Sunday, 1 September 2013

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria in her letter to Lord Melbourne, 3rd April 1845 about her home at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and a statement I whole heartedly agree with.

The private beach on the estate was opened to the public last summer for the first time. It really is an idyllic spot and I can see how the Queen and Prince Albert fell in love with Osborne and, why they chose the Isle of Wight as their retreat from the stresses of court life. 

The estate, gardens, woodlands and beach are beautifully kept and when we have more time we will go back and visit the gardens and the house itself.  Below is a quick snapshot of the entrance to the house itself which we passed on the way to the beach.

Here are some of the residences on duty...

A rather gentile way to travel around the Estate

With tummys rumbling we chose a shady spot for our picnic and took in the dreamy scenery,

Deckchairs are dotted around the lawns next to the beach where you can in comfort while away the afternoon gazing at the waves lapping and, the boats bobbing in the distance.

With bellies full we stumbled along the beach to watch the Punch & Judy show.  It kept the children riveted and adults re-lived their youth by joining in with the time honoured tradition of shouting out 'He's behind you...!'

Time to hit the beach and for those that are self conscious about changing into their beach could always use Her Royal Highness' 'Personal Bathing Machine'....
Midway through the afternoon whilst the children were busily playing on the beach the ice creams at the Beach CafĂ© were calling.  How could anyone resist any of the award winning Minghella ice creams that are lovingly made here on the Island (the late film director Anthony Minghella's family ice cream business). 

Definitely worth checking out as they have a huge assortment of flavours to please all ice cream aficionados & according to my taste buds the best tasting ice cream. The beach cafe had a small selection but even so it was hard to choose from mouth watering flavours such as 'Peaches n Cream', 'Sticky Toffee' , Oriental Ginger & Honey'....or there are delicious sorbets for those watching their waistline.  Naturally the latter wasn't chosen...

We thoroughly enjoyed our quintessentially 'British' day out at the seaside (a spot of culture, some sand, some sea, lashings of gourmet ice cream & Punch & Judy thrown in for good measure), on days like these who needs to go abroad? days out like this are what childhood memories are made from. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Bembridge Fort Walk

The Bembridge Fort Walk is an annual summer ritual, it is the stuff of folklore. 

The idea was first conceived by my old headmaster, Dr Sawyer who set about marking summer's lowest tide by walking out to St Helen's Fort built around 1867 in response to a possible French invasion under Louis Napoleon 111) (more info on the fort here) and back.   

Since then the numbers of walkers has risen from a select few to the hundreds. Babes in arms, teenagers, dogs, the elderly, they can all be seen on this pilgrimage.

The walk takes place at the end of the day and the date historically was officially announced and usually set for the first half of August.  Like anything these days, the Health & Safety brigade - or should I say the anti fun police... have tried to put a stop to it, so now the date is set by word of mouth and latterly social media. 

This has to be one of my favourite fixtures and I have fond memories as a young child, and then as a teenager of the walk and the sight of dozens of bbqs and flames lining the beach as the night set in and the smell of sausages (these are the best sausages ever) sizzling. 

This year my two boys were old enough to really get stuck in and myself and friends eagerly hit the beach armed with piles of food, a sense of adventure and spirits high.  

Striding out with water lapping at our thighs we walked to the fort, circumnavigated it and headed back for hot dogs & hot chocolate. 

Bellies full, sand in our shoes & many wonderful memories we headed home to put two very sleep heads to bed.  This fixture on the summer calendar really says everything about the 'Great British' eccentricity. 

My friend and very talented artist, Charlotte Hodge Thomas has the most wonderful paintings of the Fort Walk and I have one hanging in our living room as a year round reminder. 

Wade to the Fort Charlotte Hodge Thomas

Charlotte Hodge Thomas

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Rock- a- buy Baby ..

Hearing the happy news that a friend has had her eagerly awaited baby is cause for much celebration and...serious retail therapy.

I absolutely love browsing the internet for newborn gifts, and have whiled away many an hour cooing over potential presents.   If you are struggling to decide then here are a few tips & inspiration:-

When my first son was born I was given a lot of 'newborn' or 0-3 months clothes & in particular babygros, which were wonderful, but meant that by the time my son was 3-6 months his wardrobe was seriously lacking. so i always give clothes that are '3-6 months' size.

Remember when buying clothes that are for months ahead you bear in mind the season - so don't go buying summer stuff for 3 months time when winter will be here.

Cardigans are a winner & often get over looked by baby-gros. The White Company do a gorgeous white knitted one at £26 (machine washable)so do Boden who do this jolly number. Both companies always seem to have money off offers and free delivery.

Boden £18-£22

Baby blankets to match the gender of the new arrival are really useful and pretty.  You can't have enough blankets as they need washing a lot, and as an expectant mummy you often buy white so it can be passed onto the next baby. John Lewis has a great selection and at a reasonable price too.  I love these vibrant colours they are a refreshing take on the traditional pastels
Knitted Star Blankets £16 John Lewis
ecorative accessories for the nursery are different and make a lasting impression.  For example bunting is a lovely gift and brightens up the baby's room - you can even get personalised bunting with the baby's name too which is a lovely touch. I can thoroughly vouch for Zig Zag Bunting. They have a massive range to choose from and when I wanted motorcycle bunting for my son they took the trouble to source fabric from the States!

New Mums - often the new & tired mummy gets overlooked so it's lovely and unexpected when you receive a gift.  Flowers are gorgeous, but I tend to give something pampering.  Neals Yard have a fab range of organic treats for new mothers and babies for that matter,

I gave this Burt's Bees body oil recently
£10.95 from John Lewis

Changing mats that can be taken out and about once the baby gets a bit bigger and you don't need to carry around a humungous changing bag are a life saver.  Jo Jo Maman Bebe  has good value & fun designs (from £9-£15) and definitely worth checking out are Skip Hop which offer funky and luxurious ones which would be a practical and very welcome present. 

£35 from John Lewis

Last but not least, I defy anyone to resist these adorable snuggly soft toys from British brand, Jelly Cat.  Choose from bunnies, dog, bears, you name it they have it...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Summer Loving

Thursday 15th August

Here is a round-up of a few of my summer must have's that I haven't been able to live without ..

Nothing says Summer more than a hammock with many a lazy hour spent lollying on it in the garden.  There is nothing nicer than snuggling up with blankets and cushions whilst reading stories to the boys in it.  Or dozing in it whilst looking up at the sunny white fluffy cloud-filled sky.

What might seem at first like an extravagance it has now become our garden staple. Opting for a double hammock is a must, it means everyone can bundle in. Choose one with a stand so there's no need for trees to tie it to. Check this one out from Amazon or this one

Pedi-ready toes. Regular nail varnishes tends to chip particularly if you spend as much time as I do on the beach.  Jessica  GELeration  means perfectly polished & glossy toes for at least 4 weeks. Plus no need to wait ages for it to dry for fear of smudging, they are instantly ready when you walk out of the salon. Result.  My go-to summer colour is Dynamic. 
I'm in love with these enamel 'Carry on Camping' Mugs,(approx £5). I take these with us whenever we are out and about and need a brew. 
I bought them from the fabulous boutique Live Like This based in Cowes. I could literally buy everything in there. If you don't live near then they do offer mail order if you can't find these mugs on the website, do give them a call.

Although it's high summer, Sept is around the corner and with it brings cooler evenings.  These gorgeous oversized jumpers from Hush are easy to slip on and feel so luxurious.  Snap them up before they sell out in their sale they are now a mere snip at £25 and there is a further 10% off for the next few days if you use LASTDAYS promo code at checkout.

I've been eating a lot of Frittata. It's easy to whip one up and cheap to make by using left overs from the fridge,

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Catch up

Wednesday 14th August

Apologies for the absence for the last few months.  I tried to do something techy with my blog and then couldn't access it for ages and now have finally got it back.  So normal service has resumed.

The past few months have been busy and jam packed.  My last blog post was on the 13th March, the day my father had a mini stroke.  Up to now his health has been good, it was a shock to us all and luckily he has recovered unscathed.  I'm sure those reading this will agree; you expect your parents to be invincible and can never imagine them not looking after you.  It is a wake up call when their health starts to fail or they simply can't do the things they always did.  It has been a re-adjustment for us all.

I went on my birthday mini break to Barcelona with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  It was just what the dr ordered; tapas, sun, relaxation and with a few cocktails thrown in.  We stayed here and I can't highly recommend it enough.  Fabulous location right in the Gothic quarter.  Reasonably priced, modern and clean and most importantly has a roof top pool.

If you are in Barcelona then I highly recommend this tapas bar in the Born district, a short walk through the cobbled streets.  Booking a table is highly recommended.

If you tire of tapas then try Upbeat, funky and wallet friendly the food was delicious and literally stumbling distance from the hotel. 

I, along with 6 other girls known as 'The Wight Crew'  rowed the English Channel for two UK charities (Ahoy & The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust). 

We started training last year and survived many hours out on the water in the freezing winter months.  None of us had rowed before and it was to start with, an uphill struggle.

There were a few times, (following blisters, sore behinds, freezing conditions, seasickness), when I questioned my sanity, and why I was doing this, but by the end we had raised £32,000. 

To take on a challenge that was completely out of the ordinary was rather daunting at first, but on a personal level it was liberating to shake off the self doubts & insecurities, and actually doing something different and, that was out of my comfort zone.  Completing the row and raising this amount rewarded me with a huge sense of achievement. 

Summer holidays and glorious sunshine mean the school holidays continue at a great pace.  Hours spent outside, swimming, by the beach, crabbing  have meant the boy's holiday so far have been like an excerpt from 'Swallows & Amazons'. 

This is what childhoods should be, these are how memories are made.  I feel so lucky to be raising my children here on the stunning Isle of Wight.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Big 40

Yes i know 'age is just a number', and you are only 'as young as you feel' blah blah ..BUT if I'm perfectly honest I was dreading it. This after all is only 10 years away from being 50...and I was wondering am I now in the bracket of what is called 'middle age??'

Turning 30 was significant, but 40 is a whole psychological roller coaster and, there has been a whole medley of friend's 40th celebrations.  Time for reflection and looking at what we are all up to as we turn 40. Most married with kids, some childless & likely to remain so, some with drink or drug dependency issues, some divorced/divorcing, some happy, some sad and so on. Life is a funny old game and the different hands it deals, you can never predict when you turn 18 what's going to happen to us all. 

Back to the matter in hand and in the run up to the big birthday the pressure was mounting.  You see I had planned a party and this was the first time that both the boys were staying over at my parents - this in itself was a cause for celebration - no kids with a hangover AND a lie in. One word; Result.  The party was a blast (copious mojito's see below) and I felt young and carefree rolling in at 4am. 

In the run up to my birthday I became reflective and melancholic and mourned my younger years. I realise now that life now is peppered with far more 'real' problems than I would like.  That generally speaking my carefree mis-spent youth has somewhat disappeared over the horizon. 

It then dawned on me it's not so much the 'age' that actually is the problem, but the lack of spontaneity in my life. Gone are the impromptu hell raising nights that started off with the promise of one drink and ended up as an all-nighter.  I've decided it's time for action.  Get the good times back and all it requires is precision planning! Actions speak louder than words so with this mantra in mind myself and my dear friend Lisa have booked a girlie mini breat to Barcelona in June. Excited? Me? muchisimo!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A is for...

Atterley Road

A newish (well to me) glossy fashion brochure landed on my doormat this week,  and is definitley one to keep on your radar.  It's mission is to re-create the experience of your favourite shopping street on line and is a vertitable one-stop destination for carefully chosen brands.  

With an array of established labels, (think Day Birger et Mikkelson, 7 For All Mankind, Whistles) it also has offers some lesser known ones (Lamb, Custommade etc) too.  With free delivery on offer I can see my debit/credit card getting a lot of action......

Blouses are the perfect transitional piece to take you into Spring and will brighten up any outfit. I'm particularly coveting the 'Jemima' £99 from Part Two.

and for Anthropolgie  It just so happens that this also beings with 'A' - it struck me whilst starting this blog that both fashion finds have started with A, the beginning of the alphabet & the beginning of my blog, spooky...  Anyway back to the matter in hand. 

I've spent countless hours lusting at their clothes, shoes and accessories.  I love it's more bohemian vibe and have a long wish list already.  High on the agenda is the Embroidered Ikat top £48
& flattering & fabulous for Spring is the
Mesilla Peasant Blouse £118
More from these 2 fabulous outlets soon but now it's over and out hope you enjoyed x