It’s about six years ago that I stopped working as a practising optometrist. It suited my family circumstances at the time and it was during that period that I started my blog. I’ve always loved fashion and writing, so a style blog was a natural way of combining the two. I couldn’t have foreseen that my two worlds would collide so beautifully. I never dreamed that one day, I’d go to Berlin to attend The Zeiss Future of Optics convention, as a blogger within the optical sector.

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin

I didn’t know what to expect because a lot of the content was kept secret. I was a little worried. I write for an optometry journal, but would my six years out of optometric practise highlight gaps in my knowledge? Optics is a field in which technology means products and concepts are ever-changing. Would I be too out of touch? It turned out that I needn’t have worried. A lot of the talks were about how future concepts will affect all of our lives, not just those in the optical profession. So read on and enjoy as I take you through my fun-filled forty hours in Berlin.

Day One: Iconic Sights of Berlin and the Estrel Hotel

I arrived in Berlin in the early evening and had a two hour window before dinner. I wanted to see some of this remarkable city so I took a train to the Brandenberg Gate.

Brandenburg gate at sunset, Berlin, What Lizzy Loves

Brandenburg gate at sunset, Berlin, What Lizzy Loves blog

Around the corner is the Holocaust Memorial, a memorial to those Jews murdered in Europe. It’s beautiful; poignant and very thought-provoking.

Berlin Holocaust Memorial Jews What Lizzy Loves

Berlin Holocaust Memorial Jews

We spent the first night at Estrel Berlin, the largest hotel in Germany, and had dinner in the fabulous atrium.

Estrel hotel Berlin what Lizzy Loves

atrium Estrel hotel Berlin

atrium Estrel hotel Berlin what Lizzy Loves

Day Two: The Conference at Funkhaus, Berlin

The conference took place at Funkhaus, a breathtaking venue on the banks of the River Spree. It’s the former East German radio station with vast spaces and sound chambers. Between the more formal conference proceedings, we were treated to a lunch to die for.

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what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin soft drinks

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what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin food

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what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin lunch

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin falafel

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin guyoza

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin guyoza and cola

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin lunch

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin drinks and cola

The entertainment was excellent too. We met Pepper the Zeiss robot, played Virtual Reality games and watched acrobats. My favourite thing was a ride on a roller coaster, while wearing a virtual reality headset.

zeiss future of optics berlin Pepper robot

zeiss future of optics berlin virtual reality

zeiss future of optics berlin VR

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus roller coaster

Zeiss And The Future Of Optics

The introduction and keynote speeches took place in the symphony hall, a stunning space with brilliant acoustics. By way of a warm-up we played an interactive football match on a giant screen. A music and light show followed. It was absolutely spectacular.

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus football

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus music and light show

Zeiss is the world’s leading manufacturer of precision optics in the fields of vision care, microscopy, semiconductor manufacturing and medical technology. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used Zeiss lenses to shoot their famous moon-landing photographs. 75% of all cataract operations worldwide are performed using surgical systems from Zeiss and more than 35 Nobel Prize winners used Zeiss microscopes. Zeiss has a distinguished past and an exciting future.

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus space

Zeiss future of optice Berlin Funkhaus ctatarct instruments

Future Trend speaker, Nick Sohnermann, gave a fascinating insight into tomorrow’s trends and into the technology we can expect to see within five years. The driverless car and augmented reality were the things that stuck in my mind. Nick urged businesses and business owners to be pro-active and to embrace innovation and cutting-edge technology. He was engaging, charismatic and filled the room with enthusiasm. a brilliant speaker.

zeiss future of optics speaker Nick Sohnemann

I was impressed with the Zeiss EnergizeMe spectacle lenses. They have been designed to suit the specific needs of contact lens wearers. I spoke to several delegates who wear them and deem them to be excellent.

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The Zeiss Concept Store

From online questionaires to Virtual Reality headsets that enable patients to view the world through different lenses. This demonstrated a fascinating insight into current and future concepts available for optometric practice. Simply put, technology is already in place to make the whole process from testing sight to choosing spectacles more straight-forward, more patient-friendly and more successful. This is Zeiss Visuconsult, the way of the future.

A cutting-edge piece of kit, a platform for the optical industry will be launched in Spring 2018. It is set to revolutionise spectacle frame selection. We saw a demonstration and learned how practitioner feedback went a long way towards its conception and design. It’s under wraps for now but I’m looking forward to seeing the impact it’s certain to make.

zeiss future of optics berlin concept store

zeiss future of optics berlin concept store

A River Cruise

The day just kept on giving. After the conference, we went on a boat trip and were subsequently taken by rickshaws to Hotel Park Inn, Alexanderplatz.

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics prosecco

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics prosecco boat ride

Optics is a notoriously small world and I was delighted to meet my friend John Ferrier. He’s married to one of my closest friends from university and I’ve known him for twenty years. We didn’t know the other was going until we met at dinner on the first night. (John is from family business Ferrier and Mackinnon opticians, based in and around Dunfermline. He’s on the right, with his brother and fellow optometrist, Colin. Do go and see him them for your eyecare needs if you live in that area).

what lizzy loves future of optics zeiss berlin river trip

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics river cruise

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics river cruise

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics river cruise

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics river cruise

Here I am in the rickshaw, en-route to the hotel.

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics rickshaw ride selfie

Canapes and Drinks at Park Inn, Alexanderplatz

After a very quick change, it was time for canapes and drinks at the hotel.

Park Inn hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics park inn berlin alexanderplatz

what lizzy loves Berlin Zeiss future of optics park inn berlin alexanderplatz

Berlin Planetarium

Afterwards, we went by coach to the planetarium for more canapes and drinks. What followed was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. A large fairy-lit sculpture of a man moved through the room. The movements were so realistic and graceful and the accompanying music was so beautiful that I had shivers down my spine. Subsequently, there was a light show on the domed ceiling which was incredible. The 3-D effects were amazing.

what lizzy loves future of optics berlin planetarium

what lizzy loves future of optics berlin planetarium menu

what lizzy loves future of optics berlin planetarium wine

what lizzy loves future of optics berlin planetarium light man

what lizzy loves future of optics berlin planetarium light man sculpture

Dinner and Entertainment at Wintergarten

Another short coach journey took us to the Wintergarten theatre. After a thank you speech we ate more good food, drank more nice wine and enjoyed a very colourful variety show.

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin wintergarten

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin wintergarten table

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin wintergarten entertainment

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what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin wintergarten show

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin wintergarten japanese entertainment

The After Party at Park Inn, Alexanderplatz

The finale was a party on the rooftop of the Park Inn hotel, which is where we stayed. It was a brilliant ending to an utterly amazing convention. I learned so much about the future of optics and exciting technological developments. I met new people. It’s hard to believe that this is my job.

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party menu

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin party

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party menu

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party barman

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party menu mojito

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party view

what lizzy loves zeiss future of optics berlin after party menu view from florr 37 Park Inn Alexanderplatz

Thank you to Zeiss for inviting me. This is one conference I’ll never forget.

 

You might have seen on my Instagram Stories earlier this week that I was at River Cottage. I was part of a small group of journalists and bloggers on a press trip organised by Muck Boots to celebrate the launch of the new collections. We met in London and took the train to Axminster, the home of River Cottage HQ. There, a tractor and trailer took us down a long and rather steep track to the cottage.

We were taken into the dining room and each given a pair of Muck Boots. Look how beautiful the table looked.

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Wellingtons by Muck Boots

The style of Muck Boots I received is the RHS Tremont Wellie in the navy passiflora design.

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It’s a 100% waterproof neat fitting style with a neoprene lining. I wore them for almost eight hours and found them to be incredibly comfortable. That didn’t come as a surprise though, because I’m a long-term fan of Muck Boots. I have a pair in plain navy which I wear over and over as well as the ankle-length pair I featured in a recent post. As you know, I spend a lot of hours out in cold, wet and muddy conditions watching my son play football. I need my wellies to be functional, comfortable and reliable and I want them to be stylish too. Muck Boots fulfill all of those criteria.

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The Farm at River Cottage

Almost all of the produce used in the catering at River Cottage is grown or reared on the farm. If not, it is sourced locally. One of the farmers took us round so we could pick berries and sorrel which we later used in creating our dinner.

what lizzy loves foraging River cottage Muck Boots

what lizzy loves foraging River cottage Muck Boots

what lizzy loves foraging River cottage Muck Boots foraging

what lizzy loves foraging River cottage pears

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Lunch at River Cottage

The itinerary said that after foraging, we’d be served a light lunch of sharing platters. That was such an understatement! My goodness, it was the most amazing lunch. Local mussels (River Cottage is very close to the coast at Lyme Regis), roasted aubergines, slaw, beetroots, freshly baked bread and more. White wine, made just a few miles away made for the perfect accompaniment. It was divine from start to finish.

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Our Cookery Lesson at River Cottage

The main part of the day was a cookery class in one of the adjacent buildings. Here we learned some simple knife skills and made carrot hummus, flatbread and panna cotta. We also prepared polenta from a fresh corn on the cob and watched chef prepare some crispy kale.

I can’t tell you how good it was. The chef was very engaging and he made everything look and seem very straight-forward. Every single thing we made was not only delicious, but easy to recreate too. I hope this will help me to rediscover my cooking mojo.

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What Lizzy Loves River Cottage roast carrots hummus

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Photo c/o Chase PR

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Dinner at River Cottage

By the time our lesson was over, it was almost dark, the wind was whipping and it was raining. We headed back into the dining room. The roaring fire in the stove gave the room a completely different ambience to that at lunchtime.

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what-lizzy-loves-River-Cottage-dining-room-fire-drink

The individually hand-painted placecards were so cute and we each got a thank you card painted by the same artist. You can see the carrot hummus and flatbreads I made too.

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We sat down to enjoy a delicious selection of canapes.

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what-lizzy-loves-River-Cottage-dining-room-canapes

To start, we had pancetta and roasted tomatoes with polenta, (that we helped to prepare) and crispy kale. The mix of textures, flavours and colours was a treat for the senses.

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For our main course, we had lamb with celeraic mash and salsa verde.

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Now dessert was the panna cotta that we made during the lesson. We could choose from a selection of ingredients to flavour them and I chose fresh lemon verbena leaves and added a few blackberry leaves. The chef showed us how to turn the puddings out of their moulds and to plate them up. He’d made a raspberry coulis from the red and yellow raspberries we’d picked and he used it along with blackberries and sorrel leaves we’d foraged earlier in the day.

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Photo c/o Chase PR

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Although mine wasn’t quite as delicately garnished or as aesthetically pleasing as chef’s, it tasted beautiful. I can’t wait to make it at home.

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The meal ended with after dinner mints and coffe do then the tractor took us back up to the main road from where taxis took us to the hotel.

 

 

Dower House Hotel, Lyme Regis

Dower House is a beautiful small family-run hotel. It was around 10pm when we got there and we were all ready to retire for the night. The rooms are all individually designed and although mine was one of the smaller ones, it was absolutely perfect. Comfortable, stylish and well-equipped.

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what-lizzy-loves-River-Cottage-dower-house-hotel

Following breakfast, we were collected and taken back to the station. It was raining heavily a day dark when we’d arrived at the hotel, so it was lovely to see it in bright sunshine as we left.

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Truly, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I would absolutely love to return to River Cottage and do more cookery classes. Everyone there is so friendly and knowledgeable and it was a privilege to go there. Not only that, I have made some new friends and learned a few new recipes.

Thank you to the team at Chase Pr and at Muck Boots and to everyone at River Cottage. And remember that I genuinely love Muck Boots and I highly recommend them.

Before I went away, I wrote a blog post detailing what outfits and accessories I was packing for ten days in Nerja. With that, I included my recommended travel essentials and tips to make for easier holiday packing. Subsequently, I wanted to share my favourite of those holiday outfits, which were photographed in some stunning locations.

Holiday Outfits: My Favourite Dresses

I discovered this divine blue door on El Balcon de Europa, when I was in Nerja last year. It’s too beautiful not to use as the backdrop for at least one holiday outfit, so I used it to show off the brightest of my dresses. This *zig zag striped maxi dress is lightweight and easy to wear and I accessorised it with *citrus yellow espadrilles and my *Pomfret Slouchy Pouch.

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The mini honey bee necklace and honey bee ring in gold, are both by Danon and available from my own accessories website, Lizzy O

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The fabulous *retro turquoise and gold sunglasses are from Retrospecced. This is a company that refurbishes vintage and used designer spectacle frames then donates a percentage of their profits to charity. Consequently, every pair of glasses and sunglasses they sell is unique.

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The statue of King Alfonso XII, also on El Balcon de Europa, is something of an icon. He is very popular for photographs and in fact, I took a picture with him last year him which I posted on Instagram.  This year I’m wearing a *pink and grey snakeprint maxi dress from the latest collection at Kaleidoscope. It’s fully lined, so I’ll wear it in autumn with a chunky cardigan or denim jacket. With it, I wore three crystal-set wrap bracelets, also from Lizzy O. Don’t they look pretty stacked together and sparkling in the sunshine?

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This red dress with contrast hemp is another of my favourite holiday outfits, more of which is in my previous post.

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Holiday Outfits: My Favourite Beach Cover-Ups and Bikinis

As well taking enough holiday outfits for ten days, I took a lot of cover-ups.  I think kaftans and beach dresses are invaluable to wear to breakfast and lunch as well as on the beach. I adore this pretty *white Iconique Ronda poncho. The lace detailing is exquisite and it’s lightweight, cool and comfortable. It’s from UK Swimwear, which stocks a wonderful array of beachwear-particularly useful once the shops move to Autumn wear.

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Another *white embroidered dress, this time with red and blue detailing. Again, in common with the previous dress, it’s loose enough to be cool and comfortable, yet has enough structure to be stylish.

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This *blue Seychelles bikini and the matching *Seychelles kaftan, are by Fantasie. Although the gorgeous azure floral print is striking, it was the crossover straps that caught my eye.

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This red leopard print bikini is very flattering and super-stylish and I featured it in the blog post before last. Also in that post, are lots of tips for feeling beach ready at any age. 

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My final holiday outfit is the full-length *Halona fish print beach caftan by Rose Fulbright. It was the glorious printed silk that caught my eye along with the wide neckline. In fact, I wore this to evening dinner with the yellow espadrilles as well as on the beach.

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I like to accessorise my holiday outfits with something appropriate, so what could be better than a lobster? This *navy and white stripe leather cross body bag, is beautifully made and is the perfect size for my camera.

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The photographs were taken by my daughter Poppy Johnston and it was wonderful to be surrounded by such stunning locations. Later this week I’ll be linking this post to I Will Wear What I Like,  Brilliant Blog Posts and The Saturday Share.

Thank you for reading and for supporting those brands that support my blog.