Summer’s golden hour

Making the most of summer's golden hour

Warming my hands on a cup of tea… wearing bed socks…noticing it’s getting darker…

All signs that autumn’s on the way, and all things I’ve done this week. Which is exciting, because who doesn’t love autumn just a little bit? It’s bittersweet though, as I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer.

Living the dream

Luckily, we don’t have to just yet. While the days of skipping out the door with no coat, an umbrella, or any form of knitwear are probably over, we can still make the most of summer’s last golden days. Here’s three simple things I’ve been doing to make the most of it…

Seek out the glorious colours of late summer. Autumn doesn’t start properly until the equinox on the 23 September. Don’t pine for pumpkins and crunchy leaves too soon. Until then, there’s still plenty of beautiful late summer sights to see: hedgerows bursting with blackberries, bright rose hips and jewel-like dahlias.

Making the most of summer's golden hour

There’s still time to sleep outdoors. If traditional camping doesn’t appeal, then try glamping. We stayed in a yurt the other week and it was so much cosier than a normal tent. There was even a woodburner. Wrap up warm by a campfire and look up at the stars!

Glamping at Riddlesworth Park

Enjoy the mellow end-of-the-holidays vibes. At the start of summer, everything felt more rushed. The air was thick with expectation and we all had so many plans. August has felt mellow in comparison and that’s fine by me. Once the kids are back at school, my work will ramp up again – but right now, routine doesn’t matter and I don’t care if we wear pyjamas all day.

Making the most of summer's golden hour

How are you making the most of the last days of summer?

 

 

Flares, ABBA and other new season stories

ASOS cropped flares

ABBA made me buy these flares. Or, more accurately, watching the new Mamma Mia film did. Have you seen it yet? The 70s bits of the film are awash with dungarees, flares, peasant tops and string bags. I left the cinema with ABBA as the new soundtrack to my life and desperately needing a pair of flares. 

Luckily for me, flares are going to be a thing this autumn. The easiest way to wear them is a cropped denim pair with a high waist. The hems won’t drag in the dirt and you won’t have that weird disappearing feet thing happen. It’s actually a pretty flattering silhouette for pear-shapes (like me).

ASOS cropped flares

Top, H&M (old) / Cropped flares, £32, ASOS / Shoes, £26, Warehouse

I can’t blame ABBA for making me buy these cheetah print trousers. Animal prints are everywhere though, so can you blame me?

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

Top, H&M (old) / Cheetah trousers, £39, Warehouse / Shoes, Marks and Spencer (old) / Basket, from France

I chose this pair from Warehouse for a camping trip and they were perfect! Loose, cool and simple – like pyjamas, basically. I’m looking forward to dressing them up and down all autumn.

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

One more thing before I go. If you had to sum your life up right now in an ABBA song, what would it be? I’m hovering somewhere between Slipping Through My Fingers and Take a Chance on Me.

 

Feeling impatient? Take things one scarf at a time…

Scarf in hair

I’m not going to mention the A word, because it’s still summer, but I can’t deny that I’m getting excited about new season trends. Just a tiny bit though, as it’s obviously way too hot to wear any of them yet.

If, like me, you’re feeling impatient, try taking things one scarf at a time. Not wooly ones, the jaunty little silky ones. They’re a cute little nod to the season ahead that we can all afford.

Scarf in hair

We’ve all got at least one lurking at the back of the wardrobe, right? And if you haven’t, then go rummage in the charity shop where you’ll always find loads.

I’ve spotted the cool girls on Instagram wearing their scarves in their hair, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. After weeks and weeks of limp heatwave-hair, it feels pretty jaunty.

Scarf in hair

Scarves are also good when you want to…

… perk up your ancient raincoat

…look like Jane Birkin

…make your straw bag look even cuter like the guys at Rock n Rose

Go forth and wear your scarves! 

Be more leopard

New Look leopard jumpsuit

Never underestimate the mood enhancing qualities of leopard print. It’s one of my favourite things, along with posh ice cream and Aperol Spritz.

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I absolutely didn’t need this jumpsuit from New Look, but it was a little treat after a weird couple of weeks. It’s super soft and comfy thanks to the silky, stretchy ribbed fabric (not sure what the technical term is, but it’s quite retro). And more importantly, it’s not too impossible to get on and off when you need the loo. It’s also only £24.99 which is the kind of treat I like a lot. 

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I wear:

Jumpsuit in a size 12, £24.99, New Look / Saltwater sandals, £59.50, FatFace

 

My summer bucket list went AWOL

Isle of Sheppey

This post was supposed to be published ten days ago. It was also supposed to be sparky, cheerful and ten points long. Life got in the way.

My husband got sick and was in hospital for eight days. Our existence lost its balance. Things are mostly OK again now, although it’s going to take a while to get back to normal. He’s tired, we’re tired and our plans for the next six months aren’t what we’d planned.

I can only remember one thing on that summer bucket list:

Go to the sea side.

It can’t be a coincidence that this is the only thing I remember off my list. I don’t get to the coast anywhere near as often as I’d like. The last time (in fact only time so far this year) was our trip to the Isle of Sheppey in June. It’s obviously important, and I’m making it happen on Monday.

Isle of Sheppey

It’s probably a blessing that I can’t remember my list. When life throws a curveball at you, everyone tells you just to focus on taking each day as it comes. Set small goals and celebrate small victories.

My summer bucket list went AWOL. I’m not going to force it back again, unless it wants to come. I’m going to take a train to the seaside with my children and sit on the beach. Then we’ll forget about that old list and write a new one.

Isle of Sheppey

What I’ll be packing for my UK holiday – featuring Lighthouse Clothing

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

We’re going up to the Lake District for our summer holiday. I can’t wait to explore the amazing fells, lakes and buy some of that famous gingerbread. 

Packing for a UK holiday isn’t always easy. This year the weather has been freakishly sunny for weeks and weeks – but we all know that it’s best to pack for all eventualities. I’ve heard you can get all four seasons in one day in the Lakes, so I want to be prepared!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

Want to peek in my suitcase? I’ve chosen some brilliantly down-to-earth pieces by Lighthouse Clothing – a British brand who specialise in simple clothes that are as practical as they are pretty…

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The classic Breton tee. You’d be crazy to set off for your UK holiday without one of these wardrobe heroes. Perfect for breezy walks by the sea, strolls through the countryside and just about anything else you can throw at it! This pink-striped tee ticks all those boxes and previous holidays have taught me that I’ll be wearing it a lot.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A classic white shirt with a twist. A soft shirt is such a useful piece for your holiday. Wear it with shorts and accessories with a bag of chips – or sling it on over a dress when it’s breezy on the beach. I love the little spots on this simple shirt – it’s classic, cute and informal.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A cute little dress you can dress up or down. You know when you go on a hot holiday and you pack all those gorgeous floaty dresses? I sometimes optimistically pack them for a UK holiday too, but rarely wear them. Much better is a simple t-shirt dress that’s perfect for shopping at the market and a pub lunch. Dress it up later with wedges and a denim jacket!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The yellow raincoat. You can’t do a British holiday without a raincoat. And if (like me) you like to buy a new one, make it yellow. Who can fail to be cheered by a bright yellow pop of sunshine on a grey day? Not me!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

What will you be packing for your UK holiday?

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A big thank you to Lighthouse Clothing for sending me these pieces to try. They are true to size – I wear a size 10 in everything except the coat which is a 12 so I can wear it with jumpers.

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. 

Our night in a Plankbridge shepherd’s hut

Plankbridge shepherd's hut

There’s something so romantic about a shepherd’s hut. It’s a sweet reminder of bygone days that appeals to my instinctive need for simplicity and freedom. After a busy few months of work, we were both ready to escape from reality – if only for a little while. The offer of a night in a shepherd’s hut was like a dream come true. We packed our bags and set off for an adventure in deepest Kent.

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Collecting the keys to Samphire

Our destination was Elmley Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. After a warm welcome, we collected the keys to Samphire, our home for the night. It was specially built by Plankbridge. Their vision is to combine traditional Victorian craftsmanship with modern comfort. Each of their bespoke huts is designed to fit into their location – whether that’s a beautiful nature reserve or a city garden. Elmley is an enigmatic place – when we arrived in the late afternoon the marshlands were bathed in golden light and birds swooped low. Our hut seemed like it was part of the landscape and we immediately felt at home.

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Modern luxury and ingenuity meet traditional craftmanship

Behind the stable door lies an enchantingly clever interior. A double bed is tucked into one end, a wood burner in the other. Between the two is a sweet little table and a tiny dresser full of useful things like tea bags, a kettle and a portable stove – plus marshmallows for the fire pit. And hidden away behind a door was a shower, sink and composting loo. The way Plankbridge have fitted so much in the small space is so ingenious and is a real testament to their craftsmanship and imagination. Gabriel Oak would recognise our hut, but it’s no period piece. Everything was bright, simple and comfortable.

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

A timeless summer night

We spent less than 24 hours at Elmley, but time seemed to stand still. The combination of the long summer night, the charm of the shepherd’s hut and the beauty of the nature reserve was magical. As we drank tea on the steps, we couldn’t believe our luck. We felt such a strong connection to the landscape, yet we were so well protected and comforted by our hut and its thoughtful interior. We ate a simple of dinner of bread and cheese – although you can cook something more elaborate on the stove if you want!

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

A cosy night’s sleep

There was a chill in the air that night and shutting the door to our cosy hut and climbing into bed was wonderful. Plankbridge insulate their huts with wool, so they’re cool in summer and warm in winter – and the temperature was perfect. We drifted off to sleep in our comfortable bed and slept like logs. We woke early to the blissful sound of birdsong and nothing else. No cars, no beeping alarm clock – nothing. The lovely team at Elmley delivered bacon sandwiches and tea to our door and we ate them in bed with the door flung open.

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Can we take it home, please?

We were thoroughly enchanted by our night in Samphire and didn’t want to leave. On a daily basis I’m overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I own and accumulate. Staying in such a simple and beautifully designed space has really got me thinking about decluttering my life, but also how I can eventually own a shepherd’s hut of my own. Plankbridge huts aren’t just for holidays and beautiful settings – you can have one at the end of your garden as an office, spare room or romantic retreat. Cheaper than an extension and no planning permission required, what’s not to love? The saving starts now.

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

Plankbridge shepherd's hut at Elmley nature reserve

A big thank you to Plankbridge who paid for our stay at Elmley in return for this honest review.