Rad Studio, Saltaire

Just before Christmas I went to a fab little workshop where I made these origami diamond decorations.

The workshop was the first held at Rad Studio in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, and it was perfect – we learned a unique crafty project, beer and buns were served and it cost just £8.

Also perfect is this shop’s stock. I’m pretty tired of all the things I see on the high street and Rad Studio is jam packed full of stuff you just don’t see around these parts.

After my visit I was dying to pick the brains of its owner Alexandra (Ali) Radcliffe. I wanted to know about her inspiration, what shapes her tastes and how she had grown the courage to set up shop on her own before she hit 30.

Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West YorkshireLucky for me, Ali was keen to talk. “I could bore you to tears talking about me because I love a chat, I think that’s half the reason I opened a shop – so I could talk to people every day!” she says.

“I come from a large, wonderful and supportive family. I’m the youngest of five and growing up I’ve been lucky enough (despite the arguments, sibling fights and the pecking order!) to be around older talented siblings (and parents) who have creatively influenced me and shaped my style and loves in life, which has directly had a positive effect (I hope) on the shop.”

Shop dreams

Ali grew up in Kent and at 16 started work in a boutique shop. It was here she began to dream of owning a shop of her own one day.

She says: “I loved meeting and talking to customers, the jewellery the shop sold (from India) and the hippy vibe the shop had. I worked there on and off for about five years throughout school and uni holidays and built up a great relationship with the owners.

“I saw how hard they worked and I realised that to work for yourself was both a risk and rewarding business.”

She went to university in Leicester where she studied marketing and English then after graduating travelled for eight months with her sister to India, Asia, Australia and China.

“On our long train journeys, we would talk endlessly about opening a shop together, what it would be called, what we would sell, how it would look etc,” Ali says.

After coming home she moved to London and started working in experiential marketing. After five years, she moved to Melbourne, Australia, with the company she worked for. She stayed there for two years.

On the plane home, she wrote down her goals for the year ahead. One of them was to open a shop before hitting the ‘big 3-0′.

‘It was meant to be’

Ali, now 31,  says: “I made the decision to move to Saltaire instead of back to London because my sister was pregnant with twins and I wanted to be near family after a couple of years being apart.

“I got a job in Leeds within a marketing agency and as I was walking to the train station one day, I noticed that my shop was up for rent. I immediately knew it was a sign (it was meant to be!) and I set out to find out as much as possible about the property and get the cogs in motion to getting the lease for the shop.

“I opened the shop on 2 July 2013 – without my sister sadly, but she opened her own shop in Portland, Oregon called Yo! Vintage – so all cool!”

With her career and travel background, Ali knew she wanted her shop to bring something different to Saltaire. This UNESCO world heritage site is well known for Salts Mill and its art, heritage and vintage shops.

“I wanted to shake things up a bit and provide more of a modern, design twist to the mix. Bring a bit of city life to the village! From commuting into Leeds for work, I knew there were a lot of younger people moving to Saltaire and I wanted to provide them with something a little different.

“Having a shop in Saltaire as opposed to the city means you can get closer to the community and the people within it. I love that.

“When I opened the shop I was greeted with friendly faces and well wishes. It was a very special time and it still is.


“My philosophy for the shop is to offer products that are fun, functional and on trend – products that can enhance and compliment any wardrobe or home with pops of colour or design without having buy anything more to achieve a great look or vibe.

“I strive to find products that no one else has got in the UK, or the north, which means travelling to meet designers and makers overseas or in London (the best part of the job!).

“It’s really important for me to be able to offer something different, otherwise you end up offering the same things as all the other ‘gift’ shops and losing an identity. That’s not to say that I don’t stock some ‘commercial’ products, but I only stock the things I like and believe in that compliment the other items in the shop, and I think that’s why the mix works.”

Among the cosmopolitan products Ali stocks are homewares from Denmark, tie-dye socks from Melbourne, bags from Portland, Oregon, necklaces from Greece, ceramics from New York, as well as products made in Yorkshire.

Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire

Future plans

In 2015, Ali is expanding the shop and would like to do more workshops. She made a good start in December 2014 with classes on making origami diamonds and Christmas wreaths.

She says: “The workshops are non-profit making. They’re put on to bring the community together and also provide a low-cost fun activity that doesn’t mean having to head into Leeds or the pub all the time (although beer is generally provided!)

“I want to try to do more workshops this year and I’m on the look out for people or local businesses who are interested in hosting a class – it can be to make something or to talk about a topic of interest but whatever it is, it needs to match the philosophy and style of the shop.

“I’ve also just expanded the shop to provide more of a homeware area and range. After visiting Melbourne and Portland recently, I discovered some awesome brands which I cannot wait to stock in the shop.”

Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire

// image / instagram/radstudio //

I’ll certainly be back for a return visit very soon.

How about you? Have you already found Rad or is it on your must visit list?

My top 10 DIY blogs

I love a DIY project, as most of you will know by now.

It’s the thing that got me into blogs, and blogging, in the first place. The brilliant, crafty people out there, who regularly show the world how to make something that looks like it cost more than £100 with nothing more than a free afternoon and a trip to their local DIY store or haberdashery shop.

My DIY tutorials are some of my favourite things to write and post, and though I haven’t had as much time for crafting recently because of the house renovation, it doesn’t mean I’m not collecting ideas on ‘projects to do one day’. And that list just keeps on growing.

Here are my top sources of inspiration – my 10 favourite DIY bloggers.

The Lovely Drawer

It was probably the beautiful photography and impeccable interior tastes of Teri from the The Lovely Drawer that drew me in. She’s one of my favourite DIYers because her projects are simple, affordable and effective.

Best recent project: no sew geometric cushion

The Lovely Drawer no sew geometric cushion

Fall for DIY

One of my favourite things to do when I get my crafting box out is make jewellery, and Francesca from Fall for DIY is a DIY jewellery fiend. She also points out that crafting is a brilliant thing to do with a bunch of mates, and I wholeheartedly agree. Her blog also has fashion and home DIYs, and lifestyle and advice posts.

Best recent project: faux granite rings


A pair & a spare

I think a pair & a spare may be the first blog with DIY projects I started reading, and Geneva is just awesome. The results of most of her fashion DIYs blow me away. Again, her blog has lots more besides and I enjoy her travel and lifestyle posts too (even if they do make me green with envy).

Best recent project: embroidered jacket

A pair & a spare DIY embroidered jacket

Love Maegan

I’ve also been reading Californian Maegan‘s blog for several years. My nail-polish-painted shoes were completely inspired by her. I confess I don’t like every project she does but there’s no denying her ingenuity when it comes to customising clothing.

Best recent project: T-strap ankle bow shoes

Love Maegan DIY T strap bow shoes

Apartment Apothecary

First, Katy’s lovely. Second, while her Apartment Apothecary blog is about gorgeous interiors mostly, she regularly posts brilliant DIY projects too. Third, her craft room/home office is the stuff of dreams. Fourth, I want her dog.

Best recent project: fabric buckets

Apartment Apothecary DIY fabric buckets


I only found June’s Nostalgiecat blog fairly recently, when we were both nominated in the best DIY blog category in the Amara Interior Blog Awards last autumn. Whenever she posts a DIY I think, ‘why didn’t I come up with that?’ She’s excellent with concrete. I love her Scandi home style too.

Best recent project: geometric hanging planter

Nostalgiecat DIY hanging planter

A Beautiful Mess

Basically, A Beautiful Mess would make it into ‘my top 10 favourite blogs’ in any category you care to mention. It’s just a brilliantly colourful, inspiring and uplifting space on the web.

Best recent project: pom pom wall hanging

A Beautiful Mess pom pom wall hanging

P.S. I made this

P.S. I made this is another blog I’ve been reading for years. I like the name because I love going out wearing something I’ve made, it being admired and being able to reply, “Thanks. Where’s it from? Oh, I made this.” This site has more DIY projects than your crafty brain can cope with. Not all are to my taste, but you can adapt and use the ideas and techniques.

Best recent project: embellished bag strap

PS I made this embellished bag strap


I like Jenni’s blog I Spy DIY because I totally get her philosophy: “Spot style you love and do it yourself.” Again, her projects are simple, but with eye-catching outcomes. She makes things for her home and wardrobe.

Best recent project: wire basket table

I Spy DIY wire basket side table

Craft gawker

Ok, not strictly a blog, more a curated gallery, but craftgawker is great for finding and searching for bloggers’ crafty projects all in one place. It even features a few of my very own!


My inspiration for pulling together some of my favourite DIYers and writing this post is DIY store Wickes‘ latest campaign, #projectpossible.

They’ve done some research which shows Brits are tired of celebrity endorsements – and I couldn’t agree more with the findings, including that Kim Kardashian West is one of the most ‘overexposed’ celebrities. Just what is the point of “Kimye” anyway and who decided KK warranted hours more media attention than women who are actually doing things?

People asked said they were much more likely to buy a brand if it was endorsed by someone who had achieved success in their chosen field. Hence Wickes’ new ad campaign features real projects and accomplished men and women who – just like some of my favourite DIY bloggers – use conventional DIY products in their everyday work.

My two favourite short films were these two – the amazing screw paintings by artist Andrew Myers and the super cute seals. I promise they will inspire and make you smile.




Do you love DIY bloggers too? Have I missed your favourite?

*sponsored post

New kitchen shelves

After our hectic year last year, we’re still on a bit of a go slow with the house renovation and seem to have little motivation for doing any DIY.

But that doesn’t mean there’s been no progress, because the other day my lovely dad came round to fit some new shelves in the kitchen :)

Because of awkward slopes and corners, we had a bit of empty space between wall cabinets. These gaps are now filled with oak open shelves for cookbooks and pretty accessories.

Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves// details / blue mugs, Habitat at Homebase, as seen here / striped napkins, West Elm / monogram mugs, Anthropologie / large glass etched jar, Matalan / small wood chopping board and rectangular box, H&M //

I know it’s a little sad to be so in love with a room but I still don’t tire of this kitchen. And I love our new additions: they provide the space to add interest, colour and a personal touch to the whole, as well as freeing up room on the worktop to make the kitchen feel less crowded.

Open shelves have been a feature in many kitchens I’ve admired online, but there are some things to remember if you want to build some in.

Clearly I haven’t thrown any old thing up there. Yes, an open kitchen shelf has some practical use but let’s be honest: it’s to display your favourite things. And it helps if those things sit well together.

But that’s the beauty of open shelving too. I’ve switched around the things I’ve got on there a couple of times already since I took these photos. It’s an easy way of sprucing up your kitchen with the changing seasons, or as often as you like.

What do you think?

Lambert’s Yard, Leeds

A little while ago, before the juicing and yoga event in the same building, I took the opportunity to have a good look around Lambert’s Yard.

Interested by its ethos of supporting new designers, I’d been looking for a chance to go inside since its launch in November 2014.

Housed in a collection of old buildings on Lower Briggate in Leeds, Lambert’s Yard describes itself as a concept store and creative event space. But there’s much more going on besides.

It first opened in winter 2013 as a pop-up shop and exhibition space, with its mission being to allow access to the previously disused building and support independent fashion and lifestyle designers. The aim was to establish Leeds as an international centre for independent design and manufacture.

After the final stage in its development, it opened its doors for good in the autumn.

The store – and its online shop – stocks both emerging and established designers in an ever-changing, curated collection of brands not available elsewhere in the city.

New designer fashion at Lambert's Yard Leeds Read More →

Renne Jewellery

With Mother’s Day on Sunday, what better time to share this story of a mum and daughter who recently launched their first jewellery collection.

Helen and Annie Rennison have always shared a passion for design and creativity and Renné Jewellery was born in early 2014. They’d been unable to find UK stockists of the old, characterful jewellery they were drawn to, so decided to make their own.Helen and Annie Rennison of Renne JewelleryEach piece of jewellery is a joint effort, handcrafted in their workshop near Richmond, North Yorkshire. They work mainly with sterling silver and semi-precious stones and their collection is inspired by childhood memories, family adventures and the rolling countryside around their home.

The mum-daughter duo say the fusion of their tastes results in jewellery that can be worn by women of all ages.

But what is it like to live and work together full-time? Read More →

Two years on from diagnosis

I’ve shared a couple of posts on this blog about one of my best friends Emma, whose son (and my godson) Freddie has a rare liver disease. She hopes that by talking about her situation she might help other parents thrown into the dark, frightening world of childhood illness.

Personally, I just think her story is an inspiring one that deserves to be shared, and not least because £36,000 has been raised in Freddie’s name in two years. They’re aiming for more with a summer ball this year.

Here, Emma talks about the second year after her son’s dreaded diagnosis.


It’s the 4th of March. Which is not only my fantastic father-in-law’s 70th birthday, it’s also two years to the day my then six-month-old baby was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease.

If you’ve followed our story then you will have read the piece I wrote a year after Freddie was diagnosed. It was my honest account of the first year of living with liver disease.

Writing that piece was cathartic. It off-loaded my heavy heart of everything it was carrying and cleansed my head of the confusing thoughts I was holding onto.

But the 12 months after that first anniversary may have been my hardest, because I would say I reached breaking point.

From the moment Freddie was born we’ve been on a roller coaster. One that seemed to have a never-ending bump in the track.

From him being born in September 2012 to his fifth month of life we had endless tests and scans, and a biopsy, then he was diagnosed, referred for naso-gastric feeding which quickly led to a gastrostomy tube being inserted under general anaesthetic.

His kidneys started leaking salt so he needed sodium added to his feeds. We found blood in his nappy so had to dial 999. We had unexpected stays in hospital after test results. This is only what I can remember.

The year it got serious

But 2014 was the year that things got really serious. Freddie’s condition and quality of life was worsening. My husband Phil and I saw it first hand and dealt with it every day and night.

In August 2014, when I could see his symptoms worsening weekly, I had a teary conversation with Freddie’s fantastic dietitian, Kirsten. She listened sympathetically as I cried down the phone and told her all my fears and anxieties. His skin itch from his poor bile flow was making him inconsolable and his body was being taken over by xanthomas.

Soon after, we had an appointment with the consultants. I usually go into Freddie’s appointments one step ahead of everybody, prepared for what they’re going to tell us.

But on this occasion I hadn’t done my homework.

We were told Freddie’s symptoms were now classed as ‘severe’ and he couldn’t continue with such a poor quality of life. That gave us two options: a ‘biliary diversion’ or a liver transplant (a transplant was the last option).

The biliary diversion was a six or seven hour operation involving Freddie being cut open and re-plumbed in order to drain from his body the bile that was causing him such deterioration and discomfort. There was no guarantee it would work and there were cases where it hadn’t.

Rock bottom

When the consultant explained the operation I wept. I wept for days after that too. It was the point I hit rock bottom.

I really didn’t want him to go through the operation but I didn’t have much choice. That’s a hard thing to comprehend for your baby.

I had struggled through the previous 18 months of Freddie’s illness, cried a lot and talked loads but I had come to a point of being able to cope with it all.

But hearing a consultant discuss the next process in order to make your seriously sick 23-month-old baby more comfortable was the point I lost all focus.

I hated what he and we were being faced with. I’d had enough now. I wanted out. Read More →

Weekend in London: Sunday

[This is part two of my weekend in London with Superbreak. If you missed part one, catch up here!]

We’d had a full day on Saturday, and felt pretty exhausted (in that good, satisfied way) when we got into bed at around midnight.

At The Cavendish, we didn’t have to check out until 1pm and they served breakfast until noon. This was our kind of place! Knowing we needed rest, we didn’t set an alarm and said we’d sleep in if we needed to.

In the end – as is usual – our stomachs were our wake up call and we went for breakfast around 9am. We’d had a good night’s sleep by then anyway. The bed was comfy and we’d barely heard a noise outside, even though it was Saturday night and we were just a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of the Haymarket.

Now, we place a lot of importance on breakfast. And this could have been one of the best hotel breakfasts we’d ever had. Fresh fruit, then smoked salmon, full English, toast and pastries… well, let’s just say we made the most.

Now fully replenished and wanting to use the rest of our time well we checked out at about 10am, leaving our suitcase with the hotel.

Tower of London

I’ve never been to the Tower of London before. Rather than ‘a tower’ it’s actually more like a little walled village, a fascinating enclave with lots of different buildings making up its whole. The Queen’s Crown Jewels are, of course, its most famous inhabitants but there are actually about 300 people who live and work there as well.

Your entry ticket does include a 60-minute guided tour with a Beefeater but we prefer to freestyle rather than be part of a group.

As well as seeing the jewels (no photography allowed, unfortunately) you should do the wall walk, because the Tower is the perfect place to admire the unique way the London skyline effortlessly juxtaposes old and new. The Tower of London was established by William the Conqueror in 1066, but now it sits closely and happily alongside such modern architecture as The Shard, the ‘gherkin’, the ‘walkie-talkie’ and the ‘cheese grater’.

Also interesting is the Royal Beasts exhibition, which tells the story of the animals that lived at the Tower for 600 years. Exotic animals were often given as gifts and used for entertainment in what became known as the Royal Menagerie. King Henry III’s polar bear would be tied to a long rope so it could go fishing in the Thames! The wire mesh sculptures are by artist Kendra Haste.

Tower of London Read More →

Weekend in London: Saturday

Sometimes, I pinch myself about the great opportunities this blog brings.

One such time came when Superbreak invited me to spend a weekend in London trying out some of the tours and experiences they offer.

I go down to London quite regularly for work and to see my brother, and my husband lived there for seven years. We feel we ‘know’ London, yet there are many places that would top tourists’ lists that we’ve never been near.

So we decided to spend the weekend acting like new visitors, packing in some of the most famous sights and taking a couple of days seeing our beautiful capital city through their eyes. And London didn’t let us down.

Vintage London bus tour

Saturday began at sunrise to catch an open-top vintage London bus leaving Victoria at 8am. If you prefer a lie-in you can opt for the 1pm departure, but we wanted to get as much as we could out of our day.

As we boarded, the outside temperature was about 3°C but we went up to the top deck because, after all, that’s what tourists would do. Wearing thermals and hats, we felt OK, if not warm. Until the bus set off and the wind chill kicked in!

Yes, it was cold, but what a view. So often in London – in fact any city – you’re too focused on where you’re going to look up at the historic buildings and impressive architecture that is just all over the place in Britain. Being 12 feet up gives you a totally different perspective and being away from the crowded pavements is a much more civilised way of getting round London’s main tourist attractions.

Vintage London red double decker open top bus Read More →

Valentine’s Day table

We don’t usually make very much fuss about Valentine’s Day. I find it’s much better to say ‘I love you’ all year round, not just when you’re obliged, don’t you?

That said, a few days ago my ever-generous husband booked for us to spend a night at one of our favourite hotels. We’re going in a few weeks’ time when my work has stopped being hectic.

On V-Day I wanted to do a small something to say thanks, but he was working and I was looking forward to being at home after a brilliant but tiring weekend in London (see some snaps on Instagram and read more next week on here).

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and – not being the regular cook in our house – I decided to show my love with a specially-decorated table and a nice meal.

Unfortunately, I am not a good cook. I have a few dishes that I cook well and I can follow a recipe, but I’m impatient and fairly uninterested and I don’t have a lot of calibre (or even sometimes common sense) in the kitchen.

That said, I think I can make a table look pretty. I was happy to be asked to take part in Furniture Choice‘s Month of Love project, which is all about romance at home. They kindly sent me some vouchers from Not on the High Street to help me set the scene and the mood.

I bought a tray (from this seller but now seem to be out of stock, not pictured because it didn’t arrive in time), a set of cookie cutters, a red heart, some washi tape and a print. This phrase is from the poem ‘I love you’ which was read at our wedding.

Valentine's Day dinner table setting decoration Read More →

Juicing basics with Currys

A couple of weeks ago, the day after a few too many cocktails in Leeds, I went to a blog event about wellbeing, juicing and yoga.

I’d spent much of the afternoon and evening before working through the impressive drinks menu at Manahatta with my old work family. As I woke the next day I couldn’t help but wish the event was set to be about full English breakfasts or fish and chips.

Still, probably some real nourishment was what my body needed, despite what it was telling me.

I don’t own a juicer but am open to the idea so was keen to learn about how to use them, understand more about the nutrition of juicing and come away with some good recipes.

Curry's Introjuicing juicing and yoga event at Lambert's Yard Leeds (2) Curry's Introjuicing juicing and yoga event at Lambert's Yard Leeds (2) Read More →

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