A day at the seaside

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I love living where I do. I know most people in Southsea feel the same way too. When friends come to visit for the day, a simple walk to the end of the road is all the entertainment that we require. No entertainment, toys or gadgets required… just a stretch of beach and a bit of mini golf!

A couple of weekends ago I was joined by a few special people for a traditional Southsea Saturday… We rode a giant swan, bounced around for a while, drew photos in the sand, enjoyed some ice-cream, danced at the bandstand, ate a cone of chips, paddled in the sea and had the worlds longest game of mini golf.

I snapped some snaps as I normally do so here’s a few…

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Adventures in Brixton

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So one of my best buds (the lovely Simon Taggart) now resides in San Francisco with his lovely lady CJ. What with him being there and me being here, catch ups are few and far between. So when he messaged to say there were stopping over in London for a few days as part of a month long European adventure, I immediately booked some time off work, and him in the diary!

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Si had booked a cute little crash pad in Brixton on Airbnb and once we’d dumped the bags we headed out in the glorious sunshine to Camden where we drank gin in the sunshine and ate arepas from an amazing little stall… we then browsed the famous Camden market stalls.

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That evening we headed to the Windmill Pub in Clapham for dinner whilst the boys watched the footy then moseyed ‘home’.

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The next day,we started our day with a rather scrumptious breakfast at Gail’s bakery

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With full bellies we headed to The British Museum for a bit of culture.

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Then it was time for a bit of a leisurely stroll through soho and St James Park and a cute little house in the middle of the park!

DSCF3794 DSCF3796 That evening we had ourselves a little mexican feast in Brixton…

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The following morning once we’d packed up the house, had some breakfast and said farewell to our lovely friends we headed to Brixton Village.

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I’d never been before and absolutely loved it. So much colour and vibrancy and things I wanted to buy!

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We had a beer and some goyza in Pop Brixton and then went off exploring…

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We ended our Brixton adventure back in the village for an amazing late lunch in French & Grace. F&G are an integral part of the Brixton Village food community. Their teeny tiny little restaurant – a unique, homely and intimate nook in the beating heart of the Brixton Village neighbourhood serving up a mash up of British and Middle Eastern cuisine in the most scrumptious wraps imaginable!

Serious yum! I’ll definitely be returning again soon!

 

Birthday BBQ for my Bestie

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Last month it was one of my beautiful besties birthday. We took advantage of the beautiful British sunshine and enjoyed a BBQ in her recently done up garden!

Anna is my most colourful friend and her garden is no exception… Little pops of colour everywhere, miss matched patterns and prints, oh and kitties, some pretty special kitties.

I snapped some pics of food, friends and garden I thought I’d share with you. (ps the food was v.good… apologies friends, there’s a lot of mid eating pics!)

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Southsea Food Festival 2016

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Every year I make a point of trying to get down to the Southsea Food Festival. You can read previous posts here and here.

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As mentioned in the previous re-uni-on post, we paid a quick visit with the uni gal crowd on Saturday, but not being able to have a proper rummage I went back again on Sunday and had another look around.

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Unfortunately not all the stalls were the same (I had some amazing spring rolls from a little family run stall on Palmeston Road which weren’t there second time round) but I still managed to buy some nice cheese, some herbs, a bit of paella for lunch and some arancini balls for dinner!

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon… I even took myself a cheeky little tequila frozen cocktail home… hey it was hot!

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10 year Re-Uni-On

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Scary fact but I graduated 10 years ago… 10…TEN!!! I’m not exactly sure how that happened but I’m sure glad it did! Whilst at Uni I met a collection of the best girls you could wish for.

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Whilst some have stayed close to uni, others have returned home or moved away to somewhere new altogether and over the years with various jobs, homes, husbands and children vying for our attention reuniting as a full set has become more and more difficult.

We had hoped, as a way of celebrating 10 years of post graduation life, that we might get a full set together, but alas, this didn’t quite happen and we were missing our dear Fili.

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The rest however all made their way back to Portsmouth (where we all studied) with husbands and children in tow and enjoyed a sun filled weekend of good friends, good food and seriously cute kids!

Our day started at the Southsea Food Festival, then we headed to the Common for some true Southsea hangs, Lounging on the grass, eating spoils from the food stalls and watching the girls play!

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After that it was back to Chlo’s where fellow fashion girl Emma and her crew joined us for a glorious BBQ & plentiful Pimms! Don’t you just love the summer!?

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The weekend was also pretty special as it was our first time meeting the newest of the Fashion Girls Miss Amelia! Utter beauty and captivator of everyones heart!

It was so cute seeing all the girls together. Whilst they need to work on their posing skills, the new generation of fashion girls are a pretty swell bunch and you just know they’re gonna be proper little friends!!!

DSCF4163Till next time girls xxx

Into the Woods, Out of the Trees

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Last week, with a few friends in tow, I headed off to Sway, deep in the heart of the New Forest, and in particular, to ArtSway.

ArtSway is a contemporary gallery space which offers wide-ranging creative and educational opportunities for people of all ages to discuss, engage with and exhibit contemporary modern art. Since the loss of their Arts Council core funding in 2010, they have since developed relationships with three organisations with similar goals who all have a regular presence at ArtSway. Check our their website for more info.

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The reason for our visit was the lovely Mary Dalton. As you may or may not know, I work 3 days a week at the awesome craft organisation Making Space. At Making Space we have 2 big old teaching spaces and 7 studios. In one of these studios you can find Mary. Mary is an incredibly talented artist and printmaker and since joining our little creative community 5 months ago has been busy creating work for her show ‘Into the Woods, Out of the Trees’.

Mary is also an artist in residence at Hollybank Wood. Hollybank is a beautiful medieval conservation woodland in the heart of Hampshire downland. You can find out more about Mary’s residency here. 

One of the lovely things about working where I do is being able to get a behind the scenes glimpse into an artists world… Seeing amazing pieces of artwork be born into creation and the hours spent going into it is a privilege. One of the pieces Mary was working on was a massive (and I really mean massive) continuos lino print which took up a large proportion of our ceramics studio floor.

DSCF4795DSCF4790Over the weeks seeing the lino be cut away and the many layers of colour built up was incredible and yet it still wowed me when I saw it hung on the wall in the gallery.

As the Making Space crew arrived early we were given an inspirational and informative pre-PV talk from Mary about the work, the meanings behind the pieces and a more detailed description about the narrative in the work.

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I’m not going to lie, sometimes when I hear artists talk about their work in a deep way I get lost, I don’t understand where they’re coming from or that a piece of art can really mean all they want it to, but with Mary I was utterly absorbed into her description and thought processes.

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Whilst I knew the work was in response to her residency at Hollybank, I had no idea how personal the show was to Mary and her lovely family. Not only is the wood a part of their working life, but an integral part of their families way of living.

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In every piece of art shown there was something of Mary in it. A day spent in the woods with a friends son, her love and admiration towards her husband or other family members, feelings and fears about life choices and the future of the woodland she holds so dear.

Whilst visually the work was beautiful on the eye, it also intrigued you in trying to understand the process and enlightened you when you read the accompanying artist statement.

My favourite part of the show was The ‘Spirits of the Sweet Chestnut Tree’ installation.

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A room with textures of green on the wall, textures which I might add, perfectly captured the dappled light of the leaf canopy outside. But as you looked down covering the floor were hundreds of green spirits…

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These little characters were inspired by a past trip to the woods where the sweet chestnut trees, plentiful in lime green nuts were dropping all around them. Mary imagines these creatures “rummaging on the floor amongst the nuts, gorging on them and meeting in annual gatherings of joyous celebration”.

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What really got me were the individual personalities the spirits had. Their expressions and adornments were brilliant. Made from a bi-product of the sweet chestnut tree coppice the spirits were adorned using natural materials and woven decorations. I thought they were magical.

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The other thing that sucked me in way the variety of mark making in the prints. Mary has an instinctive and simple style of ‘drawing’ which is unique and yet familiar all at the same time.

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I won’t say too much more as I urge you to go visit yourself and draw your own conclusions. The show is on till the 13 August. Later on in the year (Mid October ish) the Spirits of the Sweet Chestnut Tree will be returning home to Hollybank wood where they will forage and party amongst the fallen leaves during the Hollybank Wood annual fair. I can’t wait to see them again in their natural habitat, bright green heads poking out of the undergrowth!

Well done Mary, a truly fantastic and awe-inspiring show!

You can follow Mary and her work on Facebook and via her website.

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Wedding Series #8

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It’s with much excitement that I can now officially share the first pics of our invites as they went out on the eve of our 1 year count down last week.

These have been my sole creative output for the last few months and one of the trickiest personal commissions I’ve ever done I think! haha….

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We are trilled with them though and feel they perfectly sum up what our day will be. There’s elements of both Maxwell and I in them and also hints and influences of the two venues that make up our special day. From our art deco ceremony choice to our rustic reception venue there’s hints in the artwork and colours chosen.

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In a slightly weird move we sent out a save the date and invite/rsvp all in one go. I think I mentioned before that we originally weren’t going to do save the dates as they were just an additional cost but then I designed one, and fell in love so we just thought why the hell not… the first of many incorrect traditions along the way I’m sure!

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I really wanted to create a bundle of love and happiness that would be contagious when opened by our nearest and dearest so we knew we wanted to tie the different pieces together like a gift. It obviously worked as a few of the recipients told us they were savouring the task and not opening straight away!

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Originally I had thought of using a brown kraft tag to tie the whole lot together as they’re very ‘us’ and something we use all the time but Maxwell brought up the option of a wooden tag, which is very apt with his carpenter professional and I was instantly sold. Unfortunately our monogram was too intricate to etch so instead I created the artwork in a sepia tone and we were thrilled with the result.

Inside the little bundle were 3 x A6 cards; a save the date, an invite and a rsvp.

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We kept the information provided to an absolute minimum so that only when people said they could come would they receive all the other goodies and fun facts that we wanted to share, again I know this isn’t how it’s traditionally done, but heck… I think you’re getting the picture that we’re not keen on following the wedding rule books!

The 2 patterns used on the invites are reworked art deco patterns which my sister-in-law-to-be gave me for a previous birthday gift. I reworked the colours so they suited our palette and for the Save the Date I customised this free downloadable template with my own hand drawn florals.

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We ordered hand made envelopes through our printers in a forest green, slate grey and tan brown and I hand wrote all the envelopes using posca pens.

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So there you have is… A first proper insight into what we truly believe will be our best day ever! I’m not going to lie, there’s quite a bit of pressure when DIYing your own invites, but I’m so glad I did them and we’ve loved peoples responses to them and as we’re getting RSVP’s back through the letter box every other day, the excitement continues…Now to finish off the rest of the information and evening invites! haha

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There’s also a bit of a fun story about the delivery of these 36 special envelopes…

We fell in love with the idea of people receiving our invites precisely a year in advance, we hoped there would be an ‘oh my gosh, how exciting, oh my, it’s a year today’ kind of reaction… Obviously we knew this wouldn’t be the case for everyone (what with 5 non Uk recipients) but we hoped that 80% would get this experience.

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We made sure those far away were posted 1st class early in the morning hoping Royal Mail would do their upmost to get them there the following day. The rest in a late night spy like mission we decided to hand deliver once people were settled down for the evening. Not wanting to head out too early we departed around 11pm but slightly under anticipated how long this would take…

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Spy like, with the engine running, we crept up to peoples front doors, dodging security lights and squeaky letterboxes and cracking up over my utterly impractical spy footwear choice of flip flops made for an amusing evening. I’m not gonna lie, a few hours in, with half the envelopes still undelivered we did wonder if we’d made the right decision, but as the last few were deposited through various letter boxes in Southsea we concluded we definitely did it the best way as we collapsed into bed in the wee hours of the morning of our 4 year anniversary we smiled knowing it had suddenly ‘got real’!

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Till next time… x

Wedding Series #7

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Sorry I know I’m a little late with this one, but you’ll forgive me I promise when you see the photos!! (warning, there are a fair few!)

So July was a special month for us both. It was our 4 year anniversary on the 27th. Four years of being his girl and loving every minute of it. The day held extra special meaning as it also marked an official 1 year count down to the big day!

We will be getting married on 27/7/17 which will also be our 5 year anniversary! Ekkk… how exciting!

So… as we’re trying to be good with money (what with saving and all) we made a decision that there would be no indulgent holidays before the big day, but still wanting to mark the occasion in a special way we decided to make use of the ‘Cool Stays‘ vouchers Mumma Lo got us for Christmas.

Having never heard of Cool Stays before, the easiest way to describe it is a cross between Airbnb and Canopy & Stars!? Beautiful and unique accommodation that slightly trumps a normal get away.

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Not wanting to stray too far I opted for the stunning looking Knepp Safari (about an hour drive from home) and in particular the Little Owl Tipi. I just knew Maxwell would adore the bed (image a four poster bed but instead of normal posts in each corner, a stunning natural tree form!)

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It was amazing (and so incredible luxurious and comfortable!) Literally one of those beds you just want to stay in all day and take regular naps (which I did)

Maxwell wanted the surprise to be kept so I liaised with the staff at both Knepp Safari’s & Cool Stays and eventually we were all sorted. Our day began how most of our special days begin, with a treat of a brunch at local favourite Southsea Coffee Company.

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We then had to make a stop off to see my wonderful Grandad who had been rushed to hospital the night before. A few hours later, with well wishes and on a promise of a postcard we headed off for our anniversary adventure.

Maxwell presumed we were heading to Brighton so it was quite fun watching him try to figure it out as we ventured more into the countryside!

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Knepp itself is one of the largest re-wilding projects in lowland Europe. Located in Sussex with over 3,500 acres you can encounter herds of wild ponies, cattle, deer and pigs as they roam across the estate. It really is a hidden natural gem!

With the sun beating down on us the whole way we excitedly parked up and headed to the ‘Go Down’ where we met Rachel & Ryan who showed us round the site and to our Tipi.

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The Little Owl Tipi was not so little after all but huge and magnificent!

And as for the site itself… wow!

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We fell in love with it instantly… The Camp Kitchen was brilliant, open to the elements on 3 sides, but with a fully equipped kitchen inside it completely captured the essence of a African safari camp kitchen! We loved it!

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The other thing we we really impressed with was the Go Down… a beautifully rustic and comfortable lounge area / shop / campsite bathroom! The shop was brilliantly stocked with their own wild range organic meat and sausages, organic free-range Knepp eggs, Knepp wild range honey, a selection of homemade jams and pickles, a selection of organic wine, beer and cider, local gingerbread and biscuits and artisan bread, it was wonderful.

The well worn sofa suite and wood burning stove made for a cosy corner to chill, read or charge your mobile, and as for the bathrooms, pure luxury! Home to two large shower rooms, two toilets and a large drying room. All were clean, beautifully decorated and stocked with complimentary organic toiletries!

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Lastly, and the thing we probably loved the most was the amazing Bathenon – open air & outdoor hot-water shower-baths. In two separate shacks, these two big old cast iron tubs sat amongst the pebbles were perfect for an evening candlelit bath under the stars! We know this to be true as we enjoyed one both evenings!

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The rest of the site was a dream too, random shepherds huts and yurts were dotted about the site away from the ‘normal campsite’.

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There was also a Yoga Yurt on the other side of the Camp Kitchen which after a little investigation looked amazing and such a special place to practice yoga! They also have a no under 12s rule which when you’re on a romantic getaway is ideal!

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So back to our stay… we arrived, we unloaded the bags and threw out a blanket outside the tipi. We purchased some wine/beer from the Go Down and had our selves a lazy afternoon in the sun, playing games, giving gifts, eating and drinking. Anniversary perfection!

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As the sun set and temperatures dropped we headed to the Bathenon and ran a hot bath for two… armed with a big glass of wine we sunk below the bubbles and gazed up at the stars… it was pretty special.

When the water started to cool, we wrapped up warm and headed to the camp kitchen for some pasta dinner and another game… Making our way back across the site to our tipi we lit the bed side lanterns and snuggled under our egyptian cotton feather down duvet for an incredible nights sleep!

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The next morning after a lazy start and waking to shadows dancing on the walls of the tipi and the sounds of nature all around we made some dippy eggs, had a fresh morning out door shower, then set about going for a bit of a hike, taking advantage of one of the many recommended walking routes round the estate. We got lost pretty quickly but in the end made our way to the pub which was the end goal and enjoyed a pub lunch in the beer garden.

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Then it was time to head back, an afternoon nap and some more games. That evening we enjoyed another bath (this time with added cards), dinner in the camp kitchen and then takign advantage of the free wifi we enjoyed a film in the go down, then headed back to the tipi, whilst a noisy owl hooted from overhead.

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We checked out late the next morning and didn’t want to go! We loved it there so much and it really is such a unique and special place. We can whole heartedly recommend this place if you’re looking for a camping get away with a difference!

Once we finally were packed up and ready to leave we decided to stop off in Arundel on the way home and checked out lots of the antique shops and had lunch on the roof or Sparks Yard whilst there… It was the perfect way to end our lil’ getaway and celebration of 4 years together!

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Oh… we also posted our save the date/invites…. but I’ll do a separate post on that v.soon!

New Designers 2016

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I was in London recently for an Artswork Conference and whilst there I took the opportunity to check out New Designers 2016. 

For those not in the know, New Designers is an annual creative showcase from graduating students across the Uk (and further afield).

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With a main focus on Fashion and Textiles the show also covers jewellery, costume, product design and other craft based disciplines. The show is one of the most important exhibitions if you want a sneak peek at the industries top new emerging talent.

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Held in the Business Design Centre the venue is packed to the rafters of enthusiastic young creatives showing off their wares…

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I snapped a couple of shots but didn’t want to get too camera happy as these eager beavers have a fear of their designs being ripped off once they’re out in the big wide world (part and parcel of being a designer with an online presence I’m afraid)

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