Friday, 23 May 2014

Small designers making a difference here in Britain

Let's celebrate the best of British design with these gorgeous pieces - all made in Britain!

Photography credit: Ana Gely. A.
Hair and Makeup Credit: Valentina Syed

Henry Hunt – Phoebe Garlick is very passionate about keeping to her roots and keeping the 'British' in 'Fine British Attire'. Phoebe started to develop the company while still at university in London studying Fashion Design at the University of Westminster. All her garments are made locally where possible, and have all of the garments for their Gold Label are manufactured in the UK, and she also sources the fabrics from British mills. Henry Hunt’s evening dresses are hand made to order in their studio in Somerset, giving a uniqueness and individuality to each and every dress. All garments are also made in short runs using the finest fabrics available to ensure exclusivity and exceptional quality to each and every customer.

Tessuti – Tessuti is specialised in mainly printing wool mixes, lambswool, silk and cashmere. Fiona McIntosh designs and produces a range of fashion accessories which are hand dyed and silk screen printed using the 'discharge' method. The brand is made from her studio in Edinburgh, the use of colour is very important in her work and discharge printing lends itself to this whilst retaining the soft handle of the fabrics.

Buenas Noches- Introducing Buenas Noches: an effortlessly elegant loungewear brand from the UK. Creative director and busy mother, Rashmi Soni, began designing chic loungewear in 2010 as a response to her frustration at the lack of fashionable loungewear already available on the market. Combining wear ability, comfort and style, the 2014 collection offers women sleek wardrobe staples that they'll be proud to be seen in. The versatile and interchangeable collection is designed to take you from indulgent relaxation time at home to the school run, to travelling in style! Mix-and-match lounge pants, tops, dresses and cardigans come in a neutral palette with berry accents. Each piece is lovingly made in luxury ethical fabrics such as modal with a silk and cashmere blend, bamboo and 100% silk.

Grace- Focusing on the real women, with a vintage style, Grace caters in sizes ranging from 6 to 24. Each piece of clothing is considered very carefully throughout the manufacturing process for their impact on the people in the production cycle and the impact on the environment. Believing that one day design integrity will become mainstream, the brand uses only organic and fair trade products. The details include locally sourced Nottingham lace and water based eco friendly prints. With careful research in these areas they exist in hope that one happy day design integrity will become mainstream.

The Little Posh Dress CompanyRoslyn Wheeler launched the very British The Little Posh Dress Company in 2013. Made exclusively in the UK ,her focus on the brand was to provide women of all age ranges with a well-fitting dress that they could be comfortable in, yet still look classically posh. Roslyn wanted to design a dress that plays on the LBD, a dress every woman needs and can feel beautiful in. The Little Posh Dress is handmade with only the best materials used to create a dress that flatters every woman no matter her shape or size.

Dentelle etc:  Dentelle etc is home of beautiful lingerie & loungewear, with fashion led deigns that aim to cater for the lingerie loving woman, all made in the UK.  Whether she's on the school run or having drinks at the bar, Dentelle has the luxe lingerie she will adore. The Classics Collection covers practical, boudoir and romance. The brand understands that a woman may feel different everyday and therefore does not confine her to one style or mood all season. See website here:

Raine & Bea: Raine & Bea lingerie using the finest silks and laces, corsetry and unique designs. Raine & Bea design lingerie looks fit for showgirls; this is the new brand from the creator of Cabaret. Couture hand sewn garments made in the UK. See website here:

Betty Blue's Loungerie: Betty Blue’s Loungerie was born out of the seeds of an idea that was sewn many years ago. Owner and Creative Director of the brand, Betty, has had a love of sleepwear, loungewear, lingerie and corsetry as well as all clothes that are utterly beautiful since a little girl. Betty Blue is proud to be made in the UK. See website here:

Emma Harris Lingerie: Emma Harris Lingerie is much more than another luxury lingerie brand.  Emma Harris is a UK design studio with a team of highly skilled designers, pattern technicians and machinists. Emma Harris is a contemporary brand of luxury lingerie; Emma's philosophy is to produce lingerie that women will cherish. Every piece that forms the collection has been carefully designed, developed and produced in the UK. See website here:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Giving my summer tan a boost with Clarins

I was sitting in a friends back garden a few weeks ago - yes the sun was shining in fact it was hot - and after a couple of hours I realised she had really caught the sun on her face. Not wanting her to burn I pointed this out (was a little envious) and she fessed up to it not being the sun but this fantastic self-tan from Clarins.

So in the airport on my way to Ville Franche I grabbed a bottle and decided to give it a go. Waiting until I returned home, let's face it you don't need tan help in the South of France, I added the recommended 3 drops to my morning moisturiser and within just a couple of days I really could see a difference. No orange or streaking as found in other self-tans, this is natural and so simple I don't know why everyone doesn't try it.

It also comes in a neat little glass bottle which is designed to deliver just the right amount. Treat yourself from Clarins for £18 - who needs the sun?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Top Ten Garden Breaks - and it doesn't include Chelsea!

It's Chelsea Flower Show time again and alas I won't be going. Not enough time to be honest and I left it way too late to get tickets - so I am happy looking at garden porn instead...

These suggestions were sent to me and I am now going to create a 'garden bucket list' and try to get to all of them at some time or another.

Top Ten Garden Breaks
1. Villa Lante, Italy

One of the most stunning examples of Italian renaissance design, the Villa Lante gardens are the work of Cardinal Gambara, who had a modern taste for outdoor living and eating al fresco.
Rome city break: The Duke Hotel, Italy
From £232 / per person for 2 nights (saving £116 per person)
Offer includes two nights in a Superior room, buffet breakfast, early check in from 11am and late check out till 4pm, 25% discount on the a la carte menu at the restaurant (excluding beverages), one afternoon tea for two in the Polo Lounge, two complimentary tickets to Vittoriano Museum Art Exhibition, transfer from Duke Hotel to Piazza del Popolo (from 8am until 11.45pm) and return flights from your selected departure airport to Rome.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates May to September 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

2. Ch√Ęteau Versailles, France

The grand home of Louis XIV, the exquisite Versailles gardens represent the heights of monarchal decadence and excess.
Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour: Paris, France
From £146 / per room per night (saving £40 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Deluxe room and breakfast.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates July to August 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

3. The Majorelle Garden, Morocco

Wander through Yves Saint Laurent's gardens in Marrakech, combining lucious species, art deco design and a fine eye for colour and detail.
Riad Cocoon: Marrakech, Morocco
From £71 / per room per night (saving £46 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Superior room, continental breakfast, welcome tea and Moroccan pastries.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates May to September 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

4. Ninfa, Italy

Blooming from the sacked ruins of an ancient Medieval town, these botanical gardens are a half hour drive from the capital and among the most serene and beautiful sanctuaries in the world.
Hotel Savoy: Rome, Italy
From £86 / per room per night (saving £24 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Classic room, American buffet breakfast and 10% discount at the Granet restaurant.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates June to September 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

5. Kew Gardens, London

The Royal Botanic Gardens features 121 hectares of gardens, botanical glass houses and a beautiful orchid sanctuary, the perfect destination for a summer stroll.
K West Hotel & Spa: Shepherd's Bush, West London
From £129 / per room per night (saving £89 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Deluxe room, continental breakfast, welcome drink and VIP Westfield shopping pass.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates May to September 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

6. Sanssouci Palace, Berlin

Surrounding the former summer palace of the King of Prussia, Frederik the Great, the Sanssouci grounds are splayed out in an intimate Rococo style, and were counted as a rival to the French Versailles.
Adina Apartment Hotel: Hackescher Markt, Berlin
From £94 / per apartment per night (saving £122 / per apartment per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Studio Premier Apartment, minimum two-night stay is required, breakfast, Wi-Fi access and 10% discount in the bar and restaurant.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates June to August 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

7. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington

Often featuring sculpture and artwork from a variety of famous artists, Dumbarton Oaks blends stunning natural landscaping with contemporary touches of modern design.
USA twin-centre holiday: New York & Washington DC
From £1099 / per person for 6 nights (saving £200 per person)
Offer includes three nights in a Standard room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC, room-only, a bus tour of Washington DC, three nights in a Standard room at The Belvedere Hotel, New York, room-only, New York water taxi pass, Dine4Less card, return flights from London Heathrow to Washington DC, shared transfers and Amtrak train between cities.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates June to March 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

8. The Alhambra, Spain

The Alhambra fortress boasts a fabulous water garden and is considered one of the great architectural sights of Europe, celebrating Moorish art and encapsulating Andalusian history.
Malaga beach holiday: Iberostar Malaga Playa
From £399 / per person for 5 nights (saving £200 per person)
Offer includes five nights in a Double Side Sea-view room, half-board basis, return flights from your selected departure airport to Malaga, Spain and shared transfers.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates May to November 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

9. Gothenburg Botanical Gardens

Along with one the finest collections of wild collected Japanese plants in Northern Europe, the botanical gardens' greenhouses are home to about 4,000 species, including 1,500 orchids.
Gothia Towers: Gothenburg, Sweden
From £99 / per room per night (saving £80 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Standard Premium room, breakfast and 10% off at Restaurant Incontro (food only).  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates June to August 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

10. Hampton Court Gardens

This 60 acre estate runs its beautiful grounds down to the River Thames, featuring wonderful formal gardens and species planted by the famous landscaper Capability Brown.
The Cranley: South Kensington, London
From £149 / per room per night (saving £54 / per room per night)
Offer includes accommodation in a Superior room, continental breakfast, a non-alcoholic welcome drink on arrival, champagne and Canapes between 7-8pm, daily newspaper and complimentary Wi-Fi.  Book by 31st May 2014.  Available select dates June to September 2014.  Visit or call 0843 22 77 777.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A weekend away in Villefranche sur Mer, Cote D'Azur, France

Couldn't resist another long weekend in Villefranche sur Mer - after all I did rather love it last time! Here are a few shots - they need little explanation...

If you fancy a trip yourself Easyjet has lots of daily flights....

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Beauty Review - New Volume 1 seconde mascara from Bourjois

I don't often have people comment on how nice my eyes look these days (more's the pity) but today I did and it has to be down to the fact that today I am wearing Volume 1 Seconde mascara from Bourjois Paris. This brand new mascara is the perfect balance between the formula (which coats easily and lasts up to 16 hours) and the brush, which is based on a barrel brush which wraps around lashes for perfect volume. The packaging is really cool and the perfect shape too.

When I say perfect volume I really do mean that it is perfect - and I have been wearing it after being given a sample last week (how lucky am I). The killer ingredient has to the the carnauba and bee's waxes and jojoba ester which allows the mascara to both thicken and stretch, even to the ends of my lashes. It came off really easily too and apparently the waterproof version is just as easy to remove. The black is intense, and the effect really is spectacular - even on my lashes which are starting to thin out these days. Highly recommended from me anyway!

Launched this week priced at £9.99 this mascara is available from, Boots, Superdrug and

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Home News: Annie Sloan Interiors adds a beautiful new blue

I used to be an interiors magazine editor and I still like to keep my eye out for latest trends and new products. I like a good quality paint - especially if you are just using it as an accent colour as they are easier to use and the results tend to be very, very good. Annie Sloan has developed a new colour that 'takes inspiration from Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue pigments used for decorative work in neoclassical interiors'. Napoleon loved neoclassical design hence the name - and this truly is a regal colour and makes great purples when mixed with other paint from the Chalk Paint range that have a hint of red to them.

Made in the UK The Chalk Paint range has over 30 colours which combine well for a beautifully cohesive interior and they all work on furniture, walls and floors. Each paint comes with a unique formula which has:

  • it can be used all over the house and garden – Chalk Paint adheres to numerous surfaces including:  wood, concrete, metal, brass, plastic, glass, brick, stone, terracotta and even fabric 
  • it can be used without preparation – due to its strong, sticking power and dense consistency, no priming or sanding is necessary – no removing of old paint, varnish or wax is required - you can paint straight over nearly all existing surfaces
  • it dries quickly – with a beautiful velvety matt finish
  • it produces extensive coverage – the highly concentrated formula covers approximately 13 sq metres per litre, equivalent to a small chest of drawers and one coat is usually sufficient
  • it allows you to create your own colours no mixing is required before use, but you can easily mix two or more Chalk Paint colours to create your own shade
  • it allows you to achieve paint effects simply – ie dilute Chalk Paint with water to make a wash to feature a wood grain; create a distressed look with fine sandpaper or add Annie Sloan Dark Wax to change the depth of colour
  • brushes wash out easily – simply with water
  • it is durable – and works well with Clear Annie Sloan Wax to seal furniture, walls and floors, or other painting projects around the house and garden 
    ·        it has eco credentials – being water-based and non-toxic plus EG free and virtually odour free too. 

This new Annie Sloan Interiors paint colour will be in shops from August for giving tired interiors a lift!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thinking of living abroad?

I have a fantasy where I rent out my home in London, put everything into storage and just head off for a life in the sun. Just like thousands of others this might, one day, become a reality! I am sure I could live quite frugally in France or Italy so was interested to come across this Infographic from who have pulled together some interesting and helpful facts about where to live and how.

Travelex International Payments UK Expats Abroad_outreach.jpg

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Matcha tea is about to be brought to the masses and it tastes good!

Vivid founder James Shillcock

I don't drink tea as a rule. Well not teas that actually taste of tea - like Yorkshire Tea or builders tea. I don't rule out peppermint on a hot summer's day or a honey and lemon tea when I'm not feeling 100% but that's as far as it goes. Everyone in the office (health conscious lot that they are) seem to like Matcha tea which has 130 times the antioxidants and nutrients of a traditionally strained green tea (and that really is good for you though I find it quite disgusting). It also provides a natural energy boost from its caffeine content (sounding better already).

It is however very very expensive at around £25 for 30g - yes you read that right, 30g. So I haven't tried it even stirred into my morning smoothie. This is all about to change by the arrival of Vivid chilled matcha in three delicious flavours, grape and elderflower, lime, ginger and honey and pear and rhubarb. Hot on the heels of coconut water, Vivid is around £1.85 making it a very affordable boost and it does contain 3/4 of a gram of Matcha, which doesn't sound a lot but is enough to really give you a boost. You will find this new addition to our 'healthy' drinks in places like Whole Food Markets and Planet Organic (and other independants) so give it a try - I really liked the grape and elderflower, refreshing and sweet with only a hint of tea flavour which even I managed to overlook.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bruscetta with mixed mushrooms, rocket and goats cheese

This is the perfect quick lunch for eating in the sunshine. You may not be in Italy but that shouldn't stop you bringing a touch of Italy into your kitchen and it is so simple to make. I gently fried a mixture of sliced mushrooms in garlic butter then lightly fried some rye bread to sit the mushrooms on. I then topped the whole lot off with rocket, pepper and crumbled goats cheese with a sprinkle of a balsamic vinegar dressing. Delicious served with a chilled white or rose wine.

Have linked up with Honest Mum on Tasty Tuesdays where you can find loads more delicious recipes!
  Tasty Tuesdays on

Friday, 2 May 2014

Homemade Vegetable and Sweet potato soup

Back of the cupboard and back of the fridge's finest - a soup for weekend lunch that is cheap and really quick to make. I used
1 onion diced
1 sweetpotato diced
3 carrots chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Handful fresh basil
Tsp mixed Italian herbs
1 clove garlic crushed
Handful soya beans
Grated parmesan cheese
1 pint veg stock
1 tin harico beans
Handfull small dried pasta
Fry onion and garlic. Add all other ingredients and simmer until cooked. Garnish with parmesan. Serve hot with crusty bread.

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