Wednesday Wants…. The Coast V&A Ballgowns Collection

When I heard a few weeks ago that Coast were teaming up with the V&A to create a capsule collection of evening dresses based on the museum’s recent exhibition, I was of course, pretty intrigued. Whilst I was really pleased that the high street stalwart would be the one to take on such a task, I couldn’t quite imagine how even they would be able to create anything to come even close to those stunning historical ballgowns, especially at a high street price. And whilst ‘classic meets contemporary style’ has seemingly been done to death (not to mention fashion collaborations….although I’ll personally never tire of them!) Coast has really pulled it out of the bag, with stunning silhouettes, luxurious fabrics and ‘a magical sense of celebration’.

The collection of six ‘objects of beauty’ are already receiving lots of attention, and given the funds, each one would quickly find its way into my wardrobe! Each piece draws on a classic and highly coveted look from the past, and celebrates the art of dressing to impress….


Cecily Maxi, £895.00 (currently out of stock)

This to me is the epitome of evening dress glamour. Incredibly elegant, with a fishtail skirt echoing the luxurious silhouette of the 1930s, the Cecily Maxi is expertly crafted in dreamy Duchess satin, with panels of silk Georgette. The hour-glass shape alone would be enough to make you feel like Greta Garbo, whilst the hand sewn crystal embellishments and train ramp up the drama as far as it can go. The cleverly detailed open back make this dress modern and sexy though too, and if I trusted myself not to over-eat and spoil the effect with a pot belly, this dress may well have been a potential wedding dress for me.


Lottie Maxi Dress, £695.00 (sizes 6 to 16 currently available)

Decadent much?! Just imagine walking down a red carpet in this…easy isn’t it? Inspired by the architectural dress shapes of the 1950s couture houses (a style of which I’ve always been a devotee) this romantic number boasts a fully corseted bodice, and silk blend fabric. The hugely voluminous skirt draws the eye to an accentuated waistline, whilst the glimpse of leg is enough to make you feel like you’ve just stepped out onto the red carpet.


Blanche Party Dress, £550.00 (currently available in sizes 6 to 14)

I love this fresh and fun party dress, inspired by the full skirted ball gowns of the 1950s. Featuring luxurious layers of scalloped tulle and organza with a sprinkling of beads and sequins, this special number would see you through from formal reception to late night dancing, and allows you to show off a pretty pair of shoes to boot.


Patience Maxi Dress, £895.00 (currently available in sizes 6 to 14)

I remember learning about the bias-cut as a teenager, and thinking that this surely must be the most luxurious way to cut a dress. And this floor-sweeper typifies that gentle elegance of the 1930s, with its luxuriously fluid silk satin and low back. The geometric patterns of hand sewn crystals make this dress Gatsby-party-worthy and I can clearly imagine being spun around a mirrored ballroom in it.



Daphne Dress, £550.00 (currently available in 8, 10 and 14)

I’m still crazy about anything yellow, and this pretty primrose colour is just so deliciously perfect for Spring. Echoing again the romantic silhouettes of the 1950s, this playfully girly dress would be my most wearable piece from the collection. Crafted from delicately soft tulle, with a bodice embellished with hand sewn crystals and cording, this full skirted frock is lined with a tulle petticoat. I think I’d wear it every day. Yes, even with wellies when walking the hound.


Phoebe Maxi Dress, £695.00 (currently available in sizes 6 to 14)

This one is the real showstopper though, in my opinion at least. This is a ‘true ballgown’, inspired by the debutante balls of the 1950s, and ridiculously glamourous. Crafted from layers of softly structured organza to create its dramatic volume, the internal construction of the bodice holds in the figure, whilst the soft layers of tulle add movement and accentuate the waist. For me, the frothiness and sculpting of this dress make it a perfect occasion piece, and utterly timeless with it.

Whilst the price labels prohibit snatching all of these up, I think they represent incredible value, considering the luxurious fabrics and expert pattern making involved. Should someone decide to whisk me off to a ball in Vienna, or invite me to a black tie wedding, I’d be snapping one of these up in a minute….and even if I’m not, they’re posing quite the temptation nonetheless!

Which dress is your favourite? And when or where would you wear it?

Ems x


Tim Walker: Story Teller

Whilst working agency side in events, I remember gazing at a mood board picture that emblazoned a colleague’s office wall for inspiration. The photograph featured dresses hanging from a tree, lit up like fairy lights. I was hooked on the enchanting atmosphere of the image, as well as the lush colours and the ingenuity of it all. I have often thought of the photo, which was taken by Tim Walker, and if I ever get myself organised and put up the big inspiration board I’m planning in my head for my studio, it will most certainly feature.

And so as you’d expect, when I heard of an upcoming exhibition, entitled Tim Walker: Story Teller I was desperate to see it. Hosted by Mulberry in the East Wing Galleries at Somerset House, the show has been met with plenty of press coverage and favorable chatter. The opening party was filled with darlings of the arts and fashion industry, all delighted to be celebrating the work of one of the most exciting fashion photographers of our time. My Instagram and Twitter feeds were filled with beautiful people taking in the stunning collection of work, and had me aching to see it.

I was not disappointed when I finally got to see it this Tuesday, and despite the gallery being filled with noisy school children for most of my time there, I came away inspired, amused and in awe of the man. Any exhibition that features Tilda Swinton, Terry Gilliam and David Lynch was going to get plenty of interest from me, but it wasn’t just the case that photos of several of my heroes were featured… was rather more that part of their immense creativity and ingenuity filled the place. I can only assume that Walker adores them as much as I do (and they probably think the same of him!).

The labyrinthine rooms of the East Wing Galleries were not terribly easy to navigate, but inspired the appropriate feeling of adventure and discovery… can’t be sure what you’ll find as you turn each corner and enter every alcove….will it be a giant doll, a skeleton looming over you, or huge snails climbing the walls?! The overall impression is one of playfulness, fantasy and box-of-frogs-style-craziness…..models sit for photographs wearing orchids like hats, people ride tinfoil dragons, and famous actresses are dressed up as literary characters and china figurines.

And whilst one could argue that you could simply view these images online or in a book, what the exhibition really exposes is the wonderfully inspiring way that Walker works to create what are undoubtedly some of the best photos taken in recent years, and certainly in my top list of favourites. Walker is portrayed as a sort of film director, the eye of a storm of creativity.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the show are the six Super-8 films taken during some of his more famous shoots. They provide such an insight into his methods, and are truly inspiring. They could only work in this rickety, over saturated format, as Walker’s work would be ruined by high definition, crystal clear video. These films though portray some of the nostalgia of his photographs, and put me in mind of an essay I wrote in A-Level Art…..we were asked to argue the strengths and weaknesses of still photos compared with video, and I remember quite strongly arguing in favour of the still image because I feel its power lies in a single moment, never to be seen or lived again. And it’s that idea that Walker says give his photos momentum and power. Of course there’s a lot more than that, which goes into making his photos just as successful as they are, but I am at least pleased we agree on that score, even if I’ll never match this genius’ creativity or technical prowess.

The exhibition runs until 27th January, so you’ve not got long to get to see it! I would highly recommend that you catch it though, if you’re interested at all in fashion, art, photography or simply in creativity. It’s free to enter and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact… if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Living for the weekend…. 27th to 29th July 2012 in London

I don’t think anyone could be short of things to do this weekend….even if you don’t want to leave your sofa, there’s going to be lots to get involved in and watch on the telly for one! Still, I’m hoping to get out and about, seen as the sun is due to shine again. Here are my potential plans….
It would be silly to miss this, but you still have just a few weeks left….. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first gig, Somerset House has opened a free photographic exhibition, which documents  their amazing career. The Rolling Stones: 50  showcases a wealth of unseen and rare material, including over seventy prints ranging from reportage photography, live concert and studio session images and outtakes from every period of the band’s history.
East Wing Galleries, Somerset House
Free Admission
Ends 27th August 2012

And whilst we’re on the subject of legendary bands….. I am DEAD EXCITED to see the Blur 21: The Exhibition which opens today. East end venue Londonnewcastle is housing a collection of over 70 images of Blur from iconic music photographers, designers and artists. Celebrating the band’s 21 year career, the retrospective honours Blur’s era-defining music, through the lens of illustrious music photographers Pennie Smith, Kevin Cummins, Tom Sheehan and Paul Postle, and will show never before seen artwork.

Londonewcastle Project Space

Until 14th August

Free admission

From this weekend, London’s cultural hub at Exhibition Road will host nine days of celebratory art, music, science, literature and acrobatics. ROAD SHOW brings a wealth of creativity to the capital, taking inspiration from the stacks of museums and institutions resident in the area. Expect interactive games, theatrical performances, live music, nature workshops, installations (including the hand crafted particle accelerator!), and the ‘Vintage Style Ride’. It’s free to get in, and you can see lists of activities here.

Whilst you’re in the ‘hood, pop into the V&A, where you will find their exhibition of leading British fashion designers and visual artists collaborating in a ground-breaking series of works commissioned as part of the London 2012 Festival. Britain Create 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion features collaborations from the likes of Mary Katrantzou and Mark Titchner, Paul Smith and Charming Baker, and Matthew Williamson and Mat Collishaw. The pairs were given an open brief, as an opportunity to promote the acknowledged relationship between fashion and art, and encompassing sculpture, video, music and photography.
Room 17a at the V&A
Free Admission
Until 29th July 2012

Also part of the London 2012 Festival, The World in London is a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery, bringing together over 200 specially commissioned photographic portraits of Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the Games. The images will be mounted on huge panels and exhibited in Victoria Park in East London, as well as Park House in Camden. It’s free to get in too!

I hope everyone has a fab weekend!

Ems x

Summer of 2012 Fever….. Ideas for your weekend, all over the UK

It’s hard to understand, what with us having this super-gross-and-vile wet Summer, but there really is a festival spirit going on this year. For whatever reason people are getting excited (be it that big games thing, the Jubilee, or maybe even the rain if you like rain, or if you’re a duck) there is so much going on all over the country….. it would be a great year to have a helicopter to get about and do everything, but if you’re not so lucky then there is sure to be something going on within a bus ride away from you.

Here’s a little round up of exciting adventures I’ve spotted, and would go to if I had a helicopter…. Enjoy!

Ems x

Dance Photography Exhibition by Tim Cross

An exhibition of striking performance images taken by Tim Cross-an artist whose two passions in life are dance and photography. Also, archive footage from the Royal Opera House and costumes on loan from the Royal Baller School.7am-9pm each day.

The Forum Trust, Millennium Plain, Bethel Street, Norwich, Norfolk

Latin American Tea Dance with Wurlitzer & Learn to Dance sessions

Latin American Tea Dance to the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer organ which rises up from beneath the stage in the Museum’s concert hall. Additionally, there will be a DJ’s selection of popular dance music and an interval for refreshments. The event is suitable for all levels, no partner necessary and includes two learn to dance sessions featuring the Rumba, Cha-cha and a sequence dance. The hall has a fully sprung dance floor and offers a fun relaxing environment to glide in your own “Strictly” session. 

399 High Street, Brentford, Brent, West London

Rhythms of the World Festival

The Rhythms of the World festival, originally organised by the local Oxfam campaigns groups, has evolved into one of the biggest – and best value – world music festivals in the UK with over 31,000 attending in 2011. People come from all sectors of the community and the event features both local talent as well as artists from around the world.

Hitchin Priory, Tilehouse Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Pleasance Ahoy: Tall Tales from the Riverbank – Comedy Barge

A Comedy Relay on a narrow boat, follows a group of comics and their guests as they embark from London on a watery adventure…… Destination the Edinburgh Festival! During the journey, impromptu pop-up comedy gigs are performed to dedicated crowds in various secret inland locations, and along the river bank from the roof of the boat. 

The comedians will explore the heritage of the UK waterways, interviewing the people they meet along the way, investigating local traditions and quirks. There are 4 pop-up comedy gigs performed at various secret locations in the UK near London, Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Four gigs will take place in Scotland. The entire journey can be followed by GPS and satellite on the web, and the daily digital logbook will contain blogs, podcasts, interviews and recordings of the shows, and much more watery madness.

Happy Days, International Beckett Festival

HAPPY DAYS is the world’s first annual festival to celebrate the work and influence of Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett. HAPPY DAYS will take place each year in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where Beckett spent his formative years attending Portora Royal School. Enniskillen is at the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands, amidst of the most beautiful landscape in Europe. The inaugural HAPPY DAYS takes place 23rd – 27th August 2012 with FREE visual arts events from 3rd July. The Festival is collaborating with the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, and coincides with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Enniskillen.

Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

The Humble Market: Trade Secrets

Part performance, part experience, Trade Secrets presents us with an universe threatened with complete control. Using the lens of the marketplace to ask, “What do we really trade? What should be traded? And what cannot be bought?” Trade Secrets is inspired by the spectacular rise of Brazil as an economic power and the trading cities of the Northwest in the UK and Southeast in Brazil. Through a choreographed journey of interactive vehicles expect intimate provocations that confront us with the follies of mass consumerism. 

FACT (Foundation For Art & Creative Technology), 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, Merseyside

Stan’s Cafe: Of All The People in All The World

Theatre company, Stan’s Cafe are bringing 989kg of rice to the RSC, a grain for everyone in the country. An array of local and global human statistics will be weighed out in rice and arranged in labelled piles by a team of auditors.The work will evolve and respond to real time events, news and performances as they happen during the World Shakespeare Festival. By presenting statistics in tangible form, Stan’s Cafe, for 2012, will create for us a playful and at times politically charged work of art.

PACCAR Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Marie Thereza Alves – Ballast Seed Garden

Seeds of Change is the overall title of an ongoing ballast seed garden project from Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves. When ships came into port in Bristol they were weighed down with ballast (earth, sand, rocks, etc) which they dumped onto the river banks. In this ballast were seeds carried from ports and regions (and their regional trading partners) involved in trade with Europe. These seeds, which can lie dormant for hundreds of years, germinated and grew, contributing to the development of the ‘European’ landscape.

Working with the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Arnolfini and Bristol City Council and utilising a disused grain barge, Maria Thereza Alves has created a Ballast Seed Garden on Bristol’s Floating Harbour, populated with a variety of non-native plants, creating a living history of the city’s trade and maritime past.

The design of the floating garden has been developed by German designer Gitta Gschwendtner in close collaboration with the artist Maria Thereza Alves and Nick Wray of University of Bristol Botanic Garden.

Bristol Floating Harbour, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol

Ideas for the weekend…..

A whole weekend…..all mine! I have absolutely no set plans for this weekend, and I am so looking forward to it! I’ll be sure to get in plenty of relaxing and slobbing about (it’s a busy old summer, so I need it!) but as usual, I know I’ll be tempted by an adventure or two! And here are the most likely distractions……

Christian Louboutin 20 Years Design Museum Retrospective (photo from Marian Kihogo)

Now I know I’ve harped on about this already, but this weekend is your last chance to catch this…. Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum celebrates a career which has pushed the boundaries of high fashion shoe design. The exhibition reveals some of the artistry and theatricality of the iconic designer’s work, offering the visitor a unique exploration of his processes, right from the initial drawing to production. Adult admission is £10.

East End Film Festival

The East End Film Festival is one of the UK’s largest film festivals and each year hosts a multi-platform festival in London, with a rich and diverse programme of international premieres, industry masterclasses, free pop-up screenings and family activities. Their mission is to ‘discover, support, and exhibit pioneering work by global and local independent filmmakers, and to introduce viewers to innovative and challenging cinematic experiences’. The festival ends this Sunday and includes lots of free screenings…. I have my eye on F.W. Murnau’s ‘A Symphony of Horror’ which is to be shown at Spitalifelds Market at 9pm on Saturday, and Rob Curry and Anthony Fletcher’s The Tempest which is showing at Genesis at 6:30 on Friday, followed by a Q&A.

Mind the Map: Inspiring art, design and cartography

Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography is showing at the London Transport Museum until 28th October. The largest of its kind, the exhibition explores geographical, diagrammatic and decorative transport maps, as well as the influence of the iconic London Tube map on cartography, art and the public imagination (notably on lots of the fabulous treasures in their shop!). The displays on show include previously unseen historic material and new artworks by artists including Simon Patterson, Stephen Walter, Susan Stockwell, Jeremy Wood, Claire Brewster, and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre. Adult admission is £13.50.

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration is now showing at Buckingham Palace as part of its summer opening. The exhibition shows some of the many ways in which diamonds have been used by British monarchs over the last 200 years, and includes an exceptional display of a number of The Queen’s personal jewels. Adult tickets are £18.00 and the exhibition is open until 7th October.

Picasso Prints

The British Museum has recently acquired a complete set of Picasso’s Vollard Suite, 100 etchings produced by Picasso between 1930 and 1937, and is now exhibiting them as one of their free displays. Reflecting Picasso’s developing interest in classical sculpture, the prints were created when Picasso was romantically involved with his young muse and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Most exciting for me though, there is a real focus on classical linearity, with scenes featuring the Minotaur, one of my favourite classical stories. You can see the collection until 2nd September, but this Saturday from 2pm Bartosz Glowacki, from the Royal Academy of Music, is to play French accordion pieces from Picasso’s Paris (such as Edith Piaf, Felix Mayol, Lucienne Boyer, Marie Louise-Damien, Marie Dubas and Maurice Chevalier) to celebrate the collection.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is focusing on community gardening, highlighting how gardening can bring communities together and improve communal spaces. There is a new ‘Low Cost/High Impact gardens’ show, a floral marquee, plant village, and the Hampton Court Grapevine Theatre which will feature celebrities and live TV. There are also over 600 exhibitors to see over the 34 acres of show ground which is open until the end of this weekend.

I hope you all get in your fair share of slobbing about and adventuring too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. May Day Bank Holiday

So they promised us a weekend free of rain. They lied. Still, I did manage to pack in plenty this weekend (thanks to the very welcome extra day!)…..

On Friday evening we did an early shop at Waitrose to stock up for the weekend, and then made Keralan fish curry for supper. I love the idea of a traditional fish supper on a Friday, especially when I get the chance to buy up some lovely fresh fish to cook right away.

Keralan Fish Curry

There were more culinary treats on Saturday morning, when Adam took me on a date for breakfast at The Luxe. I’m not quite sure how it was a date, other than that we called it that. I guess we just decided that we’d not been on a ‘date’ for ages, but then we realised we’re always going out for fun adventures so we don’t really need to! I rather over ate at breakfast with a full English (wish I’d gone for Eggs Benedict like Adam!) and so I was a little sluggish as we headed around Old Spitalfields Market for Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. I did manage to pick up lots of treasure though…. some gorgeous vintage buttons, several old keys to make into charms, a folding silver cake stand and a little glass footed bowl. I love treasure hunting!

Treasure finds

Vintage Buttons

Old keys

Despite the rain, we decided to walk from there down to Whitechapel and wander through the street market. I’ve only ever dashed past so it was good to have a proper snoop about all the fruit and fashion stalls. From there we dropped into the huge Sainsbury’s there to get Adam’s Kraken rum (we can’t get it nearer to us)….. what should have been a quick stop before home turned into a full on shop because the place is so temptingly big. We picked up pink and a green swing top bottles to put some of our flavoured vodkas in, as well as some custard slices to have with tea back at home. And we were glad of them too, by the time we got home weary and wet!

Custard Slice

For dinner we made a yummy veggie stir fry, then watched UP. I’ve not seen it since the cinema, and have rather avoided it if I’m honest because I got so emotional watching it. But I thought the time had finally come when I could handle it…. but no. I was a blithering wreck from just two minutes in. It is the most beautiful and funny film, but if you’re planning on seeing it for the first time, seriously, make sure you have plenty of tissues ready.

On Sunday we were out and about again, heading to Somerset House to see the Kokoro exhibition. On show were lots of stunning paintings on silk, by Japanese master Horiyoshi III. Each piece, based on Japanese myths and legends, encapsulated ‘kokoro’, which means the heart or meaning of things. The craftsmanship is incredible and had me inspired to try painting on silk…. as well as maybe painting some dragons!

Whilst there, we also dropped in to see the Wendy Ramshaw exhibition called ‘Room of Dreams’. One of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, Ramshaw is primarily known for her distinctive jewellery design, but has more recently gained acclaim for her larger scale public art work. The exhibition houses work from the last fifty years, including maquettes of her designs for the Hyde Park Gates. I was delighted to see some pieces of jewellery using found treasures like old watch faces and keys….. in fact there were several pieces that reminded me of my own designs. And there was certainly plenty to take from her work in terms of inspiration too.

At Somerset House

Somerset House

From there we sauntered through Covent Garden (eyeing up the goodies in Hope and Greenwood and finding a dreadfully loud experiential marketing attraction by HTC right in front of the Opera House) and had a look around the pretty craft and art stalls to get more ideas for my own. We popped into Joules off Long Acre (I’ve been eyeing up this skirt) before heading through China Town and over to Piccadilly to get ourselves some bubble tea at the wonderful Bubbleology (I had hot taro with tapioca pearls and Adam had a blend of cocoa and vanilla). Then it was up to Carnaby Street, which we’d only planned to walk through on our way to Liberty…… but somehow I managed to get the blame for Adam’s buying up of three pairs of shoes! We spent an age in Onitsuka Tiger choosing two pairs of trainers for him, and then it was a quick purchase at Converse (he knew he just wanted a red pair).

At Bubbleology

Bubble Tea!

We finally got to Liberty where we had a snoop about the amazing jewellery and handbag rooms, the basement (where I’ve never been before because it’s just boy stuff) and the wonderful stationery shop. And after that we needed a coffee to help us home, so we tried for the first time the Speakeasy Coffee Shop just off Carnaby Street who made me a gorgeous latte.

Bunting at Liberty

Speakeasy Coffee

Once home we began preparations for a yummy sunday roast…… we wanted to use some of the veg we’d saved up from our Abel and Cole box, plus we had some very good nut roast to go with it. The biggest triumph of the meal was perhaps the butter-fried flat beans and kohl rabi. Lush!

Sunday Roast

We finished up a lovely Sunday by watching Sabrina, one of my favourite Audrey Hepburn films (and the first film Adam and I ever watched together!).

And thanks to the bank holiday, Monday began with a nice long lie in, before I continued with the Spring clean. By lunch time I deserved something filling and yummy, so with our new veggie box delivered (cue another bout of rummaging, sniffing and getting excited about the contents!) we put together a delicious fresh salad for lunch. Then it was back to sprucing up the flat until it was time to make supper (Char Siu pork, which was AMAZING!). I managed to fit in a little testing and prep for some new jewellery I’m making, before slobbing out on the sofa to start the second series of The Wire. I started to fall asleep towards the end of the second episode, so it was a relatively early night to finish a jam-packed weekend.

Super yummy salad

Char Siu Pork

Hope you enjoyed the long weekend too!

Ems x

For the weekend……

So I’m tres busy this week getting ready for the craft market on Saturday, which is why I’ve not managed as many weekend ideas as usual. But here are a few things I would recommend to do……

Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

British Museum, £12, until 15th April

I can’t believe this exhibition is nearly over. I went to one of the members’ nights to see it, just after it opened, and I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since! As usual though, things have conspired against me and it closes this Sunday. There are still tickets left though (I recommend you book in advance, or if you become a member you can get in for free with no queueing!) for what is a very inspiring exhibition. Charting the history of Hajj, the exhibition conveys a real insight into how the pilgrimage to Mecca is both core to the Muslim faith and a spiritually enhancing experience. It’s a lot wordier than most of the British Museum exhibitions, although there are some wonderful artefacts, photos and documents on show and it’s curated well enough that I didn’t get bored of taking everything in! Towards the end of the exhibition there are some stunning pieces of art created specially for the exhibition, which wonderfully symbolise the experience of Hajj and its impact.

Animal Inside Out

Natural History Museum, £9, until 16th September

I can’t wait to see this exhibition which has just opened (check me out giving you more notice this time!). Created by the team behind Gunther von Hagens’s ‘Body Worlds’, this time it’s animals under the spotlight. Featuring over 100 specimens, the exhibition examines the biology, anatomy and physiology of animals, illustrating how anatomy is crucial to learning more about evolution and the natural world.

The F.U.S.S Craft Market

Lochaber Hall, Hither Green, £1, 14th April

I’m so excited to be hosting my first ever table at a craft fair this weekend and have been working hard to make lots to sell and showcase. It’s a new fair too, although F.U.S.S have been holding a wonderful Christmas Fair in Hither Green for a few years. I love the concept of F.U.S.S, a local group whose objective is to build a real community in the area, planting flowers and arranging clean up days to make the area so lovely.

The Craft Fair will see local designers, makers and sellers coming together to showcase jewellery, artwork, vintage clothing and all kinds….plus F.U.S.S will be hosting a refreshment stall with tea and cakes made by the wonderful Never Eat Wobbly Jelly amongst others! Do come along!

Oh and it’s set to be sunny (if a little chill) so enjoy your weekend!

Ems x

Ideas for a weekend Up North……

Anyone who reads my “Something From The Weekend” posts will know that I’ve enjoyed a few brilliant weekends up North lately. And those posts have been some of my most popular too, which makes me wonder if a lot of my readers are up North or perhaps just everybody loves the North. I can understand how. Either way, I thought that this week I would steer away from my usual London-based ideas for the weekend, and bring to you some ideas of what to do in the North of England. Pack your fleece……

Get outdoors…..

Last week I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park and had the most wonderful time there. It’s amazing to see huge works of art out in the open air, and a great excuse for some fresh air and gentle exercise! It’s free to get in, although a few pounds to park your car. There’s a little cafe too, but if you’re brave there are tables outside for you to take your own picnic too!

An exhibition…..

Another successful visit from last weekend was the Marks in Time exhibition at Leeds University. Showing hundreds of items from the Marks and Spencer Company Archive, it’s a great way to chart fashion history and social history. It’s free to get in.


And after that, I expect you’ll be in the mood for some shopping! And I’m the first to admit that London isn’t the be all and end all for shopping in the UK. In fact, some of my favourite areas to shop are up North……

Head to Liverpool One for all the high street shops in one open air arcade (no nasty shopping centre crowds!).

For vintage shopping I love Afflecks Palace in Manchester….. I have many fond memories of shopping trips there as a teenager and there are dozens of wonderful little shops within this gorgeous, huge building.

For a little decadence, pop into Chester to roam about the shops in this charming town…. plenty of boutiques and designer stores are nestled into the stunning, historic town centre within its ancient walls!

And for weather-proof traditional charm, I adore Leeds’ Victorian Quarter, which includes Harvey Nichols, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry and my favourite Reiss store, all under one incredible glass roof.

Eating out…..

My favourite new discovery is Little Tokyo in Leeds. Fabulous Japanese food at very reasonable prices, plus cocktails to boot!

For an authentic Northern meal out though, get to Whitby for The Magpie’s legendary fish and chips…. you’ll have to queue if you want a seat inside, but for me half the joy is in eating from their paper boxes, sat overlooking the Harbour.

For a drink…..

To me, the quintessential Northern drink has to be tea! And where better to enjoy a brew than Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate?

If you’re after an evening tipple though, Nancy’s Bordello in Newcastle serves excellent cocktails in wonderfully quirky surroundings.

Here’s to a marvellous weekend!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. back oop North: a visit to Leeds

Did you have a good weekend? I certainly did! I was so busy yesterday though that I couldn’t share it on the Monday as usual…. I couldn’t wait to put my weekend purchases to use (more revealed later!).

On Thursday morning (starting the weekend early as ever), we packed ourselves some cheese sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and made our way to Kings Cross for another trip up North. Adam’s brother and sister in law live in Leeds with two wonderful dogs, so we were looking forward to a visit, and seeing some friends up there too.

Out walking the dogs, view from our window, snuggling up with the dogs

As soon as we arrived at the house, it was straight outdoors for a walk with the dogs….. we had left behind a foggy, grey London, so it was a delight to get outside into the countryside, under a much bluer sky. On our return, it was time for tea, and we began our weekend of gluttony with scones (with jam and clotted cream of course) and smoothies (to try to be healthy). We mooched about for the afternoon, chatting, putting the world to rights etc. until a supper of garlic and chilli pasta (I must get the recipe) followed by a film.

I’m not sure how we missed Warrior at the cinema (anything with Tom Hardy is usually prioritised), but I’m so pleased to have finally seen it. When I was asked if I’d like to watch a film about cage fighting, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as one would hope, this film has much more to it. Telling the story of two estranged brothers, and how they transpired to enter the same cage fighting tournament, it’s impossible not to grow fond of several of the characters…… By the time of the big fights at the end of the film, I was really rooting for them. The fighting itself is pretty compelling too, and I have to say I came away thinking I really must go and see some in real life! (I believe they often have events like that at the Troxy so will be keeping an eye out!)

Smoothie, Scones, Pancakes

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and another walk with the dogs, Friday morning saw us walking into nearby Farsley for a few errands. As we arrived to the bottom of the high street, we were enchanted to see the old fashioned grocers and DIY shop, and as we walked up the high street to the little Post Office, I was very taken in by this charming, Yorkshire village. Having posted my parcel (another order from my Folksy shop), we took a look into a little haberdashers I’d had recommended, R.L. and C.M. Bond Ltd. I was immediately blown away by the walls upon walls of buttons and ribbons, and soon began rooting through the little baskets of vintage haberdashery. I came away rather poorer in purse, although very much richer in buttons! I couldn’t wait to turn them into new treasures, on rings, cufflinks, bracelets etc….. and so that’s what I did for most of yesterday!

Farsley High Street, R.L. & C.M. Bond Haberdashers

We made our way into town on Friday evening, to meet dear friends Craig and Sheli. It was Sheli’s birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with dinner at Little Tokyo. We’ve all been meaning to go for a while, and it was certainly worth the wait. We started with cocktails in the little bar area upstairs, next to the cute koi pond…. Sheli had their Apple Mojo, Adam sampled the Blackberry Martini, and I went for a twist on my old favourite, their Bloody Geisha. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could really taste the wasabi used in place of Tabasco, without it being dreadfully hot…. in fact I really enjoyed this version so may well try it at home!

Little Tokyo, Bloody Geisha Cocktail

Next, we were lead downstairs to a beautiful dining area with chunky wooden tables and sunken seating. Adam and I shared a starter of perfect vegetable tempura, before our Bento box mains (Adam and I went for the tofu steak, Sheli the chicken teriyaki, and Craig the chicken katsu) all of which came with yummy rice, ginger-dressed salad and more of the wonderful tempura. Ours were about £12, and I can certainly vouch for their value….we were totally stuffed with the delicious meal and struggled to quite finish!

Tofu Bento Box, Little Tokyo, Vegetable Tempura

And we really would have left it there, had we not been presented with such alluring dessert menus….. (Japanese fortune cookies with sesame and coconut….. green tea ice cream….. ginger cheesecake with cointreau sorbet….. coconut ice cream….. lychee ice cream…..) but we really couldn’t turn down such wonderful sounding dishes, despite our groaning tummies. Sheli had a lovely strawberry sorbet, which came served in a bowl made from ice, in which were slices of kiwi and rose petals (will be copying that idea!)…. Craig went for the amazing ‘crispy parcels’ which are essentially marshmallow spring rolls (utterly incredible!)…. and Adam and I shared the delicious Japanese style profiteroles, which are filled with ice cream and topped with a yummy sweet seaweed and sesame sauce. We could not have been much more impressed…. I was particularly pleased to see Adam had enjoyed the meal, having spent time in Japan and struggling to find a good authentic Japanese restaurant in England.

Japanese Profiteroles, Strawberry Sorbet, Marshmallow Spring Rolls

The gluttony didn’t stop there though, as we breakfasted on pancakes with maple syrup on Saturday morning, before heading out to explore a newly opened exhibition at the University of Leeds. ‘Marks in Time’ opened on the Friday at the Marks and Spencer Company Archive, and is a permanent exhibition featuring just some of the amazing collection there. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Marks & Spencer in 1984, they began to collect together hundreds of historical items from all over the Company and created the M&S Company Archive. A dedicated team at the site has put together and catalogued more than 70,000 items from the last 128 years, charting the iconic brand’s history.

Starting with the company’s early years, large glass cabinets displayed cards of buttons, pretty tea cups, clocks and household necessities….. it wasn’t until the 1920s cabinet that clothing began to appear. The exhibition is a real reflection on fashion history though, as well as social history, charting trends throughout rationing, post-war optimism, and developments in food technology. True innovators, the display explains how M&S became the first store to sell fresh chicken using their ‘cold-chain’ method, and began to stock innovative new products such as Terylene and the chicken kiev!

It’s not a huge exhibition, but it is well curated and interesting, and with hands-on displays, dressing up and even a colouring in table, I’d say it’s well worth a look-in if you’re nearby. And it’s free to get in.

Next, we ventured back into town, and decided to investigate the Silver 70s exhibition at Leeds City Museum. Running until Sunday 22nd April, the free exhibition celebrates a highly eventful decade, inviting visitors to explore a house in 1970s Leeds. Filled with typically colourful and garish wallpaper and fashions, the exhibition features some very recognisable and much loved (by me at least) home wares, books and toys….. in each room I spotted memories in the form of Sooty puppets, a copy of Tufty, Fisher Price pull-along dogs, pastel coloured Tupperware (that my Mum still has!), stainless steel tea sets and that big plastic tree house toy that I think we had at nursery school.

Having been born in the 80s I was surprised to see so many things I recognised, but then I suppose things didn’t move quite so fast then….. and I’m not ashamed either, to say that I truly enjoyed the exhibition’s soundtrack of The Carpenters, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and The Commodores. I also loved the interactive elements….. design your own outfit and wallpaper based on 1970s fashion….. digging for fruit and veg reflecting the ‘grow your own’ culture and the wonderful ‘The Good Life’ show. I also got the chance to design my own Jubilee plate, next to a cabinet filled with Silver Jubilee memorabilia….. I can’t wait to see the equivalent collections for this year’s Diamond Jubilee! I wouldn’t at all mind a home filled with the gorgeous furniture and nick-nacks we saw though, and even the lime green kitchen units! Again, well worth a visit for anyone my age and older if you’re in the area.
By that time, we needed a sit down and some sustenance. We found both in the stunning Tiled Hall which sits between the Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Surrounded by gorgeously ornate green tiles, grand marble columns, a barrel-vaulted mosaic ceiling and the original parquet flooring (all only recently rediscovered), we ate yummy courgette and lime cake, and Caramac ginger fudge cake, along with great coffee. You can actually hire the hall for events….which I’ve mentally noted for future!

Afterwards we wandered a little into the gallery next door (especially enjoying the excellent Stanley Spencer paintings on the staircase) before heading over to snoop about the shops in the Victorian Quarter. I love the old arcades and the pedestrianised high street, not to mention the excellent selection of shops there! The Harvey Nichols window display was as impressive as ever, but better still were the windows at Mulberry which I’m sure were designed to tell Adam to buy me one of the Alexa hand bags cunningly draped over giant ice creams. He didn’t take the hint though unfortunately!

Dolls in the window at Mary Shortle, Leeds City Museum, Window at Harvey Nichols

For dinner, it had to be a trip to Bradford for a curry. We were super impressed by the extensive vegetarian options and gorgeous dishes at Saffron Desi…. the best of which was probably Vera’s Lahore Nihari Special with lamb cooked on the bone. My Channa Paneer Biryani was delicious too, and it was refreshing to see so many options for the vegetarian biryani…. rather than just the same thing as the others with the meat taken out!

Heading home rather stuffed, we settled down to watch How To Train Your Dragon, which Adam has been going on about for ages. It didn’t disappoint, and he’s probably right that it’s one of the best non-Pixar animations of recent years.

Sweet Lassi, Lollipop reward at Saffron DEsi

It was a slightly earlier start on Sunday, so that we could eat our breakfast of pancakes before heading over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in good time. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and the clear day promised some good photo time. The park is a wonderful place that “aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight”, and is visited by some 300,000 visitors every year. Open all year round, there is really nowhere like it I know of to see amazing artwork in the open air. The grounds themselves are worth the visit, and it was lovely to wander about with the dogs (who are allowed in nearly all the outdoor spaces whilst on a lead), especially on a gorgeous spring day.

There is certainly something about seeing such stunning sculptures in the remarkable landscape too, and in the natural light. I loved finding the next piece as we explored gardens, fields and woods. My favourites included Anthony Caro’s ‘Promenade’ which appears to be watching over the beautiful and expansive lake….. Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Another’ which is a surprise find atop a huge tree trunk, rather like those hidden on top of landmarks such as The Roundhouse….. Marcia Farquhar’s beautiful, giant rocking horse, ‘The Horse Is A Noble Animal’…… and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Seated Figures’ which preside in duplicated, rusted form next to the charming Camelia House. I also enjoyed spying at the menagerie through the trees (we had to take the route adjacent to the menagerie path with the dogs) and adored the almost secret grotto, Lady Eglinton’s Well, which is carved into rocks next to the reservoir damn. A little owl sculpture which used to sit above the stone dating the well to 1685 has long gone, but the spring it was built around still creates a well in front of the grotto, which was a gift to local people.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As we crossed over the pretty bridge back to the car park, I was reminded of one of my interviews for my degree course, which actually took place at Bretton Hall, the house in the centre of the park. The others marvelled that I’d chosen London over this picturesque setting to go to college, and I had to rather wonder why I’d not been more tempted to spend my student days there. Still, things would have worked out rather differently I’m sure, so I’m grateful for my choice. We will certainly be visiting the sculpture park again though (which is free to enter…you just pay to park) as there is so much more to explore…. I’m hoping we can go in the summer for a whole day and take a picnic to eat on the lawn. I really can’t recommend a trip there enough.

Bretton Hall and Grounds at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We drove home via Blacker Hall Farm Shop…. we’d foolishly hoped to have lunch in the restaurant there, forgetting that it was Mother’s Day. It was fully booked of course, but we still enjoyed pootling about the farm shop, tasting home made cakes and picking up some bits to tide us over….. including what is probably the best cheese scone I have ever tasted!

After we’d returned and packed ready to leave, we snoozed away the afternoon snuggled on the sofa with the dogs. But soon it was time to head back to the station to make our way back to London. The journey passed brilliantly fast as we watched a few episodes of my new favourite New Girl though, and before long, we were home for a much needed early night!

Ems x

P.S. My proper photos of the weekend are on my Flikr page, here…..

Sorting my growing button collection back at home