Saturday, 15 November 2014

Autumn's Best Bits

It's official - I LOVE autumn!  The beautiful colours as the leaves change from green to golden hues of red, orange and brown.  Mother Nature's harvest of blackberries (delicious pies & crumbles), sloes (mmmmmm, sloe gin for Christmas), hips and haws, acorns, super shiny conkers (brings back fun memories of childhood games) and chestnuts to roast on the fire. Oh yes, finally I can light the fire again and gaze into the crackling flames as I warm my frozen toes - bliss! Carving pumpkins for Halloween and enjoying fabulous firework displays on Bonfire Night. Really, who couldn't love Autumn?  Don't get me started on those gorgeous misty mornings when the landscape is transformed into a magical mysterious place lit by the late rising sun.

So when Sykes Cottages blogged asking what our favourite things about Autumn were, I was obviously spoiled for choice. However, my absolute favourite thing about Autumn is kicking through piles of rustly golden leaves when we walk the dogs on crisp mornings just as the sun is rising. This fun act takes me back to when I was a child and life was oh-so-simple and never fails to brighten my mood and make me smile.  Seriously, if you are feeling a bit low, pull on your wellies, get out into the woods or park and go kick up some leaves. I promise that you laugh and smile and will feel so much better afterwards!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

One man's trash is another man's treasure

With Building Regulations regularly being updated, it is getting more and more important to reduce waste on your building project.  I was fascinated to watch Grand Designs last week when the programme followed a Code 6 home build that required there to be virtually no building waste on site (as well as a raft of other stringent sustainability requirements).  This led to careful ordering of building materials and reuse where possible. Interestingly, however, building to this standard meant that the owner was permitted to build her home in a woodland setting outside the village planning boundary. Proper industry training from companies like will ensure that our future construction specialists will become more aware of the need to reduce waste which has to be good for the environment.

In the meantime though, on the majority of building projects there is waste and excess to some degree. We recently had a small extension built and were left with about 20 bricks over. Some of these have been put to good use in the chicken pen to keep their water bowl off the ground, and others are holding down the tarpaulin that is over the wood pile cut this year.  But I got to thinking how could I use them in the house.

My first moment of inspiration was when I realised that the holes in the bricks must be just the right size for tealights.  Luckily, the bricks were clean so I just gave them a good brush off and sealed them with a couple of layers of matt varnish.  I love the natural colour and surface, but you could also decorate them with paint, or even decoupage to really personalise them.  To fill the holes so the tealights don't drop through I used a little expanding foam.

We have lots of books dotted around the house, and they are always toppling over on the shelf, so my second idea was to make bookends from the bricks. I painted the bricks with acrylic paint in bright colours and then added some witty titles using an indelible marker.  Voila, no more wonky books!

I love recycling and upcycling so now have my thinking cap on for uses for some leftover rooftiles - watch this space  :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

What's my favourite movie soundtrack?

I have what some might term as an "eclectic" mix of all-time favourite films, including Gone With The Wind, The Usual Suspects, Toy Story 2 and Grease, but right up there at the top of the list is Top Gun and this is almost certainly down to the brilliant soundtrack.  I remember going to see the film at the cinema when it first came out with some mates just after I left college and being awestruck with the amazing flying which was accompanied by an awesome, all engrossing soundtrack.  And I promise it had nothing to do with Tom Cruise!

From beginning to end,  Harold Faltermeyer's wonderfully evocative "Top Gun Anthem" makes you sit to attention and instantly brings back memories of being on the edge of my seat in that cinema watching the film.  Kenny Loggins' fantastic rock track "Dangerzone" reminds me of the excitement of the flying - I remember feeling like I was actually in the plane with those guys as the roar of the jet engines soared around the theatre.  The same can be said for Larry Greene's "Through The Fire" - heart in mouth stuff as the F-14s zipped around the sky. Faltermeyer's haunting "Goodbye Goose" still brings a lump to my throat today the memory of that moment in the movie is that strong.

On a lighter note, I adore the 60s tracks used in the film.  The very funny scenes with "You've lost that loving feeling" with Maverick being horrified the next day when he discovers his quarry was to be his teacher Charlie Blackwood, and "Great Balls of Fire" when Maverick and Goose are playing the piano together at the diner. They still bring a smile to my face.  :)

And who could fail to love Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" from the seduction scenes, maybe a bit cheesy, but SO much of the time, and every time I hear it, even today, I am reminded of the film.

In fact, writing this has made me decide to get my DVD out of the box and sit back on the sofa with a glass of wine, a bowl of popcorn (and a box of tissues for that "Goose" moment) this evening for another viewing.  Now I just need the Bose Cinemate 15 Sound Bar whose Acoustimass subwoofer with its powerful bass will recreate my cinematic experience from all those years ago......

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Potato and Chorizo Stacks

I've just come back from a holiday to Northern Spain and am overloaded with delicious chorizo so was thinking of new ways to serve it when I came up with this idea using fluffy Maris Piper potatoes which really soak up the flavour of the chorizo - enjoy!

Potato & Chorizo Stacks

2-3 Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled till just soft, then drained
1 small red onion, chopped small
1/2 a chorizo sausage, cubed
1 egg, beaten 
handful of parsley, finely chopped

Fry the onion and chorizo cubes together until the onion is soft and the chorizo has begun to yield its oil
Carefully stir the onion and chorizo into the cooked cubed potatoes in a bowl, then mix in the beaten egg and parsley.  Season to taste.
Grease cooking rings and heat a non-stick frying pan with a little oil.
Spoon the mixture into the cooking rings and push down gently.  Cook until the bottom is golden, then carefully turn over and cook the top till golden.

Perfect Raciones!  

What Lies Beneath

When you're on a cruise ship, do you ever consider what lies beneath your ship's keel?  I thought not.  The size and stability of these amazing ocean-going "resort hotels" almost makes us forget that we are, in fact, travelling over the habitats of multitudes of creatures who happen to reside in our oceans.

This photograph was taken by me at Shaab Sataya in the Red Sea.  It is a remote location at the southern end of Fury Shoal (a cruise ship hazard!).  The horseshoe shaped reef is a natural habitat for dolphins who come here overnight to rest. I was privileged enough to be there very early one morning as the pod came together ready to go out hunting.  I was snorkelling whilst taking this photo rather than scuba diving and, whilst the dolphins effortlessly moved through the water, I was swimming at full strength just trying to keep up, and often failing.  Luckily, dolphins are very inquisitive and they kept coming back to see what this strange human was up to.

So, remember next time you are sipping a cocktail on Deck 13 looking out over the ocean, that beneath you lies an (often unexplored) beautiful varied habitat just waiting to be discovered (maybe on your next Caribbean cruise!)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Potato & Sundried Tomato Bake

Another day, another Maris Piper recipe.  I simply can't get enough of these fluffy devils - they are the perfect all round potato.  In a dim and (very) distant past, I was a student of agriculture and worked on a farm that grew potatoes, one variety being the Maris Piper and it became my favourite from that moment, despite having to pick them by hand in freezing conditions!

This is my latest invention that showcases the delights of the Maris Piper. 

Potato and Sundried Tomato Bake

4-5 medium Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and grated (in a food processor for speed and ease) then dried in a clean teatowel
4 eggs beaten
1 small red onion, chopped 
1 crushed clove of garlic
7 sundried tomatoes (preserved in oil in a jar) snipped into small pieces
2 tbsps English Mustard
80g grated cheese

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until softened.
Place the grated potato in a bowl with the beaten eggs and mustard, stir to combine thoroughly
Stir in one third of the cheese and the onions and mix again.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Tip into a greased ovenproof dish, top with the remaining grated cheese and bake at 170 degrees for 40 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Perfect served as a lunch dish with a salad, or as an accompaniment to a main meal.  This makes the perfect Sunday brunch dish.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

#FluffyMarisPiper Hash

Now Autumn is upon us at long last, I can finally make comfort food (which just doesn't seem right when the sun is shining and it's 20 degrees outside!) - hurray!  Time to ditch waxy new potatoes for my favourite all round potato, the Maris Piper, which has such a wonderful fluffy interior and makes the perfect roasties.

I'm not a big one on having leftovers, I don't like waste in any form and I cannot understand why anyone ever has leftover mash, I have no willpower to resist!  However, I do love Corned Beef Hash so I will make it from scratch for a midweek supper when the weather is wild and windy.  I add a secret ingredient (see the video below....) which really perks up the flavour.  It takes less than half an hour to make it from scratch (less if you happen to have leftover mash) and you know what's gone into your meal which has to be a bonus.

Thursday, 2 October 2014



I sooooo need a new bathroom - this is what we inherited 15 years ago when we moved house, and as you can see, it can hardly be described as luxurious or relaxing.

But because it's perfectly functional, we've never got around to renovating it.  The only thing that has ever been done is replacing the floor when it literally rotted away a few years ago!

So, when Jen at Love Chic Living wrote about a bloggers competition that she is running in conjunction with to create a moodboard for your bathroom revamp, I knew this was the proverbial "kick up the backside" that I needed to finally take the plunge and decide to create the bathroom I have always dreamed of.

I want the space to feel luxurious and like a spa. This will be my sanctuary, so the first thing that I need is this fab double ended whirlpool bath that will create masses of bubbles and sooth my aches away.  It's great as it's got room in the corners to put my glass of wine and candles whilst I relax (or even a glass each end if we decide to bathe-a-deux! ;)  ).  

Large rectangular travertine-style tiles will cover the walls and floors (which will have underfloor heating to keep my toes toasty warm).  I'd love modern taps like these and a mirror with lights down the side so I can see when my eyeliner is straight!   The basin will be wall hung to make the room feel more spacious but I hate seeing the plumbing, so this one will be ideal.  As well as toasty toes, I need warm towels to envelop me after my relaxing bath so this contemporary heated towel rail will be perfect draped with some deep burgundy fluffy bath sheets. 

So, now I just have to persuade my husband that it's time to get out the tile cutter and pipe this space!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nostalgia at Home

This wonderful bakelite Bush Dac90 radio belonged to my parents and my mother tuned in every day to listen to The Archers and other BBC radio programmes.  It was a wedding gift to them from my father's parents in 1946.  

I inherited the radio from my parents (having to fight off my two sisters!) and it is still in use by me today - I too have become an Archers fan (probably from all those Sunday mornings half listening to it whilst I was baking as a child with Mum!) and carry on the tradition of the Sunday omnibus.

I love the detail on the tuner bar showing "all" the programmes available then.  When I show children the radio, they can not comprehend that there was so little choice when they have hundreds of TV channels at their fingertips these days, not to mention games and music to download from the web.

I love the nostalgia of this radio, all the memories it holds for me personally, and the fact that my parents' generation looked after the things they owned and would not have dreamt of throwing away something (or even replacing) that was still working.  Nothing was wasted in our house when I was growing up, and I think my parents (and grandparents) would be thrilled to know that I am still enjoying their radio nearly 70 years later!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Cornwall's Forgotten Corner

I love Cornwall.  I don't know many people who don't (make that anyone actually!). Since we moved to Cornwall over 14 years ago, we have been inundated with guests every summer, some come with an invite, some seem to invite themselves......

Whenever I tell people that Cornwall is my home, they always tell me how jealous they are. But when they ask where in Cornwall I live, hardly anyone has ever heard of it.  They all know Newquay, St Ives, Lands End, the Lizard, Looe, but mention the Rame Peninsula and they look at you blankly.

I really don't know why this is as it is a beautiful part of Cornwall. Just look at the beach at Whitsand Bay on the south coast of the peninsula.  It's supervised by RNLI lifeguards from Easter to the end of September so you can bathe or surf in safety.  This beach is miles long and often completely deserted (as you can see in the photos.  Even on the busiest sunny Sunday August afternoon, you can walk down there and just go 50 yards either side of the path and you will have acres of beach all to yourself. Perfect for playing beach games like cricket or frisbee, if you have a dog who likes to run after a ball, or just want to get away from the "crowds". Not many other places with a wide sandy beach in Cornwall that you can say that about!

There are pretty little twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand overlooking Plymouth Sound where the narrow streets are lined with pastel coloured cottages jostling for space.  There's plenty of places to eat, with several fantastic pubs offering fresh local food (this is one of our favourites, directly overlooking Kingsand beach, the Devonport Inn), and of course, you can get the "Best of the West's" Cornish pasty too in many of the local shops.  We have taste-tested many pasties over the years and can thoroughly recommend Dashers Pasties as being the best, based in Torpoint just 8 miles away and available all over the Rame Peninsula

This is where you can have a proper old fashioned family seaside holiday.  Leave the car parked up all week and spend the holiday messing about on the beach with buckets and spades and dipping with a net in rock pools.  I swim with my dogs every day from Kingsand beach in the summer whilst toddlers are digging holes in the sand and teenagers are messing about on body boards or in kayaks.  Mums & Dads relax under the shade of sunbrellas, and everyone enjoys a locally made ice cream from the cafe at the top of the slipway. It's a lovely friendly atmosphere where strangers talk to eachother and everyone smiles.  :)  Even in Cornwall that's a rarity in summer!

When you've had enough of the beach (unusual if you have kids here!), there are over 800 acres of the Mount Edgcumbe CountryPark to explore and miles of coastal and countryside footpaths.  Mount Edgcumbe is the ancestral home of the Earl of Edgcumbe, now owned by the council and open to the public. The Earl does still live on the peninsula and is a well known local character from New Zealand (long ancestral story!) who you may well encounter in the local pubs.  There are lots of circular walks you can enjoy directly from the villages, often with somewhere to refresh yourself en route.  You might even see the wild deer herds that live here if you are lucky.  In the spring, the woods are carpeted with bluebells, and summer flowers are abundant on the cliffs overlooking the sea.  Stop for a cup of tea and a cake at one of the clifftop cafes, or enjoy a chinwag with the Coastguard Watch at Rame Head who welcome visitors in to see what they do.

OK, so just sometimes it rains in Cornwall (actually, surprisingly infrequently on the Rame Peninsula which has it's own little micro climate) so for rainy day activities, you can catch the little Cawsand foot ferry over to the Mayflower Steps in the Barbican area of historic Plymouth.  Here there are many attractions to be found, including the National Aquarium, cinemas, and of course, plenty of shopping opportunities.  The ferry journey itself is an "attraction" in it's own right as it takes you right across the wide mouth of Plymouth Sound, past the historic Hoe where Sir Francis Drake played bowls whilst waiting for the Spanish Armada (now topped by Smeatons Tower, the original lighthouse for Eddystone lighthouse).  On a sunny day, it is sheer bliss.
Cawand ferry

So come and discover Cornwall's Forgotten Corner, you won't be disappointed.  It's like taking an old fashioned Cornish seaside holiday used to be before commercialisation got in the way!  Make the most of it before it gets discovered!

Swimming with a Gingernut!

I love Bubb, my silly gingernut Vizsla, and most of the time, it's wonderful that he loves to be right by my side.  

However, instead of daily walkies in the summer, we all swim in the sea together to keep the dogs (and me!) fit.  It's so much better for the dogs when it's hot.  However, whilst my other lovely gingernut is a pleasure to swim with, she just paddles along next to me, Bubb has to be right by my side even in the water which often results in a lot splashing and often a ducking for me!

He adores the water though, and I just have to put up with his enthusiasm, despite already losing a watch and a waterproof camera to his thrashing paws this summer!!

Knock Knock!

I've been thinking a bit about "The Front Door" - the threshold to the Englishman's home & castle.  It's often somewhat overlooked in design terms (but not with the great "design your front door" options that Yale now offers), but as your front door is the first thing that greets guests, surely it should be as attractive and welcoming as possible?  People often put a Christmas wreath on their front door to decorate it during the festive season, but why stop there?  At ours, we ring the changing seasons with pretty wreaths to reflect the time of year.

Of course, we do have some funny issues with our current "front" door, mostly because we have two, neither of which are at the front of the house..... which causes great confusion to delivery drivers!  So when we get a knock at the door, firstly the dogs go mad barking so we're not sure which door the knock came from, and then we have to chase around the house to find out which door they are at, often tripping over the cat, who has been alarmed by the barking, in the process.  Oh the joys of old houses!

When I was small, I drove my Mum mad (I know this now, but obviously didn't realise it then!) by wanting to tell her my Knock Knock jokes.  My proviso for this display of humour was that I actually had to be standing outside the front door and she had to be inside, so I could "knock knock" on the door with my hand.  We must have spent hours there whilst she patiently listened (and laughed, repeatedly....) to my jokes - thanks for your never ending patience Mum  :)  I can still recall my favourites today  (more years ago than I care to remember.....)

Me (excitedly, aged about 6)            Knock Knock          (both said and actioned!)
Mum (somewhat resignedly)            Who's there?
Me                                                              Henrietta
Mum                                                          Henrietta who?
Me  (giggling)                                       Henrietta worm that was in his apple!

Me (even more excitedly,still 6)      Knock Knock          (ditto as above)
Mum (even more resignedly)           Who's there?
Me                                                                 Ash
Mum (reading a book by now)          Ash who?
Me  (giggling even more)                   Bless you! I didn't mean to make you sneeze!

This scenario could go on for some time, depending on how many I could remember.  My Uncle James (Mum's brother), is a great raconteur and joke teller and was my hero when I was a child.  Every time he visited he would tell me new Knock Knock jokes, and those would go into my then current repertoire - I'm quite surprised that Mum continued to allow James to visit!  I now have a toddler of my own and am just hoping that Mum doesn't recount to him how I used to tell my Knock Knock jokes, otherwise I'll be the one sat on the stairs......

Hopefully, next time there's a knock on the front door, you'll be reminded of this rather than worrying about if it's a cold caller, and it may just make you smile too.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer Memories

What's been my favourite memory of this summer?  That's easy, it has to be swimming with my two hounds every day during the heatwave.  It was far too hot to walk them, but I needed to keep them (and me!) fit so we took to the water like ducks and have had a ball!

Summer fun!

I always seem to have loads of stuff to cart down to the beach when we go (dog leads, balls, towels......) so my favourite style of bag is the Tote so I can get everything in and still look chic!

How I kicked my Bad Habit!

Everyone has bad habits - there's the obvious ones like smoking, and eating too much, especially junk food, and then there's mine, which was more mundane, but perhaps just as bad for my health.

I found myself slumped in front of the TV from 6 till bedtime every evening, watching whatever happened to be on (let's face it, with all those TV channels, there's always something to watch, albeit often completely trashy!).  Perhaps the worst was my Soaps addiction - I was glued to Emmerdale and Corrie every evening, even though the former really had nothing to recommend it!!  

So, after a TV-filled Christmas last year, I took stock and decided to make a New Year's resolution that I would only watch those programmes that I really wanted to see.  January 1 came around and I ditched Emmerdale (Corrie has remained, at least if I am around the living room as I do enjoy the humour) and all the other silly reality shows that abound these days.  I mark the programmes I want to watch in the TV listings paper at the weekend and then stick to watching just those programmes that have piqued my interest.

I started reading books again, and, shock horror, talking to my hubby! In the summer, I have been dashing down with the dogs in the evening to take a swim in the sea and have dusted my camera off to start taking photos again.

All it took was a bit of will power, and my life and health have been transformed.  You can do it too!

My Living Room dream design

Living Room

Cast iron floor lamp, $2,240 / Seletti wall lighting, $62 / Amara zebra rug, $985 / Red wall art, $495 / LSA International floral home decor, $33 / H M metal candlestick, $13 / Eichholtz hollywood chair, $1,410 / Andrew Martin industrial furniture, $1,320 / Portfolio micro fiber sofa

When Heart Home wrote about their Dream Room Blogger competition, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to spend the morning designing my perfect living room.  We are in the process of getting planning permission to knock down our (very old, very damp and draughty) house and replace it with a wonderful modern light-filled home.  I simply can't wait for the building to commence and whilst deciding on what rooms we need right now is of utmost importance, a girl need to daydream!

We'll be having polished concrete floors and floor to ceiling windows with white walls, so the living room will be a blank canvas.  I've always dreamed of having a zebra print rug (my maiden name is Stripe so I have a great affinity!) so that was my starting point.  I love the neon art work of Chris Bracey, but probably couldn't afford any of his work, but want something neon on the walls.  Red will bring warmth to the room.  I don't like 3 piece suites or the new trend for extra large sofas with jutting out bits, preferring to have a cosy sofa to curl up on and a variety of other comfy chairs dotted around the room.  I love the curves and finish of this coffee table and want BIG bold modern wall art.

Now, we just have to wait for the JCB to arrive........

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Romantic Scotland

Scotland simply oozes romance.  What could be better than walking with your loved one for miles without seeing another soul and then curling up together on the sofa whilst enjoying a local dram?  Whenever we want to get away from it all and just spend some quality time together, we head for Scotland.  And let's face it, it MUST be great because we have a minimum 10 hour drive from Cornwall just to the Borders!  

There are so many wonderful places to stay, whatever your mood.  Our favourite is always to hire a remote cottage with no mobile phone signal, always with a woodburner to keep us toasty warm after long walks and Munro bagging with the dogs.  We curl up in front of the fire after enjoying some hearty Scottish fare for supper (haggis is our favourite - we always buy from the local butchers as they are the best), and spend the evenings just enjoying eachother's company far away from the hubbub of everyday life.

Beautiful remote Croft house

Scotland is so varied - it's not all "Highlands and Islands", the Border country has beautiful rolling hills and the Solway Firth is teeming with wild birds.  The beaches are some of the most stunning in the world and often completely deserted, perfect for long romantic walks.
Enjoying Banff beach

The light in Scotland is very soft which encourages those romantic feelings.  We enjoy sundowners with a difference in Scotland - wrapped up warm under a blanket with a wee dram of malt whisky whilst watching the stunning colours develop in the sky.

Ben Rinnes at sunset

Hunters moon near Dufftown

There are special festivals held throughout the year, and those in the winter months are particularly romantic with lantern promenades through the streets.

Does your romantic dream involve castles?  You won't be disappointed in Scotland - you can stay in one, just visit those still inhabited, or (our favourite), explore the ruins of a former stronghold, where we dream that we are the Lairds.

So what are you waiting for?  It's time to go and explore romantic Scotland!
Enjoy the beautiful, often deserted, roads

All the photographs in this blog post are my own from previous visits to Scotland.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

My love of lighting

As a keen photographer, lighting is always at the forefront of my mind - after all, the word photography literally means "drawing with light" from ancient Greek.  A great photograph relies heavily on getting the lighting just right as without that, the subject will be flat and uninteresting, just as a beautifully designed and decorated room would be almost ruined without having fabulous lighting to set it off.

I thought I would try to explain some of the different ways of using light in photography by linking the ideas to lighting that you use in the home.

So, for example, task lighting.  At home, you might use a spotlight to illuminate a particular area where you want to work in the kitchen say.  Similarly, by capturing a shaft of light on a stormy day, you can transform a fairly ordinary photo into one that really stands out.

Wall Spot Light

Enhancing the mood by capturing a shaft of light

Ambient lighting creates the mood, both for the room and the photograph.  Ideally, this should be warm and inviting and is often produced by using a number of lamps around the room creating pockets of diffused light, rather than using one overhead light which tends to produce a rather flat, dull result.  Think of this type of lighting as that which you see at dawn and dusk, when the sun is very low in the sky producing warm diffused light.
Soft ambient light produces warm inviting pictures

Table lamp

Finally, there is accent lighting, which gives texture and focus, adding depth and shade, with shadows in some corners and pools of light in others. An example of this in the home might be plinth lighting in the kitchen, particularly where it captures the rough hewn surface of a beautiful natural stone floor.  Similarly, the sun creates shadows and depth of field, ensuring that your image is not flat and uninteresting to the eye.

Plinth lighting

Add depth with accent lighting

Now, go grab your camera and see if you too can capture the light!

Thanks to for the examples of home lighting that I have used in this blog post.  :)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Favourite Holiday Memory

When Villa Pia asked for a photo that encapsulates my favourite holiday memory, I spent a very pleasant couple of hours reminiscing about holidays from my own childhood through to adventures in my teens and twenties, to family holidays now.  But what to choose?  Should it be the pic of me playing cricket on the beach with my Dad in the 1960s (he was blessed with 3 girls, but that didn't stop him instilling his love of cricket into us!)? Or how about one from the crazy couple of months I spent backpacking around Europe with my bestie from school in the early 1980s?   Maybe one from our safari honeymoon, enjoying sundowners whilst viewing the extraordinary game?

No, I plumped for this photo as, for me, it encapsulates all that is great about holidays - getting away from real life, having fun and making memories with the kids!  :)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Outfit of the Day - Perfect Summer

Outfit of the Day

Warehouse 1980s dress, / John Lewis three quarter sleeve top, / Converse canvas flat shoes, / Fiorelli handbag,  / Goldmajor sterling silver amber jewelry, / Orla kiely umbrella, / Breo Ladies Zen Watch-Blue Watch B-TI-ZEN4 | the Watch Hut,

When The Mads wrote about a wonderful competition they are running in conjunction with The Watch Hut to design an Outfit of the Day, I was brimming full of ideas in my mind as I had just returned from a wonderful day at the Ladies' Singles Finals at Wimbledon and thought it would be great to put together an outfit for that occasion, but that would be smart yet casual enough too for lots of other events, from lunch with the girls, a walk to the pub on a summer evening, or even to taking the kids to school.

All my selections for clothing come from John Lewis as the prize is JL vouchers so I'll be ahead of the game if I am lucky enough to win!  :)

Who doesn't love a multi coloured dress?  So easy to wear, no mixing and matching of tops and bottoms to worry about, no waistbands digging in, and yet with all those colours, easy to match with lots of other items already in your wardrobe too. This 80s inspired dress is from Warehouse is a bargain at only £42 and it will look great all day long, with any marks I manage to make on it with food or drink spillages masked by the lovely pattern.  I've teamed it with practical and sporty cream coloured converse as there is always loads of walking to be done at Wimbledon, and of course, a pretty umbrella because you can never trust an English summer!  A pretty pastel blue shrug cardigan will keep the chill off as the sun loses its heat later in the day, and I'll be able to stuff all my tickets/programmes and other paraphenalia in this gorgeous tote bag from Fiorella.  The finishing touches are this sporty blue watch from Breo at the The Watch Hut and a cute pair of amber earrings

This is my entry for the Watch Hut competition

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Istanbul - the Jewel in the Mediterranean Crown

There is one place in the Mediterranean that stands out above all others for me and that is Istanbul.  I first visited there in my teens (rather too many years ago than I care to remember!) and was entranced by it's exotic vibe - where East meets West.  The mighty Bosphorus divides the city where trade and tourist boats jostle for space and impressive mosques have their minarets jutting up into the sky, including the impressive Blue Mosque, the only one in the world with six minarets.

I heard from Love Chic Living that Cunard are running a special competition focusing on their Mediterranean destinations and knew instantly that I would be writing about Istanbul and the fabulous memories that it evoked.

I put together this Pinterest board that brings together the highlights of visiting Istanbul and some interior design features that could easily be incorporated into your house and garden.

Follow Rose T's board Istanbul - Magic from the Mediterranean on Pinterest.

It was important for me to include the incredibly beautiful mosques on my board - they are one of the enduring memories of my trip and whilst many other Mediterranean destinations have faded from my mind, I still remember these (and their stunning interiors) vividly.

Another memory that I wanted to include on my board is the large use of blue in Turkish interior design, from the beautiful intricately detailed tiles to the amulets used to keep the evil eye at bay and gorgeous glass lanterns (the latter being perfect for lighting an outdoor eating area).

I remember visiting the bustling Grand Bazaar and getting lost amongst its many lanes and rows, marvelling at the brightly coloured bowls, fabrics, lanterns and ephemera on offer.  I was only there for a short time and in my teens wasn't particularly interested in finding chic pieces to bring home to furnish my living spaces, but NOW, gosh, that would be a different matter!  I think I could spend days in there just browsing and enjoying the sweet tea offered by the vendors whilst haggling for bargains.  Just look at the brightly coloured slippers, rugs, bowls etc that could be slipped into your suitcase and enjoyed back at home.

I love the food in Istanbul - meze (small plates of delicious morsels) is my favourite way of eating and the flavours from the herbs and spices used are incredible.

Finally, I had to include a pin of a Turkish Bath.  The whole experience of being washed and pummeled by a slightly overweight Turkish man is one that will stay with me forever but my goodness, I felt good afterwards! Those I have tried outside of Istanbul have been mere pretenders - go and experience the real thing.

One thing is for sure, now I have written this blog post and created my Pinterest board, I REALLY want to go back to Istanbul again so I'm off to check out whether I can cruise with Cunard from Istanbul, now that WOULD be perfect!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

My homemade #Shelfie!

The "Selfie" has become ubiquitous in life these days, but what about the "Shelfie" - taking a pic of your favourite shelf in your home that displays something about YOU?

Tots100 are running a fabulous competition in conjunction with Victoria Plumb asking just that, and I knew straight away which shelf in my home I would be blogging about!
My #Shelfie

I actually made this shelf unit myself at school (over 30 years ago!!) and it languished in a storage box for a number of years.  I started to bring back "little treasures" from our worldwide travels as memories and had nowhere to display them effectively until I remembered my lovely handcrafted small shelf unit.  Out it came from that storage box and I've been adding to my collection ever since.  I love finding just the right treasure to bring home to display.  I see them every day and they evoke wonderful memories!  My absolute favourites are on the top middle (a beautiful bronze elephant from my trip to India when I was lucky enough to spend a day working with elephants in Rajhasthan) and bottom left (a stunning handmade tango couple which reminds me of tango lessons we had in Buenos Aires)

Victoria Plumb are also running a fun Great British Home quiz where you can find out what you home style is - apparently I am Glamorous!! I'm not 100% convinced of that when I look around at all the kids stuff lying around but clearly it must be what I aspire to be!!  ;) 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

My very own Epic Adventures

When my favourite outdoor store Blacks announced that they were running a competition in conjunction with the travel company to find the best WILD, FAST, PANORAMIC or EPIC travel adventure photos, I knew that I had to have a go so I spent a wet Sunday afternoon going through all my travel pics to choose the ones to enter in this blog post.

Let's start with EPIC

Jumping for Joy at Macchu Picchu
I'd been wanting to visit Macchu Picchu for over 20 years and finally made the trip there in 2012, spending 3 days up in this magical place.

What's more epic than the Great Wall of China?  the only man made structure visible from space, we were able to visit "far from the madding crowds" and enjoy trekking for miles along the wall without seeing another soul, incredible.
Far from the Madding Crowds
Four "watery" epic shots now, each completely different but linked by H2O which seems to be a prominent feature in many of my trips!

First, an epic trip to the great white wilderness of Antartica, next swimming to the very edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia; diving amongst a huge shoal of fish in the Red Sea and finally, watching lava flow into the sea in Hawaii.

Penguins are SO ungainly on land, but incredibly fast and agile in the water.  Capturing this shot of one flying through the air involved alot of luck and many attempts!

Out on safari early one morning, we came across a group of impala refreshing themselves at a watering hole (there's that H2O again!) when they were spooked by a passing elephant and made a hurried exit.

Finally, I was amazed in Vietnam by how many of one family could fit onto a moped, unusually, most of these had some sort of helmet!  as for the traffic in Vietnam, it's fast and furious!


I love being "on top of the world" - here on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

...and here, Halong Bay in Vietnam

Finally for panoramic pics, I had to include another one from my trip of a lifetime to Antarctica as we crept through the iceberg laden Lemair Channel.


More watery photos.......
the first 2 were taken whilst scuba diving and could probably also be classified as epic - we were surrounded by a school of sharks in the South Pacific and wild dolphins in the Red Sea
and we were stunned when this whale surfaced right beside our boat near Cabo in Baja.

Two naughty "teenage" elephants were having a play fight in Chobe, oblivious to the rest of the herd

Walking along a deserted beach, we were amazed to see this seal capture an octopus, play with it for ten minutes before enjoying it's meal.

Looking back at the categories, it seems that there's alot of crossover when photos could have appeared in epic and wild, or fast and wild etc.

Hope you have enjoyed seeing my favourite photos from my travels.

p.s.  I couldn't resist including this one, what an "epic" souvenir this would be!  ;)