Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Coney Island

The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress
Well that's a shockingly boring blog title isn't it? The Christmas brain cobwebs haven't fully blown off yet, I can only apologise.

As each of the Italy blog posts require at least three cups of tea as an accompaniment, and as there's only so much tea a woman can drink in a week, I thought I'd break them up with a few wee shorter posts in between that I have tucked away. These were taken on Coney Beach on a very lovely New York day (and currently feel a million miles away as Storm Brendan batters at the windows); I realised I'd only shared a few of the snaps on Instagram and never got round to sharing them here so here we are! Better late than never really is my life motto (apart from when it comes to ordering a Chinese - that's always done with fantastic urgency)

The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress Photos by Kirsty McLachlan

The dress was a wee vintage find in Brooklyn, that I almost did a little of tear of joy over when I found hanging on the rail, paired oh so very simply with some Birkinstocks - after me being anti-them for years they've hardly left my feet the last two summers - and a straw hat (that I picked up in Aerie I believe). The tartan outfit, which felt incredibly apt for a fairground, is Nasty Gal with a logo tee over the top! 

The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress The Little Magpie Coney Island Vintage White Dress
In other news, I went to see JoJo Rabbit this week and I honestly can't stop thinking about it, I don't remember the last time I laughed (or cried) like that in the cinema. I really love Hunt for the Wilderpeople so my hopes were high but it was even better than I could have wished for. Apart from that, very little news to report! It's been a real admin-y week, which I honestly love - the sheer pleasure that comes from scoring a line through something on a to do list is second to none - but sadly it doesn't make for very interesting conversation. However, I am currently putting together a wee blog plan for the month but if there's anything specific you'd like to see or read about then let me know!

Amy

Sunday, January 12, 2020

An Italian Road Trip: Part 1

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda
Hurrah! I've been so excited to sit down and write my posts from Italy and - finally - here they are. Italy's one of my favourite countries in the world; prior to our roadtrip I'd been to Rome, Cinque TerrePositano and Praiano (you can click on each place to read the blog post if you fancy!) and completely fell in love with the history, the food, the cobbled side streets, the food, the views, the countryside, the beaches, the food... all of it. Its long been a dream of mine to go on an Italian road-trip so last January myself and Roberto (Rob, but let's call him Roberto for the sake of this post) sat down in a cafe in Finnieston and started planning. There are so many places we had on our original list that we didn't get to visit in the end (Sorrento, Pompeii, Tropea, Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lampedusa, Portofino, Venice, Lake Como, Puglia, Procida, the list goes on), so my advice would be to start big - list every single place you'd love to make a stop at - and work backwards from there to see what's possible in the time that you have. And then you'll have a ready made list of places leftover for your next roadtrip (ever the optimist). The way we did our roadtrip definitely wasn't perfect but hopefully it'll provide some inspiration for those of you hoping to do something similar, or hoping to visit a certain part of Italy, in the future. We were away for 20 days - or just under three weeks - total, so I've broken it down into a few different posts, with today's covering Lake Garda and Verona, which spanned days 1-4. 

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda
We took a short flight from Manchester to Verona, landed around 7pm and from there it's roughly an hour and a half's drive to Malcesine, Lake Garda. Now, I will say that Lake Garda is so, so much bigger than I'd anticipated so, after much deliberation, we decided on Malcesine. There are lots of little towns that are supposed to be equally as beautiful but sadly, with only two days to play with, we had to narrow it down to one place. On the plus side, that's a solid reason to re-visit right there. By the time we arrived at Hotel Val Di Sogno it was dark and we were very sleepy so we had some dinner and went to bed. The next morning we woke up and opened the curtains and with a 'HOLY MOLY!' took in the view that we'd missed the night before. The hotel sits right on the lake and you're greeted with the most beautiful view imaginable every time you look up, so we spent the morning sitting reading our books, having a wee tea and taking it all in. Lake Garda's so incredibly tranquil that within a few hours you feel a real peacefulness wash over you, the kind that normally takes a good few days - if it arrives at all - to appear on holiday. Its got a similar vibe to a very wholesome 60s American summer camp (please know I'm basing this comparison entirely on Dirty Dancing but I believe it to be true) with families and couples alike frolicking - that's right, there's frolicking in abundance - jumping in the lake, playing games, doing watersports... wholesome really is the word for Garda. So after a slow first morning we popped our trainers on - sensible shoes is one thing I'd recommend for Lake Garda, we ended up doing roughly 20k steps per day (and only 5k of those were me going back to snap 'just one more photo' - and walked round to Castello Scaligero, soaking up all the wholesomeness along the way, which is worth it alone for the beautiful views across Malcesine. It can be hired as a wedding venue and, excitingly, we got to see a wedding take place whilst we were there so that, along with the view, was almost more than my old heart could take. We spent about an hour and a half here - at the castle in general, not watching the wedding like weirdos - before heading for a gelato at Dolce Vita (very, very good) for a leisurely stroll around the town and, finally, parked ourselves at Gigi's for the night. We'd heard great things about their gluten free pizza and it did not disappoint! They brought over bread for Rob and rice crackers for me and we sat at a table on their wee outdoor terrace overlooking the lake whilst we ate these (pre-pizza) and occasionally muttered general sentiments about the good life. Definitely one to add to your 'where to eat' list for Garda! I fully believed I was already at peak happiness until we saw a REAL LIFE LAKESIDE PROPOSAL walking home. Believe me, romance levels are off the charts in Garda.

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Lake Garda Black and White photo The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The next morning started with a wee post-breakfast cycle round the lake before doing a couple of hours of paddle-boarding (nothing has ever made my lack of upper body strength so apparent). Water-sports of any kind should definitely be on your Garda list if not already, it's a good way to see the lake from a different perspective and paddle-boarding lets you do it at a very leisurely pace, occasionally having a lie down to sunbathe when your weak, weak arms get too tired. We had many a grand plan for the rest of our day (boat trip to Limone, the Monte Baldo cable car) when - dun dun dun - poor Rob got hit with food poisoning. So one of us ended up spending the day on the balcony, reading and having a slightly guilt-ridden but, nonetheless, jolly old time and the other one spent the day having a... less jolly time. Alas, the next morning brought about the end of our time in Malcesine so I don't have anything more in the way of recommendations, but I will say that it's somewhere I was desperate to re-visit almost as soon as we'd arrived. It's one of the most picturesque places I've been; I remember Alice Catherine saying that she kept expecting the back-drop to roll up at the end of the night like a film set and I honestly couldn't have put it better myself, it's so striking that you'll find yourself going 'that can't be real!' more often than you reach for a sip of Aperol Spritz. It truly is the perfect place to relax, to unwind and to escape the business of day to day life.

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Verona Guide Vecchia Verona Hotel The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Guide to Verona> The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Thankfully Rob was feeling roughly a quarter human by lunchtime the next day so we packed our bags and headed for Verona! I know a few people who've been to Verona and they all said the same thing - 'you're gonna LOVE IT'. And I really, really did. It's much, much quieter than some of the other cities, like Rome or Naples, and very picturesque to walk around. We stayed at Vecchia Verona, which was roughly £70 for the night, and boy oh boy would I recommend it. It's really well located and the room was my European dream come true. It had a beautiful big four poster bed with princess net (that's what my family used to call them when I was younger so princess nets they will remain) and a balcony - exactly the kind of perfect balcony you'd imagine a little side street in Italy to have -which you can enjoy the continental breakfast that comes included with your booking on in the morning; think fresh croissants and bread delivered to the door, jam, ham and cheese, yoghurt... it's all very lovely. We were only in Verona for one night so ditched our bags and headed out for a wander. We started with gelato, it would be rude not to, and a walk across the bridge, where we were lucky enough to catch a man playing a beautiful big grand piano, and then on towards the funicular. It's only 1e and you get a great view of the city both on the journey up and from the viewpoint at the top. From there we walked down all the cobbled steps - just watch those daily steps tally up - and headed towards The Balcony. Not just any balcony, JULIET'S BALCONY. We'd watched Letters to Juliet the night before (Rob was too ill to complain) and I foolishly thought it'd be the same in real life; very quiet with long, elaborate love letters tucked in every crevice. As it turns out, there's crowds upon crowds squeezed in like sardines and, although there are love letters, they're less long heartfelt declarations and more post-its with 'Dianne 4 Adam' written on them. I'm not saying don't go, I'm just saying... keep your expectations low. We made a bad dinner decision - 4 months on and I'm still seething about it - so sadly no food recommendations from this day. But I do have an event recommendation for you! That evening we went to see Carmen at the amphitheatre after a few people recommended it over on Instagram and it was incredible! It felt like a real once-in-a-lifetime experience (and not only because it was still 38 degrees at 9pm and I was discovering that toes can, in fact, sweat). It's on again this year from June 13th until September 5th and if you'd like to find out a bit more information, or buy tickets, you can do so here. And I'm afraid that's all I have for you from Verona as the next morning we left bright and early to head for the train to Florence! But more on that in the next post.

Amy

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

One Coat Styled Two Ways

LOOK 1
The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger
TOPSHOP coat (old as the hills) |  MONKI cropped jumper (also old as the hills) | MULBERRY bag & sunglasses (gifted) | ARKET checked trousers | & OTHER STORIES chunky boots (gifted) | TOPSHOP beret

Hello fellas, happy 2020! Didn't that come in fast? I feel like I blinked and December was gone in a cheesy, chocolatey haze. The second half of last year was a bit of an up and down one for me (which I'll go in to in more detail in another post soon, I promise I'm not deliberately being an elusive elaine) but, because of that, I fell away from blogging which is a sad state of affairs because, aside from looking at photos of Paolo Nutini*, writing and putting together blog posts is one of my favourite things to do and probably the part of my job I'm most comfortable with. I'm notoriously bad at keeping resolutions - it's almost become a hobby to pretend to myself that I'm going to learn French and stop biting my nails each year - but I've made a list of more realistic ones this year, as well as my fantasy ones, and one of them's to get back to a regular blog schedule so that I'm very much looking forward to.

I used to really enjoy doing a '3 ways to wear' post as a) it tests the ole noggin a bit and b) I'm very good at falling into that age-old trap of thinking I have nothing to wear rather than taking a look at my wardrobe (cough floordrobe) and seeing how I can re-wear the pieces I have that I've either become a bit complacent about styling or just haven't reached for in a while. I did actually style three looks for the post but then when I looked back at the photos I realised the third outfit was, well, abysmal, so two it is! I bought this coat from Topshop a few years ago, which you might remember from this post and this post, and still wear it all the time so thought it was a good one to start with. Then I really got into the theme by accidentally styling the same boots, bag and hat with each outfit too. Outfit numero uno you won't be surprised to see is based around high waisted trousers and a cropped jumper (if it ain't broke, that's right) and outfit two is what I like to wear on days I'm feeling a bit lazy but want to make it look like I've put in more effort than I have. The humble midi dress! I bought this one last summer after lovely Livvy P told me about Daily Sleeper and, having got lots of wear out of it, was incredibly sad at the thought of hiding it away for Winter. And then I thought, 'screw it! Who says you can't wear linen for Winter!'. Well, everybody does. And for good reason - it was absolutely bloody freezing. Bearable with the boots, jacket and hat added (thank you sweet, sweet layers) but definitely one to recreate on a milder day.

*Ding, ding, ding! We have our first Paolo Nutini mention of the year

LOOK 2 
The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger The Little Magpie One Coat Styled Three Ways Scottish Blogger
DAILY SLEEPER dress 


My next couple of posts are travel ones which I'll be parking my butt in a coffee shop to write over the next few days (I love working from coffee shops because you can justify at least two cakes if you're there for over an hour, it's only fair) and for now I shall bid you adieu! Oh, and I'll leave you with a wee selection of some of my favourite coats online at the moment - some of which are now in the sale, huzzah! - since my poor wee coat is long out of stock.

Amy 

Friday, December 13, 2019

AD | A Christmas Gift Guide

Last week Rob and I had the pleasure of spending the day at Gretna Gateway Outlet Village doing a spot of Christmas shopping. It's somewhere I only discovered last year when me and some amigos were driving past, spotted the word 'outlet' and, with a whoop of excitement, pulled in to have a browse. In case you haven't been there before, I'll give you a wee bit of background before I launch into the gift guide! It's an hour and a half's drive from Glasgow - which gives you a good amount of time to write your list, plan which shops you want to visit and to get the Christmas songs blasting - and is just a one minute drive from the M6/M74 motorway. There are a whopping 50+ outlet stores with new ones opening up all of the time; I was excited to spot that Levis, The Cosmetics Company Store and Adidas have all opened up since my last visit. Now, the 'o' word that brings a shiver to all of our spines...outlet. Discount. Heaven. There is 60% off offered throughout the centre, so when it comes to brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, BOSS and The Cosmetics Company Store (which stocks so many incredible brands, from Tom Ford to Bobbi Brown to MAC to Origins) you end up getting some verrry thrilling bargains. I'll go into those in a little more depth throughout the gift guide as we go along! On top of all of this, they really have went out of their way to make it feel like the perfect Christmas shopping destination; there are Christmas toy parades every Wednesday, festive wreath making workshops as well as late night shopping till 9pm on a Wednesday. I should also mention that it's dog friendly, so our visit was punctuated with us taking turns to shout 'look at that wee face!' as unsuspecting dogs walked by... whether you have a dog and would like to bring them shopping with you, or simply just like dog-spotting then it's a wonderful added bonus. 

FOR HER

The Little Magpie Christmas 2019 Gift Guide
I LOVE shopping for the ladies in my life (if only it were possible to say that without sounding like a lothario) and Gretna’s a fantastic place to get everyone ticked off in one. If it's clothing you're after then one of my favourites is Polo Ralph Lauren, where there were beautiful two-pieces, chunky knit jumpers and the fluffiest slippers you’ve ever laid eyes on, all with amazing reductions. Another stop I'd highly recommend is Levis; I ended up finding a wee denim jacket I've been after for a while now as well - which you can bet there was a high-pitched squeak over - as well as some slim-fit black jeans. For the sporty ladies in your life (or for the ladies who simply enjoy we wearing sportswear) there’s a great big Nike outlet as well as Adidas, which I'll touch on more in the 'for him' section, and it has a fantastic range of sizes and stock. Most of my sports bras are very boring and black, so I was drawn instantly to the brightly coloured one above like a moth to a flame. Branching out from clothing, there's the Le Creuset shop, with all its colourful crockery, and just along from that is Christy, which is one of my long-term favourite stops for towels and bedding where you can find a set of two hand towels and two bath towels reduced from over £100 to £35. The Booja Booja truffles are up there with one of my top finds of the day - I often buy them for my vegan pals (if you’re vegan and haven’t tried them, I'd recommend immediately) but they normally come in at an eye-watering £10 for 9 truffles. Thanks to the Holland & Barrett outlet I got this huge box of 16 for £7.50. A whoop-worthy bargain. There’s also a Next outlet, where I picked up those adorable little Christmas decorations above, and Neon Sheep, which I’d never been to before bit oh my goodness is it gift heaven. The plant pot, pink bowl and plate set (I got three of each) and colourful water bottle are all from there and came to under £30. If you’re looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking fillers or some smaller gifts in general then this is the stop for you! Now that we've successfully ticked off her, lets move onto him...

FOR HIM
The Little Magpie Christmas 2019 Gift Guide
Buying for him is often a bit of tricky one, so I took Rob along with me to pick a selection of things that would make him do a genuine woop to open up on Christmas Day. He came away with two top picks for the day; the first of which was the Adidas outlet, which he whizzed around like a kid in a candy store. It’s quite a big outlet store and is filled to the brim with reduced trainers, football boots, running gear, tracksuits, socks and more. He left with a new jumper, two pair of trackies for skiing and a very big grin on his face. I touched on it very quickly earlier, but the women’s section of the store is also absolutely worth a visit! I have a love me some gymwear - generally just for wearing around the house and pretending I’m sporty but it still counts - so I left with two pairs of really lovely gym leggings, which were reduced to £11.95 each, and an incredible 70s style zip-up with bell sleeves that I’d never seen online or in store before and looks like it came straight from a roller disco (blow dry optional). There’s some incredible reductions on trainers - both fashion and sport - and if you have a good browse through the rails you’ll stumble across some Stella McCartney gems reduced from £100+ to just over a £10, which never stops being exciting. Rob’s next favourite stop was the La Creuset shop, where he picked up three mini casserole pots - which I felt very maternal towards they were so cute - and stood deliberating over a fondue set for a good seven minutes. They’ve got a huge selection of La Creuset products, from the large pots right through to espresso mugs, so it’s the perfect stop if you’re buying for a cooking lover/budding chef or someone who's really into their homeware. Make sure not to miss the Levi’s men's section for reduced jeans, jackets and accessories (as you can see above, Rob picked up some very snazzy stonewash jeans), as well BOSS, where there’s some excellent bargains to be had on men’s suits, smart coats and -  stocking filler alert - boxers and socks. For aftershaves and perfumes, the Perfume Shop is ready and waiting, and another outlet that Rob really loved was the Holland and Barrett one. There’s buy one get one half price on everything all year round so you end up saving quite a bit if you’re buying things like protein powders, toiletries or vitamins and supplements... not that I’m suggesting cod liver oil as a present but if you did want to stock up for yourself whilst you’re buying the gym buff in your life some Creatine Monohydrate powder (I don’t know either) the option’s there. Last but not least, there's a Cadbury's outlet (I know) where you can build your own pick n mix style box of Cadbury's chocolates, buy bags of broken chocolate and stock up on stocking fillers/chocolate for you to see you through present wrapping.

BEAUTY & SKINCARE
The Little Magpie Christmas 2019 Gift Guide
Originally I was going to include this in my ‘for her’ section of the gift guide but it’s so good that it deserves a section of its own: The Cosmetics Company Store. It’s relatively new to Gretna Gateway and is the kind of place you’ll go into and do a 'one with you, one for me' with every gift you buy. There are so many exciting brands in there starting with Estée Lauder, where you’ll find some hero products like double wear foundation reduced from £34 to £23 and advanced night repair reduced from £78 to £58.50. There’s Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Aveda, Bumble and Bumble, MAC, Origins and - the one that made me do the biggest happy gasp - Tom Ford. I picked up the incredible mermaid-esque palette you see above and also spotted the Glow Foundation which I’ve been desperate to try ever since I spotted Sam Chapman rave about it. There’s a men’s section as well, which you might have spotted in the ‘for him’ section of this post, where we got a really lovely Origins kit with four products in it reduced down to £26. If you visit before the 24th December you’re also receiving an extra 10% off if you buy three things or more, so you end up making enough of a saving that you can justify buying another lipstick (just kidding*)

So there we have it! Somewhere you can visit and, in a single day, not only make huge savings that you'll want to sing giddily about but also tick off your entire Christmas gift list in one. I should also add that there’s a Costa and a Pizza Express on site if you shop till you drop and need a mid afternoon pick me up! Last but not least, if you're overwhelmed and would rather give someone the option of choosing their own present, you can pick up Gretna Gateway gift card (either online or directly from the management suite at Gretna Gateaway) which the lucky gift receiver can spend in whichever of the outlets that tickle their pickle. 

Happy Christmas shopping!

Amy 


*I’m not kidding