[Short Let London] Your Home Away From Home

Travelling behaviour of millennial globetrotters have, in many ways, been shaped by digital media. Our lives revolve around fitting snippets of travel experiences, ranging from meals to iconic landmarks and scenery, into picture-perfect 1080 X 1080 px squares. You would think that when it comes to choosing a place to stay, accessibility would be the main consideration – but oftentimes friends of mine have chosen picked pretty boutique hotels in not-so-accessible places over conventional 3-5 star accommodation. Gone are days where dream trips warrant 5-star hotel stays, or mainstream luxury accommodation – this I’m sure is a sentiment shared by many people who wish to escape the usual tourist traps, and crave a truly cultural immersion.

So lo and behold ~ I’ve found some affordable, Instagram-worthy holiday apartments in Central London for my next trip to the UK!

So Short Let London is an online letting platform that offers vacation flats for short let mainly in Central London and North West areas. Not only are these holiday apartments incredibly picturesque on the outside and inside, these holiday apartments are fully furnished and self-contained with neat en-suite bathrooms. All apartments also come with a double bed and other essential furniture, a fully fitted kitchen, TV and Wi-Fi connection (thank God, right?).

When in London, live as the Brits do. I find stowing myself away in hotels a crying shame when there’s a whole other world out there. After all, Hilton looks pretty much the same all over the world right? From the pictures below (which I’m only too keen to share), living in these houses pretty much takes you to the heart of London, both geographically and culturally. Plus these apartments are typically close to popular tourist attractions as well as lesser known local hangouts! Ever dreamt of living in an attic? You may just be able to fulfil your dreams…

Onward.

Bayswater & Queensway

Short Let London offers a gorgeous range of 14 apartments in the Bayswater zone. Scroll on if you don’t trust my taste! They’re beautiful. Bayswater is home to my favourite Four Seasons roast duck so there’s no reason why I can’t stay right down the street and have duck rice all day everyday.

What I like about Short Let London’s holiday apartments is their centralised locations, namely in the Zone 1 areas of Bayswater, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Paddington and Marylebone / Baker Street. 

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Bayswater

An apartment at Bayswater:

An apartment at Queensway:

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Queensway

Bayswater is located in Central London, 1 zone on District and Hammersmith & Circle lines

Kilburn

Kilburn, north-west of London, is my go-to pub-crawl area. It is also home of the The Animals WW1 memorial dispensary which dates back to the early 1930s where the home treated animals wounded by the war. Over 6,000 animals were treated in its first year! There’s an air of sanctity to Short Let London’s Kilburn apartments, totally 12 in Kilburn and another 8 somewhere else in the neighbourhood Kilburn Park.

With all-in amenities, I imagine that the rooms are ideal for couples, friends and families looking for some quality time together.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 2

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 3

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 4

Kilburn is a residential area of North West London on Jubilee and Overground Line.

Willesden Green

Whoever chose those checkered curtains deserve a drink – it’s both understated and tasteful, exactly what I would choose for my own apartment. Homeliness of this room draws me in and I might not want to leave that bed.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Willesden Green is located in North West London, zone 2 on the Jubilee line.

Willesden Green – ME9

I’ve always dreamt of hiding away in someone’s attic, and this might be my dream apartment come true. See? I would love waking up everyday to sunlight streaming through those windows. Then climbing down those wooden staircases to have my tea, muffins and scones for breakfast. Mm mmm…

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Willesden Green Area – ML8

Also in the popular Willesden Green area, this apartment, separate from the ones above, is chic and homely. Who wouldn’t love this cosy little studio apartments. I picture a couple – first time to London, escaping into and completely engulfed by a world of their own. With the stove merely 4 steps away, breakfast in bed anyone?

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

 

Aside, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this Short Let London room – it was so adorably decorated for Halloween, it totally put the spook back into the festival (until you see the behind-the-scenes)

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Brr…are you getting the chills?Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Well, boo ya.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

With decorations like these, Halloween doesn’t happen often enough.

Honestly, I’ve been planning for another UK trip for the longest time without getting actually getting down to it. I like the idea of getting more for less, as well as making my trip worthwhile by capturing Instagram worthy pictures that would speak more than the 1000words I’ve written thus far. I’m thinking of spending some days in various Short Let apartments, in various locations in London, to get the most out of my stay.

So out of all these I’ve highlighted, which are your favourite Short Let apartments?

Don’t forget to check out Short Let London at http://www.shortlet-london.com/ for more.

You may find more information on their holiday apartments at this link: http://www.shortlet-london.com/central-holiday-apartments

Till next time my lovely readers.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: W6 Garden Centre Café

“This is our way of celebrating the great city we live and work in. Where others see nothing but debris and stone, we see the possibility of a truly life-enhancing experience.”
– W6 Creative Director Paul Holt.

I was pleasantly thrilled to be amongst privileged writers notified of the grand opening of W6 Garden Centre Café. This gem of a coffeehouse takes centerstage under the rail arches of Ravenscourt Park tube station, promising a soothing experience that will whisk you away from the trains running just metres above, by bringing a piece of old London back to life.

Judging from this hearty menu, the cafè can expect a long list of returning patrons. Nuala O’Connor, who previously worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe, helms the kitchen. To quote her directly, ”I want to see the cafe become established as a favourite for local people and a lovely discovery for new customers. We already serve fantastic coffee; I would like to match that with simple but delicious fresh food made with great ingredients, some of which we are even starting to grow ourselves in our herb garden.”

Yes, from a luxuriant herb garden, no less than a foliage in the interior to potted ferns on your dining table – these little green details makes W6 a perfect place to get in touch with nature. Just looking at snapshots of the greenery brings a sense of peace – who would not love these lush overhanging plants and walls of mossy bricks?

photo H&F ad

West Six Garden Cafe, Ravenscourt

West Six Garden Cafe Cappuccino

Our Cafe Interior 20.11.14Cafe Seating 20.11.14

Getting super excited by these photographs courtesy of David from W6 (thank you). I don’t usually write about cafés which I haven’t personally been, but this is too lovely not to share!

Am definitely adding this to my bucket-list on my next trip to London!

W6 Garden Centre Café
West Six Garden Centre & Cafe Ravenscourt Avenue
London W6 0SL
Opening hours: 
Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.00pm 
Sat & Sun: 9.30am – 6.00pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Caffe Vergnano 1882

A while ago, I got to enjoy some much desired me-time in London! Originally from France, the British branch of Caffe Vergnano 1882 sits right across from Chancery Lane station, a short walk away from the likes of Prufrock and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.

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Everybody else was shopping at SOHO or Oxford Circus whilst strangely I had nothing I needed to get. I guess it was too cold to be walking out there alone in the crazy winds, snapping random photographs of an ordinary day in London with my badly abused umbrella. Hence I took the time out and sat through the rain (no matter how bad the storm you just gotta tide it through)

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Nowadays I can’t stand being cooped up anywhere for long, but wherever I have piping hot latte and a book, I’m good to go. The ham & cheese croissant was amazingly toasty!

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What sets Vergnano apart from most commercial coffee-houses would be its classic sleek black chairs and walls, dimly-lit retro lights, and latte / espresso shots that come with a slice of cookie or chocolate. Not exactly setting itself up as that friendly neighbourhood café, but a place for business meetings, catch-ups between distant friends and formal gatherings. I’m told they also have franchises in Dubai & Mongolia!

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Despite all that positivity I’m not sure it serves the best espresso in London. I still love the latte from Department of Coffee and Social Affairs! Caffe Vergnano is a much quieter place probably ‘cos half its storefront is currently hidden behind construction works.

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Someday I would really love to visit its branch in Mongolia.


Caffe Vergnano 1882

337 High Holborn
London, United Kingdom
+44 20 7242 7119

London Lovin’: Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

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If you’re heading to Chancery Lane Station, you will find this neat little café hideout on Leather Lane, a short 5-minute walk from the subway station towards Holborn Viaduct. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is one of London’s most talked-about cafés on Yelp, TripAdvisor and many travel tip sites, and indeed the place serves up really good coffee.

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Somewhat comforted by their warm, textured brick walls and smooth black table tops, I was half expecting to see a burning fireplace behind the barista counter. Simply put, the place was just so welcoming! I could easily grab a quiet table at 1PM in the afternoon. There were many lone Londoners in the café, either furiously studying or jabbing away at their laptops with intent.

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Having just been to Waterstones, I had a few reads stored away in my bag for a peaceful afternoon. This is just the place to be! It isn’t too quiet as there were pleasant background chatters, but not loud enough to give me splitting headaches. I’m told that the place can get really noisy at its worst, especially in the evenings. Thankfully it was serene that afternoon. Best way to enjoy a cuppa smooth, and hipster-priced flat white!

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Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
14-16 Leather Lane
London
EC1N 7SU
Monday – Friday
07.00 – 18.00
Saturday & Sunday
10.00 – 17.00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Pure Waffle, Duke St London

Pure Waffle London

As mentioned previously, I had major unresolved cravings for waffles. Whilst everyone else went shopping at SOHO, I slinked into the stylish, contemporary waffle parlour to have the Pecan & Butterscotch Waffle with Ice Cream for lunch.

Pure Waffle London 2

The store manager Andy was extremely friendly and chatted with me! He commented on the books I was reading, talked about the Chinese zodiac (year of the horse etc) and asked if I was here on holiday – to which I said yes. He then gave me his contact and invited me to look for him every time I’m in London! What a great guy ^^. The Pecan & Butterscotch Waffles is, hands-down, the best waffle I’ve had in a long time. When my dessert came, a very nice black couple were just leaving the café and they casually told me “You’ll totally love that. I just ate the same one.” It’s insane! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the waffles were.

Pure Waffle London Pecan Butterscotch

Pure Waffle London Pecan Butterscotch 2

Each waffle is made to order, and toasted to my favourite kinda crispy. Topped with a scoop of fresh ice-cream, the combination is pure perfection. I was watching the waitress dribble butterscotch – they did it with so much precision and care. You feel as though they’re giving each dish so much attention!

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Food aside, the decor of Pure Waffle is minimalist and very comfortably spacious. It is thoughtfully furnished as a social hangout for large groups, with private tables and stands for couples and individuals. Definitely one of those earmarked cafés which I’ll bring my loved ones to when we come back to London, and also to look for Andy, the store manager!

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Pure Waffle London b

Pure Waffle London c

Pure Waffle London d

Pure Waffle London e

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PURE WAFFLE
58 Duke St, London W1K 6JW, United Kingdom
+44 20 7629 0546

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

KULA Ice Cream Parlour & Coffee Bar

KULA Cafe Waffles London

To satisfy the major cravings I had for waffles, I googled “Best Waffles in Central London”. This Swedish gem of a café turned up multiple times in the search engine and I decided to hunt it down! Jet lag woke me up at 5am hence I was ravenous! KULA opens at 8am. I took the underground to Bond Street. The cafeé is at the corner adjacent to St Christopher’s Place, and easily recognized. Small warm and cosy, with splendid waffle choices, a spectrum of coffees and breakfast smoothies…on first impression it’s a lovely place to dine. Boy am I glad the place has WiFi.

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KULA Cafe Waffles London Fresh Fruits

To be honest, the service was terrible! The waitress / boss had a grumpy attitude, and my latte was served lukewarm (I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I’m Asian, and I have ‘tourist’ written all over my face, because she seemed much nicer to the regulars whom she recognised). Besides coffee, I had a fresh fruits waffle with maple syrup which was satisfyingly sweet. My fruits were indeed cold and fresh, and I felt that it was a hearty, healthy breakfast. I like my waffles crispy though! Mine came slightly soft :/ It was still yummy, disregarding the less than welcoming service.

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KULA Cafe Waffles London Cakes

It’s safe to say that I won’t come back, unless they do a menu revamp, or perhaps just to try their Swedish ice cream. A pity though, I would have loved this hangout a lot.

KULA Cafe Ice Cream

KULA Café
21 James Street London
W1u 1DS London, United Kingdom

Coffee in a Victorian Lavatory

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So, The Attendant is an abandoned underground toilet in London, refurnished into a café. Say what? I was skeptical about lingering lavatory smells but trust me, the café has been so thoroughly cleaned up, everyone’s literally eating off urinal walls.

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Pete Tomlinson and Ben Russel acquired the 1890′s victorian style London lavatory, and to capitalise upon its prime location, turned it into the existing café. Walking down the flight of stairs really felt like stepping into another realm, one that’s quite like the early 1900s.

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Because it’s winter and I’m perpetually hungry, thank god for this range of brunch sandwiches. Had a usual hot latte with a toasted ham, bacon & cheese muffin to go along. They also had cookies and fudge brownies that looked equally yummy. The underground haven promised warmth and protection against the February winds, which was why many people were holed up in the individual urinals, sipping coffees at their own leisure.

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Rereading an old Murakami classic: Norwegian Wood.

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From the curbside, you can even buzz for street level service and they’ll have coffee/food delivered up to you. But then again the space downstairs is too amazing, you’d wanna check it out! Come on, I mean, how many times in your life do you get to eat comfortably in a legit toilet?

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The Attendant
26-27 Foley St,
London W1W 6DY, United Kingdom
+44 20 7637 3794

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Lantana Café, London

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A tangy, zesty slice of gluten-free lemon polenta later, we were outta the small takeouts-only café. Their Fitzrovia store has a dine-in area which was brimming with people at lunch-time. The smaller Lantana patisserie is well and aesthetically stocked: banana bread, blueberry muffins, double chocolate brownies, oaty nutty choc chip cookies, flourless almond cakes and a standard coffee range.

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It’s not possible to be disappointed by sweets!!

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We walked here after getting off at Tottenham Court Road and walked into Charlotte Place – a small lane filled with many cool independent eateries and stores! So many things to see and do, so little time.

Lantana Café
13 Charlotte Pl, Fitzrovia,
London W1T 1SN, United Kingdom
+44 20 7637 3347

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Charles Dickens Coffee House, Covent Garden

Charles Dickens Coffee House

Evening cuppa at Charles Dickens Coffee House! This was once the busy office where Dickens published his periodical All The Year Round from 1859 until his death in 1870. I sipped on weak herbal tea with milk and had a slice of cheesecake to calm a crazy stream of thoughts. Can’t even begin to count the reasons why I love Covent Garden: accessible WiFi hotspots, neat indie cafés and hangouts that remain open way past midnight.

Charles Dickens Coffee House London

Tasteless herbal tea and one of the worst cheesecakes ever. Still, I’m liking the serenity and mad affordability.

Charles Dickens Coffee House Covent Garden

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Charles Dickens Coffee House Cheesecake

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Covent Garden at sun-down: only then can you see this district come alive!

26 Wellington St,
London WC2E 7DD,
United Kingdom
+44 871 426 3659
Mon-Sun:
7.00am – 12.00am

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Vintage Shopfronts

Shops like these you’ll never find them in Asia. Especially where I come from, space is so constrained that anything below 3-floors will be extinct in the next 5 years or so. Baffled by re-modelling works of architecture in the European cities where its aesthetic appeal lies in its vintage houses! Swarovski is sandwiched between a neo-classical shophouse and a modern, ever so significantly highlighting its contrast.
London Swarovski

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These Victorian shopfronts in West End seem to live and breathe with age-old wisdom. Walking along the streets of London, I come alive with the promise of lessons in the cultural vibrance of the British!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Old Bailey

London Central Criminal Court

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Chanced upon the Central Criminal Court, commonly known as Old Bailey, in West End London. In the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it is the courthouse where Charles Darnay is put on trial for treason. In the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Joshamee Gibbs is tried in the Old Bailey where Jack Sparrow disguises himself as Justice Smith!

Old Bailey
EC4M 7EH

London Lovin’: City Grandeur

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Overeager to see everything on my first trip to London, I took to exploring West End on foot. My fingers were working the shutter overtime, attempting to capture everything. Which I soon realised was impossible!

Damn, the rush to see it all wasn’t worth it.

Why click fast and leave for another touristy scene, only to ogle at photographs in the privacy of hotel rooms? So I let the images roll around in my head a bit before snapping.

For the life of me I cannot name all the buildings and streets, but certainly I can tell you how I felt at the moment, soaking in the grandeur of the grand London city.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Oxford Circus

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Stepping out from London Underground is like entering a different realm, and it did feel that way to me, exiting Oxford Circus Station. Topshop, Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, HMV, Debenhams have their flagship stores on this street.

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Each year, Oxford Street is decorated with festive lights. Each Christmas, a celebrity turns on the lights in late-November and these remain lit until the twelfth night (Emma Watson did 2004, and last year it was Robbie Williams).

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This year, Jessie J flipped the switch, with James Arthur and Conor Maynard! Inspired by falling snowflakes (well it did feel all White Christmassy without the snow!), the lights feature three quarters of a million LED bulbs. That’s beautiful, but insane!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: New Theatre Releases 2014

Now who’s excited?! 2014 will see a brand new season of remakes, rebrandings and new theatre releases in the London theatre scene. Grab your passes, 2014 is set to be an exciting year on the stage!
Here’s a few to get started:

 

GHOSTS

From December 17 to March 8, Almeida Theatre’s acclaimed production of Ghosts transfers into the Trafalgar Studios. Directed and adapted by Richard Eyre from Henrik Ibsen’s play, Lesley Manville, Jack Lowden, Brian McCardie and Charlene McKenna will reprise their roles with Adam Kotz joining them as Pastor Manders.

 

 

MISS SAIGON

The international cast for 2014 includes Jon Jon Briones as ‘The Engineer’, Eva Noblezada debuting as ‘Kim’, Alistair Brammer as ‘Chris’, Tamsin Carroll as ‘Ellen’, Hugh Maynard as ‘John’ and Rachelle Ann Go as ‘Gigi’. MISS SAIGON returns to the West End on Saturday 3 May 2014 at the Prince Edward Theatre.

 

 

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

The stage premiere of Shakespeare in Love, the acclaimed film that won seven Academy Awards, will open at London’s Noel Coward Theatre in the summer of 2014. Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love will be produced by Disney Theatrical Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.

 

 

The Duchess of Malfi

Running from 14th January to 11th February at the Nancy Knowles Lecture Theatre, Gemma Arterton plays The Duchess Of Malfi. Shameless’s Sean Gilder and Ripper Street’s David Dawson also joins this Jacobean tragedy – a production that is an ideal curtain-raiser Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s first season.

 

 

1984

Opens 8th February to 29th of March, Almeida Theatre reproduces George Orwell’s 1984 in its depiction of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance and incessant public mind-control. This ‘radical new staging’ explores surveillance culture, identity and why Orwell’s vision of the future is as relevant now as ever.

  

London Lovin’: Wafflemeister

London Wafflemeister

Amidst the London rush hour, the lost tourist a.k.a Viktoria Jean was trying to get to the ice-cream store just across the street on South Kensington. At 6pm in the evening, walking against the crowd is no easy feat. Everybody seems to be dashing somewhere, moving fast ahead with their lives, going with the incessant flow. Meanwhile, the lost tourist stops for a Stracciatella gelato.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

26 Cromwell Place
London SW7 2LD
United Kingdom

London Lovin’: St Christopher’s Place

The plethora of alfresco dining choices had me drawn in. The colourful interior beyond its ‘landmark purple clock’ delivered its promise of an eclectic shopping mix, right up the alley where London’s best bars and restaurants laid in wait. St Christopher’s Place sits at the heart of the West End and can be found between Selfridges and Bond Street station. I’m still a big fan of Pret A Manger’s latte, salad and sandwiches.

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St Christopher's Place London

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean