...to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homey restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city."
Buona giornata, darlings! Sometimes, there really is nothing nicer than spending a whole day wandering around a city by yourself, soaking in whichever sights you wish, completely at your own leisure...
I've been spending lots of time lately strolling through London. I eat lunch by the lions in Trafalgar Square...
...and skip up the grand steps of the National Gallery to spend an afternoon with the Impressionists. You really can feel your soul hungrily drinking in the brush strokes and the colours on canvas - and it's free!:-
-Monet, Le Grand Canal
-Canaletto's paintings of Venice
-Renoir, The Skiff
-Redon, Ophelia Among The Flowers
-Delaroche, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
-Vigee Le Brun, Mademoiselle Brogniart
And then, what could be better than admiring the window displays and trying out the perfume taps and millinery at my beloved Fortnum & Mason's...
and, in the evening, reuniting with dearest old friends for Southern Belle cocktails [Southern Comfort, Chambord and raspberries... mmm!] at Verve, plates and plates of tapas at Navajo Joe, cupcakes on the Embankment as the city lights up around us, and plenty of gossip!
"In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea."
“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
On a good day, it is wonderful.
Love, The Hummingbird Bakery and Buckingham Palace xxx
Buongiorno, darlings! Don't you just adore that quote from Montgomery Clift?!
Last weekend, I had my "training day" at the cocktail bar where I waitress, which involved the managers mixing every single cocktail on the menu for the staff to drink so we "know what to recommend to the customers" [result!]... and then a big barbecue and champagne on tap into the wee small hours of the morning!
It was great fun, but unfortunately I ended the evening escorting an over-inebriated [and attached!] workmate home, in tears of guilt because she had allowed a fellow guest to grope her appendages!
How to avoid such embarrassment? Now, I am no expert, but here it is anyway...
The Sparkles & Crumbs Guide To Dazzling At Your Work Do!
1. Dress for the occasion!
This comes first because it is of the utmost importance. This kind of event does make dressing just right fraught with difficulties. You'll be socialising with your bosses and co-workers, so you still want to appear vaguely professional - but at the same time, you're at a party, and no one wants to be the stiff shirt in the corner!
Quite simply, you want to make an impression of class and fabulousness; and if the image you're projecting falls short of that, you will spend the entire evening uncomfortably aware of it! I do not care if everyone else is in jeans and holey old T-shirts - you want to stand out for your style and good taste, don't you? Hence, here are my rules: there is no excuse for scruffiness. There is also no excuse for going OTT - you're not going out clubbing or to a ball, so no skin-tight body-con dresses, no barely-there hemlines or plunging cleavage, no glittery make-up, and [although it pains me to say this] no fairy-tale ballgowns and glass slippers!
Instead, keep things elegantly understated with a pretty knee-length dress that goes in at the waist and out at the hips [ever so flattering!]... Oscar de la Renta was made for this!:-
For those of us without front row Fashion Week invitations, these beauties from Annie Greenabelle for Topshop and Oasis are practically perfect in every way, too!:-
Have you seen this fabulous scene[skip to 2:50!] in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, when Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell arrive in the dining room? Everyone turns to look in their direction... mouths hang open... the musicians are so distracted they lean over to get a better look and knock each other's instruments! Entrance is everything! You might not cause the same kafuffle as Lorelai Lee and Dorothy Shaw, but if you channel that verve and swagger when you walk into the party, you'll brim with confidence and carry yourself accordingly!
3. Be interesting and interested!
"More than all the charm of her physical appearance, though, is her manner: she has, to an infinite degree, that great gift of making you feel that you are they very person whom she has been waiting all her life to meet."
-Frank Giles on Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
The best way to be memorable? To ask original and imaginative questions, and to be genuinely and sincerely engaged in the recipient of your charm's answers!
Dull topics are for dull people! Ask new acquaintances where they would most like to visit in the whole world... what they think about reincarnation... whether they prefer Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn... who would play them in the movie of their life! Believe me - others will be drawn into your circle of scintillating conversation, and soon you'll be holding court over the gayest gathering of the affair!
"Nobody has the right to come to a party and sit there like a piece of furniture. You're invited to contribute to the party... I resent intelligent, worldly people who won't make an effort."
4. An Aristotelian approach to drinking
Aristotle's philosophy of the soul and its virtues revolved around the Golden Mean: "the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and one of deficiency." Apply a bit of Aristotle's thinking to your cocktail consumption! After all, you don't want to end up vomiting over your supervisor's shoes, climbing onto the bar to strip or some other dire misdemeanour - yet at the same time, a work party is a chance for everyone to see how fun, fabulous and sparkling you can be outside office hours and drudgery! So have enough champagne to keep the conversation sparkling, but don't go swinging from the chandeliers, sweet thing!
7. Be prepared for impromptu DJ duties!
Depending on the calibre of carousing, you might be called upon to take charge of the iTunes playlist at any given moment - so it's reassuring to have a few fail-safe, go-to tunes in mind to keep everybody merry and mingling!
Always, always thank your host for the party, and make clear what a wonderful time you've had - often, other revellers are enjoying themselves so much that they forget to do this, so your party-thrower will certainly appreciate it. Also - if you sincerely don't mind - offer to help with the cleaning up for half an hour, or just help with tidying the space up throughout the night.
Most of all, have fun, be your spectacular, Sparkles & Crumbs self, and you'll be a smash hit success!
"I remember in mathematics I used to write down figures, just any figures, instead of trying to do the questions. I used to think it was a waste of my brain, using it up with mathematics, when I could be imagining all sorts of wonderful things... I used to dream I was a princess, that I could select any husband I wanted. Instead, I chose to travel around the country, disguised as a poor girl, leaving the king and queen at home, to find the man I really loved.
He always turned out to be a poor man."
"I don't feel oppressed but life is against us. Rainer Maria Rilke said something like we all choose different roads and even the closest human beings still have some distance between them. Out of that we grow."
I never knew Marilyn Monroe adored Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet, too. I love her. I love her, and she was wonderful.
"It was impossible to think of Marilyn Monroe except as Cinderella."