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Thursday, 15 September 2016

LAST OF THE SUMMER FEASTS - MODEL MARKET, STREET FOOD.

It's that time of year again, the last few weeks of the British Summer are upon us.  In my opinion, we've had a very good run this year, with plenty of days when the usual chatter over the weather (the thing us Brits do so very well) with friends and family, and even the occasional stranger (because it's put you in such a good mood) have been all "OH MY GOD IT'S SO HOT", "Hasn't the weather been amazing?" and then the "I mean, I know we shouldn't complain but I'm actually TOO hot", "I shouldn't wish it away but I think I'm ready for jumpers and coats now", and yes at times even I may have been a culprit in saying all of the above.  However, we MUST embrace like we have never embraced before and suck up the last of the Summer while it's still hanging around, especially when it comes to food.

Who in their right mind doesn't love, and wholeheartedly so -  jumping on the Al fresco dining train.  We have all been there when the seasons first change (take yourself back to the first noticeably warm day when you got a whiff of your neighbours BBQ)...it made you want to put your flip-flops on, suck on an ice pole and get the paddling pool out? But mostly, to eat outside right!? RIGHT.  Well, all is not over yet.
  

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A WEEKEND WITH A BUTLER AT SOMERLEYTON HALL

"OH,I BLOODY LOVE A WEDDING".  I've lost count of the amount of times I must have said this over the last couple of years.  I could never tire of getting dressed up and sharing one of the most important days of a friends life, feeling the raw emotion of love and joy.  Earlier this year I experienced a pretty special one as I found myself back in East Anglia, Suffolk to be exact.  I grew up in the county of Norfolk next door and was pleasantly reminded of its exquisite beauty.  I was fortunate to have stayed at the Hall over the wedding weekend.  For any engaged couple out there looking for a venue, look no more! This is my experience of being a guest at the Hall.  As well as this weekend being one of the best of my life watching close friends tie the knot, I also took away a lot of inspiration for my love and work as an interiors stylist.  From their paint colours to original floors and radiators, the rich blues of the door paint would bring any bathroom to life.  I hope you find them inspirational too...  

We arrived at the Hall sardine style, with the car soon to burst its hinges with wedding paraphernalia.  I instantly felt at ease being back in the countryside, it’s the exact feeling you get when you become aware you’re holding your shoulders up near your ears, then you let out a huge sigh and release all the tension.  Raring for the celebrations to begin, you could almost get drunk on the pure excitement in the air.



Thursday, 8 September 2016

IN LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH LATE NIGHT MUNCHIES?

A Thursday Throwback...

Anyone heading to Hyde Park this weekend?  As summer is rushing through its last month, the nights are sneakily getting darker earlier, I can't help but feel a little sad that the British festival season/summers evenings spent outside, are drawing to a close.  One of my favourite summer events in the city is hanging out at Hyde park, munching through a picnic and as an added bonus -  catching some live music at many of their ticketed events.

This weekend is one of the last ticketed music events of the summer with BBC 'Proms in the Park' on Saturday, and BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 'A Festival in a day' on Sunday.  Some tickets are still available.

If you do happen to find yourself at the Park or anywhere in London for that matter, parties over, clock strikes midnight and now the munchies are well and truly setting in - "Where to shall we go Nessa?"

Monday, 8 February 2016

DIY PROMISE JAR

This is just a general post about how to make a Promise Jar.  With Valentine's Day this weekend it's a great shout for the "different" gift you've been looking for.  Personally I am a hopeless romantic, receiving a homemade gift (with that little extra thought behind it) just totally knocked my socks off.  This post just happened to come about now - I uploaded a video on my Youtube channel (a few weeks ago) about the Promise jar I made.  It was more as an idea for a present in January, when most people are having to watch their money.  If this has given you an idea for a Valentine's gift, then an added bonus for you! However, a Promise Jar is an all year round gift, it doesn't just have to be for someone you're in love with on that level - I made one for my Godson when he was born,  I also think it's such a beautiful idea for a family member or close friend.

There are endless avenues a Promise Jar could turn - 

I received one from my (now Fiancé) about 5 years ago for an anniversary gift.  It had 52 promises inside, one for every week of the year.  There were equal amounts of gold and red promises.  The Gold being an experience, a general gesture e.g. I will do the washing up every day this week, or a material promise e.g. I promise to buy you one item of clothing or dinner out.  The red promises were for sexy time, I'll leave that one with you lol!!
Wednesday, 27 January 2016

INTERIOR DESIGN INSPIRATION WITH ROCKETT ST GEORGE

When we finally started the fun part of decorating our home and searching for interiors, we came across Rockett St George a UK based online shop, which believe me is so much more.  It was love at first sight and I became slightly obsessed lol.  It was one of those moments when you realise you want every single item for sale, but would need 10 houses to fill with the sheer volume of their First-Class goods! It was an absolute taste match, the missing pieces of our jigsaw.

Before I had met the team I knew from one of the companies instagram posts 'If Monday's were shoes, they'd be Crocs' that I would feel right at home! So when I was offered the chance to view their latest collections and chat all things interior design, I obviously jumped at the chance.  Safe to say, what gorgeous ladies they were, so genuine and down to earth.

Their first ever customer event took place at The Hoxton Hotel, Holborn - this did not surprise me one bit as the style and taste of this power duo (that are Jane Rockett and Lucy St George) is just impeccable.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

OXFORD FASHION WEEK

I was very honoured to have been invited to attend the Oxford Fashion Week runway shows at the end of October.  The team behind these shows are 'Oxford Fashion Studios' who have been exceptionally busy since September, putting runways together in New York, London, Paris, LA and now wrapping the season up in Houston tonight!  The Oxford Fashion Studios team have the extremely exciting job of spotting new designers (and some already established) who they believe have that 'Je ne sais quoi'.  They distinguish those who they feel are unique, giving them encouragement and a platform to showcase their work.
Thursday, 17 September 2015

PARIS DAY 4 - HOW TO TAKE THE PERFECT SELFIE!

Our penultimate day had arrived, dun dun dunnnnn, we were adamant to make the most of it.  We decided it was about time we saw the main attraction itself up close and personal!  Yes, in my post prior to this, I was banging on about how I'm not the touristy type but the Eiffel Tower is another cup of tea altogether.  It is just phenomenal to see in person, weirdly it relaxes me.  It is so gratifying seeing it in all it's glory, shoulders back, standing proud in the City of Lights it looks down upon.  Maybe it’s the familiarity of seeing it all over the world in paintings and prints on cards, it's almost welcoming.  It witnesses so much, through all seasons of weather! I know I sound bonkers...I guess a Paris trip just wouldn't be complete without it.  Also it is just a stones throw away from all the designer shops with their stunning window displays.  I can only apologise for having to drag my tongue off the floor as we have a nose in the windows.
Monday, 14 September 2015

PARIS DAY 3 - CRÊPE FIX, CHECK.

Friday we got up a bit later.  We managed to be very jammy and get a last minute table at Breizh Café  crêperie (Rue vieille du Temple) a 10 minute walk from the apartment.  Finally pleasing our crêpe craving.
'When in France' and all that...this sexy little joint was heaving with customers, the whole time we were there people were constantly being turned away.  The owner was sending them next door to their shop where strangers had to bunch up together, sharing tables, if they wanted to sample the goods!  So a primary note to you and myself is to always make a reservation, we just got very very lucky.
Friday, 11 September 2015

PARIS DAY 2 - WILL THIS MAKE ME MORE PARISIAN?

All the talk from the previous night of how we were blown away by Ellsworth, planting the seed of this 'in demand' Brunch in our heads, we seemed to talk up a craving for pancakes and were determined to track some down!  Brunch is a big deal in Paris.  The boys scouted Holybelly before we got to Paris so we turned to instagram to regain faith.  One look at their mouth watering pics and we were all Game...yes, this was a serious matter.  We felt well rested after catching up on our sleep, excited to start our day.  Holybelly is only a 13 minute walk door to door from where we were staying (Just to set the scene - I mentioned in the previous post 'Paris part 1' about our accommodation, we were based next door to Fondation café on Rue Dupetit-Thouars.  The nearest metro station being Temple).  
With a spring in our step, we set off.  Only getting as far as the end of our road, before being distracted by this stunning print sitting in the window of Orf a very stylish Book/Magazine shop and Gallery.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

PARIS DAY 1 - ELLSWORTH STOLE MY HEART

Our Journey started with a bang, literally! As I (not so subtly) popped our bottle of bubbly on the train around 8.30am.  Only a few close passengers jumping out of their skin, it was greeted with a few giggly faces, THANK GOD!  It felt just the same as Christmas morning minus the presents, Bucksfizz anyone?!

Monday, 24 August 2015

THE COTSWOLDS WERE CALLING

Our very special friends were away for the weekend celebrating a milestone birthday! Rob had found some absolutely stunning accommodation through The Landmark Trust - a charity that restores (some on the verge of collapse) historic buildings, to use as holiday homes.  We were debating whether to go and join them for their Sunday lunch, as we had a very rare weekend off.  Planning on making best use of our time together, we needed to do the last of our DIY.  Saturday fell upon us, we had a last minute visit from our other generous friends armed with 'Bread ahead' doughnuts, from their morning breakfast at Borough Market.  Whilst in the Cotswolds, Rob had sent us a few snaps during the day, luring us like cat's to the cream! “If you leave now, you could be here for 5pm! we can still keep it a secret from Alex”.  Once our guests left, we were discussing dinner plans.  The lack of motivation to crack on with any DIY grew stronger as we gawked over these very persuasive pictures (of what looked like a miniature castle in the middle of a field) I mean HELLLLL'O!.  Within seconds we were convincing each other that we should just throw caution to the wind and pack a bag.  We had a little realisation (as we so often do these days) that one day (in the not too distant future) spontaneity could be a thing of the past, for the time being.  Within an hour we were on our way!

By 8pm (2hrs 30 later) we arrived in Chipping Campden (a traditional Cotswold market town).  Lipstick and hair checked, a bottle of bubbly in hand, we crept through the gate and down the path to the open door of the 'West Banqueting House' - a grade II listed building.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A LONG WEEKEND FOOD MARATHON - SANTANDER CYCLES

SUNDAY AFTERNOON
SANTANDER CYCLES

Once we’d let our brunch go down we decided we very much needed to do some form of physical exercise.  Doesn't everyone know that feeling of needing to move after food? other wise - nap time, which then turns into 'we are never leaving the sofa again time!'.  You want to build up at least a little appetite for later, right?! Technically this is a holiday, so it's only right to treat oneself to ample amounts of food and drink?! We spontaneously jumped on some Santander cycles, I like the name 'Boris bike' more.  I had been craving to jump back on a bike again, especially since we've had some gorgeous weather.  We used to go on bike rides all the time when we first moved to London, exploring a new area each weekend.  I miss it a lot but my bike died and I've yet to replace it.  After today's bike ride I am well and truly hooked once again and already cannot wait to hop back on.  It is the absolute prefect way to see the city and you can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time (if you’re up for it!).  The only thing I don't like about it is the non-existent helmets.  Shouldn't it be the law to wear a helmet whilst cycling? Especially after so many accidents and fatalities in the capital.  Saying that, there are loads of routes to go on that will avoid busy roads, you just need to be organised and use your initiative.  If you are loosing sunlight, don't threat, there are lights on the bikes that will start flashing as soon as you pedal.

We walked out of Maltby Street Market and found a docking station straight away on Tanner street. They really are everywhere, one of those things when you're not looking for it - you won't notice it, once it's fresh in your mind, you can't stop seeing them!!


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A LONG WEEKEND FOOD MARATHON - MALTBY STREET MARKET

SUNDAY MORNING
MALTBY STREET MARKET, ROPEWALK

Sunday morning we all had a good lay in, especially needed after our meat feast the night before.  We wanted to wait until we were actually hungry before we ate again! We headed to Maltby Street Market, Ropewalk, about 1pm.

Monday, 10 August 2015

A LONG WEEKEND FOOD MARATHON - HOTBOX

SATURDAY NIGHT
HOTBOX

After casually wandering around Shoreditch, catching up, window shopping (with a little stop off on Redchurch street in one of my favourite shops - Labour and Wait) we strolled down some quieter streets such as Princelet, Wilkes, Fournier and Elder street.  We stumbled across some of the best preserved eighteenth century houses in London.  If property gets you all a flutter like me, then they are quite something to stand back and admire.  Most have original features of french style outside shutters and huge attic windows.  Primarily built for the Huguenot master weavers that came over from France, they will now set you back around 2 million £'s!!  Authenticity at it's very best. Their worth a look or even a read up.

A LONG WEEKEND FOOD MARATHON - OZONE COFFEE ROASTERS

SATURDAY MORNING
OZONE COFFEE ROASTERS

Some of our best friends came to visit for a long weekend.  They currently live near Manchester but Sally used to live in London.  It was very long over due as we hadn't seen them since Christmas.  Once we get together we are like four peas in a pod, with what feels like - constant flowing gin and belly laughs all round!  We wanted to take them to a few places they hadn't been before.  At the same time, we wanted to check if there were any places they were desperate to revisit.  Luckily we all have a common interest in all things FOOD AND DRINK, we wouldn’t be best friends if we didn't, right? HA.  We utterly indulged from beginning to end and didn't want it to ever end.

On Saturday morning we headed East to Shoreditch.  Sally wanted to revisit one of her favourite brunch spots 'Lantana' (previously Salvation Jane) she had been dreaming of their toasted courgette bread for some time! After checking opening hours before we set off, we were disappointed to find they had closed half an hour early, well, just because they can?!  Most annoyingly, there was no sincere apology or explanation - just three faces looking at us with an invisible banner saying “Do you know where you are?  We’re cooler than you and we just can".  We just wanted to know why.  Sorry sal, we’ll have to take our custom elsewhere and make up for the courgette bread craving in other ways!

We wandered around the corner and saw the very dark and seemingly closed building that is 'Ozone Coffee Roasters' on Leonard Street.  We popped our heads in and were instantly excited with the whole character, very alluring at first glance.  Adam is an absolute coffee fanatic and was like a child in a sweet shop, excited by the top quality Strada coffee machine and other brewing devices that sat on the shelf.  He briefly and patiently educated me on what most of them do.  I had no idea there were so many ways in which coffee can be served.  They looked like they belonged in a Mad Professor's laboratory and I wanted to know more.  Like excited children we joined our table to order food.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

ON THE ROOF WITH 'VINTAGE SALT'

Some Mother/daughter time was well over due.  My absolute favourite time.  Life really is what you make it.  Look after your elders people - after all, they are the reason you are alive and breathing, you have a lot to thank them for!...preach over...
Mum arrived about midday on a  Wednesday afternoon.  After lot’s of chatter with milky tea (how we both like it) we headed straight into central.  We were shopping for a wedding guest outfit but got easily side tracked in Selfridges. Looking for gifts and then getting well and truely pampered in Kiehl's by (I will just add) THE most amazing go to beauty lady, Gillian.  After a few visits - she is now my trusted confidant and I would recommend her 1 billion % .  Just one look at her baby face skin and you know this lady has got her S### together!  If you are ever in Selfridges go and say hello.  Anyhow, that’s for another day.  We were getting peckish as the time neared 5.30pm and the start of the lengthy evening sun was under way.  (With the weather in mind) and no walking involved, I suggested we try out the roof top restaurant ‘Vintage Salt’, seeing as we couldn’t be any closer and already in need for a sit down! 




Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A FINANCIAL ADVISER TO HELP WITH YOUR MORTGAGE - PART 2

I am going to share examples of the sorts of things we discussed with our adviser, what queries we brought up and what he advised. 

Are you also self-employed? You might have the same questions as we did, or are just intrigued as to what a financial adviser may ask you?  You may know all the information already and can be reassured that you definitely don’t need/want to invest in one.  Whether you are finding the mortgage part of your buying process a little overwhelming, you are totally confused or you just want to be nosey - it’s all relevant in being beneficial to you, whatever stage of the process you are at.  Below I will split it into different sections.  Any information the financial adviser gave will be highlighted in grey.

-What you need to do...
Provide evidence of your income (needing the last 3 years of your accounts if self-employed, only the last 3 months if not, if the latter you will also need to provide your P60 from the last year to compare two full years of your earnings).  What do you think your budget is? What monthly repayments do you have in mind? In an ideal world, have you been thinking of going for a 2 year or longer, fixed or tracked rate on the mortgage?
Our adviser then looked at our figures and came back with some parameters of how much we could borrow and what we’d realistically need as a deposit.
Based on the information we had given - there were 2 year fixed rates out there that fit our budget.  Variable rates (at the time) were about the same price, so he definitely recommended going for a fixed rate mortgage in that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain if rates went up.
-He strongly advised we’d need a minimum of 10% deposit.

We never met our adviser in person, who knows, he could of looked like one of these dudes?!

Friday, 24 April 2015

A FINANCIAL ADVISER TO HELP WITH YOUR MORTGAGE - PART 1

-Why we had one?
I am self-employed and had heard over the years that this could slim down my chances of being accepted a mortgage. It could bring certain challenges along the way, putting lenders off and not being taken seriously. Surely I just had to prove my income/outgoing's along with the masses? Having this stigma attached to being self-employed made me anxious, I didn’t want to let my side of the team down. As well as this potential barrier, we had done some research but were intrigued to see if a mortgage broker could find us a better deal. I had been encouraged through various sources (personal and non) that if we were worried about it letting us down - we should get in touch with a broker for advice. We were introduced to our financial adviser through a parent, who had used him in the past.

-What they do?
Using all the information provided by yourselves, they scan the market, working out who would be the best lender to suit your needs/be accepted with your circumstances, getting the best rates and arranging your mortgage. If being faced with potential barriers, they act as a voice for you to explain and rectify the situation. I believe we were very lucky with ours. He always responded to emails so quickly, even if I had the smallest query. I felt so comfortable and could ask anything. In the end I became quite reliant on our adviser - if something happened e.g. during a viewing, I would want his opinion on the matter and he was very open to giving it (obviously we were paying him but it wasn’t like we paid another x amount of money every time he gave us more and more advice. It was a set rate no matter how many question's we threw at him). He’d email us different quotes and mortgage rates and we then made a decision who to go with. He did a lot of the paper work for us, therefore speeding up the process and dealt with our chosen lender on our behalf up until completion.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

BUENOS AIRIES CAFE (BLACKHEATH RESTAURANT)

A few Saturdays ago, we had Matthew’s parents visiting for the weekend.  Papa Harris had completed his sliding door project back in Norfolk and had transported the final product, finally fixing it to the wall!! WE HAVE A DOOR ON THE BATHROOM! This is a very, very big deal.  No more whistling wee’s or turning the TV up for a friend's no.2! It’s been a long time! and so worth the wait.  Anyhoo...

After a day of strenuous DIY, we went to dine at the Argentinian restaurant ‘Buenos Aires Cafe’, in Blackheath, South East London.  Whilst casually strolling or driving past in the last year or so we always commented on how packed it always was, even on weekday nights.  We always noticed their gorgeous gigantic wine glasses set out on the tables (you know how hard it is to shop for the perfectly large wine glass, these are those!) and couldn't believe it had taken this long for us to try it out.  We were lucky to get a table when booking at the start of the week.  First point - always make reservations in good time for a weekend evening.  The restaurant is small and cosy but you aren't too overlooked by neighbouring tables.  There are more tables downstairs, however you ideally want to be upstairs to get a good view out the window!  It has such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, which we picked up on as soon as we shut the door behind us.  It is situated on the best side of the Blackheath village triangle, overlooking the vast open space of the Heath.  The staff were the perfect amount of attentive, and so happy to recommend or explain any dishes. 


Thursday, 9 April 2015

CHOTTO MATTE, PRE-THEATRE BENTO BOX

My actual birthday fell on a Monday, the parental's had stayed over, after celebrating with friends and family over the weekend.  We had nestled into Gail’s Bakery for breakfast and card opening, as the flat was being taken over by builders.  We had wondered around the city pretty aimlessly with a basic plan to eat, drink and soak up each others company - my favourite kind of London day.  After our palates were satisfied with the simplicity of a quality breakfast, we needed somewhere decent for a casual lunch.  I fancied some eats that had a real contrast, and it’s kind of a religion to eat sushi at some point during birthday celebrations - it’s my No.1!  I had come across Chotto Matte when doing a random job there - Lorraine Pascale was filming a Vodafone campaign.  I had to sit for several hours at the sushi bar, watching the little creation's being put together, from the beginning of their very existence.  Then eat California rolls and make them look tasty (all in a days work!).  It was a treat for someone who loves raw fish to the extent that I do, watching a full salmon being prepared for sashimi, I thought Christmas had come early (oh dear, yes I am aware!)  I was extremely impressed with the chefs and excited to come back for a proper meal.  I got chatting with the floor manager and was made aware that it came on the London scene in September 2013.  Why didn’t I know!? It’s tucked away in the busyness of Soho, but you can’t miss it! It’s huge, towering 3 floors.  I’m always looking to find restaurant's that serve sushi, especially to introduce to one of my dearest and best friends currently living in India, she also salivates just at the thought of it...


I know, it's hard to believe she is a real person.  There she is, hiding before they seduce her...anyway, so…