Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas | Paddington and the Christmas Visitor

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-paddington-and-christmas.html

When my brother and I were kids, we had a much loved and rather battered old Paddington bear. His wellies kept falling off and he was definitely sticky from the marmalade sandwiches we'd make for him (complete with 'nom nom' pretend eating noises), but he was very much loved. Paddington is a bona fide classic whose recent resurgence in popularity is thanks to that brilliant Wes Anderson-esque film from 2014.
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Friday, 8 December 2017

On health and finding a love of exercise


Something unexpected has happened... Over the past few months, I think I've found a love of exercise. Now no one is more surprised by this than I am. But it's the truth - I finally get it.
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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Vegan Christmas shopping list | Mince pies, cake, chocolate and more PLUS recipes


As World Vegan Month draws to a close and Christmas really starts to ramp up, I've been spending my first festive season without eggs and dairy in a bit of a quandary. What will I do without my standard December diet of mince pies, Christmas cake and other end of year treats? Turns out, there are so many options out there in UK supermarkets and on the high street that I don't need to worry at all.

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Friday, 24 November 2017

How to style flowers like a pro with FlowerBe

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/11/how-to-style-flowers-like-pro-with.html

For as long as I can remember, the sound of the letterbox opening and post landing on the mat has been one of my favourite moments of the day. Once upon a time it was handwritten letters from pen pals. Now, it's blogger post, bills and - best of all - flowers.

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bristol kids | An afternoon of virtual reality fun at AirHop

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/11/bristol-airhop-airvr-virtual-reality-trampoline.html

AirHop is known to many a parent out there in Motherland's Bristol division. The biggest trampoline park in the world and located near Cribbs Causeway, it's one of those places where kids disappear to at weekends for drop off parties but with the bonus of you nipping to John Lewis for a free cup of Loyalty Card tea and a nice cake. AirHop is one of the good ones too - the kids REALLY want to go, they come back with a free pair of socks that delays the wash another day plus they're TOTALLY whacked due to a couple of hours bouncing around like muppets. Sunday morning lie-in? Thanks birthday party hosts!
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Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmas | Trees and what to put on them

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/11/bristol-christmas-trees-delivery.html

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That's the approach I'm taking to Christmas 2017. Is it just me or has everyone gone early? Normally I am staunch in my insistence that Christmas cannot begin until my beginning-of-December birthday has been and gone, but it feels churlish this year. From Christmas adverts on the telly to songs in shops, there's no getting away from it - Christmas has landed.

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Friday, 17 November 2017

Five ingredients for a perfect Christmas Eve


Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year, hands down. Better than a birthday. Better than the big day itself. Want to know why? Here are my five ingredients for a perfect Christmas Eve…
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Friday, 3 November 2017

Travel | Hotel du Vin, Exeter

Hotel du Vin Exeter review travel blogger UK

How do you choose a hotel? Do you scour Tripadvisor reviews to gauge popular opinion? Do you take to social media to ask the hive mind? Or do you trust one chain and go back to them time and again? A few weeks back, Mike was invited to speak at a conference in Exeter. It had been a while since the two of us had an adventure so I packed my suitcase and headed down with him, looking forward to exploring this pretty Devon city.

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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

How to go vegan | World Vegan Day



Today is World Vegan Day, marking the start of World Vegan Month and also the formation of the Vegan Society. Since going vegan in January 2017, I've toyed with writing a post about my experiences and how to go vegan, and today seems like the day to publish it. Here goes.

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Monday, 30 October 2017

Recipe | Vegan sponge birthday cake with edible flowers

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/10/farmdrop-review-vegan-sponge-cake-recipe.html

Cooking is and always has been one of my favourite activities. The peaceful productivity of a quiet kitchen, pots and podcasts bubbling in the background, spices filing the air - it’s all my idea of time well spent. But… (and it’s a big one) I do cook every day, at least one meal but often more. When there are seven of us in the house, that’s 21 meals a day or 147 a week. That’s also when my interest begins to wain.
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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Travel | A foraging adventure with the Tudor Farmhouse


Confession time: I don't really like mushrooms. So you'd think an afternoon of foraging in October would probably not be my bag. Well, you'd be wrong. Here's why...
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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Autism and Asperger's film and TV picks for kids and adults


Much has already been said about the Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me documentary screened earlier this week. It's heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive responses on social media and that awareness of autism and Aspergers is on the rise. But I have a confession.
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Friday, 20 October 2017

Fashion | The next it dress


five alternatives to the HM floral frill dress sold out zara anthropologie boden toast and other stories


Have you ever spotted a dress in a magazine or on Instagram and decided you MUST have it, only to find it's pretty much sold out everywhere you go? Me too. Enter the new, must-have IT dress...
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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Homeware | Auditioning a new favourite mug


When you work from home, alone, freelance, then the loss of your favourite mug is a big deal. As big a deal as, say, the printer breaking in an office or winter without heating or - heaven forfend - the network going down. This is SERIOUS people.

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Family fitness goals | Part two


Autumn has arrived and we're a few months into our family fitness kick with David Lloyd. Want to find out how we're getting on? Course you do!

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Anthropologie at John Lewis | My picks



*Sales from this post may result in payment to Oyster & Pearl
Here's why

It's a happy day indeed when two of my favourite brands come together in one glorious collaboration. Anthropologie at John Lewis.
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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Are you a fellow fallophobe? This one's for you...

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
It's not often I get to use my degree. Probably for the best, seeing as I went to uni a very long time ago. But my annual fallophobia* is back. And this year I'm putting my studies to good use and doing something about it.

*silly word I made up for the fear of autumn


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Thursday, 31 August 2017

A review and a rant | Calcot Manor spa day


Yesterday, I visited the spa of dreams: Calcot Manor. A luxury hideaway in the Cotswolds, this place has it all.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Review | Giffords Circus 2017 'Any Port in a Storm'


You know something's become an annual summer tradition when your kids ask about it repeatedly throughout the winter months. And when one of the catchphrases in your house is 'I've got a lolly!' that tradition can only mean one thing: Giffords Circus.
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Friday, 4 August 2017

Food | A Francophile's perfect picnic


We’re off to France later this month where we’ll be spending a week at Eurocamp as a family of seven. Euros are being hoarded for what will inevitably be a huge ice cream budget but with that many hungry mouths to feed we’ll be picnicking on the beach rather than tucking napkins in for some fine dining.

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How to find your lost cat

how to find lost cats

In 2016, when we first got the kittens, I had no idea we'd ever be in the position of scouring the streets for one of them. lose one of our (now) cats. In the panic, I didn't really know where to start so now that she's back (phew!) I've written this post on how to find your lost cat, for anyone else finding themselves in this horrible position.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

11 ideas for summer holiday family fun in Bristol

Photo by Mikael Cho on Unsplash




That's it! School is over for another year and summer is finally here. Complete with horrible driving rain. Plus ça change. So what will we be doing over the next six weeks? Here are our summer holiday plans.

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Summer travel | Bloomfield Yurt camping, Dorset

bloomfield yurt camping dorset review

A couple of weeks back, we spent the weekend in Dorset under canvas. I KNOW! For this review, I'll hand over to Mike who'll tell you all you need to know about yurt glamping at Bloomfield Camping in Dorset...
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Friday, 14 July 2017

July picks | Watch, read, listen, wear and eat


Approaching the end of the school year already... That feels odd. It's been a busy year so far that shows no sign of slowing down. How come term-time seems so frantic and yet the prospect of the summer holidays brings its own panic?
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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Travel | Barford luxury family holiday home in Cornwall

Barford, Cornwall - luxury holiday rental for families and big groups
Barford with its wood-fired hot tub

‘I knew the family who used to live in that house!’ grinned my friend as we chatted in the school playground. She’d run after me to tell me, having seen a picture of Barford I’d posted on Instagram. ‘He was at school with me and always used to boast he had his own beach. We thought he was joking.’ No joke. Barford really does overlook a beautiful secluded beach. But that’s not even its most impressive feature. Really!

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Sunday, 2 July 2017

Family fitness goals | Part one



A few weeks back, we went for our first look around our local David Lloyd Leisure club. The kids had a blast, and we all agreed to sit down and set some family fitness goals for the summer. Predictably, they revolve around the pool...

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Saturday, 1 July 2017

Family tech | An easy Apple hack to stop your kids straying online

How to use guided access app for kids and children
Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

8.13am: I'm writing this from my bed, cup of tea on the go, while a houseful of kids who've been up since 6am are in various rooms on various screens. A familiar picture up and down the land, I'm sure. But recently I learnt an amazing hack that has changed the way we use screens and given massive peace of mind. What to know what it is?

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Food | Dr Oetker Pud in a Mug review

http://www.oysterandpearl.co.uk/2017/06/food-dr-oetker-pud-in-mug-review.html

On this baking hot day it seems impossible that a couple of weeks back we were enjoying/enduring a rainy half term. British summers, eh? But we were. It got to that time in the afternoon when the boys were driving me and each other a bit potty. What to do? In an effort to keep the peace and fend of any potential hangriness (and boy, do my kids do a good line in hangry!), we headed into the kitchen in search of something to eat.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Family | Fun at David Lloyd Leisure

David Lloyd Leisure family and kids activities holiday club children swimming

With just a few weeks left of school and wall-to-wall sunshine right now, me and the kids are summer ready. And a family membership to David Lloyd couldn't have come at a better time. We descended en masse to discover what facilities are available to families and children. Turns out, quite a lot...
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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer Pool Party with John Lewis

John Lewis pool party edit

*Sales from this post may result in payment to Oyster & Pearl
It may be pouring with rain outside but we're on a countdown to the summer holidays.

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Friday, 26 May 2017

Family | A sunny day in the woods

Lyons Coffee Bags review

Last weekend, we took the kids up to our local woods for a tear about. There's something about five kids together that can get a little frenzied and our solution is always to get out of the house. And they love it.
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Monday, 22 May 2017

Three tales

Photograph: Elliott Stallion


I'm not sure anyone would normally come to this blog for political posts, so I've written this from a personal perspective. Tales of childhood inspire most of my writing and this is no different. Three tales where the personal and the political collide.

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Seven Easy Vegetarian Recipes | Healthy & Quick Meals for National Vegetarian Week

Vegetarian recipes to make meat-free healthy meals for all the family

It's National Vegetarian Week. Or, as it's also known, National So What Do You Eat Then? Week. Despite vegetarians making up 12% of the UK population, it's an area of fascination for the other 88%, many of whom are tofu-curious. I love vegetarian food and could talk for hours about various veggie triumphs I've enjoyed over the years. But a list of my favourite vegetarian recipes is probably more useful.
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Friday, 12 May 2017

May picks: Watch, read, listen, visit

Illustration: Brian Rea

One of the reasons I've not been writing blog posts much is that I've gone old school media. Books, newspapers and magazines have been feeding my brain for the past few months and I can see now how much I've missed the feel of paper in hand.

So, what page-turners can I recommend? Read on for reading recommendations plus what to watch, listen to and where to go this month.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review: Pacific Yoga and Café Matariki, Bristol

Pacific Yoga and Cafe Matariki Bristol - review

I know, I know, it seems weird leading a review of a yoga studio and cafe with a massive piece of chocolate cake, but look at it! Seriously. This is vegan chocolate cake topped with rose petals. And it was divine. Go and visit Café Matariki now if you share my interest in dream cake. Or read on for the rest of my review.
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Friday, 28 April 2017

Interiors: Outdoor living in summer


Tomorrow, I'm going to view a house with some very unusual attributes. Not for me, unfortunately, I'll be a hanger-on with my parents who are looking to find a new home. This house is built in a rather stark style that isn't to everyone's taste. However, its biggest asset is the incredible view.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Interiors: Tribal trends for 2017


Moving into my new pad a couple of years back, I was struck by how much I craved colour. Much as I love an understated, grown-up colour scheme, bright pinks, yellows and blues made their way into my home – a kind of mental health insurance if you like. The house we live in now is entirely white walls and pale carpet, providing the perfect opportunity to inject pops of colour in the form of accessories. Enter one of 2017’s biggest trends - tribal.

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Friday, 31 March 2017

Vegan recipe box: Mindful Chef review

Mindful Chef recipe box review vegan

Food, cooking and eating are pretty much on my mind at all times, whether it's a new cafe or a flick through a recipe book or endless 'what shall we eat tonight?' conversations. A couple of weeks ago I had to go into hospital (hence recent radio silence) and, although I was very anxious about the operation itself, one of my main concerns was eating well during recovery. As the person who does 95% of the cooking in this house, you can see why this was on my mind...

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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mother's Day gift guide: What to buy for mum (and me)

Mother's Day gift guide: eau de toilette perfumes from The White Company review

If ever I want to evoke my childhood, it's smell that instantly takes me back. The powder puff on my grandma's dressing table. The leather seats in my dad's car. The hint of nutmeg in the macaroni cheese my mum made when I was poorly.

Smell is the most nostalgic of the senses and a shortcut to memory. Rip up the map, I know this way home like the back of my hand.
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Monday, 27 February 2017

Recipe: Vegan waffles with warm blueberry and maple syrup compote

best vegan waffles recipe

Forget pancakes, we are ALL about the waffles in this house. Yes, the American-style pancake has always been a staple but since we got our whizzy waffle machine no one asks for them anymore. Instead, the following recipe can be made in minutes and the gadget does all the work, cooking batches of four in minutes, perfect for Pancake Day.
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Friday, 24 February 2017

My style at 40: A new haircut and a favourite outfit

Boden Lottie dress cashmere cardigan boho boots review

'It's only a fringe,' said my hairdresser, Steve. 'You can always grow it out if you don't like it.'

A couple of months back I turned 40. It was a weird one. People kept asking me how I felt about it and I still don't really have an answer. It's just a number. But it's not....
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

February picks: Watch, read, listen, visit

Image: Troy Jarrell/Unsplash













My monthly reads posts seems to have died a death. Oops. What's the professional way to segue that out?

How about: Now that my Five reads series has come to an end, please be upstanding for the start of a new series of monthly picks. Rather than just reads, I'm choosing things to watch, wear, eat, listen to and visit. And probably other things that come my way. Here goes...

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Friday, 17 February 2017

On Instagram stories: Why I love this platform PLUS my favourite follows

Image: Toni Hukkanen/Unsplash





Back in the day, Instagram was the pictures to Twitter's words. A way to visually capture where you were, what you were doing/eating/liking/disliking, all in one easy snap and with a quickly applied in-app filter.
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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Recipe: Vegan mock duck with kung pao sauce


Saturday was Chinese New Year, marking the transition to the year of the rooster. In celebration, we ate a delicious vegan version of mock duck with pancakes. When reading about Chinese food and scouring recipes with a view to making something vegan-friendly, I discovered that mock duck is a fairly standard thing, with loads of tofu options readily available in both Chinese restaurants and oriental supermarkets.  Here's my take.
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Friday, 27 January 2017

Food: A sunny winter's day at Le Manoir with The White Company


Last month, a brilliant thing happened. Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire – the hotel, restaurant and cookery school owned by Raymond Blanc – is an all-year-round incredible destination but isn't everywhere better in the summer? That's my usual stance on things, wedded as I am to the sharp sunlight on a midsummer day or the orangey glow of a September Indian summer.
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Made.com comes to Bristol! A pop-up supper with Dela Bristol

I love it when a new shop comes to town. Right now in Cabot Circus, Bristol, there's a temporary Made.com pop-up rammed with gorgeous furniture. And last week, I went there for dinner. Wait, what??

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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Charity & Family: Raising money for those in need in Bristol with BT MyDonate


'I wish everyone had a home', said my six-year-old on New Year’s Eve. We live near a pedestrian bridge in Bristol that’s one of the main thoroughfares across the river. As such, homeless people often sit on the bridge asking for money. Kids are so good at cutting through the nonsense to ask the important questions and state things in a way that can’t be ignored.
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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

On eating and a sunny breakfast recipe for January


Several strange and unexpected things have happened since I wrote my post dismissing resolutions. In it, I spoke about rejecting deprivation and opting for pleasure and both these concepts hold true. But what I didn't anticipate was how much time and energy would be freed up by refusing to diet.
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Monday, 9 January 2017

Interiors: Kitchen makeover with B&Q

b&q kitchen makeover budget how to cupboard paint renovation

Cast your mind back many months to when I first mentioned the idea of a black kitchen... Or if that's too tricky, here's the original post. Since then, slowly but surely, the B&Q kitchen makeover has come together and it's now time for the big reveal. Read on for details of how to completely renovate a dated kitchen on a budget by painting cupboard doors, floor and tiles.

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

16 going on 17... On last year and the delicious new one

Image: Unsplash
If you've come here to read a big review of 2016 then I'll tell you now - this post will disappoint. Yes, we all know that year (can we start referring to it in a Voldemort-esque way please?) was a right load of toot for so many people but there were some good things, things to focus on and remember.
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