Visiting Brussels

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Prior to visiting the Belgian capital, I’d heard that Brussels isn’t the prettiest or most exciting city but I was more than willing to keep an open mind. Belgium is a mix of French and Dutch cultures with some parts predominantly French (Brussels city) and others like Ghent are completely Dutch.

However, there are also many English speakers which makes it a little easier for tourists. Brussels has a French feel but is decidedly more relaxed and friendlier.

I arrived early on a Friday morning and headed into the city. I’m quite proud of myself for navigating the city’s public transport on my own as I’m normally useless in foreign countries!

My friend Michele wasn’t flying in till later and I managed to two buses and an underground without getting lost once.

I had a stroll around the E.U. parliament and then headed to a little park to rest. I also went to OR Coffee Roasters where I had a gorgeous latte and a “wafel.”

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I then made my way to our hostel in Brussels North which is a lively area full of shops, tourist pubs and friteries.

(Word of warning, Brussels North can be dodgy at night-time but like any capital city if you keep your wits about you, you will be fine).

Also, Brussels has many cobblestone streets, some are pedestrianised but beware most are for cars also despite the lack of road markings!

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I was keen to sample some Belgian gourmet delights and found a restaurant named Cafe Georgette. The restaurant consisted of a main dining area and a takeaway fries service.

The fries looked very enticing so I ordered them with meatballs. “French” fries are in fact Belgian in origin!

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The heavenly fries were served with peppery mayonnaise and unsurprisingly I returned later that night with my friend!

Once she arrived we set out to try out the delicious Belgian beers starting with a “Kriek” or cherry beer.

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We went to a bar called A la Mort Subite first before moving on to the appropriately named “Cafe Delirium”.

Here you can buy beer in a one-litre glass, a two-litre glass or a Wellington boot glass, needless to say, it attracts huge crowds of tourists. At peak times, it’s more like Cafe Pandemonium!

The next day we headed out of the city to visit Ghent and Bruges. I’m going to devote another post to this as there’s simply too much for one post!

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In the evening we went back to Brussels and out once more to Cafe Delirium. Their signature beer is known as “Delirium Tremens.”

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On Sunday we decided to take in the sights of Brussels and we headed first to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre.

Our reason for going here? TINTIN! Yes, the famous cartoon strip is revered here and it made my day to see the comics I grew up with come to life!

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Ermagerd Tintin’s actual moon rocket!

As well as Tintin, the museum also pays homage to cartoons such as  The Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix and provides insight into the history of cartoons.

We later found a Tintin wall mural and a Manneken Pis mural. Another thing the Belgians venerate-a small statue of a urinating boy 😛

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We then went to the famed Manneken Pis and realised the statue is tiny! His wardrobe is also more impressive than mine! (He probably has more vintage too, the bastard…)

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We then climbed up to Place Poelart where you can view the entire city from a great height.

Also here is a monument to the Belgian soldiers who fought in both World Wars. This monument has a golden crown on top which can be spotted miles away.

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On our way back down we finally found the Grand Place which we’d been trying to see all day! As its early spring, the famous floral carpet is yet to bloom.

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As always I was keen to see what shops were on offer.

Brussels has loads of lingerie stores as well as all the chains such as Zara, H&M etc. In Pull and Bear I spotted this vintage-style jumper which will be mine yet.

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I didn’t buy anything here as the prices were similar to home.

They also have a nice store called Pimkie which has lots of cute stuff like this chain-trim denim jacket and fringed jumper.

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I found a kilo shop (€15 per kg!) sadly it was late and I couldn’t try on anything.

If any of you vintage-lovers are heading to Brussels, definitely pay a visit to Melting Pot Kilo. You can have a peek at their stock below.

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We also visited a market where they had beer shaped candles and waffle-shaped earrings.

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I couldn’t resist these doughnut earrings..I’ve never seen anything so bloody cute!

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So my verdict on Brussels? Great food and drink and a lot of fun! Reasonably easy to navigate and lots of resources for young travellers. Our hostel Sleepworld Brussels was great value and also had free maps made by locals with lots of tips.

Our trip to Bruges and Ghent will feature in my next post.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

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When in Paris..Vendredi à Versailles

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The second day of my Paris trip was a lovely day. The weather was beautiful and we headed off to see the famous Chateau de Versailles or Palace of Versailles.

The palace once home to the French monarchy is now more synonymous with the wedding of self-proclaimed deity Kanye West and American “royalty” Kim Kardashian.

The palace is 20km outside Paris so it’s an opportunity for tourists to leave the city and see something different. And by “different” I mean the most opulent extravagant place imaginable. It’s a place that has to be experienced to be believed.

The palace is now open to the public and a merely a symbol of the power the French royalty once had. Versailles was an ornate display of the wealth, power and prestige of the monarchy. Nowadays the palace is a museum dedicated to the “all the glories of France.”

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The carriages of the train to Versailles were decorated with images from the palace.

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Views of the palace outside.

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The gilded palace gates – a ludicrous amount of gold leaf adorns the facade of Versailles! Up close the detail is stunning.

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The spectacular main gates. The original gate was torn down during the French Revolution but in 2008 the pain-staking replica was built from wrought iron and gold leaf.

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Exterior of the palace

Versailles has 700 rooms, more than 2,000 windows, 1,250 chimneys, and 67 staircases. To give you a sense of its enormity, it is capable of holding 20,000 people!

Needless to say I can’t display all of this but we visited the main building, Le Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s residence when she needed a break from court) and gardens.

The story of Versailles began when King Louis XIII purchased a small piece of land to build a modest country home so he could hunt in Versailles. His son King Louis XIV was the one who made Versailles into a colossal project spanning decades.  The entire layout is designed so anyone approaching would be in awe of King Louis XIV’s majesty.  He was known as the “Sun King” and Versailles is designed in a way that building and gardens are amplified by the sun. The sun emblem can be found everywhere in the palace as it represents Apollo the god of peace and life-giver.

Like most tourist attractions in and around Paris Versailles offers free admission to almost every gallery and museum for those aged under 26. (Being 26 I had to use my youthful looks to my advantage 😉 )

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The beautiful royal chapel where the monarchy once worshiped. The chapel is not open to visitors but you can view it from a balcony.

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The ceiling of the chapel

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The chapel was a central part of palace life as King Louis was seen as “God’s representative” and defender of the Catholic faith. However the ancient Roman Gods and Goddesses feature far more prominently in Versailles, from the gardens to rooms named after them.

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Details from the palace

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Views of the garden

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 I love how the statues look like they’re keeping watch in their hollows! Unfortunately the whole of Paris seems to be on a mad water-saving buzz so none of the fountains were switched on.

Below are an artist’s impression of the grounds, views of the hallways and details of the doors.

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The palace is well-equipped for its modern-day role as a museum. Visitors are given an audio guide with different language options.

On entering each splendid room, the audio guide gives a description of the history and function of the room.  The salons or rooms are each dedicated to a Roman God or Goddess where appropriate.

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King Louis XIV was a great patron of the arts and the salons are adorned with beautiful paintings and also portraits of the royal family.

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The red room below is the “Salon de Mars” dedicated to Mars the God of War.

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Salon de Mars is part of the grand apartment of the King and served as a ballroom. (The chandelier budget was limitless apparently 😉

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The most famous part of Versailles is of course Galerie des Glaces or “The Hall of Mirrors.”

The hall comprises of seventeen mirrored arches each with 21 mirrors which reflect the seventeen windows in the hall. In the 17th century mirrors were extremely expensive and such a display flaunted the King’s wealth.

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Visionary King Louis XIV thought of all the girlos who need to take profilers and selfies and provided with them with them Hall of Mirrors. 😛

My playsuit pictured is from Topshop, it was perfect for the sunny day.

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The combination of light and mirrors creates a dazzling effect. You can see the hall in 360 panorama here.

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277Glorious view from a top window

Below is the King’s chamber which faced the rising sun in accordance with his overall theme.

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Paisley and baroque fabrics decorate the Kings chamber.

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Thosee favoured by the King were allowed visit his bedchamber, admittance was granted in order of rank or standing.

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The Queen’s bedchamber.

The Queens bedchamber is part of the Queens Grand Apartment. 19 royal babies were born in this room throughout the reign of the various monarch. It is in this room Marie Antoinette fled through a tiny door into a concealed passage during the revolution.

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Marie Antoinette’s escape route

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Let’s hope the Royal Highnesses were floral fans-they didn’t have much choice!

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The beds are shorter than modern lengths and the royals often slept sitting up! Lying flat was associated with death and wasn’t the preferred sleeping stance!

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Below is Versailles’ Hall of Battles. As the name suggests it is dedicated to the conquests of the royals with paintings of war and military throughout.

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The various paintings and busts represent war heroes such as Charlemagne and Napoleon most of whom died in action. In 1978 The Hall of Battles was bombed in 1978 by Breton revolutionaries who were incensed by the tributes to Napoleon in the hall.

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And finally you may know this lady ….

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MArie antoinette cake - I'M SO FANCY

Versailles is so huge that one post will not do it justice, you honestly need to see it for yourself! For more on my Paris trip just click here. Thank you for visiting my blog as always and don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

Edel

A trip to Paris: Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, Palais de Tokyo and The Louvre

Like many people, I have always dreamed of going to Paris after years of studying French in school and college.

When the opportunity arose, I was very excited to see all the tourist attractions, attempt to speak French and of course the renowned sartorial elegance!

We landed in Paris early on a Thursday morning and made our way into the city. The first thing we visited was the Luxembourg Gardens.

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Luxembourg Gardens

These beautiful gardens were originally created solely for French royalty but are now accessible to the public.

We had a very early flight so I was extremely casual on the first day! (PS I’m not normally a double denim girl but I think I can work it in light denim) Outfit details on Lookbook here.

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L’ecole Militaire
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Luxembourg Gardens
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Luxembourg Gardens

The gardens and Luxembourg palace.

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We grabbed lunch and headed for the hotel which was in a great location within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.

After a quick power nap, we set off to the Eiffel Tower. On our way there we passed the Ecole Militaire which was a training academy for Parisian cadets from poor families. Napoleon himself was once a student there!

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L’Ecole Militaire
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L’Ecole Militaire
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Eiffel Tower
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Eiffel Tower

First glimpses of the tower!

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Underneath the Eiffel Tower
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Eiffel Tower
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Eiffel Tower
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Wedding at Eiffel Tower

Not sure if the wedding is real or a photoshoot?!

 

 

I dressed up a bit for the tower as you do 😉 See outfit details here.

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Eiffel Tower views at dusk
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Brogues in Paris

Brogues are the footwear du jour in Paris 🙂

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Eiffel Tower socks

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Wearing Eiffel tower socks to the Eiffel tower because I have my shit together!

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Palais de Chaillot

The queues for the tower were massive so we went on our way and took a stroll across the Seine to the Trocadero.

The Palais de Chaillot is located here, it’s an impressive building with relief sculptures and Roman-style columns but unfortunately, parts of it have been covered with graffiti which is horrible!

Then it was time for Palais de Tokyo, one of Paris’s few modern art museums. We went in the evening so it was quiet and peaceful unlike many of the other museums and attractions.

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Palais de Tokyo had a variety of contemporary exhibits, from a floor transformed into a cracked desert landscape, a whole exhibition devoted to hypotheses of apocalypse (my favourite, grim as it sounds!), upside-down chandeliers, giant skeins of yarn, what looked like a giant plastic bag but was apparently a meteorite and silent videos.

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Yarn exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo
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Exhibits at the Palais de Tokyo
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Video exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo
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Desert landscape

Paris is renowned for the Mona Lisa, Impressionists, etc. so many visitors don’t even think about visiting a modern art museum.

However, I would highly recommend Palais de Tokyo as the atmosphere is so much more peaceful than the big museums and you can really enjoy a stroll around.

The Louvre was amazing but I felt like I’d been hit by a train by the end! That may be in part because my travel companion insisted on doing all four floors in one afternoon…

I loved Paris but I will say it’s not possible to fit in all the tourist sights in a few days, you’ll run yourself ragged if you try.

I was exhausted every day and my feet were in ribbons from walking around in the heat.

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My next post will feature my trip to the palace of Versailles.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

Spanish Wedding & Trip to Madrid

I promised a post on the wedding dress I was helping my friend Dani to make and here it is at last! In the past, I studied basic dressmaking at an evening class in Galway and designing and making clothes has been a passion of mine since I was a kid.

Dani is a qualified designer so she made the body of the dress but I helped with the decorating. It was a strapless dress covered in tulle flowers and pearl beads sewn onto each flower.

Each flower petal was painstakingly decorated with beads and as you can see the dress has hundreds of flowers on it. I only did a little bit of work on it so you can imagine the effort involved on Dani’s part!

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I really loved working on the dress despite how time-consuming it was. I worked on some of the flowers at the back and the edges.

I would take a piece of tulle, sew on the beads in tiny rows on the petals then pin it in place on the dress. The body of the dress is quite simple, the decoration, however, took months for Dani to complete.

I worked on some of these flowers at the back. The veil was bought but matches the dress perfectly.

I’m not someone who always loves traditional wedding dresses but this dress is just exquisite. Knowing the work put into it also makes it very special!

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I worked on some of the flowers on the edges and the back.

We got pins and needles and backache from sitting down labouring over the tiny petals. I really love dressmaking and would like to do more.

I believe weddings are overly commercial nowadays and making your own dress is one way to reduce this and be original. However, to make a dress like this requires serious dedication!

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Every single bead hand-sewn on!!!

The big day arrived and Dani looked incredible!

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My own outfit consisted of a green satin dress that I keep for special occasions. It’s very glamorous with silver bead straps and a ruched front.

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I added some gold and green earrings from Forever 21, green sunglasses and cream heels with floral details.

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After the wedding which was held in a town called Valladolid, two hours from Madrid I headed back to the capital to explore with my friend.

Madrid is very authentic and more “Spanish” than Barcelona.

You have to make the effort to “hablo espanol” and they seemed to understand my Spanglish at least 50% of the time!

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Campo Grande Valladolid
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Valladolid-the town no-one can pronounce!

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Of course I looked in the shops 😉 The flower ring is from a shop called Tierra, find them on Facebook here.

I also browsed in Brandy Melville and had a look at Topshop’s summer collection!

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Flowers, flowers errrwhere!

075I love mock-croc! (Update I bought these back home and they are fabulous!)

Everywhere in Madrid there are beautiful churches and most of the street names have a religious connotation. Each street sign has a picture on it which I loved.

My other favourite thing there was the street performers from a whistling clapping goat covered in tinsel to a human tree in Plaza Mayor.

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Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for reading. If you would like to follow me on social media, check out my Instagram and Facebook page.

Edel

My month of thrift and trip to London

So as you know from my last post I embarked on a sacrificial crusade not to buy any new clothes for all of January. Tough considering the sales are on everywhere.

The first week was difficult..particularly as I use Penney’s as a detour to work.. but after a while it became easier and I didn’t miss shopping as much as I feared.

Anyway I got through the month and for once wasn’t completely broke by the end of January (what a coincidence!) and also found a few gems in the charity shops.

The first gorgeous item I found was this amazing pale cream lace blazer in an Enable Ireland charity shop for €10.90.  I love the detail of the bow and it’s in perfect condition.

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I found this gorgeous real leather rucksack for €5!! It’s super soft and so beautiful!

Over in London I scored some awesome charity shop bargains. En route to  Camden market  we saw an interesting charity shop and immediately jumped off the bus to investigate!

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Mind in Camden – a brilliant charity shop that supports mental health awareness.

Here I found a really cute winter/Xmas jumper (it was freezing in London and I needed something warm!) It will serve me nicely next Christmas anyway at just £5! I also picked up a beautiful beaded halterneck top for £5.

Halternecks can be hard to pull off but this was perfect with my Zara fitted leather pants and black brogues.

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Yes I wore a jumper with a reindeer in February…. The oversize denim jacket was a €9 bargain from Enable Ireland and was new with tags on.

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This top is amazing!

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Then we headed to the market to browse the stalls. I’ve been once before in 2o1o and loved browsing the stalls.

We saw some really cute hand painted shirts and cool printed t-shirts and crop tops. Also all of the stalls were selling hoodies and jumpers with Banksy prints. I’m a huge fan of Banksy’s art but I don’t know how he’d feel about all the unlicensed merchandise flying around London! He is known for his anti-corporation views and does not sell photographs or reproductions of his work.

Banksy Girl With A Heart Balloon Graffiti Art Sweatshirt Unisex All SIZES

I may buy this jumper..what do you think?

If you want to get your hands on some Banksy-esque clothing try here. To find out more about the world’s most infamous graffiti artist check out his book Wall and Piece.

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Unfortunately it’s not crop top weather! 😦

It was lashing rain and very cold so we headed indoors to Urban Outfitters to check out their new spring merchandise.

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Hippy flasks!

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Will it ever be warm enough to wear these bad boys?!

The next day we went to Notting Hill to the Portobello Road market. There was so much choice at the market which takes place every Saturday and is very very crowded! Everything from food, souvenirs, art, jewellery, crafts, vintage clothing and charity shops to peruse! Needless to say we spent forever there!

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I ❤ vintage handbags.

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Goldsmith vintage store.

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Amazing jewellery!

While at the market I dropped into a Cancer Research charity shop and picked up two tops for £11.  I was so happy with my bargains as normally I buy new clothes abroad.

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A selection of my charity buys, the grey top was just £4 and the pink and black jumper £7.

Of course when we got to Oxford Street I headed to Primark  to browse their new collection and buy some new accessories. (My challenge was finished by this point!)

129There were lots of candy and pastel colours in Primark’s latest collection. Polka dots, daisy prints and slogans featured prominently also.

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I think these soft rucksacks will be a bestseller! I almost bought the black one but decided on a black satchel instead as I’ve wanted a satchel for a long time and it was only £9!

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In the spirit of not shopping I looked through some of my mam’s old things and found this cute tapestry handbag above! I absolutely love it and was delighted she let me have it. The satchel was my first new purchase at the end of the month!

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Denim shirts get a spring update in the form of bleached styles and polka dot prints. The androgynous look is back in fashion also with lots of stores stocking brogues and braces for trousers.

Stradivarius Spring 2014 lookbook -love this look!

So one month of no new clothes really didn’t hurt at all…I don’t know if I could say the same about a year! I’m not a shopaholic despite what this post suggests but it didn’t do me any harm to spend less money and think about my consumption habits.

Lots of people (myself included) cannot afford to buy new clothing regularly but still want to express themselves…charity shops, swapping clothes with friends and family and upcycling old pieces are all ways you can do it!

Disclaimer : Shopping in charity shops does not guarantee you will spend less 😉 Use common sense and remember that most charity shops will not accept returns so make sure clothes fit and are functional!

Thanks for reading as always and don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

Edel

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