Cowl

Dark style fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing H&M cowl knit tunic, All Saints wrap belt, Jones Bootmaker yazmin biker boots, Regal Rose Rua labradorite choker necklace, Elemental Luxury phantom quartz rings. All black street style outfit. Dark style fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Elemental Luxury black phantom quartz rings. Outfit details. Dark style fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing H&M cowl knit tunic, All Saints wrap belt. All black street style outfit details. Dark style fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing H&M cowl knit tunic, Regal Rose Rua labradorite and gunmetal chain choker necklace. Outfit details.

We’re almost in May and the last days of spring, and yet we’ve still only had a handful of days that have been warm enough to step outside without a jacket. So, I’m trying to make the most of them in case this is all we get!

I’ve had a bit of a field day with the H&M sale lately and picked up a bunch of great basics, plus a few slightly more interesting pieces like this cowl tunic. If the weather here understood what spring was, I’d say it’s the perfect spring piece – light and airy, with a little extra warmth to keep the chilly breeze out.

Also, for some reason I haven’t been able to take off this string bracelet. A monk tied it around my wrist whilst we were visiting a temple in Thailand and since then I’ve become oddly attached to it, even more so the tattier it gets. I’m not religious myself, but I really can’t bring myself to cut it off. Maybe I’m just trying to cling on to my holiday for as long as possible or maybe it holds some subconscious significance, either way, I think I’m going to leave it until it falls off by itself.

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Motorbiking Through The Cambodian Countryside

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Sat atop my little Honda Dream, covered in dust and squinting at the sun baked road, was when I knew I’d fallen in love with Cambodia. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful the countryside here is. Rusty roads, lush green fields, mountains peeking up from every horizon and bright blue skies as far as you can see. We spent 8 hours on our bikes riding down dusty roads, exploring ruins and temples, and almost every moment of it took my breath away.

This was one of the highlights of our trip, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s been one of my favourite life experiences too. I’m doing a happy sigh right now just thinking about it.

We came across Khmer Ways and their moto tours a few days before we left and immediately set aside a day to get out and explore the other side of Siem Reap, away from the busy city. We emailed to book the day before and were picked up from our hotel by our guide for the day, Nee, who took us over to their office to pick up our bikes. After a quick practice in the back yard and alleyway next to the house, we were lead out onto the busy main road to make our way north. Driving in the crazy Cambodian traffic was definitely an experience, but soon we were away from it all and onto the quieter country roads winding out of town.

As we drove along, we passed by villages and local kids rushed to the side of the road to wave at us as we went past. Riding through such beauty, the wind in your hair and the sun beating down on your skin was such a strange mixture of exciting and relaxing, it was kind of blissful. I genuinely could have spent days out here on my bike. Nee took us into his own village a few hours in, where we stopped for a snack and some ice cold drinks before making our way further out towards the mountain.

After more riding we stopped by a huge restored ancient reservoir for BBQ lunch. We were welcomed into the open hut by two women and treated to such a feast! A huge platter of fresh fruit to share, rice, BBQ chicken for Nat and vegetables for me, plus lots of fizzy drinks to keep our energy up. I took a walk around the grounds and sat on the dock for a while, dipping my feet into the cool water and trying the take it all in.

After a little nap in the hut, we set off again to our next stop, the ruins of Koh Kyorng. This temple is completely in ruins, overgrown with trees and roots, with only a few doorways and windows still standing amid the rubble. Despite this, we saw offerings and piles of stacking stones scattered around, showing that it is still visited and holds some importance. After the busy main temples, it was nice to see this one with no one else around, it truly felt like we’d just stumbled upon something special.

Last of our stops was a beautiful, active temple surrounded by a moat. It was so peaceful here, with barely another person in sight. A young monk curiously followed us around, hiding around corners and peeking out at us, too shy to come over until his friend appeared and came over to talk to us. Before heading off back to town, we sat inside and had a quiet few moments, listening to the birds sing and the cloth decorations flutter in the cool breeze. It was the perfect end to such a magical day.

If you’re in Siem Reap, this is something you really need to make time to fit in. I couldn’t recommend Khmer Ways more, and Nee was such a wonderful guide and a lovely guy too, we had so much fun with him. He took us to see all of the best sights along the way, stopped to point out photo opportunities and made sure we were both well looked after with a seemingly never ending supply of water and drinks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so dirty as I was when we got back, but it was so worth it!

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Uncertain

Although I’m glad to finally be able to leave the house without being bundled up in almost every layer I own, this time of year is my least favourite of our seasons. Mainly because it’s so unpredictable and it’s forever catching me out. One day it’s virtually summer, legs out, jacket off, the very next you’re shivering at the bus stop cursing yourself for optimistically leaving your layers at home. I really should know better by now after all these years. It’s funny how quickly you abandon the idea of sensibly carrying a few extra layers at the sight of a little sun after a long, cold winter though.

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Chance

Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing All Saints dress, Vivienne Westwood animal toe shoes, Pieces wide leather belt. All black dark street style outfit. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing Wolf + Sadie Lucid Petite silver necklace and Theurgy claw ring, Elemental Luxury raw phantom quartz ring. All black outfit details. Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT wearing All Saints dress, Pieces wide leather waist belt, Wolf + Sadie Lucid Petite silver necklace and Theurgy claw ring, Elemental Luxury raw phantom quartz ring. All black outfit details.

One of my favourite things to do lately is to browse through eBay looking for old season All Saints pieces. It’s been quite a few years since I could walk into All Saints and literally want to buy everything. I used to dream about saving up a huge chunk of cash and blowing it all on a massive spree, but the last few years just haven’t filled me with the same excitement, bar the odd couple of really great pieces. The flip side of this though, is that all of those pieces I’d coveted years ago but couldn’t afford to buy are now up on eBay for tiny prices.

This dress was one of those pieces. I remember twirling around in this in the changing rooms, fluffing the skirt out and thinking of all the places I could wear it, before begrudgingly putting it back on the rail and walking away empty handed. I almost brought it in a size too large when it went in the sale, but then my common sense kicked in and I put it back once again. Now here we are, years later and by some random chance it pops up on eBay and I catch it 30 minutes before bidding ends, barely worn and in my size, for £25. It was every bit as perfect as I had remembered and now it’s set me off on a mission to hunt down a few other pieces I’d missed out on too.

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Rum Cocktails

Rum cocktail recipe the Dark 'n Stormy with Zacapa rum. Rum cocktail recipe the dark rum Espresso Martini with Zacapa rum.

Something that I love almost as much as the colour black is good dark rum. Anyone who has ever had even a few drinks with me will know that a classic rum and coke, or Cuba Libre if you’re being fancy, is my signature drink. But I could will happily drink almost anything with rum in it.

I actually used to work in a cocktail bar, so I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years and I still enjoy mixing up a good drink. The Dark ‘n Stormy and rum Espresso Martini are two of my favourites. They’re both super simple to make and require only a few ingredients, so they’re perfect for whipping up to impress friends.

I prefer my Espresso Martini with a little twist, replace the vodka with dark rum, and add sugar syrup for extra sweetness. Rum and coffee are such a great combination, and this makes an already great drink even richer and far more delicious, in my opinion. If you prefer a stronger and less sweet drink, just double the rum to 50ml and remove the syrup.

Sugar syrup is something that’s called for in many cocktail recipes. It sounds fancy, but if like most people it’s not something you have lying around, you can make your own at home in just a few minutes. Simply add equal parts sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stir continuously for 2-5 minutes until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly. Any kind of sugar you have will do, but I think brown sugar is especially nice with rum!

A little tip for the Dark ‘n Stormy – when building a drink in a glass, the easiest way to create a layered effect like this, is to gently pour in the liquid you want to ‘float’ over the back of a spoon. This stops it mixing with the other liquids as it’s poured in. You can also use this technique for any drink that should be layered, such as another one of my favourites, the White Russian or Cuban (with rum!) and various shooters.

Rum is such a versatile spirit to have around and a great staple to have in your drinks cabinet. A nice rum like Zacapa is wonderful all by itself, but it can also be combined with lots of simple ingredients to create everything from easy mixed drinks to the fanciest classic cocktails.

For more rum cocktail recipes check out theBar.com.

This post is in collaboration with theBar.com

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