My Trip to London & Paris!

8 Dec

Hey everyone! Ok, whew, I’m finally back and mostly caught up with boring adult life things, so now I can get back to the fun stuff! Wheeee!! Today is all about my trip to London (with a little two day stop in Paris). Sorry if you just wanted me to dive back into the sewing shizz! Deal with it~

deal with it
God, that gif never gets old.

Anyway, sooo, London! I’m just going to touch on highlights, and share some photos (nearly all of these have been posted on Instagram/Twitter, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little backstory with the photos, yeah? πŸ™‚ Oh, except for the ones I shamelessly stole from other people. Hey, if you tag me in it, I get to use it hahaha). Don’t take this as a ~London guide~ because I really am not a travel blogger by any stretch of the imagination, but hey, I’m happy to share all the things I learned while on this trip πŸ™‚ Fair warning: I did not take very many pictures. I never do when I go on trips; I find that for me it’s really hard to stay in the moment and enjoy myself if I’m worried about getting good photos. Also, this post ended up being reeeally long, despite my best efforts at condensing it – so yeah. Sorry! It’s totally ok if only my mom ends up reading it πŸ™‚

Thursday: I flew into London on a red-eye, arriving on Friday morning. Not much to say about the trip, as I mostly slept on the plane (or, rather, tried to). I will mention that I never once saw my seat mate do anything other than stare straight ahead. Not even watching TV – that was off the whole time – just staring at the back of the seat in front of him. At one point, I noticed he was wearing headphones. Later, I realized that they weren’t plugged in. So there’s that.

Saturday: This was the day of the London meet-up on Goldhawk Road. Yes. The day after I flew in. In retrospect, planning a meet-up during which I will likely still have jet-lag (spoiler: I did. Ohhh I so did) is a terrible idea. I ended up feeling very tired, a little sick (in that I-barely-slept-last-night kind of way, although, I *did* sleep well the night before. When you’re staying with Clare in her Elvis Presley Deluxe Suite, how couldn’t you? πŸ˜‰ ), and was generally very quiet and a lot overwhelmed – not overwhelmed with the meet-up, per se, but just the whole thing about being in a completely different country and all that. All that being said – I had a wonderful time at the meet-up! We had a smallish group of less than 20 women, which was nice and manageable (I’ve heard stories about those 80+ people meet-ups, and y’all, I would be horrified. Haha!). It was so nice to meet everyone who came out, not to mention shop with them! I do like buying fabric solo, but man… I’m a big fan of the peer pressure influence too πŸ™‚ And Goldhawk Road is pretty awesome! It’s no NYC Garment District by any means, but there were still loads of shops to check out, the prices were good, and everyone who worked there was pretty friendly πŸ™‚ Also, some of the window displays were insane.

The fabric shops here have the best window displays πŸ˜‚βœ‚οΈ

This was my favorite window display out of all of them. How good is that? The more I look at it, the more it makes me laugh.

Price-wise, all the shops in the area were pretty reasonable. I had to be very mindful of whatever I bought – I was limited to one checked bag (an additional would have cost $100), plus, my dollars don’t go as far in London when compared to the pound. Not to mention, I have TONS of fabric at my house that I need to sew through! So I tried to stay pretty restrained (and make everyone else buy lots of awesome fabrics, heh heh heh) and did not buy much.

Just hanging out with myself here 😜 #lladybirdinlondon (also, @bbhandmadedress made me a tag, yay!)

After we were all shopped out, we went to Defector’s Weld around the corner for drinks and food. I unfortunately did not get a photo of the meet-up (again, me and taking photos doesn’t really jive), oh well! So instead, here’s a photo of my name on the table. Big thanks to Stevie for wrangling the reservation for this part of the meet-up – couldn’t have done it without her! β™₯ Also, big huge thanks to Sally and Fiona for being my personal Tube Guides during this day, as I otherwise would have definitely gotten myself super lost.

So yeah, first meet-up was excellent! Thanks to everyone who made it out – I just wish I’d been feeling better, so I could have talked more and not just sat there staring at my soup like a freaking zombie. I have learned my lesson for the next time! Get over the jet-lag first!

Fortunately, the jet-lag only hung around for another day… then I felt REALLY splendid for the rest of the trip. So that was good!

Sunday: I met up with Birgitte, who was also visiting London from out of town (albeit from Norway… but still! Somewhere Else!), and we went to see the Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 exhibit at the V&A Museum. One thing I loooove about London is that basically all the museums are free! SWEET! Of course, certain exhibits may cost you regardless – such as the one we saw at the V&A, I think it was around Β£10? It was totally worth it, though! They will also check your coat and bags at the museum for free, which was nice since it was cold and rainy that day.

Guess where I ammmm... 😜 #lladybirdinlondon

After the museum, Birgitte and I wandered into Liberty of London. At the risk of making myself sound like a complete idiot – I had no idea Liberty was a department store? I’ve only ever known it for the fabrics. So I was pretty surprised to see that – not only is it an entire store, but it’s a fucking FANCY store! Now I understand the hype. Still don’t care much for the fabrics (I tried, I really did! But no Liberty fabrics came home with me on this trip), but, I get it.

dalston shopping

Monday: This was the day I really started feeling 100%. I met up with Nicole, Rachel and Vanessa for a shopping day in Dalston Mills, at the Ridley Road Market. Nicole lives in the area and was kind enough to show us around – it. was. AMAZING! Such a completely different culture from what I’d seen the night before (I mean, I went into Harrod’s at one point, for fuck’s sake hahaha). We shopped for fabrics at the little fabric store – as well as on all the tables selling beautiful African wax prints (which you can also get on Goldhawk, but I liked the wax prints here better!). I also bought hair dye (because, why not?) and a new neon green purse, having realized my sling bag was not big enough for the necessary umbrella & other necessities.

Hi, I love meat πŸ—πŸ”πŸ” #lladybirdinlondon

There is a lot of dead meat on Ridley Road. Here I am standing next to some. Yay, meat!

me & Rachel β™₯

It was such a treat to be able to spend some time with Rachel. We may or may not have bought mostly the same fabrics (all destined for lingerie, no less!). In case you were wondering – she’s just as gorgeous in real life as she is in photos. Maybe even more so! And she’s so tall – especially next to this 5’2″ runt πŸ˜›

And now I'm hanging out with @ohthepeteroh, who was my first roommate in Nashville before he moved back to London. It's been 10 years and he's aged like a fine wine 🍷 #lladybirdinlondon

After my shopping day in Dalston Mills, I stayed in East London and met up with my friend Peter for drinks at a couple of the nearby bars. Peter is an old friend of mine – we go ‘way back, like, pre-high school, and he was my first roommate when I moved out of my parent’s house. I haven’t seen him since he moved back to London 10 years ago, so it was REALLY great to see him and catch up. We both drank ourselves into hangovers that night. It was awesome.

Classic English breakfast today! I will not be eating those beans hahahaha #bpSewvember

Tuesday: Hangover day! I started my morning with a big, proper English breakfast with Clare, which I ate about half of (I know! I hate wasting food, but hangovers for me tend to be the really sick/no appetite types). I did not touch the beans, which horrified about half of Instagram, apparently. Sorry, dudes. Baked beans are gross and I wasn’t about to risk trying them when I was already feeling sick!

Anyway, a hot shower did a good job of clearing me right up, so I was able to drag myself out of the flat and take myself on a date to the British Museum. This was pretty much the only thing I had planned in advance before getting to London – I knew I wanted to see mummies! And I did see mummies – three times, in fact. I kept going back to the Egyptian room, because mummies are awesome haha.

Took myself on a date today and made a new friend #lladybirdinlondon

I also took a selfie with this guy. I felt pretty silly, but I’m trying not to care. I really wanted to take a selfie with the naked Greek statues (head height for me is right about at the weiners, which is PERFECT), but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Next time!

It was also pretty cool seeing the all the Parthenon stuff. We have a full-scape replica of the Parthenon in Nashville (because of course we do), and it’s pretty true to the original. Except for that whole collapsing part haha πŸ˜›

Tower Bridge hangs! πŸš£πŸŒ‰ #lladybirdinlondon

Wednesday: In the AM, I met with Melissa Fehr in her floating house boat on the Thames river. Yes, you heard me – HOUSE BOAT. I had no idea that was a thing in London, but it is, and it is excellent. There’s a whole boat community out there, with floating gardens and community centers and other impressive floating things. Also, Melissa is fucking hilarious, and her cat is adorable and extremely good at laser acrobats.

Great lunch/beer (ok, I'm the only one who had alcohol 😜 haha) this afternoon with @fehrtrade and @tillybuttons 🍻 yay for mini sewing meet ups! πŸ‘―

After tea & pumpkin pie and general boat-awe, we took a bus to get lunch with Tilly on her side of London, as well as check out her beautiful studio where I would be teaching my class later that evening.

class at Tilly's

Oh, so, my class! Zips & Buttonholes was 3 hours of great fun! My students were all fabulous and really killed their zipper insertions (and I’m a little jealous that my first zippers never looked that great! Many, many MANY years of dodgy zippers are in my past, ha!). Everyone was so lovely and fun to chat with – one person even brought me a gift of bicycle print jersey (for real! I was – and still am – completely floored by her kindness and generosity. Thank you so much, Caroline!). We did have one injury in the class – I think that was a first for all of us (knock on wood, haha). Poor Rosie! Actually, she was a really great sport throughout the ordeal – and I love the photo we got together haha. I hope your finger is feeling better now, Rosie! You should be proud of your battle scar πŸ˜› haha!

train to Paris!

Thursday: While my family spent the day feasting and hanging out, I woke up at the ass crack of dawn (aka 5AM) to catch a train to Paris! Our party (me, Clare, Kelly and Emmie rode the Eurostar into Paris bright and early, with a couple hours to spare before the big meet-up arranged by Carmen. Clare was staying in a separate hotel (being preggers, she has greater rest needs, plus, she was staying an extra day in Paris), but Kelly & Emmie and myself – along with Tilly & Freya (who I just met during the trip and OMG LOVE HER) – booked ourselves up a swanky little pad via AirBNB. Like, my bed nook (hell yes I got my own bed… I’m opening to sharing, but I also snore, so that usually means I end up solo hahaha) had PARIS DISCO LIGHTS:

Made it to Paris! Our swanky flat has a lofted bed with red and blue lights... Naturally, this is the one I chose #lladybirdinlondon

I almost wish we staying in Paris longer just to enjoy that damn apartment. We were on the top floor, with skylights on the roof and chandeliers hanging off everything. There was also pink toilet paper, which really cracked me up. Apparently, that’s not uncommon in Paris (or London, for that matter)? I’ve just never seen it in the US – only ads from, like, the 60s. I wish we had colorful toilet paper here now. My bathroom would be so much more exciting.

You know it's been a good trip when you forget to take any pictures! Paris, you are amazing. Thank you for being so lovely these past 2 days πŸ’• #lladybirdinlondon

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The Paris meet-up was SPLENDID. Carmen really outdid herself with planning everything down to the last detail, with an itinerary, maps, and GOODIE BAGS.

Gifts!

I am pretty sure I have the worst manners ever, but Kelly & I fucking ripped right into those bags the second they were handed to us. Everyone else was standing patiently and politely up to that point. Whoops.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

I was really excited to see Norma! I met her in NYC while I was there in March, but we didn’t really have a chance to talk then – so it was nice to actually have a good chat with her. Love Norma!

Ok, so, as far as places we shopped in Paris… I’m afraid I can’t really give you a running list. I ended up following my small group like a little puppy – not to mention, I couldn’t read any of the signs (I really did try to brush up on my French in the months before I left, but learning a foreign language is hard!), so I don’t remember them. Sorry, guys! If you want suggestions on where to go for fabric shopping in Paris, best ask someone else… because I’m pretty useless haha.

We did find some great shops, though! There was one- Les Γ©toffes du Sentier (I took a photo of the bag, ha) – who liked us so much, they led our small group (we were long split off from the big group, being slow shoppers and all) to their big warehouse where they had even MORE stuff, including (really inexpensive, really nice quality) leather. Loved those guys!

Spoolettes in Paris

We also went into La Maison Sajou, which is basically the cutest shop in the world. I could have bought one of everything in there, were my bank account limitless. I am chatting with Rehannon here, omg that girl is such a trip! β™₯ Also, I’ve never seen a bigger collection of Lauren derp faces than there are from this trip HAHA!

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The ladies at Sajou were kind enough to make us all tea, and clever enough to serve said tea in their branded mugs. PROTIP: If you want me to buy something, just let me carry it around for a while. By the time I finished my tea, I knew that mug was coming home with me. You can totally see it in my eyes, haha.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Oh yeah, we also hit up the sweet Les Coupons de St-Pierre, which is one of those mythical “coupon” shops where you get 3 meters of fabric for 8€ or 10€ (or more of less, depending on fabric!). That place was sweet, the employees were awesome, *and* they gave us a discount because of Carmen! Woohoo!

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Finally, what was left of our party moseyed over to The Pink Flamingo Pizza Parlor rue Muller (fair warning – that link auto plays music!) for drinks and dinner. I really loved this place – the pizza was outstanding and there were some cray flavor combinations. We shut that place down with our chatting and drinking.

Friday: We had a small meet-up rendezvous at Anna Ka Bazaar the next morning. They served us tea and cookies and gave us a nice discount (and yes, I bought myself a special piece of splurge fabric. Anna K instead of Liberty, fuck yea!), and let us hang in the shop for a bit. Norma came out, because I wanted her to see my Marlborough bra and assess the fit. Sooo… long story short, after realizing there was no bathroom to duck into, and determining that no one in the shop (especially the owners, obviously) minded seeing some bewbs, I just stood behind the counter in my bra and Norma gave me an impromptu fitting lesson for the crowd’s entertainment. Ha! Fortunately, the major fit areas (band, bridge, most of the cup) are spot-on. I just need to tweak the upper cup and the strap placement, which Norma told me how to do. How’s that for some customer service, amirite? Also, the ladies at Anna K were really excited when they realized that, not only did I make my bra – but the patternmaker was Norma! And now I can say I spent some ~topless time~ in France hahaha.

Jolies Bobines met with us and took our small group (me, Kelly, Emmie, Tilly, Freya & the addition of Nicole) on to more shopping after Anna K to some of her favorite Paris fabric shops. One of the places she brought us to was Malhia Kent, which was AMAZING. So much brocade and sparkly lurex! It was hard to restrict myself to just one special piece, but I was worried about luggage restraints at that point. I managed πŸ™‚ Also, it was really cool to finally meet Jolies! Despite my complete and utter lack of French knowledge, she was able to speak enough English so that we could get a good conversation going πŸ™‚ She did suggest that I start following French blogs and reading French patterns, as it helped her learn English faster – so I might have to try that!

After Jolies left while we ate lunch, I starting feeling my hangover (two in one trip, argh), so the rest of my time in Paris was spent avoiding the wine and steaks that my fellow travelers were eating. Bummer! As luck would have it, I felt better right about the time we boarded the Eurostar to get back to London. Figures!

Shopping date with @tillybuttons today! I'm a little fabric'd out after Paris, but managed to squeeze a little piece from Cloth House in my bag πŸ˜‰ #lladybirdinlondon

Saturday: Since Clare was still in Paris for another day, I went back into central London (by myself! I am getting so good at this tube navigation system, haha!) and met with Tilly for a nice relaxed shopping day in Soho. We went to lots of little shops in the area – some fabric, some gifts, some clothing – but the only place I bought anything from was Cloth House (see above for fear of my loot not fitting in my luggage, ha). Tilly also took me into the clothing store Joy, which is full of some of the cutest stuff I’ve ever seen (I really really really want to knock off this toggle coat now. I mean, come on!) (Oh, I just lied to you; totally bought a necklace from this store). We also went to Bravissimo, because the bras there cost about half as much as they do in the US (even with including the exchange rate). This is probably bordering on TMI – but, Tilly & I actually wear the same bra size (lolz), so we were able to get side-by-side fitting rooms and swap bras haha. I ended up buying the Satine bra in black, in case you were curious!

I’m really happy with how well Tilly & I got along. I’ve been friends with her online for ages, but this trip was the first time I was able to meet her in person. Sometimes, people can be different than their online persona (this hasn’t happened to me in the blog world, but I’ve heard horror stories! And I’ve used OkCupid in the past hahahahaha), so it can be a gamble when you plan to spend a multitude of days with one person if you’re not sure that your personalities will mesh. Like I said – I haven’t had this issue with anyone I’ve met through this blog (no, really! Every single one of y’all has been really cool and fun!). That being said, Tilly far exceeded my high expectations. She’s just a really great person and I’m glad I got to spend some time getting to talk with her and hang out. Now I’m getting Tilly withdrawals! Wah!

sewing party at Tilly's

Sunday: Last day in London! When I was originally planning this trip, Tilly offered to let me take over her studio for a little sewing shindig on the last day I was there. After nearly 2 weeks away from my machine, it was pretty awesome to be able to sit down and sew again! We had a small group – unfortunately, Clare was feeling pretty beat up after Paris, so she wasn’t able to make it 😦 – but it was great seeing the rest of the ladies: Karen, Roisin, Freya, Emmie, Jane, and of course, Tilly! Everyone brought a project to work on, foods to snack on, drinks to drink on (I’m currently a Prosecco convert… mmmm), and we just had a lovely afternoon. It was a great send-off to a really really awesome trip.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

I will live on Party Rings for the remainder of my time on this earth πŸ˜πŸŽ‰ #lladybirdinlondon

After we left Tilly’s, Tilly took me to Sainsbury’s in my quest to find Party Rings. These ridiculous cookies biscuits were a staple for my family back when we were visiting London in the late 90s – as in, my siblings and I ate the SHIT out of them. We brought a metric shit-ton back to the states with us, and it was a sad day when we finally ate the last one. I was bound and determined to find some to take home – and I did! Yay Party Rings! πŸ˜€

me & Jamie Susan

Finally, I met with my friend Jamie Susan in Greenwich for some Vietnamese food and much-needed Nashville gossip. Funny story about Jamie Susan – she’s an old friend from Nashville (we used to go on laundromat dates together haha) who moved to London about 2 years ago after getting married. I knew she was in London, but I figured she’d be so far out from Greenwich (where I was staying) that meeting up would be too much of a hassle. Turns out – girl LIVES in Greenwich! What are the odds, amirite? Anyway, I’m glad we made time for each other because it was great to catch up and I realized how much I miss her. Dammit, Jamie Susan! Come back to Nashville and visit already!

Monday: Ok, Monday doesn’t really count because it was my traveling day. However, I did want to point out that the plane from London to Toronto was pretty empty, and I somehow managed to get an entire row to myself for the whole 8 hours. That. Was. AMAZING. Also, I flew Air Canada, which was just nice as hell. The food was really good, the flight attendants were incredibly nice, and everything was just really clean and well taken care of. Oh, and there was FREE WINE. I think I’m spoiled for life, now though, after being able to stretch across an entire row and basically have a party to myself for the whole flight. It was like a First Class experience, without the First Class price tag. Go, Air Canada!

So yep, that’s my trip! Sorry the post got so long and out of hand – I tried to condense it as much as possible (and I figure – better one looong post than a bunch of short posts, especially for those who would rather skip this kind of topic altogether!). A few things I’d like to point out about traveling to London & Paris, from a non-international traveler standpoint – these are the things I wish someone had told me up front:

  • The very biggest thing that threw me off in London? They don’t put cream in their coffee! This is probably a β€œno shit, Sherlock” type statement to most of y’all, but I had no idea! Europeans (or, at least, those in London & Paris) put milk in their coffee. Half the people didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked for cream. Obviously I was able to adapt very quickly (I mean, this is coffee we are talking about) – I learned that I really like flat white coffees! – but it really threw me off the first couple jet-lagged days I was there.
  • My little passport wallet came SUPER in handy the whole time I was there. It was nice to have one place to keep my cards and my passport – and I especially loved that zippered pouch for holding all my change. One thing I didn’t realize is that the British use lots of coins, especially for one and two pound amounts (we don’t really have that in the US; the one time they tried to make a dollar into a coin, there was some SERIOUS pushing against it. I know of stores that refused to accept it as payment, even though it’s legal currency haha). So, bring something that will hold your coins!
  • Another big tip if you’re taking an overseas trip – if at all possible, get a credit card with the chip, as it’s the safest way to carry money around. I think the chip is about to become standard for all new credit and debit cards (I’ve noticed the machines in stores since I got back), so it’s really just a matter of replacing your current card if you already have one. I found that my bank has a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, which saved me loads of money since I only had to pay the exchange rate. I charged everything to my card and paid it off when I got home. Obviously don’t do this if you’re not able to pay off the card – you don’t want to come home from a vacation already in debt – but if you can be responsible and hold yourself accountable, it’s very useful. Plus, I earned points for every dollar I spent, so it’s like a double bonus!
  • Speaking of those chip cards – you’re supposed to get a pin so they can be used in the machines. For whatever reason – mine just didn’t work. The card worked, I mean, but I had to sign for every purchase. I’ve heard it might be an American card thing (some people told me they had the same issues with US credit cards), but it’s just something to be aware of. Again, carry an ID with you if this is the case because they are required to check the signature if you don’t use a pin.
  • If you’re going to a foreign country and want to still use your phone without having to deal with roaming/international charges, I would seriously recommend getting a prepaid SIM card. I had my phone unlocked through my provider (DO NOT do this through a third party – nine times out of ten, you’ll get scammed. My provider tried to give me hell about unlocking the phone because I’m still under contract – despite paying cash for the phone when I bought it – so I unlocked it through their website and it went through. Worth a try, anyway!) and bought a prepaid SIM card through EE. For Β£15, It had 150 minutes (more than enough for me; I never talk on the phone haha), unlimited text messages, and 2 GB of data while in London. Since my plan was local only, I used WhatsApp to keep in touch with my US friends, and FaceTime to talk to Landon πŸ™‚ The phone stayed off while I was in Paris (although I’m sure there are prepaid options for roaming other countries, if that’s a need for you!). This was obviously LOADS cheaper than what my provider was trying to charge for me to roam with a US number. Of course, I could have kept the phone off entirely, but it was pretty useful to have a local number so I could text people to arrange plans/meet-ups, and also have the data for mapping my tube routes and playing on Instagram πŸ™‚
  • I didn’t realize this until I was actually in London, but if you use Uber (a ridesharing/taxi program that is way cheaper than a typical cab), it *does* work in London. I used this to get home after teaching at Tilly’s, and also to get to the airport on Monday morning (I’m sure every single commuter on the train loves and appreciates me for not subjecting them to standing behind me dragging my luggage onto a crowded train haha). The rates are great – I paid Β£40 to get from Greenwich to Heathrow, which was about a 70 minute drive during rush hour traffic. If you haven’t used Uber before, here’s a shameless free code for ya – laurent319 will get you a free ride (up to $20, then you pay the difference if it’s more than that). You just need to download the free app to use it (full disclosure – if you use that code, I will get a free ride, which I will then use to take me to and from the airport when I travel. Free Ubers for everyone! Yay!). Anyway, Uber or not – I would strongly recommend setting some money aside to get you a cab back to the airport, if public transportation is your only other option. It’s worth the money just to know you can sit and relax and not be banging your giant suitcase into someone’s poor ankles.
  • Wardrobe-wise, my capsule wardrobe ended up being a really great decision on my part. I made everything I had planned and wore almost entirely handmade (save for my jeans, which I can’t bear to part with because I love them so much) for the whole trip. It was nice to have a mix and match of outfits to choose from – saved on both luggage space and getting ready in the morning time. Of course, this meant that people saw me wearing the same thing more than once (gasp!), but, you know what? Fuck it.
  • Speaking of clothing and dressing appropriately for the weather, it must have been a REALLY mild time in London because I definitely was not cold! I brought both my big plaid coat and my bomber jacket, which turned out to be very useful because I ended up needing them both at one point or another. I found that by wearing lots of lightweight layers, I stayed very warm – and it was easy to peel layers off if I got too hot. It also barely rained while I was in London – it was mostly grey, which I found quite nice. I must have brought something gross back with me to the states, though, because it’s been REALLY cold and rainy ever since I got back! Ew!

Oh, hey, I guess you want to see what I came home with, huh? πŸ™‚ Here’s the fabric pile in all it’s glory –
I just unpacked all the fabric I bought in London and Paris. I guess I have a lot of prewashing to do now 😜 #lladybirdinlondon

I was going to take individual pictures, but I’m tired and this post is long enough. Sooo, just a smattering of things! Just a few I want to point out exclusively – the pretty blue/purple floral-ish one in the very middle is my special piece from Anna Ka Bazaar, the red and gold geometic print is a beautiful boucle (with sparkly lurex!) from Malhia Kent, and the big peacock feathers at the bottom is my African wax print from Ridley Road Market in Dalston Mills. Oh, and the blobs at the bottom are laces and sheers for future bras! I also bought a piece of red and white striped knit from Cloth House, which somehow didn’t make it into this photo. Womp womp.

Also not pictured, but worth noting – I totally bought a mug from Sajou. I drink my coffee out of it every morning now and I just love it πŸ™‚

Ok, I reckon this post is long enough, so time to wrap up! Big huge thanks to everyone who helped make this trip the wonderful adventure it turned out to be – those of you who made it out to the meet-ups, my class, for London and/or Paris hangs, or who just had suggestions for making the most of my trip. You are all awesome and I appreciate all of you and your input! πŸ™‚ Big thanks to Tilly for letting me take over her studio as much as I did – and for putting up with me for multiple days (poor girl is likely sick of me at this point, ha!). Big thanks to Carmen for arranging the whole Paris meet-up and making it such a highlight of my trip (psst – want to see more photos? Here’s the Flickr Pool!). And biggest thanks to Clare, my love – who opened her home to me and initially stuck me with the I-Have-To-Go-To-London bug. I’m sad that Clare and I didn’t get to hang as much due to her pregnancy and work obligations, but even just sitting on the couch with tea and chatting at the end of the day was really really wonderful. Thank you so much β™₯

Also, thank YOU for making it to the end of this post! Whew, that was a big one haha! Come over now for your complimentary Party Ring πŸ˜‰

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94 Responses to “My Trip to London & Paris!”

  1. Nicole December 8, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    It looks like you had a lot better time in London than I did! I was there a couple weeks before you, but with my husband and two kiddos. (And I didn’t buy a single scrap of fabric and only two lipsticks.) Next time I go to London it will be a ladies’ weekend.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Ah, see, that’s why you should travel solo πŸ™‚ Only your itinerary to worry about, haha! Just kidding, solo international travel is TERRIFYING! Ladies weekends are good, though!

  2. Bobbi December 8, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    What a great time! You and Tilly look so cute together.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      We’re like two peas in a pod haha πŸ™‚

  3. Anna December 8, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    What a lovely post! I feel like I’ve had a trip to the UK and France instead of a train journey to work! Glad you found the party rings, sometimes those sort of things are so important.

    • Anna December 8, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      Thinking about it was that last part was a really stupid comment considering I live in France. A trip to Paris I meant!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      They really are; now I can be buried with my Party Rings hahahaha πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      True, but they are cheaper in the UK πŸ™‚

  4. elizabeth de sosa December 8, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Thank you for sharing this great blog. I made it to the end and I don’t think I’m your Mum?

    Anyway – why not come out to Los Angeles for a similar shop-o-rama/cultural romp? You can pretend we are a foreign country – but we speak your language and your Nashville currency is accepted here!

    Thanks, again, for the enjoyable share.

    • Deanna December 8, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      Yes! Come to LA! I guaratee you the weather will be better here than in London or Nashville. πŸ™‚ Plus, any excuse for me to run off to the fashion district is welcome.

      By the way, I recently went to Europe and in all of my searching I have found that the US hasn’t caught on to chip and pin yet. You can ONLY find chip and signature available for US cards. If it says it’s chip and pin and it’s a US card then that’s a different kind of pin. That pin is like a cash withdrawl pin and not an authentification pin. That’ll probably change in about a year or two though as we catch up to Euro trends. I mean, how is my scribbly signature in any way more security than a secret number code?

      • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

        Ah, that makes sense about the chip and pin! I was wondering why the pin wouldn’t work in any of the machines (and I didn’t try to pull out cash because, eh).

        Also, I don’t know about your signature – but mine is like a small work of art in how it’s all swirly and doesn’t look like my name but it looks the same every single time I sign something. I’d like to see someone try to forge that! πŸ™‚

        • Inclement December 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

          GUESS what we would now like to see a photo of. πŸ˜€

          Great post – I agree with Anna; I feel like I’ve been somewhere!

          Was dearest tortoiseshell happy to see you when you got back?

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      I’ve been thinking about going to LA! Been watching ticket prices to see if they drop πŸ™‚ I’ve never been farther west than Missouri (lolz) so it would be an adventure for sure!

  5. charityshopchic December 8, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    HAHA still laughing about my horror when the coffee woman wanted to put squirty cream on top of your coffee… great meeting you and so glad you had a good time in London!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      HAHA right!? She was probably just as horrified as we were, tbh. Whipped cream in coffee, blech!

      It was AWESOME meeting you! Wish we could have spent more time together… ah well, next trip! πŸ™‚

  6. Tasha @ By Gum, By Golly December 8, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I want my party ring! πŸ˜€ Actually I’ve never had them overseas, but I’ve had jammy dodgers, which I luuurve. Anyway, so great to read a full round up on your trip. Soo jealous of all the fun things you did and people you got to hang out with!! Gah, looks like an amazing time.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      It was pretty amazing! Also, glad you liked the round up – as I was writing it, I was thinking, “ok, um, no one is going to read this long-ass monologue” haha! If anything, I figured it would be nice to have as my own personal (online) diary πŸ™‚

  7. Miss Celie December 8, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    What an incredibly lovely roundup.

  8. Anna December 8, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    I enjoyed this post but I think my favourite part is the bit about Ridley Road Market being full of meat. That made me laugh. I haven’t been there for years, but it was true back then too. πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      Glad to know the selection of meat hasn’t changed one bit! πŸ™‚

  9. Amanda December 8, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Sounds like a blast! Seems like you had a nice mix of group time and down time. I have to mention that the pixelated dog at the top of your post is what shows as the thumbnail for this post on Bloglovin’, which was a hilariously awesome thing to see pop up this morning. Anyway, I’m also not into Liberty fabrics, but I guess that’s a good thing given the $$$$. I didn’t realize it was a department store either…reminds me of when I discovered that Marie Calendar’s is actually a restaurant (on the West Coast at least) and not just frozen food at the supermarket. Mind blown! And I wish I had that list of recommended fabric shops when I was in Paris last year, but I did make it to the Coupons place where I scored some fabric. πŸ˜€ The pounds conversion is crazy – still remember when I went there over 10 years ago, gave “the conversion guy” $100 and he gave me ~60 pounds. Deflating.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Whhhhaatttt, Marie Calendar is a restaurant!? Mind. Blown. Now I kind of want to scoot over to the west coast just to see if the food at the restaurant is any better than it is in the frozen section of my grocery store haha πŸ™‚

      Also, yeah, the money conversion was heartbreaking! It wasn’t as bad as it was when I was first in London (back when one pound was $2! Ouch!), but it was still a little painful. On the flip side, the Euro isn’t very strong right now!:)

  10. Sarah December 8, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Sounds like you had an awesome time! Loved reading your post-party rings yumm these were a staple at every kids party I ever went to as a kid!
    I’m not a fan of liberty fabrics either but I’m just a little bit obsessed with the shop, despite only ever walking past ( we were in a rush) what you might like to know is that we’ve got a TV documentary series- if you ever fancy watching a few episodes it’s called ‘libertys of London’ Also an American guy now runs the store too!! (Oh gosh I sound like a libertys spoke person now!!)

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Oh yeah! Clare and I watched a bit of that show one night while we were lounging on the couch – I liked it a lot (waaaay less drama than the bullshit reality shows we have here. I can’t watch those; they make me too anxious haha). I wish we got it here in America.

  11. maddie December 8, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Girl, this was one epic trip. You met so many great people and now it’s official, you’re international! I’m equally in awe of Melissa’s houseboat. How have I missed that since now? And to see you and Norma together – so jealous!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      In a couple of months, it’ll be me and you! β™₯ Yay! Get ready for entire conversations regarding our boobs hahahaha πŸ™‚

  12. Julie Culshaw December 8, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Too late for this trip, but I was advised to drink as much water as you possibly can for the 24 hours before flying and you can prevent jet lag. It worked for me when I flew to London last year. I only needed a one hour nap and I was good to go.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      That is a great tip, thanks for sharing! It’ll come in handy next time I make another international trip πŸ™‚

  13. Tilly Buttons December 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    I take you to all the best places – Bravissimo, Sainsburys…

    Aw this post has got me feeling all sentimental and missing you 😦 When are you coming back?? xxx

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      You’re the best shopping buddy a girl could ask for πŸ˜‰ haha!

      I’m already missing all of you SO much! Must make it back! Maybe for summer? πŸ™‚

  14. Kimberly December 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    That was epic. thanks for sharing!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Yay I’m glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

  15. terzibegum December 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    It seems you have had an amazing time! All of you look perfect.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      It was a great trip! Thank you! πŸ™‚

  16. Kelly December 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    I second Tilly – comeeee backkkkk, we miss you!! But dude, awesome write up! It has me wanting to go back to Paris for more awesome sewing meet up times! Haha, we did rush in with ripping open the goody bags – I thought everyone else would have already opened theirs by then! All your talk about party rings had me craving them – I had to go and buy a pack at the weekend! I’m glad you enjoyed your time, and thank you so much for coming to visit us πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Haha! I’m glad I was able to get you reunited with the glory that is Party Rings πŸ™‚ And yay – it was a great trip! Thanks for hanging out and accompanying me in Paris. We will have to do it again πŸ™‚

  17. LinB December 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    So glad you had an excellent trip. So glad you are safely back home. I love to travel vicariously through all you sweet young things who blog.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Well I’m happy to travel in order to provide the posts πŸ™‚ Win win for both of us, haha πŸ™‚

  18. house of pinheiro December 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Widraw of awesomeness from you darling. I had such a great time, so sad my back put me out of the sewing fun at Tilly’s but Im so glad we got to meet up finally. Come to stay with me if you want next time. xx

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      It was so nice to meet you, and I’m glad we at least got to fabric shop together πŸ™‚ I will definitely be hitting you up next time I go there – or if I make it to Brazil πŸ™‚ Need more Rachel in my life!

  19. weefrills December 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Such a wonderful trip! I am jealous, but definitely happy with you! I would love to go to the V&A Museum someday.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Oh, Sarah, you would LOVE it! You have to go someday!

      • weefrills December 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

        Maybe! My next big trip will be Canada. I live like an hour away! πŸ™‚

  20. puu December 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    mahlia kent, love it. i’ve got a few pieces from their remnant bin that are AMAZING. what a great thing to bring home!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

      I could see you (and Marcy, for that matter!) written all over that damn store! I’m so glad I brought a little piece home. Now just to figure out what to do with it πŸ™‚

  21. Melissa December 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time! Can’t wait to see what you sew up with all of your awesome fabric, especially the peacock feather print!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Oh, isn’t that peacock feather print lovely!? I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but I have an entire 6 meters to figure it out πŸ™‚

  22. Clarinda Kaleidoscope December 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Brilliant post – I was really gutted to have missed the jet lag meet-up but you have really conveyed the fun and busyness of your trip. Looking forward to seeing your London/Paris fabric makes over the coming months!

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      I’m so sorry you missed it as well! Next time I come, I’ll get over the jet-lag before the meet-up and hopefully I’ll be more fun at that one πŸ™‚ haha!

  23. didyoumakethat December 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Your jetlag comments made me laugh. Remember when I met up with you and Oona and Ginger Makes for dinner and I was all wide-eyed and uber-quiet? Yup, that was my first evening in New York. Jeglag hits you like an axe between the eyes. It was lovely to see you again, and it looks as though you had a really fantastic trip.

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Karen, I thought about you the whole time I was suffering from jet lag – now I totally understand why you were so quiet! And I’m even more in awe of what a trooper you were for meeting up with us in the first place! It was lovely to see you again, as well! β™₯

  24. shesewsswell December 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m so excited I feel like my heart’s gonna jump outta my chest any minute now ’cause I get to go to Paris on Christmas Day for the first time !!!! Your post makes me even more excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! While all my clothes won’t be home made, many will, and my two girls and I will be wearing our Coco’s… (not all matching, they’re kinda old for that….) Now, I gotta get to matching the plaids on my Belladone…. πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD December 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Ahhh, Paris on CHRISTMAS?! That’s gonna be a beautiful trip!!

  25. Colesworth December 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    what a great trip – I’m jelly – Paris, London, bewb stories – post could only be improved if you had actually included a statue weiner pic ;o)

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Man you are making me really regret not taking one! Argh, next time!

  26. Sylvie December 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    So glad you had a great time! Tilly seems like such a doll, it would be so cool to hang out with her!

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      She’s a super doll, and really fun to hang out with! I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with her πŸ™‚

  27. Sara A. December 8, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    How did you go to Sajou and not buy ALL THE THINGS!?!?!?! That’s what this hand embroiderer wants to know.

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      It was REALLY hard!! Fortunately, I’ve gotten better at the whole shopping-without-buying (a year of extremely restricted spending has taught me to be happy just looking at things, haha), so I had that on my side… but yeah, I tormented myself for a long time in that store. It is beautiful and I would have bought everything I touched if I thought I could afford it and spare the space in my suitcase. Getting the coffee mug was a nice compromise πŸ™‚

  28. Claire (iwanttobeaturtle) December 9, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    I just knew the Paris leg of your trip would be amazing and it sounds like it was! It was great meeting you in London, jet lag and all. And thanks again for my language lesson over a mug of mulled wine!

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Ahaha, anytime! I love chatting stuff like that (and mulled wine makes everything better for sure!). Awesome meeting you as well! β™₯

  29. CarmencitaB December 9, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    It was awesome to meet you and I’m really glad you enjoyed your mini-Paris trip. My turn to show up at your doorstep next! Let me talk to my brother about driving down to Nashville in his vintage GMC.

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      YESSSS!!! Come visit me in Nashville, you won’t be disappointed! πŸ™‚ I can’t promise you the same kind of lovely meet-up you did for Paris, but I can at least show you a rowdy good time πŸ˜‰

  30. SylvieW December 9, 2014 at 4:55 am #

    I am off to Ridley Road to peruse African peacock wax cotton….
    Great trip report, and I read it all too!

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Ah, get you some peacock cotton! We can match! πŸ˜€

  31. sparkleneedles December 9, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Hello,

    What a lovely post: you really had the best time and saw lots of bits of PROPER London. I am still EXTREMELY proud of my finger injury (fingjury?) which has healed annoyingly well and now looks very unimpressive. Still people go a lovely shade of white when I tell them I sewed right through my finger and out the other side! Was super lovely meeting you and thanks ever so for a great lesson xxx

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      You should be proud of that fingjury! You survived an epic battle with the scar to prove it (if people can’t see it, just tell them they’re not looking hard enough ahaha) – AND YOU STILL FINISHED THE CLASS. You’re a star! πŸ™‚ It was lovely meeting you and I enjoyed being your teacher! β™₯

  32. Christy December 9, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Loved your post. Tell you what: you did bring home a Liberty fabric! It is the one with the blue flowers on a (nearly completely covered) white background, in the second last row, on the right, in your fabric picture.
    And how do I know this? I have been on a very short fabric shopping trip to London on the last November weekend. On Saturday my friend and I went shopping in Soho, going into all the fabric shops in Berwick Street and also to Liberty’s (and I was just as surprised as you that it is a complete department store, had always thought it was just a fabric store…) At Liberty’s I could not find any fabric I liked – I prefer rather graphical designs and darker or stronger colours. But at Misan Textiles in Berwick Street they had a complete shelf with Liberty fabrics – some I recognized from Liberty’s itself but in total they had a much more modern choice. I bought the same blue and white fabric that you bought! I plan to sew myself a little tunic or blouse. It was really funny to discover this lovely fabric on your picture…
    πŸ™‚
    Kind regards from Stuttgart, Germany
    Christy

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      You know – I grabbed that fabric because it looked really Liberty-esque to me, without being super ditzy/floral. And it feels really nice and soft, which is a bonus! I actually got my fabric on Goldhawk for a STEAL (can’t remember the exact price, as I have blocked most of that from my mind at this point, but suffice to say it was MUCH cheaper than Liberty would have cost!), so yay! I’m so tickled that we have the same fabric – and I’ll be making a collared shirt with mine, so we’ll sort of match when it’s sewn up πŸ™‚ So cool!

      • Ines December 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

        For you guys that don’t like Liberty much. Check out some of the William Morris peacocks and dragons prints for Liberty done in the past century. They are nature not cute at all but rather dark and intriguing, they are mesmerizing. Liberty keeps remaking them so you can find the fabrics still. Those are my favorite Liberty.

  33. Sara December 9, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    Air Canada is the best! I always fly with them. Though they only give free booze on international flights, which stinks because flying across Canada is often a longer trip. All these photos has made me feel inclined to look up travel prices to Europe! The last time I was in Paris I wasn’t really sewing that much, so I only bought a few pieces of fabric. And I’ve never been to London! Travel envy for sure.

    • LLADYBIRD December 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      Man, I LOVE Air Canada! I’m so happy they have a hub out of Nashville; I’d love to fly with them again. Now you have to go to Europe, so I can have travel envy right back! haha ! πŸ™‚

  34. Ines December 9, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Thank you for taking the time to detail your adventures in Europe it’s so much fun to read about it and live vicariously! Not to mention all the useful advice !

    • LLADYBIRD December 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  35. Emmie December 10, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    Miss you!! Come back soon! I haven’t checked the credit card yet…. I have done a rough guesstimation though. :/ oh well! My fabric is is a very pleasing pile, that I have started adding all of my special favourite fabrics too and it’s getting to be a very happy (very large) pile… I’ll have to take a picture, it’s pretty awesome

    • LLADYBIRD December 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Ohhh, I want to see that pile! I know you got some amazing things during our shopping dates πŸ˜€

  36. nicoleneedles December 10, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    It was an absolute pleasure to meet you, and so glad you enjoyed Dalston and Ridley Rd. This post was hilarious – I’ve been trying not to laugh out loud as I read it in the break room at work!

    • LLADYBIRD December 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Dalston and Ridley Road was one of my favorite parts about London! Thank you SO much for taking the time to show us around – you are awesomeeeee!

  37. symondezyn December 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Wow, what an amazing trip! It seems like a dream to me be able to do something like that – maybe one day! ^_^ Also, TOTALLY hear you about the coffee – I had the same WTF reaction when I went to Australia because it’s the same there – even Starbucks was tainted haha!!! Also, FYI Qantas is equally as lovely as Air Canada – I couldn’t believe how wonderful they were and I’m Canadian so I’m used to politeness! haha!

    • LLADYBIRD December 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      It was a dream for me for a long time, too πŸ™‚ I’m just now getting financially comfortable enough to manage it. Hopefully it’ll happen for you, too! πŸ™‚ And, argh, good to know about Australia! I had no idea!

  38. Rehanon December 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Hey duck,

    Glad you had such a blast. It was so lovely to finally meet ya and put a voice to a face and I’m glad it was as potty mouthed as I’d hoped for πŸ™‚

    I’m deffo heading to Nashville in the future for some honky tonking and hooch πŸ™‚

    Xxx

    • LLADYBIRD December 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      Yeeeahhh!! I can’t wait to tear up the streets of Nashville with ya! πŸ˜€

  39. Pootle and Make December 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Your write up is hilarious, yes there’s a lot of meat at Ridley Road market, it’s a wonder to behold. Glad you made it to some of my favourite places in London – V&A, Liberty, Goldhawk Road. I’m gutted I missed the London meet up, I would have been there had I known about it and not had a stinking cold. Your Paris jaunt sounds amazing, I’ve not heard of half these places. Know where to head on my next trip. Glad you had an awesome time, come back to stock up on party rings and coloured bog roll.

  40. lifeisjustduckie December 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    It sounds like you had a great trip! I love the pictures and hope I’ll be able to travel again soon. Also I love that wax peacock print!

  41. smittenness December 12, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    It was a treat to meet you Lauren. Glad you liked Dalston and Ridley Road! East London, best London ( but I’m probably just a parochial wanker! πŸ˜‰) Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip, I have no idea how you managed to find the energy for all the things you fit into this trip. Looking forward to seeing what you make with the wax print fabric. Ness x

  42. melissa December 13, 2014 at 4:02 am #

    I’m late to the party, but YAY! I had such a fun day, I’m so glad you could fit me into your schedule. You’re welcome to come visit again whenever you’re in town!

  43. Megan December 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    What a great blog post. However one thing missing… I wanted to see a picture of the laser acrobat cat…

  44. goodbyevalentino January 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I’m catching up with your blog Lauren and loved reading this post. What a f a b u l o u s trip for you!

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