred filter-fabulous shots in 2013.

Instagram has revived the square, vintage-look photos from days of yore, making it easy for people to turn everyday photos into remarkable ones.

I generally use Instagram to post pictures of interesting people, places and things that I’ve seen on my travels, so it’s not another outlet for photos of my life a la Facebook, but a place to share photos of our beautiful world with a likeminded community of snap-happy people. I find it useful to distinguish between the two, encouraging me to be more creative and explorative with my photography on Instagram. You may notice I’ve got a particular thing for buildings, landscapes and sunsets!

If you like what you see, follow me on Instagram @lexington82

Instagram collage

Book cover design – you CAN judge a book by its cover

So it turns out that I bit off a little more than I could chew, and with a house move and a busy job to juggle, I just couldn’t keep up with my design studies (or my blog by the looks of it!). A shame, but you learn something from every experience. If anything, I’ve learned that I perhaps do not have the patience to be a designer, nor the creativity required to stand out from the crowd. It is, however, amazing how many times my basic skills have come in handy at work while we’ve been seeking a designer for the marketing team!

My final study module was called ‘Thinking about ideas’ and its purpose was mainly to train us in divergent thinking exercises, such as Guilford’s alternative uses task, in which we were challenged to come up with multiple uses for a brick. I found these exercises really useful, as you definitely come up with better results having pushed yourself to think beyond the realms of ‘normality’, without writing off silly or seemingly unachievable ideas.

The design brief required us to come up with some new takes on book covers for classic books.

The list of books from which we could choose was:

  • The Road
  • The Slap
  • Aesop’s Fables
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • Don Quixote
  • Cyrano de Bergerac

I selected Aesop’s Fables, as I’m sure, like many others, I associate this fondly with my childhood; and The Old Man and the Sea, which I have not read, but saw potential in the theme.

Following my choices, I set about exploring what was contained within these books, in order to represent them effectively on the cover.

For Aesop’s Fables, some of the themes I explored were nature, tradition, morals, childhood and mythology. For the Old Man & the Sea, I looked examined  pride, determination, battle and nautical themes.

I experimented with abstract shapes, different textures and materials, hand painted work and computer generated images.

Aesop's 4Aesops 5Old Man Sea 1.1Old Man Sea 1.2

My final designs are below:

Aesops Front Back mock upOld Man mock up and spine

It’s definitely good practice to try and make yourself think outside the box, and come up with ideas that are extraordinary, rather than ordinary. I think my ideas showed promise, but I’ve also included a couple of samples from the student forum. It’s amazing what people come up with!

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So that’s it. My life as a designer was short-lived, but I have gained a university certificate for the three modules I completed, and I have tried something new. Give it a try, but don’t underestimate the time required!

I want a toy poodle!

This weekend, in a sunny beer garden in the Yorkshire Dales, I met the most delightful dog named Jay.

I have never really been a dog person, but Jay was so irresistible, I think I might have changed my mind!

Just look at him! How can he not make you smile?

Poodle

A red toy poodle has been added to my wishlist!

Gearing up for Glasto

OK, so it’s June, and I’m gearing up for my 6th Glastonbury festival which is in 2 weeks’ time.

I love mudI was a latecomer to the festival movement. My teenage self feared mud and camping, mainly because of a horrendous experience at Homelands dance festival back in 2000, where I naively went dressed for clubbing, and consequently ended up shivering in the corner of a tent watching Human Traffic while people trampled their muddy boots down my nice leather jacket.

Then I got streetwise, and as a final blowout after uni, pal Helena and I decided to go to Glastonbury followed by a week in Ibiza in 2005. Good times!

Here are some photos of my Glastonbury  experiences – each year different from the next. In my opinion, it really is the best, and I think I’m entitled to make such a statement as I’ve become something of a festival veteran since then, attending V Festival, T in the Park, Bestival, London’s Field Day, Lovebox and Wireless, Big Day Out in Sydney, Lowlands Festival in Holland and of course, multiple Glastos. Granted, I haven’t been to ALL the festivals, including the Isle of Wight Festival (on this weekend), the European classics (like Benicassim) and all the cool niche festivals, but I think I can safely say that Glastonbury has something for everyone, and in that way is unbeatable.

The incomparable feeling of standing on the hill with 100,000 other revellers all singing along to a legendary musician’s songs paired with the utter escapism from real life for 5 days is like nothing else in the world and is what keeps me coming back time and again.

Glastonbury 2005 – Flash floods, a sea of mud and my first festival experience

Who did I see? Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Coldplay, The Killers, Basement Jaxx

Glasto 05.3 Glasto 05.2 Glastonbury 2005Glastonbury 2005 flags

2006 – fallow year

2007 – away travelling

Glastonbury 2008 – Sunny side up

Who did I see? The Verve, Seasick Steve, Crowded House, Jay-Z

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Glasto 08Glastonbury 2008 Glastonbury meeting point

Glastonbury 2009 – the year of the Michael Jackson rumour

Who did I see? Bruce Springsteen, Status Quo, Blur, Lady GaGa, The Specials

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Glastonbury toiletsGlastonbury wellies

Glastonbury 2010 – The scorcher

Who did I see? Ray Davies, Stevie Wonder, Dizzee Rascal, Gorillaz, Snoop Dogg

Glastonbury 2010

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Glastonbury 2011

Who did I see? Wu Tang Clan, BB King, Biffy Clyro, U2,  Paolo Nutini, Elbow, Chemical Brothers, Paul Simon, Beyonce

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2012 – fallow year

Glastonbury 2013

Coming soon…but it will go something like this

Learning the art of design

Hello! It seems to be close to the end of February, and following the end of Project 366, I have not published a single post.

This radio silence is not, however, due to utter laziness or lack of inspiration. It is due to the fact that I am attempting to learn the art of graphic design with the Interactive Design Institute. It is a mammoth task, and something that requires hours of dedication.

I am happy to say I have passed my first two modules – one of which was bringing me up to speed with the history of visual communication (I chose the wonderfully outspoken Paul Rand for my paper), and one of which was to design a poster for a fictional graphic arts fair.

The brief: 

The premise of the brief for this module is the promotion of an international graphic arts fair called Picture This that will be taking place in the summer of next year.  You are commissioned to promote the event by the way of a poster. The event is billed as an exciting opportunity to view and purchase printed artefacts created by some of the world’s best graphic artists, lettering artists and illustrators. The event and venue may be based in a city or town of your choice.

Below you can see my rather amateur attempts to fulfil the brief, and my final submission. I can only hope that my skills improve with time!

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Poster design

Project 366 – 358 – 366

23rd December – pile of pressies!

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24th December – back to the homeland for Christmas Eve

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25th December – compulsory family photo on Christmas Day

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26th December – setting up my Uncle’s shiny new laptop

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27th December – Milo the cat asserting his position as man of the house!

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28th December – celebrating my mum’s 50-10th birthday with a good old house party. I’ll be happy if I can party this hard when I’m 60!

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29th December – didn’t leave the house today!

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30th December – revisiting Newcastle, my old stomping ground where I spent my university years. I love this city.

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31st December – saying farewell to a fabulous year with great food and great company at the Bay Horse pub in Hurworth – the place is even good enough for Prince Harry!

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And that’s all folks! I’ve done it – a photo every day for a year. It was a great challenge, and I don’t think I found myself scraping the barrel that often! Especially considering it was a bumper year including: my man Dan moving in, a visit from the Aussie contingent, the Queen’s Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympics, some big birthdays, a wedding or two, a new job and a total of FIVE trips abroad to Slovenia, Croatia, Iceland, Germany and Belgium, taking my visited countries tally to 37.

I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too. Now, what does 2013 hold? Plenty of graphic design studies and a serious marketing strategy for starters. Better get cracking. Happy new year!

Project 366 – 351 – 357

16th December – cruising the charming canals In Bruges

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17th December – delicious dining at Bread Street Kitchen

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18th December – interactive light installation at Canary Wharf

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19th December – the management team were looking young at work today!

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20th December – chilli prawn linguine a la Lex

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21st December – watching some Christmas cabaret at The Brickhouse on our ladies night out

Ladies night

22nd December – classic post-it game at our early Christmas in Cheltenham – I was Katie Price!

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