Category Archives: Lifestyle

Pembrokeshire: the perfect rural escape

Pembrokeshire

Sometimes we all need to get away from it all.

And what better way to do it than a country-escape? Somewhere that feels a million miles from home, but isn’t really that far. No flights or passports are involved – just a little cottage in a beautiful part of the British countryside. A place to relax and re-charge your batteries.

My happy place is Pembrokeshire, in Wales. It has all the ingredients for the perfect rural getaway. Let me tell you why…

The coastal path at Pwll Deri

Rugged beauty… Pembrokeshire has some of the most stunning coast in Britain. It’s rugged, but exquisitely beautiful. The colours are so vivid – bright turquoise sea, yellow gorse and rich weathered stone. Every time I see it, it takes my breath away. The best way to enjoy is to walk a section of the coastal path. My favourite bit is the stretch around the lighthouse at Strumble Head.

Stumble Head

Or, for sheer variety, you can’t beat the walk between Porthgain and Abereiddy. It’s a three-mile circuit, and you’ll see everything from disused industrial buildings, a breath-taking blue lagoon to fossils on Abereiddy beach.

Porthgain

Porthgain

Beautiful beaches… South Pembrokeshire is where you’ll find the soft, sandy beaches. The bustling town of Tenby has a fantastic beach for families. It’s busy, but there’s plenty of space for everyone. If you’re after something truly magical, head to Manorbier. This beautiful little beach is overlooked by a stunning medieval castle. It’s like something from a fairy tale. The beach gets busy, but it’s worth it.

The beach at Manorbier

The beach at Manorbier

Bustling towns… When you’re ready to take a break from the coastal path, Pembrokeshire has lots of busy little towns and villages to explore. St David’s is a tiny city, dominated by its beautiful cathedral. It’s also packed with lovely shops, cafés and restaurants. It’s always busy, but has a lovely, friendly atmosphere. The local deli is a great place to stock up on local food. Newport is also a wonderful place to spend a morning. It has an antique shop, a gallery and the Canteen is a great place for brunch.

The Canteen, Newport

The Canteen, Newport

Captivating castles… There are a lot of castles in Pembrokeshire and you must visit at least one. As I mentioned earlier, Manorbier is a fairy tale castle perfect for romantics. For those that like things a little bit more imposing, try Pembroke Castle. It’s fantastically well-preserved and very impressive. For a relaxed family day out, I’d recommend Carew Castle. It’s a great place for kids to run around, and surprisingly relaxing for the adults too, thanks to its tranquil setting.

Manorbier Castle

Manorbier Castle, image via http://manorbiercastle.co.uk/

Ancient history… Medieval castles are just part of the story of Pembrokeshire. There’s so much more to discover. Visiting the ancient burial chambers at Pentre Ifan is a wonderful way to experience this history first hand. It’s a beautiful spot, which you reach by foot or by car. The standing stones are breath-taking and so is the atmosphere. There’s just something about it that feels, well, magical.

Pentre Ifan

Pentre Ifan

Where should you stay?

It doesn’t get much more perfect that a traditional Welsh cottage. I prefer the north of the county as it’s more secluded and rugged. A great place to start your search is with Powell’s Cottage Holidays. They have some beautiful holiday rentals available – whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, a beach, or a bustling town.

Where should you eat?

Porthgain is a great place to head to if you’re hungry. Sample the fish and chips at the Shed, or visit the traditional Sloop Inn. And I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the Welsh ice cream for sale by the green. St David’s also has no shortage of cafés and restaurants.

Sunset at Pwl Deri

Sunset at Pwl Deri

Which all adds up to the perfect rural escape. Visit Pembrokeshire and see for yourself! 

This was a collaborative post with Original Cottages

One pair of blue shoes, five different outfits – with Moshulu

Moshulu blue brogues

Buying a pair of coloured shoes is one of the most clever things you can do this autumn.

I need my wardrobe to be flexible. My days can be really varied: dashing to school with the boys, then heading straight to a meeting with a work client – or sometimes just working at home. I need my clothes to work hard for me – which is why I love classic pieces that you can dress up and down – all in one day.

Don’t worry though, being flexible doesn’t have to be boring. It’s still possible to make bold choices and make them work – whatever the time, whatever the place. And that’s wear the coloured shoes come in to their own.

To prove it, here’s one pair of bright blue shoes by Moshulu, with five very different outfits…

Moshulu blue brogues

My signature style… A stripy top, coloured tights and a grey coat – it’s my classic look. It’s comfortable and casual enough for the school run, but it’s also perfect for an informal meeting, or a coffee date with friends. The burgundy tights and navy brogues are a fun twist that really pulls this outfit together. Eye-catching, but subtle – if that isn’t to contradictory.

Moshulu blue brogues

The smart look.. If I’m meeting someone professionally for the first time, I like to keep things really simple. Navy is my favourite colour and I love wearing this jersey blazer with smart chinos and lacy shirt. It’s smart, but not too formal. The blue brogues add a touch of personality to an otherwise plain look.

Moshulu blue brogues

The kicking though leaves outfit… At this time of year I can’t resist playing match-matchy games with nature. I love jumpers the colour of autumn leaves and soft, checked scarfs. This is my go-to outfit when I’m working from home – and it also goes to prove that yellow and blue are a match made in heaven.

Moshulu blue brogues

The pop of colour… Wearing colourful shoes doesn’t mean the rest of your outfit has to be tame. Make a bold statement with a bright pink dress and grey tights. This is perfect for when I want to make an impact.

Moshulu blue brogues

Park life… Classic weekend wear. For those days sat on a bench, coffee in hand, watching your crazy kids tire themselves out. My blue brogues rise to the occasion yet again – matching this laid-back utilitarian look perfectly.

So that’s how you take one pair of blue shoes and make them work with five outfits. Which is your favourite?

Moshulu blue brogues

Thank you to Moshulu for sending me these lovely blue brogues to try. 

For a limited time you can use my special 10% discount code: MYMOSHULU_LIZZIE (full-price items only).

My favourite autumn beauty buys

My favourite autumn beauty buys

Autumn weather is notoriously unpredictable. Rain, wind and spending more time indoors can all play havoc with our hair and skin. Now, more than ever, I need a little helping hand to keep me looking good.

Which means buying new beauty products! I’ve made a few new discoveries lately and I’d like to share them with you.

Pixi glow tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic

Instagram is a great enabler when it comes to buying new products – especially when you live in the sticks and get bored with your local branch of Boots. I’d never even heard of Pixi Glow Tonic, but after reading all the rave reviews, I wanted to give it a try too. What is it? It’s an exfoliating toner, which you use after cleansing. It contains glycolic acid, which helps to refine pores. This, plus aloe vera, is supposed to improve your complexion and give you glowing skin.

Does it work? Yes, although don’t expect miracles. The thing I love about this tonic is the genuine glow it gives my complexion. Even on no-make-up days, the overall appearance of my skin is better. I haven’t noticed much difference in my pores, which is a little disappointing – but for the glow alone, I’ll be sticking with this tonic. It’s quite expensive, but the bottle is enormous.

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand

Mini-miracle eye wand, by Charlotte Tilbury

I’ve been looking for a new under-eye concealer and this one is a bit special. In one end, there’s a hydrating eye cream, and in the other is a clever light-reflecting concealer. You apply the cream first, then apply the concealer over the top. I often find that my under-eye make-up has a dry and caked appearance – with the concealer settling into all the fine lines. This wand claims to solve that problem.

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand

Does it work? Yes, definitely. After applying this clever duo, I look so much more awake. As you’d expect from a Charlotte Tilbury product, it also feels amazing to apply. The cream soothes my eyes in the morning and the whole area looks revived. I definitely notice the difference on the days when I don’t wear it. This is now a firm favourite. I use shade 2, which suits my skin tone very well.

Schwarzkopf Got2b Styling Oil

My last beauty favourite is a bargain hair oil. I have very thick, wavy hair which does not cope well in autumn. Mists and mellow fruitfulness basically means an uncontrollable thatch of heavy hair. I’ve been applying this oil before I blow dry my hair, and to tame frizzy flyaways between washes.

Does it work? It’s brilliant stuff – my is hair soft and silky, plus it smells amazing. Clearly, no product can work miracles on wavy hair when the air damp, but this stuff is doing it’s best. If I get caught in the rain, it’s definitely looking less hedge-like. And for £4 a bottle, I will be stocking up.

What are you favourite beauty buys for autumn?

Get reading this autumn with BEAR and Puffin’s Big Book Club

BEAR and Puffin's Big Book Club

There are lots of milestones in a child’s life. For me, watching my children learn to read has been one of the most joyful. 

I always knew that a big part of my role as a mother was to pass my love of reading on to my two boys, and they’re now both well on their way down that magical path. The things they see along that journey will feed their imagination, broaden their horizons and encourage their self-discovery.

BEAR and Puffin's Big Book Club

This autumn, BEAR Alphabites and Puffin books have teamed up to create BEAR and Puffin’s Big Book Club – and it’s ready to start inspiring little readers from all over the land.

Each pack of Alphabites cereal now includes exciting new story book magnets, which are guaranteed to get everyone giggling round the breakfast table. Plus, there’s a new online Big Book Club hub featuring a ‘Book of the Month’, printable activity sheets, games and free extracts from children’s classics.

This autumn, BEAR Alphabites and Puffin books have teamed up to create BEAR and Puffin’s Big Book Club – and it’s ready to start inspiring little readers from all over the land. Each pack of Alphabites cereal now includes exciting new story book magnets, which are guaranteed to get everyone giggling round the breakfast table. Plus, there’s a new online Big Book Club hub featuring a ‘Book of the Month’, printable activity sheets, games and free extracts from children’s classics.

My eldest son and his cat, Tabby, are the inaugural members of our very own book club – his brother and our other cat are honorary members too. The bottom bunk is now officially the reading cave – a place to enjoy all our favourite books, old and new.

Feeling hungry? Alphabites are a great snack to eat while enjoying a good story. They’re made from five natural whole grains and a touch of coconut blossom nectar, as well as containing no refined sugar, salt, artificial colours or flavours,

BEAR and Puffin's Big Book Club

One of our absolute favourite Puffin books is Dogger, by Shirley Hughes. I read it as a child, and I’ve shared it with the boys ever since they were babies. There’s just something about favourite books that makes me feel like everything is right with the world. It’s escapism, but they also inspire us and can teach us to be better people.

BEAR and Puffin's Big Book Club

Encouraging your child to read isn’t just about teaching them to recognise letters, it’s about giving them the freedom to relax and blossom within a magical world, safely nestled within the pages of their book. It offers them time-out after a hectic day, but also reminds them that there’s so much more still be explored.

Limited-edition story magnets are inside special packs of Alphabites cereal now – you can find them in  Tesco, Sainsbury’s , Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Co-op and Ocado. To become a member of BEAR and Puffin’s Big Book Club, head over here to get started!

Join in on social media with #BigBookClub

This is sponsored post written as part of our on-going role in the BEAR Nibbles Tasting Team.

Beating the autumn gloom with fluffy coats and flowers

Fluffy coat and flowers

So far, I’ve been embracing everything about the change in the seasons. In fact, you might as well just call me Little Miss Autumn.

But last week, the seasonal shift suddenly didn’t feel so good. One by one, we’d all caught a cold. The mornings felt darker and colder – and getting out of bed wasn’t fun. Slowly, but surely, morale had begun to sink.

I felt like I’d come up against a brick wall creatively and I spent most of last week creeping around feeling as glum as the leaden grey skies. But on Thursday the sun came out and a couple of simple things reminded that, actually, autumn might just be ok again…

Fluffy coat and flowers

I wore my new teddy-bear coat for the first time. Fluffy coats, shearling coats…they’re all big this season and I urge you to try one. Wearing it is like getting a giant bear hug. If gloomy mornings are the downside of autumn, then getting to wear a snuggly coat is definitely the upside.

And I felt even happier about the fact that I bought it in the charity shop. Sure, I had to spend more than I paid for it getting it dry cleaned, but it was still a very virtuous purchase – and a reminder that I can still occasionally win the charity shop lottery.

Then I went to market and bought the brightest pink flowers I could find. Buying a massive bunch of flowers, and still having change from a fiver, is my weekly pleasure. Carrying them home not only made me happy, it also made a few passers-by smile too.

Buying flowers from Ely market

Of course, just buying a bunch of flowers doesn’t automatically make life peachy again, but it certainly helps. It also proves that when the gloom hits, you shouldn’t always follow your instincts and hibernate. Put on a favourite autumn coat, drag yourself out of the door and indulge in the little things that make you happy – whether it’s wearing a fluffy coat, meeting a friend or buying a new magazine.

Fluffy coat and flowers

I wear: Coat, ASOS, via the charity shop / Jeans, £14, Peacocks

Jumper, £19.99, Mango / Boots, £27.99, New Look / Cherry earrings, ASOS, £8

Love my fluffy coat? Here’s my pick of what’s available right now… 

Marmalade Pie: fluffy coats

Clockwise, from top left: Teddy bear coat, £89, Warehouse / Fleece coat, £29.90, Uniqlo

 Mohair coat, £69.99, Mango / Contrast coat, £79.99, Mango

 

A botanical story…with Thought

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Autumn is all about the joy of discovery, isn’t it? Whether it’s seeing the leaves turn on your favourite tree, finding a gleaming conker or putting on the perfect pair of shiny new boots.

I have two autumn discoveries I’d like to share with you – the clothing company, Thought and the enchanting garden at Peckover House. Thought’s clothes are love-forever classics with an ethical heart. They’re a perfect match for this beautifully timeless garden.

Follow me down the garden path and I’ll tell you a botanical story.…

Thought clothing autumn collection

It’s a chilly morning, the kind when the September mist hasn’t quite burnt off yet. There’s nobody else here – and it’s the perfect moment to explore the orangery.

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Despite the chill outside, the air is warm and humid in here. Every nook and cranny is filled with botanical delights – from succulents and ferns, to vivid blooms. At the centre stand two majestic orange trees, reputed to be 300 hundred years old, and still bearing fruit.

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Let’s go outside again, shall we? We pass some cold frames and stumble upon another glasshouse…

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

Now it’s time to choose some apples and leave the money in the honesty box.

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

And look, who’s this?

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

It’s Algernon, Peckover House’s resident cat, who stands guard over the garden when he’s not too busy having his tummy stroked. And that’s where our little story ends – sitting in the now-bright sunshine.

Thought clothing autumn collection at Peckover House garden

I wear:

Dress, £79.90, c/o Thought

Knitted overcoat, £140, c/o Thought

Peckover House and Garden are managed by the National Trust, with just a little help from Algie. I can’t think of a more perfect place to wear the beautiful new Autumn/Winter collection from Thought clothing.

 

Home Notes for September

Home Notes for September

A change in the seasons always makes me want to spruce up my house. I like to add little seasonal touches, but also to shift things around and continue my never-ending mission to declutter our lives. September is such an inspiring time and I’ve been focusing on creating a nurturing sense of warmth and comfort – plus, creating inspiring new work spaces for the whole family.

Home Notes for September

We’ve bought the boys new desks for their bedrooms, which means that our old crafting table has now become our kitchen table. The space the craft table occupied by the window has become a cosy seating area.

Home Notes for September

I’ve been dreaming of beautiful scandi-style chairs for a while, and, in a moment of inspiration, I remembered the Poang chair I’d banished to the loft about five years ago. I’m glad I kept it as it fills the space perfectly, and I’d forgotten just how comfortable it was. It used be the nursing chair when the boys were babies, and it’s a bit grubby, so I’ve added a new sheepskin and throws to pretty it up.

Home Notes for September

We’ve also added a small footstool by Maison du Monde (love their stuff!) which at £35.99 was a fantastically affordable way to get the scandi-look I wanted, on a budget. A new IKEA floor lamp and a side table from Aldi complete the look. It is now everyone’s favourite corner of the house and I’m constantly competing with cats and small boys as to who gets the honour of sitting there.

Pearson's of Chesterfield pots

Another favourite find this month is a trio of retro stoneware pots by Pearson’s of Chesterfield. I guess they’re from the seventies and I love the designs on them. They’re perfect for a baby spider plant or a bunch of autumn blooms. I picked mine up for £1 each from a charity stall, but there are lots on eBay too.

What else have I spotted lately?

I really love the new cosy cushion collection at White Stuff. This is my favourite.

Plum cushion by White Stuff

I have also just discovered the wonderful work of Brie Harrison. This dahlia print is particularly lovely.

Have you made any changes to your house this month? Or a favourite find? I’d love to hear about it! 

 

My So Shape challenge

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

I’m at one of those moments in my life when I feel insecure about my size. We all have our happy weight – the times when our favourite jeans don’t feel too small and we feel good about ourselves. Thanks to the summer holidays, plus a period of inactivity after my back surgery, I’ve crept past my comfort zone.

You may look at me and say you don’t need to diet. But we’re the only ones who have to live in our own skin – and everyone has their happy weight. I’ve been an unhappily chubby child and I’ve been super-skinny (and starving). Right now, I just want to be able to do up my favourite jeans without cutting off my blood supply.

But, here’s a confession – I hate diets. I’m time-poor, lazy and I like butter. Dieting generally makes me miserable and tetchy. I usually fail.

But, sometimes we all need a kick-start – a little push in the right direction to get us back on track. When I was contacted by So Shape and invited to try their weight loss challenge I jumped at the chance. I’ll try anything that makes dieting easier.

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

What is the So Shape Challenge?

It’s incredibly simple: you replace your breakfast and dinner with their special Smart Meals, and then eat sensibly for the rest of the day. They send you everything you need from a selection of milkshakes, soups and pasta – and each little meal is packed with the vitamins, nutrients and fibre that you need. Everything is mixed together in a handy little shaker, which also doubles up as a water bottle. Choose from different challenges: 5, 14 or 28 days.

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

How long does it take and what did I hope to achieve?

I chose the five-day challenge. This felt this an achievable plan for someone who struggles with diets. I knew I wouldn’t look drastically different after five days, but I hoped that my jeans would feel a little looser, and that it’d kick start a new healthier start.

What’s it like?

I had the milkshakes every day for breakfast – and tried the brownie, raspberry and hazelnut flavours. They taste nice and are surprisingly filling. They kept me going until lunch time.

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

Lunch is a free meal. I took this to mean a good healthy meal with plenty of protein and vegetables to keep me going. I’d have something like salmon, wild rice and salad.

 Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 7 day challenge

A healthy lunch

For your evening meal, you can choose a soup or a pasta dish – which you prepare and heat in a microwave, or on a hob. My favourite was the Garden Soup. The cheesy pasta was also good.

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 7 day challenge

So Shape cheesy pasta meal

If you’re going out, then you can swap lunch and dinner around. I did this on a couple of days and it worked well.

Did I weaken and crumble under the pressure?

The main benefit to the So Shape diet is that it’s simple and requires minimal effort. My boundaries were clear and I managed to stick to the plan for five days. Sure, I missed the variety at breakfast and dinner time – but this kind of meal-plan is never designed for long-term use. It’s a kick-start, and five days felt achievable. I could tell I was eating less than normal, but I didn’t get the terrible hunger pangs and cravings for food that I often get with dieting. This kind of eating is functional, but it’s easy to stick to.

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

The results

By the end of the week I was pleasantly surprised to find that my tightest pair of trousers felt noticeably looser. It wasn’t a dramatic change, but it’s given me the little boost I needed. It has also helped to re-train my mind (and stomach) and I’ve noticed I’m feeling more satisfied again with smaller portions. There’s also a lot less mindless eating going on and I’m finding it easy to feel back in control again.

The challenge was fun, and it’s given me the motivation I need to get my weight back on track. It also didn’t feel like a crash diet – this eating plan is sustainable and fun!

Marmalade Pie: My So Shape 5 day challenge

Fancy taking your own So Shape challenge? You can find out all the details here.

Enter my special code MARMALADEPIECUSTOM at the checkout to receive twice as many flavours in the 14 and 28 day challenges!

This is a sponsored post. 

A little bit of red is good for you

Red and white stripy top

Red is the colour of the season. It’s everywhere. Now is the time to embrace it. It’s easy to assume that’s it’s a difficult colour to wear, but don’t be shy, a little bit of red is good for you.

For the uninitiated, the best place to start is a red and white stripy t-shirt. Banish all thoughts of Where’s Wally immediately. This is actually a very low-key look – the white breaks up the red and makes it feel less, well, red.

Red stripy top and red tights

If you’re feeling brave, wear it with a pair of red tights. Personally, I love coloured tights and I’m mildly obsessed with finding the perfect pair. After much searching, I’ve found these ones, which are thick, opaque and very comfortable.

Tone everything down with a camel-coloured coat, a bit of denim and some tan boots. This all helps that vibrant red to feel low-key and not too shouty.

I wear:

Top, £12.99, H&M. Sold out online, but available in store – similar here

Coat, New Look – similar here

Tights, £6.50, ASOS

Skirt, Boden – similar here

Loving red? Here are more of my favourites…

Marmalade Pie: red fashion picks

Coat, £139.99, Mango / Cardigan, £30, ASOS / Top, £8.99, H&M

Will you be wearing red this autumn?

Three things I’m loving this week

Breton and dungarees, with acorns

I feel like I’m really getting into the swing of Autumn. The children are pleased to be back at school and I’m back to work – which makes me happy because I love what I do. I’m also feeling lots better too and able to do more each week. Life feels good.

What have I been loving this week? Apart from conkers and autumn leaves, here’s what’s made me happy this week…

The Botanical Candle Company

The Botanical Candle Company 

I’ve followed Amalia on Instagram for a while. Her feed is swoon-worthy and I absolutely love her style. She makes beautiful scented candles. Some are in glass jars, others are in lovely reclaimed containers – like marmalade pots and old glass jelly moulds. I ordered some candles in Green Fig and Tinderbox, which are both gorgeous scents for autumn.

Keep Going pin badge, by Goats and Totes

A motivational pin-badge

I ordered this beauty from Goats and Totes when I got out of hospital. Keep Going…it’s such a great mantra and one I always try to stick to – even when life throws you a curveball!

Boden floral breton

A new Breton 

Because a girl can never have too many. This Boden one has sleeves printed with flowers in autumnal shades. I like the fact that I can cover them up, or nor, depending on how flowery I’m feeling!

I have also enjoyed…

Watching… the return of Jamie and Claire in Outlander season three. Available now on Amazon Prime.

Going to… the Lucky Things Cambridge event organised by Sunita Harley. We had a really motivational pep talk from Sunita, plus I met lots of lovely people.

What have you been loving this week?