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Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Yellow Carousel Winter Wonderland by Nneya Richards

One of my favorite things about being in London this fall is Halloween, October 31st, is really the day before the start of the holiday season. Once November 1st hits, this beautiful city transforms: lights down Regent and the local high streets, displays in stores, charities ringing bells and collecting for the holidays. All of a sudden you wake up and are in a snow globe!

There is no better place for kitschy festivity in London than Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. On it’s 10th year now, Winter Wonderland is the holidays on acid: rides, carnivals, company holiday parties, food stalls, Christmas markets, a CIRCUS, this huge extravaganza is a must while you’re in London for the holiday season. At least walk through it. I’d even suggest going there on a date because if someone is a grinchy killjoy that can’t muster up a little fun at Winter Wonderland, you shouldn’t be spending the holidays with them in any case. Don’t let your jaded Brit friend dissuade you from going with gripes of crowds and tourists. You’ll also be in great company with Winter Wonderland being a favorite among tourists like Selena and myself or tried and true Brits like Beck. Give yourself permission to be a kid again and gorge on candy floss and spend too much money trying to get a giant stuffed bear that you absolutely don’t need.

Great hats by Nneya Richards

Ice land by Nneya RichardsBavarian Village by Nneya Richards

Pink Carousel by Nneya Richards

Carnival dressing secrets: Wear sneakers and layer, you’ll be there for hours and most of the time on your feet! I kept warm in Rag & Bone leather jeans and Topshop lined camo.

Close up near Carousel by Nneya RichardsFerris Wheel Winter Wonderland by Nneya RichardsMe in Winter Wonderland by Nneya Richards Heather WalkerToblerone Winter Wonderland by Nneya RichardsWinter Wonderland Candy Stand by Nneya RichardsWinter Wonderland Entrance by Nneya Richards
Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Tip: If you have any flexibility in your schedule, definitely go during a week day right after the sun goes down, around 4 pm. That way, you’ll see the bright carnival lights AND avoid the crazy weekend and evening crowds.

Happy Thanksgiving

 

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You know what’s strange here, Black Friday is such a big thing. Advertisements all over the place advertising sales and deals, but many people are quite confused as to remembering when it is. They don’t have that Thanksgiving Thursday then Black Friday marker that we Americans do. Michele told me it’s picking up steam in Italy as well which is also quite funny because many don’t even know what the words mean. Thanksgiving Thursday is tomorrow, and I’m spending it here in London. It’s not the first time I’ve spent Thanksgiving abroad, but I am usually with family even if I am overseas. This year, I’ll be enjoying a quiet dinner in Notting Hill and sharing traditions with someone pretty awesome.

I am so thankful that this year has lead me to a place where I am happy, I’m thriving and I’m exactly where I want to be. I count my blessings everyday and this practice in gratitude has led me to not sweat the small stuff and to be honest, relax a bit on the biggies as well. For all of American holiday commercialism and messaging, Thanksgiving (despite it’s ludicrously racist narrative, anyone else had to decide whether they were going to be a pilgrim or an Indian in grade school?) has a great one. Let’s give thanks.

I’m thankful for every day on this planet. I’m thankful for being able to take a moment at 3.30pm and look at the sky changing to a cotton candy pink. I’m thankful for my support system and my family, my ride or dies, my day ones. I’m thankful for this platform of ‘N A Perfect World and to be able to share my stories with my readers. Thankful for all of you reading this and enabling me to do what I love. So tomorrow, whether you’re around a Thanksgiving table in the US, cozying up next to someone you care about or silently reflecting alone, let’s remember to count our blessings. Nothing is promised and it might not be easy, but it is most certainly worth it.

What are you thankful for? Share with me!

 

 

The London Look with Lash Perfect Lash Bar

Nneya Richards Eye Opening GIF

“Get the London look.”

I don’t know how many tubes of Rimmel I’ve bought trying to emulate Kate’s or Gigi’s lashes.

I’ve been in London for some time now and having worked for Topshop, I thought I had the London look pretty down. Granted there are the clear differences in style between East and West Londoners: as my friend Stuart says, I have more of a West London girl shoe style, but I truly do love it all. Many of my favorite beauty bloggers are based in London and on the tube everyday I see beautiful women of international backgrounds, Londoners, wearing their make up loudly and proudly.

At the end of the day, if I’m being honest with myself, 20 minutes daily doing make up is never going to be me. I love to sleep, cuddle and nuzzle into his t-shirts. So I’ve always like the keep things basic. Maybe a stay-in-place foundation to even things out if I’m feeling particularly blah, but really mascara (for both my lashes and brows are my essentials). Always wanting to save time I’ve been looking into eyelash extensions for maybe 2 years now. Fearing another costly beauty addiction, them pulling out my own natural lashes etc. But here in London it seems EVERYONE is getting their snuffalufagus on. So, with a helpful consultation from Krista at Lash Perfect Lash Bar in Soho, London, I decided to give it a try.

My eyelashes are naturally pretty curly, so I just wanted that, plus. I didn’t want glam lashes (yet). I wanted that mascara look without the time.

In the consultation, I found out that I have long eyelids. Like that winged effect you create with eyeliner? My eyes naturally crease like that! Pretty awesome, but in terms of application duration, eyelash extensions can take a mighty long time for me.
Which is great because I PASSED OUT. This is a great time to just chill. Tucked in a cute little ways off of Oxford street Lash Perfect is the best way to go from 100 to 0 and just BREATHE. Secret? I snored.

What I got:

Half Set, in sizes 9, 10 and 11. They write it all for you on this awesome card so you don’t have to remember when you come back.

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Lash Perfect Lash Bar

9 Warwick St, Soho, London W1B 5LY // 020 7434 4554

Have you tried lash extensions? Let me know below!

My Time At a Yemeni Refugee Camp x Popsugar

PopSugar.com Homepage - 11.9.17 - Yemeni Refugee Camp

If you follow me on Instagram (and you should 😊 @Nneya) you might recall that earlier this Fall, I took a trip with Norwegian airlines covering their ongoing partnership with UNICEF. We filled the cargo hull of a 787-Dreamliner with over 28 tons of humanitarian aid headed for Yemen. As much of Yemen is a war zone, we couldn’t go on the ground there but had the opportunity to visit the largest refugee camp catering to the Yemeni crisis, Markazi, in Obock, Djibouti. The supplies went on after us to Yemeni delivering essential medications, water purification tablets, and community kits. This week, the UN’s humanitarian chief released a chilling warning that if the Saudi blockade on Yemen continues, the nation could face the worst famine that the world has seen in decades. I was so thrilled when my friend / editor at Popsugar, Hilary gave me the opportunity to share a bit of my experience at the Markazi refugee camp with their readers. It was such a privilege to be on the Popsugar homepage sharing such an incredible experience. Check it out here: https://www.popsugar.com/news/Personal-Essay-Unicef-Yemeni-Refugee-Camp-Experience-44212633

NAPW Quote for Popsugar post

Let me know your thoughts below! Have you ever been to a refugee camp? What are your thoughts on the worldwide (Syria, Myanmar, Yemen, etc) refugee crisis? Have you ever felt mentally exhausted with the news cycle?

With little girl at Markazi by Nneya Richards

New On She Goes Podcast Up: Bordeaux!

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strolling through the gorgeous town of Lynch-Bages in the Bordeaux region

I have been a podcast fanatic in the last few months. Working with Pineapple Street media definitely whetted my appetite and I am happily consuming at least a podcast a day while I work. From political news casts to Real Housewives commentary, I listen to it all. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my “updates” notification sent me a ping that the latest On She Goes podcast was up! On my last post, for the launch, the travel site for women of color released the first four episodes at once which featured my segments on quick guides to Lisbon, Kauai, Miami, and Nashville. I’m so excited that my most recent guest segment on Bordeaux is now up while I’m in Europe. It’s a pretty great episode on “boo loving and romance” while traveling and I share a little tidbit about my perfect date while in Bordeaux with UniWorld on the 18:15 mark. So listen up and enjoy on Soundcloud, iTunes or wherever you get ear delights!

Episode 6: Boo-Loving & Romance While Traveling

 

New Video: Travel in Style

Remember those days when you dressed up to travel? In the world capital of chic, Paris, France, I channeled a more classic yesteryear in a retro-inspired, but classic Salvatore Ferragamo dress, grabbed my Away bag and headed away. More coming soon.

Travel in style… you never know where your next journey might take you.

Wardrobe // Salvatore Ferragamo

Luggage // Away

Rincón Photo Diary & Puerto Rico Donation Link

I sat on my roof deck lulled by crashing waves and coqui chirps. I took a deep breath of salt air and humidity as I giggled to myself. At what? I don’t remember, buzzed off of happiness and piña coladas. It was almost midnight, almost my birthday, and I was exactly where I wanted to be. Alone. In Rincón, Puerto Rico.

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I think I cried and puked on my princess dress at my second birthday party. Suffered and smiled through the subsequent ones for nearly three decades in between. Secret? I was in it for the cake and often found everything else a bit anti-climactic. Sure, usually a pretty great time with friends and family, but very little to distinguish them from other nights in the year. That’s the problem when you become addicted to doing cool shit; your birthday becomes that day of the year when eyes are on you to be grateful and happy. A few years ago, when Couchsurfing in Switzerland and spending my birthday with complete strangers, I found the secret sauce. Doing something new. Something different, exciting, uncomfortable, ideally both. Last year, I was in three different countries and had an epic weekend with my Mom and friends in Portugal. This year, days before my birthday, I still had no idea what I was going to do.

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I traded in the red tiled roofs of Lisbon last year for Puerto Rico

I thought about what I needed. What my body was truly craving. Peace. Relaxation. I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday surfing. And not just going to a surf spot with friends, because that inevitably lead to me just hanging on a beach, frolicking in the water and watching my more proficient friends take on waves. No, I needed to do this for myself and not get gunshy.And then as if kismet, while on a photoshoot, I met a handsome angel from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Luis Ocasio. Well if this wasn’t Gabriel telling me where I needed to be, I don’t know what was.

This is a photo diary that I’ve been meaning to share since this summer has taken on an even more poignant meaning with the recent hurricane devastation — my solo travels through the western half of Puerto Rico, namely Cabo Rojo and Rincón. I’ve shared a video, Instax Diary and Perfect Stay of this trip previously but also wanted to share my photo journal of this cathartic journey.  There’s so much need out there and if you’re searching for a place to give, and to ensure that 100% of the money you donate goes to Puerto Rico, donate here. My childhood friends Jenny and Amaris held an event in Brooklyn for which the proceeds went to this fund aimed at getting Puerto Rico back on it’s feet. Donate with Lovers Rock Benefit in the comment.

https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/maria-puerto-rico-real-time-recovery-fund

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This is probably the most important aspect of my trip. Picking up my rental car from Charlie Car Rentals. I’m a NYC kid. I did not get my license until my 20s and I don’t drive very often. When deciding on Rincón, it was a pretty big deal for me to choose a place where I’d absolutely have to drive to get around, drive on a highway and drive for HOURS. I have to admit I was shaking when I got into the car. Sweating, nervous, finicking with my google maps because I didn’t have a sound attachment and I couldn’t listen to music lest I miss a direction. This was exactly what I wanted. A solo roadtrip. By the end of the weekend, I was handling those windy town roads in the Caribbean downpour quite nicely.  That’s fear of driving in my rearview mirror.

20170625-IMG_0426 by Nneya Richards

 

The food, from a delicious burger at Casa Verde to an energizing morning smoothie at BD Cafe, Thai to classic Boricua, Rincón has such a delicious variety of food to satisfy any appetites. I must say though, my favorite spot for dinner was Tamboo Rincón. Recommended by Luis, it has delicious food and is the best spot to watch the magical sunsets this area is renown for.

 

The Food Compilation

 

And the sunsets are magical. One day I had the pleasure of driving up the coast during golden hour. I relaxed and smiled as I drove past picturesque Puerto Rican landscapes bathed in the sun’s glow. Every time I see a sunset, I am in awe of Mother Nature’s marvels, God’s work, in my opinion. The sunsets in Rincón will leave you breathless.

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The house’s proximity to the beach was amazing. I’ve gone through many different phases of my meditation journey from avid, to sometimes, and I must say, it’s quite a bit easier to take a moment in a setting like this.

My first afternoon was spent exploring the house and the town. Then, a little anxiously. I hit the road.

 

image-3 by Nneya Richards

These beautiful trees were like guardians of the road stretching out to embrace me on my journey.

20170626-IMG_2055 by Nneya Richards

The Royal Poinciana, or Flamboyant Tree

First stop: the salt flats. Las Salinas. I was disappointed when I first reached the observation center I was a bit disappointed. The lake looked well, brown, murky. The gentleman at the information center told me that morning was the best time to see the algae come alive bright pink. The other visitors from other parts of Puerto Rico seemed disappointed as well. Oh well, I thought, on to the beach!

Rules were meant to be bent, just a tad.

I was driving and out of my window I saw a pink lake! Gated off, it seemed a sort of observation area. But what’s a gate? Especially if you’re a bit leggy like I am. That gate couldn’t possibly be meant to stop anything. I parked my car on the side of the road, grabbed my tripod and hopped out. A car actually stopped and asked if I needed help. By the time I was finished, 6-8 cars were parked behind mine. Happy tourists, relieved that their trips to see the pink lakes of Las Salinas weren’t a bust.

Well, I didn’t make it to Malta in time to see the natural rock bridge, popularized on Game of Thrones before it collapsed but El Puente in Cabo Rojo is definitely a rival beauty without all of the crowds. Really, I was there during a Saturday in the summer and I had over 30 minutes to myself before I saw another couple.

20170624-IMG_0358 by Nneya RichardsLooking back at el puente by Nneya Richards

On my way back, I stopped in the beautiful town of Boquerón for fresh oysters. This was my late afternoon birthday snack. If you’ve never travelled alone, it might be a strange thing to revel in this moment.

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swimsuit DOS GARDENIAS | photo by Robert Ibarra

And what about that goal of surfing? For 2 days (the third I spent driving down to Cabo Rojo and exploring) I let my body be rocked by waves. I was exhausted by days’ end as I sipped a Corona on the beach enjoying sunset. Getting up and staying up wasn’t a problem for me — I didn’t think it would be based on experience surfing in the past. It was learning the patience to recognize a good wave. I’m still working on that stillness, that intuition. There is little I find as invigorating as rolling up on a wave. With every hour in the water, I feel my endurance building. It’s the reset that’s my biggest problem. Riding a wave, hopping off and then swimming back to make another one. Waiting for that slow rumbling. There’s a lot of waiting. A lot of time with your thoughts and the water. No screen. As I laid out on shore drying. I was proud of my body and all it had done in a days work. Small, but a force.

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Walking home to Casa de Rincón with a skimboard after an afternoon surfing. Photo by Robert Ibarra

I came to Puerto Rico for relaxation and reprieve. I also wanted to take a quick trip WITHIN MY OWN COUNTRY. As a brown person, there are a lot of places within the United States that do not feel safe to me (check out my mum’s friend’s Rahawa’s experience on being a black female thru-hiker on the Appalachian trail). I’ll choose biking alone through a Peruvian desert than walking a mile through a populated town deep in Trump county. This feeling of ease, safety and kinship that drew me there on holiday seems directly in line with why the administration is dragging their feet on aid and celebrities, even reality TV stars are stepping up. Can 2005 Kanye come back and state the obvious here?

Rincon has been largely cut off from aid shipments as well as contact with the outside world.

Again, if you’re looking for a way to help Puerto Rico, please donate to this fund via Generosity: 

https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/maria-puerto-rico-real-time-recovery-fund