Style Sportif Launch

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As some of you already know, I started My Girls On Tour to share my stories and experiences of life on the professional tennis tour…So I am super excited to have been invited to go this Saturday to Tie Break Tens held at the Royal Albert Hall- I won’t just get to see some of my favourite players play (some of whom have just won the Davis Cup this weekend), but I am also interviewing one of the world’s most famous players for My Girls On Tour! Eeek!

 I can’t wait to share it all with you soon 🙂 But before we get on to some serious tennis, I first wanted to talk about my time at the launch of the brand new fashion/fitness brand Style Sportif – an online market place that brings together some of the most famous names in sport fashion – to give us ladies some seriously stylish activewear, to not only feel good, but  to also look good whilst we are training! Or in my case, tree hugging, as I try to hold myself up after slowly dying from 5 minutes of slow running…

From super colourful leggings from Lexie Sport and Laurie Nouchka, to crazy sock designs from Move Active, chrome tops from SukiShufu and the bold very chic looks from Gymluxe, Style Sportif has a great range of stylish pieces that transition from sportswear to fashionable daywear.  At the launch, I loved looking at all the designs and I especially loved the London printed leggings and the street style pieces from Beth Richards!

The lauch was held at a very cool venue called Lights of Soho, which was just opposite where London Fashion Week had been held. The room was adorned with the coolest neon signs and riskee photographs, there was music, original cocktails on demand, Instaframs and goodie bags filled with all sorts of treats, from Coconut juice to Epoch pick me up scrub. A fashionista’s heaven!

It was in the evening and so I decided to wear black Guess Jeans, black heels and a backless sequin top from All Saints, that is perfect for events. It makes jeans look more formal and also swishes around as I walk, so it makes me feel like Cinderella – without the fear of tripping over my long ball gown.

Before Style Sportif I used to wear an oversized t-shirt and baggy sweats to do fitness in, but after seeing so many cool activewear designs I am starting to seriously re-think my poor training fashion choices…How about you, what do you guys like to wear when you work out?

So here are some pics and videos from the event.

Happy Monday everybody!

Abi xxx

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Cinque Terre

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For me nothing conjures up feelings of wonderlust better than seeing a beautiful picturesque photo of Manarola and so I was super excited to be going today to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful stretches of dramatic coastline in the world. Fashions in Florence were quite conservative, so in the morning when I put on my Kimono over my jeans and lace dress I felt a little bit out there…but really I had to dress up for a meeting with one of the world’s most beautiful villages and so after throwing caution to the wind, I added some more bracelets and a sequin clutch to make my look that much more bohemian.

We took the train from Florence to Pisa, then from Pisa to La Spezia from which the little villages of Cinque Terre were just a short regional train journey away. It hadn’t taken us long, only 2 hours (with the stop in Pisa) but as we neared the more mountainous Italian Riviera if felt as if we had traveled to the edge of the Earth. We had a short wait to took the opportunity to gorge on Ferrero Rochers and drink Capuccionos before taking the final regional train, which ran smoothly through rock hewn tunnels.It was amazing, the whole journey was so easy and cheap (even without speaking Italian) and had only taken us  just over 2hours. Now that we were in La Spezia, the villages were really close with Riomaggiore only 7 minutes away by train and Manarola 12.

The train started and we followed the ragged coastline. A lot of the time we were in darkness as we sped through the cliffs, but when we emerged we were right on the waters edge and had some amazing views.

Our first stop was Manarola. The little coloured houses were built in clusters on the rocks and the steep mountainside. The streets were really narrow and deserted and down by the waters edge there were beautiful fishing boats and restaurants. We hiked up the wrong way and almost died climbing the step steeps but we saw the town from the back, from the local’s vineyard plantations on the hill. We had the best food of our whole trip in Manarola when we had the Muscle Pasta and fresh seafood at Il Porticciolo. We wanted to get an amazing view of the village, so we walked along the costal path and took pictures of the sun setting over the horizon. On our way back we went through Riomaggiore which was equally spectacular!

These villages were so spectacular and I couldn’t believe that they were so close to La Spezia because they really felt so remote. This was such a dramatic end to our road trip and the returning to an unbelievable stylish hotel. with colour themed rooms in Pisa was the perfect end to our Italian adventure.

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WEARING

Monochrome Kimono – PRIMARK

Black Jeans – GUESS

Sequin Clutch  – PRIMARK

Swarovski Encrusted Bracelet – CASTELLANO ETHNIC ORIGINS

Silver and Opal Bracelet – MARRAKESH SOUKS

Silver Bangle – MACY’S

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Florentine Nights

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It is always a mistake for me to think that I can survive without Google Maps. We had gone from the airport into Pisa and then from Pisa to “FIORENZI SMN” train station. We were so excited, smiling and super happy! We had a number of different landmarks to find in order to get to our hotel, the first one of which was a pharmacy. We had congratulated ourselves on our amazing travel awareness, intelligence, Duke of Edinburgh Award map reading skills and advanced honing pigeon attributes…but that was when we had looked for this same pharmacy 40 minutes earlier when we decided to jumped off the train at the wrong train stop… So we couldn’t really say all that again because by now neither of us could pretend like it was true…but we did exclaim again “FLORENCE WE HAVE ARRIVED ARE” even if the “WOHOO” which followed wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the first time we said it…

A green light at the end of the tunnel marked our first successful marker of our quest. By now it was dark but the city had a magical air about it. I can only describe it as if we had walked through the wardrobe and stumbled upon Mr Tumlus’s Narnia. Beautiful delicate lights shone above the quiet streets and we gazed at the window displays and glided through throngs of joyous Italian shoppers. Fairy lights were all around us and all that was missing was for an Italian gentleman to push open one of the sets of large wooden shutters on his Tuscan apartment and shout down to a fellow citizen below “Merry Christmas Mr Pickwick” or the sexier Italian version of such a phrase…It was enchanting and in keeping with the magical spell, the invisible trail laid down to us by the guest house owners pulled us along. Our instructions became more and more crumpled but we passed every landmark and eventually we were standing outside the large tall gates of a Palace. We peered above the bell and as if written by mice, the monotype corsiva font read: Relais Cavalcanti*

We had arrived! WOHOOOO!!!!!!!!

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Relais Cavalcanti is a beautiful guesthouse in the heart of the old town. A grand apartment in a Palace which was passed down through generations was never sold and instead turned into a beautiful guesthouse in the heart of the old town. Minutes from the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio, this place captured the opulence and craftsmanship of Florence beautifully. High ceilings, antique furniture, velvet day beds and headboards with gold leaf, our room was beautiful and we even got to share a traditional kitchen where we could go and eat, make food in and which had 24hour breakfast and refreshments on offer for free!

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Like the olden day Medici family lords, we planned our offensive in these royal surroundings.  Tonight we would get a real feel of the city, but first… we had to have a go on the carousel in the main plaza 😉 PS please excuse the angle shots up my skirt…

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After pandering to the little child within me, we got back to the important stuff. Nothing could really have prepared me for the incredible sight that was Piazza del Duomo and Florence’s pearly white Cathedral with its bell tower reaching into the heavens, stark against the night sky. We saw the dark wooden shutters with their large bolts and metal frames of the tiny old jewellery shops that were all shut up along the medieval arched bridge Ponte Vecchio. My favourite night time sight though was Plaza della Signoria. It was so large and the Romanesque fortress Palazzo Vecchio loomed over the place where the original Michaelangelo’s David stood and now where the replica stands. Musicians played classical music opposite Vasari’s secret walkway, which echoed around the street and filled the wide arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi. It was an incredibly powerful moment and we walked around the celestially carved statues of Renaissance man in awe. Plus we were surrounded by fit naked men…One to add to your bucket list if you haven’t done so already 😉

Every night we ate at a beautiful restaurant that my sister’s Italian friend or our hotel had recommended: from pasta stuffed with pear, to salads and steak, the food was incredible. More importantly the Chianti Wine was hangover free. I can try to find the names of our favorite places if you’d like?

We laughed and joked until the early hours of the morning. I was in love with Florence already and I hadn’t even seen it in the daytime! For our evening our I wore a black sequin and lace dress with a long ornate gold and black floral blazer. Everyone here looked very smart and people wore quite conservative colors, so I thought that this would give a good twist on the classic Florentine look but would still be in keeping with the opulence of the city.

Let me know what you think of the look and your first impressions of Florence 🙂

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WEARING

Gold and Black Floral Blazer – NEXT

Black Sequin and Lace Mini Dress –

Black Glitter Slip-Ons – OASIS

Black Tights – Borrowed from Estelle’s suitcase 😉

You can now keep up to date with out travels and my outfits with my real time updates on:

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Italy Road Trip – Pisa

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 We saw the Tuscan mountains in the distance and the rocky coastline winding its way towards La Spezia. We had finally arrived in Italy and our road trip was about to begin! 🙂

First stop, PISA!

Should we buy any postcards? Perhaps not…after all, everyone will only go nuts trying to hang them straight…

Every time I clicked the shutter button and then looked at the screen, the picture looked weird, as if I had taken a crap photo, but in fact no, it was the lean of the tower! Everyone had said it was small or unimpressive, but I actually couldn’t believe how far it tilted without falling over. I had wanted to see this architectural flop ever since I was a child…I say flop because the tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Its free to walk around and take pictures of the outside of the buildings, but in true Indiana Jones spirit we booked tickets to climb, and I do mean CLIMB, the tower which has 300 marble steps! Walking up the first dozen felt not to dissimilar to walking home after having pushed through half a bottle of Vodka without going for the all you can eat sushi buffet before hand. With every step I flew against the wall and concentration was a must. By the time my breathing got heavy, I was starting to get used to the slope. Then when the slope no longer bothered me, my legs muscles started to burn. I could only remember underestimating stairs in such a way one other time, when my brother and I decided not to bother to wait for the lift at Russel Square tube station…Never again… But actually, yes again…in Pisa…

An Asian couple and ourselves double helixed up the tower. We each took turns to overtake each other as one party after the other panted and took in the views whilst recovering in the alcoves between floors. We got slower and slower and only self-esteem stopped me from crawling through the little arched door at the top. I AM ROCKY! The view over Tuscany was stunning. Warm yellow and brown houses with terracotta tiled roofs…the sun glowed behind the clouds and we could see the blue mountains in the background. There was a stupid fence which sort of got in the way, but probably necessary as too many climbers could of otherwise flopped over the side when their legs gave way due to lack of oxygen…

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It was a grey day, but the grass was so green and the grounds incredibly well kept. There weren’t that many people so it meant we had lots of opportunities to take some uninterrupted Kung Foo I’m holding up the tower *Money Shot* pictures and really take in the marvel of the structures!

We ate bruscetta and had a large glass of Chianti in a small restaurant close to the Piazza before walking along the river and back to the train station. It was then that Stella spotted an ice rink (much to my horror!) 😥 I rattled through my excuse list as she paid for two pairs of boots: “I’ve never done it”, “I can’t have my first time abroad”, “I don’t have my medical insurance card with me”, “My Mum will kill me”, “I could die”, “I love my fingers too much”, “I AM DRUNK!”…

 I crumbled under pier pressure and gave into the assurance that after one lap I could stop if I didn’t like it (if I was still alive)…I was still gesticulating something about my mum as I fastened the last clip on my boot. The ice rink was the moment we went native. Surrounded by Italian families and couples, I took to the ice like a giraffe, sliding so slowly I was almost started moon walking backwards. We linked arm in arm and went round and round the rink. At first I grabbed the edges but soon I was mowing down kids left right and center and pulling Stella over…We stopped only because we had to catch our train. Hot, sweaty with massive smiles, all fingers in tact and without a single floor drop, the whole experience was magical! It was super exhilarating getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I had always seen as impossibly difficult and quite scary! I guess it is true, real friends will always push you towards the great possibilities of your future 🙂

So after a massive adrenaline rush and bags of festive cheer we pushed forward to the next phase of our adventure: FLORENCE!

Wearing

Light Blue Faux Leather Jacket – PRIMARK

Vintage Sailor Crop Top

Ripped Boyfriend Jeans – ZARA

White Chuck Taylors – CONVERSE

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And…Don’t forget you can now stay up to date with our adventures, travels and  outfits on my  social media 🙂

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Eeek! FUN FACTS/ NERD ALERT ❤

  • Piazza dei Miracoli is considered a sacred area by its owner, the Catholic Church, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).
  • The five naved Cathedral’s grey marble and stone set with discs of coloured marble, was built by a master named Rainaldo. Its massive bronze main doors were made in the workshops of Giambologna, replacing the original doors destroyed in a fire in 1595. The interior was really impressive and I just loved the gilded ceiling the wooden pulpit. Galileo is even believed to have formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum by watching the swinging of the incense lamp (not the present one) hanging from the ceiling of the nave!
  • The Baptistery, dedicated to John the Baptist was built in Romanesque style by an architect known as Diotisalvi and is the largest one in Italy!
  • The Leaning Tower is located behind the Cathedral. The last of the three major buildings on the piazza to be built, construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372. Five years after construction began, when the building had reached the third floor level, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on its south side. The building was left for a century, which allowed the subsoil to stabilise itself and prevented the building from collapsing. In 1272, to adjust the lean of the building, when construction resumed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other.

Gym Class Heroes

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It has been said that a person who stays long enough at Piccadilly Circus, will eventually bump into everyone they know. The junction, with all its buzzing people, neon lights and roaring red buses really feels like the absolute nerve center of London. To the right more lights radiate from the pulsating Theatre Land, to the left Regent Street ‘s beautiful crescent, old school British landmarks like the Ritz, behind me Arcades, La Duree, Fortnum & Mason’s and the Royal Academy and straight ahead the maze of lanterns, green dragons and tuk tuks of China Town.  Perhaps it is true, if I waited there I could end up meeting everyone that I knew, but really what lies beyond is far too tempting to stop there for too long… Anyway I am sure I don’t know enough people and even if I did they would probably all just pass under my nose whilst both they and I stared up at the iconic Coca-Cola, which has been there since 1954 and checked our Google Maps trying to avoid getting lost…

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Yesterday my friends and I decided to go for Japanese to one of my favorite restaurants in Soho, Sushi Eatery on 40 Frith Street and in going there we passed the iconic illuminated advertising. For our dinner and cocktail evening I decided to wear a long oversize sports top as a dress and to keep warm got out some old football socks. Why did I wear my old football socks, I hear you ask? Well, I was sorting out my wardrobe as part of my room redecoration and inevitably, after putting it off for quite some time, I had to deal with the horror of my sock draw. I managed to wrench it open and after doing so, stood there looking at its rather pathetic contents: my most useful white pop socks were all odd and limply swimming around the sock soup, caught only by a giant ball of last year’s tights. All of my best socks were the ones that I never wear but which take up the most space: old hockey protectors, gym and football socks, mountaineering wooly mitts – of these I had quite a few massive bundles and clearly they had been the cause of the jamming of the draw in the first place…If I didn’t wear them, I should throw them away…either that or keep them and move one step closer to officially becoming a horder…so I decided that instead of wearing trousers, I would use my thick hockey or gym socks in today’s outfit. Felt that they gave my outfit quite a cool urban edgy look and would mean that I wouldn’t have to  walk around trying to fish out warn out floppy socks from under my feet whilst I tried to look cool in Central.. So here are some pictures of my Gym Class Hero look! I hope you like them 😉

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Abi xxx

WEARING

Sweat Shirt with a Print- H&M

Black beenie – H &M

Black Football socks – SPORTS DIRECT

Metal toe slip-ons – STRADIVARIUS

You can now get closer to the action by following My Girls On Tour via social media, where I post outfits, looks and pics from our adventures in real time xxx

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 PS: Piccadilly Circus was created in 1819, at the junction with Regent Street, which was then being built under the planning of John Nash on the site of a house and garden belonging to a Lady Hutton.It was surrounded by illuminated advertising hoardings on buildings, starting in the early 1900s. At the southwestern side of the Circus, moved after World War II from its original position in the centre, stands the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, erected in 1892–1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury, who was a famous Victorian politician and philanthropist. The subject of the Memorial is the Greek God Anteros and is sometimes given the name The Angel of Christian Charity and is popularly mistaken for Eros.

There Was A Fire

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My Dad woke me up early because there was a fire. The next door neighbor had stoked her chimney and had gone to see some friends. The pipe hadn’t been swept yet as it was just the beginning of this year’s winter days and so the heat had not been able to escape properly and the metal got hotter and hotter until it had started to glow red in the darkness. This is often how small chimney fires start here in the mountain, but this one was different. Yellow insulation resting on the red hot tin caught fire and by the time anyone had realized what was going on, the flames coming out of the house were 30 ft high.

The village is far away from the fire brigade station and so has its own fire brigade, a little group of volunteers who until now have never really been called upon. People ran between the narrow streets trying to work out which house was ablaze, as unless you are outside of the village you can not see one house passed another. At first we thought that it was us.

Smoke billowed through cracks in the adjoining walls and stones were red hot to the touch. The air outside was foggy as if in cloud and my Mum in all her panic had to go back to let the cat and the dog out of the house after we had locked up and vacated the building. We huddled in the outdoor square and watched chains of people with buckets from the nearby fountain, their meager water like rain drops, insignificant against the roaring fire. The owner of the house still wasn’t back and no one was sure whether her children had been inside asleep. A member of the volunteer fire brigade, a local farmer, scaled the medieval walls and kicked in the window and went inside with a handkerchief around his nose. We heard explosions are more oxygen reached the flames. After an agonizing wait he emerged from the shell confirming that no one was inside.

The wind in Mosset either blows from the mountains and this is called La Tramontagne, or blows from the sea and brings the clouds. Tonight, for the first and probably the last time in my family’s memory, there was no wind and the air was calm and silent and the flames lept into the starry sky and the smoke engulfed the villagers. The house burnt right through, but the fire did not spread. Had there been a wind, the whole village would have also burnt right through, burnt back down to igneous. As twilight dawned, my Dad went up to our roof to offer the sleeping fire men some of our left over Quality Street Chocolates and some coffee. They couldn’t leave yet even though there was nothing left, just in case one little spark reignited the blaze.

So my Dad woke me up early to say there was a fire, but this time it wasn’t a real fire, not like the one 17 years ago, the famous village fire in the house next door. I went to the window and rather than seeing swirls of smoke and floating ash, I saw an incredible fire, a fire in the sky. My Autumn sunrise, Orange, pink, red and light blue, magical and a reminder of the awesome power of nature.

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Les Fauves at Collioure

     It was the summer of 1905. Matisse was joined by Derain at Collioure for a summer holiday. The rich blue of the sea, the pastel of the houses, the red and green of the boats and the yellow ocher of the sand inspired their works which displayed incredibly vibrant brush strokes and colors. The passion and energy of the paintings were visible for all to see and people started referring to the artist’s as “Les Fauves” or the wild beasts.

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  What I love about Collioure is that it is seems to have remained unchanged from the time when the Fauvists were here. You can walk around the town and follow a trail of replica paintings hung at the very spots where the artists painted their masterpieces. Stand where they once stood and gaze at their present and reflect on your own.  The medieval streets wind away from sandy bays where fishing boats are docked, flowers twist their way around old doors, the royal castle looks down upon a stone causeway against which the sea crashes and catches tourists unawares. Rock pools, fish, gulls and a rainbow of colored houses spilling off the mountainside. Just when you think it couldn’t get much prettier, you turn the corner and see the once lighthouse, now converted into the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges, its large cross dark against the blue water and the yellow cliff and the town walls, built all the way up to the sea’s edge.

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I went there with my best friend Laura, whom I met when I was 9 years old at primary school and we have remained friends ever since.  We had a big seafood platter lunch, with lobster, crab and shellfish on the sea front at alovely french bistro and then walked around and did some shopping in the little boutique side streets. I bought a really nice white cotton top and some pottery. The shops here sell some great local produce, so its a great place to buy some super lovely souvenirs 😉

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Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for “the wild beasts”), a loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. Characteristics of Fauvism  include warm and cold colors  juxtaposed to add excitement and  left almost unblended, the emotional quality of color was emphasized,drawings were simplified, there was no attempt at 3D drawing as most areas of the canvas were left “flat” and a dark line can often be seen around some elements.

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La Belle Epoque

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Rudyard Kipling , the British writer, poet and novelist sojourned four times at Vernet-Les-Bains. In his letters home, he talked about Canigou, the magician among mountains, comparing it to the peaks of the Himalayas and certain hills in South Africa, which evoked mystery and spirituality. He, like many Brits had come in search of the winter sun and it were these pioneering, adventurous Victorians who are credited with the emergence of French alpine tourism. It was during the 1830s, when three more sources of water rich in sulfur and natural health properties were discovered, that the Belle Époque buildings and spa were built, to cater for vast numbers of health tourists. The arrival of the son of the pacha of Egypt and Constantinople, prince Ibrahim Pacha in 1846 really gave Vernet-Les-Bains international notoriety.

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Now, many of the old grand buildings of the Belle Époque have gone, but there are two particularly impressive Art Deco buildings which remain, Le Grand Hotel Du Portugal and the Casino next door to it. They really are so beautiful and an impressive reminder of this golden age. The Grand Hotel is such a great representation of french architecture and I loved all the colors and the gardens. For our trip I wore glitzy sequin slip-ons and a very bold red jacket with big black buttons. I thought it fitting to add a black star to my lapel to bring me some luck for my game on the roulette and thought that the red of the jacket and my lipstick would be in sharp contrast to the black of the buttons and of the shoes. To really jazz up the look I decided to carry a hard mini case clutch made out of various tin cans and recycled metal.

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I never have enough money to bet on numbers, so on the rare occasions that I do go to the casino I tend to play black/red ;)… if things go badly I just leave feeling depressed for the next two hours and if things go well I turn into a crazy addict on a roll-

Red, red..it IS going to be RED next…Ermm, Abi how do you know? I just know, I know because I have a system OK?!, I must stick to the system, the patterns…The roulette gets me and I get the roulette. Red, it must be red….BLACK…!DAMN! F***! Abi watches with watering eyes as the croupier racks in her chips… It’s your fault, you broke my concentration…its over, our winning streak is finished and it is ALL YOUR FAULT… ????? Ok, maybe its not ALL your fault…I think your right, maybe its time to leave, I think I may have done enough gambling for one day…

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Abi xxx

WEARING

Red Jacket –  CHRISTIAN LACROIX

Ripped Jeans – PRIMARK

Fairtrade Recycled Can Hard Clutch Bag – PITT RIVERS MUSEUM

Black and Silver Sequin Slip-ons – TESCOS

Black Star Brooch – VINTAGE

Earrings – BULGARI

Diamond Bracelet – MACY’S

Silver Bangle – AFGHAN CONNECTION (Charity Supporting Girl’s Education in Afghanistan)

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