The dread when you get invited to a wedding and you have to buy a pretty dress but you're on a budget. Weddings should really be celebrations of love (and food) and an opportunity to meet with your family, friends and loved ones. Most of the times though they come across as selfish and demanding. The pressure of buying wedding gifts (oh, you want a new Smeg toaster, don't you?!), spending money on getting there (yes, getting married in Cyprus is perfectly fine, don't you worry about my plane ticket) and the worst one of all - the immense stress of shopping for a wedding guest dress.

For an upcoming wedding of a family friend I got this beautiful Quiz dress (now on sale, whaaa?!). It's simple enough not to offend anyone (you can't wear black, white, too lacey, red, too loud - since when have dresses become loud?), it's floaty enough to hide your food baby and it is plain enough to wear on a date night the following weekend. What a winner! Immediately I've started looking forward to the wedding now the dress's sorted, phew!

I've paired it with my favourite nude heels from Clarks - I've already said this but these are the most perfect-est nude heels I've ever owned. So comfortable and just the right shade of nude! And my Stella-inspired (read a knock off, oops!) chain handbag with a hint of silver. Since the dress already comes with a trendy choker, you wouldn't really need to accessorize a whole lot but I thought I'd throw on a few gold toned pieces because I never feel complete without at least a bunch of rings.    

floral dress // Quiz (now on sale!) c/o
nude heels // Clarks
handbag // Aliexpress

Have you been to a wedding this year?
Do you find them as stressful as I do?

OMG, I got invited to a wedding!

How yoga changed the way I am
Apart from physical fitness, practising yoga regularly has had an impact on the hard wiring in my brain. FACT. I won't tell you that it has completely changed me and I'm a better, more sophisticated and zen person now. Because that's not what's happened. As Meghan Currie (one of my favourite yoga teachers) has recently said - yoga is like nature. Although the impact is ever so slow and you won't see the change taking place, it most definitely is - and one day you'll realize how much has changed without you noticing a thing! 

Yoga has definitely changed the physical fitness level that I'm on. I'm still not the most flexible of people, in fact I'm so very far from being even called flexible. I have noticed a big change in the way my body bends and flexes. I used to suffer from terrible stiff neck pains almost on a regular weekly basis and I'd get back pains from sitting at the computer. Touch wood, these have been becoming more of a rare occurrence in my life! I can now touch my toes, put my head on my knees and stand on one foot without diving into the ground. Apart from the ability to pick up stuff off the floor without too much struggle this has also brought me a lot of confidence in my body. It feels good to know you can do things without breaking your back.

My mood swings are more controlled. I'm a terrible, truly terrible PMSer. I cry, I throw the toys out of my pram, I buy things I don't need and swear at people that I love. I'm not saying the mood swings are gone (god, they never ever will be are they!) but they are a little less prominent. When I'm about to explode I do a headstand instead, always works. Sometimes I wonder whether I could book a meeting room at work to just stand on my head for a bit to let some steam out.

It's all about control & limits. What I particularly love about yoga is that you get to know your limits and you also learn how to push them, and how far you can actually push them before slipping too far. It's just you, no weights, no equipment, no team players, it's just you & yourself with your body and all the will that's in you to push yourself to the next move, pose or flow. As someone who is 'in their head' a little too much (as others like to point out, ta), this is perfect for me and it of course, translates into daily life too. Learn what your stance is and how to move it to wherever you feel like it should be.

Yoga is beautiful & I believe that it teaches you more about yourself than any other fitness activity can.
Try it!

To learn more about my experience with yoga - click here & here.

Yoga journal: How yoga changed the way I am

Things you didn't know about Czech Republic
The aftermath of the EU Referendum here in the UK has left me even more nostalgic about my home country than I usually tend to be. Without burdening the blogging community with my opinion on the political shambles that the UK's found itself in, let's talk Czech for a minute. Czechs, including me, are a peculiar bunch. We have some very strange traditions (that raise many eye brows both to the West & the East of the country), we have some even stranger believes (not believing in absolutely anything and anyone being one of them) and we eat things that are bordering on not edible (yes, looking at you raw meat and lard!). Here's 6 things you perhaps didn't know about the infamous land of beer & football!

Czech Republic has two distinct regions - Bohemia & Moravia. Each region is miles apart from the other one, and of course, I'm not speaking geographically. Bohemians is much more reserved (ironic, ay?), very fond of beer and Prague. Moravians are very open and friendly, with wine cellars in every house and a bunch of traditions I've never even heard of. And their accent is so different too! The country is literally split in half by this invisible border where the Western part - Bohemia is much more Germanic if you like and the Easter part - Moravia is much more Slavic in nature. Both equally as beautiful but strikingly different.    

Traditional Czech cuisine is full of guts. Literally. Traditionally farmers and small town people, we used to rely on pork meat as a base for our diet. One of the strangest (and perhaps the most morbid you've ever heard of) traditions is a pig slaughter. These are not as popular anymore but you can still come across these in autumn when travelling around rural villages. Traditionally you gather a whole family, buy a pig (usually from your neighbour) and butcher it in your garden. From scratch to finish Czech people will get use out of every single part of the pig - be it the snout, the ears or the tail, everything gets cooked, pickled, dried, roasted, grilled, preserved... It's ruthless and culturally inappropriate for many, but traditional in the Czech Republic.

There are over 2,000 castles, chateaus and forts in the Czech Republic. This is apparently of the highest densities in the world! Czech castles are stunning and proper old but I do have to admit that when you're a child and get to visit a different castle every weekend (a popular Czech weekend activity for families) they all blur into one. Only now I've been living abroad I can truly appreciate the beauty of them. Most of them are entwined in local festivals and traditional workshops on how to make a wicker basket or cut out a flute out of a twig. You can even get a little castle passport and collect stamps from each and every castle you've visited!

Czech people don't believe. Czechs are non- believers, one of the most atheist countries in the world - to be exact, only 19% of Czech population apparently claim to be religious. Despite this, there's a surprising amount of catholic churches in the country. From the most beautifully decadent ones with gold ceilings and diamond encrusted crosses and churches filled with human bones to proper horror movie like churches with stone floors and cold, cold church pews with Bibles from the 1800s.

The largest castle in the world is in Prague! Yes, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. The first stone was laid in 880AD and today it covers over 7,000 sq ft of land. Prague Castle is definitely one of my favourite places in Prague - I've seen it more than a dozen times and will never get boring for me.

Selfridges in Birmingham has been designed by a Czech architect. True story. Jan Kaplicky - known for his Neo-futuristic designs, designed the iconic landmark of Birmingham. Boom!     

Have you been to the Czech Republic before?
What's your favourite thing about the country?

6 things you didn't know about Czech Republic

Narlaka founders interview
narlaka is a new fashion brand (launched in summer 2015) established by two friends - Jessica Wathen & Amy Nicholson. It's a brand which stands for everything wanderlust, free spirit and the magic that resides within each and every girl you ever meet. Jessica & Amy describe the narlaka girl as someone who is care free, doesn't worry what people think of her, and is just here to enjoy life in the moment. She is someone who holds her head up high, who spreads good energy, and who enjoys the journey! And it's a shame that brands with such a strong message are few and far between - I mean, honestly what is the message behind F21 or H&M? Just sayin.

Jessica & Amy were kind enough to let me interrogate them (with a spot light desk lamp and an angry face and everything) about narlaka and all things Bohemian. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I do!

πŸ’¬ narlaka features many unique pieces, what is the inspiration behind the brand?
🚺🚺 The inspiration behind the brand are a collection of things - we were inspired by the bright colours and funky prints that we came across whilst exploring South East Asia. We both also love a festival, and were massively inspired by the care free attitude of music festival goers. Festivals are a place where you can totally let loose and nobody judges you, from your dance moves to your clothes, which is why our collection features unique prints, and comfy clothes that you can have a good rave up in!

πŸ’¬ Can you please tell us a little more about yourself Jessica and Amy?
🚺🚺 We met at university as we were neighbours and our friendship developed over the years. Our love for festivals lead us to spend summers of fun together, and traveling the world, which is where the idea for narlaka came about. Jess has worked in fashion since studying it at Uni, and Amy in marketing - so together we make a pretty strong team!

πŸ’¬ What are your most memorable Bohemian summer experiences?
🚺🚺 It has to be last summer, when narlaka just launched. We came back from visiting Sri Lanka and India and we took the inspiration from the cultures we had experienced and spent the summer touring festivals with our clothes, spreading the word and dishing out the #narlakavibes. From Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, to Festival Number 6, Shambala to Rumbellion [and more]... we had a summer of fun, happiness, and GLITTER!

πŸ’¬ If you were to visit one place this summer, where would you go? 
🚺🚺 We are always looking for places to visit which will allow us to soak up different cultures and experiences, to inspire us in our creativity. We have done so much exploring of Asia, so now that we are in London it is refreshing to immerse ourselves in our home culture.

πŸ’¬ What is your star piece in collection?
🚺🚺 It is so hard to choose, but The Kate dress is a special piece. Made from a beautiful lace, it is our pricest piece. WE are reinventing the LBD - its all about the Little White Dress! The Kate is extremely verstile as you can dress it up by wearing the nude slip underneath, or dress it down and show a bit of skin.

Interviews are not something you usually see on Cityscape Bliss and I genuinely hope this has been an interesting read to you! Would you like to see more articles like this one? Let me know in the comments below please! 

A big THANK YOU goes to Jessica & Amy for the chat! 
Browse their beautiful collection HERE.

narlaka founders interview
narlaka founders interview
narlaka founders interview
All images by narlaka

Bohemian summer: Interview with the founders of narlaka

I know, I know - unbelievable. She's gonna say she's done a run? Surely not! Oh yes, my friends, oh yes. You might remember the Color Run which me & Shaun did last year (read the article here) and me proclaiming quite adamantly that I ain't ever gonna run. It brings back the memories of me being the 13 year old feminist of our small town that I was, composing poems on how I'm never ever in my life going to shave my legs and pits. Fast forward two months to the summer of 2002 and I was a professional Veet user. Just like hair removal, running (or jogging if you like), was not part of my life plan. But things aren't always the way you plan them (starting with your bikini line, finishing somewhere around a mortgage and a credit check).

Earlier this year I had some sort of revelation (or a violent head bang, you choose) which resulted in me dedicated 30 minutes of my every day to yoga (you can read about my first flows here). For someone who has never done any regular physical activity this was a leap into the unknown, a surprisingly pleasant one I must say. A few months later I've decided to sign up to the gym. They had yoga classes on and to me all those machines and torturous gym devices meant one thing only - I could strengthen my core and arms and finally do a proper back bend, yas! Long story short, I found out that the treadmill is an effective mean for stress relief. Who knew?! Every time I'd go to the gym I'd run 2km. Anything above 2km would make me feel nauseous and pukey and on a verge of a heart attack with heart and lung palpations soaring through my chest. Then one day I stopped and thought - why is my running so bloody difficult and energy consuming? I couldn't figure out the answer. I sneakily started watching my fellow treadmillers. And the difference between them and me? They don't run for life. They don't run with their head, shoulders, arms flapping like drowning birds. They run with their legs.

So I tried it. And you know what? It bloody works! Admittedly running with your legs makes you look like a tart (or like a cartoon character even!), but it does allow you to run longer distance without throwing up your heart. Since that day I've managed to up my running to 10km on a treadmill.

The weekend just gone Shaun suggested we go for a run. What, like - outside? I was confused, the safety of the treadmill and the gym were to be snatched away from me and replaced by something more out there - a real world. Because running around the urban Black Country isn't your dream running location, we packed our gym bags and went off to the Ironbridge. What an absolutely stunning place! I've put my Map My Run and my old New Balances on and set out. It was tough, I ain't gonna lie. Running outside and running on a treadmill is as different as drinking a glass of milk and actually milking a cow. 5km later and I was covered in mud, breathless and green. Did you know that mixing profuse sweating and fresh fake tan results in swamp green slime all over your face? It does. I found out the hard way.

But apart from becoming a wreck of a person I really enjoyed it! Running around such a beautiful rural place made me appreciate the nature and the fact that I can run, that I can move in a (fairly) steady pace and that if one day I needed to run (to or from someone) I might actually be able to do it.

Here's to sore shins and thighs! 
Are you a runner? Have you ever run in any competition, like a marathon or the Color Run?

Diary of a reluctant runner: The very first run

Coming from a little village in the very depths of Bohemian lands my heart sometimes misses the rural. The quaint, the country, the leafy. If you're anything like me, a hopeless Byron the romantic in heart, then you'll love these 5 rural places scattered around the West Midlands.

Located in the Severn Valley just a few miles from Kidderminster, Bewdley is essentially less than 45 minutes drive from Birmingham. The town has the traditional British feel to it with antique shops, little cafes and a welcoming little chippy on the bank of the river Severn. The streets are narrow and crooked, with beautiful old fashioned doorways and flower baskets overflowing with fuchsias. If a quiet walk around this stunning rural village isn't exciting enough for you then try the Bewdley Festival which brings traditional artists and local farmers to the town.

Another quaint rural town on the river Severn, Bridgnorth has some stunning vistas over the Midlands' countryside. Apart from breathtaking views, it also has a castle (which was built in defense against Danes) and hermitage caves. They say that the first inhabitant of these caves was the grandson of King Alfred who lived there secluded as a hermit. Apparently the caves are connected to tunnels running under the river Severn however unfortunately they are not accessible for tourists (damn, and I thought I'd hermit there for a bit!).

Perhaps a little more known town - Ironbridge boasts with the infamous bridge but also the Blists Hill Victorian Town. Blists Hill is very similar to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley which is basically a preserved village from the Victorian times. The people there speak in the old accent, are dressed in historical costumes and even use the Victorian currency (you actually have to exchange your money in the local bank to be able to buy fish & chips there!).

To the East of Birmingham you will find a small town called Coleshill. Coleshill dates back to the Iron Age but its fame came at the age of coaching. The town became a centre point between London, Liverpool and Holyhead and at one point it had up to twenty inns. Sticking to its heritage, I recommend popping into one of the local pubs for a pint and a burger.

Much Wenlock is magical! I love the town so so much - the Wenlock Priorty is one of my favourite ruins I've ever visited in the UK (the monastery was founded in 680, how crazy is that?!) and the Wenlockans are the friendliest of people! Their local market and second hand book shops will steal your heart.

What are your favourite rural spots around the West Midlands?

5 rural places in the West Midlands you'll love

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