Wednesday Wants: Back to School

OK, so I’m not *actually* going back to school. BUT, I do have a shiny new studio in our shiny new house to set up and fill with shiny things!

Most things are still in boxes after the move, although my desk is up at least! I have a load of amazing second hand white metal peg boards to put up before I do any serious unpacking though….can’t wait to fill them with stuff!

Anyways, I get all excited at this time of year with all the “back to school” things around…..as you’ll probably already know, I’m pretty stationery obsessed anyway, so this is a super tempting time for me!

Here are my current lust-after picks…..

I’m super into rose gold, copper and brass at the moment….it’s featuring heavily in our new home decor for sure. And how classy would these babies look on my lush new desk, huh?

Brass Scissors by HAY via Really Well Made, £9.00

Brass Scissors by HAY via Really Well Made, £9.00

I’ve also been crazy about neons for a while now, and well, I’m in love with this clever case by Undercover on Not on the High Street. I’m CONSTANTLY losing all those important strings and things that you need to connect all the gadgets, and I HATE them not having a real home. So, against all the odds, I’ve actually chosen a really *sensible* something for once!

Cables and Wires tidy case by Undercover via Not on the High Street, £34.95

Cables and Wires tidy case by Undercover via Not on the High Street, £34.95

So the third and final thing on the list is basically EVERYTHING at Paperchase. They do it to me every time…..new collections FILLED with shiny new things I WANT WANT WANT. Here are a few of my particular favourites though…..

Pony Party List Clip Board, £6.00

Pony Party List Clip Board, £6.00

Monster Mashup Stickers, £1.50

Monster Mashup Stickers, £1.50

Pony Party Sticky Tabs, £2.50

Pony Party Sticky Tabs, £2.50

Chips Lunch Bag, £12.00

Chips Lunch Bag, £12.00

Unicorn Pencil Case, £6.00

Unicorn Pencil Case, £6.00

What are your favourites? Do you get to shop for a bunch of “back to school” stuff?
Ems x
Advertisements

Something from the weekend….. Sunday ‘Fashionista’ afternoon Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley

20120625-141224.jpg

First round….. yummy sandwiches with the crusts cut off

On Sunday it was time for my final birthday treat….. after a nice long lie in (boy I needed it after the Saturday!) and slobbing about watching a few episodes of The Wire, we made our way to Knightsbridge for a very special afternoon tea. I’ve been wanting to go to the Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley for years, ever since I heard about it in fact. No ordinary afternoon tea, their ‘Fashionista’ version of the traditional occasion draws inspiration from each season’s couture collections, creating incredible and stunning biscuits, fancies and meringues to match the trending colours, shapes and patterns.

After arriving to the gorgeous Berkeley reception, we were taken through the Caramel Room to our lovely window table. I was delighted to find a neon pink shoe with my name on to reserve the table for us, as well as all the beautiful Paul Smith China laid out ready. I went for the Couture Champagne Menu (when in Rome) and was poured a generous glass of Laurent Perrier Rose to start, whilst Adam went for the caramel and pear tea. Then before long we were served the first round of our tea…. a long plate of delicious sandwiches, including smoked salmon and cream cheese, Coronation chicken, cucumber and a tiny egg roll. All the fillings were perfect, as were the yummy breads (including a sun blushed tomato bread and a miniature oaty roll).

Next up came a large tea stand full of beautiful canapes and fancies….. we’d hardly dug into these when we were brought fresh plates of more sandwiches and then the canapes and fancies were replenished throughout too! The canapes included tiny teardrop spoons of crab, salmon, beef and feta, as well as a shot glass of a yummy cucumber and mint cold soup. I’ve had soooo many canapes in my time and these really were some of the best.

The sweet stuff is really where it’s at though. Having finished my Cham I was served the white peony tea (a new favourite of mine) which went beautifully with all the treats left to try….. Perhaps the most stunning was the Jason Wu romantic cherry bavarois with coconut cream, topped with a playful pink skirt and biscuit heel….. I also loved the clever take on Fendi’s nautical stripes in the form of a red and white striped vanilla cake filled with fraise des bois cremeux and topped with an over-sized yellow button…..

And because I’m such a girl, the two chocolate fancies were amongst my favourites…. Gucci’s Art Deco Grand Marnier and dark Valrhona chocolate mousse embellished with golden popping candy is absolutely divine….. and the homage to Michael Kors’ signature leopard print made with Grand Marnier was just scrummy! The most impressive to look at were the light blue Dolce and Gabbana blueberry sponge cake wicker basket, the Miu Miu vanilla bikini biscuit and the wonderful Christian Louboutin neon yellow chocolate biscuit…. but my favourite I think was the clever take on Mulberry’s summer at the seaside catwalk theme, with a tall shot glass of white chocolate creme de menthe and raspberry mousse topped with a lemon meringue, all perfectly emulating the sugar sweet tones of a maxi dress I adore.

20120625-141244.jpg

Very fancy fancies, inspired by Jason Wu, Mulberry, Fendi, Miu Miu, Michael Kors and Gucci

20120625-141233.jpg

Laurent Perrier Rose and the stunning Paul Smith china

I think we did rather well at eating the plates and plates of goodies brought to us…. it genuinely is a case of quality AND quantity! We did finally give up, a good couple of hours after arriving…. it is certainly a lovely way to while away an entire afternoon and is one of the most luxurious and indulgent experiences I’ve enjoyed. It didn’t stop there though, as our lovely waiter boxed up the fancies we couldn’t manage in a fabulous neon pink box, so I carried home the second of two very classy doggy bags that weekend! Quite the breakfast the morning after!

I can’t recommend this experience enough…. even Adam (who isn’t as trend crazy as me, and certainly wouldn’t usually opt for an afternoon tea) thoroughly enjoyed himself, and I left feeling utterly spoiled! It’s £39 for the Pret-A-Portea, £49 for the Champagne version, and £55 for the Couture Champagne menu which includes a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose. I think it’s superb value, compared to lots of more traditional afternoon tea, and especially as everything is replenished as much as you like and there’s no competition in terms of style. We booked a good few months ago, so be prepared to wait…… it is well worth it though even for someone as impatient as me!

20120625-141257.jpg

Menu inspiration card for Pret-A-Portea SS/12….. a super cute doggy bag and a show with my name on it!

About to turn 30…… some serious distraction planning

So this June I will be turning 30. I believe it’s customary to dread this, and although I have no idea why, the prospect does indeed fill me with dismay. But as with most things, I find that if I do plenty of planning, and have lots to look forward to over the summer, the impending doom doesn’t seem so scary.

And so I’ve been booking and planning and organising my way through the last month, so that the path to my 30th is filled with lots of fun activities. Here is what I have coming up this summer…..

Tonight I’m going to see Babel in Caledonian Park. It’s a site specific theatre project, produced by Wild Works and Battersea Arts Centre. Created specially for the park and its awesome clock tower, the promenade performance boasts a 300 strong cast and plenty of impressive effects. I am ever so excited…. although I would really rather it wasn’t raining! Wax jacket and wellies it is!

Babel

I’ve been wanting to see the Mondrian and Nicholson exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, and I’ve just found out that you can go for free on Mondays….. so that’s where I’ll be heading next week, before the exhibition closes on the Sunday. I’m a huge fan of Mondrian, in fact I went over to the Hague just to see his work at the Gemeentemuseum, so I can’t wait to go.

Also finishing soon is the Hermes retrospective at the Royal College of Arts. The prestigious brand is celebrating its 175th Birthday this year and the exhibition will host exquisite leather pieces from Thierry Hermes’ beginnings in Paris and throughout the brand’s history. It’s free to get in too.

In the last week of May, I will finally get to see the theatre version of War Horse. I’ve been meaning to go for the longest time and we had to book ages in advance…. but we have managed to get front row seats for what promises to be an incredible, and emotional performance.

War Horse

I’m looking forward to my friend Siobhan’s Hen Do at the end of the month too. We’re going bowling and dancing and drinking…. sounds like lots of fun afoot!

But before the month is out, I get to see Anthony Minghella’s enchanting production of Madame Butterfly at The London Colisseum. I have loved each of the English National Opera’s shows I’ve been to see…. and have seen some of my favourites twice even. This is the production that I most wanted to come back though, and to share with Adam. He’s less keen about the opera than I am but I found this version so stunning and unforgettable that I hope he enjoys it nearly as much as me!

Madame Butterfly

It being my Birthday month, I wanted some pretty big celebrations in June. And rather conventiently, I’ll be starting right away with the Jubilee long weekend. I am most excited about the boat pageant on the Thames…. we are pretty close to Tower Bridge so I’m hoping to get a good view!

Soon after that it’s Adam’s birthday, and we’ll be starting celebrations with a trip to see 39 Steps at the Criterion. It’s another show we’ve been meaning to see for ages, so I can’t wait to see how it’s staged (especially with only a cast of only 4 playing 139 roles!), as well as dinner beforehand next door at the glorious Criterion Restaurant (Christian Bale once ate there you know!).

Criterion Restaurant

The following week will see the start of my birthday celebrations proper….. my very good friend Michelle is coming over from the States and we’ll be spending three days in wonderful Paris as part of her visit. I adore Paris and I’m looking forward to a less hectic trip there now that I’ve seen a lot of the sights….. I can’t wait to mooch about the markets and discover new places wandering the little back streets.

The next weekend will see my birthday picnic in my little secret garden in the City. There should be a good bunch of us there, hoping for good weather! The bunting is pressed ready, so I just need to fill a picnic basket with goodies! Drinks will be Pimm’s and most likely my new favourite….. our ‘Turkish Delight’ cocktail made from our own rose flavoured vodka and pink lemonade!

On my actual birthday weekend, Adam is taking me for breakfast at The Wolseley on Piccadilly. I’ve always wanted to go there and their breakfasts are famous….. I think I may go for something like the haggis and duck eggs or the kedgeree. I just need to decide what to wear!

And for another outfit dilemma…. on the sunday I’m being treated to the Pret a Portea afternoon tea at The Berkley. This is something else I’ve wanted to do for an age too! The elegant tea draws on the season’s trends and fashions, with cakes and fancies styled on key pieces of the season. I can’t wait to see which pieces make an appearance!

Fasionista’s Pret a Portea

Not one to limit my birthday celebrations to just a week, I’m continuing the following week with another trip to the opera. This time it’s the premier of Damon Albarn’s new opera, Dr Dee. I saw Monkey at the O2 and loved it, so I am super excited about this!

Then it’s the first wedding of the season for me…. this one is London based and I have my outfit all ready. I picked up a gorgeous champagne gold satin cocktail dress in the Reiss sale earlier this year, and will be pairing it with my beloved Kiki heels from Kurt Geiger. I’m also hoping to make myself  a hat in time too!

Kikis

July will be busy too….. we’re off to see Hitchcock’s Blackmail at a special BFI outdoor screening at the British Museum. I’ve not seen the film before but I have high hopes, especially with the unique setting. Here’s hoping for great weather again!

Next, we’re hosting a friend from out of London for the weekend….. I’m planning a wonderful dinner on the Saturday, but on Sunday the plan is to take the wine tour at Vinopolis. I’ve taken it twice before, as well as formal wine training, but it really is such a good day out that I wouldn’t mind doing it a hundred times!

I get another trip to the opera in July, as my friend Jane and I go to see Porgy and Bess. I’ve not seen this before, but I know some of the lovely and famous songs from it and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story goes. Even if it is a little emotional!

Porgy and Bess

We finish up the month with a trip to Devon for the next wedding. I managed to snag some bargainous First Class train tickets, so the arduous journey shouldn’t be unbearable! I’m looking forward to a weekend out in the countryside, and hopefully we’ll fit in some lovely walks as well as the main event!

So that’s my summer as planned so far! Still time to fill up August, although I suppose I may need a rest by then with all this going on! I’m hoping to book in some time with friends to have lots of dinner parties and soirees once the main holiday rush is over. And maybe we’ll fit in a mini break or two out of town. Hope it’s sunny!

What are your plans for summer?

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…… in print

So apparently it’s May now. Spring in fact. Well, I’m yet to see any evidence, but I always have hope….. So the only thing to do is buy up those pretty, dainty, flowery prints that are everywhere…..

Nobody quite does country glamour like Joules, and right now I’m in love with this cutesy skirt. I have long loved a good toile pattern, and this pretty blue is so very Spring. The shorter length and full pleating are very Jess Day indeed, and ever so wearable I think.

Joules Amantha Skirt £39.95

As you probably know, I love a good collaboration! I’ve been coveting the Liberty print Air Max since they came out and I can’t get enough of my Liberty print lined Barbour jacket. And so it’s no surprise that I’m now hankering after the new Dr Martens Liberty print collection….. The collaboration brings together the quality and craft of both brands by updating the iconic boot with the darling and girly Liberty print. I can’t quite decide between two of the patterns…. but that’s ok because there are also satchels to choose from!

Dr Martens Liberty Print 8 Hole Boots in Martens Flower, £170

Dr Martens Liberty Print Satchel in Strawberry Thief, £195

Those who know me will tell you I have a bit of a silk scarf obsession. I’ve not counted recently, but I guess I have near 50 of them. I’d like to think I have one for every occasion and outfit (which is why I’m always on the look out for more!), but it’s more than their versatility and ability to brighten things up that I love them for….. I feel I have a little bit of fashion history in all those prints and designs, and so Oasis’ new scarf collection was bound to catch my eye. Inspired by Nicky Albrechtsen’s books, Oasis have created a stunning collection of silk separates which incorporate her most gorgeous vintage prints…… this dress in particular has my attention with its deliciously retro pattern, cleverly spaced over a wonderfully vintage shape.

Oasis Silk Scarf Print Dress £85

All we need now is a little sun to shine!

Ems x

A new fictional girl crush….. I want to be Jess Day

So no sooner had I publicly addressed my love for Glee’s Emma Pilsbury, than I was introduced to the wonderful Jess Day in New Girl. I have been totally hooked on the show since seeing the pilot a few weeks ago, and finding it really difficult to wait for each new episode!

All of the characters are brilliant in this show….. I adore Nick (and am hoping he and Jess get together before the end of the season)….. Winston is excellent…… and Schmidt is just hilarious (Adam and I keep saying ‘chut-e-ney’ like he does, and I’ve vowed to take on ‘yacht flair’ as my Spring wardrobe trend!).

But Jess is really what it’s all about, and as well as her gorgeously quirky and (forgive me) adorkable character, I am head over heals for her wardrobe.

And so it was that another Pinterest board was born…… It’s not as busy as my Emma Pilsbury one yet, because it’s so much newer. But it is growing fast and I thought I’d share some pieces with you here, and some of Jess’ key looks…..

The first lesson is COLOUR….. Although I’ve not picked up a real idea of a colour palette for Jess yet, the general trend seems to be for bold, bright, and not necessarily co-ordinated! The rule is always no black and white though…..

Source: needsupply.com via UnderAGlassSky on Pinterest

And almost as important, and so different from Emma, the hem lines are MUCH higher! A bright, full, shortie skirt is a must for the Jess wardrobe…..

Next is print….. a mix-match of quirky prints is very Jess indeed…….

Source: us.dorothyperkins.com via UnderAGlassSky on Pinterest

This is one look I’d love to take on, but I can’t see it unless something drastic happens to my thighs….. still, for those who are blessed with a lovely set of pins, like Jess, there is the cutesy shorts look…..

Not one for predictability though, Jess doesn’t vamp up her shorts with heels….. ballet pumps and geeky flats are a must for the Jess look…..

And certainly not one for a teensy clutch, you’re more likely to see Jess with a big and bright, over-sized hand bag….. more space to keep such things as ‘the feeling stick’ and her over-night sewing kit!



Perhaps her most easily recognisable style feature though, and probably my favourite, are her beautiful horn-rim glasses. A style that would once have been considered nerdy, these over-sized specs are not for every face, but Jess certainly carries them off a treat.





My ‘I Love Jess Day’ board continues to grow, so do pop on to see it…… and watch out for more Emma and Jess here….. I feel a ‘Jess vs Emma’ post coming on!

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

Wednesday Wants…… Spring Handbags

I love this time of year. Although it’s still rather chill, the sky is more often blue and the snow drops and blooming blossom trees promise that Spring is near. The shops too are filled with light and floaty things ready for the warmer weather….and of course the handbags have lightened up too.

And so here are my pick of rather aspirational spring handbag ‘wants’……

Alexander McQueen, Ivory Canvas Spike Tote

I absolutely love this ivory canvas tote by Alexander McQueen. It’s not just the classic tan leather detailing and strap, but the rather more edgy gold-tone brass spike detail, and the lovely triple buckle. At £895 from Liberty it’s not likely to join my collection any time soon, but one can still dream…..

Alexander McQueen, Ivory Canvas Spike Tote

Alexander McQueen, Ivory Canvas Spike Tote

A little more realistic, although still very aspirational at £450 is the stunningly vintage styled Eva from Lulu Guinness. Infused with 1940s glamour, I adore the sleek shape and the wonderfully cute heart-shaped clasp. Not to mention the gorgeous stripey lining…..

Lulu Guinness, Stone Leather Medium Eva

Lulu Guinness, Stone Leather Medium Eva

Lastly, I’m loving the large Vida Weave bag in natural and black leather from Reiss. I love the perforated leather and chunky tassel charm, and at £265 it’s not *too* pie in the sky.

Reiss, Vida Weave Slouch Shoulder Bag

Anyone found any cream handbag treasures to share?

Ems x

Waking up to the Oscars results…… My Winners

So I know I’m hours behind really, but I’ve woken up to a Twitter feed full of Oscars news, so I’m playing catch up on all the best bits now. Although of course I was keen to hear who had won what, for me the biggest news was who *wore* what! And so here are my ‘winners’, both those on the red carpet and from the nominations…..

I love Michelle Williams’ look anyway….her cute blonde crop is lovely and I thought she was a wonderful Marilyn. Out for the Oscars in a gorgeous red Louis Vuitton gown, she’s got that peplum and cinched waist look I adore…. and that little bow brooch at her waist by Fred Leighton is adorable too…..

More red for Emma Stone…..I’d love to try this shade (hoping it goes as well with my pale skin and red hair as hers!). The huge pussy bow at her neck is wonderful too, but possibly only works because she’s so very delicate…..

Well of course I was going to love the vintage dress….especially as it’s Dior. Natalie Portman looks gorgeous in this classic outfit…love her…..

Finally, something other than red….. Penelope Cruz wins the ‘best fairytale Princess’ prize in this stunning Armani Prive gown. Imagine dancing the American Smooth in this! Magical!…..

My Red Carpet Winner has to be Rooney Mara though. Her slight frame, red lips and perfect fringe have to put one in mind of Audrey Hepburn, and aptly dressed in Givenchy (Hepburn’s favourite designer) she looks incredible. The severe up-do and eyebrows ensure her personal spin on the look though. This is the kind of dress I long to wear, but certainly don’t have the right figure for! I would love to look like this!

And so to the actual awards…..

BEST PICTURE: The Artist

Although I thought extremely highly of some of the other nominees (War Horse, The Descendants, Hugo), I was delighted to see this black and white silent film scoop the big award. I adored everything about this film, and for it to win this is a real triumph, I think….when one considers all those people who thought it was a step backwards in film making, and those who asked for their money back at the cinema because there was ‘something wrong with the sound’!!

BEST ACTOR: Jean Dujardin – The Artist

I thought George Clooney was wonderful in The Descendants, and I’d have loved Gary Oldman to have been honoured for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but again, I was so delighted to see an actor like this given such a prestigious award. Truth be told though, I really rather think Uggie should have won.

BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady

I’m a little disappointed with this result….. although I didn’t get to see The Iron Lady because it was on at our cinema for such a short time, the reason we didn’t rush and prioritise it was the appalling ratings and reviews. Based on what I have seen though, and the reviews, I’d have thought that Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been a good choice. Although my choice certainly would have been Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn (I actually found myself forgetting I wasn’t watching Marilyn, she was so good!).

BEST ANIMATION: Rango

I’m so pleased Rango beat Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots to this award…. it’s restored my faith a little, as I wouldn’t have been surprised if either of those two had won.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

Ever so pleased that The Descendants got to take something home….. although I’d have been happy to see Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan) take this too.

BEST ART DIRECTION: Hugo – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hugo – Robert Richardson

As much as I thought these were easily deserved by The Artist and War Horse, I do believe Hugo was the superior in these categories and I think it’s apt that this visually stunning film received these and the other more-technical awards, including BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning).

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Artist – Ludovic Bource

I adored the scores for Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse, but for originality and cleverness I’m pleased with this win.

BEST COSTUMES: The Artist – Mark Bridges

And my only reason to lament Hugo not winning this one, is that I was so in love with the costume for Isabelle (and will be copying it for certain). Berenice Bejo’s outfits in The Artist were wonderful though, and I’d happily wear any of them!

So, all that’s left is to present the Ems’ Special Award for Life Time Achievement…… which of course goes to Uggie. I was so pleased that he made it to the Oscars, after there was talk that he’d not been invited! I think that in honour of his wonderful performance, remarkable PR, and his impending retirement, an award was certainly deserved (even if there wasn’t a suitable category!). He is certainly my ‘overall’ winner though!

I hope you were pleased with the results and enjoyed watching if you managed to stay up for them!

London Fashion Week AW / 2012…. My pick of the trends

I have never considered myself at all trendy, in fact, probably anything but. I love thrifting, vintage shopping, charity shops, mixing and matching etc. far too much. But at the same time I adore fashion, and to me, the trends of London Fashion Week are a taste of things to come…..here is what is going to be on the High Street soon and what you’re going to want.

Whilst I never go in for a whole trend and clothe myself top to bottom in Top Shop’s very best ‘now’ look, I am definitely prone to a little peer pressure….and because I could happily shop every day and collect a wardrobe the size of the entire United Kingdom (if only) it’s pretty hard not to succumb to the impressions of a trend or two.

And so it is with great excitement that I look out for the offerings of London Fashion Week and I find myself aching for a huge shopping session. I’m not one to be swayed too badly though, and will always pick out as many ‘never in this worlds’ as ‘wants’, and so here is my little round-up of my favourite trends to come out of London Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2012….and a little about those I certainly won’t be hankering after too!…..

The Peplum

Perhaps because it has its roots firmly in British Fashion History, I’m ever so keen on this trend. A cute and chic frill over a skirt, or from the waist down of a blouse… it’s so deliciously vintage. Not to mention the wonderful effect it has on those of us with proper girly figures…..

Peplum at Burberry Prorsum, Mary Katrantzou, Stella McCartney

Cinched waists, bows and belts for an hourglass figure

And along those same lines, I will always be grateful to see the hourglass figure featured in a season’s trends…. blessed with large hips and a defined waist, I love the little bows and belts cinching in the waists and providing a voluminous skirt beneath…..

Cinched waists, bows and belts at Burberry Prorsum, Erdem and Stella McCartney

Big Knits

I can’t always be girly and refined though, and my current winter uniform of over-sized jumper and leggings is both comfy and practical. And, if it’s on the runways, it can’t be *that* slobby!…..

Big Knits at Acne, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders

Leggings

And speaking of leggings…. True, on the runways they weren’t so much a comfort feature as a chic alternative to tights….and seen with longer length skirts and heels rather than minis and pumps as they have been, I’m keen to take this look on……

Leggings at Clements Ribeiro, Issa and Bora Aksu

Winter Florals

It goes without saying that the spring trends will feature girly florals, but I’m delighted to see some here for winter too, which is of course when we really need some cheering up and colour lift……

Winter Florals at Erdem, Giles and Temperley London

Military

I like this because it’s feminine but not girly….. I’d love to invest in a really good military style coat this year, and one with a good waist-hugging belt would be splendid…..

Military at Burberry Prorsum, Top Shop Unique and Alexander McQueen

As for the not-so-likelys…. I really can’t see me picking up the padded hips seen at Beradi, McQueen and Mary Katrantzou (I have enough in that area already thanks)….. nor am I keen to accentuate my chunky calves with the mid-length skirts seen at Roksanda Ilincic and Top Shop Unique…… and it’s a definite no to the loose leather trousers everywhere! I’m not yet taken with all the purples on show, but then I said that last year about orange and then became obsessed with it…. It is more likely though that I’ll take advantage of all those lovely pink hues, like those at Holly Fulton.

All in all though, and without having been to a single show….I’d say that this year’s London Fashion Week has thrown up some very useable trends. Now just to get shopping!

Stylishly Patriotic…. Union Jack crazy for the Diamond Jubilee



What with the Royal Wedding last year, and the upcoming Jubilee and Olympics, there’s never been a greater excuse (in my life time at least) to celebrate all things British. Amongst all the souvenirs and paraphernalia though, it’s our splendid Union Flag that will remain my fondest nod to the festivities. With more street parties, special commemorative dishes, and already busy media attention for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I’m looking forward to plenty of red, white and blue…..and here is a sampling from my current favourite Pinterest Board, celebrating our wonderful flag…..


What could be more British than a pot of tea….especially one emblazoned with Union Jacks like Emma Bridgewater’s……



I can’t think of many places more British than my beloved Liberty….and amongst their Best of British offerings, it’s this gorgeous necklace by Stella Macartney I’m most after….



I actually have this stapler….when I found it I couldn’t disguise a squeal of joy for its shiny Union Jack glory….

Source: unionjackshop.co.uk via prettypretentious on <a style=’text-decoration: underline; color: #76838b;’



Of all the lovely Union Jack cushions out there, this is certainly my favourite to date! It’s a *Jack* Russell….wearing a Union *Jack* scarf….LOVE!



I’ve been after a Roberts radio for ages, and this one has got to be the best!….



Our flag is so iconic that it can keep its identity in any colour….I adore this stunning Liberty print quilt….



And almost any colour goes for this beautiful ribbon too, which I love in the traditional colours as well as the shades of green and grey….



The chances of me riding any kind of bicycle are slim to none, but perhaps this could tempt me…



And no British celebration (or any of mine for that matter) would be complete without the BUNTING… The Cotton Bunting Company has the best quality selection I’ve ever found and it’s this I’ll be hanging up everywhere come June!