Archive | September 2014

Bride and Hen

A few Saturdays ago, as the hairdresser straightened my locks I was much happier with the end result than I usually am as she went for more of a brown instead of a copper to contrast with the bleach highlights. Normally I wouldn’t indulge myself by having it blow dried and straightened but thought I would treat myself being that it was my brothers fiancés hen do that evening. Have you noticed how you tell your hairdresser more than you probably tell some of your friends? Going to the hairdresser’s is 2-3 hour gossip along with reading trashy magazines and being pampered – pure indulgence!

I carefully chose an outfit for the hen. 1950’s ‘A line’ midi skirts are making a comeback and this Harper skirt from Coast is stunning. I wore it with a plain black vest top to ensure the detail of the skirt was accentuated, some black suede heels and an old favourite – my black clutch with a butterfly embellishment from Faith.


We began at the hen’s home where copious amounts of wine were consumed before we headed to the local Indian restaurant to her called Shampan. Here we furnished Jade with a ‘Bride to Be’ sash.


Cocktails and wine flowed. My Mum tried her first curry and wasn’t overly keen I don’t think but we all had a fabulous night which was rounded off with the fateful shots. We walked or should I say stumbled back to hers, me clutching the half finished bottle of complimentary wine and managing to narrowly miss tottering over in my heels which was more luck than judgement. Once at hers we had more wine before my husband ushered a reluctant me out of the door.


Sunday morning came round all too quickly and I think I woke still drunk! Nonetheless I set about trying to make myself look respectful for the wedding of my husband’s friend in Suffolk.

I wore this green butterfly dress from Oliver Bonas and accessorized with gold heels from Oasis and a gold bag also from Oasis. I opted for green (graffiti) Urban Decay eyeshadow to finish my look. I bought my husband a tie to co-ordinate.

dress at wed

shoe at wed

bag at wed


phil and i adams

The wedding was held at Woodhall Manor – a grade II listed building near Woodbridge in Suffolk. The oldest parts of the manor date back to medieval times and it is simply stunning and set in vast beautiful gardens.


The ceremony was in these enchanting gardens – I had never been to an alfresco wedding before and they were fortunate enough to have a beautiful day for it. The chairs were set out with white covers and purple organza ribbon and white rose petals were sprinkled on the grass aisle between the rows of seats. The groom waited checking his watch by the archway at the front that had bird coups above. The bridesmaids, dressed in purple, a flower girl and two pageboys made their way up the aisle before finally the bride appeared on the arm of her father. She looked stunning in a beaded halter neck dress, carrying a purple bouquet and was clearly very emotional. After they had taken their vows; a white dove flew out from above where they were standing which was very romantic. White doves tend to symbolise love due to them being associated in Greek mythology with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Doves also mate for life so are seen as symbols of monogamy and loyalty.


Whilst the photos were being taken, we chatted in the gardens with a glass of Pimms and a selection of canapés which included chicken satay, potato wedges, duck, prawns and cream cheese and smoked salmon tarts. Before long we were ushered inside for the wedding breakfast. In keeping with the medieval roots of the house the tables were named after medieval royalty. We found ourselves sat on the table called Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane Grey was the eldest daughter of Henry Grey – the 1st Duke of Suffolk and great granddaughter of Henry VII. Edward VI nominated her to be queen on his death bed in July 1553, passing over his half sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. Mary claimed the throne some 9 days later and Jane was executed after some delay in February 1554 for high treason. The table plan, table names and place cards all had a purple swirly pattern on them, akin to what had also been on the invitations, to fit in with the colour scheme as well as giving a medieval grandeur feel to them. I sat for the first time at a wedding table with a place card with my married name on it which I was quite excited by.

table plan

The favours were small jars of hot chocolate, topped with white chocolate and marshmallows, which was different and they were decorated with a purple ribbon. As well as these they also had an old fashioned sweet table with little paper bags adorned with their names. The table was popular with both adults and children – you can’t beat a flying saucer or a fizzy cola bottle!


sweet table

The meal was lovely and was followed by some very emotional speeches before we retired to the bar to start the evening do. They had a band which I thought was fantastic and quite unique these days. The band were called The Someones. The band formed in 2005 and have played over 700 gigs. They perform covers from 60’s up to the present day. They certainly made my day when they played Dakota by Stereophonics. The couple’s first dance was to Savage Garden’s ‘I knew I loved you’.

Much drinking and dancing ensued before we returned to our rooms in the manor. We woke in the early hours to find the light on so I guess we must have passed out when our heads hit the pillow. It was nice to wake naturally on a Monday rather than to the sound of the alarm. Breakfast was taken at the manor with all the guests and the bride and groom.

We wished them a happy honeymoon and then drove into Woodbridge to take coffee with a friend of mine and her partner who live nearby before driving home. Congratulations Adam and Esther – may you have a long and happy marriage.

adam and esther

Look out for another wedding blog soon on my brothers wedding!


Birthdays come and go and whereas you can never wait until your next birthday as a child even counting halves of a year; as you get past 21 they decline in significance until a small peak at 30 and then enthusiasm rapidly declines there after. This year I hit 31 – if 30 made me feel like a proper adult, 31 cemented the fact. Consequently I decided against a big celebration opting instead for a small family affair; a BBQ at home. My Mum made me a Sex and the City cake which was fantastic and I sipped Cosmo’s – what could be more perfect?


cake 1

I have kept up false nails since the wedding as I couldn’t bare to go back to my rubbish stumps and I wanted to share with you my birthday nails – I thought these looked amazing but unfortunately the bows were less than practical, catching on everything; at least I had an excuse to put my feet up!


Whilst on the subject of nail varnish, I have got very into OPI nail varnish lately I love these Disney inspired ones – ‘Kermit Me to Speak’ (from The Muppets) and ‘Minnie Style’ and ‘Innie Minnie Mightie Bow’ from the Minnie couture collection.

Muppets OPI nailvarnish

Muppets OPI nailvarnish

I finally am the proud owner of a pair of GHD (Good Hair Day) hair straigteners thanks to my wonderful husband. These might have been around for over a decade but their position as top manufacturer of straightening irons reins supreme. I got the violet edition ones to blend in with my purple boudoir; all that remains for me now is to learn how to curl with them as well as using them for their traditional purpose.

People obviously know me well and know I love elephants as I also got an elephant adoption and a couple of gifts from ‘The Elephant Parade’ which I originally saw in London in 2010 but apparently visited Bromley this summer. The parade is the world’s largest open air art exhibition and seeks to raise public awareness and support for Asian elephant conservation. One of the gifts was an elephant for me to paint myself – not sure my art will be anywhere near the standard of the actual artists versions but will give it a go! Pictured here is the one designed by Diane Von Furstenberg for the Hong Kong leg of the tour.


One of the advantages of not having a big party is the opportunity to have lots of mini celebrations. On a Friday night, 3 friends took me for cocktails followed by a meal in Covent Garden’s Café des Amis which was most enjoyable. As an early celebration of my birthday and a late one of my best friend’s birthday (we were both in Australia for our respective birthdays) we treated ourselves to a meal at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant – Maze in Grosvenor Square London. The website describes it as a fusion of taste and style and it certainly made us feel special. Admittedly we probably wouldn’t have ventured there had we not thought there was an offer on, which it turns out, was not valid on Saturdays! However the staff were fantastic and still gave us the free Bellini’s we were expecting and also did a deal on the cost of the food. Each dish was quite small but expertly presented and by the end of the meal we both found ourselves to be suitably full. I highly recommend this restaurant.

One of the many delicious  courses at Maze

One of the many delicious courses at Maze


Sushi at Maze

Sushi at Maze

The Sunday after my birthday a friend and I had a belated birthday celebration at BB Bakery in Covent Garden. Set in the bustling hub of Covent Garden is this quaint, vintage, Parisian style tea room. The windows are adorned with birdcages, hat boxes and display domes containing beautiful tea cups and saucers. We were seated and then served champagne afternoon tea. The tablewear is vintage style and the walls are white with cute cartoon drawings of women with bakery shopping bags. The savoury plate contained a mini quiche, a blini with smoked salmon, a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich and a role containing cheese and ham. The cake selection was divine and so colourful. There was a lemon meringue, a raspberry tart, a chocolate brownie which was just the right consistency being slightly moist in the centre, a cupcake with strawberry frosting and a macaroon. We were full already but we still had the delight of a warmed scone with cream and jam. Everything was delicious and served with a smile. It cost £33 each which I think is quite reasonable especially as aside from the champagne we also had a glass of freshly squeezed orange and numerous teas and coffees. I will definitely be popping in there again soon and for those Sex and the City fans out there; it reminded me very much of the Magnolia Bakery in New York with the added bonus of being able to eat in.



BB Bakery

cakes at BB

Talking of Sex and the City – one of my friends got me this brilliant Sex and the City bauble for my birthday present which, along with the return of the X Factor, has me counting down to Christmas!


The summer is almost over; although it’s still warm, we will soon need to be considering an autumn wardrobe. A great transition piece from spring/summer is the kimono. I got this one from New Look and this Paul’s boutique bag compliments it brilliantly.


Our annual visit to Broadstairs was made more exciting this year as we took my Mum’s friend’s from Long Island, New York along during folk week. There were various parades, stalls and bands. Ironically there was a US stall and on recommendation I tried a drink called Mtn Dew and it was fantastic – might have to get some shipped! Their visit made me feel quite old as my mum’s friend’s granddaughter who came is 16 and I was roughly her age on my first trip to New York when she was just a baby – time really does fly. My Mum’s friend has obviously discovered eternal youth as she never changes.

I’m looking forward to 2 weddings in September so look out for my blogs on those! Meanwhile put your feet up with a glass of wine, preferably a glass like this one!

wine glass

To the Honeymoon and Back

They say that ‘travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’ and I whole heartedly agree. With the wedding day over, it was time for the honeymoon. The honeymoon was traditionally a time when newlyweds got to know each other in a secluded and intimate environment. Some suggest that the term was used to represent the sweetness of the beginning of marriage (honey) and the waning of love, like the waning of the moon. The term dates back to the sixteenth century. Nowadays a honeymoon for most Westerners is an exotic holiday. Ours was the trip of a lifetime and any homesickness we felt was quickly eased by a trip to Starbucks – we found one in every country we visited, that’s globalisation for you!
Our round the world trip began in Singapore. We arrived to a humid temperature and got a cab to our hotel. After a quick freshen up, we headed out to Singapore Zoo. For the first time since a child I saw a panda in captivity and more than one. A 2007 study suggested that there were only 27 pandas living in captivity outside China so a rare sight. They are magnificent, endangered animals and were well worth a visit to the zoo to see.
There was also an elephant show which showed just how talented and versatile this huge mammal is; with their trunks they can lift anything from a blade of grass to a heavy log – or even the hat of its keeper! At the end of the show I got to feed one fruit and vegetables which was a highlight for me as elephants are my favourite animal.
That evening we went to Raffles Hotel, opened in 1887 and named after Stamford Raffles the founder of modern Singapore. I wore my Biba dress which I got in the sale and reminds me of the blue dress Carrie wears to Charlotte’s baby shower in the first Sex and the City movie. Raffles is an icon of Singapore opened in 1887 which oozes glamour and sophistication with its white marble colonnades. The Hotel has been immortalised by many writers and as I sipped my Singapore Sling I could only imagine what it might be like to stay in such luxury and history. Unfortunately the famous Long Bar was closed for a private function so we sat in the courtyard bar. From there we got a rickshaw into China town. The poor man could barely move faster than a walking pace, so it was certainly a hair raising experience with the traffic of modern Singapore. We feasted in Chinatown before returning for a well earned sleep.
The following day we walked around Fort Canning Park to immerse ourselves in some of the country’s history and then onto the museum of Singapore. We took lunch in the Chimes district. We then had a leisurely boat tour from Clarke Quay which passed the famous merlion – a mascot and national personification of Singapore with the lion symbolising Singapore’s original name which meant ‘lion city’ and the fish symbolises Singapore’s origins as a fishing village.

We then took a taxi to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to meet a friend who Phil worked with some years ago and he now works at the landmark hotel. He gave us a guided tour including the observation deck; if Raffles is colonial luxury, this is modern day luxury and to think we could have had a friend’s rate room had we not already booked our accommodation in Singapore. Any fans of formula one will recognise the hotel from the TV – it has 3 distinctly imposing towers with what looks like a surfboard on the top. There are many high end shops inside and the mall even has a small river running through the middle. We watched a light show and enjoyed dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. It was then time to catch a late night flight onto Sydney.
I awoke as we began our descent into Sydney. Once in Sydney we made our way by train to the hotel. We began by walking around to get our bearings and then went on a boat trip to Manly Beach. The beach was everything you imagine an Australian beach to be; white sand and warm sea and the guide book suggested this was more worthy of a visit rather than its better known counterpart Bondi. Whilst in Sydney we climbed the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a fantastic experience and we got a lovely view of the famous opera house. We later also went up one of the towers of the bridge for another great view of the city.
Now I kept shopping to a minimum for my husband’s sake but walking down the main street, what should I spot but a Kookai. Kookai was the brand I loved from about the age of 14 that has now all but disappeared from British high streets. Of course I had to have a look around and it just so happened that they had 30% off footwear and I couldn’t resist these black suede boots.
We visited Taronga Zoo, which is reached by boat and got to have a photo with the koalas and feed some little penguins with fish. What a sight it was to see Giraffes against the backdrop the city of Sydney.
We also took a coach trip out to the Blue Mountains and saw the three sister’s landmark. The predominant natural vegetation is eucalyptus forest which gives off a distinct odour. It was an absolutely beautiful area of Australia that words just cannot give justice to; which we viewed from Scenic World
which consists of a cable way, Skyway and a railway. The railway is the steepest incline railway in the world at 52 degrees and you ride through the rainforest setting and into Jamison Valley. It opened in 1945 and I have to say the modern carriages feel much safer than what they rode in then! The day ended with a trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park (yes we were all zooed out by the end of the trip!) and we got to stroke a koala and hand feed kangaroos.
3 sisters
Other attractions included the Westfield Tower for more views and a bar called Orbit which revolves whilst you enjoy your cocktails at 47 floors above the street level. This also gave us a perfect view of Vivid – the Sydney festival of light. The opera house looked amazing as intricate patterns and pictures were projected on it in light.
From Sydney our next stop was Ayres Rock where we were given a bottle of champagne on arrival to celebrate our marriage. The temperature was very high and it was a dry heat with lots of pesky flies. Our first site of Ayres Rock or (Uluru as the aborigines call it) and the lesser known Kata Tjuta came on a morning camel hike. Each time I go on a camel it doesn’t get anymore comfortable but it was beautiful to see the sunrise over the rock whilst travelling a traditional way and our camel was a cutie called Muriel. When we returned from the ride we were given traditional billy tea (tea made in a billy can and baked beer bread (damper) with quandong jam (outback native fruit). The billy symbolises the spirit of exploration of the outback. Seeing the rock change colour with the sun was truly remarkable. The rock is sacred to the aboriginories and the stories that go with it are truly awe inspiring as are the bits of original artwork that remain on it in places. Whilst at the resort we also did a sunset trip out to the rocks and enjoyed champagne as the sun went down.
kata jhuta
We tried a traditional Aussie BBQ whilst we were in Ayers Rock; where you ordered your raw meat and then cooked it yourselves. I sampled kangaroo (quite nice) and crocodile which was rather chewy. As our plane took off – I watched as Uluru gradually got smaller and smaller until I could no longer see it.
Next stop was Melbourne. In some ways I preferred Melbourne to Sydney as it is more like London with nice green spaces. This hotel was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in for the whole trip and again we were welcomed with champagne. Our first visit was to the famous Victoria market where we picked up a few bargains. There is a free tram which goes around the main bits of the city which we went on.

No trip to Melbourne would be complete without doing the Neighbours Tour. I haven’t watched Neighbours for years but grew up on it so was keen to see the famous Ramsey Street. Real people live in Ramsey Street and it is called something else so was a bit of a let down to be handed the Ramsey Street sign from the mini bus to pose for pictures. We met a star from the show – Toadie’s cousin, Stingray (not that I could have told you who he was although he was cute!)
ramsey st
There is a prison in Melbourne which you can visit and this is quite an experience as you are met at the entrance by an actor dressed as a police officer and treated how the thousands of prisoners who went there until 1994 were treated.

The best trip we did in Melbourne was a trip out to Phillip Island one evening. Crowds gather on the beach and wait for the penguins to return from their days fishing and make their way up the beach to their homes. The first ‘penguin parade’ was in the 1920s when residents began taking tourists out to the beach by torchlight.

Next stop was Cairns. We arrived to rain and were taken straight out to Port Douglas. We stayed in a resort with chalets which was very nice and were welcomed with a bottle of wine. A mini bus ferried you into the town and we managed to eat in a different restaurant each evening. We had a booked trip out to the barrier reef which was amazing. We went in a glass bottom boat and saw a turtle and I did snorkelling and saw various beautiful fish.
meal port douglas
Port Douglas is home of the 4 mile beach and it consists of beautiful sand, shaded by palm trees and a wonderful warm blue sea. We hired a car which is fairly easy to drive as they drive on the same side of the road as us. We went on the Kuranda mountain railway and saw amazing waterfalls on our climb up to the village. We visited a Koala sanctuary and I actually got to hold one which was amazing, they are really soft like a teddy bear but have sharp claws. We also drove to Cairns zoo for a night safari. It was great seeing the crocodiles being fed and afterwards we got to participate in billy tea and then traditional musical entertainment including the wobble board!
wobble board
We were taken out to the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation; ironically it rained in the rain forest. This was an area of outstanding natural beauty with emerald green foliage and beautiful waterways. Whilst there we went on a boat trip in search of crocodiles and got quite up close and personal with them; it was a river you definitely wouldn’t want to fall in to!
At the airport I couldn’t resist a souvenir purchase of some new Ugg Boots. They are probably fakes as there are so many on sale in Australia that are but they look the part and say Ugg on them so I am happy.
We waved a fond farewell to Australia and jetted off to Auckland in New Zealand. We only had a couple of days stop here and essentially it is a city like any other and not a way to get a true picture of the wonders of New Zealand. We were given a sneak peak though with a trip out to Waihieke Island. Mount Eden was a wonderful site to behold and we also wandered up to One Tree Hill – in no way related to the series One Tree Hill I was disappointed to discover. We had a lovely meal in the Sky Tower revolving restaurant whilst we were there too. I discovered that the reasons New Zealanders are referred to as Kiwi’s is because a bird that originates there is called a Kiwi – there was me thinking it was because of kiwi fruit! I had a further blonde moment when I asked why there were so many souvenirs relating to sheep – of course the famous New Zealand lamb!

Mount Eden with Auckland city in the background

Mount Eden with Auckland city in the background

one tree hill
Enjoying Waihieke Island

Enjoying Waihieke Island

Our final destination was San Francisco. The flight to here was the hardest given we took off from New Zealand on Saturday night and arrived in San Francisco on Saturday lunchtime. The weather was warm but with a cold sea breeze and we both ironically got sunburnt here rather than in Australia. Pier 39 is the hub of the bay with many restaurants, shops, street performers and a lovely old carousel.
You can also see the sea lions that have made their home here which is fascinating – you will hear and smell them before you spot them! We went on an urban safari which was basically a jeep ride around some of the sights, including a close up of the famous Golden Gate Bridge although the view was obscured by the thick fog which covers it most of the day.
bridge 1
The afternoon of this day was spent at Alcatraz Island. The prison began as a military prison and was a federal prison from 1933-1963. It was a very sobering experience and is brought to life by the staff and exhibitions. One escape attempt in 1962, immortalised in the movie Escape from Alcatraz remains an unsolved FBI case which certainly fires the imagination.
Alcatraz, view from the bay

Alcatraz, view from the bay

We did the big bus tour and we sat up top in the open whilst it travelled over the Golden Gate Bridge which was certainly an experience – it felt as though your face was being ripped off in the cold wind! Lombard Street is the most twisted street in the world and we watched as cars made their way down there – which has since been banned.
The cable cars are a prominent feature of San Francisco and holding on to the outside as they make their way up and down the hilled streets is certainly an exhilarating experience not to be missed.
cable car
I managed to seek out the Mrs Doubtfire House, we saw the painted ladies which are old victorian houses which are beautifully painted and we also took a wander through china town which was huge with a beautiful gate at the entrance and shops selling traditional Chinese vegetables such a bok choy.
I got a policeman to pose for a picture with me and boy was he tall!
I loved the city, it had a great vibe to it. As the famous song says, I left my heart in San Francisco!
heart in sanfrancisco
The trip all too soon came to an end and we made our way back to good old Blighty. Settling back into work after all that time off certainly was a struggle. I’m already thinking about the next holiday.