Blog hop!

Hands down one of the nicest things about blogging is the friendliness and camaraderie of the community. There’s nothing nicer than someone enjoying or valuing something you’ve written, and letting you know with a comment or a tweet.

I’d noticed a couple of my favourite bloggers taking part in a particular ‘blog hop’ – all answering the same four questions – so it was lovely when Michelle chose to pass the blogging baton on to me (see her ‘blog hop’ post here). Coincidentally and fortuitously, around the same time I was also ‘tagged’ to answer four almost identical questions by a fellow Anna.

You see a lot of these types of posts flying around. They’re a good way of finding new bloggers, and this particular one is a way of sharing a bit more about us, what makes us tick and how we do what we do.

Looking at the questions I have to answer, it looks like a good exercise in introspection, reminding us why we started and keep this pastime that I think must seem so unusual to non-bloggers, and making us consider how we might do things better.

So, here goes! Read More →

Do you work in your pyjamas?

I often think we’ve been so slow to offer home working as a real alternative to commuting to an office.

Usually those thoughts come to me when I’m on my 30-40 minute each way journey to and from work. On the occasional bad day I add up in my head all the time I’ve spent commuting in my 13 years of working so far then think about all the things I could have achieved while behind a wheel simply getting from A to B. Volunteering for a charity, reading classic literature, watching silly videos on YouTube.

As a society we have developed technology which means there are practically no limits to the ways we can communicate, and most tasks can be executed equally well whether behind a desk or atop a mountain. It does seem madness that despite this, more than half the population are thrown out onto the street at exactly the same time, twice a day, with all the environmental and economic impact that has. Read More →

Kitchen update/summer ready

We’re kind of wishing we’d started our downstairs renovation earlier, because the new layout and especially the new French doors have made such a difference to the light in the kitchen/dining area.

It would have been glorious in this beautiful weather to enjoy our evening meals with the wide double doors thrown open and the sun streaming in.

Instead, we’re having to make do with spending a few minutes standing and admiring the changes over a cool evening drink before resorting to eating upstairs with plates on our laps.

Want a sneaky peek of progress so far? Promise you’ll ignore the dirty, patchy walls and holes in the floor and ceiling? OK.

House renovation - kitchen, dining room, living room Read More →

Raithwaite Hall afternoon tea

For the last stop on our mini-tour of England, we headed up the Yorkshire coast from Scarborough to just past Whitby.

I’d been invited to sample afternoon tea at Raithwaite Hall. They’ve just hired Heidi Stevens, a former pastry chef on Sir Richard Branson’s private resort Necker Island, where she created the afternoon tea menu for Hollywood A-listers paying $64,000 a night.

A tempting invitation I’m sure you’ll agree, and I’m always happy to spend time at Sandsend, a pretty enclave which has happy memories for me. We got there a bit early, so spent an hour just sitting on a bench looking out to sea.

Afternoon tea Raithwaite Hall near Whitby North Yorkshire Afternoon tea Raithwaite Hall near Whitby North Yorkshire Read More →

Ox Pasture Hall hotel

After a week’s camping, culminating in a hard night’s partying, we were ready for four walls and a roof, a bath and a proper bed.

It wasn’t time for home yet, but lucky for us we had been invited to stay at Ox Pasture Hall, a country hotel set in the North York Moors National Park, just a couple of miles from Scarborough.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Read More →

Grassington Festival

After a couple of days in London, we jumped back in the car and headed back up north for our annual festival weekend.

Although on the same weekend as the world’s most famous festival at Worthy Farm, we were going to Grassington, not Glastonbury.

Still, there were fields and live music, and with my wristband on I could nearly pretend I was there.

By now – well we were back in Yorkshire – the temperature had dropped slightly so I wore jeans and a vest topped off with this pretty boho paisley-print kimono. I could get away with my nude chunky strap sandals because the ground was baked and dry but I wouldn’t advise anything but wellies at any of the big festivals which have a much higher footfall.

Grassington Festival fashion: New Look paisley print kimono Read More →

Ask Her Friends blogger panel

For the third and final time, I’m sharing the month’s Ask Her Friends blogger panel picks.

Remember, this is where Ask Her Friends calls on its panel of bloggers to pick out their best things on site. I’ve loved being a part of it and was always spoilt for choice when trying to select just four or five favourites.

The best thing about it is, you can win a £50 voucher simply by taking a look and voting for your favourite set. Apparently the last two months have been close calls so go on, hop on over and vote for me and let’s see if we can both be winners!

Here’s what I picked this month. The work being done on my kitchen has been at the forefront of my mind – or rather, how it will look when it’s all finished and I’ve added all the decorative touches I want – and I kind of fell instantly in love with the giraffe dipping bowl! Isn’t it sweet?

Ask Her Friends blogger panel July

1. Five Star Boutique Holiday in Turkey by Secret Escapes; 2. Ride My Bike Print by Old English Company; 3. Mulberry Domerivet Glossy Goat Leather Wallet by The Collection; 4. Silly Slogan Tea Towel by The Joy of Ex Foundation; 5. Giraffe Oink Dipping Dish by Yas-Ming Ceramics

Summer wish list

So summer is being pretty kind to us Brits this year, no?

How have you been spending these sunny days? As you know, I’ve been away camping and we’ve been busy making progress with the house renovation.

I’ve been going out more than usual after work, the snatched hours of evening sun making up for all the time lost inside earning a living.

I’m hoping to soon get to try a few new Leeds food joints I’ve heard good things about – (all the Bs!) Bundobust (check out Amy’s write-up of the preview night I’m sad I couldn’t make), Byron (the building looks stunning, as Emma agreed when she ate there) and Bird and Beast. I was a bit gutted I couldn’t get to last weekend’s Belgrave Music Hall monthly street feast and arts market – hopefully next time.

I’ve discovered Aldi’s version of Pimms is just as good as the real thing, and I’ve finally found a bit more time for reading. If you’re looking for a new novel, see if you fancy The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me, co-authored by my friend Jimmy. His dating blog used to crack me up and the first few pages of his début book haven’t disappointed.

It goes without saying Le Tour de Yorkshire a few days ago was incredible – one of our region’s proudest ever moments? – and I’m sure I’ll get into the Commonwealth Games when they start in Glasgow next week (although I am a bit upset with Scotland that they might leave us). That said, we’re thinking of squeezing in a sneaky trip to Edinburgh Fringe in August, when I also have a weekend in London booked and a couple of days set aside for spending with the girls drinking cocktails.

Husband and I have got some time off work booked in early September, so I’m hoping the fine weather lasts for some weeks yet.

I’ve started buying a few bits and pieces that I’ll share with you soon for my kitchen and living room – heavily inspired by Jen’s insight into how she decorates her rented house – for that moment that seems forever away when the rooms will be finished. In the meantime, want to see what I’m fancying adding to my wardrobe?

Summer 2014 wish list - Topshop, Marc Jacobs, Whistles, Zara, Asos, Stuart Weitzman, Alphabet Bags

 // 1 leaf print midi skirt, £38, Topshop / 2 Marc by Marc Jacobs ‘Baker’ leather strap watch, £108.34, Nordstrom / 3 striped logo sweat, £75, Whistles / 4 jewel earrings, £9.99, Zara / 5 zig zag rope necklace, £14.50, Topshop / 6 Orelia arrow stud earring, £12, Asos / 7 cyclist eyelet trainer, £175, Stuart Weitzman at Harrods / 8 Alphabet Bags ‘Take the scenic route’ travel pouch, £20 //

PS just taking a short refresher break from telling you about my recent travels, back on that soon…

*written in collaboration with Harrods but content all my own and honest

What I wore: floral trousers

After just a handful of days in Norfolk, several weeks of solid toil at work and at home were forgotten and we were completely relaxed. Unfortunately, our zen-like state was about to change.

Our next stop was London and driving into the capital would send our stress levels soaring – albeit for a very good reason. My brother and his wife have just had a baby and we were about to meet her for the first time. He’s my only sibling and his daughter Elsie is the first of our nuclear family’s next generation. Just five days old when I first held her, I was spellbound. She’s utterly beautiful as you can see in this photo I tweeted.

Anyway, back to the fashion. If you’re in south London I’d really recommend a trip to Eltham Palace, where I snapped these outfit shots in the immaculate grounds. It’s actually a former family home built by the wealthy Courthalds next to the remains of Eltham Palace – where Henry VIII spent some of his childhood – and it’s a wonderful example of 1930s art deco architecture and décor. I was fascinated by tales of their pet lemur and decadent interwar parties.

Floral trousers at Eltham Palace London Read More →

Colourful Norfolk

We’ve just taken two weeks off work, when we planned to have a few days away camping and make some progress on the kitchen renovation.

Unusually, wall-to-wall sunshine was predicted from day 1. We toyed with the idea of going away a few days earlier and for longer than planned. Pros of doing this = we could enjoy the sun. Cons = we won’t have a working kitchen for weeks yet.

With little deliberating, we went early. First stop was Norfolk, our first ever visit. And isn’t she pretty?

Cromer, Norfolk Read More →

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