Cruise part 3: Dubrovnik, Venice

Dubrovnik was probably the destination I was most looking forward to from the whole cruise.

It didn’t disappoint: it’s definitely on our list to go back to, to explore properly. In fact, I’m hoping to spend more time in Croatia next year.

With just a few hours in Dubrovnik this time though, we only really had time to see the Old Town and walk the medieval city’s stone walls, which allow fabulous views of the Adriatic Sea and some of Croatia’s islands, as well as Dubrovnik itself.

Old Town, Dubrovnik, Croatia Continue reading “Cruise part 3: Dubrovnik, Venice”

Cruise part 2: Santorini, Mykonos

I was so looking forward to seeing these two Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos.

Santorini was beautiful. We took a trip to the famous village of Oia, with its picture-perfect blue and white buildings, bougainvillea and homes – many now turned into expensive boutique hotels – carved into the cliffs.

After an hour-or-so wandering the narrow, winding pathways, we went on to the town of Thira – another very pretty spot – from where it was a quick cable car ride back to the boat.

Oia, Santorini, Greece Oia, Santorini, Greece Oia, Santorini, Greece Oia, Santorini, Greece Oia, Santorini, Greece 11 Oia, Santorini, Greece Oia, Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece

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Cruise holiday day 1: Athens

A few days ago, we got back from our first cruise holiday.

I’ve always dismissed – in fact, looked down my nose at – the idea of going on a cruise. It seemed the preserve of the distinctly middle-aged, the badly-dressed, pseudo-travellers, those who say they’ve ‘done’ a country without dirtying their hands or spending time immersing themselves in the culture.

But we were looking for a November holiday and this particular cruise ticked our budget box as well as calling at several destinations on my must-visit-in-the-world list all in one week: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Kefalonia, Dubrovnik and Venice.

Coming up to 20 weeks’ pregnant, it suited me that there would be food on tap and it was OK that we only had a short time in each place. Normally, I like to spend hours trekking around and exploring but as I couldn’t do so much of that this time we treated the holiday more like a voyage of discovery: let’s see where we like the look of and where we’d like to go back and spend more time.

Some of my preconceptions about cruising and my shipmates turned out to be unpleasantly true. But it also turned out to be a brilliant experience. Of course, there were things we disliked but sailing away from an island while sunbathing on deck and waking up the next morning in a different country were quite magical.

I’m thinking of a whole post about ‘our first cruise’ – what was good, bad and what cracked us up – but for now I wanted to share some snaps of the stunning places we visited.

First, we had a day in Athens. We docked in Piraeus port from where it’s easy to take the Metro into the centre of Athens (about 15 minutes).

Our first stop was the Acropolis and Parthenon, where you can’t help but stand in awe at the age and magnitude of the structures, and the incredible view of Greece’s capital city from on high.

Athens, Greece - Acropolis and Parthenon

Athens, Greece - Acropolis and Parthenon Athens, Greece - Acropolis and Parthenon Athens, Greece - Acropolis and Parthenon Continue reading “Cruise holiday day 1: Athens”

Stylish storage solutions

I’m always looking for good ideas for home storage. You see, I like stuff – and have quite a lot of it – but I dislike disorganised clutter and I don’t have a great big house.

I’ve come to realise lately that while having places to put things away is vital, having certain things out on display can really add to your home’s character and individuality – not to mention that it’s more convenient to have items you use regularly easily at hand.

So, chuffed was I when Harveys Furniture asked me to contribute some ‘expert’ tips about how I store and display collections around my home. Hop on over to their blog to read all of our ideas – there are some great ones!

Here are my three favourite ways to store things stylishly around my house.

The vintage crate

Vintage crate as living room storage

You might remember I dragged this crate out of my parents’ garage where it had been gathering dust for years. Now it’s the focal point in my favourite corner of my living room, and I use it to store books and magazines I want to keep close at hand. Continue reading “Stylish storage solutions”

New hanging ceramic pots

My living room is in a slight state of disarray, but these hanging pots have added some Scandi style to one wall.

Now we’re back to winter, husband has returned inside and is tackling some of the inside jobs that didn’t get finished before he moved outside and started working on the garden. That means tools lying around the house, furniture out of place, wood shavings on the floor. It needs to be done, he’s forever working hard and I mustn’t complain. Mustn’t.

So I’m focusing on the positives, and these hanging ceramic pots are the perfect antidote. They’re functional and fancy, and I love the geometric brass frames. You can also get a bigger one, and I think the three would look great hung together.

Mine have become home to a couple of air plants – which, it turns out, is something of a misnomer because they need much more than air to survive (rain water, special spray fertiliser etc). If I manage not to kill these little fellas it will be a miracle.

Red Candy Umbra Trigg ceramic geometric wall vessels Red Candy Umbra Trigg ceramic geometric wall vessels Red Candy Umbra Trigg ceramic geometric wall vessels Red Candy Umbra Trigg ceramic geometric wall vessels// Umbra Trigg small wall vessels, £25 for set of two, c/o Red Candy // Continue reading “New hanging ceramic pots”

Afternoon tea at Creams, Leeds

A little while ago, the girls and I decided to try a new-ish tearoom in Leeds. Creams opened earlier this year in The Core shopping centre.

It’s certainly shaking up the idea of the traditional English afternoon tea. This is afternoon tea with added bling.

As well as the familiar British afternoon tea – the triple tier of sandwiches, scone and cakes – Creams offers interesting-sounding Eastern and Arabian varieties, comprising ‘naanwiches’, falafel, halloumi, samosas, houmous, olives and pitta bread.

Afternoon tea at Creams, LeedsThe décor – with marble surfaces, high ceilings, chandeliers, an imposing fireplace and a grand piano – screams luxury. Which is great, but the service should be five star too. Continue reading “Afternoon tea at Creams, Leeds”

Nest.co.uk: inside a Sheffield design store

One of the best things about writing this blog is that I get to discover brilliant businesses – right on the doorstep.

Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk has to go down as one of the most interesting I have found in our region. A few days ago a small group of bloggers were invited to their HQ and showroom for a Bloggers Breakfast – of cake, of course. (They were delicious and also made in Sheffield, by Marmadukes).

Looking at their stock online beforehand, and then walking into the showroom, I knew their style was right up my street (if not always in my price range). Nest has an impeccably chosen range of products, focused on good, timeless design and with a strong Scandinavian flavour.

At their showroom just outside the city centre, you’ll see items from some of the world’s biggest and hottest design brands, including Tom Dixon, Vitra, Hay and Kartell. Customers travel for miles to South Yorkshire to see things in the flesh – and touch and try out icons like the classic Eames chairs.

Meeting the team was a delight; some have been with the company for years and all are passionate about its ethos and what they sell.

Nest is not just based in Sheffield, it was founded here – by Christian Hawley in 2002. They’re much younger than rivals like Heal’s and John Lewis but are surely heading in the same direction. They sell online mostly, but have just begun offering an interior design service (with a free one hour consultation) and are launching their own capsule collection of 10-12 products in the spring.

Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk Bloggers breakfast at Sheffield design store Nest.co.uk

As you can see by the way I’ve photographed everything, I loved it all. Although I came away empty handed – sensible, mum-to-be head on that day – I’ll definitely be back to the showroom and will watch Nest’s progress with great interest.

What do you think? Did you have any idea a place like this was in Sheffield?

Joules wellies competition

Unfortunately, we’re now getting into ‘welly weather’!

Personally, I quite like tramping through fields in my wellies, free from any fear of ruining footwear.

Joules have launched a fun competition for budding designers, doddlers and wellington boot lovers – they want you to design some Joules wellies.

The winner will see their design put into production and get a luxury Forest Holiday worth £5,000. (I can vouch for the idyll of a Forest Holiday – read about my weekend away in a cabin with the girls).

All proceeds will go to Joules’ charity partners via Charitably Joules.

Joules design wellies competition

Here’s what you need to know:

♥ The winning design will go on sale at joules.com

♥ You can submit a design and enter the competition here – http://getcreative.joules.com/

♥ You could win a luxury break worth £5,000 – 3 nights in a golden oak treehouse cabin plus lots more

♥ 10 runners-up will each receive a £250 Joules gift card

What are you waiting for?!

*collaborative post

Winter home style with Junction 32

Because we’re making over the whole house – and I’m always reading blogs, magazines or on Pinterest – my home is never going to feel completely finished.

I’m often looking for ideas for the areas that are yet to be done, and – as I said last week – sometimes even for rooms that are (supposed to be) complete.

Junction 32 outlet shopping village – that’s the one just off the M62 in West Yorkshire – recently invited me along to take a closer look at their home brands. They kindly gave me some spending money to buy some things to ready my home for the winter season.

Afterwards, they wanted to film me talking about what I thought and what I bought. Yikes – my very first vlog! There are several reasons I don’t film myself for blog content – but it’s healthy to push back your boundaries every once in a while :)

The video is below, and while I did completely cringe at the sound of my voice and the strength of my Yorkshire accent (I always thought it was fairly mild!) I’m proud that I did it and that I didn’t have re-shoot each clip too many times before getting it (more or less) right. However, I don’t think I’ll be swapping my day job for TV presenting and this is probably the first and last vlog you’ll see…

 

Continue reading “Winter home style with Junction 32”

Some big news…

I have some very big news to share today, and I’m just going to get straight to it.

I’m about four months pregnant, we’re having a baby in the spring.

To say that we’re happy – while we are, of course, over the moon – is to simplify the full range of emotions we’re feeling. I’m sure every parent-to-be feels similar, but for us there’s this too: sometimes I didn’t think I’d ever write or say the words in that paragraph above.

I was 6 weeks and 2 days pregnant when we first saw this little being inside me. It felt like the first time we’d breathed in two weeks. It was when we started to believe.

That day, we celebrated by going for a pizza then watching a film. (I had to nap part way through).

A few weeks later we saw him/her again, and couldn’t believe how human-like it looked already – just a few centimetres long. And how much s/he moved! I think we’ve got a lively one.

Last week I heard his/her heartbeat. The midwife felt my pulse at the same time as listening to the beat. We’re one.

Hello sunshine banner flag

Continue reading “Some big news…”

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