Monday, 28 July 2014

worn: vintage skirt and graphic tee

I realised the other day that I hadn't done an outfit post in a while; I love clothes almost as much as I love chocolate, but I just cannot get to grips with dicking about in front of the camera in public places, so I'm afraid it's me, with the tripod, in the craft room again. (But you do get to see my vintage sewing stand-thingy in the background. Isn't she pretty?!)

I've been loving midi skirts this summer; floaty block colours, bright florals and geometric Aztecs all get my vote - I'm not keen on showing too much leg, because in the words of the Husband, I look like I'm 'wearing white leggings'. My legs have never ever tanned, not in primary school, not when I spent eighteen months in New Zealand and not now - I keep meaning to get some fake tan, but like most things, never get round to it. So in the meantime, I'l enjoy my love affair with the humble midi - this one is from Beyond Retro (my latest go-to shop for, well, everything), and is probably my favourite; it's a great length, and even though the fabric has quite a hectic pattern, the neutral colours mean you can put it with a top that is equally loud.

The t-shirt is actually by one of my favourite creative people, Kate Bishop of Kroma; I first saw her work in The Aspex Gallery, and then met her at a local craft fair last year sometime - she makes great jewellery in pastel and neon shades with quirky little twists, and also sells prints and notebooks. My personal favourite is are the Polygon necklaces, which come in about a gazillion different colours, and with two different chain colours and lengths (how good is that?!).

The clogs are by Lotta from Stockholm, the bag is a recent charity shop find, and the tired face is courtesy of two rowdy kiddos and a sudden influx of work.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

ask her friends: the july escape wishlist

That time of the month has rolled around again; I'm back over at Ask Her Friends, taking part in the blogger panel for July. and this time the theme was travel and escapes. As I love colour and print, I chose the brightest, cheeriest things to pack, and decided to head off for a break in Berlin and Prague; if you like my set you can pop over to the Ask Her Friends site and register a vote - you could also win a £50 voucher to spend on the site (and there's a lot to choose from!).
From top: Sandy Stars Cotton Scarf by Ella Georgia // Leah Flores Phone Case by Ohh Deer // Gypsy Paisley A5 Notebook by Nikki Strange //
Berlin and Prague Twin City Break by Secret Escapes // Leather Duffel Bag by Vida Vuda


Friday, 25 July 2014

frugal friday: easy peasy beautiful blanket fort

Since last year, I've been meaning to get some sort of teepee / playhouse / den extravaganza together for the kiddos, but as usual I've been foiled by both lack of money and motivation - the teepees available to buy are gorgeous but ludicrously expensive, and the ones to make mean I have to sit in front of the sewing machine for ages and, well, box-sets and biscuits won that battle. So armed with a basket of pegs, a few choice selections from my fabric stash and two laundry airers, I got started on the construction of the most epic blanket fort I've ever made. So for this weeks frugal friday post, here's the easiest kiddo house tutorial you'll ever come across - no wood, no glue, no pesky measuring or cutting or sewing, just good, old-fashioned cobbling together.

You Will Need:
Two (or more, if you want a really big den for large groups of children) laundry airers like this one
Large sections of fabric - sheets, quilt covers and end-of-roll scraps are perfect
Plenty of pegs - plastic are fine, but wooden seem to hold the fabric in place more effectively
Bulldog clips
Pliers (or a good, strong grip)
Blankets, cushions and whatever else you want to use to decorate and furnish the house (I would totally have put bunting around the top if I'd had any ready)

1. Turn your laundry airers upside down, and using the pliers, remove the little plastic feet that keep it from toppling over.
2. Head outside onto the grass, and position the airers where you want them to stand - don't forget to leave a gap for the door.
3. Push firmly on the top, so the legs dig into the ground and the whole structure stays in one place (this actually works better than I thought it would - the wind picked up in the evening, and it didn't move!).
4. Using the bulldog clips, join each laundry airer to the next one so they're firmly attached.
5. Peg the fabric to the top and sides of the airers - I found the best way to do it was with the long edge of the fabric going across the top of the airers, overlapping each piece as I went. When I got to the space that I'd left for the door, I pegged it across, then swept it up and pegged it in place - done!
6. Attach the roof by laying it over the top, and then pegging that in place as well - if it's a windy day, you might need an extra pair of hands to stop it blowing away (or a lot more patience than I was blessed with...). If you've got a round tablecloth, you'll find it's perfect to use as a roof, but pretty much any fabric will do the job as long as it's big enough.
7. Add blankets, cushions, bunting, garlands and whatever else you want to use to make it cheery and inviting.
8. Sit back and watch your children leap inside in excitement. Done!

Top Tips
1. Make sure your pegs are big enough, and you're not trying to secure too much fabric - otherwise you'll end up dancing around in a rage, surrounded by pegs pinging off and flying through the air.
2. I know most people have laundry airers, but if you haven't, I've seen this style on eBay and Gumtree for literally a few pounds, and even occasionally on Freecycle.
3. Don't worry about getting fabric muddy or covered in grass - I've discovered this year that there's not a lot Vanish won't get rid of. That said, obviously don't use your best Egyptian cotton bed linen if you're going to fret about it the whole time!

Admittedly, it's not as pretty as a teepee, but it's big enough for two (three at a push....), and as you can tell, the kiddos loved it. The light filtering through the thin fabrics and shadows dancing on the roof and walls were so relaxing and hypnotic, I could have stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, the kiddos had other ideas, and the day actually ended with a water-fight extravaganza - God Bless summer!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

bloggers at home: little birdie

In the third instalment of Bloggers at Home, I'm pleased to be featuring the lovely Jen from Little Birdie; one of my favourite blogs, Jen writes about great design, shares delicious recipes and occasionally posts pictures of her beautiful home (check out her Instagram feed for some amazing pictures - it's a great source of inspiration!).


I'm Jen from Little Birdie. I write about my family life, food and interiors. I was thrilled to be asked by Vicky to do a guest post on my favourite room in my home.

We live in a tiny two-bedroom end terrace house in Leeds, West Yorkshire. I've always like interiors, particularly bright, happy family homes, and I love a mix of classic design pieces mixed with some vintage treasures. I like to create a home that is colourful and quirky, but do so on a tight budget. It's difficult to say what my favourite room is, but I had the most fun decorating my son's room, so I thought I'd show you that one!

Harry is almost eleven now, and his room has changed a lot over the years. Now it's less about Lego and more about his interests in computers and programming; he's very geeky and not at all sporty, but at least that means I never had to have a room full of football designs! (And yes, his room has been cleaned and tidied to take these pictures; it's usually a filthy pigsty rammed full of video game cases, laptops, missing socks, old crisp wrappers and endless empty cups of juice. The teenage years are heading our way!)

Although his room is predominantly white, we recently painted one wall a lovely navy blue shade, called Breton Blue by Dulux - it's given the white furniture a real life, and has made the artwork stand out more. Harry needed a new desk suddenly, as he has suddenly grown almost as tall as me; we bought the table top from IKEA, but used some vintage Habitat trestle legs (which were actually mine from my teenage bedroom!). Years ago, I won six vintage school chairs on eBay, which have been sitting in the shed ever since - I'd always planned on painting the metal framework on the chairs but never managed to get round to it. I finally managed to do one in Kingfisher Blue from Habitat, and I absolutely love the end result - just another five to go! I also bought a new anglepoise style lamp in this gorgeous jade green colour from RadStudio in Saltaire.

These are two of my favourite little things on his desk; the yellow elephant moneybox by OMM design has come to be a bit of a design classic recently, and I love it - Harry saves up his pocket money in the elephant to buy new comic books, and this is one of his favourites, The Phoenix. The bendy Pink Panther toy on his lamp belonged to my Grandpa, and I can always remember it climbing up his shelving unit where he kept his huge stereo system. It's a bit of a treasured piece for me as I was very close to my Grandpa, and I love that it's one of Harry's favourite things too.

Not only is Harry a big fan of comic books, he also loves the Studio Ghibli films, especially, 'My Neighbour Totoro'. I wanted to get him a poster from the movie to go above his desk, and came across the artwork of Jon Glanville who designs his own versions of Ghibli classics - together we picked out the Catbus print as we both loved it. The Batman print by HelloDodo above the chest of drawers came from a fantastic local Leeds shop, Chirpy.

Harry has a set of bunk beds in his bedroom; he sleeps in the top, while the bottom one is for sleepovers. We've gone through a lot of bed changes in this house, from cots to toddler beds, cabin beds and now these ones from IKEA. Our ancient old cat likes to sleep on the bottom bunk a lot, and she especially likes to cosy up to this pillow and cushion. The bedding set is from Wilkinson (I love Wilkos!) and the cushion was from IKEA; both were really cheap but great quality - I don't think that good design has to be expensive. The bunny print is by Scandi designer MiniWilla.

On the top bunk, I chose the pigeon light by Ed Carpenter in grey with the bright orange flex. I've wanted on of those lights myself for years (especially the hot pink one!) and could never really think of anywhere for it to go, but then decided it would be perfect as a bedside light. It gives off a really gentle glow which I like for reading at bedtime. The 'Pow' print is by Dandy Star and I've had this since Harry was really little; I always liked their comic book style prints, and thought it would be lovely for a boys room - I didn't know then that Harry would be interested in comic books, but it has fit in really nicely.

Even though he is nearly eleven, Harry still likes a cuddly toy to go to bed with - these are his two favourites, Ice Bat and Big Ted. He has this Ferm Living cushion to prop himself up with whilst he reads in bed, and the clock behind is from Habitat. Only the UK time is correct though, as each clock needs two batteries and it makes the loudest ticking noise when all the clocks are in use. I was sleeping in his room one night and the bloody thing kept me up for hours!

So, that's pretty much it. Harry loves his room as much as I do, but I know that it'll change again as he gets a bit older. And I suppose I'll have a lot less say in it too!

I hope you've enjoyed this mini tour. If you'd like to come and say hi, then please pop over and visit me at Little Birdie. Thanks for reading!

Jen x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday Style #2

Left: Dress : Lowie // Belt : Zara // Sunglasses : Zara // Shoes : Fashion Conscience
Middle: Breton top : People Tree // Shorts : New Look // Scarf : Fashion Conscience // Boots : Fashion Conscience
Right: Dress : Fashion Conscience // Bracelets : Fashion Conscience // Shoes: Fashion Conscience 

Hello, hello! Hope you're all having a good weekend, and have had some good weather - we had lovely sunshine yesterday afternoon, so I sat in the craft room and worked on a couple of projects while the sun streamed in through the big windows. Heaven!

This week Sunday Style is all about the best sale picks around; I've kept it fairly eco-friendly, heading to websites like People Tree and Fashion Conscience, and even the high street pieces are from brands that have pretty good ethical policies (New Look's can be read here, and Zara's here - it's comforting to see the high street jumping on board the eco-friendly bandwagon, doncha think?). One of my favourite (but usually way beyond my price range) brands Lowie also makes an appearance, with a dress that's just £36 - ethically conscientious and cheaper than Topshop!

What's even better (or not, depending on how easily tempted you are) is that nothing comes in at over £45, so it just goes to show that investing in ethical and organic clothing and accessories doesn't have to make a huge dent in your bank balance. Happy shopping, folks!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

latest thrifts

With our serious lack of funds and pretty sad looking bank account, my opportunities to go for a rummage in the charity shops lately have been pretty limited. So when the Husbands parents gave us some money as a wedding anniversary present, we did what every other couple would do; we decided to split the cash and each have half to spend on what we want. Hurrah! £12.50 might not seem a lot, but to me, it felt like winning the lottery - and look what I managed to find....

I've wanted a round, straw bag since FOREVER, so when I saw this one hanging up in the local Marie Curie, I launched myself at it - I've looked at similar versions on various vintage websites and they all come in around the £25 mark, so to find one that was £4.50 made me incredibly happy. (Let's just gloss over the fact that it was from Primark originally.....) The bag with the leopard on had been hanging up in the nearest branch of Barnardo's for the last couple of weeks, and every time I walked past I had to look in the other direction in case I got tempted and spent our last few quid on it. When I walked past and saw it still hanging there, swaying gently on the hook, I took it as a sign from the Gods and bought it - I like to think that it was just meant to be.

Lastly, I found this great vintage shirt, also in Marie Curie (they really are great for vintage blouses, definitely check them out if you're in the Waterlooville area - which, let's face it, most of you probably aren't). It's an old Marks and Spencer's one, with one of those great St. Michael labels that also tells you it was made in England, and I have grand plans for this - I love the print, but I've got enough blouses and shirts to last me a lifetime, so it's going to get the scissor treatment.

Have you found anything good in the charity shops lately? Feel free to post a link to any of your thrifty finds in the comments - there's nothing quite like a bargain!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

sunday style #1

From top: Dungarees: Monki // Vintage blouse: Beyond Retro // Necklace: Bohemia Design  //DVF Paisley vintage scarf:  Rokit // Hat: Rokit // Geometric bag: Beyond Retro // iPhone case: On Your Case via Etsy //
Headband: Monki // Sunglasses: Rokit // Belt: H&M // Sandals: Toast
Even when we're at our poorest, I still can't help looking at clothes online; it's like a compulsion - I'm sitting quite happily, writing away, and then somehow Beyond Retro (my biggest weakness) has popped up on the screen, and I'm dreaming about Aztec bags and floral blouses. So I decided that as I enjoy window shopping so much, I'd turn it into a little weekly feature with all the lovely things I've found lately - welcome to Sunday Style!

Aztec and geometric prints and patterns are always on my love-list, which is why I added the straw bag from Beyond Retro and iPhone case from On Your Case (they have so many amazing versions, all the colours and patterns you could think of. Check them out!). I'm also currently lusting after dungarees (I really want to get the shorter length ones, but at thirty-one I worry that I'm too old - what do you lot think?) and some round sunglasses after seeing the lovely Hannah from Seeds and Stitches wearing hers - they've got quite a few pairs over at Rokit, so I might have to invest (although by the time we get out of our financial hole, it'll be winter!).

What have you been loving this week? If you've found anything good, let me know in the comments section!

Friday, 11 July 2014

found: shedquarters

A little while ago, via a Twitter conversation about bags, I stumbled across the lovely folks at Shedquarters; a brand new online shop selling contemporary homewares and accessories, they stock ace brands such as House of Rym and Rifle Paper Co. alongside their own studio-produced items. Owners Hayley and Ross handpick items for their bold colours and textures, which probably explains why I love pretty much everything in the shop - from bright geometrics and aztec-style patterns to screen-printed graphics, there's a huge amount to choose from.

Hayley and Ross have kindly offered you lovely lot a 10% discount on any items in the shop - this runs until the end of August, so if you're waiting for payday, you'll still be able to take advantage. Simply enter the code OWL at the checkout - happy shopping!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

blog hopping

What is a blog hop?
I've never taken part in a blog hop before; I've seen lots of them about, but as one of the most disorganised bloggers I know, I've never actually got round to getting involved in one. The idea is great, though; after being tagged by another blogger, you answer a set of questions before choosing two different people to take part - it's a great way to introduce readers to your favourite blogs, and also to join in with the blogger community. I was actually first contacted by Melanie from the lovely Geoffrey and Grace blog, but in my usual haphazard way, I completely forgot about the post - then Lori from Wild and Grizzly got in touch and told me that she'd tagged me as well, so here I am! Both blogs are favourites of mine; Geoffrey and Grace is vintage-crafty heaven, packed full of retro print goodies, beautiful projects and glimpses into Melanie's life, while Wild and Grizzly is home to stunning photography, quirky finds and book reviews, and is a constant source of inspiration - make sure you check them both out!

What have been the doings / makings / scribblings at your desk / making table this week?
Due to being almost impressively skint, I've taken on some extra copywriting work and haven't had the time to be as creative as usual - that said, I have been messing around with fringing, denim (no, I'm not making a cowboy costume!), washi tape and patterned paper. I'm also working on a range of crochet patterns for a magazine, and I managed to make a quick anniversary card for the Husband as it was our fourth wedding anniversary last week - the fourth year is symbolised by fruit and flowers, so I did botanical with a comedy twist. (A vintage botanical print of pears, with the words, 'we make the perfect pear' written underneath..... *tumbleweed*)

Where are you currently finding your inspiration? (Influences, heroes, sources of inspiration, paths exploring)?
I always, always find inspiration in charity shops, markets and vintage shops - from the embroidery on an old dress to the way a pile of old suitcases have been stacked, I always come out full of new ideas. I also read a lot of magazines (although I have cut waaaaay back lately - it's an expensive habit!); I like Cereal for travel, Oh Comely for beautiful and interesting writing, and Mollie Makes for crafts and home tours (Davina Drummonds house appears in the latest issue, and it's a beaut!). I'm also always keen to champion the wonderful Lionheart magazine, which has an incredibly wide range of articles and photography.

How important is being creative to you, and how do you blend this with your work / life / family balance?
Being creative is incredibly important to me; I write for a living, so being creative with words is something I have to do every day (even when it's the dullest copywriting in the world, you still have to make it sound like it's the most exciting thing to have happened, in the entire world, ever). I'm also pretty much always making something; whether it's customising clothes, crocheting a blanket or swearing at the sewing machine, and I go a bit loopy if I don't do anything for a while. I had PND with both children, and have always been prone to anxiety, and crafting just brings an element of calm and order to my life - whether it's the repetition of stitching and sticking, or the fact that it's a distraction, I don't know. I think being creative is good for the soul, and I encourage both Ben and Daisy to be as creative as often (or as little) as they like - I'm lucky that I work from home, and can include them in a lot of the things I'm doing. I think there's something really valuable in spending time on something, and then being able to say, 'I did that'.

And now onto my two lovely nominations:

Kathryn from Kat got the Cream
Kat's blog was one of the first I ever read, and I fell instantly in love with it; we've spent countless hours chatting about charity shopping, vintage frocks, retro homewares and cake (because we really, REALLY like cake...). I love her regular features, like the Happy List, which inspires me to appreciate the small things in life, and also the Friday Frock - if Kat knows how to sniff out anything, it's a good dress!

Lou from Little Green Shed
If I could climb into any blog and live in it, it'd be Little Green Shed. Lou cleverly mixes breathtaking photography with great design, and showcases some of the best brands and creatives around; she's also the founder of the Nature in the Home series, which has since become a wonderful community on Instagram (if you're a floral fan or a plant lover, do join in!).

Both nominees will be posting their answers on Monday 14th July - don't forget to pop over and check them out!

Friday, 4 July 2014

frugal friday: florals and blooms

I want to start by saying thanks for the lovely response I had to this post, where I talked about how our bank account is pretty much running on empty at the moment; there have been loads of times lately when I've really wanted to go to an antique market or search for lovely vintage dresses on eBay, and have ended up having a right huff because we can't afford it, and to hear that there are others in the same boat was quite comforting. We can all be skint together!

The good thing is, I've always been a fan of a freebie and have never been afraid to rummage in a skip for something that 'might come in handy one day' *eyes mountain of scrap wood in the garden*, so I've got a good fair few thrifty tips up my sleeve that keep us cheery on the bleakest of days. I thought since there are so many of us in the same position, I'd start a new series here on the blog; 'Frugal Friday' is going to be made up of ideas for crafting, upcycling, decorating, making and doing for absolutely nothing (or as close to free as you can get!).

I'm starting with my top tips for free (or super cheap!) ways to get some floral loveliness into your home this summer; for me, I can be on my last few quid and have the right hump, but I can't help but feel cheery with little pots of flowers all over the place. Arm yourself with some craft scissors and a basket, and let's go!

1. Change your definition of a flower
In the photos above, quite a few things were found growing up random walls and hidden under bushes; technically, they'd be known as weeds, but as the old saying goes, a weed is just a flower that's grown in the wrong place. Basically, if it's not in someone's garden, and it's colourful and not half-dead, it's going in the vase - I couldn't tell the difference between a wildflower and a weed, but to be honest, I don't care as long as it looks nice.

2. Utilise otherwise wasted blooms
When trying to find flowers for free, there's only so much you can find growing in fields and around the local park - and personally, I don't advocate leaping over someone's fence to snip off a few hydrangeas. What I do tend to do, though, is snip things off of bushes that have overgrown and are trailing on the path - I think if the only thing a flower is going to see in it's short life is a dog's cocked leg, a toddlers sticky hands or a set of bicycle tires, I'm going to take it home and appreciate it.

3. Shop smart for plants
Obviously, if you want a good supply of flowers throughout the summer, you can't just rely on overgrown bushes and colourful weeds - you're going to have to spend a bit of your hard-earned cash on something for the garden. My favourite plants, which tend to give me the most flowers for the smallest amount of money are:
  • Dianthus
  • Scabious
  • Nasturtiums
  • Nigella (Love-in-the-Mist)
  • Lavender
  • Alyssum (which also smells incredible)
  • Sweetpeas
  • Aquilegia
  • Hydrangea
The best thing about these plants is that (and do correct me if I'm wrong, someone, because I'm definitely not an expert!) the more you cut for displays, the more shoots and buds the plant sends out - win-win in my opinion! 
My best tip when buying is to stay away from garden centres - I love the garden centre as much as the next person, but by heck, do they like to overcharge sometimes. My best bargains have come from Wilkinsons (yes, really!) and more lately Waitrose - I really rate their plant range this year; I personally haven't seen anything over £8 for a large hydrangea, and most things come in at around the £4-£6 mark. Rather brilliantly, they've also marked which plants will attract and help the bees - something which we seem to be lacking this year, sadly. Other places that are great for plants are summer fetes and fairs, church sales and even just peoples houses; we often drive out into the country to find people selling plants for pennies - a really good resource, and you get an afternoon of beautiful scenery too.
Another great tip is to save seeds - last year, I bought seeds from the marvelous Higgledy Garden, and then saved the seeds; this year, I've got random Nigella popping up all over the place. There is a special knack to saving seeds (which I didn't follow last year, whoops), and there are some great resources online that can be found through Google - I'd definitely recommend it if you're the thinking-ahead type.

4. Clash the colours
When I sort my flowers into a display, there's pretty much no technique involved; I mostly just organise them by size (big ones in the middle and at the back, and small ones to the sides and at the front), and I don't really think about colour.In fact, if anything, I like to have as many different shades and tones in one display as possible - I've never been a fan of organising things to coordinate (our home is a testament to that!), and I like my flowers to look as much like they've just been plucked from the countryside as possible. Minus the insects though, preferably.

5. Be creative with the container
Personally, I think half the fun of displaying flowers in your home is deciding what to put them in; I can't remember ever using traditional vases, as I prefer shorter displays that will sit on a shelf or balance on our narrow mantle. I've used milk jugs, teapots, jam jars, bottles and about a gazillion other things to put flowers in, and my favourites are always either my oldest, cheapest charity shop finds or just plain glass jars jazzed up with some twine or ribbon; I also like the idea of customising containers by doing any of the following:
  • Spray painting through stencils
  • Dip-dying (dip-painting?!) by dipping jars, cups or jugs into paint and then leaving to dry
  • Wrapping in twine, lengths of lace or fabric
  • Decoupaging with mod-podge and geometric paper
  • Sticking lengths of washi tape around the sides
  • Paint spattering with pastels or neon paints
  • Sticking on beads, shells, buttons or pom poms
If you've got any great floral money-saving tips, good resources or whatever, it'd be great to hear them - feel free to leave them in the comments section, so we can all take advantage of your flower-y wisdom!

PS - All those photographs were taken on my iPhone, and edited with the wonderful VSCO - so you don't need a fancy camera to document your floral goodness either. Boom!


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

inspiration: head wraps

Left, Right

Left, Right
I don't usually blog about hair or makeup (mostly because I don't really bother with it too much - some retro eyeliner flicks here and there, and that's about it), but I'm having a real problem with hair breakage at the moment. My hair is naturally quite curly, so my fringe has to be ironed to death with the straighteners every morning; I've started to grow it out, but the underneath keeps snapping off so I've decided I need to simply wash it and leave it for a while - no excess heat, no hairdryer, no hairspray.... nothing. This sounds all well and good, but if left to its own devices my hair tends to run amok on top of my head, and I end up looking like I'm wearing some sort of crazy birds-nest hat.

So now I'm looking into the world of the headband / wrap / scarf, and frankly, I'm baffled; I found a post online via Pinterest which showed you fifty ways to tie a headband. Fifty! Should you wrap your whole head or just part of it? Tie it on top or underneath? The wonderfully talented Natalie from Boo Bear Bean was selling some scarves on Instagram a little while ago which were BEAUTIFUL, but while I'm waiting for more stock to arrive I'm thinking about cobbling one together myself from one of my gazillion vintage sheets - but then there's the question of dimensions and seams and so on. Maybe I'll just buy a hat.

PS How amazing is the top left picture? Dungarees AND a headscarf - check out the amazing Milkteeths blog for more of the same.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

arnham view

Back over the May bank holiday (which seems like absolutely ages ago now), we packed up the car and headed off to Oxfordshire to housesit for one of my lovely blogger friends, Charley, while the family went to London for the weekend. I met Charley way back when I first started blogging; she used to write the lovely Flora and Purl blog (which I keep badgering her to bring back, because it was one of my absolute faaaavourites), and we started chatting quite a lot about all things rural, second-hand and vintage. A while back, Charley and her family moved into the most amaaaaazing National Trust cottage in Oxfordshire, and she offered it to us for free while they were away - after almost dropping the laptop in excitement, I said yes. And then yes again, just to be sure.

The cottage itself is incredible; I'm not sure when it dates from, but it's like one of those beautiful places in Country Living or a Sunday newspaper supplement that you sigh over, while staring out of the window at bricks and concrete. There's absolutely no mobile signal, and you have to drive down this little flower-filled, cottage-lined hill to get to the front gate; it's seriously like a small piece of rural heaven. I'm not going to bother writing much, because the gazillion photographs will do a better job of describing it than I ever could; the inside was just as beautiful though, Charley has amazing style and I found myself running from room to room squealing, "oh, look at THIS AMAZING *insert object here*" and stroking things excitedly. The brightly coloured dining chairs! The mid-century furniture! The fireplaces, and log burners and cottage-style windows! The greenhouse! I don't often use the word epic, but Charley's place absolutely deserves it.

We arrived late on Sunday afternoon, and spent the entire time in the huge garden, racing around, swinging and sliding and peering at the chickens (more so the kiddos, but you get the gist...). Once the sun started to go down, we had some food and settled on the sofa to watch a film - this is a BIG deal for us, as Daisy in particular rarely sits still long enough to watch anything, so to be cosying up all together felt pretty good. (It hasn't happened since, either, so I reckon it was the charm of the huge, massively comfortable sofa!)

Waking up on Monday to the sounds of the birds singing and several cockerels crowing was brilliant; I'm sure the novelty would wear off pretty quickly, but at the time I loved it. I was the first one awake, and just lay in bed, watching the room turn slowly golden with the morning sun - unfortunately, it didn't last, and we spent most of the day either dodging the rain or embracing the feeling of soggy spring feet. Never ones to let a bit of water dampen our spirits (guffaw), we explored the nearby town of Lechlade, where I found some vintage Secret Seven books in an antique shop, and spent way too long pondering over more crockery. We wandered round by the Thames and watched the canal boats gliding up and down, and then headed back for lunch. We also managed to fit in some time walking through nearby fields and meadows; there are so many footpaths dotted between the houses and cottages, that it's easy to suddenly find yourself surrounded by long grass and wildflowers. Heaven!

It was our first time away as a family (yes really!), and I can't imagine anywhere that I'd have rather spent my time. Huge thanks to Charley and her family for having us - you can see more of her beautiful home and the local countryside by following her on Instagram, she's @mother0fpurl.

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