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Christmas Shopping Adventures 3: London and Beyond

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I know that Christmas shopping can feel like a daunting annual ritual, especially when conducted in a bustling city like London!  With Pantomime season around the corner and Christmas just a day away, families are already flooding Central London to get into the Christmas Spirit.

This goes for visitors and Londoners alike: why not add some variety to your usual Christmas shopping routine by embarking on a special Christmas adventure? Here are some ideas: continue reading

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Christmas Shopping Adventures 2: Dubai

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Just when you thought your Christmas shopping adventure couldn’t get more adventurous!  If you’ve decided to take a Christmas shopping trip this year, why not opt for something a bit more exotic (and potentially less expensive) than New York?   Why not visit the plentiful, tax free, shops of Dubai!

And after you’ve indulged in a few days of bargain shopping in Dubai, you can soak up the Arabian sun on one of these exciting excursions: continue reading

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Christmas Shopping Adventures: New York

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This post is the first of 3 about our favourite places for Christmas shopping and the things you can do while you are there. Today, New York.

It goes with out saying that New York is one of the world’s most fabulous Christmas shopping spots!

Why not turn your Christmas shopping trip to New York into a Holiday adventure? continue reading

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Happy Halloween from isango!

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BOO!

Halloween graphic

I must say – our readers certainly seem to be in the Halloween spirit. I wasn’t sure if Halloween was a popular holiday here in London, but I now know that it is!

May you dress in crazy costumes and eat too much candy……

Happy Halloween from all of us here at…

isango logo

 

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Humorous Videos and Facts about Sarah Palin

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After reading Sarah’s recent post about her search for Sarah Palin’s view of Russia in Alaska (quite funny and includes some beautiful photos of Nome, Alaska) I realized that I have been a bad citizen: I should have been posting more information about the US election all along. I suppose I was avoiding jumping on the media bandwagon – this election has been nothing short of a circus. And after all, this is a travel blog!

With the election just days away, I figure, why not join in on the Palin-bashing fun while I still can…I have thus spent the last few hours scanning through humorous videos and interesting facts about Sarah Palin, but, of course, everything has been done…and overdone.

Nonetheless, I present to you some of my favourite Palin-tastic clips and links. So click away, but you must promise to go through all of them!

1. The ‘Sarah Palin Rap’, as performed on Saturday Night Live.

OK, so I could not resist linking to the following clip, which is a bit dated yet still absolutely hilarious. Please, please, if you haven’t already, watch the SNL ‘Sarah Palin Rap’, as beautifully executed by Amy Poehler. You won’t be disappointed, I promise:

http://blog.socialmedian.com/2008/10/amy_poehler_sarah_palin_rap_pr.html

“All the mavericks in da house put your hands up…”

Priceless.

2. The ‘Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator’

Inspired by the governor’s colourfully-named offspringTrack, Trig, Willow, Bristol, and Piper(yes, these are really Sarah Palin’s kids’ names!) this interactive name translator will make you feel like one of Palin’s own:

http://politsk.blogspot.com/2008/09/sarah_13.html

If I were Sarah Palin’s daughter, my name would be Mullet Troll Palin. Sexy.

What’s your Palin name? Let’s compare – post below!

3. The Miss Alaska Beauty Pageant Video.

The year is 1984, and the next contestant is…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSdFIDygFwM[/youtube]

.

4. More ‘Fun’ Facts about Palin.

This one is a bit more serious and includes a video of Palin in rifle training…

Basically, I found a blogger that managed to gather all of the, um, ‘fun’ facts about Palin under one roof: his name is Jake Marsh, and his post, ’33 Facts You Didn’t Know about Sarah Palin’, can be found by clicking the following link:

http://thejakemarsh.com/1025/#more-1025

Thanks for doing that, Jake.

Well folks, I hope you have found this post to be entertaining and somewhat enlightening. I must say, I had fun putting it together.

Until next time!

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Last Minute Halloween Costume Shops in London

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For those of you on a mad dash to construct a fabulous last minute Halloween costume for that raging, fun fancy dress party you are attending on Friday, with one objective in mind—to win the (presumably alcoholic) prize for having the BEST COSTUME—I am here to help you…and help you fast! (Whew! Relief!)

If you haven’t seen it already, I wrote a blog last week about Halloween costume shops in London (or Fancy Dress shops in London—whichever term you prefer. You see, there is this British girl in my office (a British girl…in my London office… imagine that…) that refuses to celebrate Halloween on the grounds that it is a “poor excuse for American kids to rob our homes of candy.” What a drag! She’s not invited to my party—that’s for sure. British kids, get your fancy dress on and celebrate with your Yankee brethren. I just know how much you love fancy dress!)

Right, so back to helping you score that perfect last minute costume. My blog last week covered a few costume shops in West London, and though I vowed to visit fancy dress shops in East London, I must admit that I never made it past the vaguely Eastern part of Central London… because I got lost on my way to Bethnal Green, like a tourist. But I did manage to visit these shops:

1. Angels, near Tottenham Court Road tube.

Angels, to be quite frank, was my worst nightmare. Their Argos-style catalog/stock room approach is, in my opinion inefficient and irritating. The catalogues are full of misleading images…i.e. heavily-endowed blonde women, sporting next-to-nothing variations of service-industry uniforms and fairytale gowns…and the costumes are cheap, most of them slutty. However, if you are planning to score a costume on your lunch break today, this is one of the few costume shops in central London. You can probably find something in here—as long as you don’t mind not trying on your costume before you buy it.

“No, you cannot try it on, but we give full refunds if it doesn’t fit and you decide to return it,” said the brainwashed saleslady, as I indicated that their last flapper costume (by the way, they are sold out of a lot of costumes, so go in with an open mind!) was not in my size but could possibly fit—I needed to try it on to see. “It’s the same as buying on the internet,” she reassured me.

“This is not the internet, this is a shop.” I reminded her—in case she had, by chance, forgotten. She didn’t like that very much.

Idea: Base your costume around a wig.

Angels had some great fancy dress wigs—I’ll give ‘em that. Everyone loves a crazy wig. In fact, I would say that a wig could quite possibly be the most hilarious, transforming element of a costume. Forget being a specific character…go wig shopping! Grab some bright purple tresses, some face paint to match, an eyeball decal, a horn, and some wings, and voila, you are a ‘one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_People_Eater)

Or better yet—grab that amazing mullet, and become an 80’s rocker. Trim the mullet down into a homemade ‘Euro mullet’, and…well I’m going to stop here. After all, I don’t want to offend anyone. ;-)

2. Madword, near Old Street tube.

This costume hire facility—if you can manage to find it (it is hidden down a flight of stairs)—is pretty good. The staff were friendly, and (gasp!) they allowed me to try on several costumes. Who would have thought?

Their range of costumes is extensive—you must go in with a specific idea of what you want…and, importantly, a willingness to fork over a nice-sized chunk of cash. You could score a real gem in Madworld, especially if you are after a costume from a certain time period—they offer both the stereotypical (think: ‘Marilyn Monroe’ dress) and more mundane (think: simple sweater and skirt outfit) fancy dress options for almost every era imaginable.

Idea: Pick your favourite era, and try on all of the costumes in the shop section dedicated to that era.

I am guessing that you probably didn’t live in the 1920’s, and I am also pretty sure that not every single female from this era dressed like a flapper when she went out on the town (I speak from personal experience—I tried on several flapper costumes but found some of the other getups in the 1920’s section to be much more interesting).

See what the fancy dress hire shops have in stock for your favourite era, and be creative!

Happy Searching!

Need more Halloween costume ideas? Just ask me – I’m full of them. Seriously, I’ll respond quickly. Carrie Daniel is officially ‘on call’ for all of your Halloween costume inspirational needs until Friday October 31st at 5pm.

Best of luck to you all. May your costumes win you large quantities of cheap booze and/or some hot dates…

London fancy dress/costume shops:

Angels, 119 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8AE

Madworld, 69-85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4BA

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Great Contemporary Art Exhibition in London.

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Last week, I stumbled across the most amazing London art exhibition, which I cannot shut up about. Seriously, I’ve already told ½ of my office and all of my friends about it. So, whilst you are out looking for Halloween costumes this week, you must stop by JR’s London art exhibition, entitled ‘28 Millimetres: Women’, near Tottenham Court Road tube station.

Lazarides contemporary art gallery london

The installation is divided into three parts, all of which are worth seeing. I started out in the Charing Cross Road wing of the Lazarides London contemporary art gallery, which is plastered, floor to ceiling, with portraits of the people that JR encountered during his journey through Morro da Providencia, a small, hillside community in Rio De Janeiro.

continue reading

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Chicago musical tickets: Get ‘em while they’re (red) hot!

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I was thrilled last weekend when my friend snagged some discount Chicago tickets—I have wanted to experience ‘London’s sexiest musical’ for ages.

chicago cambridge theatre

Contrary to the widely held sentiment among theatregoers that long-running West End musicals can become overpriced tourists traps, I was highly impressed: I definitely got my money’s worth. I know that musical backwards and forwards—the songs, the scenes, and even the first two minutes of the opening dance number (sad, I know)—and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire show. continue reading

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Fancy Dress and Party Shops in London

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It took me two years of living in the UK to fully realize the meaning—and cultural significance—of ‘fancy dress’.Until very recently, I had always envisioned (in my mind) this term’s literal definition: formal attire worn to special or high profile social events. For young ladies, this would entail short, flouncy party dresses held up by wide, umpire waist belts and accented with ridiculously high heels/an elaborately teased hairstyle.

Boy was I wrong! Unless, of course, the ‘fancy dress’ theme du jour is ‘overpriced Mayfair club’.

Fancy dress parties, I have come to understand, can entail almost anything imaginable—from superheroes, to secretaries, to Sponge Bobs, to Scary Spices—and are hugely popular social events, year round.It’s no wonder that my two (English) flatmates jumped at the opportunity to host a Halloween party, instead of a housewarming party, at our new London flat. “Ooooh, fancy dress! Yes, let’s!”The signature American Halloween traditions—pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, haunted houses, glow-in-the-dark skeleton decorations, spooky costumes, etc.—most of my British pals could take ‘em or leave ‘em. But given an opportunity to dress in costume, they will rise to the challenge—and go all out.Whether you are an American living abroad or a fancy dress-loving Brit, chances are, with Halloween less than two weeks away, you’ve pondered a few costume ideas…and scoped out different Halloween celebration options. You may even be hosting your own fancy dress party! Have you decided on a costume? Found the right decorations? You don’t have much time…Lucky for you, I’ve done some homework.Yesterday, I set out to find some of the best costume and party decoration shops in London. I came across a few gems and will be searching for more next week, so get excited!Fancy Dress and Party Decoration shops in London, Part 1.Carnival95 Hammersmith RoadLondonW14 0QHUpon entry, this place seems like a claustrophobic wig and accessory factory, with rows and rows of colourful synthetic hairdos, beards, and even sideburns lined up floor to ceiling…columns of feather boas, masks, hats, beads, gloves, you name it!

Fancy dress feather boas

fancy dress halloween wigs

I was disappointed, however, to see no full costumes (much less a beach tourist or a pumpkin getup—the options that I am considering this year) and was just about to leave when I saw a sign about the shop’s Costume Hire Policy.What costumes? Where?

The sweet saleswoman (who spoke very little English—I suggest going in with a clear idea of what you need!) then led me to the back of the store, through a narrow doorway and into an even more claustrophobic room, which was overflowing with…costumes! Medieval princes, Greek goddesses, Cabaret dancers, Native American warriors…definitely something for everyone. I was officially overwhelmed.

Indian Warrior Costume

Fairy princess fancy dress costumes

You must enter Carnival with a clear focus and plenty of time/patience. There are hundreds of costume options, all arranged by theme, but there is only one changing ‘area’ amidst the chaos in the back—you may have to temporarily abandon your modesty…Non Stop Party Shop214-216 Kensington High StreetLondonW8 7RGThis franchise has shops throughout London and the South East, including one one Kensington High Street, which I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. It was definitely a huge contrast from Carnival—while they do carry costumes, their specialty is party decorations/favours, which they tailor to all occasions. They currently have an impressive range of Halloween Party decorations, some of which I found to be highly amusing:

bloody halloween decorations

They also carry a fairly large selection of affordable, ‘bagged’ costumes in their basement:

Indian costume fancy dress

(Sorry – I couldn’t help myself, but is this costume model for real??)Definitely stop here if you need something quick/simple…or if you are looking for some humorous decorations…or if you just want to check out the above costume in person.

‘Stay tuned’ for Chapter 2: East London (which actually ended up being about costume shops in CENTRAL London)

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O2 X Awards and After Party!

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Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the O2 X Small Business Awards and after party with a few of my colleagues here in London. We were thrilled to be nominated for the Technology and Innovation award, and we had a great time!

o2 x awards

Firstly, though, I must say that I had never been to The O2 in Greenwich before—definitely worth a visit! Lots going on in this enormous, climate-controlled, Thames-side dome (it’s so big that you forget you’re actually indoors, which is perfect for London weather).

On any given evening, you’ll find a slew of cinema-goers, leisurely diners (there are 30 odd restaurants), special events attendees, and perhaps, as we did, thousands and thousands of Queen fans spilling out of the O2 Arena…

Our event took place in the brand new, oh-so-trendy Matter night club, where we sipped champagne, enjoyed delicious canapés, participated in on-camera interviews, and mingled with all sorts of interesting entrepreneurs…from eco-friendly fashion designers, to music producers, to Z list celebs (so I’m told)…it certainly was a hip, happening evening for all.

Jess Deepak O2 X Awards

I learned last night that I am definitely not privy to the happenings of British celebrity culture; however, apparently this girl (the host of the awards ceremony) is one import chick:

Holly Willoughby O2 X

So…there’s you celeb snap for the week.  Enjoy!

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