Lockdown reflection

Good day to you my lockdown lovelies,

Firstly, I sincerely apologise for my lack of posts in the last six months, I know – can you believe it’s been six months already – we are already into Autumn of 2020.

I just felt what with all of the devastation the pandemic has caused (and still causing sadly), it was insensitive to be writing about Fashion or lifestyle when let’s face it, if you are like me you’ve lived in shorts, t shirts and a messy bun whilst working from home all summer anyway.

But, I can assure you I have not forgotten about my lovely readers and I have genuinely missed bringing you all thought provoking content each month. I sincerely hope you and your families are keeping safe and well in these troubling times.

For this months post though I wanted to open up the floor to you. What has been the biggest challenges for you during these last few months? Has it been not being able to visit elderly grandparents or relatives, parents or siblings? Has it been getting all the way to the supermarket, only to realise you left your face covering at home? Overuse of hand sanitiser or face coverings leaving your faces and hands bruised and chapped? Has it been the daily pandemic update on the news causing you worry or stress? Or was it, trying to think of creative ways to entertain your children whilst we were all forced to stay at home? Perhaps it was all of the above?

I can completely understand why there has been a huge spike in individuals suffering with their mental health or feeling worried about how to keep their loved ones safe? But in all of this, one really positive side I have seen is how some of the best side of humanity has also been shown. The sheer scale of people donating home made face shields, the amount of money raised by everyday people in support and the clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening was an incredible, albeit small part of the display.

Have you thought about what little things you can do to make yourself feel good in these times though? We have recently moved into a new home in the rural countryside and for me, my simple pleasures have been going for a jog around the country lanes or at the weekend putting on a little mascara or a pair of jeans just to make it feel a little different from every other day!

Your health inside and out depends on these daily little acts of kindness to YOU! Giving yourself that pamper night – painting your nails or relaxing in a hot, Himalayan salt bath, calling your best friend to have a catch up about normal things or even having a great, big belly laugh at a silly movie curled up under a blanket with some popcorn. Try it, you will be amazed at how you feel 😊

Until next time, keep well and stay healthy.

Keya x

Green garden

Good morning to you my nature loving readers,

From earlier posts you would know that I LOVE travel. Whether it be practising yoga amongst the rice paddy fields in Bali or relaxing on the beach in Cyprus – I am in my element. For the past few months however, I have stayed a little closer to home and visited some beautiful places within the UK. For this months post I wanted to delve into the garden just beyond our doorsteps.

My parents have been taking me on holiday since I was three years old, my first destination being Portugal. Although I cannot remember that trip specifically, the bug must have stuck because as I’ve got older I have tremendously enjoyed researching new countries to visit – either going with family, friends, as a couple or on my own! I guess, I just never really considered staying in the UK for my summer holiday – boy was I wrong though.

I love this time of year in the UK. When the sun is shining, everything just seems to come alive. The grass looks greener, the flowers in full bloom and it just makes me want to get outside and enjoy nature at its finest.

Growing up as a teenager I loved Kate Moss, as I can imagine many girls my age did at the time. I remember reading an interview she gave where she said that when she wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of London she went to her country home in the Cotswolds, only a few hours away so that was our first short weekend break location. We spent our days filled with long forest hikes, stopping off for quaint country pub lunches and finding local gems to explore for our evening entertainment.

Our next stop was Warwickshire. When we were looking for places to stay the Wroxall lodge and spa was our instant favourite. The mansion has been standing since the 1800s, and I loved how it still had original features like the bell telephone system and the ornate fireplaces in each room. Around every country bend there was another cosy pub which were mostly dog and children friendly. We instantly felt like we were welcome and one of the locals. If you are staying in this area, for a great coffee spot try the Cowshed and for dinner you must secure a reservation at Robbie’s restaurant. On our last night, we had a seven course french taster menu which was simply out of this world and great value for money.

Including a weekend stop over in Bath last year and several trips to the North East under my belt, I can safely say my passport is staying put for the time being as there are still so many exciting areas I would love to explore on our green shores.

Until next time,

Take care

Keya x

Power dressing – the feminine touch.

Good afternoon to you my sleek stylistas,

Well so much has changed since my last blog post. After much deliberation and decision making, we decided to end our chapter in Qatar and I am now living back home in London. I have also since started a new job – slightly more senior than I had been previously which is a huge challenge but mega exciting. Quite fittingly for this months post we are going to delve into the tricky world of power dressing but keeping it feminine.

All images courtesy of google images)

Whenever I hear the words power dressing, I can’t help but be reminded of Oliver Twist – sooty faced chimney sweeps on one end of the spectrum and gentlemen in elegant three piece suits with a slick hairstyle to match on the other. It does seem like quite an old fashioned notion especially as today’s fast fashion is one in which we embrace our individuality and what we wear today is yesterday’s news once it’s picture has been posted on social media – however power dressing has had a serious upheaval in recent years.

As I recall I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the very first time I watched the series Suits on TV with Jessica wearing an one shouldered monochrome dress with sky high Christian Louboutins and Rachel in fitted a line dresses or shirts and pencil skirt combos I was sold. I knew that I wanted to improve the way I dressed in the office too.

One of the fond memories I have from living in a conservative state in the UAE is it really made me think twice about the length of my skirt or whether my shoulders were covered each day. I really liked how elegant I felt in midi skirts or floaty long sleeve tops and trousers. I have always believed in the less is more approach to dressing anyway so being covered up in the work place felt natural and comfortable.

In my new role I wanted to embrace that new style into my wardrobe so I find my day to day go to’s are knee length fitted dresses with a jacket and heels or tailored chinos with a smart top and heels. It really doesn’t have to cost a fortune, I find by mix and matching my jackets or cardigans or shoes with certain outfits it can look completely new and is extremely versatile.

Because my days are so fluid in the office also I never know when I will have to attend an impromptu meeting so I find a simple shift dress with paired back accessories and simple hair can take you from boardroom to after work team building with ease.

One of my absolute style crushes for work wear at the moment is Amal Clooney. She effortlessly puts outfits together so beautifully and she looks amazing whether she is attending a red carpet event or spending a day in the office. There is something so chic about a twin set and pearls and she really pulls off the old school 50s Hollywood glamour.

So whether you prefer a sharply tailored suit or a ankle length pleated dress and jacket for your work wardrobe, just remember in a proverbial mans world we can still be feminine and on trend with or without the trousers in the board room.

Until next time,

Take care

Keya x

An ode to Oud

Good day to you my sweetly perfumed patrons,

Just over a month into my time here in the Middle East, I felt it imperative to immerse myself in the local culture and traditions as much as possible. It is such a different way of life to my own upbringing back in the UK, but immensely interesting.

As a predominately Muslim country, I have personally witnessed many people taking part in Wudu, which is the religious ceremony of washing one’s hands, faces, feet and arms prior to prayer. Another facet to this ritual of cleanliness is scent which is what I wanted to delve into in this months post.

When you walk into any fragrance store here you are instantly subjected to an overload to the senses. Firstly you have the utter visual beauty of the glass bottles displayed on the shelves, secondly the heady scents of incense, Amber and the rich woody texture of Oud fills your nostrils and finally tracing your fingertips over the amazing tapestry of presentation boxes can easily transport you to a traditional store in a souk in Morocco or Saudi Arabia.

Auod/ Oud or agar wood as it is also known, is one of the most expensive woods in the world with an average price per kilo as QAR 40,000. The wood can be burned on its own to perfume an individuals home, or more commonly the oil from it is used as the base for many perfumes. It’s rich, powerful aroma is instantly recognisable.

With agar wood as the base note of the scent, other delights like incense, Amber, or strawberry (the list could go on) are amalgamated to form the most incredible scents. Many are unisex with women preferring the bolder hints of the masculine eau’s and the lighter, more fruity feminine fragrances are used by men subsequently.

The delightful concoctions are not just limited to our skin either with many people opting for perfumed hair sprays and body musks to ensure they all are smelling deliciously fresh and clean in the summer heat.

These fragrances are not just a wonder for our noses either, the opulent and luxurious bottle designs would not look out of place in the palace of Versailles, however we too can have our own slice of exquisiteness on our dressing tables at home.

It is utterly impossible not to walk out of an Arabian perfume shop without having a huge smile on your face and more than likely owning your own personal scent bottle also. Our senses are heightened everyday with the world around us and sometimes a certain smell can remind us of a lost loved one or transport us back to a childhood memory at the drop of a hat.

We decide everyday what outfit, lipstick colour or shoes to wear, who says our perfume choice can’t be included in our daily routine also?

Until next time,

Take care

Keya x

Otherworldly Oman

Good day to you my travel loving adventurers,

I cannot believe it has been so long since I last posted, but once again I have flown the proverbial nest and I’ve joined my partner in the Middle East in his new career opportunity which is incredibly exciting.

Within 24 hours of arriving in Qatar, we were en route to Oman for a short break. Considering I have never been to the UAE previously, it felt very jet set visiting two countries in short succession but Oman is truly breathtaking and definitely a must visit.

On our first day we hired a car for the duration of our stay (which we ended up being so grateful for in the end) and checked out the local mall for some lunch. We then headed to the port where we glimpsed lofty vessels moored in the harbour from around the world and with the incredible backdrop of mountains and ancient forts dotted all around us.

We then visited the popular souk where we were met with sense heightening smells of incense and spices in the air, mixed with visual displays of pure cashmere scarves, harem trousers and to my delight oodles and oodles of silver jewellery. I managed to find the most incredible pair of sterling silver handmade earrings which were priced on the weight of the metal not a tourist laden price – it was a lovely memento to take back with me.

On our second day we embarked on an incredible drive through the mountain ranges once again an hour and a half out of Muscat to visit Wadi Shab. After browsing the night before, must do things in Oman this tropical oasis was one of them and it certainly did not disappoint 😊 We arrived at the location and had to get a little boat to the opposite island where we had a tough 30-45 minute hike through unbelievable scenery to the fresh water lake in the depths of the mountains. We happily plunged into the freezing cold water and embarked on the series of lagoons, eventually finding ourselves in a cavern where we climbed a rope laden waterfall to yet another water wonderland. It was spectacular, a real pinch yourself moment.

During our trip we also visited the magnificent Grand Mosque where I was asked to cover my arms and head in respect of it’s religious significance. We laid our eyes on one of the largest chandeliers and woven carpets in the world. I just couldn’t believe the sheer size of that vast but intimate space.

Another must see if you get the chance and are able to get a reservation is to have dinner at the Al Bustan Palace hotel. This positively regal establishment is beautiful beyond words and I am so happy we got to experience the heartwarming local hospitality. Our table overlooked the ocean and you could hear the waves lapping the shore as we dined. Our appetites were gracefully satiated with tuna sashimi, steaks and king fish with the freshest vegetables and Parmesan dusted fries. It is making my mouth water now thinking about it.

We completed our short trip in Muscat by visiting a traditional Omani restaurant where we tried camel Biriani, shark soup and beef Tagine with fresh dates and apricots. What an unlikely but delicious combination I can assure you.

And then before we knew it, we were on our way back to Qatar and our mini break was complete but wow with so many amazing memories to take away with us. Oman it was short, but oh so sweet. It is hopefully not good bye but see you soon.

Until next time take care,

Keya x

Social media – help or hindrance to our own true happiness?

Good evening to you my enthusiastic e-readers,

For this months post, I really wanted to dig deeper into the evolution of social media and to try to fathom if the backlash towards its exaggerated ideal of perfection is warranted.

(All images courtesy of google images)

I myself was rather a late bloomer when it came to signing up to social media. During my early twenties, I was lucky enough to live overseas in Spain for my summer holiday during college and although friends back home were cottoning on, I still was too busy making memories in the real world to think about setting up a page.

It was only after moving back home to my parents after a particularly tough breakup and finding myself with a significantly reduced group of friends that I took the plunge and set up a Facebook account. Within a few weeks, one of my first ever friends from school had reached out to me and we had rekindled an amazing friendship which nearly 22 years later still is stronger than ever. I owe that to Facebook and it’s amazing power of connecting people for sure.

Over the years of working and living in multiple countries which has been an adventure I cherish forever, Facebook and Instagram really has made the world seem so much smaller. Seeing friends celebrating massive achievements like getting married, earning a promotion or having children fills me with so much joy as if it wasn’t for these platforms it would make it so much harder to keep in touch.

But like everything we do, there are of course negative outcomes of living our lives online. If you ask yourself honestly, the last concert or music festival you went to – how many photos, videos, selfies or check in’s did you do? Haha it’s ok I know it’s scary to admit but we ALL are guilty of recording our favourite song in a live show or tagging ourselves with our friends in front of the stage. It’s as if to prove we were really there. I often wonder however, by doing this, are we actually missing the true magic of the experience by watching it through our smartphone screens instead of just using our own eyes?

Another thing that I definitely am guilty of as I am sure we all do, is I tend to only put up a post when I am doing something fun or interesting – whether it being celebrating a friends birthday, seeing my favourite DJ or going “out out”. Honestly who would want to hear about how I’ve just washed my hair or put on a face mask – we try to show the “perfect” side of our lives in the hope of appearing more popular, fun, sociable or just plain cool. I admit that sometimes when I’m scrolling through Instagram and I see these flawless people with amazing bodies, heaps of friends and jetting off all the time to luxurious destinations I do get a pang of jealousy. I think for me though, I just always think back to the notion of we all are portraying our best selves and we should be supporting not criticising each other in this world – there is enough sadness around us already.

Ultimately for me, I have my real life, my real family and friends who know and love ME for who I am and I also then have my incredible social media network which has opened up my eyes to all of you, my lovely followers and has forged some lasting connections for me because of it. There are pros and cons to everything we do in our lives, whether it be the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the life choices we make but as long as we approach the Internet with the respect and integrity it deserves then carry on connecting people and stay HAPPY!

Until next time,

Take care

Keya x