Monday, 1 September 2014


Last year (or was it the year before? Time seems to fly by these days!), one of my best friends moved to London with her boyfriend, and after months of planning and last-minute cancellations (mostly on my part.... ahem....) I finally made it up for the day to see her last week.

I want to start by just letting you all know that I'm one of those annoying people who gets lost on the tube (the ones who stare vacantly at the maps, and wander in everybody's way), so the fact that we had such an ace day was entirely down to her great planning. We started off at Monmouth Coffee, which made me incredibly happy; I'm a big coffee drinker, and I've heard loads of good things about this place from other bloggers and magazines, and I'm happy to report that they're all true. Great coffee, incredible cakes, really lovely interior and super-quick service - if you're near any of the shops, definitely try them out.

From there, we wandered across the road and spent a good hour meandering through Borough Market; I'm a hopeless cook and honestly can't imagine a situation in my life where I'd need truffle oil, but I was absolutely blown away by the scale of choice and incredible quality of produce on offer. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables glistened like perfect jewels; ruby red tomatoes jostled for space with the pinkest radishes, the table groaned under the weight of some seriously impressive pumpkins and there were mushrooms for sale that I'd never even heard of. There were traders that stocked every type of oil you could ever need; oils for cooking, for dipping and for impressing dinner guests, all displayed neatly alongside some of the most mouth-watering chutneys, jams and pickles that I've ever set eyes on, and there were others proffering exquisite artisan cheeses, loaves of bread that were golden and glinting in the morning sunlight and prosciutto shaved so finely it was almost translucent. We feasted on bread soaked in oils and vinegars, lingered by the aged cheddar and sipped on first flush Darjeeling, gazed in amazement at the most delicate patisserie products and inhaled the heady scent of curries and exotic street foods.

After a week of rain, the weather couldn't have been better; sunny but not too hot, ideal for walking which is exactly what we did. Along Southbank, past galleries and theatres, stopping to marvel at the street performers and gaze at the installation for the Festival of Love, and flick through first edition Penguin novels at the book market. (It was pretty much this point that made me start to wish I'd worn sandals and not Converse; my feet were like two hot, throbbing hot water bottles.)

We stopped for some lunch, then carried along over the bridge and round to the Victoria Embankment Park, where I saw some of the biggest plants and most beast-like pigeons of my life. They were both literally huge; leaves that were the size of trees, flowers on Wonka-esque wavy stalks and birds the size of dogs (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit there, but they were BIG). Down the road, Somerset House had an exhibition on which featured the work of some of the best tattooists in the world - but produced on anything other than skin. There were lots of paintings, mixed-media works and photography, all based around the theme of time - I know absolutely nothing about art or hidden meanings, but there were some really incredible pieces in there, including one that we were convinced was a photograph but actually turned out to be an oil painting. It's only a small exhibition, but it's completely free and definitely worth seeing. We spent a bit (OK, a lot) of time in the amazing Rizzoli bookshop where I deliberated over some amazing children's books and happily spotted some Stacie Swift greetings cards, then had the best hot chocolate of my life at The Fleet Street Press before getting the coach home again. Still thinking about that drink four days later. Yum.

// The End //

bloggers at home: beach hut cook

In the latest instalment of the Bloggers at Home series, the lovely Elinor from Beach Hut Cook shares her favourite space in her seaside house.

We live in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, two streets from the sea, and of all the places we've lived (we've relocated several times due to my husband's job), this is my favourite. I love the light, the sea air and being lucky enough to have a beach hut; it might be small, but we have a lot of fun there. We spend a ridiculous amount of time there, often whole days and well into the evening as well; just chatting, cooking, eating and laughing. As our teenagers grow up and become more independent, our time with them is ever so precious and I cherish every moment.

As the only girl in the house, my laundry room is a tad girly. I'm not a huge fan of washing and ironing, but you can't shy away from it, I decided to make the laundry room a pleasant place to be. I've filled it with memories of days out with our boys; birthday cards they've bought me, artworks from school and other keepsakes such as their first wellies and so on, and I've also added bits and pieces from my own childhood. It's where my boys find me when they need a Mum chat or cuddle; "I fold, you sit. Now what's it all about?" It's also where various sports kits and sailing equipment is dumped before the door is shut firmly on it so I can deal with it later.

The dresser was one of my many impulse buys, which has become the basis for the online vintage store I've just started - I'm still learning, but it's a joy to work with and makes me thoroughly happy.

The stamps picture was made from a stamp collector's kit that my eldest was given as a present - prior to it becoming a piece of artwork, it just sat on the shelf, forgotten and neglected, so I decided to put it to good use. The flowery print in the dark frame was material from my bridesmaids dresses, and it always makes me remember the late summer afternoon sunshine of our wedding. The pink vintage scarf was from an elderly relative who was a housekeeper for two gentleman playwrights in the 1950s and 60s; she lived in a tiny top-floor flat in Chelsea in London which was lovingly furnished and had a massive impact on how I style our home today.

The 'open' sign was from a shop where my sister and I used to buy our Christian Dior stockings and tights back in the day. We worked in an office together in Buckinghamshire just by the railway line into London; the shop was quite posh and old fashioned back then so whenever I see it, I feel like I should straighten up and put on my telephone voice.

The Camp Bestival picture is actually a cloth bag that I framed; this was the first festival we did together as a family back in 2009, and we've done them together ever since. Festivals are ultra concentrated non-stop fun for three whole days; we get to spend it together and then talk about it for months afterwards to keep the feeling alive.

Huge thanks to Elinor for being a part of the Bloggers at Home series - you can read all about her adventures in her beach hut over on her blog, and find lots of vintage goodness in her online shop

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

room for one more

Left // Right
Left // Centre // Right

Left // Right
I realised once I wrote it that the title of this post is pretty misleading; we're actually not having any more children (ever!), but moving both kiddos into their shared room over the next couple of months. I think a shared room is pretty challenging anyway, with multiple personalities, tastes and hobbies to consider, but when you've got a child of each gender to cater for it's even more tricky.

I've been trawling the internet and most bedrooms seem to try and split the room in half so each child has a dedicated section, but I'm not really a fan of that; my two are still too young to need privacy, and I don't really like how a room looks when you start splitting it in half - there's also not enough space to start introducing dividers and curtains and whatnot. I'm looking at mixing in all the vintage and retro things I've already collected with some gender-neutral bedding, lighting and prints; I want it to be colourful, cheerful and a place they enjoy spending time together - particularly at bedtime, when the sofa is calling my name!

From Top Left : Storage Basket : H&M Home // Basket : Molly Meg // Print : Molly Meg // Bedding : H&M Home // Wall Stickers : Molly Meg //
Shelving Unit : Molly Meg // Chair : French Blossom // Cushion : The Pippa and Ike Show // Blanket : Zara Home

Monday, 25 August 2014

found: victoria and abigail

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a lovely little shop on Twitter; full of colourful textiles, quirky accessories and bright homewares, Victoria and Abigail is run by two ace ladies with impeccable taste and a great eye for a jazzy print. Victoria was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my nosy questions about setting up shop, their favourite brands and a few fun past times.

What made you set up shop in the first place? 
Abi and I have been friends for years, and we always talked about opening a shop together; our ideas ranged from a small coffee and gift shop to what we have now - an online homewares and acccessories store. We spent a lot of time researching local retailers, and found that most places were selling generic mass-produced gifts and homewares, so we decided to open the kind of shop that we'd want to find ourselves in - one that was full of unique, handmade products crafted by talented designers and makers. We like to uncover and support independent designers and bring their exceptional products to the market.

Do you have any favourite brands?
We're currently working with twenty-five designers, and I couldn't pinpoint a favourite because they all have their own unique qualities. Abi does have a cushion obsession though, and has stored a few away for her home, while I do a lot of entertaining and have a wishlist full of tableware!

What do you do when you're not working on the shop?
Abi loves to spend her spare time watching Saturday Kitchen and then recreating meals, but when she's not cooking she's usually out and about.... at the shops! I'm a qualified hairdresser and spend a lot of time with clients and working on weddings - otherwise you'll probably find me either in the garden or down at the river with friends.

Victoria and Abigail have generously offered readers of this blog a 15% discount on any items in their fabulous shop - simply use the code OWL15 until 30th September at the checkout to make a nice little saving on some lovely bits and pieces.

A huge thanks to Victoria for answering my nosy questions, and to both ladies for the kind discount. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

sunday style: dressing your neckline

Kirstin Stride
Red Bird Makes
Lucie Ellen
After having my hair cut to a chin-length bob yesterday, I've started looking at accessories in a whole new way; prior to getting the chop, my long hair covered most necklaces, collar clips and brooches, so I usually just didn't bother at all. Now my straggly ends have gone, the world of neckline-accessories has opened up before me like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory did to Charlie.

I was browsing online and over on Instgram, and found some great independent makers creating beautiful accessories that are seriously tempting my wallet; from colourful kites to clean geometrics, there's something for everyone in these three shops - nip over quick, before I buy the lot!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

worn: colour and pattern

Sunglasses : H&M (similar here) // Necklace : Love Southsea Market // Blouse : Community Fusion Shop //
Belt : Vintage // Skirt : New Look // Bag : Charity Shop (similar here) // Sandals : Saltwater from Toast

On Saturday, we had a rare morning without the kiddos and no boring errands to run, so we headed into town and enjoyed a nice quite brunch with no screaming, no shouting and nobody throwing food on the floor. We revelled in the peace and quiet, enjoyed being able to leave hot drinks unwatched and tucked into the most amazing banana bread I've ever tasted - I love the kiddos from the tops of their heads to the tips of their small toes, but sometimes you just need a few hours off.

I wore my favourite midi skirt from New Look (which is now just £6 in the sale, bah), a vintage necklace from the Love Southsea market (I saw it when I was shopping with my friend Jen, and she sneakily bought it as my Christmas gift!), and my latest thrifted find, a pink vintage blouse from the Community Fusion shop in the town centre. I discovered them the other week when I ran past, on a desperate mission to find Daisy a last-minute swimsuit, and as usual, couldn't resist popping in. A combination of vintage and retro clothing and lovely bits and pieces handmade by talented locals; working in collaboration with Healthy Planet, you'll find clothing, accessories and homewares, as well as a furniture customisation service, story time for children and books that cost absolutely nothing. If you're local, I strongly suggest you find time for a visit - they're stocking some lovely things, and it's all for a good cause!

After we'd stuffed ourselves, we pottered around the charity shops for a bit and then wandered back to the car to pick up the littlies. I can't tell you how much more relaxed I felt after just two short hours peace and quiet; I know a lot of people swear by 'date night', but I'd take a daytime babysitting session over an evening one any day!

PS: I've booked a haircut for next Saturday, and I absolutely can't wait. Goodbye, frazzled locks!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

sunday style : the holiday edition

From left: Bikini : New Look // Watermelon Necklace : Boo and Boo Factory // Vintage Sundress : Love Miss Daisy // Top : People Tree //
Top and Shorts : ASOS Green Room //  Seahorse Pendant : Tatty Devine // Sunglasses : ASOS // Vegan Sandals :  Fashion Conscience //
Headband : ASOS // Tote Bag :  Fashion Conscience // Vegan Sandals : Fashion Conscience // Straw Bag : Rokit
As it's exactly one week until we head off to Dorset for a few days to stay here, I decided to make this weeks edition of Sunday Style all about those lovely little bits and pieces you just can't go on holiday without (what do you mean, 'a seahorse pendant isn't an essential'?!). I'll be packing a few dresses, some shorts (sorry in advance for the glare from my legs, people of Wareham) and probably way more accessories than I'm going to need. This week it's all about print and colour, and mixing it up to make yourself look as cheery as you feel; the amazing fruit necklace is by Boo and Boo Factory, who you absolutely have to check out (there's an Etsy shop and a beautiful website to browse as well), and the amazing tan sandals are not only vegan and ethical, but they're also only £29. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Phillip Green!

PS: If you want to read about someone who's doing proper travel in style (rather than just wimping it up the coast for a few days like us!), check out the Seeds and Stitches blog - Hannah and her lovely family are off exploring Europe for a month. The first post on Antwerp is up now - go read!