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Tokyo: Neon Jungle

Tokyo has been sitting at the very top of a rather over-ambitious list of places I want to visit since I was about 12. For a start, I’m a massive sucker for neon. Secondly, Gwen Stefani and her bonkers troupe of Harajuku schoolgirls were a pivotal cultural reference for me growing up. Still are, to be fair. And, lastly, I really, really like sushi.

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Coat: H&M. Similar at Shrimps

I got my act together in March, a mere 19 years later, flying out and staying in The Mandarin Oriental, super central with huge rooms, incredible staff and home to the famous Tapas Molecular Bar – an 8-seater restaurant where you sit opposite the chef as he explains everything he creates. And gives you a hammer and a test tube to eat/ prepare your dinner.IMG_0071

Rings: Maria BlackIMG_0084

IMG_0037IMG_0056IMG_0066Anywhere with that much Hello Kitty could never have disappointed me, and I genuinely struggle to remember locals in any country I’ve ever visited being as welcoming. Two baffled-looking Brits aimlessly wandering around a spaghetti-esque Metro? They don’t speak English, but they want to help you. We even had someone draw us a map, on scented paper, using 3 different colour pens. Can’t imagine that happening on the Piccadilly Line.IMG_0118IMG_0202IMG_0235IMG_0514 copy

Highlights: Seeing Mount Fuji from the breakfast table, the kaleidoscopic labyrinth that was Harajuku, pretending to be Bill and Scarlett in Lost in Translation at The Park Hyatt, the teeny drinking dens in Golden Gai (6 seats, a crab-style shuffle to get in and a bartender who is also a chef serving you unidentifiable meat alongside rounds of sake.) It was like being in Japan’s version of Diagon Alley, hidden just behind the bright lights of Shinjuku. A cluttered, crazy mess of stacked boxes, lanterns, 200-year-old shouty women and tinpot houses that looked like they’d collapse if you sneezed too hard.IMG_0094IMG_0104IMG_0575 copyIMG_0592 copyIMG_0146The only thing to beat it was The Robot Restaurant – a cacophony of both noise and colour, Lady Gaga tributes, Transformers, discoball Trojan horses and gorillas swinging from the ceiling. My favourite was two Japanese girls dressed as sparkly superheroes, coming out on the platform of a giant, wheeled robot and singing Ave Maria – the duet version, naturally.IMG_0137IMG_0138IMG_0141IMG_0564 copy

A week was by no means long enough – next time I want to take the bullet train to Osaka, go and watch the Sumo wrestling, visit a maid cafe (look it up. Please) and maybe even eat some blowfish. Arigatou Gozaimasu Tokyo, you were every bit as special as I hoped.

Cornwall: New Favourite Getaway – The Scarlet

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It’s officially the most ‘meh’ time of year (technical term), which means a good ol’ fashioned country mini-break is a pretty judicious move. Getting out of London is also quite welcome from time to time, and you can’t get more opposite to the big smoke than Cornwall and its raw, unspoilt hills and beaches. So armed with The Boy, far too much luggage for two nights and six cans of Marks and Spencer gin and tonic (classy), I boarded a First Great Western from London to Bodmin Parkway.

We were headed to The Scarlet, a five star eco-hotel perched on a clifftop overlooking the breathtaking cove of Mawgan Porth. It’s the kind of location you forget even exists in England, especially when the northern line feels like the centre of the known universe. It’s also the kind of location that makes you hum Land of Hope and Glory, eat a massive pie and think that hiking anywhere, for any length of time (however short), is a fabulous idea. Such is the power of giddying fresh air and a pretty view.

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Still, sometimes it’s exactly what the doctor ordered – and The Scarlet, adults-only, dreamily-decorated and completely peaceful, ticked all the boxes. Waking up on Saturday morning and opening the curtains to reveal the beach below was joy enough; breakfast in bed an added bonus. Part of The Scarlet’s eco-friendly philosophy, all the food is locally sourced, meaning a constantly-refreshed menu of regional produce. Breakfast, therefore, was made up of poached apples, homemade bread and jams, thick pancakes with chopped apple and yoghurt, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and fresh apple juice, all sourced and made either in-house or very nearby. We ate every last bite of what was basically a meal for four, reading the weekend papers and pinching ourselves about the perfect view.

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It was a struggle but we eventually got up, pulled on our wellies and headed down the coastal path towards the huge sandy beach below. A mini-break is nothing without a country walk (the hotel even offers its hound Jasper as a companion for your little jaunt) so off we pottered, up the hill towards a tiny farm shop, pretty much abandoned and ostensibly run by chickens.

I’d heard wonderful things about the ayurvedic spa and there was just enough time to do a few laps of the graphic indoor pool and have a quick steam before my appointment. Meanwhile, The Boy decided to take advantage of (read: dive bomb into) the natural rock pool outside. In February. In England. Incredulous, I headed to my full body massage where my lovely therapist asked me about my lifestyle before deciding which type of massage I needed. 60 pretty blissful minutes followed before she took me into the deep relaxation room (pitch black bar a few twinkling lights, full of six cushion-filled pods suspended from the ceiling), wrapped me in a fluffy robe, tucked me into a pod with a blanket and handed me some wireless headphones and a cup of ginger tea. I quite literally have never been happier.

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Speaking of happy, The Boy had recovered from his pool-plunging insanity and was soaking in our huge tub watching the rugby and drinking beer by the time I got back to the room. We got dressed for dinner – freshly-caught scallops, perfectly pink lamb and lemon tart and every bit as good as breakfast.

DSCF5941DSCF5956Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity for more food, we had breakfast in the beach-facing restaurant the next morning before our hot tub appointment. Heated to 42 degrees, the rustic-looking wooden tubs on the clifftop were an incredible experience. Six degrees outside, it was a hilarious dance to get out of my robe and actually into the water but totally worth the two and a half seconds of being freezing in a bikini on a cliff. It was 10am (basically champagne o’clock, right?) so we made the most of it and ordered two glasses. I wish we could’ve stayed in there all day but we had a reservation for Sunday lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, a twenty minute drive down the coast to Watergate Bay. Something of a gastronomic hub, Rick Stein’s acclaimed seafood restaurant is also round the corner.

I’m always a bit dubious about celebrity chef restaurants but Fifteen blew me away. The best bloody mary I’ve ever had, plus incredible bread to start (I have a theory that you can tell how good the main event will be by the bread and butter) and amazing squid ink pasta.

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What I loved about The Scarlet is how it manages to be luxe and homely at the same time. It’s also great to see that eco-consciousness can actually translate into real luxury. The best bit, though? (Other than drinking at 10 in the morning without judgement). That I felt like I’d really had a rest. It’s almost enough to put me off London for good. Granted, me in the country will always be a bit Paris and Nicole do The Simple Life, but on the up side, I do know how to rock a Barbour jacket and a pair of Hunter wellies. Even if they are the ones they did with Jimmy Choo.

The Scarlet, Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, TR8 4DQ. (01637 861 800). Double room including breakfast from £175/night.

Florida: When You Wish Upon A Star

Ok kids, here’s the deal. To celebrate my *cough* late-twenties crisis 21st birthday, and the fact that my current responsibilities are no more pressing than maintaining a job/ boyfriend/ slight wave in my hair, I bid farewell to London for a week and flew to DisneyWorld Orlando with two equally puerile pals. We laughed, we cried, we subsisted solely on brown food. We even wore our matching sequinned Minnie ears to sunbathe. I will say this in our defence, though. One simply never outgrows Disney. You’re never too old for a hug from Mickey. And it’s quite possibly the only place on earth where you can tell someone to have a magical day and not get slapped round the face for sounding like an utter twat. Sold? Thought so.

 

New digs.

 

A bit of shopping involved, obviously. The colours in the Kate Spade New York stores always put a big smile on my face, as evidenced above.

 

My facial expression remained like this until I conked out at the end of every day on the back seat of our SUV like a massive child.

 

Finding Nemo. But losing all shreds of dignity.

 

Always a fan of themed food.

 

Minnie meets Lolita.

 

Completely acceptable, yes?

 

I’m pretty sure I got in about 4 other people’s photos and made a couple of children cry to get this shot. Totally worth it though.

 

Guys, be cool.

 

Guys, I said be cool.

 

Oh sod it.

 

 

Guys, I just wanted to say that we’re all doing a really good job of being cool. I know it’s hard, especially with all the sugar racing round our syst…..OH SWEET LORD IT’S CAPTAIN JACK!!!!!! *kicks small child violently from path*

 

I challenge anyone not to shed a sneaky tear when the music plays and this is lit up… Click here for inspiration. Celine and Peabo, you little devils.

 

dessert party (no, really) on a terrace in Tomorrowland as we overlooked the firework display.

 

 

Cue embarrassing blubbing from three grown (ish) women.

 

 

We stayed at the Grand Floridian in the park on our last night. This dude won serious points from me for playing the Muppets theme on the grand piano in the lobby. Nice work, pal.
Haven’t done so many totally unnatural photographic poses since fashion week.

 

Just as an aside, my phone case, an accoutrement that would make Liberace weep with joy, has proved quite popular. It’s from Skinnydip and you can buy it here.

 

 

Getting my Ariel on, Dinglehopper and all.

 

Loved the Sci-Fi diner, set up in pastel convertible car booths, under a starry night canape as a drive-in movie playing Fifties sci-fi classics. See below…
The iconic Tower of Terror.

 

 

The view in Venice, The World at Epcot.

 

Oh hai Cinders. Or as Lucy put it; “Who’s the one in the blue?”
I despair.

Now, singalong anyone?