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 →

Living room detail

When it comes to home design that makes you happy, it’s all about the detail.

This is especially so for us, because as we renovate we’re trying to keep the walls and floors relatively neutral because we plan on selling up and moving on in two or three years.

So I wanted to show you some of the smaller features that make up the living room we love.

In case you missed it, the initial reveal and pictures of before, during and after the renovation are here.

Living room renovation: before and after Read More →

Living room reveal!

It’s a pretty momentous occasion, because I’m about to show you the outcome of our renovation of the last major room in the house. The last. Major. Room.

Having renovated the whole house in the last 18 months or so, it truly feels like a milestone. As you know when I’ve talked to you about the kitchen renovation, it’s all been quite a journey.

Because of changing the layout – knocking down and putting up a wall – we’ve done all the downstairs in one go, starting in about April last year and finishing around midnight on Christmas Eve. I kid you not!

Anyway, like proud parents, we think the living room looks beautiful. This year so far, each day I’ve come home I’ve looked forward to being here and really enjoyed and admired this room. I’ve felt proud and very lucky. This is how a home should make you feel, right? Secure, content, at peace and blessed. I hope this feeling lasts.

Living room renovation: before and after Read More →

Spring summer 2015 fashion

Few of us have the funds to clear out our wardrobes every season and fill them up again following new fashion trends.

And let’s face it, we don’t really want to. When the fashion weeks come round, I follow the runway looks with interest (and sometimes astonishment) to see the styles I might like to try a few months later.

But few of us will want to copy a look head to toe. Your boss isn’t going to approve of you turning up to work showing bare breasts under a mesh top.

So each season, it’s an exercise in which trends I like, want to follow and that would suit me. It’s an exercise in judging whether a trend is a flash-in-the-pan fad, or would give a decent pounds-per-wear return. And it’s an exercise in seeing what I already have that I can bring from the back of the cupboard, or perhaps upcycle and update.

I’m looking forward to the warmer, brighter, fresher seasons already, so here are some of the top trends coming our way for spring and summer 2015.

Denim

Not just jeans, but tailored pieces. Denim in the year 2015 will be more structured and sophisticated. And double denim is positively encouraged!

Blue is the colour of this spring and summer, and as it’s my favourite colour this pleases me no end. A pale-denim hue will be the most on trend.

Will I try or buy? I wear denim all the time so yes I’ll try, but probably not buy. I already have a denim shirt, dress and jacket and endless pairs of jeans. I might swap out my faithful skinny jeans for an older pair that have a slightly flared bottom.

Denim by Chloe spring summer 2015. Photo by InDigital Read More →

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