Category Archives: Fashion

Opposites attract: why I watch Love Island

On paper Love Island is 100% not my type. I’m over thirty and married with two kids. Why would I want to spend eight weeks watching a bunch of fake-tanned, single 20-somethings in a Mallorcan villa? Why indeed. And yet, that old platitude is true: opposites attract.

Why I watch Love Island

The perennial lure of the TV dating show. I’ve always been a sucker for them – from Blind Date to Street Mate, and more recently First Dates and Married at First Sight. It’s gossipy romance at its best. There’s no reality here. Love Island is deeply appealing because the stakes are so stupidly low – even the dramas aren’t really that dramatic. It’s like the chick-lit book you devour on holiday, but can’t be bothered to squeeze back into your suitcase.

It’s shallow and vacuous. And that’s just the way I like it. I enjoy a break from pondering the big questions in life and giving myself the green light to be completed mindless. Forget mortgages and work, Love Island gives me an hour every night to focus on the really important things in life – like ewww, how can the girls bear to wear their bikinis up their bums like that everyday?

Why I watch Love Island

I’m an observer. Watching Love Island is a bit like watching a nature programme, or a documentary about aliens. The contestants’ outlook on life is so far removed from my own. It’s like observing a different species. I’m seriously fascinated by the gradual realisation that most of the girls have had a little surgical cosmetic help,  the hideous array of clothes and the surprising vanity of the boys. I feel no envy or desire to compare myself to them – and, wow, how refreshing is that?

It’s beautifully imperfect. After a while, you stop noticing all the perfectly tanned and toned limbs, the blinding white teeth and the hair extensions. The mask – or should I say hair weave – slips sometimes and you see that most of them are just as imperfect and complicated as the rest of us. Apart from a few exceptions, they’re mostly a likeable bunch – and it’s their personalities that you remember. Well, for five minutes at least.

Why I watch Love Island

Love Island, I’ve given up an hour of my evenings for you for nearly six weeks so far. I’ll keep rolling my eyes at you, but I’m not planning on stopping watching any time soon. And you don’t make me despair and cry like the Handmaid’s Tale, so that’s good.

The Weekend Edit

Boohoo stripy sun dress

Hello weekend, I’m definitely ready for you. It looks like it’s going to be another absolute scorcher. Need some inspiration? Here’s some simple ideas…

Enjoy an open-air event. This weekend we’re off to the Ely Folk Festival for the first time. What am I hoping for? Great music and relaxed summer fun that’ll keep us all happy – plus a few beers and some ice cream. That’s all I ever want from a summer event. In every town, village and city there’s always oodles to do in July – from school fairs to music in the local bandstand. Pack up a picnic and see what you can find!

The Weekend Edit: Peacocks Dress

Wear stripes (again). Don’t tie yourself up in knots planning an outfit for the weekend. Just reach for something stripy and you know you’ll be sorted. I am particularly loving this stripy sun dress from Boohoo. Not my usual shop, but I fell in love with this simple little number. Accessorise with a straw hat/bag and lots of sun cream.

Boohoo stripy sun dress

Keep on ditching those tea bags. Remember I wrote about giving up tea bags a few months ago? Mainly because they contain plastic. Well, it’s still going very well. I couldn’t live without my mug-sized metal filters – easy and mess free, especially when you just want one cup. If you haven’t already got one, maybe now is the time to give it a try? Whittard are now doing a lovely infuser mug with its own filter which is just perfect for their beautiful range of loose summer teas! The Passionfruit and Mango blend is particularly lovely.

Whittards tea filter and Summer loose teas

Lose yourself in a good page-turner. If you’re looking for a good weekend read, or a book for your holiday, I can heartily recommend The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay. It’s such a gripping story and I read it in one day as I just couldn’t put it down. Compulsive reading. Perfect for an afternoon in a deck chair or on a sun lounger!

The weekend edit

Eat some cherries. Head to your local market and buy a bag of juicy, in season cherries. They’re at their sweet best right now and such a lovely treat. I only ever eat them at this time of year and they’re worth the wait.

Cherries and coffee

A last chance for some boundaries. It’s my last weekend before the school summer holidays start. Soon I’ll be lucky if I can persuade my children to go to bed before 9pm. I’m torn between excitement and fear. I’m still in denial that it’s so close. As usual, I’m hoping to wing it.

Daisy chains

What do you have planned this weekend?

A birthday talisman

Daisy London amethyst pendant

It’s my birthday today. I’m 34. This isn’t a post telling you I’ve got life sussed. Because obviously that’d be a lie. But I do like to think I’ve learnt a few useful things along the way – mostly that life is all about balance. There are good days and bad days, nice bit and nasty bits. But usually life finds its natural balance. And I’m happy with that. 

Sometimes though, for whatever reason, life can get knocked off kilter. And when that happens, this 34 year old often needs to take a refresher course in finding her inner balance. Everyone’s got their own little ways to get back on track. Personally, I like a talisman.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Don’t worry I’m not about to turn all mystic on you, but I do believe in the power of objects to comfort and reassure. Recently I received an early birthday present from Daisy London – a beautiful amethyst pendant from their Healing Stones collection.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

I’ve always been drawn to amethyst. Mostly because it’s pretty. But, it’s also supposed to do all sorts of other good things like ward off bad energy, improve concentration and get you closer to achieving your positive goals. Now, I don’t know if I can count on all that happening, but I do know that wearing a piece of amethyst next to my heart can remind me that it’s possible.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Putting on this pretty necklace is enough to give me the little kick I need to remember to get that whole life balance thing right.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

Which means remembering to jump on my bike to clear my head when it’s full of negative thoughts – or taking a hour off to sit amongst some lavender.

Daisy London amethyst pendant

34 years have taught me that life doesn’t have to be complicated if you get the balance right.  

Daisy London amethyst pendant

I wear: 18ct gold plated Amethyst pendant, £85, Daisy London / Dress, £19.99, H&M / Belt, £4.99, H&M / Shoes, £25, Marks and Spencer

Thank you Daisy London for sending this beautiful amethyst pendant to me for my birthday. 

Things I’ve loved in June

Sunhat and flowers

June has felt short and sweet. I’ve been busy with some big writing projects, so the weeks have flown past. But it hasn’t been all work and no play. Here’s what I’ve been doing, and more importantly loving, this month! 

Blooms from my garden. I’m no expert when it comes to gardening, and my approach is pretty slap-dash. All I really want is somewhere nice to sit and lots of flowers to pick. I’ve had a few set-backs this year – mainly one of my favourite climbing roses randomly dying – but everything is looking pretty cute out there now. My remaining roses are blooming and all the little plants I bought from Sarah Raven are doing well.

English flowers

Riding my bike every day. Pedal power is real. Riding my bike makes me feel happier and healthier. We ride our bikes to school every day and I’ve upgraded and added some panniers for my shopping.

Pashley Bicycle

My new Saltwater Sandals. I finally took the plunge on a pair and now I’m wondering what on earth took me so long? They’re the comfiest pair of sandals and they haven’t rubbed at all. Worried about the US sizes? I ordered mine from FatFace who have already covered them into UK sizes. They feel true to size. After agonising over the colour, I’m delighted to report that the bright red ones go with everything.

Saltwater Sandals

The Gresham House Wellness Spa. One of the things I love most about Cambridge is that new things pop up all the time. The latest is a beautiful new spa hidden away in an old house in the grounds of the Gonville Hotel. It’s a relaxing haven in the city with pretty hotel rooms and  luxurious treatment rooms. I went to the launch a few weeks ago and can’t wait to go back for a treatment – the little taster I had was very tempting!

Summer drinks. Beers in the park. Pimm’s by the river. Aperol Spritz in my garden on a Friday night. Ah, I love the simple pleasures of summer. Just add a pretty dress like this one from Peacocks!

My June was pretty good. How was yours?

Midi skirts and slogan tees

Slogan tees and floral skirts

In summer it feels like the rules change. Fashion becomes playful. On a sunny day things that shouldn’t work, just do. Midi skirts and slogan tees are a classic example. On paper, it shouldn’t work. But it does.

Why does it work? I think it’s partly because opposites attract. And also that slogan tees stop midi skirts looking too old-fashioned – and vice versa, because I don’t want to look like a teenager either.

I wear: tee, New Look (old) / skirt, £24.99, H&M / sandals, £59.50, Saltwater at FatFace

Want to see more? Here are some of my favourites right now!

Slogan tees and midi skirts

I wear: tee, £20, Blossoms Store / skirt, £25, Monki / Sandals as before

Skirt, £24.99, H&M / Tee, £9.99 Mango

Skirt, £30, Monki / Tee, £15.99, Mango

Early summer favourites

Celtic & Co Cardigan and gold coin necklace

I love dressing for summer. When the weather’s warmer I feel so much happier and inspired. I’m sure I’ll have lots of favourite clothes and accessories as the months go on, but right now this is wear I’m at. 

Mixing textures. Right now I’m loving lots of different weaves and fabrics. Wool and jute, gold and leather. It feels natural and effortless and perfect for the soft days of early summer.

Celtic & Co Cardigan and Turtle Bags jute bag

A throw-on cardigan. You can always rely on the weather to be unpredictable. And you’ll never regret throwing a cardigan in your bag at the last-minute. This cable cardigan, a present sent to me by Celtic & Co, is everything you need in a summer throw-on. It’s structured, so works well in place of a jacket. It’s also made right here in the UK and it’s as British as cricket matches and cucumber sandwiches. You can view their Women’s Knitwear here.

Celtic & Co Cardigan and gold coin necklace

Gold jewellery. Gold hoops are always a summer classic. Coin necklaces are also a big deal right now. At £18, this gold-plated one by ASOS is really affordable.

Celtic & Co Cardigan and gold coin necklace

A jute bag. I’ve already waxed lyrical about string bags and baskets this summer. Now it’s the turn of jute. I love the stripes, the shape and the natural feel. This one is ethically produced by Turtle Bags and I found it a fabulous interiors shop called Forest London. I recently stumbled across it on Clerkenwell Road and it’s well worth a visit.

Celtic & Co Cardigan and Turtle Bags jute bag

Simple tan sandals. I’m currently eyeing up a pair of Saltwater sandals, but these New Look sandals are filling the gap for now. The cute low heel is very flattering.

Celtic & Co Cardigan and Turtle Bags jute bag

In all photos I wear: Cable knit cardigan c/o Celtic & Co (sizing is generous, I’m wearing a XS)

Navy shirt dress, past season Simply Be – similar here at Boden

Sunglasses by &Other Stories

Sandals by New Look – sold out but these are similar.

White Stuff & The National Gallery

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

White Stuff are already known for their beautiful prints, and things have just got even better. Their latest collection is a collaboration with the National Gallery and features designs inspired by two of Van Gogh’s paintings: Wheatfield with Cypresses and Long Grass with Butterflies.

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

It’s a small but beautifully formed collection. The colour palette of blues, greys and greens is wonderful.

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

My favourite item is the dress – which I think would look absolutely beautiful just about anywhere! There are also bags, mugs, tees and a gorgeous reversible skirt.

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

White Stuff arranged for me to have a special tour of Van Gogh’s paintings in the National Gallery. Seeing the original paintings that inspired the collection was incredible. It’s easy to rush around an art gallery, but we stood and looked at these two paintings for a long time. The colours, textures and emotions in the paintings are amazing and I felt really moved by them – especially when you consider the rather sad and turbulent life of Van Gogh.

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

White Stuff & The National Gallery collection

https://www.whitestuff.com/womens/the-national-gallery/

You can see the whole collection here

 

Three outfits I’m wearing on repeat

I love it when late spring begins to drift into summer. It’s warm, but not too warm – and I couldn’t be happier. Here are three simple outfits that I’m loving right now.

The maxi skirt. A new shape for me. I always thought I was too short for maxi skirts, but this year they feel right and actually make me feel taller. A simple white tee is all you need to go with it.

White Stuff Maxi skirt

Skirt, £49.95, White Stuff / Top, £8.99, H&M

Sandals, New Look – sold out, but these are similar 

The jumpsuit. Or possibly romper suit. Again, a new shape for me. I asked my seven-year-old if it was cool or ridiculous – or somewhere in between. He choose the latter, and I think he’s probably right. Wearing it on a warm day made me feeling childish and ridiculous in the best possible way. I don’t like my bare shoulders, so I covered them with my favourite yellow shirt.

New Look jumpsuit

Jumpsuit, £24.99, New Look – sold out online, but I bought mine in store

 Yellow shirt, £15.99, New Look

The trousers that feel like PJs. I have found my perfect working-from-home/school run outfit. Pull on these soft trousers and silky shirt and you’re ready to go!

Trousers, £12.99, H&M / Top, £14.99, H&M / Shoes, £25.99, Marks and Spencer / Bag, old

 

In the mood for summer – with Moshulu

Moshulu summer sandals

Are you ready for sandal weather? I am. Because sandal weather means happiness.

I’m talking about those wonderful spring days when we all skip around saying: it feels like summer, doesn’t it? We have to make the most of those days – because, let’s face it, the British summer isn’t particularly reliable. When one of those warm spring days comes along, drop everything! Put on your sandals and race outside to soak it up.

To really put a spring in your step you need a pair of sandals you can actually walk in. Because no one wants to hobble their way into summer, do they? Moshulu are on a mission to make their sandals as comfortable, colourful and bouncy as possible.

When I invest in a pair of new sandals, I need to know they’ll be practical and versatile – my days often combine client meetings, photo-shoots and racing to school and back. They have to work hard and match my outfits. Knowing this, Moshulu challenged me to test out a pair of their Comfort Sandals with three of my favourite outfits…

Moshulu summer sandals

The statement blouse… Wrap-around blouses are big for spring and summer. They’re a fabulous combination of pretty femininity and practicality. Styled with my Jalapeno sandals, it’s a perfect look for anything from lunch with friends to exploring a new city. And the bouncy, cushioned sole means my feet feel happy all day.

Moshulu summer sandals

Low-key weekend style… My weekends are spent running around after my two boys. We love visiting our local market and buying our favourite bread, coffee and street food. I need an outfit that’s laid-back and flexible. I love a soft, washed-out blue shirt and skinny jeans – accessorised with my favourite shopping basket and a bright scarf. My sandals are comfortable enough for miles of walking – and colourful enough to give my outfit a real lift.

Moshulu summer sandals

The pleated skirt… For warm summer days, my go-to outfit is a pleated skirt and a Breton tee. It’s floaty and fun, but the stripes stop everything feeling too girly. Slipping on my pretty sandals makes me feel ready for anything – from a cream tea in the garden to a glass of Rosé on a summer evening.

Moshulu summer sandals

Three different outfits: one pair of sandals. And a very clever pair of sandals at that. So comfortable and bouncy, and also a bit of a fashion chameleon – capable of looking fabulous with all kinds of colours and prints.

 They’ll see me through this summer in style and many more to come!

This was a sponsored post written in association with Moshulu

Spring beauty favourites

Spring beauty routine

Anyone else get really excited about new beauty products in spring? As we move into warmer weather, my outlook changes and so does my skin!

Most of these products aren’t actually new, but they’re new to me. Here’s what I’m loving right now.

Spring beauty routine

Pixi Nourishing Skin Balm. I’m a big fan of hot cloth cleansing. This balm turns to an oil on your skin and is great at getting rid of make-up. It’s gentle but thorough. I have classic combination skin so don’t want to dry my skin out too much and encourage it to make more oil. This stuff is great and I’ve been using it for about six months now. One tub lasts me a few months.

Pixi Glow Tonic. I first started using this toner last summer and I’m still a big fan. It’s not too harsh, but gives me a satisfying tingle after cleansing! I wouldn’t be without it now.

Midnight Recovery Concentrate by Kiehls. This stuff in amazing. I’ve been using it every evening since November and the change in my skin has been noticeable. It’s hard to put my finger on what’s different – other than it just looks better and I get far fewer breakouts. I love the nightly ritual of massaging a few drops of this scented oil into my face. It’s a real luxury and a bottle lasts long time (unless your cats knock it over in the middle of the night). I use this at night and stick to a simple Liz Earle moisturiser during the day.

Bondi Sands fake tan

I’ve never been confident with fake tan, but this year I’m determined to boost my glow. My skin never really goes very brown, so it’s great to have a helping hand. I’ve been using Bondi Sands self-tanning foam for a subtle golden effect. I’m an anxious fake tanner, but this stuff is reasonably easy to apply and I didn’t get any streaks. I exfoliated with Clarins body scrub beforehand which definitely helped.

Magic Organic Apothecary

Finally, I must tell you about Fortifying Green Bath Potion. A big bottle is quite an investment so I was thrilled to find this little sample bottle (£4) for sale in a local shop. It was just enough for one bath. It’s full of exhilarating things like fir and peppermint and it’s amazing. Zingy, reviving and perfect for aching muscles. I’m going to invest in a big bottle soon!

What are your beauty favourites right now?