Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Everest Home Improvements Giveaway: Win £100 of John Lewis shopping vouchers

Much as I love this little house we're in now, I do miss having a bit more space and being able to move between the inside and outdoors more easily. One of the best things we did in the old house was to install giant french doors between the family room and the garden - it's such a good way to link the spaces and to encourage the kids out in the fresh air.

I've always thought of french windows or patio doors as being confined to the living areas of a home, but these pics show that there's no reason why they can't work in a bedroom. In fact, it's a lovely way to make bedrooms a bit more useable in the day, and what could be more dreamy than waking up, flinging open a door and heading out into the sunshine in your pyjamas? 

Sure, you'd have to live in a bungalow, flat, or completely revamp the traditional house format, but I can definitely see the appeal in an unconventional layout if this is what's gained. There are plenty of ideas - conventional and less so - on my new Pinterest board, from traditional period windows to modern bi-fold doors, but all designed to bring in light. Head over and have a look, or browse below.

And for the chance to win £100 of John Lewis vouchers with Everest Home Improvements, leave me a comment with your top tip for brightening up your home in the summer months.

Enter below and give your answer in the comments to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Everest Home Improvements on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about their windows and offers, or visit their website
You can also request a free brochure here.

In collaboration with Everest Home Improvements.
Terms and conditions can be found on the Rafflecopter page.
Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible. 


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Making espadrilles: a workshop with The Makery

* I'm so behind on posts! Summer holidays and work and all kinds of busy things have kept me from this blog (not to mention some rather irritating technical issues) so please have patience with my tardiness - I WILL try harder! *

Back in June, the day after Blogtacular, The Makery invited me to a workshop at their John Lewis Oxford Street outpost. The day was an opportunity for a few of us bloggers to make a pair of espadrilles.

Esps are (along with those black flipflops with the rainbow straps) THE holiday footwear of my childhood. Each summer, my dad would take us to whatever local shop was nearest to our holiday destination and we'd rootle about in big baskets of espadrilles - kept in pairs with elastic bands and smelling, sometimes, of mothballs - for our size. Committing to a colour took time, but eventually we'd hand over our francs/pesos/drachma and trot off in our new pair. They'd begin as starchy, straight shoes, moulding over the course of the holiday to fit the unique contours of our growing feet until they felt just like slippers. But woe betide us if we fell foul of a freak rainstorm, or didn't watch our step and landed in a puddle by the pool. These babies and water are sworn enemies. Disintegration looms...

With such fond memories of the espadrille, making my own pair was an irresistible idea. Kate from The Makery sent us off to the fabric department to select our materials. It was an even more difficult decision than the village shop basket, but I went for a chevron in the end.

Then, we cut, ironed, and sewed the pieces that would become the upper section of our shoes. Once pinned into place, all that remained was to stitch upper to sole in a most therapeutic fashion (I can utterly recommend it as soothing hangover cure).

Have a look at this video to see just how easy and supremely pleasing this project can be.

Thanks so much to The Makery for inviting me along.

To make your own pair of espadrilles, head here to buy a pair of soles or join one of the workshops.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Blogtacular 2015: A photowalk adventure

A month ago, Blogtacular 2015 happened. Although I didn't take (m)any photos at the conference itself, I made up for it first thing in the morning on the photowalk.

Fifty bloggers + two photographers + enormous balloons + London landmarks = THIS crazy early morning adventure.

Props to Xanthe Berkeley for being an awesome photowalk boss and playing dead like a pro, and hello to my fellow walkees (not an exhaustive list) Melanie, Alison, Susie, Emily, Nina, Heather, Nina, Geraldine, Elisa, and more!

Plus thanks to West Elm for sponsoring this extravaganza of colour.


Saturday, 11 July 2015

An Airbnb adventure in Bloomsbury, London

Travelling may be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but feeling like a traveller? Not so much. Standing on an unfamiliar street, squinting at a map, the realisation it might be time to croak out a few words of GCSE-learned language to ask a passerby for help. These are the things that make me cringe a little. I’d much rather appear effortlessly native. Who wouldn’t?

Last month, when in the capital for Blogtacular, the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards, a Team Simple Things planning meeting, and a rather exciting craft workshop (more to come on those!), we chose not to stay in a hotel. Although there are many wonderful hotels in London - more than 700 at the last count - we were staying for a long weekend and it felt like the right time to pop our Airbnb cherry.

Airbnb is an absolutely brilliant idea. Seriously. Over a million properties all across the world are up on the site allowing you to stay in a real home rather than a hotel, wherever you may be visiting. The place we chose was a boho cottage in Bloomsbury owned by Ben (I’m a sucker for alliteration; it was fate). As you can see from these pictures, it’s about as far removed from a sterile hotel as you can get.

My parents are big fans of house swaps, meaning we travelled a lot as kids and stayed in countless real homes. The thought of sleeping in someone else’s bed is not so Goldilocks to me. Just to make us feel extra welcome, Ben was there to hand over the keys, show us round his abode, give directions and recommendations for local cafes and restaurants, and he’d even stocked up the kitchen for us with basics like bread and milk (and a bottle of wine - definitely a basic in my book). After he left, we got a bit giddy exploring this delightfully decorated little cottage.

The ground floor - an open-plan kitchen/diner and living room - was comfy and cosy, books covered most walls and a turntable and stack of vinyl was left out for us to peruse. The sofa and armchair were large and squidgy, various knick knacks adorned the mantelpiece. But the most fascinating thing for me was Ben’s collection of art. Classic oil paintings were hung alongside music memorabilia and pop art prints. I loved his style.

Upstairs, the bedroom felt grand, with its heavy mustard velvet curtains, antique furniture, and doors through to the adjoining dressing room (which also has a pull down bed to allow the cottage to sleep four). A stack of old suitcases were stuffed on top of the chinois wardrobe, a dressmaker’s dummy wore a bowler hat, and a beautifully painted screen made me want to have packed an impractical nightdress and fluffy mules. Elsewhere, two tiny bathrooms were cleverly fitted into otherwise unusable spaces - up in the eaves and under the stairs.

And the neighbourhood? Well, if I were to move to London, all things being equal I’d pick Bloomsbury. The cottage was a few minutes from Kings Cross and Russell Square stations, but an easy walk from Oxford Street, Soho, or Tottenham Court Road. On the night we arrived we headed round the corner to a pub that served amazing tapas, and further down the road was a Waitrose and many other lovely shops and caffs. After the tapas, we went for a stroll to see what we could see, and stumbled on the Foundling Museum. I’ve always wanted to visit this London institution. It tells the story of the parents who left children they weren’t able to take care of, along with a trinket by which they hoped to identify them when they returned. Sadly, we didn’t manage to visit this time but I hope to go back.

By the end of the weekend we were exhausted but didn’t want to leave. The little cottage had begun to feel like home. Without an inflexible checkout time, we were able to pack at our own pace, which removed some of the stress of travelling back to Bristol. But not the sadness. Airbnb is such a reassuringly easy way to travel. I can feel plans brewing already… Here’s to adventures ahead!

You can find details of the boho Bloomsbury cottage here. This property worked out at about £195 per night for two adults. If you are new to Airbnb then you can sign up here and you will get £16 off your first booking.

We received a reduced rate through Airbnb for our stay but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

A summer wardrobe

The school holidays are almost upon us and we've just booked a week away - hooray! Debenhams kindly sent us a Tripp suitcase and invited us to choose some pieces from their holiday shop to go in it. Here are our picks.

There'll be daily trips to the pool and the sea, so trunks are a holiday essential. T picked two pairs: one, classic stripes and the other with a friendly shark print, while A went for these lime dinosaur trunks.

Summer calls for the most basic of footwear. Crocs are A's shoe of choice at this time of year, while I went for a pair of slim, black flip flops and T matched mine. There is nothing sweeter than a teeny, tiny pair of flip flops (the little chubby feet that go inside, perhaps), although he's still mastering the technique needed to keep them on your feet!

I am under no illusion that summer = wall-to-wall sunshine, at least not in this country. So I picked this lightweight mac.

But, to counter the practical, I also went for the most impractical shiny tote bag. There's something about going on a plane that brings out a sensibility in me that I first saw in my aunt who ALWAYS had sequins or metallics on at least one element of any outfit.

And finally, I'm a bit of a perfume junkie so I picked up a new scent for summer - this one is a heady rose fragrance.

What are your packing essentials? And what are your top summer purchases this year?

In association with Debenhams


Friday, 3 July 2015

Inspired by... / 06 Wuthering Heights

I have always judged books by their covers. See also records and, to a degree, films. As a result, my shelves are filled with beautiful but random titles. Hours spent mooching about on the internet naturally brings up the same content time and time again, and I recently noticed that there is one book that seems to have inspired illustrators and artists so much that it has multiple, gloriously designed covers available.

I didn’t do so well in my English A Level (I was busy buying records with cool sleeves - PRIORITIES) but, had I been in the other class at school, I would have read Wuthering Heights. The Kate Bush song is clearly incredible and one of my all-time favourites, so I kinda know the gist of the story but that’s where my knowledge ends.

Recently, I confessed my shameful secret to a friend. Her reply? Apparently, ’it’s one of those books you have to read as a teenager’. What?? I’m too old now? This is bad news indeed, for I would buy any one of these delightful editions for the cover alone. I hear the contents is pretty amazing, but maybe the idea of it, with its classic soundtrack alongside all this dark and magical imagery, will have to do.

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