The first half-term

Peter and Jane

So, you’ve survived the first half-term. Your children are (hopefully) settled into school. You’re probably feeling tired, a bit battered but also elated to have the first holiday in sight. Maybe your child has just started in reception, or maybe you’re a seasoned pro. Whatever. The feelings are very similar.

Over the last seven weeks or so you’ll have…

Done over thirty school runs. That’s thirty mornings of cajoling your children into their shoes.  Then the challenge of actually getting through the front door with book bags, rucksacks and little furry key rings all present and correct. Walking to school down the same roads, seeing the same people but always talking about something new. Anything from what they’re up to that day to something that’s worrying them. Or maybe just a conversation about landing a probe on Mars or whether Darth Vader is really bad, or just misunderstood.

You’ll have experienced the delights of British autumn weather. Freezing in the morning, yet the playground’s a boiling cauldron by 3.15. Cue mummy lugging home everyone’s coats like a packhorse while crossly sweating into her new winter coat. You’ve probably been soaked to the skin at least once, and one of your children will certainly have jumped in a puddle and completely soaked their socks. I’m hoping you’re not the kind of person that packs spares either.


Your child may have received their first reading book and you may have been introduced to the weird and wonderful world of Biff, Chip and Kipper. Or maybe your child hasn’t got a reading book yet. That’s ok – it’s pretty unusual to get one in the first half term of reception. You may have learnt that it’s best not to rush or be impatient when it comes to reading. Or maybe you haven’t, in which case you may be worrying about it. Don’t.

Learning to read

You’ll have washed a lot of school uniform. And possibly forgotten to wash some too. Some weeks, three sets of everything just isn’t enough and there’s a fair bit of last-minute sponging going on. Black marker pen, gravy, mud and weird unidentified stains – you’ll have got to know them all well.

You’ll have made over thirty lunches. And emptied them out again at the end of day (or the next morning, possibly, which is bad if you put a yoghurt in). Perhaps you’ve wondered what to put in them. The classic combo of sandwich, fruit, muffin and a fruit yo-yo never let me down. Or maybe you’ll have done hot lunches, in which case you don’t really have much of a clue how much they’ve eaten and just hope a vegetable has been consumed at some point along the line. You then probably end up cooking another hot meal in the evening just to make sure they have eaten a vegetable.

Yo yo bear lunch box

You’ll have learnt about your lack of control. Not that you want to control your children, but it’s hard letting go. If your child has started in reception, then you’ve had to learn how to step back and accept that your child can make their own decisions and choices while they’re at school. You may have freaked out about this a bit and shed a few tears. Even when your child isn’t in reception the same thing happens every September. During the holidays they’re with you and you’re in tune with everything they do. Once they’re back at school things are a bit of guessing game at times.

The first half term is all a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. You’re child may have struggled to settle into school and perhaps you have too. So, well done. Make of the most of the half term by doing as little as possible and recharging everyone’s batteries!

I fully admit that this post us heavily based on my own experiences! What have you learnt during the first half term? I’d love to know. 

I was kindly gifted some yo-yo bears and a lovely lunchbox by BEAR to help us enjoy our first few weeks back at school. 

Bringing autumn indoors

Autumn in the home

This time of year is all about colour and warmth. Crunchy golden leaves, shiny conkers and bright pumpkins. I like to bring some of this natural charm back indoors with me. Gathering together warm throws, candles and treasured finds is as instinctive as pulling on a pair of woolly socks.

Here are some little tips to bring in the outdoors this autumn. 

Display your pumpkins…I’ve got a bit of thing for collecting gorgeous pumpkins and squashes at this time of year. I never eat them, I just gather them together on window sills and mantels. They’re autumn treasure and deserve admiration. They last for absolutely ages and just look so perfect right now. I usually find mine for sale on stalls outside people’s houses, but there are lots of mini ones to be found in the shops too. Display them alongside other autumn finds like rose hips, conkers and berries. You can even do a bit of grown up carving and turn one into a night light holder.


Embrace the chrysanthemum…It’s never been the coolest flower. But I think they’re really underrated. The colours around at the moment are amazing – yellows, russets, deep reds – all the colours of the season – plus, they’re inexpensive and they last for ages.



Use a bit of fakery… If you can’t find any sprays of real autumnal berries use some fake ones. Christmas things are starting to creep into the shops and it’s really easy to find some inexpensive faux berries to arrange in a jar (or combine with fresh blooms). I bought these wire stems in Wilko a few years ago and they’re still going strong.

Autumn berries and toadstools

Peg up some leaves… I did this last year and it’s such a fun and beautiful way to display all your precious finds. We always fill our pockets with them, every one more beautiful than the last. It seems a shame to let them just crumble away unnoticed.

Autumn leaves

Make an autumn wreath… they’re not just for Christmas. Use a wicker ring and thread through all your favourite autumn bounty – berries, seed heads, feathers…

Autumn wreath

What treasure will you be collecting this autumn? 

Jugs, mug, vintage glass, wooden bird and tiny toadstools all available from the Marmalade Pie online shop

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Three things I’m loving this week


A new coat… a classic camel coloured coat has been on my radar for a while. I spotted this one in New Look and fell in love with it – and the price, which was only £34.99. It’s maybe not the thickest coat ever, but it’s lined and about right for autumn weather. Plus, you can fit a thick jumper under it. New Look have got some really great buys this season and I love that they’re still an affordable stalwart of the British high street. I’ve been going in there for twenty years and still find things I want to buy.

New Look Autumn 16 camel coat

Water… now the weather’s cooler down I’ve noticed my skin is looking really dry and pallid.  I’m hoping that drinking more water (and less wine) will help a bit. Recently I was sent this neat little  Fill&Go drinking bottle from Brita. It filters water as you drink, and I’ve been enjoying having it on my desk when I’m working from home, and in my bag when I’m out and about. The novelty of a new bottle does wonders when it comes to reminding me to drink more. I’m also drinking hot blackcurrant squash this week. So, life’s really rock and roll round here. I’m yet to succeed with drinking less wine. Maybe I’ll worry about that in January.

Brita Fill and Go

Getting to know my cats… I can’t tell you how wonderful it is having animals in the house again. I never pictured myself as a cat owner, but I’m so, so glad I got over that particular hurdle. Mog and Tabby are really great company and getting to know them has been really fun so far. They seem to be enjoying getting to know me too and let’s just say they’re learning very quickly how to get me to do exactly what they want.

Tabby cat

What are you enjoying this week? 


Cold weather florals

Cold weather florals

Wearing florals on bright summer days is easy. It’s harder in cold weather. You need to find the right combination of warmth and wit – without looking like you’ve just added a pair of woolly tights to a summer dress. I like to swap my pastel, ditzy florals for something a little darker – still pretty, but with a little more depth.

Here are three ways to do it. 

Painterly floral… pretty and fluid, but darker and richer than their summer counterparts. Perfect for layering with thick grey tights, coats and boots.


Left to right: Dress (£35), Warehouse / Top (£42), Warehouse / Dress (£75), Cath Kidston

Woodland florals… a chance to make your autumn florals a little more whimsical.


Left to right: Shirt (£32), Warehouse / Dress (£29.99), New Look / Shirt (£32), Warehouse

Floral embellishments… embroidery is everywhere this season. These are some of the prettiest I’ve seen, without looking too twee.

Floral embroidery for autumn

Left to right: Shirt (£25.99), Zara / Jumper (£24.99), New Look / Shirt (£29.99), Zara

What are your favourite ways to wear florals when the weather turns chilly?

Dahlia heaven

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

A couple of weeks ago we visited dahlia heaven. Otherwise known as the annual Anglesey Abbey dahlia festival. But I prefer my version. For heavenly it really was.

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

We arrived and followed a trail of dahlias, which looked as if they’d been scattered across the ground, but were actually sitting in clever little vases embedded in the soil.

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

Strangely, the long line of blooms didn’t actually didn’t actually lead to the dahlia garden, but it did take us away from the crowds and towards our favourite picnic spot. After we’d eaten our cheese and pickle rolls and collected at least forty conkers, we set off in search of the main attraction. Eventually we found it. It was worth the wait.

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

Giant, show-stopping dahlias as far as the eye can see. The amazing detail and symmetry…the colours. The boys had got a bit bored by this point but I was in (instagram) heaven. These days it’s normal to get overexcited by pretty flowers and I’m no exception.

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

Anglesey Abbey Dahlias

I had to share them with you. Such a burst of joy before the darkness of winter is upon us. The dahlias at Anglesey should be around until the first frosts, so it’s not too late to see them.


Find out more here.


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The coatigan

The coatigan

A coatigan. Sounds a bit silly doesn’t it? But actually, it makes perfect sense. October is a classic in-betweeny month. Most days it’s a bit too warm for a coat, but you want something. 

That’s where the coatigan comes in. Half way between a coat and a cardigan, it looks good but doesn’t weigh you down. Unlined and soft, yet smart.


You don’t want to spend too much on something that won’t be your main winter coat (although I fully intend on wearing mine for a good while yet with thick jumpers and scarves depending on the weather). Luckily, this season there are lots and lots of very purse-friendly ones around.

My grey felted version is from H&M and costs just £39.99. Which feels pretty good for something that has updated my look and keeps me warm on the school run. My thin ribbed cotton polo is also perfect for now – it looks autumnal, but doesn’t feel too hot.

The contagion


Coatigan, H&M (£39.99) / Polo, New Look (£7.99) / Loafers, H&M (£14.99) – currently in store, but unavailable online, these are similar.

Would you try a coatigan?

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#OnePerfectThing in September

OnePerfectThing in September

#OnePerfectThing is a community I’m growing on Instagram.

Perfection often feels out of reach. But however imperfect you’re finding life, you can make an effort to find #OnePerfectThing. Something which makes you pause, smile and feel thankful. Since starting this idea, I’ve really taken the time to find the beautiful in the everyday – that little moment that makes your day, nested in amongst the mundane things. 

September has been a lovely month. I’ve loved watching how summer has gradually started fading into autumn. The pretty blooms are still there, but so are the autumn treasures – conkers, cobnuts, golden leaves and cosier moments indoors.

My favourite photos this month remind me of all those things. Caro’s cup of tea with a pretty bloom hanging on from summer, Isabelle’s perfect blueberry pancakes, Amanda’s foraged cobnuts and Kathryn’s cosy kitten.


From top left: @thetwinklesmama / @isabelleclapperton

From bottom left: @_amanda_design / @katgotthecream

My absolute favourite this month is Amanda’s collection of foraged nuts


As Amanda puts it:

‘every year I watch the hazel nuts growing from scrunched up bunches of brilliant greenness. Returning to the places I’ve seen them is always a disappointment, either someone got there months ago and laid their wormy eggs or the squirrels have beaten me to it. I couldn’t resist these tiny tight packets of frayed parchment, they’ve sat on the table for the last couple of days and started to brown up. Later we’ll enjoy their creamy freshness with a mature cheddar.’

Which sums up #OnePerfectThing completely!

I can’t wait to see your October photos. Just use the tag #OnePerfectThing over on Instragram to join in.

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An Arts and Crafts inspired bedroom

A yellow and grey bedroom

In summer I like to sleep on a bed of flowers. Ok, not literally – but, when it comes to bedlinen it’s all about the florals for me. The prettier the better.

When the weather starts to cool, all those blowsy flowers and pretty pinks don’t feel quite right. My autumnal bedroom is about making things cosy, whilst keeping things fresh. I might be happy to embrace deep plums and greens in my wardrobe, but I don’t want to sleep under them. Instead, I like to turn to two of my favourite bedroom colours – yellow and soft grey – and my favourite heritage-inspired prints.

I once visited a beautiful Arts and Crafts house in Kent, called Standen. It was light, airy and full of pretty William Morris wallpaper.

Standen House

Image: the National Trust, Standen House

It’s not a look I’d want to recreate in its entirety. Instead, I’d like to borrow a few of the ideas – especially the patterns inspired by nature and the soft citrine colours.

This beautiful bed linen is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. It’s light, bright and surprisingly contemporary. Especially if you combine it with simple curtains and accessories in white, grey and cream. Yellow is a classic bedroom colour. It could feel dated, but adding grey stops it feeling old fashioned.

A yellow and grey bedroom

Left and middle: bedlinen, House of Fraser / Right: curtains, H&M.

If you’re really brave you could try some wallpaper. Its permanence scares me, but if was going to take the plunge then this beautiful design by Mark Hearld would be top of my list. For something less permanent, this gorgeous feathery bedlinen and bird cushion are beautiful.

A yellow and grey bedroom

Left: bedlinen, H&M / Middle: cushion, House of Fraser / Right: wallpaper, St Judes

What colours are you dreaming of this autumn?

This post was written in collaboration with House of Fraser, but all thoughts are my own.

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Be a bookish beauty this autumn


I love autumn. It’s not just the cooler weather and the swirling leaves, it’s the clothes. There are so many and they’re all lovely. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of my favourite autumnal looks. First up is the bookish beauty…or librarian chic.

My student days are long behind me, but there’s something about autumn that always makes me crave sweet, bookish clothes in the warm colours of the season. Russets, plums, mossy greens…corduroy, print shirts, brogues and t-bars… The sort of thing to wear to the library with a satchel slung over your shoulder. Quiet girl style with a quirk.

Autumn is only time of year I really think about corduroy. A pinafore dress with a printed shirt, or striped tee, is a great way to wear it.


Pinafore: £30, New Look / Shirt: £24, Next / Brogues: £65, Seasalt

It’s still a bit warm for thick polo necks, but the shops are full of thin, ribbed, cotton ones. They’re perfect with a printed skirt – with or without tights depending on the weather!

Be a bookish beauty this autumn

Polo: £7.99, New Look / Skirt: £40, Cath Kidston / Shoes: £45, Clarks

All you need now are a few autumn leaves to crunch through! The satchel, bicycle and library books are optional.


Life lately: back to school, new cats and autumn treasure


We’re a few weeks into the new autumn term now and we’re all happily getting back into the swing of things again.

I’ve been getting my head down after a summer off, and the boys are settling back into school. That’s year 1 for my youngest, and year 3 at a new junior school for my eldest. The first few weeks have been tiring – early starts after six weeks of lie-ins, stiff new leather shoes after a summer of bare feet…. it’s always going to be hard. But they’ve settled back in well. Year 1 is never my favourite year – too much pressure, too young, in my opinion. Year 3, on the other hand, seems pretty good so far.

Now, if you follow me on my social media you’ll probably have noticed that we have two new additions to the family. A couple of weeks ago we adopted two little tabby cat sisters. They’re about eighteen months old, and are such sweet girls. So far they’re settling in well, and we’re all getting used to each other.

Tabby cat

I’ve never been a cat person, but I’m really delighted with how things are going so far. I’m used to the easy (or perhaps needy) affection of dogs. The girls are very different – more aloof, but when you’re rewarded with their attention it’s wonderful. They’ve slotted into our lives really well and are no trouble at all. Having animals around again is really lovely.

Tabby cat

Since the boys have been back at school I’ve been working hard on my blog and shop and I’ve also attended some really interesting events. Last week I was invited to an evening of drinks at Bourne and Hollingsworth by the lovely people at W channel. It was such a gorgeous event and I was sorry to have to leave to catch my train back to the sticks at the end of the night! The cocktails were delicious.

Cocktails at Bourne and Hollingsworth #weare@

The next day I spoke about blogging at an event held in Ely by Mummas and More. I’m not much of a public speaker, but I really enjoyed talking here to such a friendly audience. I was there alongside Emma of 100 Days No TV and Helen of JustSayingMum. It was such an inspiring morning. Ely is really changing and the whole creative scene is really growing!

Mummas and More tea and talks blogging event

We’ve passed the autumn equinox now and I’m so happy to see new delights everyday. You see the same things every year but they never fail to feel magical. Shiny conkers, glittering cobwebs, scarlet berries – September is putting on a beautiful show at the moment.


The shops and markets are full of gorgeous seasonal produce and these days it’s more important than ever to remember to take a shopping bag out with you. I always like to make sure mine bring a smile to my face. This week we have 20% off all the gorgeous bags in the shop.

Hydrangea shopping bag

What have you all been up to lately?