(One year on) Our Wedding: Part Two

DIY tin can name tea lights for wedding decor

Hi! How has your Bank Holiday weekend been? Ours has been pretty busy, not least because yesterday, Adam and I celebrated our *other* first wedding anniversary! As you may have already read, we separated our actual wedding ceremony (a.k.a. ‘the legal bit’ or ‘part one’!) and our wedding reception (a.k.a. ‘the party’ or ‘part two’!) by a few weeks. We couldn’t have done as much as we did otherwise, and it was great to make the most of the whole event….and of course it’s been rather nice to stretch out our celebrations, one year on!

We went for an amazing meal last night to celebrate, at the Burlington at The Devonshire Arms, in nearby Bolton Abbey. It’s a beautifully luxurious restaurant with a Michelin Star and four AA rosettes, and is just as impressive as any Michelin Star restaurant we’ve been to in London, but with the added benefit of incredible Yorkshire ingredients and a stunning location. We went for the tasting menu, yumming up ten courses in total. I’ll be sure to write about it in more detail soon, but for now, back to wedding stuff!

As I warned, I thought I’d take the opportunity of our anniversary to finally share some of our wedding photos and details of what we got up to…..

Bokeh effect double exposure wedding portrait, Sharon Cooper Photography

Once we’d decided to do our reception separately from our ceremony, and knowing that we wanted to do something a bit different, and totally ‘us’, we began by looking for a venue that was a little out of the ordinary. And whilst it wasn’t the first thing we actually booked, from early on the strongest contender was the British Schools Museum in Hitchin. Before it became a museum, Adam had actually attended nursery there, before that his Mum was there as a pupil, and before *that* his Grandfather was a teacher there! As well as the close family connection, it also had the benefit of being right opposite where we lived at the time (invaluable when it came to the logistics)! That said, it isn’t actually a wedding or party venue, it has no kitchen and there were several other challenges that meant it wasn’t an easy choice. We knew though that it would be worth the effort, and would make for a truly unique event.

DIY wedding 'welcome' chalk board

Having finally plucked up courage to book the place, we set about finding a caterer who would work there in a make-shift kitchen (actually a sort of ante-room / classroom that is mostly used for visiting schools’ lunch breaks), as well as all the other things that would turn it into a wedding venue. We worked closely with the museum’s Manager, the ever-patient Andy, to figure out ways to adapt what was there to our needs. There were some elements in the space that didn’t really work for us, but we couldn’t just plough in and do whatever we wanted, so we had to come up with some clever work-arounds to make it work. We also had some help from our dear friend Hannah, who helped to get some funding to spruce up the decorating where damp had affected the main room.

Pastel umbrellas and coat hooks for wedding guests

DIY wedding, vintage dressing table to make the bathrooms more homey

The room is mostly painted white, which made for a pretty good blank canvas, but there are wooden slats running round the walls to display educational boards and history presentations. We were able to have the boards taken down, but the wooden slats remained, so we made tens of metres of ribbon garland to hang from these, covering up the slats and adding some colour. The room is also pretty tall in the centre, so to make it a little cosier we created a sort of false ceiling….I always dreamed about having a confetti cannon at the party, but we couldn’t really decide when we’d use it, so we made a sort of permanent confetti burst by stitching up hundreds of pieces of coloured paper, which we then suspended across the width of the room.

The British Schools Museum, Hitchin, wedding venue decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY wedding decor confetti ceiling

Adam always wanted lots of warm white fairy lights as part of the decor, and had the idea to spiral them around all the columns, as well as wrap them into the ribbon garland around the walls. We went for a white LED dance floor which twinkled to match, and also draped lots of lights behind the bar where we hung our home made sign with our wedding slogan ‘an adventure begins’ made in maps and coloured paper. Along with the light-up bar, it all looked suitably shiny and sparkly!

"An Adventure Begins" map themed wedding backdrop

We’d also made a bit of an emblem of a hot air balloon, using a drawing featuring one on our invitations, almost like a logo for us with a banner saying ‘an adventure begins across it’. So we decided to make some to decorate the room too, creating them from paper lanterns filled with fairy lights, pastel coloured ribbons and little baskets. We strung these up using fishing wire so that they looked like they were floating around the bar!

Adventure themed pastel wedding decor DIY

Having used lots of maps throughout, in line with our ‘adventure’ theme (on our invitations, Adam’s bow tie, the button holes etc.) we decorated lots of bit of furniture we collected with vintage maps. We didn’t want to use hired furniture (I have an unnatural hatred of hired banqueting chairs!), preferring things to be individual and to allow for lots of moving around, rather than a more traditional, formal sit-down affair. Most of the prettiest maps featured pastel colours, so this became our palette throughout, and I made pastel coloured pom-poms on sticks and paper windmill centre pieces in lieu of flowers (although I did pick a few from our garden and dotted them around in vintage vases).

DIY map furniture for adventure themed wedding

DIY table centres, pastel pom poms and paper windmills instead of flowers

DIY hand picked wild flowers for wedding

DIY wedding centre pieces, pastel pom poms and paper windmills

DIY wedding decor, hand picked wild flowers

DIY wedding decor paper windmills

We wanted to maintain a party atmosphere throughout our reception, with everyone included in everything. We have lots of friends who live far away, so it was important to us to see them all, and to give everyone a good chance to catch up with each other. Having a mostly-standing reception meant people weren’t restricted to one table, and could move about as they liked. We also planned lots of things to be going on around the room throughout the evening to keep everyone entertained….

We hired a juke box so that people could choose what they wanted to hear for the first half of the party. It looks just like a retro Wurlwitzer, but is fully electronic and holds thousands of songs, including every top ten single since the fifties! We had to have a few rules (mostly due to my dislike of Morrissey) but there was no squabbling, and it was a good talking point for our guests.

DIY wedding, juke box

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox rule book on music paper

We also booked a great photo booth that I’d used lots before. Unfortunately it got held up in traffic, so arrived at the same time as our guests ( I was *not* a happy bunny that a supplier’s van was in view and they had to set up with our guests there!), but, the image quality is great, they put our logo on the prints (one for everyone in the photo, not just one per photo) there’s loads of room in there, AND there’s a disco ball and light up dance floor in it! The company brought along lots of props, and we made some of our own (the chalk board speech bubbles were very popular) and everyone had a great time messing around dressing up and posing like sillies!

Dressing up for the wedding photo booth

Disco floor in wedding photo booth

 

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip 127806-shinko single strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

I’ve always been a bit crazy for crazy golf, and knowing we’d like a bit of an outdoor activity for our guests, we thought that would be fun. We looked into hiring a set, but there wasn’t anything out there quite right for us, so we decided to make it ourselves to our own theme! We stretched green felt over wooden boards and made a simple skirting with wooden slats around the edges. Then we crafted our obstacles, which included a hot air balloon, ice cream cones and of course, the traditional windmill! I cut some laminated vintage maps into pennants and attached them to cane to make the flags, and a friend arranged for us to borrow putters from her husband who is a pro at the local golf course! We had some rain earlier in the day, so took the precaution of putting up some gazebos over it all, so we could still enjoy it…it all got a little grubby during the downpour, but it was still great fun (even though I was rather rubbish at it)….and a couple of our guests got VERY into it, refusing to settle for anything less than a hole in one!

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

I’ve always loved the tradition of having a box of cigars at a wedding, and whilst I enjoyed the thought of me in all my bridal togs puffing on a big cuban, it’s not really Adam’s bag, and we managed to come up with an alternative. We created a snuff bar (something you used to be able to hire until smoking laws changed) by buying up a load of tins of different flavoured snuff from the internet. We customised an old wooden cutlery canteen to house the tins, pulling out the sections and velvet lining, and re-lining it with vintage cigarette cards I’d collected. This we sat on top of a lovely old wooden trolley we found at Hitchin market, and added a vintage hand held mirror (for people to check they’ve not got snuff on their face!), a box of tissues which I covered in vintage maps, and a little sign to say how to use it all. It was a real lark watching people try the different flavours, and our snuff bar made for some of our favourite photos of the night!

DIY snuff bar for wedding

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

Wedding reception DIY snuff bar

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

We also swapped out a regular gift list for something different. We were conscious that it’s expensive enough to come to a wedding, with travel and accommodation to pay for, and there’s nothing we really *need*. We know though that people like to bring something, so we had the idea to ask for recipes in lieu of gifts…this was something that didn’t need to cost anything, but we knew we’d treasure. We plan to make up a book of all the recipes we received (lots of our guests put a load of thought and effort into them!), once we’re settled into our new house.

Vintage suitcase with map lettering for wedding cards

We skipped things like speeches (again with the not wanting to speak in front of a whole load of people, and because we didn’t personally feel the need) and formally cutting the cake, but we did give our guests a few little traditions….. Having robbed our friends of getting to see us formally hitched, and really getting into our ballroom and latin dance classes whilst we lived in Hitchin, we decided to do a proper ‘first dance’. We still didn’t want it to be too long though, and weren’t really comfortable with a slow dance, as is traditional. Instead we decided to use a very up-beat piece of music we both love, from an anime show we watched together called Cowboy Bebop. We had six private lessons with the wonderful couple who also taught our weekly class, and they choreographed a routine for us, using Modern Jive, foxtrot and samba moves. It was a great fun thing to do in the run up to the wedding reception, and I think we surprised people that we did a first dance at all, and that it was pretty fast and not typically romantic!

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

We also thought it would be nice to share some of the photos from the ceremony with our reception guests, and so had some printed and framed to decorate the piano at the venue. We also got a load made up into a retro view finder, which was good fun too!

Wedding ceremony photos to decorate wedding reception

Vintage view finder to show wedding ceremony photos at wedding reception

Retro view finders with wedding photos

I’ve always personally loved the tradition of throwing the bouquet…I’m not sure why…but I caught one a few years ago at a friend’s wedding and so it seemed only fair that I throw mine. However, mine was really a bit too dangerous to throw, as I’d made it from dozens of bone china floral brooches and it weighed a tonne! So, I made a ‘stunt’ bouquet from pastel coloured pompoms instead, and threw that in the safety of the playground outside the venue.

My DIY china flower brooch wedding bouquet

Throwing the bouquet

Catching the bouquet

We also wanted to have a guest book to record messages from all our guests, but again wanting to do something different, we decided not to go with an actual book. We toyed with several ideas (signing a globe for example seemed a good idea because of our theme, and we had lots around, but in practise we thought this would be tricky!) but in the end Adam came up with a belter of an idea when we were out at the antiques market near our house….we spotted an old key cabinet from a hotel (which again, went rather well with our adventure theme) and Adam had the idea to hang lots of vintage keys inside, the labels to which could be used to write messages on! We spent ages collecting all the keys, and then cleaning them up and adding ribbon and labels, but it made for something a bit different and is also going to be a great reminder of the day when we hang it up on display in our new home!

DIY wedding, vintage hotel key cabinet for guest book

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

Another tradition I personally love is the favours. I think it’s nice to give a small token of thanks to guests, and also offer them something to remember the day by. We wanted to have something in-keeping with our theme, and so made everyone a wooden and leather luggage tag decorated with a map of somewhere special to them. It was a lengthy process, but well worth the effort as they’re something people can use on their own adventures and think of our party at the same time!

Polka dot party bags tombola for wedding favours

We didn’t want to stop there though….I am a huge lover of party bags, and Adam is a mega tombola fan, so we decided to incorporate these too! We made up party bags in pastel colours, filled with the luggage tags, as well as old favourites like Rainbow Drops, popping candy, blowing bubbles, fortune telling fish and party poppers which we decorated with our logo. We also covered boxes of matches with our logo and the slogan ‘the perfect match’ as I’ve always had a thing for collecting branded match books wherever I go! We then attached a tombola ticket to each guest’s personalised party bag, including the counterpart ticket in with their invitation….they then had to match up their tickets with their ‘prize’ on the day to get their own party bag! It was just a bit of silly fun really, but we enjoyed making them and the contents seemed to go down well!

DIY adventure themed wedding reception

And that was the order of the day, really….lots of silliness and fun, catching up with people and enjoying their company. We felt fairly brave doing things that weren’t really traditional, but everything worked well for us and we felt that our guests enjoyed it just the same! We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from our family and friends, and we are forever grateful to our amazing photographer, Sharon, who was very much involved in the planning and also provided us with a great set of photos (including all those shown here) to remember it all by!

Crazy panda wedding photos

Crazy panda wedding photos

Now I just need to find an excuse to do it all again……!

Ems x

DIY wedding decor, tin can tea lights with names

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Catching up: July

I can’t believe it’s August already….it seems the summer is going by in a flash! July was just as much fun as June though, and it finally felt as though the real summer weather had arrived….

It all started with a most amazing wedding weekend up in Yorkshire. Two of our friends were getting hitched and rather than settle for just one day of frivolities, had planned an epic Wild West Weekend! We drove up on the Friday and dressed up Western style for the pre-wedding party, ate fish and chips for dinner and then went to bed in our very own Tipi!!!

Breakfast next morning was a lush barbecue, then we set about some sun bathing and a few jobs to set things up before we donned wedding attire and the lovely humanist ceremony took place. The whole thing was outside, which was made even more splendid by the astonishingly good weather. It was another barbecue for supper, as well as a bouncy castle, sumo wrestling, gladiator jousting and a live band to dance to. It has to have been one of the most thoughtful, personal and unique weddings I’ve ever been to (which is A LOT) and I just loved every minute of it.

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July was the month for DIY and gardening…..I wanted everywhere to be as pretty as I could manage in time for our Engagement Party, and built two picnic tables (which also got painted white and had chintzy covers and cushions made specially for them) as well as getting the garden as colourful as possible! The party went wonderfully and it was gorgeous to have so many friends visit us to celebrate….even if it was a whole six months on from the actual engagement!

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With the warmer weather came lots of lovely long dog walks, with lots of lovely wildlife to be found along the way too…..

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The Hitchin Duck race took place in town and we went down to see them off…..it was a slow race though so we listened to the ending from the garden some twenty minutes later!

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Above all else, July was for spending time outdoors and enjoying the lush weather……

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the summer so far too!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Fantasy Dinner Party

“Dinner party time – Who would you invite? What music is playing? What are you eating? Is there entertainment? Let your imagination go wild!”

This is (unsurprisingly as an Event Producer and dinner party hostess addict) something I think about all the time. I fuss over what the table centres would be, who sits next to who, and what to serve. I think though, as it’s all meant to be fantasy, I can allow myself some fantastical indulgences….

The dinner would take place I think in my dream home, because there could be no place dreamier. If it’s summer we’d eat out in my Xanadu-like gardens, or in Winter we’d eat inside in my grand dining hall. I’d prepare the meal myself in my dream kitchen, but as it’s a fantasy I’d have staff hired in specially to help serve (all the better for my Hostessing bit). Dinner would be made from all the very best Organic, seasonal ingredients, and would probably be along the lines of a huge sharing roast dinner (all the better for everyone to get to know each other and break the ice by passing the dishes around). The table centres would be made myself that morning using some of the fantastical flowers from my fantastical garden, with lots of taper candles of course. I find live music a little imposing for small gatherings, so I’d create a playlist based on my mood and the season to play just as guests arrive…thereafter giving over to the sound of chatter.

For a proper dinner party, where everyone gets to enjoy the company of each other, I don’t think numbers should be more than twelve in total. So, that leaves me the tricky task of who to invite (using hand-illustrated cards written out individually)….especially as this is a fantasy, which as far as I’m concerned gives me free reign to choose anyone from any point in time or from fiction.

Anyway, bearing in mind that I’d like my guests to have interesting discussions with each other as well as with me, I’ve come up with this table plan…..

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 21.56.41

I’d definitely want my amazing fiance Adam to be there to share the experience with me, then clockwise from him….Grayson Perry, who I find massively inspiring, although would probably be too shy to talk to….Katy Perry, who I think would have fun chatting to Grayson, and bring lots of fun chat….Elvis I’m positive would love Katy, and he’d be close enough in this position for me to stare at lovingly, whilst not so close he could see my blushes….Fox Mulder would be just as excited as me to be at a dinner party with Elvis, and he *is* my second favourite Special Agent….first favourite though is Special Agent Dale Cooper who I would just love to spend the evening chatting with, especially with Mulder right next to him so they could share their stories with me….

My favourite British Agent would have to go to my left, and because it’s what happens in all the books, as a woman, he’d have to flirt with me all night….I think Joseph Gordon Levitt would have good chat with Bond, but he’s really there because I want to match-make him with the guest to his left….Zooey Deschanel is about my favouritest girl celebrity at the moment and I would love for her to get together with JGL to make babies and save the world….another inspiring woman is next, star of one of my favourite films and just all round awesome Tilda Swinton….and for intelligent banter, whit and trivia, the last seat goes to the wonderful Stephen Fry.

Writing all this down has made me think what a wonderful reality TV show this would make…..win your Fantasy Dinner Party by competing against other people in a sort of Come Dine With Me style, then the TV show arranges for all your dream guests to come along to your house for sups. I’d go on THAT TV show for sure!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. a rather special birthday and a pretty big surprise!

What a fun weekend we had!

Friday was Adam’s Mum’s 70th Birthday, for which we’d been planning a surprise party for weeks! I set about readying the house and baking for the celebrations on Friday afternoon, before heading over to see the birthday girl in the evening. We shared a bottle to toast, and gave her the gift we’d made….Adam had scanned and photo-shopped an old photo of him and his brothers, getting rid of the faded colours and imperfections to make a good-as-new photo! Liz loved it, as well as the other stacks of gifts she’d received from her friends!

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Rather successful Lemon Drizzle Cake!

On Saturday morning we were busy from early on, making salads and quiches and whatnot, and putting up balloons! We were only just about ready when the doorbell rang for the first guests….we’d asked everyone to arrive at 2pm so that Adam’s Dad could bring Liz round at half past and she wouldn’t spot anyone coming in! We are so used to our friends being late that it was quite the surprise to have everyone arrive bang on time!

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Adam brought back amazing breakfast pastries from his trip to Quotidian for the bread

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Balloons!!

Liz arrived right on time too with the dogs….they knew right away in fact that something was going on, but Liz was thoroughly shocked when I opened the living room door to reveal 20 of her friends! She’d thought she was coming round for a quiet afternoon tea with just Adam and I so there was quite a lot of swearing when she realised we’d all plotted together to surprise her! She was delighted though to see all her friends together, and I certainly loved having the house full of happy chatter!

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Liz, Adam and Me (and what was left of the spread by cake cutting time!)

We were exhausted by the time the last guests had left and we’d tidied up from the feast we’d prepared, so we skulked off to bed at a ridiculously early hour of 7pm to watch American Horror Story (we’re now on Season 2: Asylum) and eat left overs from a sort of bed-buffet tray!

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Newton got the post-party blues

Sunday started with the traditional and much-needed lie in, before we headed out to the market for the weekly car boot sale. I relished the fact that as I’ve sold quite a few bits from my new vintage shop on Etsy, I could allow myself to buy up lots of new treasure! We certainly left the market with a good haul, and rewarded ourselves with a brunch of coffee and pancakes at the super-quaint Halseys Deli and Tea Rooms.

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The car boot sale haul!

After that we made our way up to Adam’s parents cottage to help his Mum use the bread maker she’d received as a birthday gift from her friends. I’ve not used one for many years, and they seem to have developed and improved a lot, so I was very impressed with how easy it was to prepare a simple wholemeal loaf. We left it to bake whilst we took a walk around the nearby Priory grounds to see all the snowdrops in bloom. They’re so enchanting scattered about the woods, and it’s just a shame that they don’t photograph very well…I find it impossible to show how pretty they are and get the white balance right!

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Seriously yummy home-baked bread

Once back, we took out the now baked bread and were SO impressed with how it came out….it’s not at all like the bread maker bread I’ve tried before (which I always found a bit too solid) and is just deliciously light and fluffy! We tested some just with butter and loved it! We had an early supper, and another very early night….yumming up scones with jam and clotted cream in bed whilst watching more American Horror Story (it’s SO much better than the first season and we’re quite hooked!).

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Naughty supper in bed!

How was your weekend?

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. partying 20s and 80s style

Boy was I glad for a lie in this morning! I think I’d have slept until lunch time if Adam hadn’t come and woken me up when he did! I’m clearly no longer energetic enough to party two nights in a row, but I had a jolly good weekend all the same….

On Friday Adam and I finally went to see Wilton’s Music Hall’s fabulous immersive production of The Great Gatsby! It was first adapted for our favourite venue last year, whilst we were actually living just around the corner, but we weren’t fast enough to snap up tickets! So, when we heard it was coming back, we jumped on the second chance, despite being rather further away now! I spent a good couple of hours fashioning my hair into a 20s style up-do, and slapping on layers upon layers of eye make-up as per the period fashion, then threw on the stunning flapper dress I was lucky enough to pick up in an Oasis sale a few years ago…..I’d also made a very Art Deco head dress to wear, so I think I rather looked the part! Adam dressed up in one of his vintage suits, and our friends Hannah G and Hannah P joined us in vintage attire too!

Hannah G, Adam, Hannah P and me!

We started the evening with an early supper and gins at our old favourite haunt, the Oliver Conquest. It was great to see their new gin list (they had about 50 when we were last there, but now have closer to 90 just a few months on!), and to catch up with the staff. Then it was off to Wilton’s, where we had a cabaret-style table right in front of the stage! It was wonderful to see the newly refurbished venue again, and the show was great fun….I love the era’s fashions and the performers got us all involved by dragging us up onto the stage to learn how to Charleston, and Adam even had to deliver a message to Mr Gatsby! The show runs until 23rd March and there are currently still tickets available!

Scrummy ish Gin at the Oliver Conquest

Afterwards we headed back to the Oliver Conquest, where we’d been promised a cuddle with their new puppy Rex….. he is an absolute little angel and super snuggly! We sat and fussed over him whilst drinking yet more gin (well, we had lots of new ones to try, including Cold River, Malaca, Ish, Jensens and Monkey 47 Sloe!), which made it a pretty perfect end to the evening!

We both felt a little gin-rough on Saturday morning, so we were very naughty and skipped off to our nearest greasy spoon for cheese omelettes! After that we had a snoop around town, doing a bit of thrifty treasure hunting around the charity shops and a jumble sale at the church, then slobbed out back at home with lots of tea and cake until it was time to get ready to go back into London for the evening.

We managed to sneak in a cheeky Bubble Tea visit on the way to the party

Last week was our very special friend Siobhan’s 30th birthday, so on Saturday we donned 80s attire (a spangly parrot dress with big dangly parrot earrings and an overdose of blue eye make up in my case) and celebrated at a bar in Piccadilly Circus. It was such a lovely evening of catching up with friends we’ve not seen as much since moving, and we got lots of fresh congratulations on our engagement too! Several cocktails later, we made our very cold way home.

A blur of the Birthday Girl as she jumps up and down in excitement with her cake!

Sunday morning was another lazy one, with a long lie in, then a snoop around the car boot for more treasure hunting before coming back home to snarf up a brunch of waffles, strawberries and maple syrup. We resisted the urge to slob out for the rest of the day on the sofa and went off to Waitrose fore supplies, but we didn’t get much more done after that, save making cottage pie for dinner and a little knitting on my part! We’re still making our way through the X Files, so we snuggled up on the sofa to watch a few episodes before taking advantage of a much needed early night!

I was so impressed with the neatness of the shopping list we found on our trolley!

How was your weekend?!

Ems x

Living for the weekend…. August Bank Holiday 2012 in London

Loooooong weekend!!!!! Yes, it’s here….the last bank holiday before Christmas!

We will acutally be up in Hitchin, where we’re moving next month. But I know that if we weren’t I’d be making the most of all the things going on in London….in fact we’ll be taking every opportunity to make the most of London before we leave in a few weeks!

Here’s my pick of the best stuff to do this weekend….maybe I’ll even get chance to pop along to one or two things on Monday…..

London Picnic Club at the Skyroom

“Running for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics, the Skyroom designed by young architect David Kohn (creator of a Room for London atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall in South Bank) will gradually undergo a transformation into a garden with a difference- a colourful, living and breathing roof top oasis allowing guests to retreat from the London chaos below.

Share and enjoy exquisite food presented in the form of surprising picnic hampers, take part in garden games, catch a variety of exclusive and intimate  live music acts or stretch out on blankets and cushions to watch one of our especially selected movies at our mini screen on the green. The primary focus of the London Picnic Club involves a progressive and evolving food and drink menu that will show a strong relation to our developing roof top garden installation- keeping things seasonal and directly interactive with our space.

The experience is aimed to be surprising at all times, where our guests will discover new flavours in a playful and dynamic environment that brims full of creativity and connects people in new ways…

Platterform’s new head chef Alejandro Bello (of Ceviche fame) has collected and carefully reinvented select dishes from various corners of the world all assembled beautifully inside an iconic British picnic hamper. Designed as a sharing meal, expect London Picnic Club hampers to contain inspirational tapas style hot dishes, innovative ceviches and fresh garden salads as well as a fine selection of produce from local suppliers including artisanal bread from St. John’s Bakery, cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy and charcuterie from Brindisa all served with home-made preserves and dips. Exotic desserts, fresh Summer fruits and surprising treats complete the package.

Drinks take inspiration from the quintessential British Summer garden where Platterform delve into the world of experimentation using their own garden ingredients to make shrubs (fruit preserves), infusions, cordials and bitters to combine with premium spirits, fresh fruits and hand picked garden herbs.

Grab your favourite picnic blanket and gather your friends for a once in a life time picnic experience!”

 £35 per person, advanced bookings via www.londonpicnicclub.eventbrite.com

Until 8th September (Monday-Friday  11am-10.30pm, Saturday  12pm-10.30pm)

The Floating Market moves to Little Venice

As you may have read, I went along to the floating market on Regent’s Canal a few weeks ago, whilst it was at Mile End….. the market has now set sail for pretty Little Venice though, so head there for yummy cakes, hat stalls, floating book shops and all sorts!

Until 2nd September, free entry

Frightfest

“Originally conceived by Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Alan Jones, FrightFest staged its first event in 2000 at the Prince Charles cinema, near London’s Leicester Square. Its August Bank Holiday weekend date has remained a fixture ever since……. The objective of FrightFest was to provide the UK with a horror fantasy festival of similar stature to the market leaders in Europe, Sitges (Spain) and Brussels (Belgium). FrightFest has since evolved into a community where audiences and guests alike travel from all over the world to be part of the event’s unique atmosphere.”

Tickets are available from the Empire Cinema box office and here

Festival passes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday are £160.  Single tickets are £12.

 

“Guilty Pleasures is London’s biggest, boldest, brashest and best night out. Packed with relentlessly energetic djs, acrobatic bedazzling dancers, live bands and speciality performers galore, over seven years it has established itself as the capital’s number one top spot for a P.A.R.T.Y. This Saturday 25th August, in collaboration with Time Out Live and MGM HD GP are bringing the most ambitious and thrilling party at London’s decadent Troxy Cinema with a live, interactive and exciting event where the worlds of cinema, music and nightlife collide in one colossal party…… 80s pop takes centre stage as Guilty Pleasures Cinema Party presents: Desperately Seeking Susan.”
The Troxy, Commercial Road
Saturday 25th August, 8pm – 2am, £10

Supperclub Carnival Weekend

“This weekend, we will be having an exceptionally turned on line up with our outside inside carnival special with a carnival themed menu with a serious twist…… With an extra special line up of entertainment for the club night we will be taking the carnival from the streets onto the sheets where we will be inviting party goers down for our carnival afterparty to enjoy our beds and booze late into the night.”

General Admission is £20

Events on over the whole weekend

If I make it to just one thing on Monday, it’ll have to be this!…..

Paw Pageant 2012

“The capital’s best-dressed, fugliest and smartest dogs will be hitting the dogwalk here at Old Spitalfields Market on Monday 27th August. Paw-perfect pooches will be competing to win prizes in eight categories, from ‘Dressed Up to the K-Nines’ to ‘Shoreditch Show Off’. There will also be a small specialist market selling a variety of great gear and tasty grub to pamper your pooch. In addition a glorious raffle by canine couturist’s LoveMyDog will be auctioned in aid of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.”

Monday, Old Spitalfields Market, 1pm to 3:30pm, free

Have a fab one whatever you do!

Ems x

Jewellers en Residence….. launch party for the new Liberty Jewellery Emporium

The iconic department store Liberty has this evening opened their new jewellery showcase, “Jewellers en Residence”, and with a glass of Champagne in hand, I have been having a snoop about…..

I have (unsurprisingly, as an aspiring designer) long since suffered a self-confessed addiction for the jewellery room at Liberty. In fact the whole building is somewhat of a Mecca for me, with its perfect blend of on-trend spectacle and classic luxury. Nestled between the desperately dangerous stationery room and the awe inspiring handbag department, it’s hard for a girl with magpie-like tendencies to pass without popping in.

The showcase is a four day event, designed to celebrate the launch of the new Jewellery Emporium. There are exclusives, new collection launches, designer appearances and over 4,000 treasures on show! This evening, Carol Woolton, Jewellery Editor for Vogue, was there to open the event and offer some personal styling advice to us. Following that, there is a packed four-day schedule of over 30 events, including complimentary engraving with the purchase of Monica Vinader pieces, personal gemstone colour consultation at the Pomellato counter, and the chance to make bespoke vintage charm necklaces with Lulu Frost founder Lisa Salzer.

Me being me though, I couldn’t help but pick out some favourites…..

I’ve been admiring Aninna Vogel‘s collections for the longest time. Of all the jewellery in that room, hers is the display cabinet I’d want to walk out with in full. As part of the event, little biography cards had been put out, telling us about the designers, and it was Vogel’s that I most remember….. she’s been collecting vintage charms since she was a little girl, and her collection at Liberty celebrates all that is nostalgic and collectable. Her display cabinets are bursting like little Aladdin’s caves, brimming with vintage treasures that have been transformed into new and wearable statement pieces. Every piece is unique, and part of their incredible charm is knowing that they have a story. I would kill for a stack of her charms on a long chain, or for one of the beautiful necklaces or rings cleverly made from antique brooches! (Anyone fancying buying me a pressie should consider this amazing necklace made from a Victorian brooch…. it’s a Lily of the Valley, which is my favourite flower, and is only £250!)

Another faithful favourite is Kojis, who also specialise in antique statement jewellery. Their collection tempts with “a mixture of fine antique and eclectic pieces, from Classical Antiquity through the Golden Age of European luxury of the 18th and 19th centuries, to contemporary classics.”  Since it opened in the 1980s, Kojis has sought after, curated and sold some of the finest pieces of jewellery available, and always with an eclectic but classic eye. There are always several pieces I “need” when I pop in…. like this incredible spider web brooch…. it’s £5,500.

Newer to me though is Annoushka‘s remarkable work. Since early last year though I’ve been coveting her inspired, magical treasures. Everything is so wonderfully eclectic, and the display cabinets look rather like a particularly good personal collection from someone’s travels. The Fantasy range is especially amazing…. I love the clashing colours, over-sized features, and, well the fantasy element. This one is definitely in my list of wants…. it’s the ‘Fantasy Jungle Jumble Ring‘ and it’s £12,000.

The event runs right through into Saturday, with lots going on in store…. there’s a full list here.

Enjoy! (And good luck to those as easily tempted as me!)

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Champagne, picnic, and friends

What a lucky girl I am! I’ve just had the most wonderful weekend….. This Friday coming is my 30th Birthday and so on Saturday I celebrated my ‘official birthday’ (well, the Queen got one!)….

I had spent most of Friday getting over my fun-filled trip to Paris, but I managed to head to Waitrose for picnic supplies and catch up on some photo uploading etc. before spending a relaxing evening eating pub grub and completing the crossword….

Then on Saturday morning it was time to cut the sandwiches and pack the picnic hampers before heading over to meet everyone. I’ve nearly always had a picnic to celebrate my birthday since living in London, and so for my 30th it seemed apt I did just that. I wanted it to be super special though, so I invited everyone to the stunning little secret garden within the ruined old St Dunstan’s church very near to the flat. It’s so peaceful and beautiful there, and I very much wanted to share that with my friends. And so we walked there heavily laden with picnicking paraphernalia, hoping that the few drops of rain in between the sunny spells didn’t spell disaster!

Once there, Adam, my friend Michelle and I set up ready for everyone….. we hung bunting along the benches and in the trees, spread out cute checked blankets and laid out the goodies I’d prepared…… Cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, home made sausage rolls, salads, fruit and cakes….. I also set up a sort of Pimm’s station and popped the cork on the first bottle of Champagne of the day before my dear friends started to arrive, bringing even more goodies with them! Jane had prepared some yummy crudites and brought along an amazing sweet red wine which is served with strawberries and ice, and Dave was kind enough to dash to the shop to replace the jam I’d left at home so I could serve up some delicious Duchy scones with strawberry jam, clotted cream and strawberries.

I am always so excited about preparing for such occasions and seeing everyone, that I forget that birthdays often mean presents! So I was delighted to receive so many wonderful gifts from everyone….. lots of beautiful flowers… books about how to host the perfect picnic, finding vintage things in London and how to fold napkins in all sorts of designs…. some gorgeous cocktail accessories…. a British themed board game…. a very pretty set of silver trinket boxes…. home made sweeties and preserves… and even an ‘Under A Glass Sky’ patchwork tote bag, hand stitched by my friend Hannah. What a lucky girl I am!

I had such a glorious time chatting to people, yumming up all the treats, and enjoying the shorts bursts of sunshine. At times it was rather like I had my own little private party in the park because so few people know if and visit it, so we nearly had the place to ourselves! Afterwards those of us that remained returned to the flat to drink more Champagne and eat cake, and by the time the last guest had gone I had just enough energy to fill the dishwasher before flolopping into bed!

Thank you to Adam for taking photos all day and letting me share some here…..

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We decided that Sunday should be spent resting up and catching up from the busy week…. we had lots of picnic leftovers too so I had a lovely breakfast of smoked salmon with Prosecco, followed by a second breakfast of donuts and coffee! I also used up lots of left over cherry tomatoes and things to make some fresh pasta sauce to keep in the freezer for a rainy day, planned a soup I’ll make later today from left over cucumber and mint, and then whipped up a salad for lunch with goats cheese, broad beans and asparagus. Yum!

Along with a big post-party clean up, I did a few householdy things, uploaded more photos and generally lounged about all day. As has become tradition, I labeled some of the corks from the bubbles with the date and occasion to keep as a memento, and safely popped away all my gifts. For supper we finished off some of the yummy bread left over from Saturday, along with the Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and the home made chilli jam and red onion chutney we’d received as gifts. Then after finishing season 4 of True Blood finally, it was a very early night for us sleepy heads!

What a lovely ‘official birthday weekend’….. can’t wait til next weekend to celebrate my actual birthday!

Ems x

Back to June….


Clockwise from top left: Our Take That Progress Tour tickets….Adam’s birthday meal at Pearl….Summer party at the Tower of London….My personal best on iPhone Trivial Pursuit….Prettys at The Waldorf Astoria Syon Park….Vintage Geekery for Adam’s Birthday Party….

June was a busy month for work and saw the start of the summer party season in earnest. Our first party of the month was for a wonderfully fun repeat client for whom we created a Super Heroes in 3D party at Old Billingsgate, just a few minutes from home. We’d had the idea from all of the super hero films coming out this year and that so many of them are boasting super-high-tech all-singing-all-dancing 3D effects….we made it gorgeously retro though by creating 2D props printed in anaglyph style 3D effects (Kapow! and Zoing! Etc.) and styling in vintage comic book primary colours. After a bit of negotiating and luck, we managed to bag the marvellous Essentials (mentioned in May) for the reception tunes, and then after dinner it was the incredible Mad Hen who took to the Super Hero suits and filled the dance floor. Later to play at Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall’s wedding, they’re possibly my all time favourite party band, and we couldn’t help but have a dance from the viewing gallery whilst they played Sex on Fire, Jump Around and Professional Widow.

Disco disco….comic book table centre….Mad Hen….

They were to join us at our next big party too, as we hosted a very jolly summer fete at the Pavilion at the Tower of London. Right in the moat, we set up old fashioned stalls and guests could try their hand at ‘Skittles’, ‘Bunco Booth’, ‘Hook a Duck’, ‘Tin Can Alley’, and ‘Coconut Shy’, whilst inside our beautifully painted backdrop of the Tower was set up with a full tea party prop display in front ready for the photographer to direct everyone into wonderful scenes. And of course the whole pavilion was filled with bunting. Of course.

The Tower of London….The Tower of London Pavilion….Mad Hen….

The only problem with big summer parties of course is that one pins ones hopes so much on fine weather and spending time outdoors. And we especially wanted to make the most of the stunning grounds for our next party at the Waldorf Astoria, Syon Park. We’d even brought in giant inflatable games and laser clay pigeon shooting, but alas the British weather was yet again against us and everyone was bound indoors (apart from a few intrepid guests who were eager to try and happy to don our lovely ponchos!). Still, the Waldorf Astoria is exquisitely well decorated and full of beautifully well thought touches of design, and so we didn’t mind being indoors too much at all. Especially with the pastry chef’s incredible sweetie station to keep everyone going….like something from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, this table of sweet treats was laid out for pudding and filled to bursting with lollipop toadstools…. apothecary jars of nougat….. footed bowls of marshmallows…. jellies…. honey comb chocolate…. popcorn….. Bliss!

Sweet treats and pretty decor at the Waldrof Astoria Syon Park….

There were more sweet treats as we visited the elegant Apsleys for High Tea at the 5 Star Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner. The gorgeous room, topped with charming symmetrical chandeliers and framed by wonderfully dramatic collages of classical paintings, is the perfect setting for an elegant tea. And the knowledgeable waiter who told us all we needed to know about the exceptionally comprehensive tea menu brought us our chosen infusions in niftily labelled silver pots before talking us through the contents of the various pretty plates and tea stands he brought to follow. It was important to continue to look elegant of course as we ate our way through little quiches, brioches, finger sandwiches and darling and colourful fancies. And I think we did. Until they were all gone!Afternoon Tea at Apsleys….

More treats were in store as I took Adam out for a special birthday dinner to Pearl at the Renaissance Chancery Court. As we were celebrating his 30th birthday, I’d spent an age umm-ing and ahh-ing over where to take him, trying to think where he would most enjoy, rather than just where I really wanted to go. In an attempt to choose a ‘manly’ option I very nearly opted for Comptoir Garcon for its gamey, meaty offerings, which I’d told myself was more fitting than Les Trois Garçon where I’d been hankering after. But after I’d raked through dozens of reviews, and at a risk of choosing somewhere with ever so slightly girlier décor, I opted for Pearl for the incredible sounding french dishes created by the precise hand of our much admired Jun Tanaka.

Perhaps because it was a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was pretty quiet when our cab pulled into the darling courtyard of the hotel, set back from busy Holborn. Inside though, we were delighted by our quiet corner table and the atmosphere travelled in from the busier bar so that we weren’t to feel lonely. From the off, the service was impeccable and we were looked after by no less than four members of the impressive team, although we were never confused as to the role of each. Having been slow to finish our gorgeous pre-dinner cocktails, I decided on a wine to go with our mains and the expert sommelier was sent for. This charming man helped in my choice with confidence, grace and honesty, and then helpfully readied our bottle in time for our mains service.

Dinner began with the presentation of a very pretty amuse bouche of cucumber foam, after which we both chose the same starter: ‘BEEF’ Roast Marrow Bone with Onion Confit, Beef Cheek Croquettes, Watercress Dressing and Wild Garlic. Adam had not had much experience of offal so I was surprised to see him choose this, but as a big offal lover myself I could not wait to try this very delicately presented offering. The marrow bone was beautifully rich and buttery, and the cheek croquettes incredibly delicious alongside the wild garlic. The pretty, tiny portions didn’t take us long to devour but there was so much flavour we didn’t feel cheated and we only looked forward to our main courses. For me it was ‘CHICKEN,’ (Roast Spring Chicken with Macaroni, Lemon Confit, Asparagus and Lemongrass Consomme) which was gorgeously comforting and summery at the same time. And for Adam, the ‘SOLE,’ (Cornish Sole with Artichoke Gnocchi, Roast Baby Artichokes and Seashore Vegetables) which was meaty yet perfectly delicate.

We weren’t brought our ordered desserts until we’d been served ‘pre-desserts’ in the form of tiny glasses filled with creamy couscous and fruit coulis, a sort of european rice pudding. Then we did swaps on our two desserts (we often struggle to choose so have half and half)….. ‘GRAPEFRUIT’ (Grapefruit and Ginger Trifle with Lemon Cake, Stem Ginger Ice Cream) and ‘LYCHEE’ (Lychee Jelly and Raspberries, Rose Ice Cream and Pink Praline). Both were wonderful in their complexity and thoughtfulness, but we were only to be wowed again as our lovely waiter brought out to Adam a decorated plate of chocolates wishing him a happy birthday! We finished up with more cocktails in the gorgeously elegant bar, which we also vowed to return to for an evening of indulgent drinks too. All in all, we couldn’t have been more impressed by the impeccable service, the incredible finesse and the refined originality of Pearl.

Pearl at the Renaissance Chancery Court….

After dinner….walking home and opening presents….

It being a special birthday, we of course extended the celebrations for a good few weeks, and the weekend after Adam’s special day saw a trip to his home town of Hitchin for a curry supper with friends and a catch up with family. As ever, we relished the excuse to spend some time out of London relaxing, and in fact on the Sunday ventured over to the second hand book shop in town (quite literally only a stone’s throw away from Adam’s parents’ cottage). The darling shop, much like many of its ilk is crammed from floor to ceiling with shelves upon shelves of exciting texts, positively exploding and toppling with carefully catalogued treasures which I could explore for hours. The smell is familiar of course, that combination of dust, leather and old wood, and so wandering the enchanting isles of this place and delving into a huge hard back makes you feel like some intrepid explorer in a scared, secret cave. Upstairs there are armchairs, coffee table and rugs, which I found far too inviting to pass up and found myself flicking through pretty picture books in comfort whilst Adam investigated the History section. Most impressive though are their beautifully bound sets of Dickens, Shakespeare and collections of Classics, which Adam and I dream of furnishing a grand library with (complete with those slidey ladders and an ancient Globe of course).

We couldn’t let a special birthday pass without a party though, and so once back in London preparations began for Adam’s ‘I don’t want to be a grown up’ party. Adam had asked everyone to dress as their favourite kids TV show character from the 1980s, and we’d themed the party snacks to match….. Adam donned a cavalier’s outfit with ears and a painted nose as his hero Dogtanian, whilst I couldn’t choose between Penelope Pitstop and Velma from Scooby Doo, so did both and switched half way through the night. We also saw friends dress as Mr Ben, Bagpuss, John Craven, Evil Edna, a My Little Pony and Tigger. For the yums, we made Penny Crayon Bread Sticks (I painstakingly sharpened the end of bread sticks and applied colour to the tips to make them look like crayons), Foghorn Leghorns (spicy breaded chicken goujons), Porky Pig Three Ways (sticky worcester sauce chipolatas, chorizo and parma ham), Turtles Pizza, Slimer’s Jelly, Pink Panther Pie (pink blancmange with pink glitter sprinkles and marshmallows on top), Family Ness Puddings (Butterscotch Angel Delight set with wiggly worms to look like swimming lake monsters), and Bananaman Cake. With 80s tunes, Dogtanian on TV and the bubble machine at full pelt, we were far from the sophisticated dinner parties I’d usually aim for, but with many a Gummy Berry Juice and Ectoplasm cocktail inside us, we partied way past bed time.

Family Ness Puddings….Bananaman Bread….Bubbles….Pink Panther Pie….Guests….Barr Lemonade….

With summer in full swing, it was time for a new season’s fads and fancies to come around. And in terms of music it was the 70’s fashions trend I think, that kicked off my constant replaying of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and The Eagles’ Hotel California. All of a sudden we could hear them everywhere too and for a while I didn’t want to hear anything else as they brought me a kind of sunny, lady back mood. For food fads, it was a light bite lunch that got me obsessed with the couldn’t-be-simpler tomatoes on toast. For some reason they were my savoury of choice for every meal, and for weekend lunches I’d slave away for twenty minutes, preparing a vine of cherry tomatoes to perfection with our home grown thyme and basil, Heston’s vanilla salt, black garlic and olive oil, before grilling them and devouring them on toast. But it was the frozen yoghurt that became the super-fad of the summer as I went crazy for plain fro-yo whenever I could get it. It seemed that there were plenty of places cropping up too, just in time for my new craving, and so I’d often opt for a large fro-yo as a grabbed lunch between meetings rather than the sandwiches I’d been getting bored with. And I would like to think its low or no-fat benefits helped make up for all the summer barbecues too!June Barbeque at Casa Wapping….

It was in June that we finally got to see the much anticipated Svengali by the intriguing Derren Brown at the Comedy Theatre in Covent Garden. I’ve enjoyed his TV shows a lot, but unlike Adam I’ve never seen one of his live shows, although I was lucky enough to work on the creative for the gorgeously designed Circus show he toured a few years ago. A few friends had already been to see the show but Brown had sworn them to secrecy so I knew nothing about it, and went with an open, but excited mind. Now likewise, we too were sworn to secrecy, so technically I’m not to divulge anything from the show. But never one to keep my mouth completely shut, I will offer my ambiguous critique…..

I suppose it is the cheeky parlour tricks and mystical stunts that make Brown’s shows ever popular, and of course his showmanship is what holds these together and sets him apart from his competition, but for me a large part of coming to a show like this one and what would usually impress me is the high production value. The build up created in the sound, the lighting and the setting really interests me, and if it’s done well can really draw me in to a good production. And many things did impress me in Svengali, including an intriguing set, and thoughtful distractions such as notes passed around the audience to involve us. But when it came to the suspension of our disbelief, sloppy props and rather naff stunts did somewhat spoil the magic for me, and after all, we were all there to be fooled and taken in by the misdirection. And what is a great showman without his box of tricks?

Now really the close to this post ought to be my memories of a certain concert that made one of my favourite bits of June, but at the risk of comparing two vastly different medium (Derren Brown and a pop concert that is), and angering two huge fan bases (of which I would count myself member of both) I’m going to have to rave about what I expect will be one of the most impressive productions I’ll see this year in a separate post. And I’m not ashamed to be posting an entire blog on Take That’s Progress tour, nor the thousands of words I’ll no doubt spend ranting about how wonderful it was. But at least this way, those of you who find the prospect utterly toe-curling have had your warning!