Coasting along

IMG_3483IMG_3491lobster-crateIMG_3496IMG_3499IMG_3502IMG_3509IMG_3510IMG_3488IMG_3511yacht

As someone who sailed lots growing up, I sometimes find London a wee bit landlocked and stifling. I live right by the river – which is not the same! – and even then, never get to spend any time near/on water nowadays. I could spend ages griping about how extra-curricular activities are so hard for us grown ups to get involved in but I will save that for next time (lucky you!)… it’s far too early in the year to be moaning already!!

Tayvallich is a sweet little coastal town with a couple of piers and a lot of open sky and inviting views. We stopped by Tayvallich Inn for very tasty lunch (beer battered haddock with ciabatta and melted cheddar AND skin on hand cut chips?? Yes please!!) and wandered around peering at boats and looking into the horizon (not easy in London). Not much else to do apart from just be. So perfect. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area…

This year, instead of not making resolutions (I’m one of those anti-resolution cynics), the husband and I decided to set ourselves a bunch of S.M.A.R.T. goals (S – specific, significant, stretching; M – measurable, meaningful, motivational; A – attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented; R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented; T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable). One of mine is to do more visiting/travelling/exploring/wandering on the weekends, both in this fine country and on the continent (and beyond).

How’s your new year going? Have you set any objectives for the year? Resolutions yay or nay?

Sweetly feasting.

_MG_9728_MG_9743_MG_9792_MG_9758_MG_9755_MG_9756_MG_9771_MG_9775table_MG_9749_MG_9787_MG_9794_MG_9789_MG_9796_MG_9802_MG_9819_MG_9845

I know Christmas is over, but I just remembered I haven’t shown these to you! One weekend in December, Xin, from Pudding Pie Lane, baked up a storm and we spent all of Saturday catching up, giggling, getting far too sugar high, and playing with Christmas decorations. So much fun! If only we could do this all the time?? Sadly, I am back to work on Tuesday (I know lots of you are too, so we shall be mournful together!), and so no more feasting and lazing. Christmas season is, alas, over (although technically speaking, it’s not over until 12 days from December 25, no?)… for me at least. Until 2016.

Hang in there folks… 3 more working days until the new year.

 

Images and styling: Courage & Dash; Food: Pudding Pie Lane

Nearly there.

_MG_0387_MG_0394_MG_0401_MG_0389portrait_MG_0407

So it’s nearly the end of 2015. Where has this year gone?? So many people I have spoken to have said this year has just flown by. There was a time in which I used to alternate between awesome and dud years – but I’ve lost track as life has gone on. This year has seemed to be one of those with plenty of ups and downs, which I am beginning to realise is just how life is. In the context of all the darkness we have experienced this year (on a global, macro scale, and also on a more micro, personal level – friends who have lost family members, for example), life this year has seemed somewhat tentative and something to be all the more appreciated. This year I have been better at telling those whom I love that I love them, and at holding close those who are dear. I hope I remember to do more of that in 2016.

In light of new beginnings and new growth in the new year, I spent some time reflecting and planning, whilst playing with my new succulents (courtesy of Flowercard) on my lazy Christmas day. I am hoping that 2016 will be a much better year for not killing my plants (see here), by the way, as I am prone to (through no intention of mine!!). We already had some cacti and a couple of succulents, but now that floral gifting service, Flowercard, has given us a whole boxful (which came in a personalised tin – thanks!), hopefully some will last until the end of 2016? One can only hope! I have no idea why I am so bad with plants – any tips and tricks will be much gratefully received!!

 

Images: Courage & Dash

Succulents pictured from Flowercard, all opinions my own!

The pen is mightier. Always.

IMG_3862IMG_3903IMG_3864IMG_3865IMG_3866IMG_3867IMG_3872IMG_3873IMG_3875IMG_3878IMG_3882IMG_3883IMG_3885IMG_3889IMG_3893IMG_3894IMG_3898IMG_3899IMG_3900IMG_3880

A couple of years ago, I had the immense privilege of meeting a designer who was starting a new adventure of building her own stationery brand. Now, her brand is stocked all over the country, including Liberty of London. What an achievement! Imagine my delight, then, when that designer, Rebecca Cahill, owner of Betty Etiquette, got in touch with an invitation to one of her calligraphy classes.

Modern calligraphy has seen a burgeoning following, after the style found its way across the Atlantic and onto our home shores. Which is great, given how pretty it is and easy to grasp the basics! Rebecca’s class was held at Second Home, 68 Hanbury Street, a light and airy creative co-working space. It was so much fun reconnecting with Rebecca (who is expecting a little one!) and meeting the other apprentice calligraphers. Rebecca’s style of calligraphy is a little different to the joined-up writing, flowy styles you might have seen on Instagram – it’s the Betty Etiquette house-style, which feels more contemporary and unique to the brand. I really enjoyed how interactive the session was, and how her class taught the basics of classic pointed-pen modern calligraphy, which we were then encouraged to personalise to our own taste and natural handwriting.

If you are still stuck for a Christmas gift idea, pop on by the Betty Etiquette website and get in touch for a workshop voucher or some of her fun and colourful stationery.

 

Images: Courage & Dash

*This is not a sponsored post or an ad; whilst I was invited to the class at no charge, all views and opinions expressed are my own.*

King of the Castle

IMG_3325IMG_3331IMG_3330IMG_3329IMG_3320IMG_3317IMG_3312IMG_3306IMG_3304bustIMG_3286armouryIMG_3264IMG_3265IMG_3262pianoIMG_3244harpIMG_3243jellymouldsIMG_3297IMG_3296IMG_3241IMG_3236door_low

I’m already quite a homebody, but if my home was like Inveraray Castle, I would never leave. Not even for brunch with Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jonny Depp at the same time. Nope. Home is where I will always be found.

The beautiful castle was the setting of a Downton Abbey Christmas special, where the Granthams went to Scotland to see Rose McGowen’s family and for plenty of grouse shooting. It is lived in by the current Duke of Argyll, but is also open to the public. With a cosy cafe (that serves tasty food), neat and attractive gardens, and charming interiors, the castle was the perfect pit stop on our way from Fife to Argyll. Our favourite room was probably the armoury, in the middle of the castle (tallest room in Britain!), where the ceiling was over three storeys high and the walls were bristling with weaponry. The cheerful yellow-painted walls added to the spacious feel of the room and half reminded me of the domed room in Castle Howard. Oh, also, of course, I spent all my time sat by the large open fireplace. Joy.

The best thing about the castle was how welcoming and approachable it was. Some stately homes can be so lavish as to be uncomfortable, even to a reverent visitor. Inveraray Castle was grand but clearly a home lived in by a family. Well worth a visit!
Images: Courage & Dash

Thankful to be wild and free

IMG_3067IMG_3170IMG_3178walkIMG_3154IMG_3123 IMG_3120IMG_3159IMG_3162IMG_3163portraitIMG_3132IMG_3195IMG_3138IMG_3190IMG_3107_2IMG_3109IMG_3111_2IMG_3112-2IMG_3091

Often, when the husband and I sit down to a meal and remember our favourite people, we feel frustrated that our friends are now so spread out across the world. Even within London, they seem to live across the length and breadth of our (massive) city. It’s fun to have the excuse to travel and see people, but it’s also quite sad not to be able to spend as much time together now as we did when younger. 

We recently headed for the north of Edinburgh, to a place called Fife where our friends Stuart and Imo live. The husband was best man for Stuart, and Stuart composed my wedding entrance music, so they are terribly dear and special to us! It was a gorgeous weekend of eating haggis, meeting Percy (their new dachshund puppy), endless walks through fields and woods, and sitting by the wood-burning stove sipping whisky, laughing about everything and nothing.

Quality time with such wonderful people is priceless – we have so much to be thankful for. It’s a shame Fife and London are on quite the opposite ends of the country! Do you have close friends who live far away from you? How do you manage to keep in touch? Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are back in bonny Scotland! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating – what are you thankful for this week?

 

Images: Courage & Dash

The Curious Shop: Goose Home & Garden

blue notice board (1)carpenters workbench (1)first heart shutters (3)five ceiling tiles same pattern (3)go cart (1)gray garden table (1)green table offset lock (1)grey side table (1)hat tin with dent (1)libbys cratesmint blue buffet (1)original paint gray table (2)original white buffet (1)original white painted buffet (1)paillion bedsides (2)pale green shutters (2)purbeck 5 drawer unit (1)simplex ladder (1)single door pavillion gray (1)tall wire baskets (1)wide carpet case (1)wood and brass hooks (1)

One of the downsides of renting is being restricted (usually) to playing around with your soft furnishings; one of the upsides, however, is being able to change the style of your space as regularly as you would like!

Today, Sarah & Paul from Goose Home and Garden, our new favourite online shop, join us to tell us about their business. The online shop stocks a range of decorative vintage, from quirky signs to old furniture. One of our friends, Jessica Alice, was so inspired by Sarah that she decided to start her own business selling second hand lifestyle items. 

Sarah’s love for collecting started many years ago as a child trailing after her mum to house sales. Both Paul and Sarah started dealing in vintage homewares 20 years ago in Brighton, and now they sell regularly at fairs in the south of England. By the way, if you were wondering why “Goose”, it is because that is what newborn Sarah was christened by her older brother! We cannot wait to see them at a fair.

For more, visit http://www.goosehomeandgarden.com/.

Images: Sarah Kingston