Saturday, 29 October 2011

Hit the Shops in London

By Victoria Cochrane

Are you a shopaholic? Many people are - even if we don't always like to admit it. We all have our own particular brand of shop that we like to frequent though. For some people there is nothing better than going from one clothes shop to another, meanwhile other people love to shop around for new additions to place in their homes.

But no matter what type of shop you like best, you are bound to find it in London. The bustling capital is brimming over with a huge selection of shops both large and small. You've got the huge department stores like Harrods, and the plethora of small shops that are both quirky and welcoming too.

One of the best places to go if you like a touch of the unique is Covent Garden. You can visit a traditional toy shop here, and there is also a shop dedicated to astrology and everything concerned with it. Covent Garden is particularly popular due to offering a lot of different shops all in one attractive location; but there are other popular spots in London too, not least of which is the West End.

Many people automatically think of the theatre when they consider the West End. But in fact it is also a great place to spend some serious cash. Oxford Street is one of the most famous streets in the West End, and it is lined with shops of all descriptions that will appeal to the most dedicated of shoppers.

If you want a taste of the more expensive shops in London, the West End can also offer you the price tags of Bond Street. You might only want to window shop here, but even walking down the street takes you into another area of shopping altogether.

Of course, some stores command your attention more than others, and no one comes to London without taking a look on the many floors which make up Harrods. You can buy virtually anything you want in this luxury top end store. In fact, it is almost like several shops all in one.

With all these shops and many more on offer to explore and spend your way around, it isn't surprising that some people choose to turn a shopping trip into a weekend away. It is good to know that there are plenty of hotels in London close to all the best shops, which provide the perfect base for a shopping spree weekend.

So the next time you have a weekend free and you feel the need to treat yourself to a few things, you may find that London is able to offer you the ultimate shopping experience that you are after.

Victoria Cochrane writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Great Finds for Authentic Vintage London Fashion ( video )

London is famously expensive for everything from taking the Tube to the traditional English brunch. Shopping is expensive in London, as is getting around. If you were in the market for vintage clothing though where would you place your chances of finding a good deal, plenty of choice and shopping satisfaction in a city such as London with a reputation for expensive deals? With a little planning done to lead your way, you'd be surprised at the number of places that can turn up with a good deal.

The Salvation Army may not be the first place you think of to associate in your mind with London fashion. But the store they run on Princess Street near Oxford Circus in the heart of London, offers such great deals, practically no one shopping there seems actually poor. Try this outlet any day of the week except Sundays. In keeping with the poverty theme, try Oxfam's charity shop on Kingsland Road in Dalston. It's the Walmart of antique London fashion, and it's all packed into such a huge warehouse, you might need a map to get around. Fortunately, the choices in vintage London fashion on offer here make it worth your while taking the trouble to keep track of your bearings. Prices here start at less than five dollars, and there is every kind of vintage high-fashion on display.

If you ever wanted to visit a real London institution that hadn't yet caught on with the tourists, shopping for vintage London fashion on Brick Lane has to be a real treat. This little treasure of a find is a whole street filled with stores that sell clothing from a bygone era - at prices that seem to belong to a vintage era themselves. Every day of the week, save for Saturdays, fashion fiends in on the secret, throng Brick Lane to find surprise deals on a variety of clothing from stores that line the whole street and provide an atmosphere like you never would expect.

There are even regular fairs for London fashion held at certain appointed places at regular intervals. Try the London Vintage Fashion Fair, one of the most popular monthly affairs of this kind around, at the Hammersmith town hall. You'll find fashions here from 100 years ago and surprisingly, it isn't difficult to find stuff in good condition. The location of the sale, the Hammersmith Town Hall on King Street is itself an antique place that makes the perfect backdrop to this wonderful institution.

There are vintage clothing outlets all over London - Portobello Road, Crystal Palace, lots of great places where you can soak in the London atmosphere and shop off for clothing at the same time. It's a terrific way to experience London.

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London Vacation: Safety Tips for Tourists in London

For being such a large and diverse city, London can be a relatively safe environment for American vacationers and their families. Each year, millions of tourists visit England's capital city without incident, although there are definitely things you can do to increase your chances of having an incident-free holiday.

Street crime such as purse-snatching and pick pocketing occur in any major urban area, and London's no exception. A good rule of thumb is to keep your belongings in front of you, and never behind you (never in a back pocket or slung over your shoulder where you cannot see). At night, it's always best to stay together and keep to well-lit, well-traveled streets. It's also safest to use licensed taxi cabs instead of mini-cabs. While they may be cheaper, and while the majority of mini-cab drivers are completely honorable and trustworthy, crimes have been reported in the past by passengers who have been assaulted or robbed by undocumented drivers.

Because the theater is so popular in London's West End, many con artists take advantage of naive tourists with promises of good prices on theater or concert tickets (or perhaps seats to a popular sold-out show). Instead of trusting these ticket touts, it's wise to always deal directly with the theater box office, your hotel concierge, or the TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

If you're staying in a hotel or bed-and-breakfast, keep your keys with you at all times and always make certain that the door to your room is shut tightly behind you. Always use the safes provided for your valuables, and force yourself to lock up valuables or keep them with you - regardless of how tired you may be or how safe you feel. Of course, it's never a good idea to leave your bags unattended for any period of time, whether you're in your hotel lobby, at the airport, the train station, or in a cab. Tourists can be easy victims of theft and, in this age of increased terrorism, perhaps worse.

Remember that emergency services can be reached free of charge anywhere in the U.K. by dialing 999. You don't want to delay police and fire professionals by dialing 911 by habit.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, always look both ways before crossing the street! While tourists may get used to seeing drivers on the wrong side of the road, they often forget to look the "wrong way" before stepping out into the street and accidents have occurred.

By reviewing some of these safety tips before you leave the States, you'll feel more confident that you and your family will be safe and happy during your London vacation.

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London Vacation: Bookstores in Charing Cross Road

If you're an avid reader or book lover traveling to London, your visit will not be complete until you've visited Charing Cross Road in the West End. There are many small independent shops located here and along the adjacent side streets, and there are three large stores that could easily fill an entire day's worth of browsing and buying.

Foyle's is the city's second largest bookshop, founded in 1903 and located at 113-119 Charing Cross Road since 1906. Its five floors are divided into over fifty different specialty departments including a wonderful children's section (which was recently shortlisted for the 2006 Walker Books Children's Independent of the Year award). While you can find DVDs and CDs here as well, Foyle's is best known for their wide range of books on every topic. Their staff are extremely knowledgeable and willing to help. One of the more recent additions to Foyle's (and now a highlight) is Ray's Jazz, a specialty music shop and café located within the massive store. Ray's Jazz also features free concert events.

While the Borders chain is well known here in America, there is a large branch located at 122 Charing Cross Road. Open seven days a week, it houses all the items you'd expect from Borders: all manner of books, audio books and magazines, DVDs and CDs, gifts and games, and a coffee shop. The only thing giving away this store's location is the accents of the employees and shoppers; otherwise, you could be in any major US city. Of course, there are still many books to be found that are not published or easily obtained here at home, and that's what you can spend hours searching for during your visit here.

Blackwell, at 100 Charing Cross Road, refers to itself as "the knowledge retailer." While having less charm and history than Foyle's, and without the same comfortable feeling as Borders, Blackwell is still a large and welcoming store which earned the Chain Bookseller of the Year Award back in 1999. They have large textbook sections for medical and computer students, but there are still many books - including a strong section of London photo, history and travel books - for the average reader.

Book signing events occur regularly at all of these establishments, so be sure to check the schedules when you arrive. Finally, as you leave the area, stop by 84 Charing Cross Road. The address, made famous by writer Helene Hanff in her book (subsequently made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft), is sadly no longer the home of booksellers Marks and Co., but a plaque hangs to commemorate the site. "84 Charing Cross Road" is the story of an outspoken New York writer and a low-key London bookseller who carry on a 20-year correspondence.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Exploring London Jewellers for Vintage Jewelry From Various Eras ( video )

If you are looking for something a little different in jewelry, you may want to look into purchasing estate jewelry. Jewellery shops in London, Ontario offer some great vintage jewelry options. You can pick old jewelry from various periods, including art deco jewellery (including art deco rings), Victorian jewelry, retro jewellry or styles from other eras.

The Victorian period, of which jewellery and ornamentation was a large part, lasted from 1837 to 1901 and was greatly influenced by Queen Victoria Alexandrina of England. The vintage jewelry of the early Victorian era focused on pieces that were more delicately designed, with beautiful engraving. The general themes of these pieces centered on natural origins like flowers, trees and birds. The later mid Victorian jewelry pieces were heavier and consisted of conservative gothic shapes and designs. Victorian jewelry in the later part of that period was influenced by archeological expeditions that took place to Italy, Egypt and Greece.

Victorian jewelry pieces were made up from materials like jet, human hair, seed pearls, gold and sterling silver. It was common to wear a lock of a loved one's hair encased in an old jewelry piece. Victorians of the era also wore hair lockets, rings, earrings and watch fobs.

If you want something a little different in the jewellry you wear, and want to make a statement in your own style, you may want to explore the options from jewellery stores London has to offer in the way of fine jewellery from the Victorian era.

The Edwardian era lasted from 1901 to 1910. The fashion and jewelry styles of this era were greatly influenced by King Edward, the son of Queen Victoria. During this period, the economy was strong and prosperity reigned. In Edwardian jewelry, lace-like designs were typical, fashioned in white gold or platinum and frequently set with diamond accents. Advancements were made in diamond cutting techniques and the Edwardian jewelry prevalent at the time reflected the new diamond cuts.

The Art Nouveau period, from 1890 to 1910 (overlapping the Victorian jewelry era a little) took on a rebellious note against the restrictions in design and lifestyle from the Victorian period. These antique jewelry designs were really miniature works of art, with free flowing lines in design. These pieces included Plique a'jour, a process of enameling that is transparent without a backing that created a beautiful stained glass effect. Themes incorporated life forms, orchids, lilies, irises, ferns, snakes, animals, and dragonflies into sensual shapes, and used opals, moonstones, horn, ivory, carved shells and pieces of glass. The Art Noveau jewellry pieces are still extremely popular today.

If you are looking for an art deco jewellery piece you may want to know a little more about that period of jewellery design. The art deco period, which lasted from 1920 to 1939, was a time for self-indulgence in strong contrast to the earlier Victorian period. Art deco jewellery had strong geometric shapes and symmetrical themes with diamonds, other precious stones and had bold bright colors.

Another era of jewellry that you may be interested in is the Retro period. The time period for retro jewellry included 1940 to 1950. At that time, the war had closed down most of the jewellery firms in Europe so fine jewellery came mostly from the United States marketplace. Hollywood stars became the designing influence for retro jewellry styles. Large bold pieces using stones like aquamarine, citrine, topaz and synthetics were popular. Many people today still find pieces from the retro jewellry era attractive and desirable. You can find many fine jewellery pieces from the retro jewellry era at a London jewellers location.

Although looking for vintage jewellery may be a bit of a challenge making your own personal statement and investing in estate jewelry can be very rewarding. In fact, Nash Jewellers is one of the only stores in London that specializes in estate jewellery. But, whether you are looking for art deco rings or other pieces of vintage jewelry from other eras, you can find a wide selection of vintage jewelry from Victorian jewelry, Edwardian jewelry, retro jewellry, art nouveau or art deco jewelry in that London store. You may even find the very piece you are looking for to set off your own personal style.

This article was prepared on behalf of Nash Jewellers located at 182 Dundas St., Downtown London, ON, or at 1690 Richmond Street North at their Masonville, London location, the London Jewelers that specializes in estate jewelry with pieces from the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau or Retro periods.

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