FROM ONE BOOKWORM TO ANOTHER: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD



From the tales of Peter Rabbit to the tales of Cora in The Underground Railroad, I cannot remember a time when I haven't had my nose in a book. Even during my teenage years when reading was decidedly 'uncool' I still feverishly devoured literature, albeit secretly. This I now find very sad. Why is reading something for the nerds and bof's? Why is reading seen as something boring people do? I feel sad for people who choose not to read, who don't have the joy of books in their life. Their power to effortlessly transport you to anywhere but where you are is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.


There have been a number of books along the way that have stuck with me, books so good and so gripping upon finishing, you wished you hadn't read them so you could enjoy the whole experience once again. The aforementioned Peter Rabbit was ever present in my childhood years. Noughts & Crosses, Harry Potter and any and all Jacqueline Wilson novels littered my teenage years. Whilst anything from Little Women to Pulitzer Prize winning fiction to Fifty Shades Of Grey (yup I read them along with the rest of the female population) are framing my adult life. Some are simply a guilty pleasure, a quick 'easy read', others, like The Underground Railroad are all consuming. A book I will forgo the latest episode of Liar to read, a book that was read in two days and a book that I have been telling anyone that will listen about. It was the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner and counts Barack Obama as a fan meaning my endorsement kind of pales in comparison; I'm going to give it to you nonetheless. 

Cora, the story's main protagonist, lives a hellish existence as a slave on a cotton plantation. An outcast even amongst her fellow Africans it doesn't take long for Cora to take up the offer of escapism from a slave new to the plantation. The story follows Cora at each stage of her journey; just as she seems to have found a safe haven she is dealt another blow pushing her further into the unknown during a particular dark period of history.

Within minutes your heart is with Cora, you hurt with her and feel her hope as though it is your own.  Cora's is not the only story told and Colson Whitehead manages to effortlessly move back and forth ensuring the stories of the other characters build upon Cora's own. It is completely unapologetic; choosing not to hide any of the harrowing details of the time. This is done with such skill as to not feel forced but necessary. It does make you wonder about the world that we live in and, quite frankly, the brutality of mankind. I know this may sound daunting but don't be put off! It is a thoroughly gripping tale that will stay with you for all the right reasons. 

Can Cora ever find true freedom?

I hope you have a read and if you have read this book already please do let me know what you thought of it in the comments below! 

LOOK MUM, NO HANDS


FLARED SLEEVE JUMPER - ZARA (OLD)


Sometimes fashion isn't sensible however when a jumper has sleeves so long it negates the need for gloves I think it is actually, rather sensible. Despite its lack of practicality, especially when eating, this jumper is seeing it's second winter and my love for it hasn't waned a bit. Paired with my new favourite jeans the whole look achieves a 70s preppy vibe that I am particularly loving right now. When fashion seems to be constantly looking back it's amazing to find pieces that can travel across eras.  A wide leg jean will do just that, they will instantly turn any outfit into a retro dream. Worn with a striped crop and Stan Smiths and you've got a 90s look to rival the Hadid's. Team with a sparkly knit and a sock and heeled sandal combo and you're screaming 80s. Want to achieve a 60s vibe? Add some large muted florals and a wedged sandal. There's no decade these jeans can't work for and for someone whose mind and style is ever changing; they are a perfect fit.

THE PUFFA JACKET




There is nothing I love more than when September rolls around. The cosy evenings, heart warming food and the fashion, oh the fashion. AW style excites me like no other, the chunky knits, the layering, the boots and of course, the coats. My collection is getting a little out of control but after dipping my toe into the puffa pool last year this particular puffa ensured I jumped straight in. Usually preferring to stick to a neutral colour palette when it comes to jackets and coats; adopting a 'they'll go with everything' mentality I just couldn't resist this pop of a puffa. Whilst it might initially conjure up memories of your mum bundling you up before the school run the puffa has enjoyed a refresh and is very much here to stay. AW16 saw the return of the puffa with a little modernisation and by AW17 it was back with a vengence. Look in every store and you'll see at least three different variations of the 90s classic. From satin to velvet, short to maxi, hooded to bomber style the options are quite literally, endless. I actually love the nostalgia, it's like walking around in a comforting hug. Which is even more the case with this coat that is practically a cloud. Well done H&M...well done.

H&M's puffas, sorry padded jackets, are so on point this season I'm heading back to pick up this black padded jacket and this cropped camel number.

THE YEAR OF THE NIPPLE


Call me prude but my nipples will not be seen poking abruptly through a semi sheer shirt. Call me prude but my nipples will not stand erect uncovered for the entire world to see. Call me prude but this trend, largely set by the ever present Kardashian Klan, is one that I will not be following. Don’t get me wrong I don’t judge the whole ‘Free the Nipple’ movement; in fact I completely understand it and support its message. It isn’t simply about wanting the world to see our nipples. It is women empowering women and there is nothing better that. It is claiming our bodies and our choices back. We can do whatever we want with our bodies whenever we want. Our bodies cannot be censored and they cannot be owned, used or abused by any person without our consent. This is a message I can whole heartedly get on board with.

Here, I am talking about the growing trend of the celebrity crowd bearing all in a shocking moment to gain more column inches. The problem is…it isn’t actually shocking anymore. We’ve become desensitised to nakedness that those willing, have to go further and further to shock and awe. It is now socially acceptable to bare ones naked ass on a platform accessed by billions. We don’t bat an eyelid when next doors daughter thrusts her crotch into the mirror in a Baywatch esque bathing suit. When your second cousin twice removed nipple pops up in your feed you glance and move on, not giving it a second thought. I’m going to put it out there; this isn’t about empowering women. This is about popularity. Sex sells has long been the mantra in the entertainment industry and yes that first semi-naked photo you post will garner a hell of a lot of interest but what will you post next time. How far are you willing to go to keep that interest up? 

The confidence it must take to put yourself out there like that, for everyone to see has to be admired. However think how much more shocking it would be for there to be story about Theresa May’s policies; not her length of skirt. Think how much more shocking it would be to see a story about a Kardashian fighting for human rights not because their top shows their bare breasts and erect nipples. We are constantly fighting to be taken seriously as women, to have a voice that is listened to as acutely as a man’s voice. Putting our bodies out there for all to see at the click of a button is a little contradictory no? I can assure you when a naked body is involved no one is listening to the voice behind it.

Nipples have been around since forever. We all have them. Never have they been as prevalent as in 2017. 2017 is quite simply, the nipples year. Will this trend continue into 2018? Or will they be a one season wonder like extreme ripped jeans? Either way it is a trend that I will not be wearing and just can’t quite understand. 

N.B. I am not referring to the sometimes nipple poking through a top a la Rachel Green, sometimes it’s cold and we’re wearing a triangle bra, this cannot be helped!

THE NED, LONDON


I'm not sure which part of The Ned I loved more. The jaw-dropping foyer with constant live band and the most beautiful marble pillars or the idyllic roof top with heated pool and views of The Shard and St Paul's Cathedral (where photos are strictly not allowed)...I just couldn't help myself! Thanks to the beautiful weather in London on the weekend of our visit this roof top felt like a real escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life I can see exactly why people pay the membership fee; from delicious food to tasty cocktails to the most fabulous sun loungers where I spent a considerable amount of time relaxing. If it wasn't for the spectacular view of St Paul's I could have been laid by the pool in Spain.

Now let's talk about that foyer...


With nine restaurants to choose from, an aforementioned live band and the most exquisite decor my breath was quite literally taken away on entering this building. I knew I was excited to stay at The Ned and I knew it was going to be pretty cool but it completely exceeded my expectations. When Dan couldn't stop gushing about the place I knew it was somewhere special. Our 'cosy room' continued the feel of the entire place, like stepping back in time, to a time I did not ever want to leave. A hallway complete with wardrobe, mini bar, straighteners, hairdryer, umbrella and leads onto a boudoir and bathroom fully stocked with complimentary Cowshed products (just don't take them home) packing light is easy when it comes to The Ned. They even have a catalogue of Net A Porter and Mr Porter products, just in case you happen to forget something!


The final area of this vast building that we visited was the basement, if you can call it that. The basement contained the bank vault turned bar still with its original 20 tonne vault door and all the original deposit boxes. A spa, barber shop, gym and a Cowshed beauty parlour. You really needn't ever leave and some people don't. I met two people in the two nights that I spent there who actually lived in The Ned. Me, jealous? No...


Maybe it was that I was in desperate need of an escape, that what I needed more than anything was time away from the day to day to relax, recoup and get things in perspective, or maybe it was simply the decadence of this expansive old bank, either way I had the best weekend in a while in the best hotel I have stayed in and one that I will most certainly be revisiting.

ALL WHITE



If you know me you will be well aware that I trip over my feet on a regular basis. I stub my toe, knock things over, drop items and bang my head all the time. Quite surprisingly for someone so clumsy (and I am touching every bit of wood I can find as I write this) I don't seem to spill stuff on myself. Wearing white is a brave decision; you run the risk of stains, you're putting it all out there, there's not really anywhere to hide. However when it is done right it looks incredible. The right underwear and the right fitting pieces create a stand out outfit.

A LWD, little white dress, is the perfect way to ease into wearing white. Chuck it on with quite literally any shoes and go. The white on white might take a minute to get used to but worn with your favourite gold jewellery and a nude/coloured shoe is a great alternative to the blue jean t-shirt combination. Something I am trying to change up every now and again.

Whilst white isn't something I wear every day I have been reaching for it more and more and if you fancy adding some white to your wardrobe I'm sharing my current favourite pieces. They are all new in so shouldn't have sold out just yet!

EMBROIDERY - TWO WAYS



EMBROIDERED PEASANT BLOUSE - ZARA (OLD SIMILAR BELOW) / JEANS - TOPSHOP / SUNGLASSES - LE SPECS / SHOPPER - MANGO (SIMILAR) / PEARLY STRAPPY SANDALS - ZARA


Rewind to a year ago when this shirt and dress were first bought and I thought embroidery was a trend that I would never get on board on with. They sat in my wardrobe forever unworn, tried on here and there but never quite making it out of the house. Fast forward and I can't seem to get enough. I've found a way to make them work within my minimalist style, a way that I can wear them and still feel like me. Not an imposter jumping on the bandwagon. The shirt was the perfect way to dip my toe in as it is quite subtle compared to others on the market and well within my colour comfort zone. I have worn this more times than I can count which has led me to think it's time I added another option to my wardrobe. Worn with my favourite jeans and my new pearl slides that I am adequately obsessed with; how could you not be? Oh and the bag, the bag that is worn with everything, fits everything and I can't stop talking about.


EMBROIDERED DRESS - ZARA (SIMILAR BELOW) / FAUX FUR SLIDERS - NEXT 


The throw on and go feel, the balloon sleeves, the length; I bought this dress because I simply couldn't not own it. It has ignited a dress love in me that I never knew I had. Anything that brings a bit of the holiday feel to home is a winner for me. As both of these embroidered items were bought last year I have scoured the internet just for you and me to find the best embroidery on the high street right now.



Next is doing some fantastic pieces at the minute and their shoes are amazing! I would definitely recommend having a look next time you're passing; this black dress is the perfect holiday piece. Are you buying into this trend?

THE PICNIC BLANKET




'People turned to bloggers because magazines were no longer relatable however magazines have now become more relatable using 'real people' and bloggers are becoming unattainable'. 

Blog photography has steadily become more and more professional and seeing as I don't have a professional photographer to hand I regularly don't post some of my favourite outfits because the photography doesn't quite meet the very high standards set. I  love fashion, I love putting outfits together, I love the feeling and confidence you get when you put a really great outfit together and I love introducing people to new brands, styles etc. When my friends and family ask me where something is from I get a little buzz and instantly fill them in on all the key details. Where it is from, how much it cost, different colour options and how long ago I bought it (will it still be in stock?) This is exactly why I started this space.

Of course I would love for my blog photography to look like it's straight off the pages of Elle and one day I hope it will but for now here is an outfit thatI shot myself, in my garden, with my little Watson (French Bulldog puppy) running around my feet.

It is the easiest outfit to wear when it comes to hot English days; a light flowy dress in a very on trend gingham print, paired with my favourite Superga trainers and this bag. I could go on and on about this bag. It is, simply put, a dream. The dress is also available in this blue floral design, it may or may not be on it's way to my house as we speak!

OUTTAKE 



SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: THE FINISHING TOUCH



It's the cup of tea of rooms, the place where you go at the end of the day to switch off and relax. It's where cuddles with Watson happen, where the Netflix binge takes place on a Sunday. The room where the Christmas tree stands proud, gifts piled high standing to attention. Where secrets are spilled among friends across a glass of wine. Where the fire is lit on a cold winters day. The room you retreat to when all you want to do is chill. Coffee is drunk, biscuits are dunked in tea. Tears are cried, laughter is heard, big decisions are made, loneliness is felt, happiness is shared; every emotion is experienced in the living room.

It has been one of the hardest to decorate. I want a cosy welcoming room that is still in keeping with my minimalist scandi style. Whilst I am almost there, these last few pieces will really bring the room together. H&M home has forever been my go to for affordable decorative accessories; how amazing is this vase and the lantern? Both are under £10! They went straight into my basket and I am heading back to stock up on cushions immediately.

© LIZ NOTES

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