Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The weekend

It all started with a present from Popeye. I've always had an affinity with Holly Hobbie, her being my namesake, and always dressed in a rather fetching vintage outfit. There have been several Holly Hobbie items throughout my life which have been particularly memorable:  my building blocks trolley, which was bought when I was a baby as an incentive to inspire me to walk, my egg cup, an embroidered picture, a doll and now a Holly Hobbie dinner plate all of my own. I am rather overjoyed with it, and am trying to channel the HH sentiment every single day.

{The time to be happy is now}

The major event of the weekend was a trip into London on Saturday to meet friends for lunch, followed by a trip to the theatre and then dinner out.

I have in the past been stuck for a nice place to meet people for something to eat near Oxford Circus, but since having discovered Riding House Cafe, it's no longer a problem.

{avocado on toast}

I had been looking forward to seeing One Man, Two Guvnors at the Royal Haymarket Theatre for ages, since the reviews from when James Corden played the lead were full of nothing but praise. Owain Arthur is now in the lead role, and gives an amazing and athletic performance, and the play is genuinely the funniest thing I've ever seen at the theatre. They have a limited number of £25 tickets available from 10am on the day of each performance - I'd go and try your luck, it would be worth a the queue.

{Owain Arthur}

We went for dinner afterwards at Le Boudin Blanc, a favourite restaurant of ours in the charming Shepherd Market, just off Green Park. We called in first at the Curzon Mayfair cinema round the corner where I love going to see a film, to pick up their brochure. I noticed that the Diana Vreeland documentary 'The Eye Has to Travel' comes out there on 28th September, so I'll be trying to make a trip back to catch it. The bar at the cinema has a very Mad Men feel to it, and don't get me started on the Ladies - I've never seen so much marble.

{A look at the influential fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland}

At Le Boudin Blanc, I always have steak-frites which is always brilliant, and then make someone share the cheese board with me - and I stayed true to form on this occasion.

{Le Boudin Blanc}
The Sunday was a quieter day, making some decorations on my sewing machine for a friend's wedding, but I did stumble across this intriguing picture at a charity sale, which I picked up for £4.

{bargain picture}

Monday, 17 September 2012

Back to school

I always looked forward to back to school preparations - a new school jumper, maybe a pair of school shoes, and always, always new stationery. A family summer holiday in France would sometimes mean a trip to the hypermarche, for files, pencil cases and pens, plus notebooks always with the obligatory French graph paper.

Stationery shopping is still something I love, and Muji is definitely my favourite destination, with Paperchase a close second. For online shopping, The Paperie is great, with free delivery over £10.

A little shopping trip in London saw me come home with this stash - the stickers from Liberty and the erasable gen pen from Muji are my top picks! And my most useful purchase? The plastic wallet which I can slip a couple of make-up brushes into when I go away for the weekend, keeping them clean and tidy.

{Muji stash}}
{Liberty stash}

Friday, 14 September 2012

Reading and wrapping

I've just discovered Wrap magazine, a  design and illustration magazine which has been conceived with a double purpose: after reading it, you use the beautifully illustrated pages as wrapping paper.


I've used magazine pages as wrapping paper for while - any magazine which is bound with staples is easiest to use, because you get two full pages. The weekend colour supplements are best for this, especially the fashion and lifestyle sections. The Financial Times also makes for stylish paper - just watch out for inky hands.
{pages from colour supplements}
{fashion pages, and even a fashion gift tag}
{the FT}

Thursday, 13 September 2012


I recently went to hang out in Bath for a few days. The sun was shining, so we packed our bags and off we went. I’d been to Bath before, but only really knew it vaguely, so this time was a chance to get to know it properly.

Of all the places I’ve visited recently, I don’t think I’ve been anywhere which as the range of independent, one-off shops that Bath has. If you’re shopping for the home, fashion, or gifts then Bath really does have a great range of choice.

Since the last time I was back, they have finished the re-development of the city centre down by the train station, which is now a smartly pedestrianised area where you’ll find Topshop and all your high street regulars. But for the more unusual retailers, you need to head up to the Broad Street area of the city, which you’ll pass through if you’re heading up to the tourist hot-spots – the Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms, which also houses Bath’s Fashion Museum.


I started my day in the Bartlett Street area, where you’ll find Toast, Loft and the Bartlett Antique Centre. You will probably already be familiar with Toast, but Loft is unique to Bath, and it a mix of homeware and ladieswear, with a lovely cafe too. It’s expensive but there are some lovely clothes made in lovely fabrics. The selection of homeware is small but beautiful – you’ll get lots of ideas which you might be able to source for cheaper elsewhere on the high street. The cafe is a nice spot to stop for a coffee or cake – the style of decor being very much in keeping with the stuff they sell. The whole feel of the shop is very Scandi-chic. Just up my street. 

A browse around Toast, where I fell in lovely with this biker jacket from their new collection, was followed by a rummage in the labyrinth-like Bartlett Antique Centre, which is a treasure trove for vintage and antique finds. Lunch was at Same Same But Different on Bartlett Street, where I had the goats cheese salad, which was one of the best I've had, and I've tried more than a few. Then I mosied on up the hill to the Assembly Rooms, past Bee’s Vintage Tea Rooms on Saville Row, where I ogled their impressive collection of tea sets.

{an impressive collection of tea sets}

Wandering across the Royal Circus, I then walked along to Margaret’s Buildings, which is a tucked away enclave of interesting shops, my favourite being Heavens Bazaar, a vintage shop on two floors, crammed full of clothes, bags and jewellery. I spent an age in there, sifting through their impressive stock, and then went for a drink at The Lime Lounge.

Dinner was at The Circus, a stylish but unpretentious restaurant up near the Royal Circus. There were several things on the menu which tempted me, and the staff and the atmosphere were lovely. There are tables on the pavement too for when the weather is good - all very civilised. The Canary Gin and Wine Bar (2-3 Queen Street) was an excellent place to stop at for a drink on the way home.


On the few occasions I’d walked past Bertinet the previous day whilst getting my bearings, I’d built up some high expectations of the place and promised myself a visit. It’s a bakery on the ground floor with a cafe upstairs. Day two’s breakfast seemed the perfect time to try it out, so I found myself sat at a table next to a impressive display of tea sets, with a little red toaster perched on the table. Then I realised that there was a toaster on every table, and the reason became clear when I studied the menu – you could order a basket of a variety of different breads, with a selection of preserves and condiments, to toast at your table. Don’t mind if I do. But I was also tempted by the Pain aux Raisin and finally decided to go with that. It was the size of my head – apparently when Richard Bertinet himself is in the kitchen they are up-scaled somewhat – I like his style.

{pain aux raisin}

{vintage china}

Post breakfast, I headed up to Milsom Street, which is Bath's main shopping street, where shops such as The Kooples and Comptoir Des Cotonniers make it a more interesting shopping experience than your average high street. I then walked through to Milsom Place, which has looked full of promise since my arrival in Bath. I have a thing about anything pop-up: pop-up shops, pop-up cafes, pop-up books – and at Milsom Place I happened upon Poppy in Pearls wedding shop, run by the lovely Sarah. Her shop is there for a month, and is full of unique and beautiful items for any bride-to-be. From Liberty-print knickers, to gifts for bridesmaids and grooms, Sarah’s shop embodies the kind of look that would transform any wedding, and also be perfect for anyone in the market for some vintage prettiness. She started her business after being frustrated that the kind of well-made, vintage style accessories she wanted for her own wedding weren’t available. I think her pop-up shop may be gone by now, but here's her website - www.poppyinpearls.com.

Another shop in Milsom Place is Katherine Fraser Textiles - an amazing shop run by Katherine herself, who has her weaving loom in her shop, and literally weaves her fabrics right in front of you. The fabrics are beautifully soft, and the colour combinations are brilliant, making her designs instantly covetable. She makes everything from blankets and cushions to napkins and tablecloths. I bought some buttons, which I'm going to make some little jewellery pouches with. 

{too many to choose from}

{napkin and tablecloth set}

{blankets and cushions}

{the loom where Katherine weaves her fabrics}

I wandered through to the other side of Milsom Place and spent the afternoon browsing shops such as Black and White (21 Broad Street) stuffed full of vintage clothes, Best of British deli, and vintage homeware shop Kiss The Frog Again. And if you're after vintage shops, it's worth checking out nearby Vintage to Vogue too. I stopped for lunch at Made by Ben and have maybe never had a nicer sandwich. Well done Ben.

The day finished with a picnic on the Royal Crescent in the late evening sunshine.

{a very British scene}

I started the day on Queen Street, with breakfast at the Wild Cafe which was a great find - on the menu was everything I could have wanted, and all their food is locally sourced. It's got a very chilled out atmosphere and was a lovely start to the day. From my table in the cafe I had a great vantage point Scarlett Vintage, over the road. I called in after breakfast and spent a while browsing the rails of dresses from every era - everything was in immaculate condition and lovingly displayed. I found a blue silk dress from Seattle, for £45 which instantly won me over and I was handing over my card before I knew it.

I then wandered up to Paxton & Whitfield, the famous cheese shop, where I bought some supplies for some cheese-loving friends we were visiting on the way home. If you're after a packed lunch, they sell delicious looking cheese rolls for just £2.50 - nearby Queen's Square is a good picnic spot, and the Pétanque piste means that there's often some sporting entertainment on the go.

After a stop at the achingly cool Colonna & Small's, which will have you thinking that you're having a coffee in a New York style coffee shop, I headed over to the Walcot Street area of the city, which is home to The Makery - a craft emporium which runs courses, workshops, events and parties, with another  shop in the town centre which sells craft supplies.

There are a few charity shops on Walcott Street to have a rummage in, and a shop called Meticulous Ink Fine Stationery, which makes the most beautiful invitations, business cards and stationery I've ever seen. The cards are expensive at over £3 each, but if you've got an occasion coming up which deserves something special, then this is just the place. You can spend ages in there, looking at all the different designs. And then next door is another cheese shop - The Fine Cheese Company, which also has its own cafe - those Bath types are obviously into their dairy products. I stopped at Sam’s Kitchen for a late lunch stop, being seduced  by the comfy sofa and huge glass door opening onto the street. The vintage-style decor is charming, and they're open the occasional evening serving a dinner menu, alongside their popular music events.

{cards from Meticulous Ink}
Dinner was at Beaujolais, an old timer on the Bath restaurant scene, which has a lovely courtyard garden at the back. We then headed home, knowing Bath that little bit better, and looking forward to our next visit.

{charcuterie plate}

{goats cheese & broad beans}

{Poulet Basquaise}

{pan-fried lamb}

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The last of the Devon summer

We headed to Devon at the weekend, to enjoy the weekend of sunshine. We stayed in Shaldon, near Teignmouth, with is a pretty, bustling Devon village. Here's what we got up to.

{heading west on Friday evening}

I almost don't want to tell you about my favourite beach, Blackpool Sands, because I want to keep it under wraps. But as it consistently wins awards, it's hardly unheard of. Venus Cafe is situated right on the beach, and is open every day of the year bar Christmas Day. In the summer, it's open in the evening for dinner, and has the most relaxed, picturesque setting.

{at my favourite beach, Blackpool Sands}
{homemade clementine & almond syrup cake
{our camp at the beach}
{eggs benedict at Cafe Ode, Ness Cove}
{breakfast with a view of Teignmouth}

I often say that my favourite food is salt - I'm very fond of the stuff, and so far my blood pressure is tolerating my habit. I discovered this smoked salt from the Cornish Sea Salt company, and a new pot from The Hub, on The Triangle in Teignmouth. The pottery is made by Ron Jackson who lives locally, and digs the clay himself. His pottery stands alongside a card which says: "This ere by a dollop of Devonshire clay shaped by an 83 year old man, who will work as long as e can".

{new salt discovery and new pinch pot}

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

And I found my prints charming

I was seduced by two items in the chazzy this weekend. Firstly this dress, which is vintage M&S, and made yonks ago, when  their clothes were still being made in West Germany, as it was then. It's 100% viscose, and what I love most is the pleats under the sculpted waistband - and the sculpted waistband is what I love second-most. And third-most I love the colour combo in the print - the mustard yellow, olive green and muted purple. Oh and there's a fourth too - I love the layered sleeves. I think it would look great with a bright orange suede heel.

{two fine florals}

{the reverse}

{Reldan black & red floral jacket}

{jacket, £49.50 from M&S - matching trousers available}

And then there's the jacket - I've never heard of Reldan before, but it's 100% wool and made in England, and is not dissimilar to the red Zara jacket I was eyeing up in my recent blog post. It's a very flattering, fitted style, which I'll wear with my dark blue jeans. There's lots of red and black about this season - this jacket above I saw in Saturday's Guardian Weekend magazine is similar, and was part of Susie Bubble's edit of this season at M&S. Brocade is a strong look for next season on the high street - think heavily patterned stately home style curtains and you're on the right lines.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Weekend double

I've got a bit behind with posting my weekend activities for the last couple of weeks, so here's a summary of what I've been up to.

I made a trip back home to Liverpool to bid some friends a fond farewell on their adventure to a new life in Marrakech - these friendship bracelets from MochaShop on Etsy had a starrring role. I've also just spotted this lace collar necklace from MochaShop - love it. 

I succumbed to yet another statement necklace, this time from Zara.

{necklace from Zara}

And then found this pink neon necklace in H&M, which is meant to be a long necklace, which don't really suit me, so I shortened it with the help of a pair of pliers and a safety pin.

{necklace from H&M}

Had breakfast at my favourite deli, Seasons in Amersham - the apple, beetroot and carrot juice was a virtuous treat.

Bought a new silk scarf from a chazzy, which I think is a little Mondrian-esque, which I used as wrapping paper - at £1 it was cheaper then buying paper. And found a navy and white leather bag.

{silk scarf}

{leather bag}

I stumbled across these glass outdoor tea light holders from Waitrose, to hang from a tree or nearby hook. The look lovely in the garden, especially now the nights are getting darker.

Some kitchen time saw us barbecuing our favourite chicken recipe again, and baking my foolproof banana bread, with enough mixture left over for a couple of muffins.

{banana muffins}

{prep for sticky barbecue chicken thighs}
Now on to the next weekend, and the sun is shining - joy! x