The first time VFNO has been held outside of London in the UK, it was quite a buzz to find ourselves whizzing along at high speed in first class on Virgin trains in the capable hands of PR whizz Zoe Vaughan-Davies. I can be a terrible blog bore and picked poor Amy and Lela’s brains about things like SEO and Google updates most of the way – sorry girls! Once we arrived we jumped in a cab through the city centre to The Lowry. Part of the Rocco Forte group, The Lowry is a swish 5-star experience with extremely capable and amiable team behind the scenes. Everyone was staying there – including the teams from Vogue, Armani and Bobbi Brown! As soon as we’d settled in, we were treated to a hearty lunch in the bar.
We tucked into club sandwiches, burgers and chips. Oh and a bottle of white, of course, after me protesting too much! All delicious of course, and it was lovely to be in the company of bloggers knowing that I had carte blanche when it came to snapping and instagramming away. And I love catching other bloggers in photo action!
After lunch we headed back to our rooms where we were greeted with a little welcome note and triumvirate of cute cakes from the VFNO team before scooting down to the The Lowry’s lovely spa for some top relaxation treatments. While the rest of the girls went for the (more sensible?) option of hot stone massages and manicures, I decided on reflexology which I love but has the disadvantage of wiping me out for about five hours afterwards… My therapist was amazing – soothing and gentle and extremely knowledgeable about the treatment. Lots of cosy towels, a heated bed and lavender oil meant I felt like was transported to another place for an hour. She even squeezed in a bit of neck and shoulder massage. “Drink lots of water,” I was wisely advised. Ahem.
Back in our rooms the stylish ladies from Bobbi Brown were waiting for us to add a bit of make-up magic to proceedings. Smokey eyes all round (although as we were a bit short on time I ducked out and played photographer) and a fabulous little goodie bag at the end of it. A bit thankyou to Irene and her girls!
And then it was to time to hit the Hugo Boss launch party. There was a definite buzz on the streets, all the shop fronts tantalisingly decorative and inviting. There was quite a queue at Hugo Boss and once inside, champagne in hand, we had a good chinwag mixed in with some excellent people watching which hit a highnote when Alexandra Shulman made her entrance. Also check out Henry Holland’s all black Nikes – want!
Never the last to leave a party, we skipped out for our next appointment…
Our next stop was a dinner date at the recently opened Manchester House by TV/celebrity chef Aiden Byrne (the youngest chef to win a Michelin star at 22). We were all pretty excited about this – it only opened a month ago, tables have been in high demand and the food is meant to be outstanding. Well, I won’t lie, our meal was out of this world, so much so, I’ll be doing a separate post on it! So here are just a few snaps of my courses, pigeon squab to start and steak and ale pie for main. (Above – The girls – Amy, Zoe in her awesome checked Zara suit and Lela.)
Needless to say, we ended up spending longer than planned at the restaurant – to have skipped desert would have been a culinary crime – and so we missed our slot to check out new Vivienne Westwood x The Satchel Company collaboration (three satchels in the Pirate squiggle print starting at £165, exclusive capsule collection for Matches, available soon) and meeting up with the Bobbi Brown girls at the Selfridges party. But really good food tends to have that effect on you – the rest of the world starts to recede a bit. By the time we left, most of the store parties had all died down, so instead we gatecrashed a The Jessie Rose Trip soul-hop gig in a church, which was surreal! Check out my favourite number from the evening BoyBoy here.
While the rest of the girls decided to hit the bars, I finally ran out of steam (like I said, the reflexology – it tends to reset me on quite a deep physical and mental level) and headed back to the hotel to rest my weary head. No complaints about the extremely cheeky smile I got off Russell Brand who happened to be in my lift…!
Next morning, a delicious breakfast arrived to perk me up before I jumped in a cab back to the station. Thankyou for having me Manchester VFNO – I won’t forget it!
Disclosure – Stylonylon was a guest of Virgin Trains, The Lowry Hotel and Manchester House.