Cadigans 04 / Catching my eye on the internet this week (no knitwear!)

"It doesn't matter what we wear or what we look like, because we can do some seriously badass stuff."
© LIFE Magazine 

There really is something so badass about rollerskating girl gangs. Can I come back as one in my next life please?

Get ready for Lionheart 6! Brilliant Bristol publishing does it again with the time issue.

This perfume is sunshine and summer holiday breezes in the evening and just pure HEAVEN.

Fascinated by this woman and her life and her strength

These emojis! Moomijis <3

It's old but this piece of writing has really stuck with me

Hello beautiful dress... (am I too old for off-the-shoulder?)

This woman wouldn't think so

What's floating your boat at the mo?

PS Cadigans are placeholder words, those brilliantly esoteric, eccentric words such as knick-knack, whatjamacallit, thingumajig, doo-dah - words to describe things for which we have no words.

IKEA LiveLagom: a mid-project update

We’re halfway through our IKEA LiveLagom project and this month we’ve been focusing on growing our own, both at home and on a friend’s allotment.

In the garden, the boys have enjoyed planting herbs - basil, mint and parsley  - and a companion kit of yellow peppers and thyme, all from the Froer range. As I mentioned in this post, we’re still getting to know and understand our garden, the path of the sun across the yard throughout the day and therefore the best places to plant. We have a strange raised bed type thing behind the back door that’s filled with pebbles at the moment. As far as I can tell, the spot gets no sun at all so I’m tempted to conclude it used to be a pond but who knows? I’m no expert but I’m guessing a bed with no sun is unlikely to be a productive place for growing veg. Instead, I’m investigating some of the more shade-loving plants for here - ferns, lily-of-the-valley, hostas etc.

One big revelations is that the garden is virtually snail and slug-free which is hugely exciting (what have I become??). Moving here from a Victorian house and overgrown garden with about the worst snail population you can imagine (including our own family of house slugs), the prospect of gardening without the threat of slimy pests thrills me beyond all probability. Anyway, hostas, lupins, delphiniums and lettuce have all been pointless in the past. Now, let’s plant!

So the veg will be along the right hand wall where our strawberry tubs currently soak up the rays. The Froer kits actually require a bit of indoor germination before planting out, so we aren’t really outdoors yet other than a couple of fennel plants I bunged into the bed more for their beautifully delicate green and bronze fronds than for any future harvest.

Instead, major veg growing will take place at the allotment. My sweet friend Sam has a plot on the most desirable allotment in Bristol, its position near to Ashton Court enjoying sweeping views of the Suspension Bridge. Sam has put together a team of gardeners (we will be gardening so I will optimistically call us gardeners) to tend to the plot over the next few months and the boys just can’t wait.

On Sunday, the weather held and so we headed for the plot to familiarise ourselves with what’s already in the ground: potatoes (old and new), beetroot, red onions, broad beans, cabbage, borlotti beans, kale, artichokes, strawberries and raspberries.

Later, the boys complained of rumbling tummies so we drove out of the city to Chew Lake, Here, after a good old romp in the adventure playground, we treated ourselves to fish and chips from the spectacular Salt & Malt. Driving home, we brainstormed the plants we plan to grow, with the boys requesting cauliflower. Now I *think* this isn’t an easy one so we may have to also investigate romanesco, but I'm sure we'll work something out.

Once those crops are ready to harvest, we'll be thinking of how to preserve and store the inevitable glut later this year. Korken jars at the ready!

Homes: A typical bank holiday weekend

As well as the Easter egg hunts and the chocolate overdoses, last weekend's festivities included a big old slice of DIY. Classic bank holidays, innit?

Aside from our kitchen makeover project, we used the extra days' holiday to make a start on our garden. Our outdoor space is not that exciting. Think a big bricky square and you're not far off! I suppose you could describe it as a walled garden - there are brick walls so it's technically correct. One has a rampant ivy tumbling over, with a climbing rose contained somewhere within. Half of the garden is a paved area, the other half pebbled. There are three small beds and a random spindly shrub growing in the centre of the pebbled area. All in all, it's a neglected garden.

So what did we do last weekend? We worked hard and went to bed each night with that lovely, achey muscle feeling. The beginning of the weekend was the taking away, and the second half that exciting putting-stuff-in bit.

The taking away: we hacked back a massive buddleia, pruned a Mexican orange blossom, dug out a couple of enormous rooty old trunks, and cut back the weird spindly shrub.

And the putting stuff in? So many lovely things: a jasmine to grow up alongside the patio (the last of the garden to get the sun and where we'll eat in summer), a Denny's Double clematis to wind through the jasmine, a climbing hydrangea for the shady wall, my all-time favourite David Austin rose - Abraham Darby, forget-me-nots, violets, perennial geraniums, fennel, anemones, poppies. Potted violas and far too many strawberry plants chosen by the kids.

For when the weather gets warmer, I have my eye on some Spanish daisies, baby's tears, and my all-time favourite, the sweet pea.

And there's still so much to do! This spring, we'll be checking out a few DIY advice guides, rolling up our sleeves, and Getting Things Done.

Have you got any gardening or DIY projects on the go?

On social media and other peculiarities of our time

This is my very favourite Instagram picture. It's not the one with the most comments or likes, nor the best in technical terms, but - for obvious reasons - it is the one I love most. And as a metric, that should be the only one that matters. Shouldn't it?

Well, not if your business relies on promoting your work through social media channels. My friend Kat runs two separate accounts - one for her professional persona and one personal one with pics of the kids. I can see why. Recently, she interviewed Lara Watson, who I worked with on Mollie Makes, for a Blogtacular podcast in which they talked about perfecting your style online and how they felt they'd never be one of the big accounts. They knew the rules but just couldn't bring themselves to work that style 100% of the time.

Which made me think back to over 20 years ago when I got my A-Level results. Confession time: I got a D in my English A-Level. For someone who now makes a living from writing, I have ambivalent feelings about this. On the one hand, it feels like a guilty secret that I must keep from employers at any cost. But on the other? In a perverse way, I've joked about putting it on my business card.

Sure, there were some of the usual reasons for my disappointing grade: new boyfriend, underage drinking, hanging out with the jitters on College Green (translation for non-Bristolians: socialising with the alternative kids on a big patch of municipal grass, drinking 20/20 and wearing terrible tie-dye outfits). But one of the big reasons was that despite reading and understanding the texts, listening to my teachers, finishing my essays, when it came to it I just wanted to write my own interpretation of the work. Not the revision guide version. Mine. And I was effectively marked down for my independent thinking.

Which brings me to Instagram. I know the rules. I've read the study guides. I understand the medium. And yet there's something about it that repels me. I find it hard to be that calculating. My love of taking photographs is about finding interesting subjects or angles or colours or light, rather than maintaining a consistent feed. My life isn't consistent, so why should a public, pictorial representation of my life appear to be? (This not meant to diss those for whom a perfect feed is their objective, by the way. I enjoy a consistently curated, visual feast as much as the next insecure, middle-aged blogger.)

Instead, I find myself actively withholding images from my account for fear they will put off followers. In the constant pressure to increase my stats I'm self editing to such a degree that I feel crippled.

This clearly means that I need to find another way for self-validation, to strip away the meaning I've ascribed to those little orange hearts and head&shoulder icons. And I need to be confident that portraying the not-so-beautiful aspects of my life, if I choose to make them public, are just as valid as the perfection. Writing a blog and showing snippets of life online offer such a skewed version of what happens behind closed doors (although my blog is far from consistent in subject matter). My road is as bumpy as anyone else's, it's just not always necessary or appropriate to publish it, although those are my own self-appointed terms. But is that helpful or honest enough?

I don't know. Now that I'm writing this it feels wrought with inconsistencies. Do I go with the textbook version of my life and get those numbers up? Or do I throw away the rules, risk a D in social media, and enjoy the freedom and truth that brings? What do you think?

A vermouth tasting with The Collector and Regal Rogue

Jack Adair Bevan pours a cocktail made from The Collector vermouth
Last week, me and Mr G went out on a Monday night. I know! But there were definite extenuating circumstances. We'd got wind of an event put on by Guardian Local (the members' events programme) that involved our new favourite drink - vermouth.

When I was a teenager, breaking in my tolerance for booze, my drink of choice was Martini Rosso with lemonade. Ribena with a twist, if you will, it met my only criteria: sweet and alcoholic.

Who knew I'd be so ahead of my time? According to the event marketing, vermouth is fast replacing gin as the drink most sought after in the world's best bars. But we're talking proper vermouth. Artisan vermouth. Delicious and delicate, this new incarnation is carefully crafted by connoisseurs. Two of these masters of the vermouth world led Monday's event - Mark Ward of Regal Rogue, who makes his vermouths from 100% Australian wine and indigenous botanicals, and Jack Adair Bevan from one of my very favourite restaurants,The Ethicurean, whose Collector vermouth is made from plants foraged in Somerset.

The event took place at Bellita, newly launched little sister to Bristol fave, Bell's Diner. And as well as the range of vermouth-based drinks we sipped, there were treats and nibbles from the kitchen, too. A gorgeous beetroot dip with hazelnuts and yoghurt, delicious breads, and incredible marzipan-stuffed prunes dusted with almonds.

One of the big revelations of the night for us was Jack's penchant for the reverse cocktail, in which the volume of spirit to lighter alcohol (eg whisky and vermouth) is reversed for a lighter drink. This means you don't get hammered on three drinks, instead able to continue on through the night in a more civilised fashion. I think I could subscribe to that.

Jack writes a monthly cocktail column for the Guardian, so head over there for more of his mixological magic. And if you haven't yet tried The Collector, well, you simply must. Find out where to buy it here.

And after? We trotted down the road to Bravas, for more drinks and nibbles, before tumbling down the hill and home to bed.

Five reads for Easter (plus something to watch and something to listen to)

Kim Gordon photo: J. Dennis Thomas/Corbis

Girl in a Band

A belated birthday present, I was given Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band early this year while visiting a friend in Liverpool. By the time I arrived home on Sunday night after a 3-hour train journey, I'd nearly finished the book. Kim Gordon is perhaps the single coolest woman in rock. Now in her sixties, she spent decades writing, singing and performing in the band Sonic Youth who have always been one of the most respected indie bands on the scene.

Since reading the book I have even more respect and admiration for her as I learned of her early family life, her experiences in New York pre-Sonic Youth, and her work as a visual artist. Her voice is strong and eloquent, the book well-written and measured. And a proper page-turner, obviously.


Back in December, we had the joy of seeing the work of one of my favourite photographers up close and personal in the retrospective of Philippe Halsman (here's that post). Back in 1959, Halsman developed his theory of Jumpology - the images of celebrities he snapped mid-leap were later analysed for what this might reveal about their true selves.

The Jump book is a pictorial representation of these snaps and within its pages are beautiful, surprising portraits that offer a delightful glimpse into Hollywood, politics and art in the sixties and beyond.

What a Way to Go

A confession: What a Way to Go is written by my friend Julia Forster, who I've known for eight years. The first time I laid eyes on her was at a pregnancy yoga class and I marvelled at her poise while my own pregnant self felt lumpen and awkward. She is one of the most elegant people I know and it turns out that she writes with elegance and poise, too.

This is her first novel, the germ of which she talked about when our babies were wee. I remember her saying how desperately she wanted to get the novel out of her before the kids could properly talk as she was worried that seeing their experiences of childhood would cloud her own memories. Don't think there's any danger of that - this novel is beautiful written and insightful enough to make me also bypass my experiences as a mother and transport me back to the pop-loving eighties.

The Joy Of Eating: The Virago Book of Food

On New Year's Eve, we stayed at a friend's parents' house out in the countryside. Next to the bed in the spare room, I found this glorious anthology. Food is a constant in our lives, and it has always been a basic ingredient of women's writing - in household books, cookbooks, diaries, letters and fiction.

In this, the first anthology to concentrate on international food writing by women, you can go on a picnic with Monica Ali, learn about Frida Kahlo's wedding feast and indulge your appetites with Edwidge Danticat and Barbara Pym. Try making Elisabeth Luard's Afghan Betrothal Custard, Martha Washington's marzipan birds or Nigella Lawson's favourite comfort food. And why not sneak into the literary kitchens of Banana Yoshimoto, Emily Brontë and Angela Carter?

Invisible Cities

After a few months in the wilderness, I'm properly made up to have been asked to join not one but two new book groups. The first - an art book book group - will see its inaugural meeting next month, beginning with Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

I have read the first chapter only, but it made me nearly weep with the beauty of these words. I almost feel as though it's one to savour so much that I think I may need to eke it out and ration myself. Very, very excited about both the book and this new chapter (ha ha) in my book group career.

And - in a break with the convention of these posts - here is one to watch and one to listen to.

Broad City

We signed up to Now TV on a cheapo deal and yesterday discovered Broad City - an absolute gem of a comedy series. Two twenty-something women bodge about in New York in one of the most real and well-observed series I've seen in a while. Think Flight of the Conchords minus the songs. Or Master of None with more X chromosomes. Or Parks and Recreation with more sass.

And Hillary Clinton makes a cameo in the new series!

Laura J Martin

Working from home mostly means I listen to the radio a lot. Last week, one track stood out from the usual BBC 6 Music playlist - My Landing Place by Laura J Martin. She's from Liverpool but sounds as though she's Scandinavian or possibly from outer space. It's beautiful. Have a listen over on Spotify.

What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?

Interiors: The black kitchen PLUS Joseph Joseph bread bin review

Image: My Scandinavian Home via Pinterest

In a few weeks' time, we'll be embarking on a major makeover of our really rather outdated kitchen. This house was built in the early eighties (cue Brookside theme song) and is a red brick box by the water. It still has shades of that decade, both in a selection of bold bathroom suites and in the form of a rustic country kitchen.

When I say rustic, I mean that in two senses:

1. The oak cupboards, beige worktops and mottled tiles (complete with ears of corn deco) have a strong look, one very popular a few decades back but less desirable now.

2. This kitchen is way past its best - doors are hanging off, tiles are cracked, grout is discoloured - meaning rustic is just a kind way of saying it's knackered.

Rather than ripping it out and starting again, we are teaming up with B&Q to give it the mother of all makeovers. Be gone beige and buff and all other browns! We're going monochrome.

Meanwhile, they say 'fake it till you make it' and so we're beginning to buy with black and white in mind. Enter the Joseph Joseph melamine bread bin in black (£50).

I've never really known what to do with loaves of bread in varying sizes/stages of consumption. It's just such an irregular material to work with. The Joseph Joseph one is a good, solid bread bin with plenty of room for all kinds of doughy delights. But the best thing? Its lid flips over to become a bread board. Genius! It's such a simple idea but one that makes for a really easy life. Two thumbs up.

We also tried a microwave rice cooker - the Joseph Joseph M-Cuisine Rice Cooker which retails for £20. This is such an excellent product, not because cooking rice is really that complicated but because it just removes one stage of the game when putting together a meal (and therefore eases multi-tasking brain-ache). Which is always a winner in my book.

Of course, we'll be blogging every step of our kitchen makeover, beginning soon with the painting of those corny tiles. And we can't thank B&Q enough for collaborating with us. Check back in to see our progress.

No home improvement project could possibly be complete without a Pinterest board of delights - here's my black kitchen inspiration.

Follow Lottie | Oyster & Pearl's board The black kitchen on Pinterest.

I'm also enjoying the collections from

Would you go black in the kitchen? Or do you think it's too much?

Thanks to B&Q for their generosity with this project, and to Joseph Joseph for sending us two products to review.

Review: The Personal Barber subscription box

Earlier this year, I was asked if I'd like to review a subscription service by The Personal Barber. I nearly refused, but the boyfriend stepped in to say he'd be up for giving it a go. So today, have a read of this guest post of sorts. Over to Mr G. 

Ignoring the wider media’s frequent protestations that we have reached peak beard, your reviewer remains a defiantly hirsute man in 2016. So why am I testing out a subscription shaving service? Well, one may not rock the full Rasputin but my beard still requires a weekly trim and shape plus has become accustomed to a small slick of beard oil.

And I so love a subs box.

To The Personal Barber. I trialled the January Subscription Box. For £24.99, you receive a Kent Luxury Shaving Soap, a Natio For Men moisturiser (actually more balm than anything - think aloe and cucumber), a couple of Meißner Tremonia aftershave samples (a bold clove-based Moroccan Rhassoul and the rather piratey Natural Bay Rum), some replacement Wilkinson Sword blades plus, as part of your first box, a ‘free’ monogrammed razor and shaving brush. The price for a single month sub is £24.95 which comes down in instalments the longer you subscribe for. If you subscribe for more than a month, the razor and brush is replaced with more pre/post-shave items including oils and balms.

The packaging is as considered as you’d expect (plain cardboard, copperplate font, straw) and the products are value for money - if bought individually, the moisturiser, soap, blades and samples would collectively retail for around the price of the pack so the brush and razor are indeed free. Unfortunately, they can’t help but look it - the razor feels a touch light and the inscription font is somewhat off brand. Equally, whilst no-one’s expecting a £90 badger hair brush for gratis, the plastic handle doesn't quite exude the specialness you expect from a subscription service. In retrospect, I’d rather have had the initial option to buy my own razor and brush, and then receive a more generous monthly selection of treats.

And the selection I received… They’re good quality if not 100% on target for me and, to be honest, I’d like a few more things in the box. Of what was there, the Kent soap is lanolin-based and suitably unctuous, the moisturiser is as delicate as you’d expect from an aloe-based balm but the aftershave… Well, let’s just say I prefer a subtler Tom Ford scent. This was a touch Sex Panther.

Reading the last two paragraphs back, I sound harsher than I actually feel. The Natio moisturiser was sensitively chosen to be light enough to complement a strong scent, soap manufacturers Kent hold a Royal Warrant and the whole thing is admirably value for money. I just think I’d like to have maybe gone up another level of quality - happily paying more for an even more luxurious and numerous offering. It’s a personal opinion and possibly a business opportunity for The Personal Barber depending on customer feedback.

But at its core, The Personal Barber is most definitely A Good Thing. Like all facial treatments, it forces you to slooooow down, relish the ritual and presents a far more relaxing and less blood-curdling alternative to a half-used lump of carbolic and a 20-for-a-quid own brand throat slasher. I’d definitely use a wet shave in conjunction with my normal electric trim and, while I'm obviously not really getting the full value here as a beard owner, can see The Personal Barber would make a lush treat if you’re looking for an entry level alternative to gifting your partner that cut-throat shave. Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2016 before you ask…

Thanks for this Mr G. You can stay x

Normal service will resume ASAP. 

We were sent a subscription box for the purpose of this review. 
All thoughts, words and images are our own. 

Review: Noisemakers Club birthday stationery subscription box

Noisemakers Club birthday stationery subscription box service

How many times have you checked your phone in the morning only to have Facebook alert you to a birthday that completely slipped your mind? Happens to me ALL THE TIME.

Honestly, I never used to be a birthday-forgetter. Before I had kids I was infuriatingly organized and prompt. But now I’m not, and no matter how hard I try to get it back I'm beginning to face facts and think that this skill, like bag-free eyes and bikinis, is just gone for good.

This is why Noisemakers Club is such a brilliant idea. Each month, Nina Camacho hand-picks cards, wrapping paper and other beautiful fripperies, packages them up into a letterbox-friendly box and posts them out to subscribers. As you can see, the quality is so high and these glorious designer stationery items are both beautiful and useful. Lifesaving, you could say.

In the box I received (pictured), there are three greetings cards – not overly birthday-ish or gendered, which is handy – plus a sheet of wrapping paper, three kraft paper heart stickers and a luggage label.  My favourite is the sweet cat card by Rosehip for its characterful face and pretty pastel colours.

As well as helping me to get organized, I love that this service supports small, independent businesses and designers. Go Nina!

Want to sign up? Or get a one-off sample box? Both cost just £12.50 and you can sign up to the Noisemakers Club birthday stationery subscription box here.

Take a look at my latest vlog for a review of this box plus two others, and don't forget to subscribe to my channel and give me a thumbs up!

Disclosure: Nina asked me to write copy for her website and in return she gave me this box free of charge. 
I chose to write about Noisemakers Club as I love the idea and the product and thought you lot would enjoy hearing about it.  

New year, new home: IKEA LiveLagom

IKEA LiveLagom project | Oyster & Pearl blog

Over the past eighteen months, I have lived in four different homes. It's not exactly how I planned things, but it is the way things have worked out.

Late last year, I found out that I'd been chosen to take part in a new IKEA project around Lagom, which literally means 'enough, sufficient, adequate'. Not necessarily perfection, but a Goldilocks-style 'just right'.

LiveLagom means working alongside IKEA to select products for our home to improve our daily lives. This isn't about ostentatious luxury purchases, rather an opportunity to make the most of what we've got. With a budget of £500 to spend, our shopping list had to reflect the reality of our current family situation and that meant taking stock of where we are now.

Where we live right now is seven of us in a modern house that was chosen for its four bedrooms, and its proximity to school and train station. Turns out there aren't many houses that fulfil these criteria within our budget! Rewind a few months and our housing requirements were different - three of us living in a three bedroom period house.

So when we approached the IKEA project it was with some trepidation, in that we didn't know quite where we'd be living this year. That meant that any product choices had to be flexible enough to come with us wherever we ended up.

IKEA LiveLagom project | Oyster & Pearl blog

With that in mind, our decisions were based on the following three areas.

1. Eating

With kids living here only half the time, meal planning isn't easy. We either had too much food that didn't get eaten or we had nothing in the house and hungry, complaining children. Enter IKEA's amazing kitchenware: Kilner-style preserving jars, glass food storage boxes, lovely containers in a range of sizes and colours.


Planning and shopping in advance
Having a better idea of what food is in the house
Preparing food for the freezer
Preserving seasonal foods for the larder
Reduce the amount of food waste by making better use of leftovers

2. Growing

A long time ago, we had an allotment. We were useless at it and were asked to leave! Whoops. Because of that, I've always thought of myself as a terrible gardener and haven't really bothered to attempt to grow anything much. My kids, however, are really into the idea of growing from seed.


Give it a go using IKEA’s easy growing kits
Spend more time in the garden
Plant a small fruit tree or two
Help a friend out on her allotment

3. Rented house quick fixes

Our landlord is fairly relaxed about what we can and can’t do in this house. As a result, we plan to paint and decorate, to hang pictures and to do what we can to make over the kitchen. But we have a budget and so it’s important to choose to invest in things that can come with us next time we move.


Build storage that is transportable
Use what’s already in the house, complemented with items such as the Sinnerlig bench that allow for flexilbility
Change all lightbulbs to energy saving bulbs
Reduce reliance on central heating by investing in curtains and blinds, blankets and rugs

IKEA LiveLagom project | Oyster & Pearl blog

So we’ll be back in three months to let you know how we’re getting on in our efforts to LiveLagom, and in six with our final thoughts on the project.

Meanwhile, do you have any tips for our three resolutions?

Disclosure: We are working with IKEA on the LiveLagom project for six months, and have received products in order to be able to fulfil this brief. 
Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible.

Travel: The best of beautiful Bath, UK | Top five shopping, eating and drinking tips

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK
Roman Baths image: Harington's Hotel

The weekend before last, I was invited to an afternoon in beautiful Bath at Harington's Hotel and Apartments. Living so close to Bath means it's usually a day trip destination, so having a look behind-the-scenes at Harington's was a special treat. The beautiful townhouses are a brilliant rental option for big groups and the main living space in the City Loft is my favourite space - have a look.

Being in Bath reminded me - there are so many awesome places to eat and shop and I loved working there so much. So here are my top five tips for shopping, eating, drinking and generally hanging out in Bath:

Canary Gin Bar

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK
Image: The Bath Gin Company

Such a great place to drink (and opposite Harington's!), the Canary Gin Bar specialises in gins - hundreds of them. Which makes it right up my street.

This is an intimate bar best experienced when the weather is cold and the skies are dark outside. Fantastic cocktails, too.

Spotty Herberts

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK

'A shop for children', Spotty Herberts won a CWB magazine award for best new store last year and it's easy to see why.

With a colourful mix of kitschy toys and bright clothing, this little store is a gem. And also on the same street as the gin bar and the hotel.

Cross Bath

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK
Image: Thermae Bath Spa
One of Bath's main tourist attractions is Thermae Bath Spa, where you can swim in the rooftop or basement pools, get steamed and enjoy spa treatments galore.

But less known is its little sister, the Cross Bath. Just over the way from the main site, this petite and private pool takes a maximum of twelve bathers and you can't book, but it's worth turning up and trying your luck as at quieter times you might even get it to yourself.

Holburne Museum

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK
Image: The Spectator

Beautiful art in a glorious setting, the Holburne is a Grade I listed building recently extended with this bold glass extension pictured above.

The exhibitions on show are broad ranging and appealing to many, while the original galleries are worth visiting whatever the content thanks to their grand plasterwork, lovely wooden floors and high ceilings.

Green Rocket Cafe

Shopping, eating, drinking tips for Bath, Somerset, UK
Image: The Green Rocket Cafe
At the intersection of healthy and delicious lies the friendly Green Rocket Cafe.

Plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes dance on this menu, none of which forgo taste in the pursuit of purity. Well worth a visit either to quickly fuel a shopping trip or to linger over your meal, bright in both appearance and flavour.

Do you know and love Bath? What are your favourite haunts? If not, is it somewhere you'd like to visit?

Disclaimer: Harington's invited me to spend the afternoon at their hotel. 
All words are my own. 
All images sourced online and credited.

Interiors: The dining room - before and after

Super quick post!

Check out the dining room before:

Been in the house two weeks and this was the first thing we did - four Billy bookcases and a whole heap of Pinterest-esque tinkering = a brand new dining room

I love it!

Beauty: Perricone MD skincare review + vlog

You know that phrase If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got? Oh,  how I wish it applied to my skin!

It's only now that I'm approaching my late thirties that I can appreciate what good skin I had in my younger days. Not entirely sure why or how but I managed to avoid getting any spots as a teenager (although they are making something of an appearance now) and the worst I had to contend with was a few dry patches.

This genetic jackpot meant I really didn't take care of my skin at all. I was that person who went to bed in their make up and it never seemed to negatively affect me in any way.

But those days are gone. A few years back I discovered micellar water and I also do a bit of hot cloth cleansing. In terms of moisturising, after reading Sali Hughes' Pretty Honest I realised my skin isn't just dry (as I'd always thought) but dehydrated. Plus, I think my skin is verging on being described as 'mature' (sob!).  Time to bring in the big guns.

Perricone MD skincare review - cold plasma, re:firm, face finishing moisturizer, no foundation serum

Enter Perricone MD. Last month, Debenhams sent me four products for review from this new range that I've been using for a few weeks. Here's how I got on.

I began my skincare routine with Perricone MD Cold Plasma, which is designed to combat ten signs of ageing and 'represents the culmination of Dr. Perricone's most comprehensive research to date.' It's an unusual product but one that appears to have made quite a difference. My skin feels plump and soft after application, and so I'm going to give it a go for the foreseeable future (despite Cold Plasma's rather odd smell!).

Next, I've been applying one of two products - Re:Firm (not yet available - coming soon!) or Face Finishing moisturiser, kind of alternating between the two. Re:Firm breaks from a gel to a serum as you apply to your skin, which is something of a novelty. The Face Finishing Moisturiser is more of a traditional product than the previous two, and has a very lovely rose fragrance. This is my favourite product from the range.

Finally, the No Foundation foundation serum, which is a very light (in texture) product. I have to say I wasn't convinced it would give me the coverage I'm used to but I was wrong. I have no idea whether this is what anyone else does but my usual drill is to apply foundation or tinted moisturiser and to then take the colour down a bit with a layer of powder before applying the rest of my face. With this serum, I can imagine losing a couple of stages which would save so much time in the mornings! It gives a good, even coverage and I don't feel too bare (which can be the case with tinted moisturisers).

If you're interested, take a look at this vlog I filmed to go through the products in a bit more depth. It's my first foray into video - if you like it then subscribe to my YouTube channel and I'll make a few more!

Travel | 72 hours in Paris: Art and shopping

Paris art galleries shopping Christmas blog review

More Paris, you say? Bien sur.


Travel blog - 72 hours in Paris, art and shopping | Oyster & Pearl blog

All I ever want to do in any city or town is to go for a rummage in a junk shop or market. We'd planned to do the famous Saint-Ouen flea market, but it turns out that arriving in town at lunchtime on Monday and flying out Thursday night makes the entire trip a flea-free zone.

Instead, our host Jorge suggested investigating the Passages - covered passages and arcades woven throughout Paris, each of which has a different focus (so antiques or fashion or Indian shops etc). I'm so glad he did. We stumbled upon a few and sought out a few more (they are clearly marked on maps) and it was more luck than judgment that we found ones that suited our tastes.

Fiat 500 Merci Paris shopping

No trip to Paris is complete without a nose around Merci, the stylish 'destination store' and a complete blogger's paradise. (That little red Fiat 500 must be one of Instagram's most photographed cars!)

And with good reason. There was so much here I'd have taken home given half a chance - beautiful bed linen, the coolest kitchenware, Christmas specials including the twinkliest of fairy lights and flocked goodies a-plenty (EVERYTHING in Paris at Christmas appears to be flocked, and I particularly liked the fluffy orange or white or red trees outside each bar and boutique).

Luckily - or not, depending on the bank balance - Merci has a big ole online store and ships internationally.

Paris art shopping Christmas blog review


During a stroll along the banks of the Seine, we came across one of those postcard racks and the image that leapt out at me was one I knew well: Marilyn Monroe, jumping in the air, photographed by Philippe Halsman.

One of the most prolific portrait photographers of the 20th century, Halsman holds the title for shooting the most Life magazine covers, and was the creative eye behind so many iconic celebrity images. But he also had his own psychological theory - Jumpology - developed after years of asking subjects to jump for him. The theory is, jumping uninhibits a subject, allowing the photographer to snap a truer portrait than the usual styled-and-PRed-to-the-max celebrity image.

Philippe Halsman and Marilyn Monroe, Jeu de Paume ParisAnyway, Jeu de Paume held the first retrospective of Halsman's work, a life's work, and it was sublime. From the pictures of Marilyn et al to his ongoing collaborations with Salvador Dali, all underpinned by the tangible personal story of Halsman's early life in Latvia, his move to Paris, and how came to flee the Nazis to settle in America.

I'm sorry to say that the Paris exhibition has closed but if it tours and you happen to be close by then do pay Philippe a visit.

Paris street art graffitiAnd I'm beginning to realise that there is a Picasso museum in every city, or so it seems. Back in the summer we visited the Barcelona one, and I've been to the Antibes museum as well.

The Paris Picasso museum is in the Marais and has only just reopened after extensive building work and much beautification. They've done a good job. This gallery is just so perfect, sensitively making best use of the ornate period property but generating enough white space to allow the works to breath.

And there are many, many works on view, over 5000 in this collection alone, plus any temporary exhibitions that may also be toured in. As well as Picasso's portraits and ceramics, the Picasso Intime floor features assorted personal effects that give a real sense of his private self.

Seine bridge, Paris

Paris art and shopping | Oyster & Pearl blog

A note: we arrived in Paris on 14 December, exactly a month to the day after the attacks, unsure of what to expect. Would it be a noticeably different city?

Well, yes and no. All appears normal, on the surface of it, until you turn a corner and find yourself outside cafe Le Carillon, almost buried beneath bouquets. Or the candlelit vigil surround the Republique monument. Or every department store or art gallery you visit requiring extensive bag checks and security - all part of the Vigipirate anti terriorist measures.

Paris, la Republique candlelit vigil
But it is, and always will be, beautiful, snooty, charming Paris.

Fluctuat nec mergitur.

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