Tag Archive | River Island

Risk it, go for it!

Mary Quant once said “Risk it, go for it.  Life always gives you another chance, another go at it.  It’s very important to take enormous risks.”  That’s exactly what she did in the Swinging Sixties, redefining what it meant to be young and seizing every opportunity that came her way.

The Fashion and Textile Museum’s latest exhibition; ‘Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution’ explores the design and the fashion of the Chelsea Set, in particular Mary Quant and Terence Conran, but touching on the work of other designers of the era, who worked with them such as Laura Ashley and photographers of the time.

I visited with my Mum, who grew up during the wonderful Sixties in London.  I often think it must have been a fabulous era to be a teenager in.  Taking Mary’s philosophy of risk, I chose a different outfit to something I would normally wear which also gave a nod to the Sixties/Seventies, along with embracing the current trend of co-ordinates.  The skirt and top were from River Island, the beige mac was M&S (I was channelling my inner Mod here) as well as the orange espadrilles.  The bag I styled it with was also River Island – a great copy of the Dior saddle bag.  I tied in the orange shoes by also wearing orange hoop earrings from Accessorize.  Unfortunately, the risk didn’t really pay off as the outfit was not a great choice for my fuller figure.  Fashion is about having fun and Quant certainly promoted fashion as a game, but we have all had our fashion fails.  Why not share some of yours below?


While a relatively small exhibition, Swinging London gives a great overview of fashion from 1952-1977, displaying homewares, fashion, furniture, lighting and ceramics and is very reasonably priced to visit at less than £10 per ticket.  Visit before the exhibition closes on 2 June 2019.

Mary Quant was born in Blackheath, London in 1930 and was instrumental in the Mod and youth fashion in the sixties, along with being one of the designers accredited with the mini skirt and hot pants.  She opened her first shop, Bazaar in Chelsea in 1955 and two years later a second branch, in Knightsbridge, designed by Terence Conran.


Terence Conran was born in Kingston Upon Thames, London in 1931and started his own design company in 1956, designing a shop for Mary Quant.  He is most famous for the household and furniture store, Habitat, opening the first branch in Chelsea, London in 1964.  Involved in other retail businesses, along with architecture and interior design; more recently he is known for a number of London restaurants which he has created.


The below photo shows the co-ord set designed by Quant in 1965.  The design of the fabric was a textile from Liberty of London, originally an early twentieth-century block-printed fabric, which Liberty converted to a screen-print.  The ‘Sgt Pepper’ coat is by Michael Mott for Paraphernalia, a leading boutique in New York who acknowledged the influence of Mary Quant and her boutique.


The shoes below, came with a carry bag and are from a 1967 range by Quant when she collaborated with G.B. Britton – a work boot manufacturer.  They proved to be unpopular, given that like wellies, they were too hot and sweaty in summer and too cold in winter.


Part of the exhibition was Elizabeth Suter’s sketches which captured the designs from the sixties catwalks.  What makes these sketches all the more brilliant is that they were drawn mainly from memory, as sketching during the shows was not allowed.  These were captivating and showcased such a wonderful talent.  I would love to have some of these framed on my walls at home.

Following the exhibition, Mum and I explored some previously unvisited corners of Bermondsey and discovered a lovely parade of cafes and shops which included Kat Maconie the shoe designer and London Glassblowers where they display glassblowing as well as selling signed decorative pieces by Peter Layton.  We went on to discover Vinegar Yard, an urban garden and street food market that has pop up shops selling vintage clothing, antiques, records and art, amongst other things.  Vinegar Yard only opened in April this year and you can’t miss it, due to its art installation of a train carriage with giant ants crawling over it.  Artist Joe Rush created the ants and has a working studio within the yard.  Just round the back of London Bridge station, this is a classic example of what I love best about our Capital, there is always something new to discover around the corner!

We finished the day in the vibrant Borough Market with lunch at Fish! which served delicious fish and chips in the heart of the market.

We had a lovely day out, proving that South London has just as much to offer as the more central and traditionally tourist parts; after all Mary Quant herself was a South London girl!

Why not take a leaf out of Quant’s book and take a risk, after all when you die you always regret the things you didn’t do.

Channeling Captain Corelli

Upon arriving at the Apostolata Spa hotel in Skala, Kefalonia, I had never felt more homesick. To say it was not a good start to the holiday, would be an understatement! The room was tired, the bathroom wasn’t clean and the balcony only overlooked the sea if you looked at a 90 degree angle over it!  I don’t want you to take this as a bad review of the hotel though, as the staff were fantastic and took us via golf buggy the following morning, to a room that couldn’t have been more different. From then onwards, thoughts of home diminished and I began to enjoy the usual Greek hospitality.

The town of Skala was about an hours walk from the hotel but there was a regular bus service. In the town there were the usual array of souvenir shops, along with tavernas and a lovely sandy-ish beach.  The old part of town also has the remains of a Roman villa.


A game of chess overlooking Skala beach



Frill t-shirt, River Island, shorts, Oasis and Havaianas flip flops.  Cat eye sunglasses Accessorize

Some 16 years ago as a hedonistic 18 year old, my friend and I had visited Zakynthos, another of the Ionian Islands and on a boat trip, the guide had pointed out Kefalonia. From then on I always hoped I would get to visit the island, that was the setting of the 2001 film, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and now finally I had now made it there, for a relaxing week with my best friend, my Mum.


Enjoying my first trip abroad without parents – this was taken behind the bar in our favourite place, Ghetto in Laganas, Zakynthos.

The pool at the hotel was so inviting and the first day was spent working on a tan on a lounger by it and swimming in the water that twinkled, like diamonds in the sun’s rays. One of the things I love about a package holiday to the sun is the permission it gives you to lay about doing nothing.  This year I decided to try out the slider trend for pool footwear rather than my usual flip flops and I can confirm that I will be sticking to the old faithful in future, as despite looking nice, they are really hard to keep on especially when your feet are wet.


Hotel pool by night



Best bargain beach bag from Iceland!


Sliders from Bershka

I do like to mix it up and ensure I enjoy some culture so the following day we hired a car.  The car was a bit of a wreck that struggled to get out of third gear and driving on the island was quite an eye opener. They tell you to stay off unmade roads but that proves difficult when a proper road suddenly peters out into a dirt track! The mountain roads were also very steep and winding and when driving through Skala, I came face to face with a cow running down the road! Thank god for iphone’s or we would probably still be driving around the island as the map the hire company gave us was about as much use as a chocolate tea pot!


Our first stop was the port town of Poros. We refreshed ourselves with a cool drink in one of the tavernas, overlooking the harbour and watched the boats before heading down to a small beach for some relaxation.


After refuelling at a very cute little petrol station, where an attendant dispenses the fuel, we headed on to a beach I had read about, Kaminia. This was a beautiful quiet beach and we relaxed here for a while and I got into the book of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as having never read it, this seemed like an appropriate occasion to do so.


Lunchtime found us in the pretty village of Kateleios and I enjoyed a traditional Greek salad and moussaka at a local taverna.


Sisson monastery was our next stop. Unfortunately it was closed when we arrived. We then went on a walk in search of views which was probably a bad idea, given how hot the day had become.

The final stop of the day was the Ayii Theodori lighthouse. My Mum loves lighthouses so this was a must have. It was very different to what I would typically picture as a lighthouse but equally as beautiful. It was built in 1829 originally but had to be reconstructed along with much of the island following the 1953 earthquake.


I always try and go on a couple of the organised tours and we had a wonderful day out on the ‘Discover Kefalonia’ tour. We had a brief photo stop in Sami before heading on to the Melissani caves. The temperature dropped somewhat as we boarded a small rowing boat to go into the caves. We had a great guide who sang ‘Just one Cornetto’ as he rowed us around.



Flamingo t-shirt – Oasis, denim skirt – FatFace

The necessity of any sun holiday for me, is a boat trip which was a large part of this excursion. The boat took us around the north-eastern coast of Kefalonia up to the village of Fiskardo – the only town on the island that wasn’t destroyed in the 1953 earthquake. On the way we passed the beach where in the Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Penelope Cruz jumps off the board walk for a swim and also stopped at a little pebbley cove. The afternoon was spent in Assos. On the return journey we had a beautiful photo stop at Mytos beach, which when looking down on it appears to be a white sandy beach but is in fact pebbles. This beach was made famous by Hollywood in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.



Approaching Fiskardo


Old ruined houses in Assos


Mytos Beach

Prior to going to Scotland in May, I had my hair dyed rose gold. While it looked lovely, after a couple of washes it just looked like my usual blonde highlights. I brought with me on this trip a wash in, wash out pastel pink hair dye by L’oreal and absolutely loved the results.



The professional job


The DIY job

That afternoon we went on our second organized trip to a vineyard by the monastery of Saint Gerasimos.  Saint Gerasimos is the patron saint of Kefalonia and it is believed that he can heal the sick.  I very much enjoyed the wine tasting and needless to say I didn’t spit it out.  I purchased a couple of bottles to take home.


Saint Gerasimos Monastery

The coach then headed on to the capital, Argostoli.  We then had free time to either shop or turtle watch.  We spent too long shopping on the beautiful marble street and sadly missed the turtles that others in the party saw but I had seen them before in Zakynthos.


Shop til you drop in Argostoli.  Top – Oasis, white jeans and silver mules – New Look, bag – Biba with bunny charm from Asos

There was plenty of time for pampering whilst we were away. We went to a morning stretch class, part of which involved concentrating on our breathing. This was extremely relaxing, particularly given our surroundings; the sea was lapping gently and the morning sun was cooled by a light breeze. Of course it would have been rude to come to a spa hotel and not use the facilities, so we both indulged in a back, neck and head massage which was so relaxing, I dropped off to sleep. I also had a pedicure done.


Food in Greece is always delicious and one of the best meals we had was at a restaurant called Nautilus. The restaurant is designed to look like a boat and over looks the sea. The staff here were fantastic, with one even boning my sea bream for me!



Dressed for Nautilus in Topshop floral maxi dress, Asos silver clutch and New Look flat mules

In Argostoli, I had to try the Kefalonian meat pie, a traditional delicacy which I have since cooked at home reasonably successfully.


As part of our all inclusive package we were entitled to one evening in the a la carte restaurant at the hotel which was delicious and allowed for beautiful views over the bay.


At the a la carte restaurant, I am wearing dress – Zara and red pumps from Milan.

On our final night we followed a recommendation to go to a restaurant in Skala called Sunrise and we certainly weren’t disappointed.



Getting in on the corset belt trend from In the Style – t-shirt dress –  New Look, denim shoes – Aldo, silver bag – Asos

I couldn’t leave the island without bringing a little part of it with me including some olive oil and various herbs, to help me cook up some Greek flavours in the kitchen.


I must admit that the book of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin did beat me – despite the excellent story the book is not quite the easy beach read I enjoy.  I was not disappointed by the island the book is set on however and whilst not the best of the Greek islands in my opinion, Mum and I had a fabulous holiday as always.


Sun sets on another great holiday

‘Cat’ and ‘Cowie’ tie the knot!

It was a sunny September day when we arrived at Easton Grange for the marriage of my school friend Cathleen Kobylinski to Alan Cowie.  I’m not sure whether the choice of month was intentional but Polish tradition (Cat’s heritage) dictates that months containing the letter ‘r’ will bring good luck to the marriage.

The venue was a working farm up to a few years ago when the farm moved to a different site and in 2012 the buildings were renovated to create this idyllic private venue. The refurbishment has tried to pay homage to the original use of the buildings and because part of the barn which is now the bar was used as a dairy – there are many cow pictures, which unintentionally added to the word play the couple were going with. Each invitation was decorated with a cow and a cat linking tails and this theme was followed through on the order of service and place cards.

For the day I wore a pale pink and cream A-line dress from Oasis accessorized with gold sandals which were purchased some fifteen years ago in River Island and were probably the first pair of shoes which I really splashed out on.  A goldy cream satin clutch finished off the outfit.

Cats wedding Outfit.jpg

The groom fidgeted nervously as we all sat and awaited arrival of the bride who was fashionably late as tradition dictates. The aisle between the chairs had been scattered with petals in pink and orange which were the colour themes with one bridesmaid in each of the colours. She glided in on the arm of her father, looking beyond stunning in a white lace number with delicate diamanté straps and a corset back which was laced with peach ribbon to match the grooms peach tie. The peach was a good choice as that can be seen as a combination of pink and orange so tied the two colours together.  We also caught a glimpse of her gorgeous blue shoes.


The service was non- religious but was beautiful. I particularly liked the two readings that were picked ‘The Promise’ by Eileen Rafter and ‘I Like You’ by Sandol Stoddard.

We showered them in confetti and had all the obligatory pictures just before the sun was replaced with drizzle. Reception drinks were Kir Royale which I adore and the canapés were delicious – especially the mini fish and chips.



The table plan followed a Rugby theme as well as entwining the couple’s backgrounds – English and Australian. Our seats were swiftly located and we had a beautiful favour of traditional polish gingerbread.  The centre pieces on the tables included eucalyptus to represent her Australian birth country, roses to represent England and thistle to represent Alan’s Scottish roots.  From the ceiling pink, orange and white paper lanterns had been suspended.






Speeches were given with the bride’s father making the toast in Polish and a very insightful and humorous speech from the best man. Dinner was then served. I must comment on the puddings which were amazing. There were 3 mini puddings – cheesecake, chocolate brownie and fruit with shortbread.


Feeling suitably fall all the guests retired to the bar area where the bride and groom had been very generous in giving a free bar. It was a wonderful chance for me to catch up with my oldest school friend who attended too and now lives in Manchester – I could have talked all night.

Evening food was served but to be honest I had no appetite left. Instead of the usual visitors book to sign they had opted for a large Mr and Mrs in black which we wrote well wishes on in a metallic pen.


The groom’s sister was responsible for the wonderful wedding cake – mainly cupcakes with one round cake topped with a peach flower. The cake was cut and then it was time for the first dance. I always await this point as I think it is so interesting to find out what song couples feel best represents them. On this occasion, ‘Your my best friend’ by Queen was chosen.


The party was then officially started. I liked the fact that they had a live band which is somewhat unusual nowadays. The band were called Shine On and were very good, performing a variety of indie and pop music.  Guests danced into the night and there was added fun with complementary glow sticks.


I’m so pleased that two lovely people have found each other.  The wedding was a beautiful day and I wish them a long and happy marriage.

Cat and Alan wed.jpg


Girl’s go Greek

Work worries seemed a distant memory as Mum and I sipped champagne on our flight out to Heraklion, Crete and any remnants of stress were washed away as we were bathed in warm sunlight stepping off the plane. We had booked this trip some 10 months previous and I couldn’t believe we were finally there. I had of course had a failed trip to Crete a few years earlier due to issues with my eye but finally I had made it. We had both left our husbands to fend for themselves for the week which I guess means Weatherspoon’s and local take away’s saw a rise in their profits!


Agios Nikolaos old harbour

Crete is one of the largest of the Greek islands and also the only one which could support itself without tourism – predominantly due to its olive harvest. Weather in early May in Crete is generally good with temperatures in the early twenties. We enjoyed unprecedented temperatures and one day the mercury hit 32 degrees; however our final two days were cooler with a north-westerly wind sweeping in.

Our hotel, the Mirabella in Agios Nikolaos was a 4* plus and it really was stunning with infinity pools; one of which had a swim up bar, a spa and a private beach area. It would have been rude not to spoil ourselves at the onsite spa. We sat in the sauna and then relaxed in the Jacuzzi. I then had a hot stones massage which I have wanted to try for ages and Mum had a neck, back and shoulder massage. Prior to going into the treatment rooms we were directed to changing rooms where we were supposed to take everything off and then put on this horrid pair of paper knickers and a towel round us. Our therapists then met us and Mum had a male therapist – I don’t think I would have been comfortable with that but she obviously was as she fell asleep during the massage! The hot stones were extremely relaxing and I felt all my tensions slip away.

At our hotel in Jane Norman dress - the chevron pattern and the shape is reminiscent of the 70's - an era greatly influencing fashion this season

At our hotel in Jane Norman dress – the chevron pattern and the shape is reminiscent of the 70’s – an era greatly influencing fashion this season

On our last morning we even had champagne for breakfast – very indulgent, whilst being serenaded by a gorgeous saxophonist. As part of our all- inclusive deal – we were entitled to one night at the a la carte restaurant. This was a 5 course meal so we were thoroughly stuffed when we left there.


We could have spent the whole time sunning ourselves but judging by my sunburn – it’s probably a good job we didn’t. We got out and about quite a bit and immersed ourselves in the island’s culture and history of which its inhabitants are extremely proud, as well as enjoying some pampering and relaxation.

Crete and indeed the Palace of Knossos which we visited, was the centre of the Minoan people who are believed to be one of the earliest European civilisations.  The ruins of Knossos were discovered by a British man  in 1900 and he spent time reconstructing parts of it which is the cause of controversy among historians.  It was a baking hot day as we were guided around the ruins by a very knowledgeable but over talkative guide. The visit was followed by free time in Heraklion and culminated in a visit to the Archaeological museum there which was intended to cement our knowledge of the Minoan people. I’m afraid museums of this kind are not really my thing – if you’ve seen one pot, you have seen them all, and so Mum and I sneaked off shopping after showing our face at the museum – what rebels we are!


Palace of Knossos


Sunburnt at the ruins in a dress from Rocket in Rochester – bag just seen is Paul’s Boutique

One of the main reasons we had chosen Crete for our holiday was to visit the island of Spinalonga. The island was originally used as a fortress in Venetian times but was used as a leper colony from 1903-1957 and was one of the last leper colonies in Europe. It has been uninhabited ever since. This sort of history is far more interesting to me as it is relatively recent whereas it is hard to visualise Minoan history which is thousands of years ago. Spinalonga was made infamous by the author Victoria Hislop who wrote the book ‘The Island’; a novel based around a fictional family’s experience with leprosy. I reread this whilst away and having now seen the colony – the story was even more captivating for me. We also had free time in Elounda where we relaxed on the beach and enjoyed a Greek lunch.



The beautiful island of Spinalonga with a dark past - top and skirt both Oasis

The beautiful island of Spinalonga with a dark past – top and skirt both Oasis

The highlight of the trip was a 4 x 4 jeep ride up into the mountains to the Lassithi Plateau. As we drove up the rough tracks, our driver pointed out to us herbs that grow naturally, tree climbing goats and vultures. We had a hearty BBQ lunch as part of the trip and then burnt it off with a trip to the Dikteon cave in which legend has it Zeus was born. To reach the cave we had to climb a rocky path for 800m and then descend 250 steps. You could have opted to pay for a donkey but we were warned that these animals are not terribly well cared for, so not to fund it.


Inside the cave


The driver of the jeep was an expat but so knowledgeable about the many customs of Crete and the Greek people in general. Some of the things that particularly fascinated me were the small churches left at sites of road crashes as a way of ensuring the souls of the dead go to heaven or thanking God if they survived. They are also placed by fields to thank the God for a good harvest.


Another terribly romantic custom is that if a woman loses her husband, she wears black for the rest of her life and if a man loses his wife he grows a beard as a sign of mourning. The day was finished with a visit to Krasi to see the oldest Plane Tree in Crete which is believed to be 2400 years old.  It is thought to be the tree of Zeus.  The tree is said to be a tree of fertility that will never die. Opposite the tree is a Venetian spring where washing would have been done.


Mum and I also visited a local olive farm which was right near our hotel. The farm had been in the owner’s family for years and he took us through the original process for making the oil and also showed us what else he produced including Raki and pottery. We then tasted the olive oil he had made by completely traditional methods apart from the grinding which was done by hand rather than by the donkey, who he keeps just as a pet. We also sampled honey and Raki. Raki is used as a bit of a cure all by Cretans and is often served at the end of a meal. Mum and I both tried it but neither of us were impressed. I purchased some olive oil from there and some sundried tomatoes.

Donkey that would have ground the olives in the past

Donkey that would have crushed the olives in the past

How they make the Raki

How they make the Raki

Not impressed by the Raki

Not impressed by the Raki

I usually like to add to my shoe collection whilst away but sadly on this trip, this was not meant to be. The first pair I liked in Heraklion were out of stock in my size and another gorgeous pair in Agios Nikolaos were out of my price range at €265! I did however make a few fashion investments apart from buying the usual holiday toot.

Every jeweller we walked past on the island, attracted us to the window with a beautiful blue stone, which is more stunning than any I have seen before. I couldn’t resist these earrings from a jeweller in the hotel and what was even better was the guy knocked €9 off the price, however he then waved at me every time I walked past his shop for the rest of the trip – either he had a thing for me or was trying to entice me back to spend more.


I found this gorgeous blue clutch in the market at Agios Nikolaos and couldn’t resist it. I thought the gold embellishment looked vaguely similar to that of a Mulberry bag with the tree. Getting shoes in the right shade to match will most likely prove an impossible task but I think you could pair it with navy or black shoes.


An eco zoo park where they showed how they traditionally made textiles and pottery brought me to a gorgeous cream pashmina which I know I will accessorize lots with in the coming summer months being that England has slightly cooler evenings than Crete.

This bracelet which I found in a shop in Heraklion incorporates a well known Greek pattern and sets off any outfit a treat.


Of course before I went and at the airport I used the holiday as an excuse to expand my wardrobe and went a little crazy with beach wear – now I just need another holiday to get my wear out of it!


Sunbathing in style with a Biba towel my Mum got me for Christmas and in a Kelly Brook bikini from New Look

Monsoon white playsuit

Monsoon white playsuit with Havaianas flip flops

New Look palm dress

New Look palm maxi dress with floppy 70’s style hat


The intricate back of the dress – careful of the tan marks!

Bird top from Torza boutique in Petts Wood

Bird top from Torza boutique in Petts Wood

Ted Baker bag

Ted Baker bag

I also got Mum to test out a hairstyle I had seen a video for on Facebook and I will attempt to explain how to perfect it.

  • Tie hair into a high ponytail
  • Place a pencil or chopstick through the hair above the ponytail
  • Split the ponytail in two
  • Take a piece from one section to use as the third section of the plait but pass it over the pencil/chopstick before plaiting it in
  • Continue taking a piece as the third piece from alternate sides each time
  • When you have no more hair, continue with a traditional plait and fix with a band
  • Clip the end of the plait beneath the pony tail with a Kirby grip
  • Pull the pencil/chopstick out


The week went by in a flash and before we knew it we were heading back to the cooler climate of good old England. I certainly fell in love with Crete and would love to visit again and it was so lovely to spend quality time with my Mum who is also my best friend. I only hope if I have a daughter, my bond with her will be as strong. Love you always Mum.

At the a la carte restaurant - my outfit - top oasis and skirt Jane Norman

At the a la carte restaurant – my outfit – top Oasis and skirt Jane Norman, shoes River Island