A Trip To London With Marks and Spencer

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Guess who just got back after a whirlwind weekend in London? If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that the lovely team at Marks and Spencer India got in touch with me recently. They held a contest for some of their top shoppers in India, were flying the winners out to London, and were wondering if I’d be interested in the fashion aspect at the iconic British cricket ground, Lord’s.

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Forgive my ignorance, but I didn’t even know there could be a fashion focus at a cricket match, and envisioned myself writing an article about sweaty men in hoodies and bermuda shorts. Boy, was I wrong. A little research proved that Lord’s had a super strict dress code that banned shorts, denim, sandals, pullovers, cargo pants, tracksuits, leggings, crop tops and even t-shirts! Surprise surprise!

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With a renewed sense of enthusiasm, I agreed excitedly and began my wonderful adventure. Here’s a brief timeline of my trip:

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{ Outfit Photos: Raj Basu | All Other Pictures: Anushka Moore }

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FRIDAY, 4th SEPTEMBER

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10.46 am Arrived at the train station, printed out my ticket and got myself a salted caramel coffee and a couple of fashion magazines to read on the train to London.

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11.02 My train arrived. I struggled with getting my massive suitcase on board since I apparently pack two weeks worth of clothes for an overnight trip.Found my seat on the train and settled in for a comfortable journey to London.

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1.57pm Arrived at London’s Euston station. Located the route to the underground and caught the first tube that was heading to Marble Arch, where I happened to be staying.

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2.10pm Made it to Marble Arch in one piece, although I could barely say the same for my suitcase. Either way, began the hunt for my hotel with a little help from Google maps and friendly strangers.

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2.32pm Finally found my hotel, the gorgeous Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in Marble Arch and they allowed me to check in early! Hellelujah! Deposited my bags with the concierge with the kind eyes, and made my way to my room on the 8th floor.

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2.43pm Took a look around my room – it was lovely, cozy and just perfect for me with old pictures of Marble Arch on the walls and a view that looked down over little houses with colourful doors and oversized flower pots. A cheerful bellboy arrived with my bags. I thanked him and immediately called the marketing head of M&S India to let him know I was leaving and that I would see him shortly.

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3.22pm Arrived at Paddington station, then proceeded to get seriously lost looking for the M&S HQ. Apparently Google maps was hell bent on taking me through really dodgy side streets and depositing me in canals claiming it was a ‘quicker’ route, instead of helping me find a straight main road to get there.

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3.45pm Finally made it to the M&S HQ, got a visitor pass from the lady at the reception desk in the massive glass and steel building, and got escorted upstairs by the marketing head of M&S India. Almost fainted from excitement at the idea of being inside the M&S London HQ. Not a lot of girls get this opportunity, and I was over the moon! Picked up my tickets to tomorrow’s match, said goodbye to the team and left the building to navigate the lesser known streets of Paddington, this time sans Google maps. Arrived at the tube station and hopped on the next one back to Marble Arch.

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4.28pm Arrived at the massive Marks and Spencer store in Marble Arch / Oxford Street to pick out my outfit for tomorrow. Was greeted by rail after rail of beautiful yet edgy Autumn / Winter clothing just waiting to be tried on. Deep greens, sumptuous oxbloods, rich navies and plush rusts hung invitingly from every hanger I saw and it quickly became obvious that choosing just one outfit would be a lot harder than I thought. I grab seven of my favourite dresses and head to the fitting room for a marathon trial session.

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4.52pm Emerged from the trial room feeling like a whole new woman in the dark teal jumpsuit. I had found ‘the one’. Hurried it over to the cash counter before anyone else could get their paws on it. It was, after all, the only piece left in the store at the moment and just happened to be my size!

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5.41pm Merrily made my way back to my hotel, a green M&S bag with my exciting new purchase swinging happily by my side. Checked Instagram, texted James and then realized in a panic that it was almost 6pm and that I was meeting some of my blog readers in Soho at 7. Changed my outfit and touched up my hair at lightening speed, before taking my makeup from day to night with a little gold eyeshadow, some highlighter and a deep red lipstick.

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6.47pm Got off at Oxford Circus station, hurriedly put on my heels and walked a few minutes to a trendy bar called Sketch, where I met some of my lovely readers outside. We handed in our coats and chose a forest themed bar as our base for the evening (although there was a pink bar in there which was all kinds of awesome).

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7.23pm We were munching happily on bar snacks between sips of gigantic cocktails as we chatted about blogging, relationships, photography, moving country and my M&S India collaboration that brought me to London. I explained that my photographer cancelled at the last minute, and one of the girls, the super sweet Pamela, was more than happy to volunteer her talented husband as a photographer for my shoot. I feel so blessed.

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9.16pm The girls and I decide to head off to a slightly more relaxed place to get some ice cream. A short walk in heels later, we were comfortable settled in to a little hidden away ice cream parlour on a side street off Oxford street, sampling decadent chocolate and coffee flavours and making sure it didn’t drip all over the table.

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10.36pm Said goodbye to the girls and headed back to my hotel. Collapsed on the bed as soon as I got in. Texted James to let him know I hadn’t been ‘catfished’, messily took my face off with a makeup wipe, gathered all the strength I had left to hang up my outfit for tomorrow in the closet and then passed out for the count.

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SATURDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER

6.30am Was awakened by the hotel calling me with the wake-up call I had requested. Leaped out of bed (it is unbelievable how unlike me it is to do this – I must have been really excited!) and jumped in the shower. The big day was finally here!

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6.59am Emerged from the bathroom wearing a fluffy white hotel robe and begun my hair and makeup ritual for the day.

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7.46am Finally finished my hair and makeup, and started packing up my suitcase again. I needed to check out of the hotel before I left for Lord’s, since I wouldn’t be around at their usual checkout time of 12pm.

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8.33am Finally zipped up my suitcase and then prepared for the moment I had been waiting for – my #OOTD. Fetched the beautiful silky teal M&S jumpsuit I could now proudly call my own. Slipped it on and accessorized with a necklace and a belt before throwing on a jacket and some sparkly flats for the journey, which I would, obviously, change out of later.

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8.48am Headed downstairs to the reception desk. Checked out and thanked the hotel for their amazing service. They agreed to keep my suitcase for me for the rest of the day, and I arranged to collect it after the match. Stepped outside the hotel and it was POURING. The doorman helped find me a taxi and off I went.

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9.12am Was chatting excitedly about my day ahead to what can only be described as the nicest cab driver in the world, as we whizzed through the streets of London’s prestigious SW1 area on the way to St. John’s Wood where I was meeting Pamela and her husband, Raj for my photo shoot.

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9.32am After a little fumbling around and getting lost in the rain (hence the flat, frizzy hair in the photos), I met up with Pamela and Raj outside a coffee shop. The little flower shop we used as our location was only a minute’s walk away, and one we found quite by chance. (Thanks for letting us shoot outside your store Dansk Flowers!)

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10.26am We were having so much fun, we completely lost track of time! When we finally finished up our shoot and decided to get some hot chocolate together to warm up, I realized that the match at Lord’s began in four minutes! Quickly called Debashish from M&S to let him know I was on my way and not to worry, thanked Pamela and Raj profusely (seriously, you guys are such rockstars!) and ran off in search of the Lord’s stadium.

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10.38am Finally made it to the VIP box M&S had reserved for the England v/s Australia match at Lord’s. Met everyone from the M&S team and was introduced to the super sweet winners of the M&S India contest. Got along like a house on fire with Urvashi, one of the winners who was around my age. Her bright yellow jacket, stunning studded tote, interesting necklace and sky high heels cemented her place as my street style muse of the day.

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11.02am Actually, speaking of street style, Lords’ strict dress code had paid off. Everywhere I looked, men were smartly dressed in smart jackets and trousers with bright ties, bow ties and pocket squares, while the women refused to be upstaged in candy coloured dresses, little jackets, heels and cool hats – British style at its very best.

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11.20am The match began. Everyone cheered and helped themselves to mini samosas, tea, coffee, orange juice, lassi and chaat. After not being home for six months, all I could think about was how good it felt to be drinking lassi and speaking in Hindi again! I didn’t seem to care about these things as much (or at all) when I was living back home in India, but when you’ve been away from home as long as I have, these little moments and simple pleasures really make you feel like you’re closer to your roots.

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12.26pm I realized that I could barely see a thing since my glasses had broken the previous evening. So instead of following the match very closely like everyone else, I busied myself in conversations with the winners, getting to know them all a little bit more.

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1.31pm Lunch was served and boy, was it an Indian feast! About five different types of curries, salads, rice, raitas, naan and my favourite – paneer! We were all in heaven!
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4.03pm We were served a traditional British afternoon tea complete with little macarons, tarts, cookies and cupcakes. What a perfect way to end the day!

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5.00pm I decided that I should leave, as much as I really, really didn’t want to, since I needed to get my glasses repaired, collect my bags from the hotel and then make my way to Euston to catch my train back to Manchester at 7pm. I bid everyone a fond farewell and vowed to keep in touch.

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5.30pm I arrived back at Marble Arch and since most of the opticians in the area had closed for today, set out looking for one that was open and could help me. After a little help from Google maps (we made friends again) and a helpful man outside a department store, I found my way to Bond Street station where a lady at a sunglasses store agreed to help me.

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5.59pm Made it back to my hotel with my glasses repaired, fully prepared to navigate the tubes like a pro. Collected my suitcase

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and walked all the way to the tube station, only to discover that the Central Line was closed for the weekend! Without bothering to figure out an alternative tube route, I heaved my massive suitcase into the next taxi I found and asked to be taken to Euston station.

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6.18pm Arrived at Euston after a fun conversation about cricket and British fashion with the cab driver. The sweet man gave me a discount on my fare and helped me with my suitcase. I could get used to this!

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6.23pm My train platform still hadn’t been announced and I was starving, so I got myself a hot dog from a little shop right outside the station.

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6.51pm Made my way to the platform my train was arriving at. Found my seat and pulled out my magazine for the journey back.

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8.38pm Finally made it back to home turf where a smiling James and an excited Poppy were waiting for me. Fell in to the car and proceeded to tell them all about exciting, action-packed adventure in London and at Lord’s thanks to everyone at Marks and Spencer India. What. A. Trip!

 

* This post and my entire trip has been sponsored by the lovely team at Marks and Spencer India (although all opinions are entirely my own). Thanks so much to the whole team (Aanchal and Debasish in particular) for making this happen. I had the best time! Read more about how I keep my integrity while partnering with brands by scrolling down to the ‘You Must Probably Know’ section on this page.

Follow Marks and Spencer India on their exciting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to stay updated on the latest from the iconic house of British fashion!

 

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3 Comments

  1. Oindrila
    September 8, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Very descriptive write up. Looks as if i lived it.

  2. September 14, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    The whole trip sounds so interesting 🙂 Loved the belt with the jumpsuit.

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ABOUT

Anushka Moore is an almost-thirty-something blogger who moved across the world when the love she met on Tinder put a ring on it. She now lives in Manchester with her husband and her two little Poodle-cross fur children.

Her day job includes running her own social media content company and is the founder of popular Instagram account, Midsize Collective.

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