Top 10 DIYs and a blog award

You might have noticed a little addition to my sidebar recently.

That’s right, a couple of weeks ago I was hit with the brilliant news that I’ve been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards.

Nominee Badge

I’m in the ‘best DIY blog‘ category and you will notice that I have some mega competition, so I only have an outside chance of walking away with the title, but nonetheless it feels brilliant to be a nominee along with some of my favourite and most inspiring bloggers.

The good news is that you can help me get onto the shortlist by voting for me here. All you have to do is put in your name and email address and I’m assured you won’t get spammed. Thanks so much! Voting closes on October 3.

In honour of my nomination and to prove my credentials for you clicking through and voting I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best home DIY projects I’ve shared on the blog so far. Read More →

Virtual Bathrooms competition

It may be only a few months since we completely renovated our bathroom, but that doesn’t mean I never think about things we might have done, or what we might do in a bathroom of the future.

Bathroom supplier Virtual Bathrooms are currently running a competition for people to use their bathroom designer tool to create their perfect washing and bathing space.

Our current bathroom is small – not ideal, especially as my husband and I often find ourselves in there at the same time, which leads to much dancing round each other. So the starting point when I began thinking about my dream bathroom was that it would have be bigger, but I’m a realist so I resisted making it palace-sized.

I then chose a large walk-in shower, curved bath and double basins (no more elbowing each other out of the way) and a neat wall-hung toilet. Décor-wise I added a feature sunburst mirror and bold patterned floor tiles but went for pure white walls and – a little like we’ve done in our own bathroom – some classic wood and leafy plants to warm up the space.

I found the bathroom designer tool really easy and quite fun to use and was impressed by how realistic the 3D pictures were. If you were planning a real space, you can adjust the room to make it actual size and add doors and windows where they really are. If you’re just starting out with some ideas it really helps bring them to life so you can see if they work then add things or take them away.

What do you think to my design?

Virtual Bathrooms bathroom design competition Read More →

Notting Hill Carnival

As I was in London on the August bank holiday weekend, I decided to go to Notting Hill Carnival.

My friend and I were going to a party out of town on the Monday, when heavy rain was forecast anyway, so we decided we’d go to carnival on the Sunday, billed as ‘family day’.

I’m glad I went, but it wasn’t quite the all-singing-all-dancing extravaganza I was expecting and although you could tell a lot of effort had gone into some costumes what I saw didn’t really match the images you see splashed across the media.

Sunday is the children’s parade and I hear the costumes are far grander and more extravagant on the Monday, which is the day of the main carnival parade and grand finale. But this is one student’s vivid depiction of the downsides, and based on the taster I had the day before I can imagine much of what she says is true.

First, let’s talk about the good.

Notting Hill Carnival family day August 2014

Read More →

South Bank, London

The older I get, the more I seem to tire of London.

My brother moved down pretty much straight after graduating and there have been times when I thought I’d follow suit. I never did, but the city is quite familiar to me because of the trips I’ve made for work and to see him and friends.

I always love seeing the people I know who live there, and there’s no doubt the capital offers some wonderful things to do, but more often than not these days I find the place quite exhausting.

I can enjoy the novelty, the hustle and bustle, for a day or two but then I find myself dying to get back up north. I think it’s just the sheer volume of people, the time it takes to get from place to place.

I was in London for the bank holiday weekend, to see my brother, his wife, my beautiful new niece and some friends. I arrived on Saturday with a couple of hours to kill and after a quick trip to West Elm made the mistake of going to Oxford Street. My mood slumped and stress levels soared. Maybe it was because I had to drag my suitcase along behind me, maybe it was because of the hordes of people, who always walk too slowly or stop suddenly in a bunch, blocking the whole pavement.

The thing is, I don’t want to lose my rag with this city: I think we have a wonderful capital. I’ve never felt prouder to be British than during the 2012 Olympics. I’ve had some of the most special days of my life here, like when I was a guest of the Queen.

So when I feel like I might be falling out of London I go to South Bank. I love the riverside setting, the colour, the anyone-is-welcome attitude. I feel like this place, unlike much of London, is about spending time, not money. It’s probably my favourite spot in the city, and here’s why.

South Bank London Read More →

Do you say ‘I love you’ enough?

When did you last tell someone who matters to you that you love them?

I’m pretty good at telling my husband I love him. As a couple we probably say it most days. (It’s funny, as I was writing this he phoned me from downstairs to pass on some practical info and we ended the 10 second conversation with an ‘I love you’ each).

I think I tell my closest friends how much they mean to me quite regularly too. There’ve been some difficult times and dark days for me recently and these people have stopped me from falling, lifted me up and showed me the way to keep going.

My mum and dad have too, and even at 35 I know they take every step with me and would give me all they could if I needed it. But I do find it more difficult to tell them I love them and I don’t really know why.

While I was never in any doubt how much I was loved by them as a kid, I guess as a family we weren’t particularly into PDAs or saying the words ‘I love you’. I don’t think that’s altogether a bad thing because I do think some people have a tendency to throw around those important three words far too easily.

I presented them with this poem at my wedding, because it summed up so many words I wanted to say. I went a bit to town celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary last summer because I felt so indebted and in awe of the role models they’d been. I made them this scrapbook as a present. But at the party, when my brother and I briefly took to the mic, I couldn’t actually say the words I wanted to. They just got stuck in my throat and I was practically in tears in front of all the people they knew. Slightly embarrassing. (I blame the gin).

I think the less we say ‘I love you’ the harder it becomes, so while I don’t think we should spoil the special feeling generated by hearing those words by saying them too often, I do think we should try to say it each time we feel it.

This is what French retailer La Redoute‘s current #LanguageofLove campaign is about. Their survey last month found just under a quarter of UK people haven’t said ‘I love you’ in over a year. Isn’t that sad?

If you’re wondering how nice it feels to give and receive some words of appreciation from a loved one – or you would simply like to see particularly good-looking Frenchman called Florent speaking his beautiful language – grab a tissue and watch La Redoute’s video.



Did it make you think about whether you tell someone enough that you love or appreciate them?

PS appropriately enough it’s my fourth wedding anniversary today! ♥ You can read about our wedding here, but please forgive the novice blogging style :)

My dream office space

My place of work is functional and pleasant and we’ve recently had a few improvements done that has made the space feel bigger and more open. But it’s not what you would call inspiring.

We’re a small team, and in that the-grass-is-always-greener way of thinking most of us adopt a lot of the time, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be part of a big company, to have hundreds of colleagues instead of a handful, to be a small but significant cog in a much grander wheel.

One of the things that tempts me about working for a larger organisation is the bigger, better-equipped and more modern office space I imagine my employers and I would inhabit.

When I heard London Offices is running a competition for bloggers to craft their ultimate office space I let my imagination run wild, picking out features from offices around the world I love and putting them together to create the dream.

But these are real places and some people are lucky enough to actually work in them! I reckon I’d have a lot less trouble getting out of bed when my alarm went off if one of these places was my 9 to 5 destination.

Glass walled office in woodland of Selgas Cano architects Madrid Read More →

My top 5 home DIY tips

Apart from a couple of days when I had to be absent because of a work crisis, it’s been pretty much non-stop DIY at our place over the last week or so.

The plasterer’s now been in and done his thing, which means the rooms are looking more put together than patchwork, as they were.

This is how the kitchen section looked a few days ago. Now the kitchen’s been ordered and we had a few days away camping while the plaster dried out. kitchen renovation Quite a few other bloggers and people I know are in the process of buying a house and some are taking on a renovation project like us. This is the third house we’ve ‘done up’, and I feel we learn so much with each one. So here are my top 5 tips for DIY-ing and carrying out home improvements. Read More →

Blogger buffet at The Light

As blogger events go, this promised to be good.

We were invited to The Light, Leeds, for a ‘blogger buffet’ with a different course at four of the venue’s restaurants.

Off The Headrow, The Light has been on the scene for a while and, as new shopping centres emerge in the city it seems to have found its voice as a leisure hub, with a wide range of bars and eateries, hotel, cinema and gym. It’s always been a very pleasant space, with light and airy avenues and and a high glass roof.

First stop was at French chain Café Rouge, where we had good wine and a selection of olives and tasty coated almonds. We sat and chatted as people arrived, and I met some new faces and caught up with some more familiar ones.

Blogger buffet at the Light, Leeds. Cafe Rouge, Miller and Carter, Frankie and Bennys and Browns Read More →

Bird and Beast, Leeds

While not much of a fan of fast food, I do like food that is fast and functional.

It helps if it is also hearty and delicious, which makes Leeds’ new-ish restaurant, Bird and Beast, a winner for me.

Bird and Beast serves free range chicken grown at Sykes Farm in the Yorkshire Wolds. This gives the birds a good start flavour-wise and they are then double marinated, traditionally cooked to keep their moisture and finished on the rotisserie over cherry wood chips and charcoal to give the meat a distinctive, smoky flavour.

Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Read More →

Cielo Blanco, Leeds

I’ve read a lot of good reviews about Cielo Blanco, so although I’d tired a little of eating and drinking in Trinity Leeds, I suggested to the girls we go back.

It was one of our as-regular-as-we-can-manage Saturday afternoon-into-evening sessions involving cocktails, dinner and more cocktails.

We started by soaking up one of the last sunny afternoons at Livin’ Italy at Granary Wharf, accompanied by pretty pitchers of colourful mediterranean mojitos: raspberries and peach purée, lemon shrub, mint, rum and cedrata topped with limoncello foam.

Pitcher cocktail at Livin Italy, Leeds Read More →

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