Anniversary in the Lake District

Although our two weeks off work were typified by being ill (me) and grafting in the garden (him), we did have a few days away.

First, we headed to the Lake District and checked in to the Masons Arms, a small pub with rooms at sweetly-named Strawberry Bank. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, about 15 minutes inland from Grange-over-Sands.

It overlooks the serene Winster Valley. We’d booked the Cartmell Fell suite and had our own private terrace, from which we looked out onto one of the most beautiful and peaceful vistas I’d ever seen.

It was a little early, but the beginning of celebrations for our fifth wedding anniversary :)

Cartmell Fell suite at Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, near Grange-over-Sands, Lake District View from Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, near Grange-over-Sands, Lake District View from Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, near Grange-over-Sands, Lake District Cartmell Fell suite at Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, near Grange-over-Sands, Lake District

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House tour: our back ‘garden’

My husband has been an absolute trouper these last couple of weeks. We’ve been off work, and once again have deprived ourselves of a holiday in favour of working on renovating our house.

At the moment, the back garden is the focus of our efforts, and he’s spent day after day just digging. And digging.

This, friends, is what we’re up against.

back garden before

back garden before

When we first looked round the house, we knew the size of its back garden was going to be a deal maker, or breaker. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of it for the asking price.

The state of it, however, was another matter. Nothing was growing there but weeds – and nothing has in the time we’ve been here. Read More →

The Pinkertons on Drama

Drama this year secured the UK premiere of US series The Pinkertons, and I’ve been asked to watch an early episode and tell you all about it.

Although not the kind of programme that would immediately have me pushing the series record button, I do like a crime drama – especially one with a strong female lead.

The Pinkertons: the background

It’s a period crime drama set in the Wild West in the 1860s, and based on the real-life Pinkerton National Detective Agency founded in America in 1850 by Scottish-American Allan Pinkerton.

The series centres around Allan (played by Angus MacFayden, who appeared in Braveheart), his son William, who also works for the agency (the very easy-on-the-eye Jacob Blair), and Kate Warne, played by Martha MacIsaac. Kate was America’s first female detective.

Review: The Pinkertons on Drama

Allan Pinkerton became known for revolutionising detective work by creating forensic technologies like fingerprinting and using surveillance and undercover work. Kate became a master of disguise, able to infiltrate both high and low society. Read More →

How I got better with money

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post about how I’d begun taking seriously the need to save and be sensible with money, in the hope that one day I’d fulfil a big dream: to have a holiday home in France.

I thought it’d be good to revisit this subject, to update you on how I’m getting on and throw a couple more money-saving ideas into the mix.


 // image via Style Bubble, photography by Phil Oh for //

So I don’t exactly have money in the bank yet to buy that old farmhouse with an orchard and barn ripe for renovation. But I do feel fairly happy with our finances, especially seeing as in the last couple of years we’ve faced some big, unexpected and unavoidable costs, and we’ve had to invest in renovating the house. I’m content now that when my bank account does take a hit, it’s for something worthwhile.

Let me tell you how I’ve changed my ways. Read More →

Jewellery display DIY

My jewellery collection is ever-growing, and I was finding favourites could sometimes get buried and lost for a while.

So I decided to upcycle a tray to make a display that can look pretty while keeping my favourite necklaces and bracelets organised.

DIY tutorial: turn a tray into a jewellery displayDIY tutorial: turn a tray into a jewellery display

This is the second in what will be a trilogy (ha!) of DIY projects for Wayfair. Hop on over to their blog for the full step-by-step.

But it’s really easy. Read More →

Amara Interior Blog Awards 2015

Guys, something great has happened again. I’ve been nominated for the 2015 Amara Interior Blog Awards!

You might remember I was nominated last year, in the best DIY blog category. This year, I’m up for best fashion-inspired blog, which is for “sartorially savvy bloggers” who “effortlessly” combine the worlds of interiors and fashion. Awesome, right?

There are 25 of us in this category, and once again I’m honoured to be sitting alongside some of the biggest bloggers in the country, and some of my favourites.

I need to get into the top 5 to make it to the shortlist and the awards night on 28 October. You can vote for me right here by just filling in your name and email address. Voting closes on 18 September. Thank you so much.

There’s something in it for you too – every voter is entered into a draw to win a luxury holiday on Italy’s Amalfi coast!

Amara Interior Blog Awards 2015 vote now

RHS Harlow Carr gardens

RHS Harlow Carr gardens Harrogate

As we were in Harrogate for afternoon tea, I thought it would be a good idea to call into the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Harlow Carr.

You know, to get some inspiration for our garden, which we’ve just started working on.

I’m laughing to myself as I write that, because our garden – which is probably a misnomer at present – is about as far removed from Harlow Carr’s perfectly planned and pruned idyll as you can get. I’ll show you sometime! Read More →

Afternoon tea at Betty’s

Review: Lady Betty afternoon tea at Betty's cafe tea rooms, Harrogate, Yorkshire

There can be few better ways to spend a Sunday in Yorkshire than sharing afternoon tea at Betty’s.

Betty’s café tea rooms in Harrogate opened in 1919 and nearly 100 years later the brand is a phenomenon, with every branch marked by a queue of people outside.

I’d been invited to Harrogate to try the Lady Betty champagne afternoon tea, which is served upstairs in the Imperial Room.

Walking in you feel the history and tradition: the pianist playing by candlelight, the immaculate crisp, white table linen, the waitresses in their black and white uniforms. There’s a steady stream of hen parties, but there is still the sense of occasion and decorum there must have been all those years ago.Review: Lady Betty afternoon tea at Betty's cafe tea rooms, Harrogate, Yorkshire Review: Lady Betty afternoon tea at Betty's cafe tea rooms, Harrogate, Yorkshire Read More →

10 reasons to love camping

Camping has become such a big part of our lives, more than I would have ever thought a few years ago

I think some people rule it out without ever doing it, and I understand why. During an ill-fated and ill-equipped camping trip in the New Forest about 10 years ago I vowed never to set foot in a tent again.

Even just after I ventured back in a tent, there was that time we camped in Gower, south Wales, and the wind was so fierce I dreamed I was in a war zone being shot at by fighter jets. The next morning, we woke up to find most of the other campers had scarpered in the middle of the night, and the less lucky ones had had their tents blown away.

With camping, you might have to persevere, and you should certainly invest in some decent kit (having an electric hook-up changed our lives).

We took up camping about four years ago mainly to save money. But the reason we do it has grown deeper roots, and now I think camping will always be a big part of our lives, whatever our budget.

Camping Il Falcone Umbria Italy

Why do I love it so? Read More →

Blog at the Beach with

When I think about what I would do if I had more time or more money, the answer is always travel.


I’ve done pretty well so far – I’ve seen Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, America and a lot of Europe. But for the last few years the brakes have been put on the exploring, for financial reasons mainly, and we’ve hardly left the UK. My passport is actually on the verge of expiring… (the shame!)

I always like to share with you my days out, weekends away and camping trips (you’ll find them all here). But it’s not like the adventuring I did in the past and dream of doing again, of throwing on a backpack and spending long enough in a country to feel its heartbeat.

I’m definitely planning on travelling more next year.

There are some bloggers who write about travel all the time, and I met a bunch of them at a recent event in Leeds organised by holiday comparison site

As bloggers that I’ve met go, they were among the most fun and fearless, and committed too – telling me of filling luggage with laptops and cameras and technology to update their readers on the go.

We were all there to listen to three speakers, who gave brilliant talks about different aspects of blogging.

Blog at the Beach event with

Blog at the Beach event with

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